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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Acts 22



Verse 1

1. ἀκούσατέ μου τῆς πρὸς ὑμᾶς νυνὶ ἀπολογίας, hear ye my defence which I now make unto you. With regard to the construction of the verse, it seems, as in John 12:47, that ἀκούω is here followed by a double genitive of the person and thing, ‘Hear from me the defence &c.’ This is sometimes found also in classical Greek.

Verses 1-21

Acts 22:1-21. ST PAUL’S DEFENCE

Verse 2

2. ἀκούσαντες δέ, and when they heard. The beckoning with the hand (Acts 21:40) had procured silence enough for the Apostle’s first words to be heard, and now they caught the sound of their own dialect.

μᾶλλον παρέσχον ἡσυχίαν, they were the more quiet. ἡσυχία is stillness as opposed to motion, while σιγή (Acts 21:40) is quiet as opposed to noise. The phrase in this verse indicates that the crowd not only abstained from cries and shouts, but kept still in their places that they might hear the better. Thus a very high degree of quiet is described.

Verse 3

3. ἐγώ εἰμι ἀνὴρ Ἰουδαῖος, I am a Jew. These first words of the Apostle would correct many wrong impressions among the crowd, for we may be sure that many, beside the chief captain, had the notion that St Paul was one of those foreign desperadoes with which Judæa abounded at this time.

γεγεννημένος ἐν Ταρσῷ τῆν Κιλικίας, born in Tarsus of Cilicia. On Tarsus, cf. note on Acts 6:9.

ἀνατεθραμμένος δὲ ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ, but brought up in this city. St Paul means not that from his infancy he had lived in Jerusalem, but that, when he had reached an age fitted for it, he was sent from home to be educated under Gamaliel. The verb is used in this sense in classical Greek. On Gamaliel, see note on Acts 5:34.

παρὰ τοὺς πόδας, at the feet. The most usual position of teacher and pupils at the time of St Paul was that both should sit, the former on a higher level than the latter. For the evidence on this matter from the Talmud, see Taylor Pirke Aboth, pp. 28, 29.

πεπαιδευμένος κατὰ ἀκρίβειαν τοῦ πατρῴου νόμου, ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous, &c. For an account by the Apostle himself of his Jewish birth, education, and character, cf. Philippians 3:5-6. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and his language shews how learned he was in all that concerned his own people. He makes frequent allusions to Jewish customs, laws, and festivals, and reckons his time by the Jewish calendar. He was also a Pharisee, and none of his contemporaries surpassed him, while but few equalled him, in strictness of legal observance.

καθὼς πάντες ὑμεῖς ἐστε, as ye all are. The Apostle, who never puts himself in peril when no good end is to be served by it, wishes to set himself in an acceptable light before his audience. This is his reason for explaining that he, like themselves, had been a zealous observer of the law.

Verse 4

4. ὃς ταύτην τὴν ὁδὸν ἐδίωξα ἄχρι θανάτου, and I persecuted this Way unto the death. On ἡ ὁδὸς as the designation of the Christian religion, cf. note on Acts 9:2. We are not told of any Christians who were put to death through Saul’s zealous persecution, for in the case of Stephen he was not a very active agent, but his own statement in this verse, and the stronger expression Acts 26:10, ‘when they were put to death I gave my voice against them,’ make it certain that the persecutions in which he took part were carried beyond imprisonment, even to the martyrdom of the accused.

εἰς φυλακάς, into prisons. The plural here used is probably intended to express, what in chap. 26 is given in more detail, viz., the wide field over which Saul’s zeal was exerted, ‘being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.’ The usual phrase has the singular. Cf. 2 Chronicles 16:10, καὶ παρέθετο αὐτὸν εἰς φυλακήν. Also Genesis 40:3, ἔθετο αὐτοὺς ἐν φυλακῇ.

Verse 5

5. ὡς καὶ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς μαρτυρεῖ μοι, as also the high priest doth bear me witness. The Apostle refers not to the high priest at the time when he was speaking, but to him who had held that office when (Acts 9:1) in his earnestness against the Christians he had desired a commission from the authorities to carry his persecuting measures as far as Damascus. Josephus (Ant. XVIII. 5. 3) tells us that in A.D. 37 Teophilus, son of Ananus, was made high priest in the place of his brother Jonathan. The high priest to whom St Paul here alludes was one of these two brothers, for Theophilus held office till he was removed by Agrippa and his place occupied by Simon, called Kantheras (see Jos. Ant. XIX. 6. 2, and cf. Farrar’s St Paul, I. 178). Ananias was high priest at the time of St Paul’s arrest. See Acts 23:2.

καὶ μᾶν τὸ πρεσβυτέριον, and all the estate of the elders. Though it was now more than twenty years since St Paul’s conversion, it was not improbable that some members of the Sanhedrin which granted him his commission were still alive, and the records of the transaction were doubtless preserved and could be appealed to.

πρεσβυτέριον is used for the position of an elder in LXX. Susanna 50.

ἐπιστολὰς δεξάμενος πρὸς τοὺς ἀδελφούς, having received letters unto the brethren, i.e. to the Jewish authorities in Damascus. The Jews spake of all their race as brethren from the earliest times (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15). The whole family were Jacob’s children.

ἄξων καὶ τοὺς ἐκεῖσε ὄντας, to bring them also which were there, i.e. any Christians whom I was able to find in Damascus. ἐκεῖσε has here the force of ἐκεῖ, as it sometimes has in the Greek poets.

δεδεμένους εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, to Jerusalem in bonds. Thus they were to be treated as the veriest criminals.

Verse 6

6. περὶ μεσημβρίαν, about noon. The time of the day at which the vision occurred is not noticed in chap. 9, but in chap. 26 the Apostle also mentions that it was ‘at mid-day,’ at which time the heavenly brightness must have been very overpowering to shine above the glare of an Eastern sun.

Verse 7

7. ἤκουσα φωνῆς, I heard a voice. As in chap. Acts 9:4; Acts 9:7, so here, and below in Acts 22:9, the case of the noun is varied, so as to mark that the hearing in St Paul’s case was different from the hearing of his companions. The verb can be connected with either a genitive or accusative case. In both the narratives a variation is made, and it was not without its significance (see notes on chap. 9). St Paul heard intelligible words, the others heard a sound, but it was not speech to them. Cf. the narrative in Daniel 10:6-9.

Verse 8

8. ὁ Ναζωραῖος, of Nazareth. This adjective is found only in this one of the three accounts of Saul’s conversion; though in some MSS. to make the one place conform more exactly to the other they have been inserted in Acts 9:5.

Verse 9

9. The words καὶ ἔμφοβοι ἐγένοντο which appear in the Text. recept., but which the chief MSS. omit, are not like other words which have been inserted in various portions of this book. There is nothing like them either in chap. 9 or chap. 26. It is possible that they are of early authority, and may have been omitted by a scribe whose eye passed from the NTO of ἐθεάσαντο to the same letters at the end of ἐγένοντο. They are omitted from the present text according to the decision of Lachmann, Tischendorf and Tregelles, but their difference from other words similarly omitted is worthy of consideration.

τὴν δὲ φωνὴν οὐκ ἤκουσαν, but they heard not the voice, i.e. the words which were spoken to Saul. They were only conscious of a sound round about them. See above on Acts 22:7.

Verse 10

10. ὧν τέτακταί σοι ποιῆσαι, which are appointed for thee to do. On the attraction of the relative into the case of its antecedent, see on Acts 1:1.

God had explained to Ananias (see Acts 9:15) what Saul’s future work should be: how he was a chosen vessel to bear His name before Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel; and still more about his labours was to be revealed to the new Apostle himself. According to Acts 26:16-18 the character of the work to which he was called was from the first indicated to Saul; though as no mention is made of Ananias in that passage, it may well be that the Apostle there brings into one statement both the words he heard on the way and those which were afterwards spoken to him by Ananias.

Verse 11

11. ὡς δὲ οὐκ ἐνέβλεπον ἀπὸ τῆς δόξης τοῦ φωτὸς ἐκείνου, and when I could not see for the glory of that light. This explanation of the reason of the Apostle’s blindness is only given in this place.

ἐμβλέπω is found Mark 8:25 of sight returned after blindness.

Verse 12

12. Ἀνανίας δέ τις, ἀνὴρ εὐλαβὴς κατὰ τὸν νόμον, and Ananias, a devout man according to the Law. The Apostle neglects nothing in his address which can conciliate his audience, and so he tells them that the messenger whom God sent to him was ‘well reported of by all the Jews that dwelt in Damascus.’ (For Ananias see note on Acts 9:10.) The hostility towards Christians, which was so strong in Jerusalem, had not at the time of St Paul’s conversion manifested itself so greatly in Damascus, since Ananias, ‘a disciple,’ was still in good repute with the Jews there.

Verse 13

13. καὶ ἐπιστάς, and standing by me. The Apostle in his blindness was seated, no doubt, and the messenger came and stood over him.

ἀνάβλεψονἀνέβλεψα εἰς αὐτόν, receive thy sight … I looked up upon him. For the two renderings of the verb, cf. Luke 19:5, where ἀναβλέψας is used of Jesus looking up at Zacchæus in the sycamore tree, with John 9:11, where ἀνέβλεψα is said by the blind man who describes how he received his sight.

Verse 14

14. ὁ θεὸς τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν, the God of our fathers. Ananias spake naturally as one Jew to another. At the commencement of the Christian Church there was no thought of a rupture with Judaism, and nothing is more to be noticed in the Acts than the gradual advance made by the Apostles and their companions in apprehending what the result of their mission would be.

προεχειρίσατό σε, hath appointed thee. The verb is only here and in Acts 26:16 in N.T. In the LXX. it is found Exodus 4:13, προχείρισαι ἄλλον δυνάμενον ὃν ἀποστελεῖς, where Moses would excuse himself from going unto Pharaoh; also Joshua 3:12; 2 Maccabees 3:7; 2 Maccabees 8:9 : always with the notion of selecting some one into whose hands an important duty can be committed.

γνῶναι τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ, to know His will. For this reason it is that St Paul so often in the commencement of his Epistles speaks of himself as an Apostle according to the will of God. 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1-2, Colossians 1:1, &c. The whole passage Ephesians 1:1-11 forms a comment on this clause.

καὶ ἰδεῖν τὸν δίκαιον, and to see the righteous One, i.e. Jesus. See note on Acts 7:52 above.

καὶ ἀκοῦσαι φωνὴν ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, and to hear a voice from His mouth. That in this way St Paul might, even as the other Apostles, be taught of Jesus.

Verse 15

15. ὅτι ἔσῃ μάρτυς αὐτῷ, for thou shalt be His witness. Thus the commission of the later-called Apostle was exactly in the same terms in which Christ (Acts 1:8) had spoken to the Eleven before his Ascension.

πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους, unto all men. Paul, with his usual discretion, does not utter the word ‘Gentiles’ till he is forced to do so.

ὧν ἑώρακας καὶ ἤκουσας, of what thou hast seen and heard. For by revelation the Apostle was made aware of the whole scope of Christian truth, and of those doctrines which Christ during His life on earth had communicated to the Twelve. And at a later time (see 2 Corinthians 12:2-3) greater revelations appear to have been made to St Paul concerning the world to come than to any of the other Apostles.

Verse 16

16. καὶ νῦν τί μέλλεις; and now why tarriest thou? According to the narrative in Acts 9:15, the message of Ananias had already proclaimed the gift of the Holy Ghost to Saul, and the favour of God had been shewn in the recovery of his sight. So the question of Ananias becomes parallel to that of St Peter in the house of Cornelius: ‘Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?’

ἀναστὰς βάπτισαι, arise and be baptized. Though the gift of the Spirit was announced yet God directs that the means of grace, the sacrament of baptism, which the Apostle must offer to others, should also be received by himself.

καὶ ἀπόλουσαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου, and wash away thy sins. The close connexion of the sacramental sign with renewing grace is spoken of in like terms by the Apostle in his Epistle to Titus (Acts 3:5), ‘according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.’

ἐπικαλεσάμενος τό ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, calling on His name, i.e. τοῦ δικαίου, the name of the righteous One, Jesus, mentioned in Acts 22:14.

Verse 17

17. ὑποστρέψαντι εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ, when I had returned to Jerusalem. This refers to that visit of the Apostle recorded in Acts 9:26 seqq. We learn from Galatians 1:18 that three years had elapsed between the conversion of Saul and this visit to Jerusalem, which period is supposed to have been consumed in Arabia (cf. Galatians 1:17). The preaching of Saul at Jerusalem we are told in the Acts roused the anger of the Greek-speaking Jews, and that in consequence of their attempts against Saul the Christian congregation sent him away first to Cæsarea and then to Tarsus.

The double construction of the participle first in the dative after ἐγένετο and then in the genitive absolute is noteworthy. But there is a degree of difference in the sense ‘after my return’ and ‘while I was praying.’

προσευχομένου μου ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, while I prayed in the Temple. It is worthy of note how often in this address St Paul incidentally expresses himself in such wise as to conciliate the crowd. His visit to the Temple for the purpose of prayer was at once a proof that he was not likely to despise Jewish ordinances and religious observances.

γενέσθαι με ἐν ἐκστάσει, I fell into a trance. This was the occasion of one of those ‘visions and revelations of the Lord’ of which St Paul speaks to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:1) and with which, from his conversion onwards, he was many times instructed and comforted.

The infinitive, as here, after ἐγένετο is common in St Luke. The present example is however more noteworthy, because it is of the form ἐγένετό μοιγενέσθαι με.

Verse 18

18. καὶ ἰδεῖν αὐτὸν λέγοντά μοι, and saw Him saying unto me. In Acts 9:29-30 no mention is made that a vision had appeared to Saul commanding him to depart from Jerusalem. It is only said that ‘the disciples’ sent him away. But these two statements are not inconsistent with each other. Saul might be warned to go, and the disciples at the same time prompted to send him. In the same way two different causes, one natural, the other supernatural, are mentioned Acts 13:2-4, viz. the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and the act of the Church of Antioch. And still more like is the statement of St Paul (Galatians 2:2), that he went up to Jerusalem ‘by revelation,’ when it is placed side by side with Acts 15:2, where we are told that the Christians of Antioch determined that Paul and Barnabas should go up to consult the Church in Jerusalem.

ἔξελθε ἐν τάχει ἐξ Ἱερουσαλήμ, get thee quickly out of Jerusalem. We know from Galatians 1:18 that the duration of the Apostle’s stay was only fifteen days.

ἐν τάχει used adverbially is common both in classical Greek and in the LXX.

οὐ παραδέξονταί σου μαρτυρίαν περὶ ἐμοῦ, they will not accept from thee testimony concerning me. The Apostle, as is clear from what follows in the next verse, considered that he would be specially a messenger likely to persuade and convince men in Jerusalem of the truths of the Christian faith. God, in the vision, points out that this will not be so.

Verse 19

19. Κύριε, αὐτοὶ ἐπόστανται, Lord, they know. The effect of the expressed pronoun is not to be reproduced in English. These are, he thinks, the very men to whom he can best appeal. Saul is confident that he will be known by many to whom he would speak, and that his zealous persecution of the Christians less than four years before cannot have fallen out of men’s memories.

ἐγὼ ἤμην φυλακίζων καὶ δέρων, I imprisoned and beat. The peculiar form, the substantive verb with the participle, implies that this conduct was continuous. Saul was regularly engaged in the work.

φυλακίζω is a rare word, found only here in N.T., and in LXX. Wisdom of Solomon 18:4, ἄξιοι μὲν γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι στερηθῆναι φωτὸς καὶ φυλακισθῆναι ἐν σκότει.

κατὰ τὰς συναγωγάς, in the synagogues. For the synagogues as places where such punishment was inflicted cf. Matthew 10:17; Matthew 23:34; Mark 13:9; Luke 21:12. That they were also places in which charges were heard is seen from Luke 12:11.

Verse 20

20. Στεφάνου τοῦ μάρτυρός σου, of Stephen, thy witness. The Greek word μάρτυς had not yet come to be applied, as it afterwards was, to those Christians who bore witness to the truth by their death.

συνευδοκῶν, consenting. On the force of ἤμην with the participle, which here implies that Saul took a share in the proceedings from first to last, see the previous verse.

καὶ φυλάσσων τὰ ἱμάτια, and kept the raiment. See on Acts 7:58.

Verse 21

21. ἐγὼ εἰς ἔθνη μακρὰν ἐξαποστελῶ σε, I will send thee forth far hence unto the Gentiles. We need not understand the command as implying that the Apostle’s missionary labours were to begin from that moment, but that God’s work for him was now appointed, and would begin in His own time; and it would be not among Jews or Greeks at Jerusalem, but among the Gentiles in distant places.

St Paul had kept back as long as ever he could the word which he was sure would rouse the anger of his hearers, and we may well suppose from the conciliatory tone of much of his speech that the attention of the crowd had been enlisted, for the speaker was a man of culture and spoke their own tongue. But when the Gentiles are spoken of as recipients of God’s message they break forth into all the excitement of an Oriental mob.

Verse 22

22. ἄχρι τούτου τοῦ λόγου, unto this word, i.e. Gentiles. It is probable that here and there in the speech the Apostle may not have entirely pleased them. Their feelings however could not be restrained when the hated name was spoken to them by one who professed to be bearing abroad the message of Jehovah.

οὐ γὰρ καθῆκεν αὐτὸν ζῇν, for it was not fit that he should live, i.e. he ought to have been put to death long ago. Cf. Sirach 10:23, οὐ καθῆκεν δοξάσαι ἄνδρα ἁμαρτωλόν, i.e. it neither is nor ever has been proper to magnify a sinful man. In which passage however the Vat. MS. reads καθήκει.

Verses 22-29


Verse 23

23. ῥιπτούτων τὰ ἱμάτια, casting off their clothes, i.e. the loose upper robe which could easily be laid aside, and which in such an excitement would interfere with their movements. Compare the conduct of the crowd when our Lord rode into Jerusalem, and also the behaviour of Jehu’s friends, 2 Kings 9:13. Such loose parts of the dress were rolled up for carrying and thus progress in a crowd was made more easy.

καὶ κονιορτὸν βαλλόντων εἰς τὸν ἀέρα, and casting dust into the air. With this compare the action of Shimei, 2 Samuel 16:13, where the marginal rendering shews that the dust was thrown at David. Perhaps it may have been meant in the present case to be thrown at St Paul, who was above the crowd, at the top of the stairs. The attempt to reach him with what they threw was futile, but it shewed what they would fain have done. For a like action as a sign of grief, cf. Job 2:12.

Verse 24

24. ἐκέλευσεν ὁ χιλίαρχος εἰσάγεσθαι αὐτὸν κ.τ.λ., the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle. Probably the chief captain understood nothing of what St Paul had been saying, and would be surprised at the outbreak of rage on the part of the people, and conclude from it that there was some serious charge laid against him which he might best ascertain by subjecting his prisoner to torture till he should confess.

εἴπας μάστιξιν ἀνετάζεσθαι αὐτόν, having bidden that he should be examined by scourging. The active verb ἀνετάζειν is found LXX. Susanna 14, ἀνετάζοντες ἀλλήλους, but it is of very rare occurrence.

The mode of examination by torture among the Romans consisted in binding the limbs of the person to be tortured fast to a framework on which arms and legs were spread apart (divaricatio), and then the beating was inflicted by means of rods.

δι' ἣν αἰτίαν οὕτως ἐπεφώνουν αὐτῷ, for what cause they cried so against him. Here the antecedent has been, as is not uncommon, transferred into the relative clause.

Verse 25

25. ὡς δὲ προέτεναν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν, and when they had tied him up with the thongs. The person to be scourged was stretched forward (προτείνειν) so that he might be in a position to receive the blows. Some have translated ‘for the thongs,’ but ἱμάς is nearly always used for straps employed for straining or binding tight, and rarely, if ever, for the implement by which the chastisement is inflicted.

πρὸς τὸν ἑστῶτα ἑκατόνταρχον, to the centurion that stood by. He was superintending the tying up of the prisoner to the whipping-post, which was done by the common soldiers.

ἄνθρωπον Ῥωμαῖον, a man that is a Roman. It was an offence punishable with the severest penalties for a man to claim to be a Roman citizen, if he were not one. The peril of such an assertion, if it were not true, convinces the centurion at once, and though we are not told so expressly we may feel sure that the operation of ‘tying up’ was stopped.

Verse 26

26. τί μέλλεις ποιεῖν what art thou about to do? It was forbidden under a heavy penalty, by the Lex Porcia, to scourge a Roman citizen (Liv. x. 9).

Verse 28

28. τὴν πολιτιείαν ταύτην ἐκτησάμην, obtained I this citizenship. It was the Roman boast ‘I am a Roman citizen’ (Cic. in Verr. v. 63). The sale of the freedom of Rome was at times the perquisite of some of the Imperial parasites and favourites, who made what they could of such a privilege.

ἐγὼ δέ καὶ γεγένμαι, but I am a Roman born. How St Paul came to be a Roman citizen by birth we cannot tell; probably some ancestor for meritorious conduct had been rewarded with enfranchisement. Tarsus was a free city, and had its own laws and magistrates, but that did not constitute its inhabitants Roman citizens.

Verse 29

29. οἱ μέλλοντες αὐτὸν ἀνετάζειν, those who were about to examine him. The verb is used here euphemistically for the scourging which it had been proposed to inflict on the Apostle.

αὐτὸν ἦν δεδεκώς, he had bound him, i.e. bound him for the purpose of scourging. To be bound with a chain as a prisoner was not prohibited in the case of Romans. Hence we find St Paul speaking often in the Epistles, written during his imprisonment at Rome, of the bonds and the ‘chain’ with which he was afflicted. Cf. Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:13-14; Philippians 1:17; Colossians 4:18; Philemon 1:10; Philemon 1:13. Also Acts 28:20, while the next verse in this chapter shews that though the Apostle was unloosed from the whipping-post, he was still kept in bonds.

Verse 30

30. βουλόμενος γνῶναι, desiring to know. The chief captain was anxious, as a Roman officer, that justice should be done, and this could only be by having both sides before some authoritative council.

τὸ τί κατηγορεῖται ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων, of what he is accused by the Jews. In a similar way a whole sentence is treated as one nominal idea by the prefixing of the neuter article in 1 Thessalonians 4:1, παρελάβετε παρ' ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν.

καὶ ἐκέλευσεν συνελθεῖν τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς, and commanded the chief priests to come together. He had discovered thus much, that the offence charged against his prisoner was concerning the religion of the Jews. He therefore summons the chief religious authorities as those who were best able to decide whether any wrong had been done.

καὶ πᾶν τὸ συνέδριον, and all the council. By this is meant the whole Jewish Sanhedrin. They were to meet in some place to which Paul could be brought, and where the case might be fairly heard. The place where the Sanhedrin met for their own consultations was called Lishkath-Haggazith, and was a hall built of cut stone so situate that one half was built on holy, the other half on the profane ground, and it had two doors, one to admit to each separate section, T. B. Joma 25a. But whether this was the place of meeting at this time we have no means of deciding.

καὶ καταγαγὼν τὸν Παῦλον, and having brought Paul down. The castle was situate in the highest part of the city, above the Temple, so that wherever he had to go, the chief captain must come down.

ἔστησεν εἰς αὐτούς, he set him before them. The idea of εἰς is ‘he brought him in among them.’ Perhaps the phrase is purposely used, to intimate that Paul was not committed to them, nor brought into their presence as if they were to be his judges, but only that both accusers and accused might be heard on common ground.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Acts 22:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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