Acts 22
Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
Chap. 22:1.] This speech of Paul repeats the narrative of his conversion to Christianity, but this time most skilfully arranged and adapted (within legitimate limits) to avoid offence and conciliate his hearers. Proofs of this will appear as we go on. See an enquiry into its diction and rendering into Greek, in the Prolegg. § ii. 17 β.

3.] De Wette and others would place the comma after ταύτῃ, so to make the two clauses, beginning with γέγ. and ἀνατ., exactly correspond. But (not to insist, with Meyer, on the reason that a new circumstance is introduced with each participle) it is surely better, as the rule of the sentence seems to be to place the participles before the words which qualify them, to take ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ παρὰ τ. π. Γ., all as the qualification of ἀνατεθραμμένος, and punctuate, as commonly done, after Γαμαλιήλ.

On Gamaliel, see note, ch. 5:34.

The expression παρὰ τ. πόδ. (see ch. 4:35, note) indicates that the rabbi sat on an elevated seat and the scholars on the ground or on benches, literally at his feet.

κατὰ ἀκρ.] (The art. omitted aft. a prep.) According to the strict acceptation of the law of my fathers; = κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιν τῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείας, ch. 26:5;—i.e. as a Pharisee. So Jos. B. J. ii. 8. 18, Φαρισαῖοι … οἱ δοκοῦντες μετὰ ἀκριβείας ἐξηγεῖσθαι τὰ νόμιμα.

Some of the older Commentators make τοῦ πατρῴου νόμου governed by πεπαιδ., and take κατὰ ἀκρίβ. adverbially: which would give a very vapid sense, the accuracy and carefulness of his education having been already implied in παρὰ τ. π. Γαμαλιήλ.

καθὼς …] Not meaning ‘in the same way as ye are all this day’ (but now in another way): but as ye all are this day: ‘I had the same zealous character (not excluding his still retaining it) which you all shew to-day.’ A conciliatory comparison.

5. ὁ ἀρχ.] ‘The High Priest of that day, who is still living:’ i.e. Theophilus, see on ch. 9:1. Similarly, the whole Sanhedrim = ‘those who were then members, and now survive.’

παρʼ ὧν καί] from whom, moreover.

πρὸς τοὺς ἀδελφ.] to the Jewish (their) brethren (see ch. 28:21). Bornemann’s rendering, ‘against the (Christian) brethren,’ is altogether inadmissible. If ever Paul spoke to the Jews as a Jew, it was on this occasion.

καὶ τοὺς ἐκ.] even those who were there.

ἐκεῖσε] if resolved, would be εἰς Δαμασκόν,—a similar construction to εἰς οἶκόν ἐστιν, Mark 2:1, ‘those who had settled at Damascus and were then there.’

6.] On Paul’s conversion and the comparison of the accounts in chapp. 9, 12, and 26, see notes on ch. 9 I have there treated of the discrepancies, real or apparent.

11.] See notes, ch. 9:8, 18.

12.] That Ananias was a Christian, is not here mentioned,—and ἀνὴρ … Ἰουδαίων is added: both, as addressed to a Jewish audience. Before the Roman governor in ch. 26, he does not mention him at all, but compresses the whole substance of the command given to Ananias into the words spoken by the Lord to himself. A heathen moralist could teach,—‘Quid de quoque viro, et cui dicas, sæpe videto’ (Hor. Ephesians 1:18, 68): and a Christian Apostle was not unmindful of the necessary caution. Such features in his speeches are highly instructive and valuable to those who would gather from Scripture itself its own real character: and be, not slaves to its letter, but disciples of its spirit.

13. ἀνέβλ. εἰς αὐτόν] De W. remarks, that the two meanings of ἀναβλέπω here unite in the word: I looked, with recovered sight, upon him.

14-16 is not related, but included, in ch. 9:15-19.

14. ὁ θ. τ. πατ. ἡμ.] So Peter, ch. 3:13; 5:30. In ch. 9:17, ὁ κύριος is the word: this title is given for the Jews.

τὸν δίκαιον] So Stephen, ch. 7:52. How forcibly must the whole scene have recalled him, whom presently (ver. 20) he mentions by name.

16. ἀπόλουσαι …] This was the Jewish as well as the Christian doctrine of baptism.

See ref. 1 Cor. and note.

αὐτοῦ] of Jesus, τοῦ δικαίου.

Paul carefully avoids mentioning to the Jews this Name, except where it is unavoidable, in ver. 8: so αὐτόν again, ver. 18.

17.] viz. as related ch. 9:26-30, where nothing of this vision, or its having been the cause of his leaving Jerusalem, is hinted.

18.] περὶ ἐμοῦ is to be taken with μαρτυρίαν, not with the verb, as Meyer and Winer maintain. Their objection, that then it must be τὴν μαρτ. τὴν περὶ ἐμοῦ is answered by remarking, (1) that Paul does not always observe accuracy in this usage of the article: e.g. Ephesians 6:5, ὑπακούετε τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα, for τ. κυρ. τοῖς κατα σάρκα, or τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις, which he has written in the , Colossians 3:22,-1Thessalonians 4:16, οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον. See also Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:14, and notes:—and (2) that there may have been a reason for the irregularity here, inasmuch as, if either the article had been expressed after μαρτ., or τὴν π. ἐμ. μαρτ. had been used, σου would have appeared to be governed by παραδέξονται—‘they will not receive from thee thy testimony concerning me,’—which is not precisely the meaning intended to be conveyed. (See Mr. Green’s Gram. of N. T. p. 163.)

19.] The probable account of this answer is, that Paul thought his former great zeal against Christ, contrasted with his present zeal for Him, would make a deep impression on the Jews in Jerusalem: or, perhaps, he wishes by his earnest preaching of Jesus as the Christ among them, to undo the mischief of which he before was the agent, and therefore alleges his former zeal and his consenting to Stephen’s death as reasons why he should remain in Jerusalem.

αὐτοί can only refer to the same persons as the subjects of παραδέξονται above: not (as Heinrichs) to the foreign Jews;—“Idcirco iter apostolicum extra urbem detrectat, quod undique odio petitum se iri prævidet, Hierosolymis autem in apostolorum collegio delitescere se posse opinatur:”—a motive totally unworthy of Paul, and an interpretation which happily the sentence will not bear.

20. μάρτυρός σου] “E. V. ‘thy martyr,’ following Beza: Vulg., and Erasm, testis tui. The Apostle may have here used the (Hebrew, עֵד, as Wordsworth) word in its strict primary sense; for a view of Christ in His glory was vouchsafed to Stephen, and it was by bearing witness of that manifestation that he hastened his death (ch. 7:55 ff.). The present meaning of the word martyr did, however, become attached to it at a very early period, and is apparently of apostolic authority: e.g. Revelation 17:6, and 1Co_5, p. 217 (cited in note on ch. 1:25).… The transition from the first to the secondary sense may be easily accounted for. Many who had only seen with the eye of faith, suffered persecution and death as a proof of their sincerity. For such constancy the Greek had no adequate term. It was necessary for the Christians to provide one. None was more appropriate than μάρτυρ, seeing what had been the fate of those whom Christ had appointed to be His witnesses (ch. 1:8). They almost all suffered: hence to witness became a synonym for to suffer; while the suffering was in itself a kind of testimony.” (Mr. Humphry.) Bp. Wordsworth well designates this introduction of the name of Stephen “A noble endeavour to make public reparation for a public sin, by public confession in the same place where the sin was committed.”

καὶ αὐτός] I myself also.

21.] The object of Paul in relating this vision appears to have been to shew that his own inclination and prayer had been, that he might preach the Gospel to his own people: but that it was by the imperative command of the Lord Himself that he went to the Gentiles.

22. τούτου τ. λόγου] viz. the announcement that he was to be sent to the Gentiles. ‘Populi terrarum non vivunt,’ was the maxim of the children of Abraham. Chetubb. fol. iii. 2 (Meyer).

καθῆκεν] ‘decuerat:’ implying, he ought to have been put to death long ago (when we endeavoured to do it, but he escaped).

23. ῥιπτούντων] Not ‘flinging off their garments,’ as preparing to stone him, or even as representing the action of such preparation: the former would be futile, as he was in the custody of the tribune,—the latter absurd, and not borne out by any known habit of the Jews: but shaking, jactitantes, their garments, as shaking off the dust, abominating such an expression and him who uttered it. The casting dust into the air was part of the same gesture. Chrys. explains it, ῥιπτάζοντες, ἐκτινάσσοντες.

24.] The tribune, not understanding the language in which Paul spoke, wished to extract from him by the scourge the reason which so exasperated the Jews against him. In this he was acting illegally: ‘Non esse a tormentis incipiendum, Div. Augustus constituit.’ Digest. Leg. 48, tit. 18, c. 1 (De W.).

ἐπεφών.] they were thus crying out against him.

25.] And while they were binding him down with the thongs. Dr. Bloomfield quotes from Dio Cassius, xi. 49, Ἀντίγονον ἐμαστίγωσε σταυρῷ προδήσαντες, and explains rightly, I think, the προ in both verbs to allude to the position of the prisoner, which was, bent forward, and tied with a sort of gear made of leather to an inclined post. De W. and others render τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν, ‘for the scourge’ (dat. commodi); but why should μάστιξιν be varied? and can it be shewn (as Dr. B. asks) that the word in the plural will bear this meaning?

ἑκατόνταρχον] The ‘centurio supplicio præpositus’ of Tacitus and Seneca,—standing by to superintend the punishment.

εἰ ἄνθ. κ.τ.λ.] See ch. 16:37, note.

28.] Dio Cassius, lx. 17, mentions that, in the reign of Claudius, Messalina used to sell the freedom of the city, and at very various prices at different times: ἡ πολιτεία μεγάλων τὸ πρῶτον χρημάτων πραθεῖσα, ἔπειθʼ οὕτως ὑπὸ τῆς εὐχερείας ἐπευωνήθη, ὥστε καὶ λογοποιηθῆναι ὅτι κἂν ὑάλινά τις σκεύη συντετριμμένα δῷ τινί, πολίτης ἔσται.

ἐγὼ δὲ καὶ γεγ.] But I (besides having the privilege like thee of being a Roman citizen) was also born one. How was Paul a Roman citizen by birth? Certainly not because he was of Tarsus: for (1) that city had no such privilege, but was only an ‘urbs libera, not a Colonia nor a Municipium: and (2) if this had been so, the mention of his being a man of Tarsus (ch. 21:39) would have of itself prevented his being scourged. It remains, therefore, that his father or some ancestor must have obtained the civitas, either as a reward for service (‘urbes, merita erga P. R. allegantes, … civitate donavit,’ Suet. 47) or by purchase. It has been suggested that the father of Saul may have been sold into slavery at Rome, when Cassius laid a heavy fine on the city [of Tarsus] for having espoused the cause of Octavius and Antony, Appian, B. C. iv. 64, and very many of the Tarsians were sold to pay it. He may have acquired his freedom and the citizenship afterwards. See Mr. Lewin, i. p. 4. But this is mere conjecture.

29. καὶ … δέ] moreover, ‘more than that.’

ἐφοβ.] There is no inconsistency (as De W.) in the tribune’s being afraid because he had bound him, and then letting him remain thus bound. Meyer rightly explains it, that the tribune, having committed this error, is afraid of the possible consequences of it (‘facinus est vinciri civem R., scelus verberari,’ Cic. Verr. v. 66), and shews this by taking the first opportunity of either undoing it, or justifying his further detention, by loosing him, and bringing him before the Sanhedrim. His fear was on account of his first false step; but it was now too late to reverse it: and the same reason which leads him to continue it now, operates afterwards (ὁ δέσμιος Π., ch. 23:18) when the hearing was delayed. That ἦν δεδεκώς cannot, as Bloomfield and Wordsworth suppose, refer only to the binding before scourging, its immediate juxtaposition with ἔλυσεν in the next verse sufficiently shews. Besides, the mere circumstance of a preparation for scourging having been begun in ignorance, and left off as soon as the knowledge was received, would rather have relieved, than occasioned, the fear of the tribune. A more cogent reason still is, that ἦν δεδεκώς can properly only apply to an action still continuing when the fear was felt: that he had put him into custody. ‘The centurion believed Paul’s word, because a false claim of this nature, being easily exposed, and punishable with death (Suet. Claud. 25), was almost an unprecedented thing.’ Hackett.

30. τὸ τί] The art. is epexegetical: see reff. It seems remarkable that the tribune in command should have had the power to summon the Sanhedrim: and I have not seen this remarked on by any Commentator. Some of the ancient correctors of the text, however, seem to have detected the difficulty, and to have altered συνελθεῖν into the vapid ἐλθεῖν in consequence.

καταγ.] From Antonia to the council-room. According to tradition (see Biscoe, p. 147, notes), the Sanhedrim ceased to hold their sessions in the temple about twenty-six years before this period. Had they done so now, Lysias and his soldiers could not have been present, as no heathen was permitted to pass the sacred limits. Their present council-room was in the upper city, near the foot of the bridge leading across the ravine from the western cloister of the temple. Lewin, p. 672.

Henry Alford - Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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