Saul: See study note on Ac 7:58.
the high priest: That is, Caiaphas.—See study note on Ac 4:6.
letters: In the first century C.E., people relied on letters from a credible source to introduce a stranger and to authenticate his or her identity or authority. (Ro 16:1; 2Co 3:1-3) Jews in Rome referred to this kind of communication. (Ac 28:21) The letters Saul requested from the high priest and addressed to the synagogues in Damascus authorized him to persecute the Jewish Christians in that city. (Ac 9:1, 2) The letters Saul requested apparently asked the synagogues in Damascus to cooperate with Saul in his campaign against the Christians.
Damascus: Located in modern-day Syria, Damascus is said to be one of the oldest cities in the world to be continuously inhabited from the time it was founded. The patriarch Abraham may have passed by or through this city on his way S to Canaan. At some point, he took Eliezer, “a man of Damascus,” into his household as a servant. (Ge 15:2) Nearly a thousand years later, Damascus reappears in the Bible account. (See Glossary, “Aram; Aramaeans.”) At this time, the Syrians (Aramaeans) were at war with Israel, and the two nations became enemies. (1Ki 11:23-25) In the first century, Damascus was part of the Roman province of Syria. By that time, Damascus had a Jewish population of perhaps some 20,000 and a number of synagogues. Saul may have targeted the Christians living in Damascus because the city was located at the crossroads of important travel routes and he feared that Christian teachings would quickly spread from that city.—See App. B13.
The Way: A designation used in the book of Acts to refer to the Christian way of life and the early Christian congregation. It may have roots in Jesus’ statement at Joh 14:6: “I am the way.” Those who became followers of Jesus were spoken of as belonging to “The Way,” that is, they kept a way of life following Jesus’ example. (Ac 19:9) His life centered on worship of the only true God, Jehovah. For Christians, this manner of life also focused on faith in Jesus Christ. Sometime after 44 C.E., in Syrian Antioch, disciples of Jesus “were by divine providence called Christians.” (Ac 11:26) However, even after that designation was applied, Luke refers to the congregation as “The Way” or “this Way.”—Ac 19:23; 22:4; 24:22; see study notes on Ac 18:25; 19:23.
hearing . . . the sound of a voice: At Ac 22:6-11, Paul himself describes his experience on the road to Damascus. That account taken together with this account gives the full picture of what happened. The Greek words used in both accounts are the same, but the grammar is different. The Greek term pho·neʹ could be rendered both “sound” and “voice.” Here it is in the genitive case and is therefore rendered “the sound of a voice.” (At Ac 22:9, the same Greek word is in the accusative case and is rendered “voice.”) So the men accompanying Paul heard the sound of a voice but apparently could not hear and understand the words spoken. So they did not hear the voice the way Paul did.—Ac 26:14; see study note on Ac 22:9.
the street called Straight: This is the only street mentioned by name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. It is believed to have been the main thoroughfare that ran from E to W through Damascus, which in the first century C.E. was laid out in a grid. The street was about 1.5 km (1 mi) long and 26 m (85 ft) wide, including pedestrian lanes, and it may also have been lined with columns. A main thoroughfare still runs through what remains of the old Roman city and follows the course of the ancient Roman Via Recta, or Straight Street.
in a vision: These words are found in a number of ancient manuscripts.
arrest: Or “imprison.” Lit., “bind; put in bonds,” that is, prison bonds.—Compare Col 4:3.
the sons of Israel: Or “the people of Israel; the Israelites.”—See Glossary, “Israel.”
a basket: Luke here used the Greek word sphy·risʹ, which is also used in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark for the seven baskets in which leftovers were collected after Jesus fed 4,000 men. (See study note on Mt 15:37.) This word refers to a large basket or hamper. In telling the Corinthian Christians about his escape, the apostle Paul used the Greek word sar·gaʹne, which denotes a plaited basket or “wicker basket” made of rope or woven twigs. Both Greek terms can be used for the same type of large basket.—2Co 11:32, 33; ftn.
moving about freely: Or “carrying on his daily life.” Lit., “going in and going out.” This expression reflects a Semitic idiom that includes the idea of freely conducting the regular activities of life or associating with others without hindrance.—Compare De 28:6, 19; Ps 121:8, ftn.; see study note on Ac 1:21.
the Greek-speaking Jews: Lit., “the Hellenists.” Most likely, these were Jews who communicated in Greek rather than in Hebrew. These Jews had probably come to Jerusalem from various parts of the Roman Empire. At Ac 6:1, the term applies to Christians, but the context here at Ac 9:29 shows that these Greek-speaking Jews were not disciples of Christ. The Theodotus Inscription, found on the hill of Ophel in Jerusalem, provides evidence that many Greek-speaking Jews came to Jerusalem.—See study note on Ac 6:1.
the fear of Jehovah: The expression “the fear of Jehovah” is found many times in the Hebrew Scriptures as a combination of a Hebrew word for “fear” and the Tetragrammaton. (Some examples are found at 2Ch 19:7, 9; Ps 19:9; 111:10; Pr 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 19:23; Isa 11:2, 3.) However, the expression “fear of the Lord” is never used in the Hebrew Scripture text. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the fear of Jehovah” in the main text, although most Greek manuscripts of Ac 9:31 read “the fear of the Lord,” are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 9:31.
Tabitha: The Aramaic name Tabitha means “Gazelle” and apparently corresponds to a Hebrew word (tsevi·yahʹ) meaning “female gazelle.” (Ca 4:5; 7:3) The Greek name Dorcas also means “Gazelle.” In a seaport such as Joppa, with its mixed population of Jews and Gentiles, it may be that Tabitha was known by both names, according to the language being spoken. Or Luke may have translated the name for the benefit of Gentile readers.
robes: Or “outer garments.” The Greek word hi·maʹti·on appears to have been a loose robe, but more often it was a rectangular piece of material.
Tabitha, rise!: Peter followed a procedure similar to that used by Jesus in resurrecting Jairus’ daughter. (Mr 5:38-42; Lu 8:51-55) This is the first reported resurrection performed by an apostle, resulting in many becoming believers throughout Joppa.—Ac 9:39-42.
a tanner named Simon: See study note on Ac 10:6.