Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

me.

to them, they kept the more silence : and he saith,) I am verily a man 3 which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, aad tauglit according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering 4 into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear 5 me witness, and all the estate of the elders : from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalern, for to be punished. And it came to 6 pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about

And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, 7 • Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' And I answered, “Who art 8 thou, Lord ?' And he said unto ine, ' I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.' And they that were with me saw indeed the light, 9 and were afraid ; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord ?' And the Lord said unto me, 10 • Arise, and go into Damascus ; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.' And when I could not see 11 for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according 12 to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came 13 unto me, and stood, and said unto me, ' Brother Saul, receive thy sight.' And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, “The God of 14 our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou 15 shalt be his witness unto all en of what thou hast seen and heard. And 16 now why tarriest thou ? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' And it came to pass, that, when I was 17 conie again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance, and saw him saying unto me, ‘Make haste, and get thee out of 18 Jerusalem : for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.' Aud I said, “ Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every syna- 19 gogue them that believed on thee : and when the blood of thy martyr 20 Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto 21 me, ‘ Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.'”

And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their 22 voices, and said, “ Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.” And as they cried out, and cast off their 23 clothes, and threw dust into the air, the chief captain cominanded him 24 to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that

stood by, “ Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roinan, and 26 uncondemned ?” When the centurion heard that, he went and told the

chief captain, saying, “ Take heed what thou doest : for this man is a 27 Roman.” Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, “Tell me, 28 art thou a Roman ?” He said, “ Yea.” And the chief captain answer

ed, “ With a great sum obtained 1 this freedom." And Paul said, 29 “ But I was free born.” Then straightway they departed from him

which should have examined him, (or, tortured him] : and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

EXPLANATION.

It appears that Paul had fixed seven days as the period for his Nazarite vow; in the course of which time he was recognized in the temple by some of the Jews who had come from the province of Asia Minor to attend the feast of Pentecost. As soon as they saw him in the inner court of the temple, where Jews alone were permitted to enter, they excited all the people who were assembled there against him, and proceeded to lay violent hands on him. As they seized him, they cried out, “ Jews, help!” This, they said, was the man who was known to be going about in all parts of the world, speaking to the Gentiles against the people of Israel, and against the law of Moses, and against the temple. They added a charge that was the most likely to exasperate the Jews : for any Gentile to be allowed to come within those courts of the temple reserved for the children of Israel alone was considered the greatest profanation and sacrilege that could be committed. Now the Jews of Asia had seen Paul walking about the streets of Jerusalem in company with Trophimus, whom they knew to be a Gentile of the city of Ephesus. He had been one of Paul's companions in travel, sent from Asia with him to convey the contributions of the Gentile christians to the church at Jerusalem. (Acts xx. 4.) These violent Hellenists having seen Paul and Trophimus together, took it for granted that Paul would have taken him into the temple; and upon this supposition they called out that he had actually defiled the sacred place in which they then stood, by bringing uncircumcised Greeks there. The excitement soon spread from the temple into the city, and crowds of people came running together in great agitation. Laying hold of Paul in the men's court of the temple, they dragged him forth into the outer court, called the court of the Gentiles; and the priests and the Levites immediately closed the doors behind the crowd that had thus taken him away.

The enraged Jews set at once to work to inflict the same sort of summary punishment upon Paul, as he had himself formerly joined in executing upon Stephen. Not having stones however at hand, they proceeded to beat him with the intention of taking away his life. But the report from the temple which had spread amongst the Jews had also reached the ears of the military Tribune, or officer who commanded the Roman troops in garrison at Jerusalem. He was informed that all the city was in riotous confusion; and he lost no time in running to the temple, taking along with him a detachment of soldiers, and such officers as happened to be near him at the moment.

The appearance of the commandant with the soldiers at once restrained the crowd of Jews, who desisted from their work of beating Paul; so that when the Tribune arrived at the spot, he took him into custody, and gave orders that he should be bound with double chains, or handcuffs,-being fastened by his right arm to one soldier, and by his left arm to another. (Acts xii. 6-8; see page 154.) Having thus secured the prisoner, whom he supposed to have been the occasion of the riot, the Tribune asked who he was ? and what had been his offence? The answers to this enquiry were so confused and so violent-every one of the crowd crying against him in a different manner-that the commandant could not collect any clear understanding from such a tumult; and therefore he desired that the prisoner might be taken into the Tower or Castle of Antonia, a fortified building standing near the temple on the north, in which were the soldiers' quarters. There were two passages leading from the cloisters of the temple up to this tower; and by the time the soldiers had got their prisoner as far as one of these flights of steps, the rush of the crowd was so great, that he was actually carried along off his feet by the surrounding guards, the enraged Jews all the while crying out the same shouts that had been

poured forth against the Lord Jesus, “ Away with him! Away with him!”

When Paul was thus pushed as far as the stairs, he came near to the Tribune, who was probably standing a few steps up for the benefit of a commanding position; and ‘addressing him in Greek, which was the general language of that time, he asked him whether he might speak to him. The Tribune was surprised to hear him speak Greek, as he had fancied that he was the person who had made a great noise a short time before this--an Egyptian who had placed himself at the head of about four thousand cut-throat robbers, and had boldly taken the field; but the Roman governor had marched against him and killed many of his men and dispersed the rest, though the chief of this banditti had himself escaped. The Tribune asked Paul whether he were not this Egyptian. Paul replied by informing him that he was a Jew, and belonged to the celebrated city of Tarsus in Cilicia ; and he begged that he might be allowed to address the people. The Tribune consented to his doing so; upon which Paul, standing in such a position on the stairs as raised him above the heads of the crowd, motioned with his hand that he wished to speak.

Silence having been obtained, he addressed the Jews as his brethren and his fathers, begging them to hear what he had to say for himself, as he was then about to explain his case.

He spoke in Hebrew, the language for which the Jews had so great a reverence, although almost all of them understood and commonly made use of the Greek as the ordinary language of business; and when they found that Paul was speaking in Hebrew, the whole crowd was hushed into an attentive silence while the apostle proceeded.

As the principal charge against him was, that he opposed the law of Moses, he began by declaring that he was a Jew, and one who, though born at Tarsus in Cilicia, had been educated in Jerusalem itself, under one of the greatest teachers amongst the Pharisees—Gamaliel ; by whom he was taught, in the most correct manner, not only the law of Moses, but the traditions of the fathers. The result of such an education

was,

that he had been as earnest and

zealous toward Jehovah as they were at that time; so much so that, when the christian way of worship arose, he had persecuted those who followed it even unto deathsearching out, and imprisoning christians, both men and women. They might appeal to the High Priest, and to all the members of the Sanhedrim, who could prove that he had gone with letters from them to the Jews of Damascus, in order to seize upon the christians there, and take them prisoners to Jerusalem, that they might be brought within the jurisdiction of the High Priest in order that they might be punished.

Having stated thus strongly his original Jewish feelings and sympathies, he proceeded to explain how they were changed. He told them that, as he was going on that very journey, just as he was approaching Damascus, at mid-day, when the sun was at the brightest, suddenly another and a greater light shone all round him,--that he fell to the ground, and while lying there, he heard a voice calling him by his name, and asking of Saul why he persecuted him. When he had enquired who it was, he said that the voice replied, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. He told them that, though the people who were with him saw the light, and were overcome with fear, yet they did not know what the voice said to him. Then Paul explained that he had enquired of the Lord what he was to do; and that the Lord bid him rise and go into Damascus, where he should be informed of what was appointed for him ; but that when he tried to obey this command, and go into Damascus, he found that the excess of light that had shone upon him had left him blind, so that he was forced to be led into the city. That there a man of the name of Ananias,-a man of piety according to the law of Moses, and highly respected by all the Jews at Damascus, --came to him and said, “Brother Saul, receive thy sight:" upon which he was immediately able to look up at hi... That this same Ananias had then told him that the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had chosen him to be favored with the knowledge of his will, and with the sight of that Just One whose voice he had heard. He then told him that he was to bear testimony before all men of what he had thus been favoured with;

« AnteriorContinuar »