King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 9

The conversion of Saul. (1-9) Saul converted preaches Christ. (10-22) Saul is persecuted at Damascus, and goes to Jerusalem. (23-31) Cure of Eneas. (32-35) Dorcas raised to life. (36-43)

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The conversion of Saul

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Saul converted preaches Christ

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Saul is persecuted at Damascus, and goes to Jerusalem

23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

Cure of Eneas

32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.

34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

Dorcas raised to life

36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 4. Why dost thou persecute me? My disciples, my brothers, and my friends. The head speaks for the members, and by a figure of speech, calls them itself. S. Aug. in Ps. xxx. — Here Jesus Christ identifies himself with his Church, as on a former occasion, when he said: he that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me. Lu. x. 16.

Ver. 5. To kick against the goad. Others translate against the pricks; others, against the sting. The metaphor is taken from oxen kicking, when pricked to go forward. Wi.

Ver. 7. There it shall be told thee, &c. The Almighty having established a Church, and ministry, the depositories of his doctrines, does not, even on this extraordinary occasion, transgress his own laws; but sends him to the ministers of religion, that instruction may be imparted through them, as through its proper channel. This observation is worthy the notice of the self-inspired of the present day, who pretend to receive their light direct from heaven. Nothing can be more opposite to the spirit of the gospel than such delusion. A. — Hear the great S. Augustin: “Paul, though with the divine and heavenly voice prostrated and instructed, yet was sent to a man to receive the sacraments, and to be joined to the Church.” De Doct. Chris. l. i. in prœm. — Hearing, &c. This may be reconciled with what is said in the 22d chap. by supposing they heard only S. Paul speak, or heard only a confused noise, which they could not understand. Calmet.

Ver. 8. And his eyes being open, either by himself, or by others, he saw nothing. See the circumstances related again, c. xxii. and xxvi. Wi.

Ver. 9. Three days. During the time, he neither eat nor drank, to testify his sorrow for his past conduct. He likewise spent the time in prayer, to prepare himself for the reception of grace. S. Chrys. hom. xix.

Ver. 12. And he saw a man, &c. This verse, which is by way of a parenthesis, contains the words of the historian, S. Luke, telling us what S. Paul saw in a vision, and what the Spirit at the same time revealed to Ananias. Wi. — This verse is a parenthesis. It contains not the words of Christ to Ananias, but S. Luke here relates what was shewn to Paul, at the time Ananias entered. This vision was shewn to him, that he might know Ananias was sent by God. Menochius.

Ver. 15. A vessel of election. A chosen elect vessel, and minister of the gospel. Wi. — Skeous ekloges, an organ, or instrument. Thus Polybius uses the word, speaking of Damocles, ode en uperetikon skeuos, he was an excellent and choice character.

Ver. 17. Laying his hands on him. This imposition of hands, made use of on different occasions, was to pray that he might receive his sight, as well as the grace of the Holy Ghost, which God sometimes gave to persons not yet baptized, as to Cornelius. Acts x. 44. Wi. — This imposition of hands, was not the same as that, by which the faithful were confirmed, or ordained ministers, but a ceremony commonly used by the apostles to restore health to the sick. If Saul, in consequence, receives the Holy Ghost, it was an extraordinary miraculous event, which was not an unfrequent circumstance in the infancy of Christianity. The Almighty, who establishes the laws of grace, can dispense with them himself whenever he pleases. Calmet.

Ver. 23. When many days were passed. By the account S. Paul gives of himself, (Gal. c. i.) soon after his conversion he went into Arabia, and about three years after he might come to Damascus. Then it seems to have happened that they were for killing him, for becoming a Christian; and the brethren saved his life, by conveying him down the walls of the town in a basket. After this, he went to Jerusalem, where the disciples knew little of him, and were afraid of him, till S. Barnabas introduced him to the apostles, and gave an account of his conversion. Wi. — Many days. That is, three years. For Saul went for a time from Damascus to Arabia. Gal. i. 17. and 18. It was on his return from thence, that the Jews conspired against his life, as is here related. Tirinus.

Ver. 27. Brought him to the apostles Peter and James. See Gal. i. 18. and 19.

Ver. 29. He spoke also to the Gentiles,[1] and disputed with the Grecians, or Hellenists. See c. vi. v. 1. By the Gentiles, many understand those who had been Gentiles, and were become proselytes or converts to the Jewish religion, and not those who still remained Gentiles. And by the Greeks, or Hellenists, they understand Jews, who had lived in places where they spoke Greek, or Hellenists, they understand Jews, who had lived in places where they spoke Greek, not Syriac, whom S. Paul endeavoured to convert to the Christian faith. Wi.

Ver. 31. The Church visibly proceedeth still with much comfort and patience; she is perfected by persecution, and by means of the promised infallible protection, she has ever proved herself invulnerable to all the envenomed shafts of her adversaries.

Ver. 35. Saron, or Assaron, is a mountain and city mentioned by Josue, xii. 18. From it all the plain from Cæsarea of Palestine to Joppe, is called Saron. It is a rich fertile country. Tirinus.

Ver. 36. Tabitha, in Syriac, means the same as Dorcas in Greek, that is, a wild goat. V. — See here the powerful effects of good works, and alms-deeds; they reach even to the next life. B. — Hence that of the wise man, alms free from death.

Ver. 37. Washed. This custom of washing the dead was observed among the Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, and most other nations. It is still practised in monasteries, and formerly was observed with much ceremony. S. Chrysostom observes, that our Saviour’s body was washed and embalmed. The same custom is mentioned in Homer and Virgil:

Corpusque lavant frigentis, et ungunt. — And again,

Date, vulnera lymphis abluam. — Æneid. iv.

Tertullian, in his Apology, testifies, that the Christians performed that office to the dead. It was a proof of their respect for the image of God impressed upon his creature, and for the character of Christian, which these persons have borne during their lives. It was likewise a sign of the confidence they had in a future resurrection.

Ver. 39. Chiton was the under garment, Imation the upper.

Ver. 40. And having put them all out, not to disturb him while he prayed. — Sat up, raised herself a little: and Peter taking her by the hand, lifted her quite up, and calling in the company, presented her to them alive and well. Wi.

Ver. 41. Raising the dead to life can only be the work of God. This woman was raised to life for the comfort of the faithful, and the conversion of others. She herself might likewise have an opportunity of acquiring greater merit, otherwise the repose of another life is preferable to a return to the miseries of this world. D. Dion. Carthus.

Ver. 43. In the Greek is added: instructing the new converts, and fortifying them in the faith they had just embraced.

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[1] V. 29. Loquebatur quoque Gentibus, & disputabat cum Græcis. In almost all Greek copies, there is nothing for Gentibus, and we only read, he spoke and disputed with the Grecians, or Hellenists; pros tous Ellenistas. See c. vi. v. 1.