Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 3 (Acts 22:3)

I am verily a man which am a Jew - A periphrasis for, I am really a Jew: and his mentioning this adds weight to the conjecture in the preceding note. He shows that he could not be ignorant of the Jewish religion, as he had had the best instructer in it which Jerusalem could produce.

Yet brought up, etc. - Bp. Pearce proposes that this verse should be thus read and translated: but brought up in this city; instructed at the feet of Gamaliel, according to the most exact manner, being exceedingly zealous for the law of our fathers, as ye all are this day.

Born in Tarsus - See the notes on Acts 9:11 ; Acts 21:39 .

Feet of Gamaliel - See a full account of this man in the note on Acts 5:34 ; (note).

It has been generally supposed that the phrase, brought up at the feet, is a reference to the Jewish custom, viz. that the disciples of the rabbins sat on low seats, or on the ground, whilst the rabbin himself occupied a lofty chair. But we rather learn, from Jewish authority, that the disciples of the rabbins stood before their teachers, as Vitringa has proved in his treatise De Synag. Vet. lib. i. p. 1, cap. 7. Kypke, therefore, contends that παρα τους ποδας , at the feet, means the same as πλησιον , near, or before, which is not an unfrequent mode of speech among both sacred and profane writers. Thus, in Acts 4:35 , Acts 4:37 ; Acts 5:2 , ετιθουν παρα τους ποδας των αποϚολων , they laid it at the apostles' feet, means only, they brought it to the apostles. So in 2 Maccabees 4:7, παρα ποδας ηδη τον ᾁδην ὁρωντες κειμενον , they saw death already lying at their feet; that is, as the Syriac translator has properly rendered it, they saw death immediately before them. So Themistius, Or. 27, p. 341, who adds the term by which the phrase is explained, εϚι και πλησιον αει τῳ δυναμενω λαμβανειν , ante pedes id temper et prope est, illi qui accipere potest . Also Lucian, De Conser. Hist. p. 669, ὡν παρα ποδας οἱ ελεγχοι . The refutation of which is at hand. The same kind of form occurs in the Hebrew, Exodus 11:8 ; : All the people that are at thy feet, ברגליך beragleica , i.e. who are with thee, under thy command, 2 Samuel 15:16 . And the king went out, and all his household, ברגליו beraglaiv , at his feet; that is, with him, in his company. See Kypke. The phrase is used in the same sense among the Hindoos: I learned this at my father's feet - instead of, I learned it of my father. I was taught at the feet of such a teacher - my teacher's feet say so; meaning, simply, such and such persons taught me.

According to the perfect manner - That is, according to that strict interpretation of the law, and especially the traditions of the elders, for which the Pharisees were remarkable. That it is Pharisaism that the apostle has in view, when he says he was taught according to, ακριβειαν , the most extinct manner, is evident; and hence, in Acts 26:5 , he calls Pharisaism ακριβεϚατην , the most exact system; and, under it, he was zealous towards God; scrupulously exact in every part of his duty, accompanying this with reverence to the supreme Being, and deep concern for his honor and glory.

- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible