Acts Nine

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

Acts 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

Damascus. Damascus is one of the world's oldest cities, first mentioned in the Bible at the time of Abraham (Genesis 14:15) and still thriving today as the capital of modern Syria. In Paul's day, it had a large Jewish population and a significant number had become Christians. Paul's commission from the high priest, however, was probably to arrest and bring back to Jerusalem those Christians who had fled the city following the stoning of Stephen.

Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Saul, Saul. This repetition of the name of the person addressed always indicated a message of special importance. Other examples include the following: Abraham (Genesis 22:11); Moses (Exodus 3:4); Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10); Absalom (2 Samuel 18:33); Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37); Simon Peter (Luke 22:31).

Acts 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

whom thou persecutest. Jesus regards any persecution against His followers as persecution against himself (note John 15:20).

kick against the pricks. The future apostle is addressed here as behaving like a stubborn animal, rebelling against the pain caused by the goads in his harness. The Lord already had been speaking to him, as he would recall Stephen's dying prayer (Acts 7:60), and possibly also through the testimony of Christian relatives (Romans 16:7). He must also, with his training and position, have learned something about the teachings of Jesus, and especially the evidence of His resurrection. Yet he had been rejecting all this testimony.

Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

trembling and astonished. Paul's trembling was probably the result of sudden conviction of his great guilt before the Lord in persecuting His followers. He actually saw the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ, even as he had heard Stephen testify (Acts 7:56; 1 Corinthians 15:8), and instantly became a believing Christian. The immediate question then was (as it should be for all new believers): “Lord, what shall I do?”

Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

hearing a voice. Paul undoubtedly had a large company with him, in order to bring a large group of Christian prisoners back to Jerusalem with him. These men saw the great light but could not see Jesus therein. Also, they heard the voice as a sound, but could not understand the words (Acts 22:9).

Acts 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

Acts 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Acts 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

Acts 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Acts 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Acts 9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

Acts 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

chosen vessel. God had chosen Paul before he was saved. In fact, Paul later testified that God had “separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace” (Galatians 1:15).

before the Gentiles. It is noteworthy that Paul was now chosen by God to be sent to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21), and would even become “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). This was the same Paul who testified that he had “profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14), and who, with the other Pharisees, had been furious at Stephen's intimations that God was now preparing to favor the Gentiles.

Acts 9:16 For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Brother Saul. Ananias, despite his reservations, graciously recognized Saul (“the requested one”), soon to be known as Paul, “the little one,” as “Brother.”

filled with the Holy Ghost. Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, and no doubt was baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit immediately, but was not “filled with the Holy Spirit” until his sight was restored and he received spiritual sight at the same time, submitting himself fully to Christ.

Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

baptized. Paul, like all other new converts, was immediately baptized. He had probably been kneeling in Ananias' house as Ananias put his hands on Paul to give him his commission, as it were, but Paul could not be baptized in such a position. Accordingly, he arose and went to be baptized, probably in one of the two major rivers that flow through Damascus (Abana and Pharpar). It is also noteworthy that the Apostle Paul received his commission as an apostle, not from one of the other apostles, but from the Lord Himself, through Ananias. This undermines the principle of so-called “apostolic succession.”

Acts 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

Acts 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

preached Christ. Paul, already zealous and courageous and learned in the Scriptures, immediately understood and believed the doctrine of the deity of Christ, and that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, as well as Messiah.

Acts 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

Acts 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Acts 9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

many days. The “many days” may refer to the nearly three years that Paul spent east of Damascus in the Arabian desert (see note on Galatians 1:17-18).

Jews. The Jews had been anticipating Paul's arrival in Damascus, knowing he was coming to arrest the Christians who were creating such a problem for them. When he came to the synagogue, however, instead of denouncing the Christians and their teachings, he proclaimed persuasively that Jesus was the “Christ” and the “Son of God” (Acts 9:20-22), so he only made matters worse for them. No wonder they decided to stop him.

Acts 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

Acts 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

in a basket. Note Paul's reference to this experience in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33.

Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

Acts 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Acts 9:28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

Acts 9:29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

Acts 9:30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

rest. This period of “rest” from persecution, after Paul left Jerusalem and returned to his home town of Tarsus, capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, lasted about ten years.

Acts 9:32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

Acts 9:33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.

Acts 9:34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

Acts 9:35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

Acts 9:37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

Acts 9:38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

Acts 9:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Tabitha, arise. The apostles were enabled to do many miracles, as evidence of the authenticity of their preaching (Hebrews 2:3-4), since the New Testament was not yet written. This was the first occasion, however, when one of them actually called a dead person back to life. The one other occasion, through Paul, is given in Acts 20:7-12.

Acts 9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

Acts 9:42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

Acts 9:43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.