Acts 9:23-43

Saul begins teaching that Jesus is the Christ.


20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

In Galatians 1:13-17 the apostle Paul tells us that very soon after he was converted he went to Arabia for a time and then returned to Damascus. The sojourn in Arabia seems to fit best within the time frame of verses 20 through 22 of this chapter. Paul does not reveal his intention or the results of his visit to Arabia but, if you will permit me to speculate, the discovery that his understanding of Old Testament prophecy, and in particular his understanding of Jesus Christ, was inaccurate required some significant revision of his theology. Suddenly such formerly mysterious passages as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 took on clear meaning. Intellectually he was driven to get alone for a while and sort things out.
After a time of reflection and study and undoubtedly teaching in the synagogues of Asia, Saul returned to Damascus and continued proclaiming with indisputable logic that Jesus is the Christ.

23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

[The Jews took counsel to kill him.] To Gentiles the term Jews refers to a specific race of people, descendents of Israel, grandson of Abraham. Within the Jewish community the term Jew was not infrequently used as a disparaging reference to religious leaders who had taken the Jewish religious regulations to absurd lengths. Their knee-jerk reaction was to persecute anyone who dared disagree with them.
Mark 3:1-6, John 5:8-18, John 7:11-13, John 9:1-22, John 10:23-33.

24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

[They watched the gates day and night to kill him.] These Jews were just as rabid in their hatred of Christ (and Christians) as Saul had been. If they could capture Saul they would kill him. The governor and the Roman garrison were of the same mind.

[Let him down by the wall in a basket.] See 2 Corinthians 11:32-33.

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

[But they were all afraid of him,] This was about three years after Saul's conversion. Galatians 1:13-18. While it is very likely that the disciples knew of Saul's conversion they fell prey to the very human memory trick of remembering Saul as they had last observed him. As an example, when we last see a person as a teenager and then communicate by letter for many years we continue to think of that person as a teenager until we next see him or her again. So with Saul. The disciples remembered Saul as a threat to their lives even though they knew intellectually that he had been converted..

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

[But Barnabas ...brought him to the disciples] It appears that under Barnabas' sponsorship the apostles Peter and James were willing to meet with Saul and accept him as a fellow believer. The other apostles appear to have kept their distance.

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

[And he was with them] According to Galatians 1:18-19 Saul stayed with Peter fifteen days, preaching and teaching Jesus Christ.

[And disputed against the Grecians:] The Grecians were Hellenized Jews. While some Jews in Jerusalem made a conspicuous effort to retain their Hebrew heritage in language and custom, most were influenced by the Greek culture common in Roman occupied lands. They spoke Greek and studied the Septuagent, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. The two groups did not mix well. Acts 6:1.

30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

[They brought him down to Ceasarea,] Since the city name does not have Philippi appended to it we may infer that this was Ceasarea of Palestine, a city south of Jerusalem which lay on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. The Apostles were cautious about direct contact with Saul but, when Saul's life was threatened, the brethren saw to it that Saul was safely brought to Ceasarea and put aboard a ship bound for Tarsus, Saul's home town.

31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

[Then had the churches rest] Some commentators press for the singular, "Then had the Church rest...". Small difference. When the Church universal has rest then most individual churches also enjoy relief. Adam Clarke refers to Dr. Lardner's explanation that in the third year of Caligula, emperor of Rome, (39 AD), Petronius was sent with an army to Jerusalem to set up a statue of Caligula in the temple, thus deifying the emperor. Such an outrage was almost beyond comprehension to the Jews and in their extended efforts to prevent such a sacrilege their attention was diverted from persecuting the Christians.

32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

[Peter passed throughout all quarters] Until this time the apostles had remained at Jerusalem, the headquarters of the Church. Now Peter took advantage of the relative freedom from persecution to visit some of the remote churches. Lydda was a small town near the Judea/Samaria border. It was located northwest of Jerusalem on the road which ran betwen Jerusalem and the port city of Joppa.

33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

[Jesus Christ maketh thee whole:] Not, "I make thee whole:" or even, "Be ye whole:" but, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole:". Peter had no power in himself but he readily used the power which had been granted him by Jesus Christ to honor the name of Christ. The Jews of Lydda understood and believed.
Matthew 10:1, Acts 3:1-7, Acts 5:12-16.

36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

[Joppa:] Joppa was a port city on the Mediterranean, about nine miles northwest of Lydda. The modern city of Tel-Aviv incorporates Joppa (now known as Jaffa) within its city limits.

Some interesting sidelights about Joppa, when Solomon built the original temple, logs from the forest of Lebanon were connected together into huge rafts and floated to Joppa. From there they were transported overland to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 2:16.
When Ezra rebuilt the temple at the close of the Babylonian captivity he also used the same technique to import logs from Lebanon. Ezra 3:7.
When Jonah sought to flee from the Lord to avoid having to deliver a prophetic warning to Nineveh, he went to Joppa and purchased passage on a ship bound for Tarshish. Jonah 1:3. Didn't work!

[Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas:] At that time there were two spoken languages in common use; Hebrew (or Syriac, closely related to Hebrew) and more commonly, Greek. Some spoke one or the other, some spoke both with varying levels of proficiency. As a result of the dual languages most people were known by two names, one Hebrew (or Syriac) and one Greek. Paul was named Saul (Hebrew) and Paulos (Greek); Peter was Cephas and Petros; Dorcas was Tabitha and Dorcas.

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

[Tabitha, arise.] Up to that point we are not told of any of the apostles actually bringing a dead person back to life, but, since in Matthew 10:8 Jesus instructed his disciples to use the power which he had given them to, "Raise the dead," Peter had faith that it could be done.
The result: Tabitha lived; Jesus Christ was glorified; many believed.

43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

[He tarried many days] Peter was not on vacation. Undoubtedly he spent his time preaching and teaching and building up the saints.


This page updated 06/04/2008

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