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Saul Encounters Jesus

During those days, Saul, full of angry threats and rage,[a] wanted to murder the disciples of the Lord Jesus. So he went to ask the high priest and requested a letter of authorization he could take to the Jewish leaders in Damascus,[b] requesting their cooperation in finding and arresting any who were followers of the Way.[c] Saul wanted to capture all of the believers he found, both men and women, and drag them as prisoners back to Jerusalem. So he obtained the authorization and left for Damascus.

Just outside the city, a brilliant light flashing from heaven suddenly exploded all around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a booming voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”[d]

5–7 The men accompanying Saul were stunned and speechless, for they heard a heavenly voice but could see no one.

Saul replied, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, the Victorious,[e] the one you are persecuting.[f] Now, get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you are to do.”

Saul stood to his feet, and even though his eyes were open he could see nothing—he was blind. So the men had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. For three days he didn’t eat or drink and couldn’t see a thing.

10 Living in Damascus was a believer named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling his name. “Ananias.”

“Yes, Lord,” Ananias answered.

The Lord said, “Go at once to the street called Abundance[g] and look for a man from Tarsus[h] named Saul. You will find him at Judah’s house.[i] While he was praying,[j] he saw in a supernatural vision a man named Ananias[k] coming to lay hands upon him to restore his sight.”[l]

13 “But Lord,” Ananias replied, “many have told me about his terrible persecution of those in Jerusalem who are devoted to you.[m] 14 In fact, the high priest has authorized him to seize and imprison all those in Damascus who call on your name.”

15 The Lord Yahweh[n] answered him, “Arise and go! I have chosen this man to be my special messenger.[o] He will be brought before kings, before many nations, and before the Jewish people to give them the revelation of who I am. 16 And I will show him how much he is destined to suffer[p] because of his passion for me.”

17 Ananias left and found the house where Saul was staying. He went inside and laid hands on him, saying, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me to pray for you so that you might see again and be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.”

18 All at once, the crusty substance that was over Saul’s eyes disappeared and he could see perfectly. Immediately, he got up and was baptized. 19 After eating a meal,[q] his strength returned.[r]

20 Within the hour[s] he was in the synagogues, preaching about Jesus and proclaiming, “Jesus is the Son of God!”[t] 21 Those who heard him were astonished, saying among themselves, “Isn’t this the Saul who furiously persecuted those in Jerusalem who called on the name of Jesus? Didn’t he come here with permission from the high priest to drag them off and take them as prisoners?”

22 Saul’s power increased greatly as he became more and more proficient in proving that Jesus was the anointed Messiah. Saul remained there for several days with the disciples, even though it agitated the Jews of Damascus.

Saul Escapes from Damascus

23 As time passed, the Jews plotted together to kill Saul, 24 but it was revealed to him what they were about to do. They closely guarded the gates of the city and tracked his every movement so they could kill him. 25 But during the night, some of Saul’s converts helped him escape by lowering him down through an opening in the wall, hiding him in a woven basket.[u]

Saul Returns to Jerusalem

26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to introduce himself to the fellowship of the believers, but everyone was afraid of him because they doubted he was a true disciple. 27 Barnabas[v] came to his defense and brought him before the apostles. Saul shared with them his supernatural experience of seeing the Lord, who spoke with him on the road to Damascus. Barnabas also told them how boldly Saul preached throughout the city in Jesus’ mighty name.

28 Then they accepted him as a brother and he remained with them, joining them wherever they went in Jerusalem, boldly preaching in the power and authority of Jesus.[w] 29 He openly debated with some of the Jews who had adopted the Greek culture,[x] yet they were secretly plotting to murder him. 30 When the believers discovered their scheme, they smuggled him out of the city and took him to Caesarea and then sent him on to Tarsus.[y]

31 After this, the church all over Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced a season of peace.[z] The congregations grew larger and larger, with the believers being empowered and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. They worshiped God in wonder and awe,[aa] and walked in the fear of the Lord.

Peter Heals Aeneas

32 As Peter was ministering[ab] from place to place, he visited God’s devoted ones in the village of Lydda.[ac] 33 He met a man there named Aeneas[ad] who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed One instantly and divinely heals you. Now, get up and make your bed.”

35 All at once he stood to his feet. And when all the people of Lydda and Sharon saw him, they became believers in the Lord.[ae]

Peter Raises the Dead

36 Now, there was a follower of Jesus who lived in Joppa. Her Aramaic name, Tabitha, means “gazelle.”[af] She lived her life doing kind things for others and serving the poor. 37 But then she became very ill and died. After the disciples prepared her body for burial,[ag] they laid her in an upstairs room.

38 When the believers heard that Peter was nearby in Lydda, they sent two men with an urgent message for him to come without delay. 39 So Peter went with them back to Joppa, and upon arriving they led him to the upper room.

There were many widows standing next to Peter, weeping. One after another showed him the tunics and other garments that Tabitha had made to bless others. 40 Peter made them all leave the room.[ah] Then he knelt down and prayed. Turning to the dead body, he said, “Tabitha, rise up!”

At once she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers and all the widows to come and see that she was alive!

42 The news spread all over the city of Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 Peter remained in Joppa for several more days as a guest at the house of Simon the tanner.[ai]

Footnotes

  1. Acts 9:1 As translated from the Aramaic.
  2. Acts 9:2 Or “synagogues of Damascus.”
  3. Acts 9:2 The “Way” is Jesus Christ, the way that God dispenses himself into human beings. He lives inside of those who believe in him. See John 14:6. “The Way” is also a term Luke uses throughout the book of Acts to designate believers in Jesus.
  4. Acts 9:4 To persecute the church is to persecute Jesus. He is one with his beloved church. See Zech. 2:8.
  5. Acts 9:5 As translated from the Aramaic, which uses the word scion. Although scion is often translated “branch” (Nazarene), it can also be mean “victorious” or “heir of a mighty family.”
  6. Acts 9:5 The Aramaic adds a line here that can be translated “Is it hard for you to rear up against a scorpion’s stinger” (or goads)?
  7. Acts 9:10 As translated from the Aramaic, or “Fat Street.” The Greek is “Straight Street.” As the straightest street in the city, this is the main east-west thoroughfare in Damascus, which is known today as Midhat Pasha Souq. Damascus, only 190 miles northeast of Jerusalem, in 2017 has a population of about two million and is considered to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Many remnants of the Roman occupation, including two-thirds of the walls of the city, can still be seen today. The conversion of Saul the legalist into Paul the grace preacher has a significant lesson for us. We can be amazingly wrong while thinking we are doing right. The Holy Spirit awakens our hearts to feast on Christ, our righteousness. Religion has a deadening effect on our hearts. Like Saul, we have to fall off our “high horse” and bite the dust before our blinded eyes can see.
  8. Acts 9:10 Tarsus, or Cilicia, is in southeastern Turkey. Tarsus means “a basket.” See v. 25.
  9. Acts 9:10 Or “Judas’ house.” (Judah’s house is the house of praise).
  10. Acts 9:10 Made explicit from the text.
  11. Acts 9:10 Ananias means “the Lord’s gracious gift.” He truly was the Lord’s gracious gift to Paul, who was healed by God’s gracious gift. The word grace is found 125 times in the New Testament, and Paul uses the word 120 times.
  12. Acts 9:10 Ananias means “Yah is merciful.” This is a wonderful play on words in the Aramaic, for God is about to show mercy to Saul and is asking Ananias to live up to his name.
  13. Acts 9:13 Or “your holy ones.”
  14. Acts 9:15 As translated from the Aramaic word for “Yahweh,” MarYah.
  15. Acts 9:15 Or “tool.”
  16. Acts 9:16 Or “experience.”
  17. Acts 9:19 Some Aramaic manuscripts add, “He accepted the message of salvation,” or “He received the hope” (of the kingdom).
  18. Acts 9:19 The sentence “Saul remained with the disciples for several days” has been placed in v. 22 as a concluding statement of the narrative.
  19. Acts 9:20 As translated from the Aramaic.
  20. Acts 9:20 Or “This Man is the Son of God.”
  21. Acts 9:25 See 2 Cor. 11:33.
  22. Acts 9:27 See Acts 4:36-37.
  23. Acts 9:28 Or “in the name of Jesus.”
  24. Acts 9:29 Or “Hellenist Jews.” These were Jews who had adopted the Greek culture and language, as opposed to the orthodox Jews, who were strictly following Hebrew culture. The respected historian Josephus writes in AD 44, in his book of Jewish wars, that Greek was not the predominant language spoken in Israel. (See Antiquities xx, xi, 2.) The Hellenists were Jewish immigrants who had lived in Alexandria, Greece, and in Rome. They would have learned Greek culture and language as well as Hebrew.
  25. Acts 9:30 Tarsus was a city in south-central Turkey, about ten miles from the Mediterranean coast. Saul’s family originated from Tarsus, but he grew up in Jerusalem as an orthodox Jew.
  26. Acts 9:31 The “church” in a region is mentioned here, “Judea, Galilee, and Samaria.” Even though great cultural distinctions existed between them, the Holy Spirit had made them one church.
  27. Acts 9:31 Implied in the Hebraic concept of “the fear of the Lord,” which means more than just dread or terror. It also includes “to worship with awe.”
  28. Acts 9:32 Or “traveling.”
  29. Acts 9:32 Lydda (Aramaic, Lod) means “strife.”
  30. Acts 9:33 Aeneas means “praise.” “Praise” had been paralyzed for eight years. Eight is the number of a new beginning.
  31. Acts 9:35 Or “they turned to the Lord.”
  32. Acts 9:36 Or “Dorcas,” which is the Greek word for “deer.” The name Dorcas is also found in v. 39 in the Greek.
  33. Acts 9:37 Or “washed her body.” By implication they prepared her for burial.
  34. Acts 9:40 The Greek word used here is ekballo, a strong word that can mean “drive out” or “cast out.”
  35. Acts 9:43 Or “Simon Berseus.”

Saul’s Conversion(A)

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.(B) He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus,(C) so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way,(D) whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.(E) He fell to the ground and heard a voice(F) say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”(G)

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound(H) but did not see anyone.(I) Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.(J) So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision,(K) “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus(L) named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on(M) him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people(N) in Jerusalem.(O) 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests(P) to arrest all who call on your name.”(Q)

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument(R) to proclaim my name to the Gentiles(S) and their kings(T) and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”(U)

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on(V) Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”(W) 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,(X) 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem

Saul spent several days with the disciples(Y) in Damascus.(Z) 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues(AA) that Jesus is the Son of God.(AB) 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name?(AC) And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”(AD) 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.(AE)

23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him,(AF) 24 but Saul learned of their plan.(AG) Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.(AH)

26 When he came to Jerusalem,(AI) he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas(AJ) took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him,(AK) and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.(AL) 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a](AM) but they tried to kill him.(AN) 30 When the believers(AO) learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea(AP) and sent him off to Tarsus.(AQ)

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria(AR) enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.(AS)

Aeneas and Dorcas

32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people(AT) who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you.(AU) Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon(AV) saw him and turned to the Lord.(AW)

36 In Joppa(AX) there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good(AY) and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.(AZ) 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples(BA) heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows(BB) stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room;(BC) then he got down on his knees(BD) and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.”(BE) She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.(BF) 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.(BG)

Footnotes

  1. Acts 9:29 That is, Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture

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