|Acts Chapter 9|
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey
(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
The conversion of Saul, reported next, is one of the most important in Acts. The Spirit leads Luke to record it three times: here and in chapters 22 and 26.
Saul was an inner-circle Jew and held Roman citizenship as well. He understood both worlds. The famous Gamaliel had instructed him in Jewish law. Acts 22:3. Not only was he culturally and academically prepared for his coming role as God's international specialist, but he had irrepressible vitality. Saul threw himself into every task. Galatians 1:14.
This story also serves as further proof of the Resurrection in that a man who hated it the most became one of its most ardent proclaimers.
|1) With every breath [it seemed], Saul [expressed his desire to] threaten and murder the Lord's disciples and [even] went to the head priest||– Luke wants us to understand that Saul was more than a man with a mission. He was a man with an obsession. He so described himself in Acts 22:4; 26:10-11. Also consider 8:3.|
|2) to ask for letters [authorizing him to go] to Damascus and to enter [Jewish] synagogues looking for people of "the Way" [Note: This was a designation for Christians at that time]. And if he found any, whether men or women, he would tie them up and take them to Jerusalem.|| – Saul desired to be legal in his rampage.
- This was not his first foreign trip. Acts 26:11-12.
- Damascus is perhaps 140 miles from Jerusalem.
- Note that Christians were still attending the synagogue.
- The Way is used six times in Acts to describe the Christians. This is the first occurrence. It is probably based on a statement of Jesus, spoken earlier but recorded years later in John 14:6.
- Note Luke's reference to women again.
|3) And when he got close to Damascus, suddenly a [bright, See 22:6] light from the sky shone all around him.|| – Damascus is among the world's oldest cities. Genesis 14:15
- The light was about noon. Acts 22:6.
|4) He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"||– The way we treat the believers is the way we are treating Christ. Jesus closely identified with his brethren.|
|5) Saul replied, "Who are you, sir?" And the voice said, "It is I, Jesus, whom you are persecuting,|| – It was not likely that Saul had seen Jesus during his ministry. He probably moved to Jerusalem later.
- Saul saw Jesus personally at this time. 1 Corinthians 9:1, 15:3-10. This qualified him to become an apostle. Acts 1:22.
|6) but get up, and enter the city [of Damascus] and [there] you will be told what you must do."|| – Saul was not saved by this appearance. He had to do something as in Acts 2:37.
- This was a SONstroke.
|7) And the men who were traveling with Saul were speechless, having heard the sound, but not seeing anyone.||– Saul's fellow-travelers were not convinced or converted because they did not understand what happened.|
|8) Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes but could not see anything, so had to be led by the hand into Damascus.|| – A much different Saul got up from the ground.
Re-evaluation time: the debates, the trials, Stephen's death, the jailings, the killings. What memories!
- All of them may have been walking because he was led by the hand.
- Saul was sick at heart as he realized that his life was in opposition to the God he worshiped. Food was not interesting when he saw his gigantic mistake.
|9) For three days he was blind and neither ate nor drank anything.||– Saul was sick at heart as he realized that his life was in opposition to the God he worshiped. Food was not interesting when he saw his gigantic mistake.|
|10) Now [in the meantime] the Lord spoke in a vision to a certain disciple named Ananias [who lived] in Damascus. He called to him by name, "Ananias." "Yes, Lord, here I am" Ananias replied.||– Ananias was respected at the synagogue. Acts 22:12.|
|11) The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to Straight Street and ask for a person named Saul, from Tarsus, at the home of Judas; you will find him [there] praying."|| – The Lord intervened only to get the teacher and the disciple together. The Lord needed a speaker, as in every case presented by Luke.
- We know nothing more about this Judas. We wonder what he thought of his guest and his guests's guest.
- Saul was in prayer and received a vision. Verse 12.
|12) (Now Saul had seen [in a vision] a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him, restoring his sight).|| – The arrival of Ananias would authenticate Saul's vision.
- The sighted Saul was blind, but the blind Saul was seeing a whole new world and purpose for life.
- Following the Acts 6:6 pattern, Ananias would have received this power from the Apostles.
|13) But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many people about how much harm this man has done to your holy people at Jerusalem.|| – Like Moses "Send someone else." Exodus 4:13.
- This indicates that he had not fled here to avoid persecution as those in Acts 8:1.
- These Christians had a fast news network and the word on Saul was bad.
|14) And [now] he is here with authority from the leading priests to tie up [and imprison] everyone who calls on your name."||– The letters of verse 2 served as arrest warrants.|
|15) But the Lord replied to him, "Go on your way, for Saul is someone I have especially chosen to carry my name to the [unconverted] Gentiles, kings and the Israelites.|| – Saul was predestined for this task. Galatians 1:15. Jeremiah was predestined to be a prophet in Jer. 1:5.
- Here is God's international apostle to take the message of Jesus to the highest levels of the Gentile world.
- Saul was a gem-casket to carry the diamond - the name of Jesus. The first Gentiles had not been converted yet.
|16) I will show him how many things he will have to suffer for my name's sake."||– Working for God does not mean we avoid suffering or danger. Saul had caused others to suffer. Now it was his turn.|
|17) So, Ananias left and went to Judas' house and placed his hands on Saul saying, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you as you were traveling on the road [to Damascus] sent me so you could receive your sight [back] and be filled with the Holy Spirit."|| – Since Ananias had the gift of healing, he was probably a church leader at Damascus.
- This would be further authentication for Saul.
- Brother is a common Jewish term of address. 2:29; 3:17; 7:2. Its use does not prove that Saul was a Christian before baptism. Notice that Ananias called Jesus Lord to Saul.
- A prophet verified Saul's experience on the road.
|18) And suddenly, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes and his sight was [immediately] restored. So, he got up and was immersed [See 22:16];|| – Miraculous blindness (9:8) is followed by a miraculous healing.
- In verse 17, Ananias promises sight and the Holy Spirit. Here in vs. 18 comes sight and immersion. He received the Holy Spirit when he was immersed. Acts 2:38.
|19) then ate a meal and received strength.|| – In his immersion, his past sins were washed away. Acts 22:16. He could eat because he was forgiven for what he had been doing to the Lord and the Lord's people.
- The doctor says he received strength.
|And he stayed on for a number of days with the disciples at Damascus.||– - Many commentators place the three years of Galatians 1:15-17 here, others place it at verse 23. After all, it takes time to reorganize one's mind.|
|20) And so Saul began proclaiming that Jesus was the Son of God in the synagogues [of the Damascus area].||– There was a large Jewish population with more than one synagogue.|
|21) And everyone who heard him was amazed and exclaimed, "Is this not the man who tried to destroy all the people who called on [Jesus'] name in Jerusalem and has now come here [to Damascus] for the purpose of arresting them and bringing them before the leading priests?"||– Synagogue members had an information network, too.|
|22) But Saul was strengthened [spiritually] and proceeded to confound the Jews living [there] in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.||– This is like the case of Stephen in 6:10.|
|23) And after a number of days had passed [these] Jews conspired together to kill Saul,|| |
|24) but he found out about their plan. And so they watched the gates [of the city] day and night [looking for their chance] to kill him.||– God used an informer to alert Saul.|
|25) [However], his disciples lowered him in a basket over the [city] wall at night [and so he escaped].|| – Saul was winning disciples from the synagogue and they helped him. Saul/Paul reports this at 2 Corinthians 11:32, 33.
- Some wit said that Saul was a basket case.
The words of John W. McGarvey (in this location in his Acts Commentary) are so fitting:
|26) And when he came [back] to Jerusalem, Saul attempted to associate himself with the disciples but they were afraid of him [because of his past], and could not believe that he was a [true] disciple.|| – It is normal to join the disciples when you move to a new town.
- The disciples thought this was a trick. Saul had killed their loved ones. Did Stephen have a widow and was she in the church at Jerusalem?
|27) So, Barnabas brought him to the [other] apostles and explained to them how he had seen the Lord [while] traveling on the road [to Damascus] and how he had boldly preached in the name of Jesus in that city.|| – Barnabas took Saul to the leaders and told of his encounter with the Lord and preaching. Especially his preaching was evidence that he was genuine.
- A little later, Barnabas and Saul would be preaching partners.
|28) Saul then traveled in and out of Jerusalem with the apostles,||– He was accepted and stayed with Peter. Galatians 1:18.|
|29) preaching boldly in the name of the Lord [and] speaking and arguing with the Greek-[speaking] Jews, but they were out to kill him.|| – This is further evidence that Saul belonged to their synagogue.
- This is the second threat on his life. See verse 23.
- Remember, they had killed Stephen.
- This story is expanded at Acts 22:17-21
|30) And when the brothers [in the Jerusalem church] learned about this, they brought him down to Caesarea and then sent him on to Tarsus, [his home town].||– The brothers that were slow to trust Saul now went to great effort to preserve his life.|
|31) So, the church throughout all of Judea, Galilee and Samaria was multiplied in number, enjoyed peace, was built up [spiritually], lived in awe of the Lord and was comforted by the Holy Spirit.|| – Here the church is many congregations collectively.
- This is the first mention of churches in Galilee.
- The Spirit enabled the prophets' messages.
- Since the chief persecutor was now a believer, there was a time of peace, but that would not last. Controversy was just ahead as Peter opened the door of the Kingdom for Gentiles. God is already moving him towards the right city for the encounter with Cornelius, the first Gentile to be converted.
|32) Then after that, Peter traveled throughout the entire region until he came down to visit God's holy people who lived in Lydda. [Note: This was a town on the west coast of Palestine].||– Perhaps the congregations in this region had been established by Philip during the preaching of Acts 8:40 or these were refugees from Jerusalem as per Acts 8:1. - Lydda was 20 or 25 miles from Jerusalem.|
|33) And there he found a certain man named Aeneas who had been [confined to his] bed, paralyzed for eight years.||– Aeneas was a Greek name. His family and friends had to care for him.|
|34) Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ is healing you, so get up and make your bed." And immediately he got up [out of his bed, completely healed].|| – This is like the language of healing the crippled man in Acts 3:6.
- Luke had reported a similar statement from Jesus in Luke 5:24.
- His immediate strength adds to the miracle and impressed Dr. Luke.
|35) When everyone who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him [i.e., that the man was healed], they turned [their lives over] to the Lord.|| – Sharon is the coastal plain from Carmel on the north to Joppa on the south.
- The miracles were to authenticate the message being preached and the combination worked here very well.
|36) Now at Joppa [Note: This was also a town on the west coast of Palestine, today called "Jaffa," and is now a part of Tel Aviv] there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (she was also called Dorcas, which means "Gazelle"). She practiced many good deeds and always gave money to poor people.|| – In keeping with Luke's way, we have the story of a lady.
- Tabitha is Aramaic, Dorcas is Greek.
- Did the ex-deacon Philip get her involved in helping the widows?
- God is always concerned about the poor. See also Acts 10:2.
|37) But as time went on, she became [very] sick and [eventually] died. Her body was washed [by the women attendants] and placed in an upstairs room [during the mourning process].|| – She may not have been married.
- That society buried their dead within a few hours.
|38) And since Lydda was very close to Joppa, the disciples [at Joppa], hearing that Peter was at Lydda [See verse 32], sent two men there to urge him, "Do not delay your coming [here] to us."|| – These disciples believed that Peter could raise the dead, especially if they had not been buried yet.
- "Do not delay coming or she will have to be buried."
|39) So, Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived they took him to the upstairs room [where Dorcas' body lay]. All the widows [i.e., her friends] stood near Peter, crying and showing [him] the coats and [other] clothing which Dorcas had made when she was alive.|| – God was moving Peter to Joppa for other reasons.
- There are no paid wailers mourning in this story.
|40) Then Peter asked them all to leave [the room]; he knelt down and prayed over her body, saying, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.|| – Peter had seen the Lord handle a case like this in Luke 8:51-56.
- Peter used her Aramaic name.
|41) Peter then reached out his hand and raised her up; he called the saints [i.e., God's holy people] and the widows [back into the room] and presented her [to them] alive.||– The widows were not all believers.|
|42) And this [miracle] became known throughout all of Joppa and many people believed in [Jesus as] the Lord.|| – The miracle gave Peter local credibility, something he would need shortly.
- As in verse 35 above, the miracle led to people believing in the Lord.
|43) And Peter lived for some time in Joppa with Simon, who was an [animal hide] tanner.|| – Peter had been preaching among the Samaritans and now he is living with a tanner, no doubt a believer. This was certainly not a main-line profession. God has a purpose here.
- There are 11 Simons in the New Testament.