1 Acts 9 Luke has temprarily suspended his accunt f Peter s ministry t describe three men wh cntributed t the mvement f the Gspel utward frm Jerusalem First we saw Stephen, whse death created the envirnment fr the Gspel t spread Then we read abut Philip, wh became the first evangelist f the church And nw we learn abut Saul, the man Gd selected t lead the spread f the Gspel t the Gentile And in perhaps the greatest irny f the New Testament, the strnger persecutr f the early Church becmes its mst imprtant minister Because Saul (Paul) is s central t the spread f the Church and t the stry f Acts, we shuld take a few mments t cnsider Saul s backgrund, based n what we find in Scripture and traditin We knw frm Paul s wn testimny in Acts and later in his letters, that he was raised in Tarsus Tarsus was an imprtant Greek city, cntaining ne f three knwn medical schls in his day Jews were frced t mve t Tarsus after Alexander the Great cnquered the area It was featured at times in the histry f Cicer, Agustus Caesar, Mark Anthny and Clepatra Traditin says he was raised by parents wh fled the upper Galilee after the Rman invasin in the first century BC Paul tells us he was raised as a Pharisee, which means his parents wuld have fllwed strict Jewish practices in this regard He began studying scripture at age 5 At age ten, he mved t studying rabbinical teachings (traditin) At 13, he had a bar mitzvah 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
2 Acts 9! 2 During his teen years, he wuld have lived in Jerusalem where he studied under Gamaliel He may have lived with a sister, wh Paul says in Acts 23:16 resided in the city Paul als tells us that he was a Rman by birth, which means either his father r perhaps his grandfather had been granted citizenship by the Emperr Usually, citizenship was granted by plitical favr r as a reward fr lyal service t the Emperr It brught significant benefits in Rme, including prtectin frm degrading punishment The child f a citizen was granted citizenship if the child was registered within 30 days Registered infants received a certificate as legal evidence f citizenship Paul apparently pssessed ne f these dcuments, and he may have carried it with himself as he traveled in his missinary jurneys Rman citizens assumed three Greek names We nly knw ne f Saul s three Rman names: Paullus (r Paul) Saul was his given Jewish name Saul was well educated, bvius very intelligent and trained in critical thinking and argument He als spke at least fur and perhaps mre languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin Thugh his intellect was impressive, his physical stature left smething t be desired By Paul s wn testimny, he was a pr speaker and suffered physical illnesses and frailties He must have been rather shrt, since the Greeks assumed him t be the shrt gd, Mercury, rather than the mre imprtant (and taller) gd Jupiter 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
3 Acts 9! 3 As he cmpleted his missinary jurneys, he suffered persecutin t the pint f marking his bdy with wunds, accrding t Gal 6:17 As we mve nw t Acts 9, we witness perhaps the greatest cnversin in the histry f Christianity Even Paul himself made his testimny f the events prtrayed in this chapter multiple times, bth in Acts and in his letters We can safely assume that Paul gave his testimny n many ccasins The scene is set fr Saul s cnversin in the first tw verses f the chapter Acts 9:1 Nw Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples f the Lrd, went t the high priest, Acts 9:2 and asked fr letters frm him t the synaggues at Damascus, s that if he fund any belnging t the Way, bth men and wmen, he might bring them bund t Jerusalem. Luke reminds us f Saul s hatred fr Christians We remember hw Saul was ravaging the church as Luke describes it in chapter 8 Saul has became fcused n persecuting Christians after his experience at the stning f Stephen He thinks he can find and destry every single believer in the prcess Nw we see the extent t which Saul went t accmplish his selfappinted rle f chief persecutr He fllws the pattern f the Sanhedrin First giving threats fllwed by taking actin (murder) But nw he has taken t invlving the Rman authrities The Rmans had granted t the Jewish leadership by treaty the right t issue letters f extraditin in cases invlving vilatins f Jewish law utside the jurisdictin f the Sanhedrin The Caesar extended this right ver all Jews in the Rman empire 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
4 Acts 9! 4 With these letters, a Jew like Saul culd enlist Rman authrities t arrest Jews and bring them back t the Sanhedrin fr trial In fact, this step was necessary since Jewish Christians had fled Jerusalem precisely t avid the reach f the Sanhedrin after the death f Stephen Saul went lking fr members f the Way This was the term fr the early Jewish believers, because they were said t fllw the way f Jesus Just as in the OT the prphets talked abut Israel fllwing the way f Jehvah r the unbelievers fllwing the way f the wicked When Saul fund them, he brught them back t Jerusalem bund, which led t beatings, imprisnment and even death Paul himself says he was respnsible fr the deaths f Christians It makes me wnder if Paul s future in heaven will include a glrius reward What kind f reward awaited thse wh were killed by Saul? And what kind f recnciliatin tk place when Paul enter the Lrd s presence and met thse he had killed earlier? This trip t Damascus appears t be Saul s first attempt t track dwn and retrieve Christians frm utside the Land Acts 9:3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was appraching Damascus, and suddenly a light frm heaven flashed arund him; Acts 9:4 and he fell t the grund and heard a vice saying t him, Saul, Saul, why are yu persecuting Me? Acts 9:5 And he said, Wh are Yu, Lrd? And He said, I am Jesus whm yu are persecuting, Acts 9:6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be tld yu what yu must d. Acts 9:7 The men wh traveled with him std speechless, hearing the vice but seeing n ne. Saul was appraching Damascus, we re tld, which means Saul had almst made it t his destinatin But Gd intervened in the last mment t redirect him 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
5 Acts 9! 5 As Paul tells this stry later in Acts, he mentins that the even happened at midday This tells us that the sun was at it s brightest in the sky And yet anther light even brighter appeared t blind Saul With the light was a vice, the vice f Christ Himself The vice asks Saul, Saul why are yu persecuting Me? The repeating f Saul s name reminds us f hw Gd typically addresses men in a critical mment Like Abraham, Abraham And the name Saul is written in its Hebrew frm in the text, indicating that the vice spke in Hebrew Thugh Saul never met Jesus persnally in His earthly ministry, here he has a persnal encunter with the Lrd This encunter and all that fllws later becme Paul s validatin fr his claims t be an apstle Jesus first wrds t Saul ask an interesting questin Why was Saul persecuting Me Jesus asks? The statement is understandable in at least tw ways First, as Saul persecutes Christians, he persecutes the Bdy f Christ, f which Jesus is the Head We can take cmfrt in knwing that as we suffer persecutin fr ur faith, Jesus feels it with us Secndly, it reflects that persecutin f the Church is suppressing f the message f the Gspel, which is the Wrd Again, when the Gspel is attacked, it becmes an attack against Jesus Wh is the Wrd made flesh The questin is als interesting precisely because it is phrased as a questin Why nt simply say Saul stp persecuting me Yet Jesus asks Saul why des he persecute the Lrd? 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
6 Acts 9! 6 It seems the questin was calculated t shck Saul all the mre Saul was zealus fr the Lrd and fr what Saul thught was truth By asking the questin, the Lrd shcked Saul t cnsider that he had been fighting against Gd all this time rather then fr Him Saul s answer can be cnfusing withut prper perspective He answer, Wh are yu, Lrd? Saul s use f the term Lrd culd be cnfusing, because it suggests that Saul immediately came t knw Jesus as Lrd In reality, the wrd is cmmnly used as a respectful term, like sir In this cntext, it seems likely that Saul is using it in that way After all, if Saul didn t knw wh this vice belnged t, hw wuld have knwn t call it Lrd except in the generic sense? The fact that the vice riginated in the heavens gave Saul an immediate clue he was hearing frm a heavenly surce, perhaps Gd Himself As a Pharisee, Saul wuld have been intimately familiar with the OT accunts f patriarch r prphets hearing frm Gd in such a manner He must have been terrified and prstrate as men f the OT fter were in these circumstances Still Saul asks wh was speaking, because he culdn t make sense f the questin itself But then Saul gets a specific answer The vice is the very persn Saul has been disparaging and persecuting - Jesus Withut waiting fr Saul t respnd (fr what culd Saul say at this pint...srry?), Jesus gives him instructins Saul was t cntinue t Damascus but wait fr instructins frm Jesus 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
7 Acts 9! 7 Meanwhile, Saul s traveling cmpanins were speechless They heard a vice but saw nthing Actually, later in Acts 22 Paul clarifies that they heard smething, but they culdn t understand the wrds Only Saul understd what was spken by Jesus This fact tells us smething imprtant Saul DID see smething, perhaps even Jesus Himself In cntrast t Saul, these men see n ne, we re tld Gd s svereignty is firmly n display here First, the Lrd is seen t be sympathizing with His peple in persecutin T the pint that He Himself feels the persecutin Secndly, He interrupts the plans f men t preserve (and later grw) His Church And He des s by turning the chief persecutr int the chief builder Third, He takes actin withut the invlvement f anther human agent Gd Himself appears t Saul n the rad N ambassadr r intermediary is required fr Gd t intervene and change the curse f man s plans Furth, Gd will immediately guide Saul int a new walk f life accrding t Gd s purpse Gd lays ut a new plan fr the man frm the start Fifth, Saul is never given a chice Saul is never asked if he wuld like t give his life t Jesus? r invited t welcme Jesus int his heart The nly questin Saul is ever asked is why are persecuting Me? 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
8 Acts 9! 8 Saul s life had been cmmitted t Gd s purpses even befre Saul knew wh the vice belnged t Finally, Gd is purpsely selected Saul t hear the wrds while nt permitting his cmpanins t have the same experience Gd s plan f salvatin perates accrding t His svereign will and purpse This experience impacted Saul bth spiritually and physically Acts 9:8 Saul gt up frm the grund, and thugh his eyes were pen, he culd see nthing; and leading him by the hand, they brught him int Damascus. Acts 9:9 And he was three days withut sight, and neither ate nr drank. Saul has been blinded by the encunter S his cmpanins must lead him by hand int Damascus And while in the city, he ate and drank nthing fr three days Gd s purpse f the blindness was t reinfrce the reality f what happened t Saul As Saul sits in cmplete darkness, he is alne with his thughts And his last visual memry will be that encunter n the rad Irnically, Saul had been blind spiritually thugh he culd see physically Nw his situatin was reversed at least fr a time Later the restratin f Saul s sight als becmes an pprtunity fr the Lrd t build Saul s relatinship with the wunded church that fears him When his eyes are pened, Saul will see the church in a new way And the church will see Saul in a new way as well Spiritually, Paul referred back t this event numerus times Bth in defense f his cmmissin as apstle But als in cntritin t give evidence that he was the least f all apstles 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
9 Acts 9! 9 Undubtedly, Paul s memry f his days befre his cnversin gave him an inexhaustible supply f mtivatin t reach the wrld fr the Lrd Acts 9:10 Nw there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lrd said t him in a visin, Ananias. And he said, Here I am, Lrd. Acts 9:11 And the Lrd said t him, Get up and g t the street called Straight, and inquire at the huse f Judas fr a man frm Tarsus named Saul, fr he is praying, Acts 9:12 and he has seen in a visin a man named Ananias cme in and lay his hands n him, s that he might regain his sight. Acts 9:13 But Ananias answered, Lrd, I have heard frm many abut this man, hw much harm he did t Yur saints at Jerusalem; Acts 9:14 and here he has authrity frm the chief priests t bind all wh call n Yur name. Acts 9:15 But the Lrd said t him, G, fr he is a chsen instrument f Mine, t bear My name befre the Gentiles and kings and the sns f Israel; Acts 9:16 fr I will shw him hw much he must suffer fr My name s sake. Clearly, the church had made it s way as far nrth as Damascus And in that city was a man named Ananias Gd gives Ananias a visin with instructins He wuld find Straight street It was named straight because in ancient cities, streets were usually crked This street was straight and that made it unusual and gave it its name Then he wuld walk dwn the street asking fr Judas huse When he fund the huse, he wuld meet Saul f Tarsus And this Saul will be praying And thrugh his prayer, he will be given an answer that his blindness will be remved by a Christian named Ananias Isn t it amazing t watch Gd at wrk here? Saul is praying fr a miracle t regain his sight Meanwhile, Gd selects a man and directs him t Saul 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
10 Acts 9! 10 Even the names f each man are revealed t the ther, s that when they meet, they will recgnize Gd s wrk in their lives Remember this stry as yu share yur cncerns with Gd and ask His frgiveness and interventin And then remember that the reasn Saul is in this situatin was because Gd made him blind But then remember that his blindness was a part f the way the Lrd saved Saul frm his sin Finally, take nte that the answer t Saul s prayer includes a new missin and a revelatin that his missin will include much suffering fr Gd s glry As yu reach ut t Gd in prayer, remember that even yur needs were prduced by Gd And therefre the slutins are at his dispsal as well And cnsider that whatever answer Gd brings may leave yu all the mre needing prayer and interventin But always t Gd s glry and ultimately t ur blessing Finally, Ananias respnds in the way yu might expect In fact, he says what I wuld have said In a wrd, n way! Ananias pints ut that Saul isn t ne f the gd guys He has been persecuting the church He has letters t arrest and take them away t Jerusalem Despite Ananias effrt t help the Lrd, Jesus crrects Ananias Saul is a chsen instrument f Gd Ntice, again, the lack f chice r free will in any f this Never is Saul asked r recruited by Gd Scripture never describes ur relatinship with Christ as a persnal chice 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
11 Acts 9! 11 It nly describes it as Gd s chice Saul s future has been set and it will include suffering, as Jesus indicates Specifically, Saul will be the Apstle t the Gentiles Secndly, he will testify befre kings Finally, he will testify t the Gspel befre the Jewish peple Thugh they are nt the fcus f his ministry, Paul always gave the Jew pprtunity t believe first He never stpped lking fr the remnant Luke s accunt in the secnd half f this bk is his expse f Jesus prmise that Saul wuld suffer fr His sake Did yu ntice that Jesus desn t expect much frm Ananias in this transactin Ananias isn t suppsed t cnvert Saul r change his mind n anything Ananias will simply lay n hands Jesus will d all the talking With these wrds, Jesus persuades Ananias t g and attend t Saul Acts 9:17 S Ananias departed and entered the huse, and after laying his hands n him said, Brther Saul, the Lrd Jesus, wh appeared t yu n the rad by which yu were cming, has sent me s that yu may regain yur sight and be filled with the Hly Spirit. Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell frm his eyes smething like scales, and he regained his sight, and he gt up and was baptized; Acts 9:19 and he tk fd and was strengthened. Nw fr several days he was with the disciples wh were at Damascus, Acts 9:20 and immediately he began t prclaim Jesus in the synaggues, saying, He is the Sn f Gd. Acts 9:21 All thse hearing him cntinued t be amazed, and were saying, Is this nt he wh in Jerusalem destryed thse wh called n this name, and wh had cme here fr the purpse f bringing them bund befre the chief priests? Acts 9:22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and cnfunding the Jews wh lived at Damascus by prving that this Jesus is the Christ Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
12 Acts 9! 12 Ananias finds Saul, and his wrds and actins display supreme faith First, t even enter Saul s presence must have taken great curage It wuld be the equivalent f walking acrss a battle field and stepping int the bunker f the enemy withut fear f being sht Ananias must have been terrified f Saul, yet he ges nne the less Secndly, he addresses Saul as brther frm the beginning Ananias isn t waiting fr Saul t prve himself The Lrd has declared he is cnverted, and therefre Ananias perates frm that presumptin Jesus use f the man Ananias t cnfer this new calling upn Saul is ntable fr wh Ananias is NOT Specifically, Ananias is nt an Apstle himself Jesus cnverted Saul withut the direct invlvement f any ther Apstle s t make clear that Jesus didn t intend t wrk exclusively thrugh the 12 t build His church He culd and wuld raise up ther disciples and even apstles by His wn hand Als ntice that Saul s cnversin - easily the mst imprtant cnversin f the bk f Acts - ccurs withut signs f the Spirit N speaking in tngues, n miracles Saul is cnverted withut any f thse manifestatins, because the Apstles were nt present and there was n purpse in such signs in this situatin Still, Gd did shw Himself thrugh miracles nnetheless, s that He culd demnstrate t Saul and thers that a real change was taking place The same reasn fr signs and wnders in every case within Acts As Paul regained his sight, his first instinct and desire was t be baptized, even befre he brke his three day fast 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
13 Acts 9! 13 Here s anther reminder that the first respnsibility f a believer is t submit t water baptism at the first pprtunity If they pass up the earliest pprtunity fr water baptism, they enter int a state f disbedience that must be dealt with eventually Having been baptized, Saul then eats and gains back his strength He spends a few days with the disciples And then he immediately begins t preach in the synaggues His preaching has tw effects First, it amazes the church as they try t recnciled what they see with what they had heard abut Saul Gd was already using Saul t edify the church by building their cnfidence that the Lrd will build His church against all dds Secndly, his preaching cnfunds the Jews in their arguments ver the claims f Christianity The greatest threat t the church has becme its greatest defender vernight But naturally, this stirs up the Jews yet again against the Church And nw they have a new target in Paul, frmerly Saul 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.