Acts 8:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 8:3, NIV: But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

Acts 8:3, ESV: But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Acts 8:3, KJV: As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Acts 8:3, NASB: But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and he would drag away men and women and put them in prison.

Acts 8:3, NLT: But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.

Acts 8:3, CSB: Saul, however, was ravaging the church. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.

What does Acts 8:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Ever since the Holy Spirit came upon the Jesus followers at Pentecost (Acts 2), the church has grown and enjoyed a measure of support from the devout Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 5:12–16), although the apostles had been threatened by the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17–40). After the deacon Stephen's murder (Acts 7:54–60), Saul feels free to persecute the rest of the Jesus-followers in Jerusalem.

Paul will later admit and add detail to what he does here. He says, "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women" (Acts 22:4). He enters synagogues where he knows Jesus-followers are worshiping and beats them, trying to force them to blaspheme Jesus. When the Sanhedrin votes as to how the Jesus-followers should be punished, Paul insists they should be put to death (Acts 22:19; 26:10–11).

"Ravaging" is from the Greek root word lumainomai. It means "to tear apart," like the lions did to Christians later in the Roman Colosseum. However, the term also means to shame and defile. The early Christian apologist Tertullian proposes that Paul is the fulfillment of Jacob's prophecy over his youngest son Benjamin. In Genesis 49:27, Jacob declares, "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil." Tertullian points out that in Paul's younger years he attacks the vulnerable Christians, but in his later years he spreads what he has taken from that prey: the gospel. And Paul is from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1).