Men, brothers, and fathers, hear you my defense which I make now to you.…
Brothers and fathers. These words fell from his lips in the Hebrew tongue, and a hush fell upon them. If we desire to be listened to with attention, we must speak to the people "in their own tongue."
I. THE PERIOD BEFORE CONVERSION. (Vers. 3-5.) He speaks throughout of himself; but in the background of his thought is the providence and the grace of Him who had called him out from darkness into his marvelous light. He was a Jew, strictly educated in the Law, and a zealot for God. And yet a persecutor. A lesson for us all against the over-valuation of learning and of orthodoxy. He had tried the way of zealotry and persecution, as Luther had tried that of monkery, sincerely seeking salvation, but without success. The memory of his earlier time is one mingled with thankfulness and penitence, as indeed all our memories must be. In his good education and in his unhappy errors he could trace the hand of God. Boasting is in every case excluded.
II. HIS CONVERSION. (Vers. 6-15.)
1. The great light from heaven on the way to Damascus. It disclosed the dark ways of sin and error in which the heart had been wandering; and at the same time lighted up the ways of Divine grace by which the convinced soul was to be led, and the path of duty the new-born soul was to follow. He is led by the hand, as into a mystery, which only the Divine wisdom shall gradually unfold. Jesus, still lead on! Like led children ever we enter the kingdom of heaven.
2. The ordination by the hands of Ananias. A pious man according to the Law. God knows all his servants, and the work for which each is best fitted. Here is a mirror for all preachers. They should bring to the office knowledge and experience of the working of God's grace upon the heart. They must in their office be like St. Paul - witnesses before all men, by word and conversation, of that which they have seen and heard. And their comfort may in like manner be that he who has called will strengthen, edify, and support them in their calling.
III. HIS COMMISSION. (Vers. 17-21.) He is praying in the temple, his soul overwhelmed by the weight of those Divine communications. The voice says, "Hasten, and go quickly out of Jerusalem!" Paul meets the call with reluctance. This struggle is among the incidents of the strife of the Spirit of God with our spirit. We would stay when he bids to go. "Lord, I will follow thee, but - " Sometimes it is fear, as in Jonah's case; sometimes it is modesty, as with Moses and Jeremiah; or conscientiousness, as with Peter (Acts 10:14); or compassion, as with Abraham at Sodom, and Paul with Israel. Over against all our buts stands the firm command of God, "Go hence!" Only he who overcomes his hesitation in full trust in the perfect right and wisdom of that command will be enabled by-and-by to say, "He has done all things well." - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.