And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,…
We learn from 2 Corinthians 11:32, 33, that Damascus was at this time under the government of Aretas, the king of Arabia Petraea. How it came to be so, having been previously under Vitellius, the Roman president of Syria (Jos. 'Ant." 14:04, § 5), is not clear. It is probable, however, that in the war which Aretas had declared against Herod Antipas, in consequence of the Tetrarch's divorcing his daughter in order that he might marry Herodias (see Matthew 14:3; Luke 3:14), he had been led, after defeating the Tetrarch (Jos. "Ant." 17:06, § 1), to push his victories further; and, taking advantage of the absence of Vitellius, who hastened to Rome on hearing of the death of Tiberius ( A.D. 37), had seized on Damascus. In this abeyance of the control of the Roman power, Aretas may have desired to conciliate the priestly party at Jerusalem by giving facilities to their action against the sect which they would naturally represent as identified with the Galileans against whom he had been waging war. The Jewish population at Damascus was, at this time, very numerous. Josephus relates that not less than ten thousand were slain in a tumult under Nero ("Wars," 2:25), and the narrative of the Acts (ver. 14) implies that there were many "disciples of the Lord" among them. Many of these were probably refugees from Jerusalem, and the local synagogues were called upon to enforce the decrees of the Sanhedrin of the Holy City against them.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,