9:1-2 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing out threats to murder the Lord's disciples, went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, either men or women, he could bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
Saul sincerely believed that he was doing God a service by waging war against the followers of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1: 13 - 14; 1 Tim. 1: 13). As far as he was concerned he was destroying the opposers of worshipping the God of Israel and he did not spare himself in order to rid the world of those who he considered to be heretics. He obtained letters of authority from the high priest to pursue them even to Damascus to bring them back Jerusalem to be dealt with as the high priest saw fit. The expression 'this way' or 'the Way' was an early name given to believers before they were called Christians. For they were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11: 26). No one who had accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour was safe from Saul's hands, whether man, woman or child and his name for persecution became well known to all believers. '
9:3-4 As he was going along, approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
Saul had made his plans well but he had done so without taking God into consideration, for God had made other plans for his life (Ps. 33:10; Prov. 16: 9). As he drew near to Damascus God dramatically broke through into his life. Saul was a child of darkness and had been walking in the dark now the "light of heaven" shone around him. Note, it shone '"around"" not on him. He was caught in the light, he could not escape from the Lord, he could not move forward, backward to right or left only hit the ground! He heard a voice but could see no one! He was known personally, by his name! What he had been doing and what he was going to do was known! Saul had thought that it was only men and women he was persecuting but it was in fact the Lord he had been waging war against (Zech. 2: 8). '
9:5-6 So he said, "Who are you, Lord?" He replied, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting! But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do."
Although Saul asks who it is that speaks with him, he knows for he calls him Lord. It was at this point that Jesus shows Himself to Saul (1 Cor. 15: 8). He makes known the charge He has against Him '"persecution"" and that Saul had already been under conviction for: the things he had been doing was wrong; that these people he had been hounding had found the truth in the one they called the Christ. He had been battling with his conscience for some time but had refused to listen to it, now he was brought face to face with the truth about himself. '
On realising this truth it made him tremble and dazed him. In saying to the Lord '"what do you want me to do"" he acknowledged, confessed and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour, at this point he became "born again". He was no longer his own but belonged to God (1 Cor. 6: 19 -20) and was therefore under a new commander, the Lord Jesus Christ, and from now on took orders only from Him (Rom. 6: 18). He was to go to Damascus and wait their for further instructions. '
9:7-8 (Now the men who were traveling with him stood there speechless, because they heard the voice but saw no one.) So Saul got up from the ground, but although his eyes were open, he could see nothing. Leading him by the hand, his companions brought him into Damascus.
Those travelling with Saul heard the voice but saw nothing. When he got up from the ground and opened his eyes Saul was physically blind but had received spiritual sight! '
9:9 three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything.
He was blind, neither ate or drank for three days but he prayed (see end of V.11).
Ananias's Obedience and Saul Baptised
9:10 There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias," and he replied, "Here I am, Lord."
We may be caught unawares but God is ever prepared and thus he had the right man in the right place and the right time who would help Saul, that was Ananias. The Lord appeared in a vision and called him by name (John 10: 3). His quick reaction and the words he uses tells us that he was eager to hear what the Lord had to say and that he was readily available to do whatever was required of him. '
9:11-12 Then the Lord told him, "Get up and go to the street called 'Straight,' and at Judas' house look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. For he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he may see again."
Like Philip before him he was given specific directions where to go who he would meet and what he should do. He is also told that Saul already knew of his coming and was waiting for him.
9:13-14 But Ananias replied, "Lord, I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, and here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call on your name!"
These instructions caused Ananias to hesitate and doubt and fear crept in. The reputation of Saul's persecution had reached his ears and, at first, it was a case of '"send me anywhere else Lord, except there"" '
9:15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel.
The Lord sets his mind at rest and takes away all fear from him by assuring him that this Saul is one whom He has called and separated unto himself (Rom. 1: 1) to take the Gospel message to the Gentiles, to kings (Acts 26: 2) and to the Jews. And that he would suffer many things for Christ's sake and eventually lose his life for Him (2 Cor. 4: 11; 2 Cor. 11: 28) Saul (Paul) was put to death by Nero around 66/67 BC.
9:17-18 So Ananias departed and entered the house, placed his hands on Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
Ananias hesitated no longer but went according as the Lord asked him. He laid his hands upon Saul thus signifying that he identified and accepted him as a brother in the Lord and as he spoke the words Saul received his sight, and although it does not actually say so, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and was baptised in water straight away. '
9:19 and after taking some food, his strength returned. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus,
He broke his fast and then spent time in fellowship with the disciples in Damascus.
Saul grows in the Lord
9:20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "This man is the Son of God."
Saul did not waste any time but immediately began to witness that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, and the Son of God. He went straight to the lions den as it were, to the synagogues to preach to the Jews. '
9:21 All who heard him were amazed and were saying, "Is this not the man who in Jerusalem was ravaging those who call on this name, and who had come here to bring them as prisoners to the chief priests?"
They could not understand the sudden change that had taken place in Saul's life - from persecuting and imprisoning Christians to becoming one of them and proclaiming the gospel message with boldness ! '
9:22 But Saul became more and more capable, and was causing consternation among the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
They would have branded Saul a traitor to Judaism and said all manner of things against him but this did not deter him from going on with the Lord it only served to strengthen him in Christ and to grow in his grace. He became all the more bold proving from the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ and completely confounded the Jews in Damascus. '
9:23-24 Now after some days had passed, the Jews plotted together to kill him, but Saul learned of their plot against him. They were also watching the city gates day and night so that they could kill him.
It wasn't long before they had enough of this man and began to plot to kill him and set a twenty four hour watch at the gates of the city in order to do so. But their plan was foiled by the disciples finding out about it and Saul escaped by being let done over the wall in a basket. Saul received his boldness by immediately witnessing after his conversion and by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1: 8) As we step out and witness so we will become bolder as the Holy Spirit empowers us.
Saul befriended and accepted
9:25-26 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall by lowering him in a basket. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple.
Saul did not immediately go to Jerusalem for he tells us in Galatians 1: 17 - 19 that he went into Arabia for three years and had no contact with the apostles. It is believed that during this time he constantly sought and waited upon the Lord and was taught and instructed by Him. It was after this that he went up to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples but because of his former life they were afraid and would not accept him. '
9:27 But Barnabas took Saul, brought him to the apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
It was Barnabas (Son of encouragement/consolation Acts. 4: 36) who befriended Saul and acted as mediator between him and the apostles. He bore witness to the transformation that had taken place in Saul's life and testified of his boldness in preaching the gospel. Later on the Holy Spirit paired them together to work for Christ (Acts 13: 2). '
9:28-29 So he was staying with them, associating openly with them in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. He was speaking and debating with the Greek-speaking Jews, but they were trying to kill him.
So Saul was accepted into the fellowship of believers in Jerusalem and began preaching boldly in the Name of the Lord. He spoke and discussed with and contended with the Greek speaking Jews who had embraced Greek culture (Hellinists) who attempted to kill him.
9:30-31 When the brothers found out about this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced peace and thus was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, the church increased in numbers.
When this was found out by the brethren they sent him to his home town of Tarsus. Notice that it was the church that sent Saul and that he obeyed. He always worked with the church as it was directed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13: 2). After this the church experienced a time of peace and was not persecuted for a little while(Acts 12; 1). During this time the church was spiritually built up growing in wisdom, goodness and holiness. Because it was a church that was walking in the 'respect and reverential fear of the Lord' (Psalm 34: 9) in the comfort and exhortation/being directed by the Holy Spirit, they multiplied.
So are we to walk today that the Lord may multiply us. We are to walk: in newness of life Rom. 6:4; by faith 2 Cor. 5: 7; in the Spirit Gal. 5:16; worthy of the Divine calling Eph. 4:1; in love Eph. 5:2; carefully Eph. 5:15; in the light 1 John 1:7; as Christ walked.
Aeneas healed and Dorcus raised from the dead
We leave Saul in Tarsus for now and return to Peter.
9:32-33 Now as Peter was traveling around from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda. He found there a man named Aeneas who had been confined to a mattress for eight years because he was paralyzed.
Although Peter was based in Jerusalem he travelled throughout all parts of the country preaching and teaching (Acts 1: 8). When he came to a place called Lydda he found a man, Aeneas, who had been paralysed for eight years.
9:34 Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Get up and make your own bed!" And immediately he got up.
Here we see the Gift of healings in operation. Peter had this gift to give to Aeneas, so he addresses him personally and imparts the gift to him '"Jesus the Christ heals you"" This was followed by a command to do something '"make your bed"" perhaps as proof that he had truly been healed. The man was instantaneously healed. '
9:35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Because of this healing many in Lydda and Sharon who saw it were saved.
9:36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which in translation means Dorcas). She was continually doing good deeds and acts of charity.
Lydda was only a few miles from Joppa where a faithful and dedicated disciple lived, whose name was Tabitha (Aramaic) Dorcus (Greek) which means a gazelle. She was a practical Christian who carried out works of faith (James 2: 14 -18) which were motivated by love, and was noted for her kindly deeds. '
9:37 At that time she became sick and died. When they had washed her body, they placed it in an upstairs room.
This godly woman fell sick and died and the believers prepared her for burial. '
9:38 Because Lydda was near Joppa, when the disciples heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Come to us without delay."
The story may have ended there but on hearing that Peter was near the disciples faith was challenged and although Dorcus was dead they believed that God could rise her from the dead. So they sent messengers to implore Peter to come at once.
9:39 So Peter got up and went with them, and when he arrived they brought him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him, crying and showing him the tunics and other clothing Dorcas used to make while she was with them.
This was a challenge to Peter's faith ! He did not delay but went straight away to the upper room where they had laid Dorcus. The fact that the widows, who according to custom attended the corpse, were weeping shows that not all the believers had faith enough that Dorcus would be raised. '
9:40 But Peter sent them all outside, knelt down, and prayed. Turning to the body, he said, "Tabitha, get up." Then she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
Like Jesus did with the girl who died (Mark 5: 40) Peter put them all out of the room and only he and Dorcus remained. The first thing he did was kneel down and pray. What do you think he prayed ? He must have been turned away from the body for after praying he turns and speaks to it ! As Jesus did with the little girl (Mark 5: 41) and as he did with Lazarus (John 11: 43). As he did with Aeneas he addresses her personally and tells her to "arise" and the miracle happens. '
9:41 He gave her his hand and helped her get up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive.
Peter gives her an helping hand and presents her alive to all those present ! '
9:42 This became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
News of this miracle soon spreads throughout Joppa and many received Jesus Christ as their Saviour. '
9:43 So Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a man named Simon, a tanner.
Peter remained in Joppa for quite a while in order to build up the new converts in the most holy faith.
The Lord constantly challenges us in all areas of our lives and in many different ways that He might test our faith. But there is something that is greater than faith and that is love (1 Cor. 13: 2, 13)
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