Video Transcript: Acts 9

Announcer - Hi this is Dr. Craig Keener in his teaching on the book of Acts, this  is session number 12. On Acts chapter 9.  

Dr. Keener - Well, Saul has been arresting people. But now Saul gets arrested  by the Lord Himself. Do you ever think that God couldn't use you, or God  couldn't use you very much? Well, if God can use Saul, God can use any of us.  In fact, that application is even made in ITimothy 1. God here shows his  sovereign power, a persecutor becomes an agent of grace. And we read that  sometimes like in the Maccabean literature where God intercepts of persecutor,  but here, God actually makes him a vessel, for his own purposes, Saul initiates  this level of persecution. That's why you have peace, in 9:31, after his  conversion, and after the apostles make sure that he gets out of town. But Saul  is the one initiating this level of persecution, he goes to get letters of  recommendation from the high priest, letters of recommendation were very  common epistolary form back then, because people would, if you wanted to get  ahead, you needed somebody to help you. And so you'd go to somebody of  higher social station. And they would write a letter of recommendation to one of  their peers, or sometimes to somebody who was subordinate. And Cicero was a  master of this. In fact, book 13, a collection of one of the collections of his  letters, is just letters of recommendation. And you have a lot of other letters of  recommendation from antiquity as well. But somehow, Cicero was such a  master of this, he learned how to write different letters of recommendation for  different people. Once in a while, he said more than one person, this guy's the  best. I can't recommend anybody like him, you know, like, like, Paul says of  Timothy in Philippians 2, Cicero said that for a little bit more than one person,  but he usually reserved that for just a few. But other times, he'd say, you know,  show me your loyalty to me, You are my friend. And so I know you'll do even  more than what I asked the kind of the kind of letters of recommendation, we  have the New Testament. Philemon are calling up a debt, you know, this  reciprocity was a big social issue back then. So you owe me a favor? Well, this  is a time to, for me to capitalize on that they wouldn't usually put it that way. Or, I owe you, I owe you a favor. If you do this for me. I'm in your debt, whatever,  whatever this cost you, I'll repay it. Things like that, that we have. In letters of  recommendation, the New Testament, similar letters in the New Testament have  partial in a part of it is letter recommendation, Phoebe has recommended  Romans 161-2, and, and so forth. Well, anyway, Saul wants letters of  recommendation from the high priest, that would be very compelling, it would  suggest that the high priest supports this mission. And we talked earlier about  how he could have gotten access to the high priest, while the high priest at this  point would have been Caiaphas. The young man ordinarily would have more  trouble getting access to the high priests. But remember Galatians 1:14. Saul is  advancing among his peers. 22:3 that he's a student of Gamaliel suggests he's 

from a wealthy family. So in the in the fact that he was Hellenist wouldn't really  count against him much. In the chief priests. You look at the tomb inscriptions,  the tomb inscriptions are often in Greek, they valued the wider Greek culture of  

the eastern Mediterranean world. The high priest was respected by Jewish  communities outside of Judea and Galilee, outside of Palestine. The high priest  no longer necessarily had authority for extradition, is in the Maccabean period.  He wasn't like ruling everything by himself, but the high priest was respected,  and Diaspora synagogues would likely be happy to cooperate with him if they  could. Also in 9:2, we read about the way interestingly Saul is actually traveling  on the way on the on the on the way to Damascus, it's it's said in one of the  passages uses the same Greek word hodos he hodos. But the phrase the way,  of course, Jewish wisdom spoke of the way of truth in the way of righteousness,  as opposed to way of folly and so on. The Essenes claimed that they preached  the divine path, the right way in which you should go. And of course, John the  Baptist came proclaiming the way of the Lord make make the path straight for  the new Exodus. So it's not surprising that the, the movement was called the  way in the United States, we can't really call our churches that because a cult  appropriated that name instead. But in any case, that was that was a chosen  name, that the early Christian movement used for itself. The Essenes would  have appreciated using that for themselves, too. He's on his way to Damascus.  That's a long journey, that's 135 miles or 220 kilometers north of Jerusalem.  That would take probably six days on foot for the average traveler in this period.  There were a number of Essenes in in Damascus. In less that's meant  symbolically in the Damascus document, which may be there's a bit of debate  on that. But in any case, it speaks of synagogues in Damascus. Most of these  would not have been Essenes, but there were synagogues in Damascus.  Obviously, it's synagogues, plural. You couldn't fit all these in one synagogue, by any means known to us useful in ancient architecture. According to Josephus,  there were over 20,000 Jewish people living there. So you needed multiple  synagogues. In fact, Josephus tells us that there was many as 18,000 Jews  massacred there in the year 66. So they have a sizable Jewish community. Did  Paul go on foot or not? Well, that's that's a question. If he if he went on  horseback, it wouldn't have taken a full six days it would have been a lot quicker. But 9:3. Saul, and his companions are astonished by a light from heaven. And  we've already read about God revealing himself at Mount Sinai. Stephen talks  about that in Acts 7. Well, this light from heaven would be understood as the  Shekinah God's God's presence, God's glory. And this happens various times in  theophanies, including Theophany, a theophany, that accompanies the divine  calling. It happens in Exodus 3. at the burning bush, it happens in Isaiah 6,  where Isaiah sees the glory of the Lord happens in Ezekiel 1, where each of  these passages has a divine calling. It's not reported in every case. It's not  reported in Jeremia's case, not exactly in Gideon's case, although in Gideon's 

case, and in Manila's case, in in Judges, Judges 6 and Judges 13, you know,  the angel does do some interesting, amazing, glorious things. But anyway,  Chapter Chapter 9:3, this is associated with a theophany. And actually Luke  would expect even an audience that didn't know the Old Testament, although he expects his audience to pretty much know the Old Testament. But even an  audience that didn't know the Old Testament would recognize what this is  because it Jesus birth, the glory of the Lord shines around the, the shepherds.  When, when the and that's annunciation to them is made of Jesus birth. And at  this point, Saul should know his companions should know. This is the Lord, this  is God. But Saul is going to have a hard time swallowing that. So chapter 9:4, he falls to the ground. Well, that was common, it divine or angelic revelations, both  in the Old Testament and in Jewish literature, you find it in in Daniel a number of  times with with angels falls to the ground. Saul, Saul, his name has doubled.  Why is that? Genesis 22:11 Abraham, Abraham is an angel Sf Lord as the angel the Lord calls to him. And in chapter 46:2 of Genesis, Jacob Jacob, as the Lord  speaks to him in the night vision Exodus 3:4. Moses, Moses and his calling, I  Samuel 3:10. Samuel Samuel. So sometimes when God would speak, and have something very important to say, the name would be doubled. And some of  these cases were very nice cases. So Saul may be expecting something nice.  Even though he fell off, well either fell off his horse or fell off his feet. But Jesus  doesn't say anything nice. Exactly. He says, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? So how can you be persecuting the Lord? How can you be persecuting  God. But remember what Jesus said, back in Luke's first volume, Luke chapter  10, and verse 16. If they reject you, they reject me. They receive you, they  received me. Saul has been persecuting Jesus followers, is therefore  persecuting Jesus. What they do to us, as we proclaim the Lord's name they do  to the Lord. In fact, Paul says something like this later himself. When the  Corinthians some of them are being moved toward his rivals, who are preaching a false gospel. And Paul says, you know, as ambassadors for Christ, we  beseech you be reconciled to God. And in the context. Basically, he's saying,  You need to be reconciled to us to be reconciled to God, because what God's  agents to you? Well, that can be very easily abused, people have abused that a  lot. And we want to be careful never to do that. But having said that, you know,  as we speak for Christ is we're letting people know about Christ. We act as as  agents as his representatives. Well Saul's Saul's confused now? He doesn't  want to admit the obvious. Who are you, Lord? It's an obvious theophony, but  how can Paul be persecuting God? And so, you know, Lord Correa, it's a  respectful title, but used in evocative, used as a direct address curiosity, in the  direct addresses Correa. It can mean sir. But it also can mean something  stronger, it can mean Lord, it can mean the Divine Lord. So, you know, is this  God? Is this an angel? What, what is going on here? And Jesus answers in  chapter 6. Well, Jesus answers, I'm Jesus whom you are persecuting. But in 

verse 6, he says, go into Damascus. And you'll get more instructions there, it will be told you what you must do. In Greek, this language of what you must do,  actually echoes what we also have in in 2:37, where the where the crowds save, what must we do in order to be saved? And Peter says, Repent, we're in chapter 16, verse 30. What What must I do to be saved? The Philippian jailer asks?  Well, Paul is about to find out what he must do. What he must do to  acknowledge Jesus as Lord is to embrace the mission that God has for him.  Verse 8, he finds out that he's been blinded. Now, God had sometimes blinded  people to prevent an evil purpose. Remember, in Genesis chapter 19, in verse  11, the men of Sodom are blinded. II Kings, 6, a whole army of struck blind, and  Elisha leads them somewhere else. So at least they're, they're blinded in terms  of what the surroundings really are. And Elisha leads them to a place where  they're, where they're captured, and then the purposes are benevolent for them  in the long run. But this is probably also similar to Zechariah being struck mute  in Luke chapter one. Except Zechariah was an imperfect but good character,  and Saul, at this point has been a bad character. thinking he's doing God's will,  but he was clearly wrong. He fasts for three days, according to verse 9, three  days was not uncommon for fast but without water, it would cause dehydration,  especially in a very dry area of the world. And Judaism was often coupled with  mourning or repentance. By the way, you normally don't want to do a three day  fast without water. It's actually dangerous for your kidneys to do. Long, fast  without water. Although God did a miracle for Moses, and and so on. But in any  case, there were people who did this. And Saul does this in this case. I mean,  this is life and death. He can't believe. But he has to believe that he's been on  the wrong side. He thought he was serving God thought he was serving the  Torah. And he finds out that basically everything he believes needs to be  rethought. So in Judaism, fasting was often used for mourning or repentance.  He really has reason for repentance. Usually in the New Testament, it's  conjoined with prayer. And that's what he's doing. And we find out later he's also  had a vision. We find that out not because Luke has narrated, he just tells us, he just informs us about by recounting the Ananias was told by Jesus and that Saul had one. Chapter 9:10-19. We read about Ananias' mission. Well, Jesus calls to  Ananias, and Ananias, answers very, respectfully, very obediently. Here I am,  you know, on the Old Testament in any. I Samuel 3:10, the Lord is calling us to  Samuel and Eli, the priest says, Well, okay, finally he later figures it out. This is  the Lord calling the boy and he says, next time you say, Lord, speak, your  servant listens. So he goes and lays down and the Lord calls him again a third  time and, and Samuel says, Here I am, or Isaiah. It his calling, here I am, Here  am I. Ananias is going to be so obedient. He's so happy that Jesus is appearing  to him. And then he gets his instructions. You're supposed to go to Saul of  Tarsus. Oh, wait a minute. I've heard of this Saul. Now this Saul is, you know,  Jesus appears to Saul. And Saul it first is like, who are you? Now? Now he 

appears to Ananias and and Ananaias said I don't know if this is good idea. I've  heard that, that he was he's come here to persecute us. Well, that's it's none of  his bid. If the Lord gives you instructions, even if it's going to send you into  trouble you need to do it. But the Lord says he's the Chosen vessel for my  honor. And this is something that's going to be repeated three times in the book  of Acts. In one place, Paul can narrate it in a briefer way and leave out Ananias'  involvement, but it behooves him certainly to mention Ananias is a man devout  according to the law, when he's speaking to a Jerusalemite crowds in Acts  chapter 22. The Lord speaks is called directly to Saul in and that's narrated, in  some places, some places it's narrated, that he speaks the Call Saul through  Ananias, Saul gets it from more than one direction. I mean, the Lord clearly  wants him and the Lord confirms it multiple ways. So anyway, Ananias is  obedient. Now, he says that the Jesus So Jesus says, that Saul is staying with  Judas on Straight Street. Jewish culture emphasized hospitality very much it  was emphasized throughout the Mediterranean world. And there been a number of studies in Koenig, Arthur Barry and others. Very heavy emphasis on  hospitality, Jewish hospitality even more so. So if a traveling Jew came to your  area, and you were Jewish, you would probably take them in, especially if they  had letters of recommendation, and if they had letters of recommendation from  high priest, you certainly would want to take them in. So we don't know whether  Judas was a believer. More likely, he's he's not a believer at this point. Or at  least not before Saul got to him. Straight Street. Probably. Well, many scholars  think it's the long East West Street running through Damascus. Damascus was  a very ancient city. Some things had been updated according to the Greek way  of building things in a grid by the Spirit, but Straight Street may have been the  East West Street. And that would fit tradition of which street is in view. But the  important thing is it was directions were being given. So he knew where to go  Find him just like Cornelius is given some direction as to where to find Peter in  the house of Simon the tanner, later on Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus. What do we  know about Tarsus? Tarsus was a very important city. And not surprisingly. So  Paul later on says, you know, I'm I'm a citizen of no insignificant city, which was  a good way of saying it's a very significant city it was it was the capital of Cilicia.  It was prosperous representative sports merchants were many other cities. In  the ancient Mediterranean world, it was also a major university center, especially for philosophy. So depending on what age Paul was, when he left there is  probably pretty young. But depending on what age he left there, he, at least his  family may have had some exposure hearing, hearing this in the streets. There  was also a large Jewish community there, which is particularly relevant. So  Ananias is to go. And he hears that Saul has also had a vision. Well, paired  visions were pretty common. Actually, paired visions were very uncommon in the ancient world. But when you have anything that was narrated as a paired vision, like maybe in the Book of Tobit, it, it confirmed divine coordination. This was not 

an accident. And it's also not an accident that we have this two chapters in a  row, you have the paired visions with Saul and Ananias both having visions.  That can't be a coincidence. I mean, it's if one person has it, maybe they're  hallucinating. Two people have it independently. That's, that's multiple  corroboration. Acts chapter 10. Cornelius and Peter, have coordinated visions in  the same way. So Ananias gives his objections to an absurd command, not  unlike Moses, who gave his objections to, to God's command to go to Egypt and liberate the people. But he sent it sent to Saul, verses 15 and 16, resemble Old  Testament call or commissioning narratives. And then in verse 17, he says,  brother Saul, presumably figurative kinship, language, they weren't really literally closely related, necessarily. You could, you could use that for fellow Jews. And  you find that sometimes in Luke Acts, you could use it for fellow members of a  trade guild or something like that. Here, it probably, however, means fellow  believer. And this is remarkable, because Ananias, belongs to this movement  that has been scattered to places like Damascus, precisely because Saul of  Tarsus is persecuting them. And now he's ready to receive him is a fellow  believer. And that's, that's the way the gospel is that we can. We can love  people, we recognize that all of us have been saved by grace, and only by  grace. And we could give a lot of accounts of that of people who, from either  side, people that we had wronged I remember, when I was an atheist, I used to  make fun of Christians. And after my conversion, you know, going back and  finding some of those Christians I made fun of and saying, you know, I was so  wrong, you were so right. And they were so happy to have me as a brother in  the Lord. So, so gracious. And even, there were reports of this people who were  planning to attack Christians, and were converted in the night by vision. And  then they had to join the Christians and flee for themselves to the Christians,  because their own colleagues would have wanted to kill them. So he, he says,  The Lord sent me to lay hands on you, so you might be filled with spirit and  receive your sight. Obviously, he's going to have to be filled with spirit for his  mission of speaking the Word of the Lord. And we're going to see very quickly  what His mission is starting a couple of verses later, he's already starting to  preach. But verse 18, says the scales fell from his eyes. Well, that recalls the  language of the Book of Tobit were Tobit was was blinded, and in the scales fell  from his eyes when he was healed. And he was baptized. Well, there were  plenty of places where it could have been baptized. One of the places he could  have been baptized was the Barada River, which runs through Damascus and  was near where the tradition says that Strait Street was 9:19-31. Where we read about confrontations in Damascus, and Jerusalem, and we have parallel  responses to Saul him in Damascus in Jerusalem, in parallel, things are  narrated, he starts preaching people want to kill him, and the disciples have to  send him away. Because he's just too outspoken about his faith. He doesn't  know how to be quiet about it. We need we need people like that. But we 

probably also need people to send them away so that he get martyred  prematurely. Both can be valuable. But we, but thank God for people with zeal  for truth. In any case, the response to Saul in Damascus, it his first preaching of  Jesus is similar to the response to Jesus opening message, and Luke 4. Now, it  says, In Acts, that all this happened, after many days, Luke doesn't really tell us  how many days it was possible. He didn't know it's not like Paul told him  everything, Paul wouldn't have given him a blow by blow account of every detail. Luke probably didn't write all this down. Exactly when he was with Paul anyway.  That's my guess. But also, it's just possible that Luke didn't want to get into it.  You know, it was it was Aside from his main point, Luke is going to want to  emphasize the Jewish opposition that Paul faced in Damascus, not the  specifically Nabataean opposition. We know from Galatians that Paul spent  three years three years in ancient parlance meant at least parts of three years,  so it could have been anywhere from a year and a half to three years. In, in  Arabia, Nabataean. Arabia, that was the the area where the Nabateans lived.  That included the Decapolis. It probably didn't include Damascus in this period  over that's a matter of debate, because some of the coins are missing. We don't  we don't know. Exactly. Who controlled Damascus at this point. But but we read  in II Corinthians 11:32, about the Nabatean ethnarch, who would have been  head probably the Nabatean trading community in Damascus, you didn't have to go too far beyond Damascus to be in the territory of the Nabataean. Arabs. The  course Paul has a reason to emphasize that in Galatians, because he's going to  go on to talk about Mount Sinai in Arabia. And in chapter 4. Paul doesn't tell us  what he did, among, in Arabia in Galatians, chapter 1, but he probably made  some people mad note, when I say Arabia, again, this is the area of the  Nabataean Arabs This isn't and this is Syrian Damascus, not the later  Damascus in the Arabian Peninsula. Although the Nabataean Arabs were were  there as well. But it doesn't say what Saul did, but probably at least part of it with some preaching. Because you apparently have the Nabataean ethnarch angry  with them, according to II Corinthians chapter 11. And people could coordinate  things I mean, there are a lot of Jewish people living in Nabatea, a lot of  Nabateans living in Perea, which was under Herod Antipas' jurisdiction, the  Tetrarch of Galilee. So there there were, there were a lot of relations between  them, it's not surprisingly, would have teamed up. But Paul mentions, especially  the the Nabatean opposition, in II Corinthians 11, Luke is going to focus on the  Jewish opposition, which fits his theme of, you know, the people who had the  most opportunity neglected at the most. And we need to make sure we don't do  that today as well. But but the the idea that they would have worked together, it's not surprising, because I mean, even later on, Paul goes to the Jewish  Community First, well, that would have made sense to Jewish people in  Nabatea that that's where he would have gone first as well. But in any case, he's back in Damascus. Galatians also talks about him being converted near 

Damascus and having having to escape Damascus, we have in II Corinthians  11. So some of this, we actually have attested by Paul's own letters about his  own experience. In any case, Paul experiences parallel responses in Damascus and then in Jerusalem, where he says that he started preaching from there,  that's where he counts it in Romans 15, because Jerusalem is the key heart of  the place from which the Gospels to go forth in Acts 1:8. So in 922, Saul is  already an expert in scriptures. And look, he had these letters. So you can  expect that he's he's going to be welcomed in the synagogues. He has expertise in the scriptures, his training in the scriptures, probably tertiary level training.  Most people in antiquity if they had any training at all, it was elementary level. A  few a number had secondary training. Only, you know, the highest level, the  people with the most resources got tertiary level training. He knew the  Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, backward and forward.  Well, God often uses parts of your backgrounds. He doesn't always, but he often does. Jesus calls in Luke, Luke 5, Jesus calls disciples, his fishers. Mark  chapter 1, Matthew, chapter 4 disciples who were fishers became Fishers of  people. And Moses and David who were shepherds, well, they had good  experience to get them ready to be shepherds of of people. So in this case, God uses the positive aspects of his background. Well, eventually, there's a plot  that's known to Saul. That's not too surprising, because in antiquity plots usually  got leaked. plots that were hatched within the Roman Senate got leaked, plots  from the Sanhedrin got leaked. In fact, Josephus there were a few people  working in this in the Sannhedrin with a plot against Josephus, and Josephus is  one of his friends heard about it and came and told him about it, so he was  ready. So, word often got out about plots, but people were watching the gates  day and night, the gates were closed at night, the gate area could be pretty  wide, but the gates were closed at night. So that would limit those exiting to a  very small, very small exits at the gates. So Saul doesn't dare try to escape that  way. The Nabataean ethnarch has people against him. And according to Luke,  the Jewish community there in Damascus, which is pretty sizable, also had  people watching the gates. So, this passage in II Corinthians 11:32, and 33, both mentioned that he escaped from the wall houses was sometimes built in the city  walls. The tradition, the traditional side of Ananias's house, actually is in the  Nabatean quarter built on the wall. Now that tradition may have arisen from  putting together some things here, but it may also it may have also been  something with the Christian community, they are preserved. So he was let  down from the basket in a wall. Normally, Windows. Even even on homes that  were that were on walls would be very high up so that people couldn't break in  something. Now, this would not arouse as much suspicion there were probably  people living outside the city walls. Most cities grew beyond the walls. But they  wouldn't be too shocked to see a basket coming down the wall because people  you know, it was it was easier than carrying something around and night you 

know, when the gates are closed, somebody could lower a basket with things in  it. But in any case, where did Saul and his his friends get this idea? Well, this  biblical precedent for it, Joshua 2:15. Remember Rahab let the spies down from  her house on the wall. In I Samuel 19:12, David, David knew that technique as  well. And his his wife, Michal, let him down from the wall. Chapter 9:26-27. He  went to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Initially everybody was afraid of him But  Barnabas is really we see God using different personalities in the book of Acts.  Barnabas is the kind of person who reaches out to people Son of  Encouragement. The apostles called him. Later on, he does that in Antioch. And  still later. He wants to do that with John Mark. Saul is so zealous for the mission  the mission comes first. We need both Barnabases and Sauls you know  sometimes we don't get along at certain times like happened there. But God  uses our respective gifts My wife is probably more of a Barnabas and I'm more  of a more of a Paul in some ways, but the Lord uses both of us and we're  complementary. In any case, he reached out, he introduced who took them and  introduced him to the apostles. Well, Luke is being very concise. Paul's own  writings tell us that the only ones he really got to know they're among the  apostles with Peter, and James, the Lord's brother, on this occasion, but in any  case, the things that are happening to him, he's debating with Helenist Jews,  they're wanting to put him to death. This is the same thing that happened to  Stephen. And remember, Saul was also a member of the synagogue and now  they're wanting to silence him. So he appears hided for martyrdom, just like  Stephen, and this build suspense in the narrative, especially for first time here  are the book of Acts when doubtedly had heard of Paul, but might not have  heard of Saul. So they sent him away to Tarsus. Now, this fits what Paul says  that he is early days he spent time and in the regions of Syria, which would  include Damascus, and Cilicia, which certainly included Tarsus. So he sent away to Tarsus, he probably has relatives there, at least possibly have some relatives  there. His family may have moved to Jerusalem, or they may have just sent him  there. But we know that his, his nephew lives there later on. But he probably, or  at least possibly had some relatives in Tarsus, or at least some people that he  would know about, that he could be in touch with in Tarsus, that's where he had  been born. And he stayed there for a long time. This may have been one of the  places that he describes in II Corinthians 11, where he received beatings in the  synagogue, we we don't know where he got all this beatings. But we do know,  from the book of Acts, that it was a long time, before he's actually sent out from  the church in Antioch, he doesn't even get to Antioch, yet. It was probably a  number of years after his conversion, and his calling, before he really was able  to enter into the heart of his mission. That doesn't mean he didn't start preaching beforehand. But before he was able to really see the fulfillment of what he'd  been called to do, or the beginning of the fulfillment of what he'd been called to  do, sometimes today, we have people, you know, you're called, you're zealous, I

was this way, as a young Christian. I wanted to go straight out and preach, I  didn't want to get training. You know, I was reading 40 chapters of the Bible a  day, you know, so I was learning the Bible pretty well. Although after a while, I  began to realize some I need some cultural background, I'd really like to learn  Greek and Hebrew, and, and so on. But initially, I just wanted to go out and  preach, I didn't want to get training. Not all of us have equal access to training.  Not all training is equally useful, or equally good. But my point is just the call  doesn't always mean, right now you're going to fulfill everything you're called to  do. The call gives you a direction, it doesn't usually even give you all the details  of what you're called to do. I'm still discovering some of the things the Lord  spoke to me years ago. Oh, that's what that means. This makes perfect sense.  But in any case, don't be discouraged. If some of the things the Lord has called  you to do, you haven't been able to do yet. And you know, you're following what  the Lord wants you to do. The Lord often has time when he's getting this ready  and different ways for a calling. So you know, where you're headed, you keep  headed there, and at the right time you do it. Until then, keep in mind, that's your calling, and you're preparing to do it. So people who who need to spend time in  school or whatever to fulfill their calling, it's alright. So the narrative is going to  go back and forth between Paul and Peter. And it's going to stay on Peter for the rest of the chapter. And then all of Chapter 10. Chapter 9:32, through chapter  9:43. We read about continuing miracles through Peter. And Peter follows in the  footsteps of Philip going to the places where Philip is preached. And he, he, he  ends up in Lydda. In verse 32 of chapter 9, the Lydda was about 25 miles or 40  kilometers northwest of Jerusalem. So he's not staying in Jerusalem all the time  now, even though there are other apostles there. It was about 11 miles or so. 17  and a half kilometers from Joppa that appears in verse 36, Joppa and Lydda  were the major Jewish coastal cities. Caesarea was an even more major coastal city, but it was it had more Gentiles so we wouldn't call it a distinctively Jewish  city. The Jewish residents wanted to call it Jewish. The gentile said no, this is  our city, and they clashed over that issue. But Joppa and Lydda were were  Jewish controlled cities on the coast. Chapter 9:35. Sharon is the is the coastal  plain. And Lydda was on the southern end of the, of the coastal plain. Now,  when all of Lydda and Sharon turn to the Lord, after a miracle takes place there,  Peter says, Aeneas, Jesus heals you. And this This man has been bedridden, is  is healed. Aeneas, by the way, of course, this is a it's a name in the Iliad, and  was considered the ancestor of the Trojans, or sorry, it was a Trojan it was an  ancestor of the Romans. But a lot of Greek and Roman names were used by a  lot of diaspora Jews. So that's not too surprising, but all of Lydda and Sharon,  this coastal plain, they turned to the Lord. Now, Luke and others sometimes use  hyperbole, but the Christian presence was so strong, that in the second century,  observers noted that there was still there was still a very strong Christian  presence. And in Lydda. Verse 36, Jaffa, Jaffa Tel Aviv today Jaffa, was a 

profitable port city. It was about 30 miles 48 kilometers south of Caesarea. It was under Jewish control until it came under direct Roman authority in the year 6. So it had a history of Jewish control. And there was still a strong Jewish population.  It this this site, Tabitha was there. She's also called Dorcas Tabitha is Semitic for 

gazelle. Dorcas is Greek for gazelle. So she's, she's just going by her name in a  couple of different languages. I have friends who, who do that as well. She's  also a benefactor or benefactress. We do know of women patrons in antiquity  and inscriptions, women. Women didn't usually have as much money as men,  but sometimes they did. And they, they donated their money to important causes or provided for important causes about 1/10 of patrons in antiquity, in the  inscriptions that, at least according to current estimates, were women patrons.  She may have been the benefactor of the widows mentioned in verse 41. She's  been providing for them, and they're all mourning her. They have a very close  relationship while she's died. And the Jewish dead were always washed before  burial that was the custom. Now women could wash either men's corpses or  women's corpses. But the women's corpses only women could prepare women's bodies for burial. And this was partly because of Jewish male teachers concern  for men, lusting after women's bodies. And in verse 38, they send to Peter and  they want him to hurry. And he really does have to hurry because burial was  normally done before sunset, on the same day, remember Ananias and  Sapphira very, very quickly, burial was normally to be before sunset and same  day, so it was very urgent. There were 11 miles or 17.5 kilometers, between  Joppa and Lydda. So that that could be about four hours travel, each each  direction is pretty good pace. So they have to hurry to get to him to bring  message to him. And he has to basically drop everything and go with them very  quickly. In verse 39, he arrives there Tabitha is is laid in Upper Room, upper  rooms, were usually small, the one in chapter 1 was probably not but usually  they were small. Often they were they were built on flat rooftops. And we have  some other sources from antiquity that talk about bodies being prepared there.  In fact, an upper room was also mentioned in some of the some of the other  stories about raisings in the in the Old Testament and also The falling from a  from a higher floor with Eutychus when he gets raised in in Acts chapter 20. But  well to do Roman matrons had had maids to take care of some of the things that are mentioned in verse 39. But they were still responsible for seeing to it that it  was done. Verse 40. No, the, the widows were mourning. They've been showing Peter. Its pathos. It's, it's inviting a response from Peter, in verse 40. Peter goes  into the body, the body would have been covered before Peter was brought into  the room. But Peter sends the others out, just like in II Kings 4:33, where Elisha  wants nobody else there for the raising of the of the Shulamite son. I have a one of the people that we know, in Congo, John Nabeala deacon of the Evangelical  Church of Congo, tells the story of Marie, who was from one of the outlying  areas, and Marie was, was dying of malaria. She had a fever, for for it had been 

so many days before she had eaten since she'd eaten or drunk anything. And so they they brought the brought the body into Dolisie, which was the nearest  sizable town trying to get it to the hospital. But while she was in Dolisie, she  died. And the taxis were on strike that day, there was no way to get her to the  hospital, and they didn't have any money to take her to the hospital in any case.  And so they brought the heard that there was this prayer meeting going on at  Mama John's home. So they brought her to Mama John's home. And layedd her on a prayer mat there. And Mama John's assistant Delphine said, Take this body away. This is not the place you can't you can't bring a body here. This is a this is our place of prayer. And Mama John said, No, let's, let's, let's pray. She felt the  Lord preparing her for a long time for something really dramatic. And so she  they brought the body inside. And she said, Okay, everybody who's not part of  this prayer group, you go out, following, following the same model, and they  went out. But they were they were peeking in the window. And so she said,  what's her name, and the people who are peeking in the window, said Marie.  And so she felt led to call Marie's name, as she was praying for her. And Marie  came back to life and still alive. Last I heard in any case. So we have this  account here, where, Elisha, it's done similarly to Elijah raising the Shunamite's  son, and in some other respects, similar to Elijah, raising the widow of  Zarephath's son. And you could be speaking of widows sons, you can also think  of the widow of Naan's son in Luke 7. There, I actually made a chart in my Acts  commentary paralleling some of the different accounts. The parallels aren't there with all of them. But but there are enough parallels to see that Luke where he  has access to details that match some of the details in the Old Testament who  wants to record them. And of course, in some of these details, Peter and others  would have liked to follow them themselves. And Peter had been present when  Jesus raised Jairus, his daughter, had been present when the widow of Nan son was raised. It's not surprising that Quadratus, an early Christian apologist in the  early second century, probably is in his old age when he writes this, but he says, into our own time, some of those that Jesus raised from the dead, lived on into  our own time. So in the into a time when he was Quadratus, was alive. And  since Jesus raised some children from the dead, that would make sense, but in  any case, he's Peter sends the others out. And then he prays, and in verse  verses 41, and 42, Tabitha arise, and then he presents her alive to the widows,  just like in I Kings chapter 17. Elijah presents the child to the widow of the widow of Zarephath and in II Kings 4 Elisha presents the child to the Shunamite  woman. And in Luke 7 in verse 15, you have it with with the widow of Naan's  son. Well, after this, we have a verse that is transitional. But it also makes a  very, very, very important point that I think many of Luke's readers, or Luke's  hearers would have caught. They say, Here's because usually one person would read and the others would listen, they didn't have enough copies for everybody,  and most people back then couldn't read anyway. So there was a he was 

staying in the house of one, Simon, the tanner, Simon again, being a common  name one of the most common names of this period. Simon was a Greek name, but it was often used for Jewish people. They liked that name, because it was  also a patriarchal name. Simeon was one of the 12 sons of Jacob. So it had  become one of the most common names in this period. But tanners were  associated with strong odors. You were tanning hides from dead animals. So  they lived outside cities. They weren't allowed to live inside the city limits  because the neighbors would cause trouble. Later, rabbis even went so far as to say that wives could divorce Tanner's if they couldn't stand the smell. Well, many were more lenient. However, if the tannery was near water, as it is here. This is  a Jewish Tanner. And so he's doing it near the sea. This is a coastal coastal  town. But what it shows us is that Peter is not not being as particular course, he  had handled dead fish a lot himself, but he's not being as particular, as some  very conservative Jews, among his contemporaries, would have been. And  that's going to be helpful, because he's about to be in for the shock of his life, as he sent not just to a tanner, not just a Samaritans, but to a Gentile. And not just  any kind of Gentile, but somebody who works for the Roman military. In  Caesarea of all places, where Syrian auxiliaries in the Roman military often did  not get along very well with the Jewish community that lived there. Starting with  Acts chapter 10, and just introducing Acts chapter 10. We're going to have  paired visions paired visions of Cornelius, and Simon Peter. And those are  similar to the paired visions you have of Paul or Saul. And Ananias, back in  chapter 9:12, this is something that's going to be confirmed. And this is a very  strategic central transitional section in the book of Acts, because we have very  few things that are narrated three times in the book of Acts, but Saul's  conversion is one of them. It's narrated in Acts chapter 9. It's narrated in Acts  chapter 22, by by Paul himself. It's narrated by Paul himself again in Acts  chapter 26. Well, Cornelius, his his conversion is narrated here. It's narrated,  again, by Peter, telling you more briefly to the Jerusalem church in chapter 11.  And it's narrated again by Peter in chapter 15, briefly, as he's appealing to it as  precedent on in support of what's happening among the Gentiles. So this occurs in Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Maritima was the largest Judean city. It's, it's  where the Roman governor stayed. Jerusalem was a very uncomfortable place  for him, but there were a lot more Gentiles and Caesarea Maritima Caesarea  Maritima is not the same as Caesarea Philippi that you read about, say in  Matthew 16, or Mark 8 Caesarea Maritima was originally called Stratos tower. It  was renamed by Herod the Great, Herod built their the best Harbor on the  Judean coast. The significant part of it remains to this day we still have  monuments, archaeologists have studied it. That the theatre in Caesarea seated about 4000 people. So by usual estimates At least currently, people often  estimate the city's population at about 10 times the size of a theater. Not  everybody was a resident and not everybody would not sorry, not every resident 

would would be a citizen. And not every citizen necessarily always showed up at the theater. But this might mean that the city had maybe 40,000 people or  something. But it was it was the most significant of the cities on the coast. It was the residence of the Roman governor of Judea. And also the Roman governor  had a lot of troops there. There were five auxilary cohorts, plus cavalry. A cohort  consisted of 480 to 600 troops in this period. This was a period of transition. So  it depends some cohorts may have been for at some may have been 605  cohorts. They're another cohort in Jerusalem. A Legion was made of 10 cohorts, and altogether had about 6000 troops. But the Syrian soldiers there the  auxiliaries were mainly local recruits. In fact, even in legions by this period, a lot  of them were local. They were from the local region, they would be Syrians,  although they would be Roman citizens, but among the auxilary troops, mainly  Syrians, they have half of a legion just in Judea, most of them here in Caesarea  except for the cohort in Jerusalem. The Syrian soldiers often sided with the  Syrian other Syrian residents, as opposed to the Jewish residents of the of the  city, something about which the Jewish residents often complained. And the  Syrian residents were very attached to the local area. Some of them may be  from the local area, and others certainly became attached to it with concubines  or so on. In practice, maybe wives, although you weren't really allowed to marry  during your 20 years of service. Centurions Cornelius is a Centurion. The  century consisted of about 80 troops. And you know the name is is a century  you think it's 100 but that was the paper strength was about 80, 80 men. Unlike  Tribune's, or legates, who were normally from the aristocracy, they were these  were basically political offices when would work one's way up through through  these higher ranks straight straight out of Rome. But unlike the the aristocrats,  who got those offices, tribunes commanding Legion, commanding legions  

Unknown Speaker 57:59 and cohorts. The Greek term for this was Achilli Arch  commander of 1000 troops, again, that's a paper strength. But usually  Centurions just work their way up through the ranks. So you'd have some  Roman aristocrats who might become centurions, but most of them started as  soldiers. And by the end of their 20 years of service, or maybe they chose to  stay longer. They they became Centurions. This group is called the Italian  cohort. That doesn't mean that they were all brought here from Italy. The original cohort may have been from Italy, but may be made up mainly of Syrians. Now,  we do have evidence for this not not in the particular years of this range,  because we have very limited evidence. But we do have it from this period. The  Italian cohort is known in Judea in the year 69. It's attested there,  archaeologically. Cornelius was probably retired by the War of 66 to 70, because you'd retire at the age of 60, from the Roman military, if not before then,  because, you know, 20 years of service, they normally were enlisted at the age  of 18. So well before that, but Cornelius, surely would have retired, would have 

had to have retired by the age of 60. So he's not really involved in the Judean  Roman war that may have taken place, but the time that Luke may be writing, I'll say just a little bit more about military service. And then we'll be ready for the  transition into talking more about Cornelius. Military service was a preferred  occupation. Although only probably roughly half of the enlisters survived a full 20 years of service, so it was taking a big risk for mages. Sorry, I said Between  ages 17 to 37. Normally, their enlistment became 25 years later in the first  century, but in this period, it was still 20 years. non citizens could not join  legions, but they could join the auxilary troops. And that was very useful if you if  you survived, especially if you were not in a heavy duty military conflict. auxilary  troops received Roman citizenship at their discharge. And that was a particular  privilege. Particularly prestigious, if you lived in the eastern Mediterranean world where sometimes even many of the Civic officials did not have Roman  citizenship yet in this period. But they would also have to swear oaths of  allegiance to the Divine emperor. That was one reason why you didn't have  Jewish people serving in the Roman military. We read about soldiers elsewhere  in Luke Acts. Luke's Luke seems to if anything, go out of his way to value them.  Luke 3, we have soldiers who are saying to John the Baptist, well, what must we do? And John says Don't Don't cheat anybody Don't. Don't use your position in  exploitive or abusive way. Because they could they could see okay, you have to  let me use your donkey you have to let me use your they had. They had the  weapons they could later on in Acts and Acts 27. We'll see that Julius the  centurion, who's accompanying Paul to Rome gets passage for them on ships  and he can, he can have food provided for them? Because, you know, he's a  soldier, and he is representative of Rome. They had their sometimes they  exploited it used it to get things for themselves. In Luke 7, we have a centurion  who is God fearing. In Luke chapter 23. The centurion at the cross? who  confesses Jesus is an innocent man. Acts chapter 27. Is, is where you have the  the centurion, Julius, you also have centurians, taking care of Paul and Acts 24,  and so forth. So, Luke, maybe teaching us about the Prince of Peace. In fact,  there's that announcement that that contrasts with the Emperor Augustus in  Luke 2 in Augustus has this tax census people go to go back to places where  they own property to answer the census. And, and you have this contrast  because the mighty Emperor he was, he was hailed as Lord. He was hailed as  Savior and as a God. And he was hailed as the bringer of the Pax Romana, the  Roman piece, which was really nothing but a legal fiction because he claimed  the conquered the known world. And everybody knew they hadn't conquered  Parthia, their archenemies they hadn't conquered the Nubians. They hadn't  conquered the Germans. They hadn't even conquered the Britons yet. But in  any case, he was hailed as the bringer of peace. And then you have these  shepherds, who were considered low class. They were normally despised by  elite people, the shepherds who are informed by the angels, Lord and the host 

of heaven, about the true and greatest king, who has been born in an animal  feeding trough. And this king that the Promised One of him it said to you is born  this day, a Savior. The real savior, was Christ, the real Lord on earth, peace,  goodwill towards humanity. And when Peter is preaching to Cornelius, he's  going to speak of Jesus who went about preaching peace. Well, Romans like to  hear that. But Romans were not expanding their empire normally by peaceful  means they'd normally expanded it by conquest, as Claudius would be doing in  Britain. Soon after this. They, Jesus was a prince of peace. And yet, talking  about peace didn't mean that they didn't care about people who were in military  service. Those people were loved by God. Luke obviously does care about  them. He tells us a lot about Have them and the good news is about to go to this not only soldier, but this officer in the Roman military  

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig Keener in his teaching on the book of Acts. This is  session number 12 on Acts chapter 9 

Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2023, 12:14 PM