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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Acts 9:17-19

17. And Ananias went and entered into the house, and when he had laid his hands upon him, he said, Brother Saul, the Lord hath sent me, namely Jesus, who appeared to thee in the way as thou camest, that thou mayest recover thy sight, and that thou mayest be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18. And forthwith there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he recovered his sight by and by; and arising he was baptized. 19. And when he had taken meat he was strengthened.


17. Having laid his hands upon. We have said elsewhere that this was a solemn, and, as it were, an ordinary thing amongst the Jews, to lay their hands upon those whom they did commend to God. The apostles translated that custom taken from sacrifices to their use, either when they gave the visible graces of the Spirit or when they made any man minister of the Church. To this end doth Ananias lay his hands now upon Paul, partly that he may consecrate him unto God, partly that he may obtain for him the gifts of the Spirit. And though there be no mention made of doctrine in this place yet it shall appear afterwards by Paul’s narration, that Ananias was also commanded to teach him; and by baptism, which was later in order, we gather that he was instructed in the faith. Let the readers note out of the chapter next going before how this ceremony is effectual to give the Spirit, But seeing Paul received the Spirit by the hand of Ananias, the Papists are more than ridiculous, who will have the bishops alone to lay on their hands.

18. There fell from his eyes as it had been scales. The blindness of Paul, as we have said before did not proceed from fear alone or from amazedness; but by this means was he admonished of his former blindness, that he might quite abandon that boldness and vain confidence wherewith he was puffed up. He boasted that he was taught at the feet of Gamaliel, (Ac 22:3;) and undoubtedly he thought very well of his great wittiness,  596 which was notwithstanding mere blindness. Therefore he is deprived of the sight of his body  597 three days, that he may begin to see with his mind; for those must become fools, whosoever they be, which seem to themselves wise, that they may attain to true wisdom. For seeing that Christ is the Sun of righteousness, in seeing without him we see not; it is he also which openeth the eyes of the mind. Both things were showed to Paul, and to us are they showed in his person; for he hath his eyes covered with scales, that, condemning all his knowledge of ignorance,  598 he may learn that he hath need of new light, which he hath hitherto wanted; and he is taught that he must let [seek] the true light from none other save only from Christ, and that it is given by no other means save only through his goodness. Furthermore, whereas being pined with three days hunger, he maketh no haste to receive meat until he be baptized, thereby appeareth the earnest  599 desire he had to learn, because he refreshed not his body with meat until his soul had received strength.



Quin sibi multum placuerit in sua perspicacia,” but he was much pleased with his own perspicacity.”


Oculis,” of his eyes, his bodily sight.


Ut totum suum acumen ignorantiae damnans,” that confessing all his acuteness to be ignorance.


Ferventissimum,” most fervent.

Next: Acts 9:19-25