Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Hear
ye the account. In the Greek, to the apology, or defence. (Witham) --- St. Paul, in this exordium, as also in Acts
vii. 2. shews himself not ignorant of the art of pleading. He adds the name of Fathers, supposing there may be some
of his hearers of senatorial dignity, and others deserving the title for their rank and age. (Mat. Pol.)
Ver. 3. The
scholars sat much below their master; and the nearest the master were such as had made the greatest proficiency. (Philo, de
Ver. 4. This
way. That is, the Christian faith, which now I profess. (Witham)
Ver. 5. As
the high priest doth bear me witness. That is, as the letters which he gave me, bear witness. (Witham)
Ver. 9. Heard
not the voice. To reconcile this with chap. ix. ver. 7. where it is said that they heard the voice; it may be answered
that they heard a noise, and a voice, but heard it not distinctly, nor so as to understand the words. (Witham) --- They heard
not the voice of him who spoke to the apostle, but they heard the latter speak; (Acts ix. 7.) or perhaps they heard a noise,
which they could not understand. They perhaps heard the voice of Paul answering, but not that of Christ complaining.
Ver. 14. Shouldst...see
the Just One. Our Saviour appeared to St. Paul, as it is said; (chap. ix. 7.) and he is divers times, both in the Prophets
and in the Testament, called the Just One. (Witham) --- To see and hear the Just One; Him, who is just by excellence,
that you also may prove a witness of his resurrection from the dead.
Ver. 16. Wash,
&c. The contrition and charity of St. Paul had, no doubt, merited for him the remission of his sins at the moment of his
conversion. Still were these effects to be attributed to the desire of the sacrament of baptism, without which the council
of Trent defines that the forgiveness of sins, and the punishment due to them, are not obtained. It likewise added a new degree
of lustre to his innocence and purity. (Tirinus) --- Calling upon his name. In such manner, says St. Chrysostom, (hom.
xlvii.) as we invoke the only true God; and as we invoke the saints, and pray to them, that they would pray for us. (Witham)
Ver. 17. To
Jerusalem...that I was in a trance. This might be when he went to Jerusalem, three years after his conversion, or at some
other time. It might be in this ecstacy that he was wrapt to the third heaven, as he tells the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians
xv. 9.[2 Corinthians xii. 2.?] (Witham)
Ver. 20. Of
Stephen, thy witness. Or thy martyr, as the Greek word signifies. (Witham)
Ver. 21. Hence
we see that not only principals, but all that consent to the persecution of God's servants for the cause of religion, do highly
offend; and this St. Paul mentions here, that the mercy of God may be more remarkably glorified in him hereby. (Bristow)
Ver. 22. This
word. That is, until he told them that God had sent him to preach to the Gentiles, whom they could not bear to hear preferred
before themselves. Not that the Jews forbad preaching to the Gentiles; on the contrary, our Saviour reproached the Pharisees,
that they would go over land and sea for the sake of making one proselyte. They were likewise enraged that St. Paul had not
laid on the Gentiles the heavy yoke of the law. (Calmet) --- Hence they exclaim: take away this wicked man from amongst us,
for it is a sin to let him live. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 23. Threw
off their garments. Or pulling them open to shew themselves ready to stone him. (Witham) --- This is nicely descriptive
of the fury of a populace, who, when unable to vent their rage in some more effectual way, indignantly throw into the air,
and against the object of their indignation, such harmless trifles as dust, clothes, &c. (Menochius)
Ver. 25. A
Roman. That is, a Roman citizen, a freeman of Rome. (Witham) --- The apostle, on this occasion, not to injure the faith
of some weak Christians, who might be scandalized at his public disgrace, prevents the scourging, which on another occasion
he patiently submitted to. By the thongs he was probably bound to a pillar; (Tirinus) or being tied hand and foot, was stretched
on the ground, with his face downwards. This was frequently done among the Romans. (Calmet) --- See also Gretser de cruce,
lib. i. chap. 10; who declares that it was the Roman custom to bind to a stake or pillar, such as were condemned to be flogged.
Ver. 28. Civilitatem;
that is, Civitatem, Græcè, politeian, the rights of citizenship. These privileges
were granted by Antonius to the city of Tarsus. (Appianus, civilium 5.)
Ver. 29. The
same law which forbad a Roman citizen to be scourged, forbad him also to be bound. (St. Augustine, lib. i. de Serm. Dni. chap.
29.) --- It was under Claudius that the abuse of buying the freedom of Rome was introduced. At first the name of a Roman was
esteemed much, and bought at a great price. Now (such is the emptiness and vanity of titles) it is refused, and despised;
nay, it is fled from, and reckoned disgraceful. (Salvian. De Gubern. Dei, lib. v.) --- If St. Paul, on this occasion, makes
use of his privilege, it is not that he was unprepared, or afraid to die for Christ; but because it was lawful to use ordinary
means to extricate himself from difficulties, and preserve himself for future services to religion. (Denis the Carthusian)
 Ver. 1. Quam reddo rationem, akousate...tes apologias.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Paul declares to the people the history of his conversion.
He escapes scourging by claiming the privilege of a Roman.
1 Men, *brethren, and fathers, hear ye the account which I now give you.
2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue, they
kept the more silence.
3 And he saith: I am a Jew, born at Tarsus, in Cilicia, but brought up
in this city, at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the truth of the law of the fathers, zealous for the law, as also
all you are this day:
4 *And I persecuted this way unto death, binding and delivering into
prisons both men and women,
5 As the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the ancients: *from
whom also receiving letters to the brethren, I went to Damascus, to bring them bound from thence to Jerusalem, that they might
6 And it came to pass, as I was going and drawing nigh to Damascus, at
mid-day, that suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me:
7 And falling on the ground, I heard a voice saying to me: Saul, Saul,
why persecutest thou me?
8 And I answered: Who art thou, Lord? And he said to me: I am Jesus of
Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
9 And they that were with me, saw indeed the light, but they heard not
the voice of him that spoke with me.
10 And I said: What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me: Arise,
and go to Damascus: and there it shall be told thee of all things thou must do.
11 And whereas I did not see for the brightness of that light, being
led by the hand by my companions, I came to Damascus.
12 And one Ananias, a man according to the law, having a good character
from all the Jews dwelling there,
13 Coming to me, and standing by me, said to me: Brother Saul, receive
thy sight. And I the same hour looked upon him.
14 And he said: The God of our fathers hath preordained thee that thou
shouldst know his will, and see the Just One, and shouldst hear the voice from his mouth.
15 For thou shalt be his witness to all men, of those things which thou
hast seen and heard.
16 And now why delayest thou? Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away
thy sins, calling upon his name.
17 And it came to pass, when I was come again to Jerusalem, *and was
praying in the temple, that I was in a trance,
18 And saw him, saying unto me: Make haste, and go quickly out of Jerusalem:
because they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
19 And I said: Lord, they know *that I cast into prison, and beat in
every synagogue, them that believed in thee.
20 And when the blood of Stephen, thy witness, was shed, *I stood by
and consented, and kept the garments of them who killed him.
21 And he said to me: Go, for unto the Gentiles afar off will I send
22 And they heard him until this word, and then lifted up their voice,
saying: Away with such a one from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
23 And as they cried out, and threw off their garments, and cast dust
into the air,
24 The tribune *commanded him to be brought into the castle, and to be
scourged, and tortured: that he might know for what cause they cried out thus against him.
25 And when they had bound him with thongs, Paul saith to the centurion
standing by him: Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?
26 Which the centurion hearing, went to the tribune, and told him, saying:
What art thou about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.
27 And the tribune coming, said to him: Tell me, art thou a Roman? But
he said: Yes.
28 And the tribune answered: I obtained the freedom of this city with
a great sum. And Paul said: But I was born so.
29 Immediately, therefore, they that were about to torture him, departed
from him. The tribune also was afraid after he understood that he was a Roman citizen, and because he had bound him.
30 But on the next day, wishing to know more diligently, for what cause
he was accused by the Jews, he loosed him, and commanded the priests to come together and all the council: and bringing forth
Paul, he set him before them.
1: about the year A.D. 58.
4: Acts viii. 3.
5: Acts ix. 2.
17: about the year A.D. 37.
19: Acts viii. 3.
20: Acts vii. 57.
24: i.e. Lysias.