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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 9 - Verse 1
: This chapter commences a very important part of the Acts of the Apostles—the conversion and labours of Saul of Tarsus. The remainder of the book is chiefly occupied with an account of his labours and trials in the establishment of churches, and in spreading the gospel through the Gentile world. As the fact that the gospel was to be thus preached to the Gentiles was a very important fact, and as the toils of the apostle Paul and his fellow-labourers for this purpose were of an exceedingly interesting character, it was desirable to preserve an authentic record of those labours; and that record we have in the remainder of this book.
He had been engaged before in persecuting the Christians, but he now sought opportunity to gratify his insatiable desire on a larger scale.
Yet breathing. Not satisfied with what he had done, Ac 8:3. The word breathing out is expressive often of any deep, agitating emotion, as we then breathe rapidly and violently. It is thus expressive of violent anger. The emotion is absorbing, agitating, exhausting, and demands a more rapid circulation of blood to supply the exhausted vitality; and this demands an increased supply of oxygen, or vital air, which leads to the increased action of the lungs. The word is often used in this sense in the classics. (Schleusner.) It is a favourite expression with Homer. Euripides has the same expression: "Breathing out fire and slaughter." So Theocritus: "They came unto the assembly, breathing mutual slaughter," Idyll. xxii. 28.
Threatening. Denunciation; threatening them with every breath —the action of a man violently enraged, and who was bent on vengeance. It denotes, also, intense activity and energy in persecution.
Saughter. Murder. Intensely desiring to put to death as many Christians as possible. He rejoiced in their death, and joined in condemning them, Ac 26:10,11. From this latter place, it seems that he had been concerned in putting many of them to death.
The disciples of the Lord. Against Christians.
Went unto the High Priest. The letters were written and signed in the name and by the authority of the sanhedrim, or great council of the nation. The high priest did it as president of that council. See Ac 9:14; 22:5. The high priest of that time was Theophilus, son of Artanus, who had been appointed at the feast of Pentecost, A. D. 37, by Vitellius, the Roman governor. His brother Jonathan had been removed from that office the same year. (Kuinoel.)
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