I am verily a man who is a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as you all are this day.
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I am a man, he says, which am a Jew: which thing they liked most of all to hear; born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia. That they may not again think him to be of another nation, he adds his religion: but brought up in this city. (p. 282, note 4.) He shows how great was his zeal for the worship, inasmuch as having left his native city, which was so great and so remote too, he chose to be brought up here for the Law's sake. See how from the beginning he attached himself to the law. But this he says, not only to defend himself to them, but to show that not by human intent was he led to the preaching of the Gospel, but by a Divine power: else, having been so educated, he would not have suddenly changed. For if indeed he had been one of the common order of men, it might have been reasonable to suspect this: but if he was of the number of those who were most of all bound by the law, it was not likely that he should change lightly, and without strong necessity. But perhaps some one may say: To have been brought up here proves nothing: for what if you came here for the purpose of trading, or for some other cause? Therefore he says, at the feet of Gamaliel: and not simply, by Gamaliel, but at his feet, showing his perseverance, his assiduity, his zeal for the hearing, and his great reverence for the man. Taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers. Not simply, the law, but the law of the fathers; showing that he was such from the beginning, and not merely one that knew the Law. All this seems indeed to be spoken on their side, but in fact it told against them, since he, knowing the law, forsook it. Yes: but what if you indeed knew the law accurately, but did not vindicate it, no, nor love it? Being a zealot, he adds: not simply (one that knew it). Then, since it was a high encomium he had passed upon himself, he makes it theirs as well as his, adding, As ye all are this day. For he shows that they act not from any human object, but from zeal for God; gratifying them, and preoccupying their minds, and getting a hold upon them in a way that did no harm. Then he brings forward proofs also, saying, and I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest does bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders (v. 4, 5): How does this appear. As witnesses he brings forward the high-priest himself and the elders. He says indeed, Being a zealot, as you (Hom. xix. p. 123): but he shows by his actions, that he went beyond them. For I did not wait for an opportunity of seizing them: I both stirred up the priests, and undertook journeys: I did not confine my attacks, as you did, to men, I extended them to women also: both binding, and casting into prisons both men and women.
This testimony is incontrovertible; the (unbelief) of the Jews (is left) without excuse. See how many witnesses he brings forward, the elders, the high-priest, and those in the city. Observe his defence, how it is not of cowardly fear (for himself, that he pleads), no, but for teaching and indoctrination. For had not the hearers been stones, they would have felt the force of what he was saying. For up to this point he had themselves as witnesses: the rest, however, was without witnesses: From whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and had come near unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? And I answered, Who are Thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom you persecute.