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10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem : and And this I also did in Jerusa. 10
lem: and I both shut up many many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having of the saints in prisons, having received authority 2 from the chief priests; and when
received authority from the
" chief priests, and when they they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. were put to death, I gave my 11. 3 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, 'ishing them oftentimes in all
vote against them. And pun- 11 and compelled them to blaspheme ; and being exceed. the synagogues, I strove to
I make them blaspheme; and ingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto being exceedingly mad against strange cities.
them, I persecuted them even
unto foreign cities. Where- 12 12. 4 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with upon as I journeyed to Da
mascus with the authority and authority and commission from the chief priests,
commission of the chief 13. At midday, () king, I saw in the way a light priests, at midday, o king, I 13
saw on the way a light from from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining heaven, above the brightness round about me and them which journeyed with me.
of the sun, shining round
about me and them that jour. 14. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I neyed with me. And when we 14 heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the heard a voice saying unto me
were all fallen to the earth, I Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? in the Hebrew language, Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
me! it is hard for thee to kick ? At: 8:3. Gal. 1: 13. ? Acts 9:14, 21; 22: 5. 3 Acts 22: 19. + Acts 9:3; 22: 6.
10. When they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. Literally, I cast my pebble, i.C., my vote. In voting in ancient times, small round pebbles were used, the white for acquittal, the black for condemnation. The language here clearly implies that Paul had, at that time, a position which entitled him to vote in the tribunal before which the Christians were brought for trial; and as the Jewish law allowed the infliction of the deathsentence only by the Sanhedrim, the conclusion has been very generally drawn that he was a member of that court. —- Abbott. Stephen was one of those against whom he cast his vote.
11. In every synagogue. The synagogue was a court as well as a house of worship, and was used as a place of punishment. Compelled them to blaspheme. Literally, to speak evil of; here of the name of Christ, i.e., to recant from their faith, and renounce Christ. -- Abbott. The original does not imply that any did blaspheme Christ. -- Alford. I persecuted them. St. Paul ever introduces this fact, whether as a humiliating confession of his opposition to Christ, or as an evidence that he was not prejudiced in favor of the Gospel, but accepted it on irresistible evidence. — Denton. Strange cities. Foreign cities, beyond the bounds of the Jewish country,
12. As I went to Damascus. This is the third account contained in the Acts, of Paul's conversion, the other two being in chaps. 9 and 22. It contains three noticeable details which do not appear in the two other accounts: (1) The overpowering glory of the light is here dwelt upon in a special manner. It exceeded even the brightness of an oriental sun at noon. (2) The voice, we are told here, spoke to Saul in the Hebrew tongue. (3) The addition of the proverb so well known in classical literature, “ It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.” – Rev. Com. (4) The mission of Paul to the Gentiles is here alluded to as forming part of this first communication of the Lord.— Schaff.
13. At midday. Compare chap. 22:6, “ About noon." This shows that it was no vision in the night, but occurred in the full blaze of an oriental sun. Above the brightness of the sun. Such language shows that it was no natural phenomenon, like lightning. -- Abbott. It was the glory of Christ that so out-dazzled the sun. Bathed, so to speak, in this glorious sea of light, Saul saw the form of him that had been crucified and had risen again (Acts 22:14). May we not say without temerity, that he saw, on that transfigured form, some of the marks of the passion which he had so often derided and spoken of as the well-earned guersion of a false impostor, that he saw those well-known marks we know the risen Lord still bore (John 20: 27), – the print of the nails, and the scar of the spear. Schaft
14. I heard a voice. Christ was therefore living, for Paul heard his voice, and he had seen him in the dazzling light. This was one of his great arguments for the resurrection of the dead, and that Jesus was the Messiah. Why persecutest thou me? The order of these words in the original gives a strong emphasis to me. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. The metaphor or proverb is derived from oxen at the plough, which, on being pricked with the goad, kick against it, and so cause it to pierce them more severely. 15. And I said, Who art thou, Lord ? And he against the goad. And I said, 15
Who art thou, Lord! And said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
the Lord said, I am Jesus 16. But rise, and stand upon thy feet : for I have whom thou persecutest. Eur 16
arise, and stand upon thy appeared unto thee for this purpose, 'to make thee a feet:' for to this end have 1 minister and a witness both of these things which thou in
| appeared unto thee, to appoint
thee a minister and a witness hast seen, and of those things in the which I will ap- both of the things wherein
thou hast seen me, and of the pear unto thee;
things wherein I will appear
1 Acts 22:15
The meaning is obvious: that it was both unavailing and injurious to resist Christ by persecuting his disciples. — Gloag. Plumptre suggests with great force that there had been “ promptings, misgivings, warnings, which Paul had resisted and defied. Among the causes of these we may reckon the counsel of Gamaliel (Acts 5: 34-39), the angel face of Stephen, and his dying prayer (6:15; 7: 60), and the daily spectacle of those who were ready to go to prison and to death, rather than renounce Christ. In the frenzy of his zeal he had tried to crush these misgivings, and the effort to do so had brought with it discomfort and disquietude which made him more exceeding mad against the disciples." —Plumptre. It is not unusual for men who are moved to break away from old traditions at such times, by outward acts, to manifest even more zeal than before for their old opinions, as if in fcar lest they should be thought to be falling away. – Cambridge Bible.
15. I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. Jesus and his people are one family, have the same interests, are identified with the same cause. He that harms my child, or my friend, or my cause, harms me. Much more is this true of those who harm the disciples and friends of Jesus because they are his friends. Paul did not have any feeling against those he persecuted, as individuals, but only as representatives of Jesus Christ, and his kingdom and cause, therefore he was persecuting Jesus. — P.
VI. Fifth Division, --Proof from what the Gospel is doing among Men.-(1) A power that could so convert and change one like Paul must be living and divine. Dead, or merely human beings cannot do such works. (2) This power, that was to work myriads of similar wonders among the nations, must be living and divine.
16-18. In these three verses the apostle appears to condense into one statement various sayings of his Lord to him in visions at different times by Ananias (chap. 9:15), and in the subsequent vision in the temple (chap. 22:18-21), in order to present at one view the grandeur of the commission with which his Master had clothed him. — Alford. So Plumptre, Abbott, Riddle.
On the other hand Schaff says: “ It is far more reasonable to take the account here given by Paul in its natural, obvious sense, and to regard the words of the Lord which immediately follow here in this and the two following verses as positively uttered on this momentous occasion. They, in fact, explained to the amazed and awe-struck Pharisee the reason of the blinding glory and the awful voice which had arrested him and his company on his entrance into Damascus. Nor is it at all improbable that the substance of this communication was repeated again to him by Ananias, or was pressed upon him in a vision; for it told him, in fact, what it was the Lord wished to be the one great object of his life.”
These verses, constituting Paul's commission, indicate also the commission of all Christian ministers. They are appointed to be witnesses to those things made known or to be made known to them by the Spirit of God. — Abbott.
16. Rise, and stand upon thy feet. Christ did throw down Paul, that he might humble him; now he listeth him up, and biddeth him be of good courage. - Calvin. To make thee a minister. A servant of Christ, a doer or executor of the work here appointed. A witness. To testify to the truths God revealed to him; to the fact that Jesus was living, and divine, the Messiah; to the reality of the future life. And of those things in the which I will appear unto thee. Notably these future revelations referred in the first instance to those special appearances of the Lord to Paul in visions, trances, or ecstasies, such as are chronicled in chap. 22:17-21, when he fell into a trance as he was praying in the temple, and in the Second Epistle to the Corinthian church (2 Cor. 12: 1-5). Secondly, to those great summaries of divine truth which Paul the apostle put out in after days, in the form of epistles to the Gentile churches — those divine handbooks to Christian doctrine and Christian life. It was really in those lonely hours, perhaps in the still eventide or quiet night, after the day's hard toil spent in the workrooms of men like Aquila the tentmaker, that God indeed appeared to Paul and guided his thoughts. – Hackett.
17. Delivering thee from the people, and from the unto thee: delivering thee 17
from the people, and from the Gentiles, ? unto whom now I send thee,
Gentiles, unto whom I send 18. ? To open their eyes, and 3 to turn them from thee, to open their eyes, that 18
they may turn from darkness darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto to light, and from the power
of Satan unto God, that they God, 4 that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and
may receive remission of sins 5 inheritance among them which are sanctified by and an inheritance among
them that are sanctified by faith that is in me.
faith in me.
Thess. 5: 5.
1 Acts 22: 21. 2 Isa. 35: 5; 42: 7. Luke 1:79. John 8:12. 2 Cor. 4:4. Eph. 1:18.
17. Delivering thee. This implies that sufferings, dangers, and persecutions awaited him. - Cook. This promise pledged to him the security which he needed for the accomplishment of his work until his work was done. – Hackett. How often in that strange, harassed life of his so touchingly painted in his own glowing words in 2 Cor. 11:23-27, and 6:4-10, must this sure promise of his Messiah reigning from his glory-throne in heaven have come up and cheered him with a voice not of this world! – Schaff.
FOUR STEPS TO GLORY. FIRST STEP, - Divine enlightenment."
18. To open their eyes. The people were in the darkness and the valley of the shadow of death. They were in darkness (1) because they had closed their eyes and would not see; (2) their eyes grew dull and dim by sinful habits and natures. To turn them from darkness to light. This was the first effect of opening their eyes. Paul was God's instrument for the opening of their eyes, through the Holy Spirit. They were in the dark. ness of ignorance. They did not see God, nor holiness, nor true life, nor true morality, nor eternal life, nor the way to heaven. Christ opened their eyes to see these glorious truths. They were in the darkness of sin, which kept them from opening their eyes, which hindered them from seeking or understanding the great truths of eternal life. Christ came to change their sinful natures, and give them spiritual eyes that could see and love these truths.
SECOND STEP, — Conversion. From the power of Satan unto God. They were members of Satan's kingdom, serving him, living according to his principles, selfish, sinful, worldly, and going on to his reward. The Gospel Paul preached was to lead them into the kingdom of God, to love God with all their hearts, and their neighbor as themselves; to live according to God's laws, to receive his nature, to be endowed with his spirit and his glory. — P.
THIRD STEP, — Forgiveness of sins, and adoption into the family of God.
FOURTH STEP, -- An inheritance among them which are sanctified. Sanctified. Consecrated to God, holy. God by making men holy fits them for their inheritance. A faith that does not sanctify cannot save. By faith that is in me. That is, as Rev. Ver., by faith in me. By believing in Jesus, by accepting him as their teacher, their leader, their Saviour, their example, they are made holy, and receive the inheritance.
THE INHERITANCE 07 THE SAINTS. (1) It is not earned, but inherited by becoming children of God. (2) It is an inheritance of God's nature. (3) It is an inheritance of his fatherly love and care. (4) It is an inheritance of his possessions and his home. (5) It is an inheritance with the glorious company of his saints. (6) It is the richest, the happiest, the most glorious, the most desirable of all conceivable possessions. — P.
LIBRARY REFERENCES. Donald Fraser's Speeches of the Holy Apostles, pp. 222-230; C. J. Vaughn's Lectures on the Church of the First Days, 284-320; the Commentaries on Acts 9 and 22; the different Lives of St. Paul; Adolph Monod's St. Paul, p. 72; Spurgeon's Sermons, series 6, p. 61; Arnot's Church in the flouse ; Jean Paul Richter's “Dream of Atheism," in Egleston's Christian Literature.
PRACTICAL. 1. Vers. 2, 3. The Christian, in relation to his religion, is best judged by those who know most about it. It is the ignorant who rail most, and find most unjust fault.
2. Ver. 7. The hope of humanity is fulfilled in Christ. That which the world longs for spiritually and needs most of all is attained through the Gospel.
3. Ver. 8. The religion of Jesus is the most reasonable thing in the world; the most credible of all religions. A noted observer of human nature says that he never yet met an intidel who did not believe a hundred times as many incredible things as he can find in the Bible.
4. If God can give life he can raise the dead, and keep us to eternal life.
5. Ver. 9, etc. The great proof of the divineness of the Gospel is the marvellous changes it makes in the character of men, and always for the better.
6. Ver. 13. How glorious is our risen, living Lord.
7. Those who have seen Jesus, who walk with him and hear his voice, are fitted by this experience to lead others to him.
8.' Ver. 16. God has some worthy purpose, some noble work for all whom he calls into his kingdom.
9. The experience and the knowledge of the Christian is progressive. There is always " more to follow."
10. Ver. 18. Note the grandeur of the work of the church. That church only is a true church of Christ which is doing these things for men.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS.
THE HEARING BEFORE AGRIPPA. (1) Picture out the scene. (2) The time and place of the hearing. (3) The audience. (4) The judges, with a brief account of Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice. (5) The prisoner chained to a guard.
THE ADDRESS. It was a great privilege to preach the Gospel to such an audience, especially after being a prisoner for two years. You notice that in defending himself he seems yet almost to forget himself, and makes all he says a preaching of the Gospel. He goes directly to Christ, from whatever place he starts. It should be so with the teacher in his class.
Mark the graceful INTRODUCTION, how it was true, courteous, adapted to conciliate, and showed a clear conscience. How did Agrippa become an expert in Jewish customs?
THE SUBJECT, – THE GOSPEL PROVED TO BE TRUE.
I. Because it was the fulfilment of the promises of God, and the hope given to us in the Old Testament. For these promises and hopes, see such passages as Job 19:26; Dan. 12:2; Luke 10: 37, 38; reference to the future life; and such as Isa. 9:7; 60: 1-22; Dan. 7:9, 10, 14, 27, with regard to the hopes of the Jews. This Gospel, being the fulfilment of the promises and sacrifices and hopes of the Old Testament Scriptures, shows it to be from the same divine wisdom and love.
Illustration. The progress of revelation and of God's institution is something like the progress of a plant from a seed. There are changes, but they are the natural development of the original life, not the substitution of another plant (see Arnot's Church in the House).
II. Because it is reasonable (ver. 8). The whole Gospel scheme of salvation, its divine Saviour, its future hopes, are all reasonable. Far more easy to believe than the faiths of those who oppose. As a rule, the man who objects to learned doctors will be sure to run after quacks; and the man that cannot believe the Bible will believe some credulous super
III. Because of the wonderful changes it works in individuals (vers. 9-16). Such as Paul, such as every teacher can point out to his scholars. Here the teacher can dwell more or less, according to circumstances, upon Paul's conversion. But let him especially note the fact that Jesus is living and divine, (1) for Paul saw him; (2) Paul heard him; (3) he made a wonderful change in Paul's character.
IV. Because of its transforming results in the world (vers. 17, 18).
Note the FOUR STEPS in religious progress as given here. Why men need to have their eyes opened.
Illustration. In the Russian mines in Siberia there are children born who live for years knowing no brighter world than those dim torch-lit depths. They see some light, they have a faint idea of color, but nothing of the wonderful and glorious world above. They cannot even conceive of it. They may not even believe it really exists. Christ coming into the soul with his light, is like bringing one of these children into the upper world of light and springtime.
LESSON XII. — MARCH 22,
PAUL VINDICATED. — ACTS 26: 19–32. GOLDEN TEXT. – Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue until this day. — Acts 26: 22.
TIME. — First of August, A.D. 60.
INTRODUCTION. Paul has been defending and explaining the Gospel he preaches before governor Festus, and king Agrippa, and a brilliant audience of officers and leading people of Cesarea. Our lesson is a continuation of his address, the first part of which we studied last Sabbath. 19. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobe-1
sobe Wherefore, o king Agrippa, 19
I was not disobedient unto dient unto the heavenly vision :
the heavenly vision: but de-20
clared both to them of Da20. But I shewed first unto them of Damascus, and mascus first, and at Jerusaat Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea,
lem, and throughout all the country of Judæa, and also to the Gentiles, that they
should repent and turn to turn to God, and do 2 works meet for repentance.
| God, doing works worthy of 1 Acts 9: 20, 22, 29; 11:26. Matt. 3:8.
EXPLANATORY. I. Obedience to the Divine Call. — Ver. 19. 19. Whereupon. That is, after seeing Christ, and hearing his call, and perceiving the grand work to be done by the Gospel for men as described in our last lesson. I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision. He yielded his will, and gave himself up to the truth and to the love and service of Jesus Christ. He was convinced that his former life was wrong and the new life was right; that the Gospel was the divine fulfilment of the hopes of the Jews and the promises of God to them; and that it was the true means of benefitting his fellow-men. — P. This is one of the grand points of instruction and personal application in Paul's whole career. He began on the instant, where he was, to obey. He sought on the instant and ever afterward (for now twenty-four years) to know and to do the Lord's will. Day by day had he gone on as directed. -- Glentworth Butler.
20. But shewed. Declared. What he declared is given in the last part of the verse, and in vers. 22, 23. First unto them of Damascus. Immediately after his conversion (Acts 9: 20-22). Then after two or three years of probable retirement he returns to Damascus and preaches again (Gal. 1:17, 18; Acts 9:23, 25). And at Jerusalem. For a brief time, going there from Damascus (Acts 9:26-29; Gal. 1:18). He also visited there, and of course preached at other times. Throughout all the coasts of Judea. The exact time of this preaching is not known, as no record is given of it. But there was abundant opportunity for it between A.D. 40, when Paul left Jerusalem, and A.D. 48, when he started on his first missionary journey. But little is recorded of Paul during these years except his preaching at Antioch, whence he could easily make journeys through Judea. — P. Dr. Hackett suggests that this part of the work of Paul was carried on when he went to the Holy Land at the time of the famine (see chap. 11:30), or while he was at Jerusalem, between his first and second mission to the heathen (see chap. 18:22).
II. The Subjects of Panl's Preaching.– Vers. 20–23. Paul now declares to Agrippa what he preached in the name of Jesus. Thus he could see how little there was in the Jews' accusation. All he said was uplifting and helpful. His teaching was first practical, secondly, doctrinal.
PRACTICAL. That they should repent. This is the first duty of every one who has sinned; and all have sinned. Repentance is more than sorrow for the consequences of sin. It is a hatred of sin as sin. It is sin seen in the light of the goodness and love of God. It is turning from the sin. Judas is an example of false repentance, Peter of true repentance. — P. And turn to God. lIating sin or even turning from it is not enough. There must be a choice of good; a turning to God, against whom we have rebelled, to be his obedient and loving subjects and children. And do works meet for repentance. The