in the Hebrew language: See study note on Joh 5:2.
assembly of elders: Or “council (body) of elders.” The Greek word pre·sby·teʹri·on used here is related to the term pre·sbyʹte·ros (lit., “older man”), which in the Bible refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25 and Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. The expression “assembly of elders” here apparently refers to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem, which was made up of the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. These three groups are often mentioned together.—Mt 16:21; 27:41; Mr 8:31; 11:27; 14:43, 53; 15:1; Lu 9:22; 20:1; see study note on Lu 22:66.
the Nazarene: See study note on Mr 10:47.
they did not hear the voice: Or “they did not understand the voice.” At Ac 9:3-9, Luke describes Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus. These two accounts taken together give the full picture of what happened. As explained in the study note on Ac 9:7, the men accompanying Paul heard “the sound of a voice” but apparently did not understand the words spoken. Thus, they did not hear the voice the way Paul did. This is in agreement with how the Greek word for “hear” is used at Ac 22:7, where Paul explains that he “heard a voice,” that is, he heard and understood the words. By contrast, those traveling with Paul did not understand the message being conveyed to Paul, perhaps because the voice was muffled or distorted in some way. It is apparently in this sense that “they did not hear the voice.”—Compare Mr 4:33; 1Co 14:2, where the same Greek word for “hear” could be rendered “to listen” or “to understand.”
regain your sight!: Lit., “look up!” The Greek word basically means “to direct one’s vision upward” (Mt 14:19; Lu 19:5), but it can also refer to gaining sight for the first time (Joh 9:11, 15, 18) or to having one’s sight restored (Mr 10:52; Lu 18:42; Ac 9:12).
wash your sins away by your calling on his name: A person will have his sins washed away, not by the baptismal water itself, but by calling on the name of Jesus. Doing this involves putting faith in Jesus and demonstrating that faith by Christian works.—Ac 10:43; Jas 2:14, 18; see study note on Ro 10:13.
I fell into a trance: For a discussion of the Greek term ekʹsta·sis, here rendered “a trance,” see study note on Ac 10:10. Some translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J14, 17, 22 in App. C4) read: “Jehovah’s hand was upon me.” Another translation (referred to as J18) reads: “Jehovah’s spirit clothed me.”
your witness: The Greek term for “witness,” marʹtys, refers to one who observes a deed or an event. From firsthand knowledge, some first-century Christians could bear witness to, or confirm, historical facts about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. (Ac 1:21, 22; 10:40, 41) Those who later put faith in Jesus could bear witness by proclaiming the significance of his life, death, and resurrection. (Ac 22:15) Speaking to Jesus, Paul used the word in this sense when he called Stephen “your witness.” Before the Sanhedrin, Stephen had given a powerful testimony about Jesus. Stephen was also the first to bear witness that he had seen, in a special vision, Jesus returned to heaven and standing at the right hand of God, as prophesied at Ps 110:1. (Ac 7:55, 56) Christian witnessing often meant facing opposition, arrest, beatings, and even death, as in the case of Stephen, James, and others. Accordingly, the Greek term marʹtys later came to signify “one who witnesses at the cost of his life, martyr,” that is, one who suffers death rather than renounce his faith. In this sense, Stephen became the first Christian martyr, whose blood . . . was being spilled because of the testimony he gave about Christ.—See study note on Ac 1:8.
military commander: The Greek term khi·liʹar·khos (chiliarch) literally means “ruler of a thousand,” that is, soldiers. It refers to a Roman military commander called a tribune. (See study note on Joh 18:12.) In about 56 C.E., Claudius Lysias was the military commander of the Jerusalem garrison. (Ac 23:22, 26) As recounted in Acts chapters 21-24, he was the one who rescued Paul both from the street mob and from the rioting Sanhedrin and who wrote a letter of explanation to Governor Felix when Paul was secretly taken to Caesarea.
the army officer: Or “the centurion.” A centurion was in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army.
a Roman: That is, a Roman citizen. This is the second of three recorded instances in which Paul made use of his rights as a Roman citizen. Roman authorities usually interfered little in Jewish affairs. However, the Romans got involved in Paul’s case not only because a riot erupted when he visited the temple but also because he was a Roman citizen. Citizenship afforded a person certain privileges that were recognized and honored throughout the empire. It was illegal, for example, to bind or beat an uncondemned Roman, since such treatment was considered fit for slaves only.—For the other two occasions, see study notes on Ac 16:37; 25:11.
purchased these rights as a citizen: Or “purchased this citizenship.” As this account shows, under certain circumstances, it was possible to obtain Roman citizenship for a sum of money. Paul told Claudius Lysias that he (Paul) had the rights as a citizen by birth, which indicates that one of Paul’s male ancestors must have acquired citizenship. There were other ways to acquire Roman citizenship. An individual or even the entire free population of a city or district could receive a form of it as an award from the emperor. A slave could gain it after he bought his freedom from or was set free by a Roman citizen. A veteran of the auxiliary forces who was discharged from the Roman army would be granted it. And a person could also inherit citizenship. It is unlikely that there were many Roman citizens who lived in Judea in the first century C.E. Only in the third century C.E. were all provincial subjects given Roman citizenship.