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Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 9

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

1. Chapter 8 began with great persecution. Saul was involved.

2. Now, in chapter 9 Saul is the leader of the persecution.

3. He is taking a more active role and the persecution is more threatening and intense.

Verse 2

2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

1. The high priest is granting him permission to act as a deputy sheriff. Keep in mind that the high priest was also the highest law enforcement officer. The local jail was at the home of the high priest.

2. Damascus - An ancient city, dating to the time of Abraham, was the capital of Syria. It was about 120 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Damascus was a large city of about 150,000 people at this time. Some estimate the population at 200,000.

3. Saul has been made a special deputy to arrest, bind, and bring to Jerusalem all who confess to being a part of "the Way."

4. Joh_14:6 - Jesus is the Way. "The Way" was a common term to describe the church and all the doctrines and teachings it stood for. See Act_24:22 .

5. Saul did not care of they were men or women. Any of this new "Way" would be arrested.

Verse 3

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

1. Already having traveled most of the way, he was nearing his target city, Damascus.

2. Like a bolt of lightning, a bright light was shining from heaven.

3. Apparently the bright light blinded Saul.

Verse 4

4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, " Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? "

1. Saul dropped to his knees and heard a voice speak to him.

2. Saul, Saul - The repetition of the name is for emphasis. Pay attention. I am speaking to you and you need to listen.

3. "Why are you persecuting Me?" is clearly the voice of Jesus, as the next verse states.

4. Notice, when one persecutes the church - they persecute Jesus Christ. See Mat_25:40 .

Verse 5

5 And he said, " Who are You, Lord? " Then the Lord said, " I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads. "

1. Saul used the term "Lord" - not because he understood that this was Jesus the Christ, but as a general term of respect. We might say, "Sir, who are you?"

2. I am Jesus - Jesus has always been active - before he came to earth and since his return to heaven.

3. Kick against the goads - There were two types of goads:

1. A sharp metal pointer on the end of a long stick was used to get an animal to move. The sharp point would jab the animal and urge it to move.

2. Several sharp points in the hitch behind the animal pulling the load. If the animal kicked, instead of pulling the load, it would kick against the sharp points. The ox would soon learn that kicking was only hurting itself.

4. There is a simple principle at work here - If poking yourself in the eye hurts, stop poking.

Verse 6

6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, " Lord, what do You want me to do? " Then the Lord said to him, " Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. "

1. There is some dispute if the use of "Lord" here is again a polite term OR if Saul realized that this is the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. "What do you want me to do?" - Saul is now asking, how can the problem be corrected? What can be done to turn this situation around?

3. Some believe that Saul was "saved" at this point. He now believed that this was Jesus and he was saved. The next verses (and the parallel accounts later in Acts) do not support this idea. Saul was not saved at this point.

4. Jesus did not say, "You don't have to do anything. You are now saved." Jesus said, "Go into the city and wait. Someone will come and tell you what you must do."

5. NOTE : There is something that Saul must do. He must be told what to do. He needed some instruction on how he could be forgiven of this wrong.

Verse 7

7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.

1. Saul was leading a group of men. We don't know exactly how many but several. He needed enough to arrest and bring back to Jerusalem all they captured. Remember this was a120 mile journey.

2. They stood speechless. They did not know what to say, what to do, how to respond.

3. In this passage - They heard a voice, but saw no man. Other accounts seem to give conflicting statements.

4. Study this chart for a clear understanding of all the statements.

Passage Description Act_9:7 Heard a voice - saw no man Act_22:9 Saw the light - did not hear the voice Act_26:13-14 Saw the light - Voice spoke in the Hebrew tongue 5. In the first passage they heard audible sounds of a voice but did not see the source of this sound.

6. In the second passage they did not hear (understand) what was being said. (I may hear someone say something to me but not understand the words. I will say, "What did you say? I did not hear you." The means that I did not clearly hear the word and understand the message.)

7. The third passage will explain why they heard (the sound) but did not hear (understand) the message. It was spoken in Hebrew. Most Jews did not know or understand Hebrew. Only Jewish scholars would know this language. Jesus was speaking to Saul - and not to the group. So the speech was in a tongue that Saul knew and understood.

8. I have done work in Russia. I hear people talking but I do not understand what they are saying without an interpreter. I hear (the audible sound) but I do not hear (understand the message).

Verse 8

8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

1. When Saul stood up - he opened his eyes. The bright light was gone. The one who spoke was gone. His sight was gone. Saul was now blind.

2. The men with him had to lead him into Damascus.

Verse 9

9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

1. Can you imagine - suddenly being blind? Alone? 120 miles from home?

2. All Saul could do was think about the events - his life, the confrontation with Jesus.

3. All he could do was to wait for someone to tell him what to do.

4. During the next three days - Saul did not eat or drink.

5. All he could do was - PRAY. See verse 11.

Verse 10

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, " Ananias. " And he said, " Here I am, Lord. "

1. Ananias - Some believe that Ananias was one of the 70 that Jesus sent out on a limited commission to the house of Israel.

2. But nothing is known of him outside of this passage.

3. Like Philip with the Ethiopian - They met, there was teaching and a baptism and they never (as far as we know) met again.

Verse 11

11 So the Lord said to him, " Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.

1. Jesus sent Ananias on a special mission. Again, similar to Philip in Act_8:1-40 .

2. One soul saved is more important than preaching to thousands.

3. God identifies the man to be taught - Saul of Tarsus.

4. God tells Ananias that Saul is praying and waiting for him.

Verse 12

12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight. "

1. God has already prepared Saul - who is coming and what they will do.

2. Saul saw Ananias coming and restoring his sight.

Verse 13

13 Then Ananias answered, " Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.

1. Saul now has a reputation - persecutor of Christians.

2. He has done much harm to the church and to the saints in Jerusalem.

Verse 14

14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name. "

1. His mission in Damascus was already known. Ananias knew that Saul was coming and what his purpose was.

2. He will arrest anyone who calls on the name of Jesus.

Verse 15

15 But the Lord said to him, " Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

1. He is a chosen vessel - Jesus has a special task for Saul. There is a purpose to this conversion. There is more here than just another person being converted.

2. He will preach about Jesus to the Gentiles, to kings (government officials) and to Israel.

Verse 16

16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name ' s sake. "

1. He caused suffering among the saints.

2. He will endure much suffering in the name of Jesus.

3. I do not believe this suffering was a "punishment" for his past. I was a fact that Christians were being persecuted. Converting Saul would not stop all the persecution.

4. Like the death of Hitler or capturing of Sadaam Hussain does not stop genocide and torture. It stops them but there are other "Hitlers" in the world.

Verse 17

17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, " Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. "

1. Ananias obeyed. He went to the right house. He found Saul.

2. Brother - here is not used as a brother in Christ, but as a fellow Jew.

3. Laid hands on him - to restore his sight.

4. Ananias knew the story of Jesus appearance on the road near Damascus.

Verse 18

18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

1. His physical eyes were opened.

2. His spiritual eyes have also been opened.

3. He was baptized. Why? We learn in Act_22:16 that Ananias commanded him to arise and be baptized. He was told not to delay.

Verse 19

19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

1. The fast was over. Saul was ready to eat, gain his strength.

2. Saul stayed in Damascus - not to persecute Christians, but to associate with them.

Verse 20

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

1. Immediately - No delay. There was no waiting. The change was complete.

2. Saul was now a Christian - and he was ready to defend what he once persecuted.

3. Saul preached that Jesus is the Messiah. He preached first in the Jewish synagogues.

4. This was a practice that he followed during rest of his life. See Rom_1:16 .

Verse 21

21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, " Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests? "

1. The news spread rapidly. Just as news of his coming to persecute had preceded his arrival, so news of his conversion is being spread.

2. Is this a trick? Is he just trying to get on the inside so he can arrest us? These Christians were both willing to accept him, but cautious that it might be a trick.

Verse 22

22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

1. Saul worked hard to prove his conversion was genuine.

2. He confounded the Jews in Damascus.

3. He quoted Old Testament passages to "prove" that Jesus is the Christ.

Verse 23

23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.

1. Now the table is turned. Now the the Jews were ready to kill Saul. A few weeks ago Saul was their hero. Now he was the villain.

2. They plotted to kill him.

Verse 24

24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.

1. Some how the plot was exposed. Saul learned of the plan.

2. There were Jews watching all the gates of the city, day and night.

3. They would know when he tried to leave town and could ambush him.

Verse 25

25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

1. In a basket - A large basket to carry light food - bread. It was a large, strong basket.

2. This method of escape was used in the past. Rahab let the spies escape in a basket. Jos_2:15

3. David escaped from the angry King Saul in a basket. 1Sa_19:12

4. This was cowardice. It was the teaching of Jesus in Mat_10:23 . When you are persecuted, flee to another city.

Verse 26

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

1. Saul returned to Jerusalem.

2. He tried to "join" the disciples.

1. It is true that you can not "join" the church. The Lord adds the saved to it. Act_2:47

2. But, you can "join" the local congregation. When you move, you should seek a local body of believers and seek be involved.

3. "Place membership" is the term we often use. While the words are not used here, the idea is clear. Saul was saved. He was added to the church. But now he is in Jerusalem. He seeks to become part of the local congregation.

3. Like in Damascus, there is fear among the Christians. They are not sure if the conversion is real. Is Saul just using this as a way to get inside information on the Christians?

4. Many did not believe he was a disciple.

Verse 27

27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

1. Barnabas, the "Son of Encouragment", steps up. He steps in to defend Saul and urge the Christians to accept him.

2. He showed how he was converted. And he told them how he preached in the synagogues with boldness.

Verse 28

28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.

1. Saul was accepted into the fellowship of the Jerusalem church.

2. He was with them. He was one of them.

3. He had "joined" the disciples at Jerusalem.

Verse 29

29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.

1. Bold = to speak with assurance, confidence; to speak freely

2. He preached that Jesus is Lord.

3. He disputed with the Hellenists (Jews who spoke Greek)

4. These were perhaps the same Jews of the synagogue of the Libertines, Alexandrians, Cyrenians, and of Cilicia and Asia, who disputed with Stephen.

5. They wanted to kill Saul.

Verse 30

30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

1. The brethren protected Saul. They got him out of town, sent him to Caesarea.

2. From there he went back to his hometown - Tarsus.

3. Paul confirms this in Gal_1:21 .

Verse 31

31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

1. God expects the church (Christians) to work. But sometimes, after a period of stress and persecution - just take some time to catch your breath.

2. The church had rest. It was without problems - at the moment.

3. Jesus' plan was being fulfilled. Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria were growing.

4. Growing is not the word - MULTIPLIED. They were growing exponentially. They were doubling ( Act_6:7 ) - and doubling that.

Verse 32

32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.

1. Peter begins traveling. Remember the apostles did not leave Jerusalem when Saul was persecuting the church. ( Act_8:1 )

2. Lydda is a town 9 miles from Joppa, west of Jerusalem.

3. Act_9:1-43 is the first time the term "saints" is used. Saints is from a Greek word that means - holy, sacred, separate, dedicated. The Greek word is translated - - holy (160 times in NT) and saints (60 times in NT).

Verse 33

33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.

1. While visiting the Christians at Lydda, Peter learns of a paralyzed man.

2. He was a "shut in" for 8 years.

Verse 34

34 And Peter said to him, " Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed. " Then he arose immediately.

1. Aeneas - Jesus will heal you.

2. Think about it. If you have been paralyzed for 8 years, you know that you can't just "get up and make your bed."

3. Would you argue? Explain that you can't move? OR - Just try?

4. Aeneas tried - He got up immediately.

Verse 35

35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

1. All in the area of Lydda, and the next town of Sharon - saw the miracle.

2. The turned to the Lord. Like in Act_8:1-40 - they saw the miracle and believed the message.

Verse 36

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.

1. The scene now shifts to Joppa, and finds a disciple, Tabitha.

2. Act_9:1-43 is also the first time that the term " disciple " is used to apply to NT Christians.

3. Disciple means a learner, a student, one who learns from a teacher. Jesus is the teacher. We are students, learners, pupils, disciples.

4. Tabitha was known for her good deeds, her charitable work.

5. This is not just a thing she did, it was her way of life. The Greek here is imperfect, active. Which means it is not finished, still in progress. Where the present would the "they are doing", the imperfect would be "the kept on doing."

Verse 37

37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

1. We do not know the cause, but she became sick, and in a short time had died.

2. Her body was washed, prepared for burial, and laid in an upper room. Remember that upper rooms were often large areas for meetings and banquets.

3. Many would want to honor her before the burial.

Verse 38

38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.

1. Since Peter is near, they sent messengers to bring him to Joppa.

2. Imploring him - More than just ask, this is a stronger term, beg, beseech.

Verse 39

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

1. Peter honored their request. He came to the upper room.

2. Many widows were weeping, looking at all the things Tabitha had made.

3. Tabitha is the Jewish name (Hebrew). Dorcas is what she is called in Greek.

4. "While she was with them" - means, while she was alive. She was still with them - her body was in the upper room. But her spirit was departed.

Verse 40

40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, " Tabitha, arise. " And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.

1. Clearly, she was dead. They had prepared the body for burial. They were weeping. They were remembering the wonderful life and example of caring and sharing that was her way of life.

2. Peter empties the room, knelt, and prayed.

3. Then he said, "Tabitha, arise." In a similar way Jesus raised Lazarus in Joh_11:1-57 .

4. She opened her eyes and sat up. She was dead and is alive.

Verse 41

41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

1. Peter introduces himself. Then he calls the saints and widows.

2. He presents her alive.

Verse 42

42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.

1. The miracle became known - and many believed on the Lord.

2. Again - they saw (or heard about) the miracle and believed in Jesus.

Verse 43

43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

1. Peter remains now with the saints in Joppa.

2. He stays with a leather tanner, named Simon.

3. NOTE : Simon (Hebrew) and Peter (Greek) are the same word for the same name. Peter is staying with Simon.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 9". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-9.html. 2021.
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