Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
Verse 1. - Brethren for men, brethren, A.V. (Acts 7:2, note); the for my, A.V.; now make for make now, A.V. The defense; ἀπολογία This is the technical word in classical Greek for a defense in answer to an accusation. Thus e.g. the oration of Gorgias entitled, Υπὲρ Παλαμήδους ἀπολογία, begins, Ἡ μὲν κατηγορία καὶ ἡ ἀπολογία κρίσις οὐ περὶ θανάτου γίγνεται. And Demosthenes opposes κατηγρσεῖν to accuse, to ἀπολογεῖσθαι, to make one's defense. And an ἀπολογία δικαία καὶ ἁπλῆ is to prove that τὰ κατηγορημένα, "the things of which the person is accused," were never done. But it is probably from St. Paul's use of the word here that it became common to call the defenses of the Christian religion by the term ἀπολογία. Thus we have the 'Apologies' of Justin Martyr, of Tertullian, of Minutius Felix, among the ancients; me 'Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae,' by Bishop Jewel, and many others.
(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
Verse 2. - Unto them in the Hebrew language for in the Hebrew tongue to them, A.V.; were the more quiet for kept the more silence, A.V. When they heard, etc. This trait is wonderfully true to nature, and exhibits also St. Paul's admirable tact and self-possession. It was strikingly in harmony with his addressing them as "brethren" that he should speak to them in their own mother tongue. There is a living reality in such touches which seems at once to refute Renan's suspicion that St. Luke invented this and other of St. Paul's speeches in the later chapters of the Acts. The full report of these later speeches is abundantly accounted for by the fact that through this time St. Luke was with St. Paul, and heard the speeches.
I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
Verse 3. - A Jew for verily a man which am a Jew, A.V. and T.R.; of Cilicia for a city in Cilicia, A.V.; but for yet, A.V.; instructed for and taught, A.V.; strict for perfect, A.V.; our for the, A.V.; being for and was, A.V.; for for towards, A.V.; even as for as, A.V. Born in Tarsus, etc. (see Acts 21:39). St. Paul was evidently proud of his native city, "the famous capital of a Roman province," watered by the "swift stream of the Cydnus," and looked down upon by the snowy summits of Mount Taurus; "a center of busy commercial enterprise and political power;" "a free city, libera ct immunis" (Farrar, 'Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1. Acts 2.). St. Paul's express assertion that he was "born at Tarsus" directly refutes the tradition handed down by St. Jerome that he was horn at Giscala, and carried thence to Tarsus by his parents when Giscala was taken by the Romans (Farrar, ibid.). Brought up; ἀνατεθραμμένος, a classical word, only found in the New Testament in the Acts (Acts 7:20, 21, and here). It is found also in Wisd. 7:4. It implies early education. At the feet of. The scholar sits or stands humbly beneath the raised seat of the teacher (comp. Luke 10:39). The stop is rightly placed after Γαμαλιὴλ. Some, however, put the stop after ταύτῃ, and connect παρὰ τοὺς πόδας Γαμαλιὴλ with πεπαιδευμένος. Gamaliel (see Acts 4, 5:3, note). Instructed according to the strict manner of the Law of our fathers; comp. Galatians 1:14, "I profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers," where for τοῦ πατρῳου νόμου we read τῶν πατρικῶν μου παραδόσεων. Under the πατρῴος νόμος Paul probably included the traditions, as well as the written Law, which the Pharisees so rigidly observed (comp. Acts 26:5,where the ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιντῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείας corresponds with the ἀκρίβειαν τοῦ πατρώου νόμου) The strict manner; κατὰ ἀκριβείαν, found only here in the New Testament; but a word of repeated use in this sense in Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom, and also, with the adjective ἀκρίβης and the adverb ἀκριβῶς, much used by medical writers. Ἀκριβέστερος and ἀκριβέστατος are used by St. Luke only (Acts 18:26; Acts 23:15, 20; Acts 24:22; Acts 26:5), and ἀκριβῶς six times to three in the rest of the New Testament. Zealous for God (ζηλωτὴς τοῦ Θεοῦ); see Acts 21:20, note.
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
Verse 4. - I persecuted (see 1 Corinthians 15:9; 1 Timothy 1:13; and Acts 26:11). This Way (see Acts 9:2; Acts 18:25; Acts 19:9, 23). Unto the death (comp. Acts 9:1). Binding, etc. (comp. Acts 8:3; Acts 9:2).
As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
Verse 5. - Journeyed for went, A.V.; them also for them, A.V.; unto Jerusalem in beads for bound unto Jerusalem, A.V. The high priest. Ananias, the present high priest, who may have been one of St. Paul's hearers included among the "fathers," and who had probably been already a member of the Sanhedrim at the time of St. Paul's conversion (see Acts 23:2; Acts 24:1). Others, however, understand "the high priest" to mean him who was high priest at the time of St. Paul's journey to Damascus, viz. Theophilus, who was still alive. The brethren. The Jews at Damascus. St, Paul speaks to his hearers emphatically as a Jew. To be punished (ἵνα τιμωρηθῶσιν); whether by rods or by death. The word occurs in the New Testament only here and Acts 26:11, but is not infrequent in the LXX. and in classical writers; τιμωρεῖν is common in medical language in the sense of "to treat medically," to "correct" by medical treatment.
And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
Verse 6. - Drew nigh for was come nigh, A.V. The phraseology of the following narrative is nearly identical with that of Acts 9:3-6 (where see notes).
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
Verse 9. - Beheld for saw, A.V. Beheld indeed the light [and were afraid, A.V.]. This corresponds with the statement in Acts 9:7, that the men who journeyed with Saul "stood speechless." They were dazzled and amazed at the sudden brightness. But they heard not the voice. This at first sight seems inconsistent with the statement in Acts 9:7, "hearing the voice." But the apparent inconsistency disappears when we observe that here St. Paul wished to impress upon his hearers that, though his companions had seen the light, they had not heard the words which were addressed to him by the Lord Jesus (see ver. 14); whereas St. Luke, in the narrative in Acts 9, wished rather to insist upon the fact that though the men had seen the light and heard the sound of the voice, they had not seen Jesus. To see and hear the risen Christ was a privilege given to St. Paul alone.
And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
Verse 11. - When I could not see (comp. Acts 9:8, and note). Them that were with me (τῶν συνόντων μοι). Συνεῖναι occurs only here and Luke 9:18, but is used several times by the LXX. It is very common in medical waters for the accompanying symptoms of a disease.
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
Verse 12. - Well reported of by for having a good report of, A.V.; that for which, A.V. Well reported of (μαρτυρούμενος); see Acts 6:3, note.
Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
Verse 13. - Standing by me for stood, and, A.V.; in that very for the same, A.V.; on for upon, A.V.
And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
Verse 14. - Appointed for chosen, A.V.; to know for that thou shouldest know, A.V.; to see the Righteous One for see that Just One, A.V.; to hear a voice from for shouldest hear the voice of, A.V. Hath appointed thee; προεχειρίσατό σε, a word found in the New Testament only here and in Acts 26:16, and in Acts 3:20 (R.T.). In classical Greek it means mostly "to get anything ready beforehand;" to cause anything to be πρόχειρος, ready to hand. And in the LXX. it means "to choose," or "appoint," as Joshua 3:12; Exodus 4:13, where it is not a translation of שְׁלַח, but a paraphrase of the sentence, "Appoint one by whom thou wilt send." Here it may be rendered indifferently either "choose" or "appoint." The Righteous One. The designation of Messiah in such passages as Isaiah 53:11; Psalm 72:2, etc. (see in the New Testament Luke 23:47; 1 John 2:1; Revelation 19:11, etc.). A voice from his mouth is a very awkward though literal rendering. The A.V. expresses the sense much better.
For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
Verse 15. - A witness for him for his witness, A.V. A witness. An essential attribute of an apostle (see Acts 1:8, 22, notes). Seen and heard (comp. 1 John 1:1-3).
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Verse 16. - His Name for the Name of the Lord, A.V. and T.R. Wash away thy sins; ἀπόλουσαι, only here and in 1 Corinthians 6:11, where it is found in exactly the same sense of "washing away sins" (see vers. 9, 10) in holy baptism. Hence the λουτρὸν παλιγγενεσίας, "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5; comp. Ephesians 5:26; and see Acts 2:38, note). Calling on his Name (ἐπικαλεσάμενος); see Acts 2:21; Acts 7:59, note; Acts 9:14, 21; Romans 10:12, 13, 14; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:22: 1 Peter 1:17, all texts distinctly justifying prayer to the Lord Jesus.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
Verse 17. - Had returned for was come again, A.V.; and for even, A.V.; fell into for was in, A.V. Into a trance (ἐν ἐκστάσει); see Acts 10:10, note.
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
Verse 18. - Because for for, A.V.; of thee testimony for thy testimony, A.V. and T.R. Get thee quickly, etc. The narrative in Acts 9:28-30 does not mention the vision, but gives the murderous opposition of the Hellenist Jews as the reason of Saul's departure from Jerusalem to Tarsus. Possibly, if it had not been for the Divine warning, the apostle would have braved the danger and lost his life.
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
Verse 19. - They themselves for they, A.V. In every synagogue. It appears from Matthew 10:18 that offenders were beaten in the synagogue, and doubtless by command of the synagogue authorities. A delation to any synagogue that any member of it was a blasphemer (i.e. a Christian) would lead to such a punishment. But probably the meaning here rather is that he went or sent to every synagogue to find out who there was among them that believed in Jesus, and then had them punished at Jerusalem (Acts 9:2).
And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
Verse 20. - Stephen thy witness for thy martyr Stephen, A.V.; consenting for consenting unto his death, A.V. and T.R.; keeping the garments for kept the raiment, A.V. Consenting; συνευδοκῶν (above, Acts 8:1; Luke 11:48; Romans 1:32; 1 Corinthians 7:12, 13). It is also found in 1 Macc. 1:60; 2 Macc. 11:34, 35. Of them that slew him (τῶν ἀναιρούν των αὐτόν). Ἀναιρέω, in the sense of "to kill," is a favorite word of St. Luke's (Luke 22:2; Luke 23:32; Acts 2:23; Acts 5:33, 36; Acts 7:28; Acts 9:23, 24, 29; Acts 10:39; Acts 12:2; Acts 13:28; Acts 16:27; Acts 22:20; Acts 23:15, 21, 27; Acts 25:3; Acts 26:10); but elsewhere in the New Testament only Matthew 2:16 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8, R.T. It is frequent in the LXX. and also in medical writers in the sense of "taking away" or "removing."
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Verse 21. - Send thee forth for send thee, A.V. The natural understanding of the preceding dialogue is that Saul, when bid depart quickly out of Jerusalem because the Jews would not receive his testimony, was unwilling to obey, and pleaded that surely the Jews must listen to him and be convinced, since they were well aware how hot and zealous a partisan of the Jews he had been, and must see that nothing but a great miracle could have converted him. It was the argument of a young and impetuous man, with little experience of the headstrong obstinacy of bigoted men. The Lord cut him short with a peremptory "Depart!" but with the gracious addition, "I will send thee unto the Gentiles" - a commission which is more fully given in Acts 26:17, 18, and which was carried out in his whole life.
And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
Verse 22. - They for then, A.V.; voice for voices, A.V. Unto this word. They could not bear the idea of the Gentiles being admitted into the kingdom of God. It was a blow to their pride of exclusiveness. The leveling-up of the Gentiles seemed to be as intolerable as the leveling-down of themselves, as spoken of e.g. Isaiah 1:10; Ezekiel 16:45, etc.
And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
Verse 23. - Threw off their garments for east off their clothes, A.V.; east for threw, A.V. Threw off their garments. Either "wild signs of fury, gestures by which they gave to understand that they would gladly accomplish the cry, 'Away with him from the earth!'" (Lunge), tokens of applause and consent at the sentiment of the cry (see the passages quoted by Kuinoel, Τὴν ἐσθῆτα ἀνασείων ἐκρότει τὸν Προαιρέσιον "The proconsul applauded Proairesius the rhetorician by shaking his purple robe," Eunapius, 'Life of the Emperor Julian;' "The whole theatre raved together, and leaped, and shouted, and threw off their garments (τὰς ἐσθῆτας ἀπεῥῤίπτουν)," Lucian, ' De Salt,'); or (so Meyer) signifying that they were ready to stone the culprit (see ver. 20).
The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.
Verse 24. - Bidding for and bade, A.V.; for what cause for wherefore, A.V.; so shouted for cried so, A.V. The chief captain (see Acts 21:31, note). The castle (see Acts 21:34, note). Examined; ἀνετάζεσθαι, only here and in ver. 29. In Judges 6:29 (Codex Alexandrinus) and in the Hist. of Susanna 14 the verb has the simple sense of "inquiring." The classical word for "examining" and especially by torture, is ἐξετάζειν. By scourging (μάστιξιν). The μάστιξ was in Latin the flagellum, the m st severe implement of flogging, though even with the lighter virga, the rod of the lictor, slaves and others were beaten to death (usque ad necem). It was not lawful to beat a Roman citizen even with the virga (ῤάβδος); Acts 16:22, 35, 37, notes. The μάστιξ, or scourge, was that with which our Lord was scourged at the bidding of Pilate (Matthew 27:26, where φραγελλώσας is from the Latin flagellum; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33; John 19:1). Doubtless Lysias had not understood Paul's Hebrew speech, and so had not known what it was which provoked so fierce an uproar among the people.
And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?
Verse 25. - When they had tied him up with the thongs for as they bound him with thongs, A.V. When they had tied him up, etc. This does not seem to be a right rendering. Προτείνω can only mean "to stretch out before," or "expose to the action," of anything, when taken in a literal sense; ἱμάς, again, more naturally means the "thong" or lash of a whip or scourge than a thong to bind a man with; indeed, it is thought to be etymologically connected with μάστιξ, Meyer, therefore, rightly understands the passage to mean when they had stretched him on the stake ready to receive the scourging. Is it lawful, etc.? Paul now pleads his privileges as a Roman citizen, just in time to stop the outrage, remembering, no doubt, the terror inspired in the Philippian magistrates when they found they had beaten with rods an uncondemned Roman citizen (see Acts 16:38). Uncondemned (ἀκατακρίτους); Acts 16:37. Only found in these two passages in the New Testament, and nowhere else.
When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
Verse 26. - And when for when, A.V.; it for that, A.V.; to for and told, A.V.; and told him, saying for saying, A.V.; What art thou about to do? for Take heed what thou doest, A.V.
Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.
Verse 27. - And for then, A.V; and he said for he said, A.V.
And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.
Verse 28. - Citizenship for freedom, A.V; am a Roman for was free, A.V. A great sum (πολλοῦ κεφαλαίου). The word is only found here in the New Testament in the sense of a "sum of money," but is so used in classical writers. Citizenship; πολιτεία, for "freedom of the city," in Xenophon, AElian, Polybius, Dion Cassius, etc., and 3Macc. 3:21. Dion Cassius (9 17) relates that Messaliua, the wife of the Emperor Claudius, used to sell the freedom of the city, and that at first she sold it (μεγάλων ξρημάτων) for a very high price, but that afterwards it became very cheap. In all probability Lysias had so purchased it, and in consequence took the name of Claudius (Renan, ' St. Paul,' p. 524). I am a Roman born. It is not known how St. Paul's family acquired the Roman citizenship.
Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
Verse 29. - They then which were about to examine him straightway departed from him for then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him, A.V.; when for after, A.V. Had bound him (ῆν αὐτὸν δεδεκώς), as related in Acts 21:33. Ἐκέλευσε δεθῆναι: "Facinus est vinciri civem Remanum," Cicero, in 'Verrem,' 5:66 (quoted by Meyer).
On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
Verse 30. - But on for on, A.V.; desiring to know for because he would have known, A.V.; loosed him for loosed him from his bands, A.V. and T.R.; the council for their council, A.V. and T.R.; to come together for to appear, A.V. and T.R. Brought Paul down; from the castle to the council-room below, either to the hall Gazith or to some other place of meeting. Lysias probably still kept Paul a prisoner through the night, on account of the excited state of the people.