Vincent's Word Studies
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
See on answer, 1 Peter 3:15.
(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
Kept - silence (παρέσχον ἡσυχίαν)
Lit., gave quiet.
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.
At the feet
Referring to the Jewish custom of the pupils sitting on benches or on the floor, while the teacher occupied an elevated platform.
One of the seven Rabbis to whom the Jews gave the title Rabban. Rab, "teacher," was the lowest degree; Rabbi, "my teacher," the next higher; and Rabban, "our teacher," the highest. Gamaliel was a liberal Pharisee. "As Aquinas among the schoolmen was called Doctor Angelicus, and Bonaventura Doctor Seraphicus, so Gamaliel was called the Beauty of the Law. He had no antipathy to the Greek learning. Candor and wisdom seem to have been features of his character" (Conybeare and Hewson). See Acts 5:34 sq.
See on chastise, Luke 23:16.
According to the perfect manner (κατὰ ἀκρίβειαν)
Or a zealot. On the word as a title, see on Mark 3:18.
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
See on 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.
Estate of the elders (πρεσβυτέριον)
The eldership or Sanhedrim.
The imperfect: was journeying.
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.
Not mentioned in ch. 9.
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.
Of Nazareth (ὁ Ναζωραῖος)
Lit., the Nazarene. Not mentioned in ch. 9.
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.
Heard not (οὐκ ἤκουσαν)
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.
For the glory of that light
The cause of his blindness is not stated in ch. 9.
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
A devout man, etc
In Acts 9:10, he is called a disciple. Paul here "affirms that he was not introduced to Christianity by an opponent of Judaism, but by a strict Jew" (Gloag).
Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
More correctly, as Rev., "standing by (ἐπί)."
Receive thy sight (ἀνάβλεψον)
Better, look up. See the following words: I looked up upon him. The word admits of both translations, to look up and to recover sight.
I looked up upon him
Some unite both meanings here: I looked up with recovered sight. So Rev., in margin.
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.
The God of our fathers - Just One
Hath chosen (προεχειρίσατο)
See on Acts 3:20. Better, as Rev., appointed.
For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
He keeps back the offensive word Gentiles (Acts 9:15).
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Wash away (ἀπόλουσαι)
See on Acts 16:33.
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;
I was in a trance (γενέσθαι με ἐν ἐκστάσει)
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
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.
See on Acts 22:13.
See on Luke 23:32.
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
"The fatal word, which hitherto he had carefully avoided, but which it was impossible for him to avoid any longer, was enough....The word 'Gentiles,' confirming all their worst suspicions, fell like a spark on the inflammable mass of their fanaticism" (Farrar, "Life and Work of Paul").
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.
They gave him audience (ἤκουον)
The imperfect. Up to this word they were listening.
Lifted up their voice, etc
"Then began one of the most odious and despicable spectacles which the world can witness, the spectacle of an oriental mob, hideous with impotent rage, howling, yelling, cursing, gnashing their teeth, flinging about their arms, waving and tossing their blue and red robes, casting dust into the air by handfuls, with all the furious gesticulations of an uncontrolled fanaticism" (Farrar). Hackett cites Sir John Chardin ("Travels into Persia and the East Indies") as saying that it is common for the peasants in Persia, when they have a complaint to lay before their governors, to repair to them by hundreds or a thousand at once. They place themselves near the gate of the palace, where they suppose they are most likely to be seen and heard, and there set up a horrid outcry, rend their garments, and throw dust into the air, at the same time demanding justice. Compare 2 Samuel 16:13.
And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
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.
Only here and Acts 22:29. Not found in classical Greek. Apocrypha, Susanna, ver. 14.
By scourging (μάστιξιν)
Lit., with scourges.
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?
Bound him with thongs (προέτειναν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν)
Against the rendering of the A. V. is the word προέειναν, they stretched forward, in allusion to the position of the victim for scourging, and the article with thongs; "the thongs," with reference to some well-known instrument. If the words referred simply to binding him, with thongs would be superfluous. It is better, therefore, to take thongs as referring to the scourge, consisting of one or more lashes or cords, a sense in which it occurs in classical Greek, and to render stretched him out for (or before) the thongs. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament of a shoe-latchet (Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27).
See on Acts 16:37.
When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.
And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.
Lit., capital. The purchase of Roman citizenship was an investment. Under the first Roman emperors it was obtained only at large cost and with great difficulty; later, it was sold for a trifle.
I was free-born (ἐγὼ καὶ γεγέννημαι)
Lit., I am even so born, leaving the mind to supply free or a Roman. Better, as Rev., I am a Roman born.
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.
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.
Brought Paul down
To the meeting-place of the Sanhedrim: probably not their usual place of assembly, which lay within the wall of partition, which Lysias and his soldiers would not have been allowed to pass.