Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


Acts 9:2-9
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 9:2
v2: Many years later Paul would look back and describe himself during this season as “raging like a madman” (Heb 26:11). When he captured someone he would try to force him or her to blaspheme Christ by flogging them as they lay face down on the floor of a synagogue (Mt 10:17; Ac 5:40; 22:19; 26:11; Dt 25:2, 3; 2Co 11:24). To conduct an inquisition in a foreign city like Damascus required a letter of introduction from the high priest to the synagogue leaders, as well as a letter explaining who was to be arrested and why. The group of men that traveled with him, which must have included some temple police, would be there to help him do the dirty work of arresting, questioning, flogging, and when necessary, transporting prisoners back to Jerusalem so they could be tried before the Sanhedrin who had the authority to execute those unwilling to renounce Christ (Ac 22:4, 5, 19; 26:10). Hopefully these letters would convince local leaders to cooperate. He needed them to be willing to betray family, and friends, and then testify against them.

Monday: Acts 9:2
v2 (continued): In this verse, Luke introduces a term used by the early church to describe itself. A person who believed in Jesus was said to be worshiping God “according to The Way” (Ac 24:14), in other words, according to the way Jesus of Nazareth taught us to worship Him. The term “Christian” was coined later, apparently by unbelievers (Ac 11:26). The Bible often pictures life as a path to be walked. A person can walk through life on God’s path, or turn and wander off His path, so it’s easy to see why Jewish believers would have used this metaphor to describe themselves. They were a people who were following their Shepherd, their Rabbi, walking toward heaven, along the “way of Jesus of Nazareth.”

Tuesday: Acts 9:3-5
vs3-5: In the first two verses of this chapter we see the heart of Saul before he met Jesus, and then beginning at verse 3, and continuing down through verse 18, Luke describes Saul’s transformation from a violent persecutor to a passionate disciple. As he, and those traveling with him, drew near to Damascus, a light suddenly shone round him from out of heaven, and falling to the ground he heard a voice saying “Saul, Saul, why are you pursuing (hunting, chasing) me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And He answered, “I am Jesus whom you are pursuing.” In the original language Jesus does not say, “Why are you persecuting Me?” He says “Why are you pursuing Me?” and there is a subtle difference. It’s true Saul’s goal is to persecute the church, but there is a double meaning in Jesus’ question. In spite of all his fury, Saul is a God-seeker, and though he doesn’t know it yet, his heart was looking for Jesus.

Wednesday: Acts 9:3-5
vs3-5 (continued): The Lord had compassion on Saul because He knew he was genuinely deceived (1Ti 1:12, 13). He thought that in this horrible way he was serving God (Jn 16:2, 3). Years later, when retelling this event, he mentioned that Jesus had also said “It’s hard for you to kick against the goads” (Ac 26:14). In other words, Jesus told him he was like a stubborn ox or mule that tries to kick its master rather than move forward when prodded with a sharp stick. This suggests that Saul’s conscience may have been troubling him while he carried out this vicious campaign. But, instead of repenting when he felt such twinges of compassion or shame, he angrily silenced his conscience, and continued on with even greater zeal.

Thursday: Acts 9:3-6
vs3-6: It was midday when Jesus appeared to Saul, but the glorious light radiating from Him was brighter than the light of the sun (Ac 26:13). And this was not a vision, he directly encountered the resurrected Jesus. Twenty-two years later. In writing to the Corinthian church, he included himself among those who’d seen Jesus after He had risen from the dead. He said, “…and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also” (1Co 15:8). The Lord was merciful to Saul because he was deceived. He knew he would serve Him with all his heart once he knew the truth. There was no need to threaten him, simply confront him, and then command him to wait in the city for further instructions. He said “Now stand up and go into the city and it will be told you what you are bound to do.”

Friday: Acts 9:7
v7: Depending on which translation a person is reading, it is possible to assume that Paul’s statement in Acts 22:9 conflicts with the report made here that the men traveling with him heard Jesus’ voice but did not see Him. The later statement can give the impression that the men saw a brilliant light but did not hear a voice. Any confusion disappears when the original Greek words are examined carefully. Acts 9:7 reports that they heard the sound of a voice but does not say they understood what they heard. Acts 22:9 says they did not understand the meaning of what they heard. This lack of comprehension may have to do with the fact that Jesus spoke to Saul in the Hebrew dialect (Ac 26:14), rather than the everyday language of Aramaic. Paul, of course, as a Biblical scholar, spoke fluent Hebrew.

Saturday: Acts 9:8, 9
vs8-9: Saul was lifted up from the ground but when he opened his eyes he was blind. They led him by the hand into Damascus to a house located on “Straight Street.” Straight Street was a colonnaded boulevard running through the center of the city past the theater and royal palace (Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, Macmillan Pub., 1968, pp. 152, 153). Judas (v11) must have been a prominent synagogue leader and his home was likely an estate given its address. He had been expecting to host the high priest’s representative who was to stay with him while he conducted an inquisition through the Jewish community. What a surprise it must have been when Saul was led into the house blind and in shock. For three days Saul remained blind, neither eating nor drinking. These must have been days of shock and mourning for him. At times he may have wondered if seeing Jesus had been a dream, only to try to open those eyes and again discover that he was indeed blind. No, it hadn’t been a dream. As he lay there he must have remembered some of the faces of people he’d beaten or watched die because they had refused to deny Jesus, whom he now knew was the resurrected Son of God. His own evil must have overwhelmed him. Yet Jesus hadn’t killed him, instead He’d said something about serving Him. How could that be?
 


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