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Acts 9:1-9 (web)

Saul's Conversion

9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 
9:2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, 
that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, 
he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 
9:3 As he traveled, it happened that he got close to Damascus, 
and suddenly a light from the sky shone around him. 

9:4 He fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
9:5 He said, "Who are you, Lord?" 
The Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
{TR adds "It's hard for you to kick against the goads."}
9:6 But {TR omits "But" } rise up, and enter into the city, 
and you will be told what you must do." 

9:7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the sound, but seeing no one. 
9:8 Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. 
They led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 
9:9 He was without sight for three days, and neither ate nor drank. 


Saul vs. the Ethiopian

Saul's conversion is in contrast to that of the Ethiopian Eunuch mentioned just prior to this. Here we didn't have a man on his way to Jerusalem to worship God studying his Bible. Here we have a man on a road away from Jerusalem on his way to persecute Christians. The eunuch responded positively to God's Word Philip brought him, but upon hearing Stephen's  presentation Saul condoned him being stoned to death - a much different reaction. Saul was the kind of hypocrite among the unbelieving Jewish elite whom Christ spoke against and who indeed had Christ crucified. He is the last person anyone would expect to become a Christian let alone an apostle.

Why do you persecute me?

Jesus soke of the judgment in Matthew 25 that "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." How the world treats us is how it treats the Lord. And John writes, "We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us." 1John 4:6

In verse 5 the modern versions don't contain the phrase "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks". What Jesus is referring to is an iron goad, for urging on oxen, horses and other beasts of burden. Through the preaching of the Christians Jesus was goading Paul to repentance and faith, but he was resisting. 

Paul's Response of Faith?

Paul was to come to a rude awakening that he had never really known the LORD whom he thought he was serving but in fact was persecuting. This was particularly terrifying for Paul who viewed God as full of wrath against his enemies. Now Paul was the enemy. "LORD, what will you have me do?" was his response. But can we say that he exercised saving faith? I can't imagine anyone would have responded differently than Paul under the circumstances. It didn't take faith to respond as he did. I believe the reason why God doesn't approach everyone as he did Paul is because he wants faith to be involved. Paul was not being saved here. Rather he was being commissioned. At this point there was no promise that his sins would be forgiven. His blindness was given symbolizing him being dead in sin and having been blind to the truth.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jun 09,2023