- Christogenea Internet Radio
Book of Acts Chapter 9 - Christogenea Internet Radio 07-12-2013
IX 1 And Saulos, still breathing threats even of murder to the students of the Prince, going forth to the high priest 2 requested letters from him to Damaskos to the assembly halls, that if anyone should be found being of the Way, both men and women, being bound he would bring them to Jerusalem.
Paul was described by Luke at the end of Acts chapter 7 as a young man, a νεανίας (3494), and therefore it is unlikely that he had single-handedly taken a leadership role in persecuting these Christians on his own. It is much more unlikely that he could have done the things which he describes here on his own. In Paul's latter confessions, however, which are found in Acts chapters 22 and 26 and in his epistle to the Galatians, Paul only mentions himself when recounting these events. There are, evidently, two plausible reasons for this, and I would accept both of them as true. Firstly, Luke's endeavor here is to describe the acts of the apostles, and Paul having become an apostle, only his actions in connection with these events are critical to Luke's purpose. Secondly, with Paul's describing his role in these events in the first person only, neglecting to mention anybody else in connection with them although clearly others must have taken a part, he takes the entire blame upon himself, exhibiting a noble desire to be accountable for his own actions without deflecting any of that blame onto others.
In Acts chapter 26, giving a further explanation of his role in these events, Paul stated “10 which even I had done in Jerusalem, and then many of the saints I had shut up in prison, receiving authority from the high priests, and upon their being slain I had cast a vote.” It is evident, therefore, that these early Christians, esteemed as heretics, were being persecuted by the government of Judaea under the authority of the high priests, who were Sadducees, and that Paul being a Pharisee and an upholder of the traditions in which he was raised, took an active role in that persecution. However the persecution itself was under legal pretense, and it is evident that trials were conducted whereby the accused were executed.
Paul reveals that his persecution of the early Christians was out of zeal for the traditions he was raised in, in Acts chapter 26, where he states that “4 Now indeed my manner of living from youth which had from the first been among my nation [meaning Tarsus in Kilikia] and in Jerusalem all the Judaeans know, 5 knowing me from the beginning, if they would wish to testify, that according to the most precise sect of our worship I have lived a Pharisee.” Likewise, in American politics today, we see that modern traditionalists, called conservatives, support many wayward positions which are truly not conservative at all. Today the masses are just as disconnected from their founding documents as the first-century Judaeans were from their own – which in this case happens to be the Scriptures. During Paul's period of conversion he must have realized this disconnect, and therefore in Acts chapter 26 he says in his defense of Christianity: “6 And now for the hope of the promise having been made by Yahweh to our fathers I stand being judged, 7 for which our twelve tribes serving in earnest night and day hope to attain, concerning which hope I am charged by the Judaeans, King.”
[It seems that the first-century Pharisees were akin to today's neocons: pretending to be conservatives they were really doing the work of the godless jewish Sadducees.]
3 And it came to pass in his traveling, approaching Damaskos, then suddenly there shone around him a light from the heaven, 4 and falling upon the ground he heard a voice saying to him “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
The 6th century Codex Laudianus (E) inserts into the dialogue at the end of verse 4: “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks”, for which one may see Acts 26:14, where the line is found consistently in all of the ancient manuscripts. A similar interpolation is found after verse 5.
5 And he said “Who are you, master?” And He “I am Yahshua, whom you persecute!
The Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), and Laudianus (E) have “Yahshua the Nazoraian”, for which see Acts 22:8.
At the end of this verse, some Syriac and Vulgate manuscripts, along with later Latin manuscripts and one Greek ms. from the 14th century, insert all or a part of the following text: “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ And the Lord said unto him...” [the “but” at the beginning of verse 6 becoming “and” here]. Now some of these manuscripts have only the latter half of this text, and some only the early half, but none of this appears in any of the ancient Greek manuscripts. However it does appear in its entirety in a minority of the Majority Text manuscripts, and therefore also in the King James Version, which has the part that reads “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” at the end of verse 5, and the balance at the beginning of verse 6, all of which must be considered an interpolation. Part of this text does appear in Paul's latter versions of the account, however the part here which says in reference to Paul “and he trembling and astonished” is an innovation, regardless of whether we can imagine that it may have actually occurred.
6 But you must arise and go into the city and it shall be spoken to you what it is which is necessary for you to do.”
The Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text want the Greek words rendered “it is which”.
7 And the men traveling with him stood dumb, indeed hearing the voice but seeing nobody.
The Greek word φωνή (5456), from which we get our English word phone and the related prefixes which are formed from it, is “a sound, tone, properly the sound of the voice...” (Liddell & Scott), and that the men heard it does not by necessity imply that they perceived what it said. This account here in Acts 9:7 as it appears in the King James Bible, compared with another version of the account as it is translated in that same volume at Acts 22:9, is conflicting and has caused much confusion, the critics of Paul of Tarsus taking advantage of the poor translations of these passages in the King James Version in order to attempt to discredit him. These are the two verses as they appear in the King James Version:
Acts 9:7: “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”
Acts 22:9: “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.”
Because of the way in which the King James Version has rendered these passages, unscrupulous men have blamed the conflicting words on Paul himself, and they use this to undermine his ministry and apostleship. However when making a translation, when one is confronted with options, one should always check the context to make certain that the translation is consistent, and there are indeed options here in the Greek language of these passages, however the King James Version translators obviously did not bother to examine them.
Firstly, the word φωνή may have been rendered as sound in the passage at 9:7. But regardless of how it is rendered, it should be readily admitted that one may hear a voice without necessarily understanding what that voice was saying. Likewise, in the passage at Acts 22:9, the verb ἀκούω (191) may be understood by its most basic meaning, which is to hear, however throughout the New Testament it is often used to indicate the act of hearing with understanding, just as Christ often pronounced that “if any man have ears to hear, let him hear”, where it was obvious that many people heard Him, but few of them understood His words. This verb ἀκούω(191) is “to hear...to hearken...to listen to, give ear to...to obey...to hear and understand” (Liddell & Scott), and this last sense is used often in the New Testament. Another of many possible examples is found where Christ is attributed as saying at Matthew 13:9: “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear”, and the verb is ἀκούω both times it says hear.
As for the words “of him that spake”, as they appear in Acts 22:9 in the King James Version, these words are from the Greek phrase τοῦ λαλοῦντός, which is a definite article and a participle verb. The verb is a present tense participle of λαλέω, which is to speak or to talk. With the article it is a Substantive, a group of words used as a noun. The form of both the participle and the article here is either masculine or neuter, in the Genitive case, yet there is no personal pronoun present, for instance him here in the King James Version, or the one who in the Revised Standard Version, and the writer or speaker may easily have included such a pronoun if he wanted to explicitly relate such a meaning. These versions added the pronoun where it does not exist. Rather, the phrase may just as properly, and perhaps more so for want of the personal pronoun, be written “of that being spoken”, rather than the phrase “of him that spake” as the King James Version has it, or “of the one who was speaking” as the Revised Standard Version has it. Furthermore, the negative particle precedes the word which it negates, and here it precedes the phrase τοῦ λαλοῦντός, and not the Greek noun for voice. Both of those versions make Paul out to be a liar, whether it was intentional or not. Therefore, in perfectly literal translations of the Greek, here are both verses from the Christogenea New Testament:
Acts 9:7: “And the men traveling with him stood dumb, indeed hearing the voice but seeing nobody.”
Acts 22:9: “And they who were with me surely beheld the light, but for the voice they did not understand that being spoken to me.”
Here these passages are correct in their context, because they are translated in such a way that the Greek meanings of the words and the Greek rules of grammar are not damaged at all, and yet Paul does not conflict with his own statements. When there are choices to be made in a translation, those choices cannot make the original out to be a lie, for then it is only the translator who is lying.
8 Then Saulos rose up from the ground, and opening his eyes he saw nothing.
The Codices Ephraemi Syri (C), Laudianus (E), and the Majority Text have “he saw nobody.” The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B), and the context would also insist that this was the correct reading, since it is clear that Paul's eyesight was now severely impaired.
And being led by the hand he entered into Damaskos. 9 And he was three days not seeing and he did not eat nor drink.
Critics of Christianity may scoff at the deus ex machina, or the"god from the machine", however this account should not be incredible to Christians. This is no different than the flaming chariot which swooped down from heaven and carried Elijah away (2 Kings 2:11), or the incredible flying machine described by Ezekiel (1:4-28). Neither is it any different than the statement by Job that Yahweh “holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it” (26:9) , or the similar cloud into which Moses and Elijah were said to have disappeared at the event called the Transfiguration on the Mount (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). Likewise, Christ Himself was taken up into a cloud, as it is described at Acts 1:9. If there is a God who created the existence which we perceive, then it follows that such a God can transcend that existence in a manner which we cannot perceive. And Christians should also be mindful, that “things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”, as the King James Version has Paul's words at Hebrews 11:3. Our perception of reality is not necessarily what is real, and therefore we should not be too heavily invested in this world.
10 And there was a certain student in Damaskos named Hananias, and the Prince said to him in a vision “Hananias!” And he said “Behold, it is I, Prince!”
Hananias is already a disciple, having long lived in Damascus, however we do not hear of him in Scripture until this point.
11 And the Prince said to him “Arising you must go to the street called ‘Straight’ and inquire at the house of Iouda for a Saulos named ‘of Tarsus.’ For behold, he prays 12 and has seen a man in a vision named Hananias entering and laying the hands upon him that his sight may be restored.”
The Greek of the phrase “Saulos named ‘of Tarsus’” is literally “Saulwith a name Tarsus”.
The Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) want the phrase “in a vision” in verse 12; the text follows the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C), and also the Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text which have a different word order.
The Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Ephraemi Syri (C) have “laying hands upon him”; the Majority Text has “laying a hand upon him”, where the King James Version adds the word his. The text of the Christogenea New Testament agrees with the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Laudianus (E).
13 And Hananias replied “Prince, I have heard from many concerning this man, how much evil he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, 14 and thus he has authority from the high priests to bind all of those being called by Your Name.”
While this passage seems to corroborate the popular perception concerning Paul's role in the early persecution of Christians, that Paul exclusively had a leading role in them, Hananias' statement here does not relate the impression that Paul was the only one whom he heard of who was doing these things, and therefore it should not be taken for granted.
The phrase πάντας τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους, “all of those being called by”, may be read “all of those calling upon”, which is the usual reading offered by all translations. There are five occurrences where this specific phrase is accompanied with words meaning by (or on) the (or this or your) name or in the New Testament, and four of them are in Acts. The fifth is in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. It is currently planned to discuss these and other similar phrases at length in a presentation of Acts chapter 22. The verb ἐπικαλέω, in the Passive voice, is generally to be called by a name. Yet here it appears in the Medium (or Middle) Voice. Joseph Thayer in his Greek-English lexicon where he defines ἐπικαλέω indirectly admits, speaking of the Passive, that the Medium Voice may be understood to mean to permit one’s self to be surnamed. The proper use of the Medium Voice, although it is not absolutely consistent in Greek, is that the subject is both the producer of the action and the recipient of the action: and therefore ἐπικαλέω in the Medium Voice would mean to indicate one who calls himself by a particular name. That is the way in which we interpret the word here, imagining that these early Christians understood the prophecy of Isaiah 43:1 in relation to their redemption: “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Christians, therefore, should be calling themselves by the name of Christ, which is the very meaning of this word in the Medium Voice, and the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning their Redeemer. It is not man who chooses God, but Yahweh God who has already chosen particular men. [This word has not, so far as I am aware, been interpreted in this manner in any other translation, where the universalist ideas have always prevailed. I would rather interpret it in line with the rest of Scripture, and with the Word of Yahweh concerning Israel.]
15 But the Prince said to him “Go! For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel.
The Greek phrase τῶν ἐθνῶν τε καὶ βασιλέων υἱῶν τε ἰσραήλ is here translated as “both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel”; the NA27, following the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Laudianus (E), and the Majority Text, wants the first Article, the; the text follows the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
With the definite article, the phrase is a form of hendiatrisin (which means one by means of three), a longer hendiadys (one by means of two), where the items joined by the conjunctions coalesce, or represent the same entity (see MacDonald, Greek Enchiridion, p. 117). While τέ may be written simply as and, followed by καί it is both...and (or both this and that), which is sufficiently explained by either Liddell & Scott or Joseph Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (τέ, 5037). Thayer gives examples for τὲ...καί and τὲκαί: “not only...but also”, “as well...as”, and “both...and”. The final τέ is not rendered here, and it certainly shouldn’t be and because “of the sons of Israel” is not an addition: it represents the same entity as “the Nations and kings”, all three items being one and the same.
Even following those manuscripts which are without the definite article, it can be shown that there is an intrinsic connection between the nations, kings, and Israel. Thayer states that τέ differs “from the particle καί... [where καί] is conjunctive, [and] τέ [is] adjunctive” and that “καί introduces something new under the same aspect yet as an external addition, whereas τέ marks it as having an inner connection with what precedes” (τέ, p. 616, column B.). Therefore in this passage Israel has an inner connection with kings, which in turn has an inner connection with the nations. Therefore if we were to render the final τέ, then the phrase may well have been rendered “both the Nations and kings both of the sons of Israel” and while it is not literal, it would not do any damage to the meaning of the phrase to interpret it thus: “both the Nations of the sons of Israel, and the kings of the sons of Israel”, for which see Gen. 17:4-6 and 35:11, and Romans 4:13-22.
Genesis 17: “4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.”
Genesis 35: “11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.”
Romans 4: “13 Indeed, not through the law is the promise to Abraham or to his offspring, that he is to be the heir of the Society, but through righteousness of faith [but still the promise is to Abraham or to his offspring]. 14 For if they [offspring] from of the law are heirs, the faith has been voided, and the promise annulled. 15 For the law results in wrath, so where there is no law, neither is there transgression. 16 Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring, not to that of the law only, but also to that of the faith of Abraham [offspring of the faith of Abraham], who is father of us all [meaning all true Judaeans and Romans]; 17 (just as it is written, 'That a father of many nations I have made you,') before Yahweh whom he trusted, who raises the dead to life, and calls things not existing as existing; 18 who contrary to expectation, in expectation believed, for which he would become a father of many nations according to the declaration, 'Thus your offspring will be:' [Abraham's seed, or descendants, would become many nations, a promised fulfilled in the children of Israel. Nowhere does the Scripture say that many nations would become Abraham's seed, as the universalists so wrongly assert.] 19 and he not being weak in the faith, nor having considered his own body by this time being dead, being about a hundred years old, and the deadness of the womb of Sarah, 20 but at the promise of Yahweh he did not doubt in disbelief, rather he was strengthened in faith, giving honor to Yahweh, 21 and having full satisfaction that what He has promised, He is also capable of doing; 22 for that reason also 'it was accounted to him for righteousness.' [and thus was Isaac born, contrary to human expectations for such an aged couple.]”
16 For I shall indicate to him how much it is necessary for him to suffer on behalf of My Name.” 17 Then Hananias departed and entered into that house and laying the hands upon him said “Saul, brother, the Prince has sent me, Yahshua who appeared to you on the road by which you came, that you should see again and be filled of the Holy Spirit.”
The Majority Text wants Yahshua. The text agrees with the third century papyrus P45 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Laudianus (E).
18 And at once there fell from his eyes like scales, then his sight was restored[the Codex Laudianus (E) has “restored immediately”] and arising he was immersed 19 and taking food he was strengthened.
Certainly not intending to discredit the account of Paul of Tarsus, there is a story in the Book of Tobit (found in the King James in the Apocrypha and in the Septuagint) which I am compelled to repeat in part, where the title character is struck with blindness after being hit in the eyes with the dung of a sparrow. He is cured by being anointed with the gall of a fish, on the advice of an angel. From the King James Apocrypha, from Tobit chapter 11: “1 After these things Tobias [the son of Tobit] went his way, praising God that he had given him a prosperous journey, and blessed Raguel and Edna his wife, and went on his way till they drew near unto Nineve. 2 Then Raphael said to Tobias, Thou knowest, brother, how thou didst leave thy father: 3 Let us haste before thy wife, and prepare the house. 4 And take in thine hand the gall of the fish. So they went their way, and the dog went after them. 5 Now Anna sat looking about toward the way for her son. 6 And when she espied him coming, she said to his father, Behold, thy son cometh, and the man that went with him. 7 Then said Raphael, I know, Tobias, that thy father will open his eyes. 8 Therefore anoint thou his eyes with the gall, and being pricked therewith, he shall rub, and the whiteness shall fall away, and he shall see thee. 9 Then Anna ran forth, and fell upon the neck of her son, and said unto him, Seeing I have seen thee, my son, from henceforth I am content to die. And they wept both. 10 Tobit also went forth toward the door, and stumbled: but his son ran unto him, 11 And took hold of his father: and he strake of the gall on his fathers' eyes, saying, Be of good hope, my father. 12 And when his eyes began to smart, he rubbed them; 13 And the whiteness pilled away from the corners of his eyes: and when he saw his son, he fell upon his neck.”
Although it is quite different from the version of Tobit found in either the Septuagint or the King James Apocrypha, in the Tobit of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in an Aramaic version, we have the following which discusses the usefulness of parts of a certain fish for curing certain maladies: “As for the gall, it is to anoint the ey[es of the man on whom burns had been caused,] the scales [shall fall away from him] and they shall be cured.” (4Q197, 4QTobitb ar, Fragment 4 Column I)
It can probably be imagined, if the story is to be accepted, that the surface of Tobit's eyes were burned by the acidic dung of the sparrow.
The eyes of Paul of Tarsus were burned by the great light which he gazed upon as Christ had spoken to him. That Paul's eyes were burned in this manner is a testament to the truth of the story of his conversion, and the apostles must have recognized as much. While the scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored to a certain degree, they were never completely healed. Paul discussed his poor eyesight in a commendation to the Galatians when he wrote to them, in chapter 4 where he said: “13 Now you know that in sickness of the flesh I had announced the good message to you earlier, 14 and of my trial in my flesh you did not despise or loathe, but as a messenger of Yahweh you accepted me, like Yahshua Christ [remember that Christ said “he who receives you receives Me”]. 15 Then what is your blessing? I testify to you that, if possible, your eyes being extracted you would have given them to me.” At the end of that same epistle Paul said to them, at chapter 6: “11 Do you see, in how large letters I have written to you in my own hand?” He had someone write the letter for him, but he wrote the salutation himself, and had to write in large letters due to his poor eyesight. The veracity of these things, and the veracity of the ministry of Paul of Tarsus, was not questioned among the early Christian writers.
Then he was for some days [The third century papyrus P45 has “many days”] with the students in Damaskos, 20 and immediately he proclaimed Yahshua in the assembly halls, that He is the Son of Yahweh. 21 And all those hearing [The third century papyrus P45 wants “those hearing”] were astonished and they said “Is this not he endeavoring to destroy those in Jerusalem calling themselves by this name? And has come here for that reason, that binding them he may lead them to the high priests?” 22 But still more was Saulos strengthened, [the Codices Ephraemi Syri (C) and Laudianus (E) have “strengthened in word”] and confounded the Judaeanswho were dwelling inDamaskos, instructing that this Man is the Christ.
The Greek word πορθέω (4199) is to endeavor to destroy here, as it also should be at Galatians 1:13 and 1:23. The word, which appears in the New Testament only those three times, is “to destroy, ravage, waste, plunder... [and then] 2. in Present and Imperfect [tenses it may be] to endeavor to destroy...” (Liddell & Scott). It may have been wanting or desiring to destroy.
Many Identity Christians follow the error that Paul, upon his conversion, went into the Arabian desert for three years. The popular British Israel book, Father Abraham’s Children, by Perry Edwards Powell, gives an impression of this (pages 140-142) where he says of the year 37 AD that “St. Paul was still in Arabia preparing for his mission”, but it is also repeated elsewhere. The truth is that Paul went to Arabia for an indeterminate length of time, and then he returned to Damaskos where he evidently remained for three years, or at least until three years had elapsed altogether, before he first went to Jerusalem. We read in Galatians chapter 1: “17 Nor had I gone up to Jerusalem to those who were ambassadors before me. Rather I departed into Arabia, then again returned to Damaskos. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to relate an account to Kephas, and remained with him fifteen days”. Paul's preaching in the assembly halls of Damaskos seems to have occupied most of this three year period, according to his own account which he provided to the Galatians.
The dating of events in the Book of Acts is problematic in many places. Was Stephen martyred during the first year after that first Pentecost, or during the second? We have already explained in our presentation of Acts chapter 1 that the year of the first Pentecost must have been 32 AD, and that the dating of Paul's arrival in Rome was 60 AD, which we hope to establish when we arrive at those events in the latter chapters of Acts. The period from Paul's conversion to his arrival in Jerusalem described here in verse 26 is three years, and from Paul's conversion to his appearance in Jerusalem described in Acts chapter 15 is either fourteen years or seventeen years, depending upon whether one wants to add the fourteen years of Galatians 2:1 to the end of the three years of Galatians 1:18, or consider them to be inclusive of those three years. For various reasons, we must consider them to be inclusive. There are other dates which can be anchored to events mentioned in the Book of Acts which may assist us. The death of Herod Agrippa I which is described in Acts chapter 12 happened in the Spring of 44 AD. If the edict of Claudius expelling the jews from Rome took place in 49 AD, as it is popularly dated, then the first events of Acts chapter 18 can be tied to that year.
If the first Pentecost was in 32 AD (as we established in part one of this presentation) and the Edict of Claudius was issued in 49 AD, then imagining the 14 years of Galatians 2:1 to follow Paul's conversion there are 14 years between this point in Acts chapter 9 and the beginning of the events of Acts chapter 16. That leaves 3 years for all of the events from Acts chapter 1 through Acts chapter 8, and those of Acts chapters 16 and 17. Paul's conversion must have taken place in 33 or 34 AD [I had initially said 34 or 35], and the events of Acts 16 and 17 must have transpired from 48 to 49 AD. The earlier period must allow time for Paul's oppression of the Christians of Damascus and his bringing of prisoners to Jerusalem, and their trials there. The later period must allow time for Paul's journey from Jerusalem and his visits to several places in Anatolia and Macedonia before his appearance in Athens.
Yet because Paul said that it was three years from the time of his conversion to the time of his arrival in Jerusalem and meeting with the apostles here in Acts chapter 9, then even this chronology has some difficulties, and all of the events from the first Pentecost to the conversion of Paul may have to be squeezed into that first year. What may lend to our understanding and help us resolve some of these issues, is the realization that the apostles always counted time inclusively, which can be determined from their own reckonings of the days encompassing the events of the last week before crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
23 And as considerable days were fulfilled [or completed], the Judaeans had taken counsel to kill him. 24 But their counsel was made known to Saulos, and they even watched closely the gates both day and night, that they may kill him.
The Codex Alexandrinus has the end of verse 24 to read “and they even watched closely the gates, how they may take hold of him day and night.” The city would have many gates, and therefore Paul's enemies must have been numerous. The Old City of Damascus which still exists today has seven gates, and although most of them date only to the Turkish period, there are some extant walls and at least one of the gates which date to the Roman period.
25 But his students taking him by night sat him in a basket lowering him down by the wall.
The Codex Laudianus and the Majority Text have “the students”; the text agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B), and Ephraemi Syri (C).
This account is not as strange as it seems. Many walled cities in the Near East actually had buildings built adjacent to, into, or sometimes even atop of the city walls, and many of those buildings had windows which opened to the outside of the city. Buildings built into the city walls, actually being a part of the walls, often had windows high off the ground which went through to the outside of the walls. The phrase “by the wall” here in verse 25 may have been written “through the wall”.
26 Then arriving in Jerusalem he tried to join the students, and they all feared him, not believing that he is a student. 27 But taking him Barnabas brought him to the ambassadors, and he described to them how on the road he saw the Prince and that He spoke to him and how in Damaskos he spoke freely in the Name of Yahshua.
Barnabas was first introduced to us in Acts chapter 4: “36 Then Ioseph, who was called Barnabas by the ambassadors, which is interpreted “son of consolation”, a Levite, a Kupriot by birth, 37 selling a farm belonging to him brought the money and set it before the feet of the ambassadors.” Therefore he must have been trusted by the apostles. We have already seen here, from Paul's statements in Galatians, that he must have preached in Damaskos for a long time before coming to Jerusalem. Luke referred to this period as “considerable days” in verse 23.
If Paul was converted in 34 AD, then since the apostles seem to have always counted years and days inclusively, this may be 36 AD when he first meets the apostles in Jerusalem. It seems that the events of Acts Chapter 15 could have happened no later than 48 AD.
28 And he was with them, going in and going out [the Majority Text wants “and going out”, yet the King James Version has the phrase] in Jerusalem, speaking freely in the Name of the Prince, 29 he had both spoken to and disputed with the Hellenists, and they endeavored to kill him.
The Hellenists here were not Greeks, but rather they were followers of Greek customs and traditions amongst the Judaeans. Paul quoted from and alluded to Greek writers in several of his epistles, and he must have been well read in the classical Greek poets and historians, and therefore as a Hebrew he was uniquely qualified to debate with the Greeks and their philosophies, as well as also having had a full education in Hebrew Scripture since he was trained “at the feet of Gamaliel”, which he admits in the record at Acts chapter 22. Understanding this, we can see that Paul was uniquely qualified among the apostles to debate with Hebrews, Hellenists, and educated Greeks themselves, in favor of the Christian doctrine. The Codex Alexandrinus (A) has here Greeks rather than Hellenists, however the reading is unlikely since Peter had not yet had his vision, and therefore there are not yet any who were uncircumcised among these early Christians, and Peter would not yet have approved of attempting to convert any.
Paul disputed with the Hellenists and that they “endeavored to kill him”, indicates that Paul prevailed in his disputes, and that the Hellenists had no other recourse. Paul, having been educated far beyond the other apostles, was in a unique position among them to be able to both elucidate and dispute the Gospel and the Old Testament in the context of ancient world history. Paul was uniquely qualified to bring the Gospel to “lost” Israel, to those of the ancient dispersions, to those nations which were descended from the seed of Abraham. That was his mission “to the Nations”. That qualification is fully evident in many of his epistles.
30 But discovering it the brethren brought him down into Caesareia[the Codex Laudianus (E) has “by night into Caesareia”] and sent him off to Tarsos. 31 So then the assembly[the Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text have “assemblies”] throughout the whole of Judaea and Galilaia and Samareia had peace, being built and going in fear of the Prince, and in comfort of the Holy Spirit it multiplied.
Seeing that Paul was sent to Tarsus helps to show that Paul must have still had family connections in Tarsus. While it cannot be demonstrated, it may be imagined that Paul was probably in Tarsus during much of the time of Yahshua’s ministry, and for that reason he was not at all familiar with Him or His teachings. And even though Paul very likely traveled to Jerusalem for the feasts during this period, Jerusalem was a city of 2 million inhabitants and the population could easily have doubled during the feasts, so one could certainly have attended them and still not have had the opportunity to see and hear Yahshua as He taught.
32 And it came to pass that Petros was passing through everywhere [literally “through all”, apparently of those places mentioned in verse 31], coming down also to the saints who were dwelling in Ludda, 33 and found there a certain man named Aineas who was paralyzed, for eight years lying upon a couch.
Ludda, a Judaean town which apparently was about 22 miles NW of Jerusalem, Thayer in his lexicon says that it was a town of Benjamin later called Diospolis (which means “city of God”) by the Romans. It is the Old Testament town of Lod mentioned in I Chronicles 8:12. It was resettled by some of those who returned from the Babylonian captivity, as it is mentioned in Ezra 2:33, and Nehemiah 7:37, and that those who resettled it were of the tribe of Benjamin is evident in Nehemiah 11:35.
Peter would not yet take the Word and gifts of Yahweh to the uncircumcised, because he hadn’t yet had his vision and the realization that he could or should do so. Here we have a Judaean man named Aineas, and so we have another indication of the extent to which Judaeans shared Greco-Roman culture. Αἰνείας, or often Αἰνέας as it is spelled here (cf. the 9th edition of the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon) is the name of the Trojan prince who, after the fall of Troy, is said to have sailed to Italy with a large colony of his people, founding the nation which later became known to us by its most famous city, Rome. This story is related by Diodorus Siculus, by the Roman poet Virgil in his famous poem, The Aeneid, and in many other classical sources. Here is a Hebrew man who is named for a Trojan-Roman hero and a Homeric legend.
34 And Petros said to him “Aineas, Yahshua Christ has healed you! You must arise and straighten yourself out!” And immediately he arose. 35 And all those dwelling in Ludda and Saron who had seen him, as many turned to the Prince.
Once again, the gifts of the Spirit of Pentecost facilitated the spread of the Gospel. Of this place, Saron, the third century papyrus P45 has Sarona; Codex Sinaiticus (א) “Sarrona”; the Alexandrinus (A) “Sarron”; The Majority Text “Assaron”; the text of the Christogenea New Testament agrees with the third century papyrus P53 and the Codices Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Laudianus (E). This place is the Sharon of Isaiah 33:9 and 35:2, although other places also bore the name, and it was also the name of the plain by the sea north of Joppa and extending to Dor in the land of Manasseh.
36 And in Ioppa there was a certain student named Tabitha, which being interpreted is said “Gazelle”.
Here it is evident that even these accounts in the Book of Acts from before the time of Luke's direct involvement were originally transmitted in Greek, or this woman’s name should have been translated to Greek along with the text, and the words “Tabitha, which being interpreted is said” should not have been necessary.
According to Greek mythology, and mentioned in passing by Josephus in his Wars of the Judaeans, Book 3, Joppa is the place where the hero Perseus was said to have rescued Andromeda, the daughter of the Ethiopian King Cepheus, from a sea monster. Stripped naked, Andromeda was chained to the rocks on the coast, resulting from a punishment for the arrogance of Cassiopeia her mother. Quite often do Biblical lands and races figure into the oldest Greek myths, with certainty because Greeks and Hebrews have a common origin and culture. From Josephus' Wars, 3:419-421: “419 Now Joppa is not naturally a harbour, for it ends in a rough shore, where all the rest of it is straight, but the two ends bend toward each other, 420 where there are deep precipices, and great stones that jut out into the sea, and here are still shown the impressions of Andromeda's chains, which attest to the antiquity of that fable; 421 but the north wind opposes and beats upon the shore, and dashes mighty waves against the rocks which receive them, and renders the harbour more dangerous than the country they had deserted.”
She [Tabitha] was full of good deeds and acts of charity which she did. 37 And it happened in those days that she being sick died. And washing her they laid her in an upper room [or an attic]. 38 And as Ludda was near to Ioppa, the students hearing that Petros is in it sent two men [the Majority Text wants the phrase “two men”, however the words do appear in the King James Version] to him exhorting him: “You should not hesitate to come through unto us!” 39 And Petros arising went with them, whom arriving they led into the upper room, and present in it were all the widows weeping and exhibiting the shirts and garments Gazelle made as long as she was with them.
These men from Joppa must have been Israelites. These accounts, understood in the context of Acts, show that the descendants of those who returned from Babylon had indeed occupied many parts of Palestine, and were not merely concentrated in Jerusalem and Galilee. Likewise Philip, the last we see him in the Book of Acts, was left in Azotus, another coastal town about midway between Gaza and Joppa, from where he went on to Caesareia which was on the coast north of Joppa.
40 And casting them all outside Petros then kneeling down prayed and turning to the body said “Tabitha, you must arise!” And she opened her eyes, and seeing Petros she sat up. 41 Then offering her a hand he raised her, and calling the saints and the widows he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout the whole of Ioppa, and many believed in the Prince. 43 And he was for considerable days abiding in Ioppa with a certain Simon, a tanner.
Peter's healing of this girl is in much the same pattern as when Christ had resurrected a young girl as it is recorded in Mark chapter 5. Again we see that the gifts of the Spirit facilitated the spread of the Gospel, and that the Gospel eventually prevailed over so many competing Greek and Roman philosophies and over all of the mystery religions of Egypt and the Near East, as well as all of the contrivances of the jews while so many noble men and women also gave their lives on its behalf, is all the proof a Christian should need of its veracity.
With this we find our introduction to the next chapter of Acts, and the account of Peter's vision. It wasn't meant to make ham sandwiches safe for Christians, as we shall discuss here next week, Yahweh willing.