I punished and pursued them (Acts 26:11)

“I punished them often

In all the synagogues.

I tried to force them

To blaspheme.

I was so furiously enraged

At them,

That I pursued them

Even outside the city.”

καὶ κατὰ πάσας τὰς συναγωγὰς πολλάκις τιμωρῶν αὐτοὺς ἠνάγκαζον βλασφημεῖν, περισσῶς τε ἐμμαινόμενος αὐτοῖς ἐδίωκον ἕως καὶ εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις.

The author of Acts indicated that Paul said that he punished the followers of Jesus (τιμωρῶν αὐτοὺς) often in all the synagogues (καὶ κατὰ πάσας τὰς συναγωγὰς πολλάκις).  He tried to force them (ἠνάγκαζον) to blaspheme (βλασφημεῖν).  He was so furiously enraged at them (περισσῶς τε ἐμμαινόμενος αὐτοῖς), that he pursued (ἐδίωκον) them even outside the city (ἕως καὶ εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word τιμωρῶν, that means to punish or avenge.  Paul indicated that he aggressively punished the followers of Jesus, including in the synagogues.  He even forced them to blaspheme.  As Paul was not satisfied to root out these followers of Jesus from Jerusalem, he even went to other cities outside of Jerusalem.  He was really angry at these Jesus followers.  Paul’s explanation was extremely strong, since this was not an intellectual exercise but one of the leading Jews trying to physically put down this new Jewish sect or way of Jesus.  This was like in Acts 9:1, where this author said that Saul (Ὁ δὲ Σαῦλος), was still breathing (ἔτι ἐμπνέων) threats (ἀπειλῆς) and murder (καὶ φόνου) against the disciples of the Lord (εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς τοῦ Κυρίου).  Saul was really upset about these followers of Jesus after the stoning of Stephen earlier in this work in chapter 8:1.  Later in Acts, chapter 22:3-5, Paul said that he persecuted this Way (ὃς ταύτην τὴν Ὁδὸν ἐδίωξα) to the point of death (ἄχρι θανάτου).  He bound up (δεσμεύων) both men (ἄνδρας τε) and women (καὶ γυναῖκας).  He put them (καὶ παραδιδοὺς) in prison (εἰς φυλακὰς).  Paul’s statement here is almost the same words as in chapter 8:3, where it said that Saul (Σαῦλος δὲ) was ravaging (ἐλυμαίνετο) the church or assembly (τὴν ἐκκλησίαν).  He entered (εἰσπορευόμενος) house after house (κατὰ τοὺς οἴκους) and dragged off (σύρων) both men (τε ἄνδρας) and women (καὶ γυναῖκας).  He committed or sent them (παρεδίδου) to prison (εἰς φυλακήν).  Clearly, Paul was not just against the early Christians, he conscientiously persecuted them in Jerusalem.  Since, these followers of Jesus did not have a physical church, Saul followed them to their homes and dragged them out to prison, both men and women.  There is no doubt that Paul was very active in the persecution of the early Christian community in Jerusalem.  Have you ever persecuted anyone?

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