SUMMARY.--Saul's Journey to Damascus. The Lord Meets Him on the Way. Called to Be a Witness to the Gentiles. Baptized by Ananias. Preaches Christ to the Jews in Damascus. They Seek His Death. His Escape to Jerusalem and Meeting with the Apostles. Departure to Tarsus. Peter Heals Æneas at Lydda. Raises Dorcas at Joppa.
22. Saul increased the more in strength. Grew continually in power to preach Christ.
23. After that many days were fulfilled. A long period, probably at least three years. Luke's narrative is very condensed. He is not writing a history of Saul, but of the founding of the church. We learn from Paul ( Gal. 1:16-18 ) that he spent at this time a long period in Arabia, and after this returned to Damascus. It was at his return that this persecution broke out. The Jews took counsel to kill him. See 2 Cor. 11:32 , for additional information. At this time Damascus was in the temporary possession of Aretas, an Arabian potentate. Less scrupulous than the Roman rulers, he was willing to please Saul's Jewish enemies, who were numerous and influential, by putting him to death.
24. They watched the gates. "The governor, under Aretas the king, kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me" ( 2 Cor. 11:32 ).
25. Let him down by the wall. As the gates were guarded, there was no escape that way. Houses built against or on the wall, would afford an opportunity of letting him down on the outside. "And through a window, in a basket, was I let down by the wall and escaped his hands" ( 2 Cor. 11:33 ).
26. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem. Three years had passed since he left the city, a proud, talented young Pharisee, with brilliant worldly prospects, the honored agent of the Sanhedrim, commissioned to stamp out Christianity at Damascus. He now returns a disciple of him whom he sought to destroy, his bright worldly prospects all forfeited, an outcast from his own nation, persecuted and hated. Why this change? No explanation is possible, save that given in this history and by himself. They were afraid of him. Little was known in the church of the change. A great part of the three years were spent in Arabia, probably in study and preparation of his great work. They had known so much of his fury in the past that they feared him still. His appearance in the church would be much like that of Robert G. Ingersoll in a Christian convention.
27. Barnabas took him. See Acts 4:36 . Barnabas was a Hellenist like Saul. When he vouched for him to the apostles, their distrust ended. Paul ( Gal. 1:18 ) gives an account of this visit to the apostles.
29. He disputed against the Grecians. The Jews in Jerusalem who had been born in foreign countries and spoke the Greek language. See notes on Acts 6:1.
30. They brought him down to Cæsarea. The same class of Jews who had raised the persecution against Stephen now sought the death of Saul. By the aid of the brethren he was taken to the seaport of Cæsarea and sailed for his old home at Tarsus. Some think, however, from Gal. 1:21 , that the journey was made by land through Syria. It is more likely that he sailed from Cæsarea to Seleucia in Syria, and from thence made his way to Tarsus. Four or five years pass before the next mention of Saul in Acts ( 12:25 ), an interval passed in preaching Christ ( Gal. 1:23 ), and resulting in the planting of churches in Cilicia ( Acts 15:23 Acts 15:41 ).
31. Then had the churches rest. After the departure of Saul there was a cessation of persecution for several years. The reason is found in the history of the times. The Roman emperor, Caligula, had ordered his statue to be placed in the temple at Jerusalem for worship, a desecration of the temple, and the Jews were too much engaged in their efforts to prevent this to persecute the church. Edified. Built up. Were multiplied. The result, always, of "walking in the fear of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit."
32-34. As Peter passed throughout all quarters. Visiting the churches of Judea. At Lydda. A town in the sea-coast plain, now called Ludd, not far from Joppa. Here he healed a cripple of eight years. Observe that he ascribes the power to Christ.
35. All that dwelt at Lydda and Saron. In the plain of Sharon, a term often applied to the sea-coast plain between Joppa and Cæsarea. See Song of Solomon 2:1 . The passage means, not that every soul turned, but that there was a general turning as the result of the miracle.
36. There was at Joppa. The seaport of Jerusalem from the times of David to the present day, situated in a fertile plain now celebrated for its fine oranges, of which vast quantities are shipped from the port. Here named as the home of Tabitha, or Dorcas in the Greek (meaning "gazelle"), a saintly Christian noted for her deeds of love.
37. Washed, . . . laid her in an upper chamber. Prepared for burial. The place was the large upper room on the upper floor of Eastern houses, usually used as a guest chamber.
38, 39. They sent unto him two men. The fame of his miracles was so well known that they probably hoped that he might restore her to life. The widows stood by him weeping. They had been the objects of her benevolence.
40. Peter put them all forth. Compare 1 Kings 17:19-23 1 Kings 17:2 2 Kings 4:32-36 Matt. 9:25 . Perhaps that his whole soul might be fixed on the Lord in prayer. It was on his knees that he was made to feel that the Lord had given him power. In his prayer he called on the name of Christ, was answered, and only needed to say, "Tabitha, arise," and "she opened her eyes." It was the first miracle in which death was overcome at the hands of an apostle.
42. Many believed in the Lord. The knowledge of the miracle worked this result.
43. Tarried many days. Perhaps a year. Joppa was a large city and a favorable field of work. Here Peter was found, at "the house of Simon the tanner," when called to Cæsarea by the messengers of Cornelius. It was by the seaside ( 10:32 ), and a house is still pointed out, close to the sea-shore, as that of Simon, which Dean Stanley believes to be on the original site.