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Acts vi, 58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him : and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge! And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
A. xxii. 20. 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.
A. viii. 1. And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem ; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2. And certain good and pious men (see Note) carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house ; and haling men and women, committed them to prison.
4. Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word.
THE CONVERSION OF SAUL.
Acts ix, 1. And Saul yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Acts ix. 2. And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, (that is, several, for Damascus abounded in a Jewish population,) that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus ; and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven :
4. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5. And he said, Who art thou, Lord ? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest : it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no man.
8. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man : but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
10. And there was a certain disciple (a Christian convert) at Damascus, named Ananias : and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus : for, behold, he prayeth,
12. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might recover his sight.
Acts ix. 13. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem
14. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way : for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel :
16. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house (v. 11.), and putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest recover thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he recovered sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
19. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened, i. e. restored to his usual strength.
The parallels in his own narrative of this miraculous event, on two different occasions afterwards, will be found below, A. xxii. 4... 16., and xxvi. 9... 18. And for the correspondency betwixt the apostle's history given in this part of the Acts and various particulars of it recorded in his own epistles, HORÆ PAULINÆ, pp. 81...85. may be advantageously consulted.
A. ix. 19. Then was Saul some days (not many) with the disciples which were at Damascus.
20. And straightway he preached Jesus (see NOTE). in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God, in other words, the Messiah that was to come.
Acts ix. 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 person (Jesus of Nazareth) is indeed the Messiah.
All circumstances considered, here seems the place in order of time to introduce what by Luke on his plan of brevity is here passed over in silence, the journey into Arabia ; of which we should have known nothing, had not the apostle been led himself to record it by a peculiar occasion, and for the purpose of giving strength to his argument, that his was a divine commission, and dependent on no human authority.
Galat. i. 15...17., and see H. P. 81, 2.
15. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen ; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood :
17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
This seclusion seems to have lasted during a great part at least of the three years mentioned in Galat.i. 18. as quoted below.
Acts ix. 23. And after that many days (the same with those three years, H. P. 82. Note) were thus fulfilled, the Jews (at Damascus) took counsel to kill him :
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.
For the account of this deliverance as related in 2 CORINTH. xi. 32, 33. and its correspondency with that here given, vide H. P.56.
And now before resuming the direct history of the Acts, let the following brief narrative come in as its parallel.
Galat. i. 18. Then after three years (i. e. from his conversion) I went up to Jerusalem, to become acquainted with Peter, to visit and converse with him ; and I abode with him accordingly, but only for fifteen days.
(The shortness of that stay is accounted for below, A. ix. 29, 30., and vide H. P.97.)
19. But other of the apostles saw I none, at that time, save James the Lord's brother.
Acts ix. 26. And when Saul was come from Damascus to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples generally : but they were all afraid of him at the first, and could not believe that he was indeed a disciple.
27. But Barnabas (who seems therefore to have had some previous acquaintance with Saul) took him by the hand, and brought him to the apostles (Peter and James