Paul’s Testimony (Acts 22:6-21)
As I was on the road
approaching Damascus about noon,
a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me.
I fell to the ground
and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why ar e you persecuting me?’
‘Who are you, lord?’
And the voice replied,
‘I am Jesus the Nazarene,
the one you are persecuting.’
The people with me saw the light
but didn’t understand the voice speaking to me.
‘What should I do, Lord?’
And the Lord told me,
‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told everything you are to do.’
I was blinded by the intense light
and had to be led by the hand to Damascus by my companions.
A man named Ananias lived there.
He was a godly man,
deeply devoted to the law,
and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus.
He came and stood beside me
‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’
And that very moment I could see him
then he told me, ‘
The God of our ancestors has chosen you
to know his will
and to see the Righteous One
and hear him speak.
For you are to be his witness,
telling everyone what you have seen and heard.
What are you waiting for?
Get up and be baptized.
Have your sins washed away
by calling on the name of the Lord.’
After I returned to Jerusalem,
I was praying in the Temple
and fell into a trance.
I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me,
‘Hurry! Leave Jerusalem,
for the people here won’t accept your testimony about me.’
“‘But Lord, they certainly know
that in every synagogue
and beat those who believed in you.
And I was in complete agreement
when your witness Stephen was killed.
I stood by and kept the coats they took off
when they stoned him.’
But the Lord said to me,
‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’
There are three accounts of Paul’s testimony recorded in Acts.
Saul’s narrative of his conversion (Acts 9:3-18)Paul’s testimony given on the steps of the Roman fort in Jerusalem (Acts 22:6-21)Paul’s testimony before Festus and Agrippa in Caesarea (Acts 26:12-20)
You will see that I have given you Paul’s testimony laid out in propositions again as well as the challenge to compare the three accounts of Paul’s testimony. Some of you have picked up the challenge of propositions and two others have indicated they want to compare the accounts of Paul’s testimony. I will stand on the side line cheering you on.
Now the question is what I have for you today that doesn’t compromise your search on either of the above two studies.
Well one of you has made it clear to me what I should focus on today. One young woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, asked, “Ian, you have taught us in Deeper Bible to pay careful attention to the text so I have been. But I wondered about the meaning in Acts 22:3 where the NLT says: I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as ye all are this day: As I read that it seems to be saying that Paul was brought up by Gamaliel as well as being taught by him. Is that right? It seems to me that Gamaliel would not have brought Paul up but rather have been his Rabbi. This may be a really dumb question but I am going to ask it anyway because it is bothering me.”
I applaud you for asking the question. It is not a dumb question at all and in fact it was something I thought about commenting on but chose to skip over it and move on. Your question has dragged me back again to Acts 22:3 and that’s perfectly fine. Rather than a dumb question it is one that has sent the experts into vigorous debate. Let me pull it apart for you.
Paul has lined up three perfect participles in a row:- [γεγεννημένος- from the verbgennao] born, [ἀνατεθραμμένος- from the verbanatrepho] reared and[πεπαιδευμένος – from the verbpaideuo] educated. But we have been given no further information related to this process of Paul’s childhood and training. Simply he has strung them together as perfect participles which focus on the action having taken place in the past but the effects of which continue to the present time. The second and third participles appeared to be connected with the phrase “under the feet of Gamaliel”. Certainly Gamaliel had nothing to do with Paul’s birth. We have no information as to when Paul moved from Tarsus to Jerusalem. The experts place it sometime between Paul being eight or fourteen years of age. I would certainly place the timing nearer to eight and certainly before fourteen. Children were usually taken into Beth Sepher (the House of the Book) and taught by a rabbi as early as six. By the time a boy was thirteen he was expected to have learned the Torah by heart. To have been taught or educated by Gamaliel infers that Paul was in Beth Sepher under Gamaliel. To have been under Gamaliel (under the feet of) suggests Paul began his training with Gamaliel early.
But some experts see a division here between the second two participles. Some think that the phrase “under the feet of Gamaliel” modifies the preceding participle while another view is that it is the third and last participle that is modified by this phrase. Still others think both participles are linked to the phrase. It is a moot point up for debate and the experts certainly debate the idea. The phrase “under the feet of Gamaliel” is placed between the second and third participles which leads me to conclude that Paul has linked both [anatrepho] and [paideuo] with Gamaliel. Rabbis took promising children in under their care. Normally it happened during the time of training in Beth Talmud (the House of the Interpretation) but It could happen earlier for outstanding pupils. Promising students looked to come under a rabbi with [smikkah] – a rabbi with the authority to create his own yoke. The yoke of a rabbi was not only his content of teaching but more importantly it included his interpretation and ruling on what verses in the Tanakh meant. Rabbis with smikkah set the standards for interpretation. Gamaliel was certainly one of those. If you didn’t have smikkah then you could only parrot what rabbis with smikkah said rather than make your own diefinitive ruling on what a verse meant so it was huge honour to sit under a rabbi with smikkah. Students sitting under their rabbi followed him everywhere and learned from him when he walked in the way, sat down and even lay down. There is a rabbinical saying: walk so close to your rabbi that you are covered by the dust of his feet. i.e. stick close so you observe him at every waking moment. Given that background, it is highly likely that Paul was indeed reared and taught by Gamaliel.
Many experts conclude only [paideuo] can be applied to Gamaliel because rabbis didn’t focus on rearing only educating when the student had proved himself in Beth Sepher. Normally that is true but for outstanding students the process could begin earlier if the Rabbi with smikkah recognised a budding protégé. This was the likely outcome for Paul in my humble opinion and seems to be what Paul is saying in this sentence by placing “under the feet of Gamaliel between the two prime participles. I am sure the Brothers, Esteemed Fathers and the High Priest got the message.
Listening is the first step in communication with other humans and with God. Ian
Parenthood is about raising the child you have, not the child you thought you’d have.
Stick close to Rabbi Jesus and allow His dust to cover you.
LORD open my eyes to see the wonderous things You have hidden in Your Word. Ian
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. Henry Ford