Saul wanted letters (Acts 9:2)

“Saul asked

The high priest

For letters

To the synagogues

At Damascus.

Thus,

If he found anyone

Who belonged

To the Way,

Men or women,

He might bring them

Bound to Jerusalem.”

ᾐτήσατο παρ’ αὐτοῦ ἐπιστολὰς εἰς Δαμασκὸν πρὸς τὰς συναγωγάς, ὅπως ἐάν τινας εὕρῃ τῆς Ὁδοῦ ὄντας, ἄνδρας τε καὶ γυναῖκας, δεδεμένους ἀγάγῃ εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ.

The author of Acts indicated that Saul requested or asked (ᾐτήσατο παρ’) the high priest for letters (αὐτοῦ ἐπιστολὰς) to the synagogues (πρὸς τὰς συναγωγάς) at Damascus (εἰς Δαμασκὸν).  Thus, if he found anyone (ὅπως ἐάν τινας εὕρῃ) who belonged to the Way (τῆς Ὁδοῦ ὄντας), both men (ἄνδρας τε) and women (καὶ γυναῖκας), he would bring them (ἀγάγῃ) bound (δεδεμένους) back to Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ).  Saul had a specific request.  He wanted to bring some of these Jewish heretics who belonged to the Jesus Way back to Jerusalem where they would stand trial at the Jewish Sanhedrin.  He wanted letters from the high priest in Jerusalem to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any of these heretics, he could bring them back to Jerusalem for a Sanhedrin hearing.  This was what Saul said in Acts, chapter 22:5.  “From them (the high priests) I received letters to the brethren.  I journeyed to Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.”  In Acts, chapter 26:12, Saul said.  “Thus, I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.”  The term Way (Ὁδοῦ) was the name of the Christian movement which was considered a heretical sect of the Judaism.  The Jewish people of the Qumran community also used this term “the Way” to describe this newly forming Christian community.  This term the “Way” had its roots in Isaiah, chapter 40:3, where he said “A voice cries out in the wilderness.  Prepare the way of Yahweh!”  This was also the theme of John the Baptist.  Luke, chapter 3:4, Matthew, chapter 3:3, Mark, chapter 1:2, and John, chapter 1:23 all introduced John the Baptist as a fulfilment of a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah.  Saul had the backing of the Jerusalem high priest in his attempt to put down this new Christian Way of doing Jewish things.  Have you ever disliked a sect of Christianity?

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