Notes and References
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Acts of the Apostles
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Acts Chapter 9
Persecutions, Transitions, and Rest
1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2And 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.
? How could the Jews, under Roman rule, kill and murder their own without government intervention?
Saul went to the High Priest and received letters of authority to arrest any of "this way" (a believer in Jesus Christ of Nazareth as mashiac) and bring them bound to Jerusalem, for punishment.
Rome had laws regarding religions. Existing religions were sanctioned and allowed to practice as they will and rule their own people as long as it does not supplant Roman rule. "New" religions were illegal, unless approved by the Roman Senate. Judaism was allowed, by Julius Ceasar, because the Jews had helped in conquest of Pompei forty some years before the birth of Jesus. In 40 BC Herod was named "King of the Jews" by Rome. During the time of Jesus, there was relative peace.
The Constitution of the United States does not allow a state sanctioned religious rule over its citizens. Nor does it allow any enforcement of a religious penal code. This is against the very foundation of the first amendment to bring liberty to those who do not agree with the predominant religion. This should be the same for anti-religion as well, for that is a belief system of its own enforcing its will upon the people of faith. There have been times of so-called "Christian" tyranny in this country. Good has prevailed, but not without its victims. Good can only prevail when good men and women stand up against it. Tyranny in the name of religion is still tyranny, as we saw here with Saul.
We see here the tyranny of religion allowed for the stoning of Stephen and is now allowing Saul, with the highest authority of the High Priest, to go rampaging against his own brethren, the believers of Jesus Christ as mashiac.
GOD STEPS IN AND A MAJOR TURN IN THE PROPHETIC REALM
3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5And 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.
6And 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.
7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8And 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.
9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Saul "fell to the earth". He was probably on horse back for a long journey from Jerusalem to Damascus. "I am Jesus", Yehoshua or Yeshua. Saul 'trembled' and was 'astonished' at those words. The very same Jesus he was trying to stamp out of existence was the very same Lord God he served, or thought he was serving!
The honesty and genuineness of Saul is that he reversed course immediately. His allegiance was not to the religion, but to God! How many Christians can say that? Where is your allegiance? If you find in the Bible where your religion or your tradition of belief is the direct opposite of what scripture says, will you turn as quickly as Saul? I would hope you would follow the Bible! Too many times we would choose our old comfortable ways, our familiar church, our friends, maybe even our family church, as was the case with Saul. Remember Jews were all ethnically the same family. I hope all of us would have the same response to the Lord as Saul, "what wilt thou have me to do?"
The men with Saul did not see anything but heard the voice. Now you have to assume they heard the Lord. The scripture does not say they heard a "noise" or "rumblings" but the "voice". They were also speechless. They knew their mission has been aborted.
Three days without sight, we see the number three used here and three is significant in scripture, but for another study. Jesus was three day and nights in the grave. Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the whale, and now Saul three days without sight, food or drink, a sort of death and resurrection taking place in this man's life.
GOD USES ANANIAS TO PREPARE SAUL AND AS A WITNESS
10And 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.
11And 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,
12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15But 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:
16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
"A certain disciple", not called a 'Christian', but is a devout Jew. Acts 22:12 "A devout man according to the law" (meaning the law of Moses). God was preparing the way for Saul to minister. By using Ananias, he had a witness to his miraculous conversion, as well as the men traveling with him, and being in the house of Judas, a Jew. Had he just had some mystical experience in the woods somewhere and showed up telling some fantastic story, he would be a kook and those who followed him fools. Saul had witnesses, and not just close friends to perpetuate some fantastic lie, but strangers who had respect in their community and religion.
Ananias had reservations about Saul and why not? Saul was the great persecutor of the believers, the evil one, the one who killed the "saints"
Greek word study:
Saint G40 ηαγιοις hagiois = holy This is the first time this word is used to refer to believers of Jesus.
Saul is a "Chosen Vessel" to bear my name, JESUS, before or to the Gentiles / heathen, and kings or rulers, and the children of Israel / Jews. The order of this listing is intentional and specific. Saul / Paul is the "Apostle of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13) and he will suffer greatly for "My Name" (Jesus).
Remember, if you were not born Jewish, you are Biblically considered heathen or Gentiles. Do not forget that! If you read scripture as if you were a Jew, when you are not, you miss the entire intended purpose! I was brought up in Pentecostal churches reading Genesis to Revelation as though it were speaking to me or the Christian church. It is most definitely not and if you do not know how to divide it correctly by intended audience, dispensation, and author, you will fall into error! Prophecy in the Old Testament is to Israel only! Now we can read and discern how God feels toward sin, but the prophecy is only intended for Israel. If you do not read it correctly you will miss again the entire message if trying to apply it to America for instance.
Saul was extremely zealous for God in the name of religion to remove the "leaven" from the whole house of Israel. He fully believed he was doing God's work. How misguided one's intentions can be in the name of religion. Saul was one of the most educated in the scriptures, but if you read scripture through a traditional or doctrinal filter, you can read into scripture things that are not there or look past the most glaring truths without even realizing it.
Just as I pointed out in my last study, the "believing Jews" in Jerusalem were never called "Christians". Until I was doing this study, it never caught my attention. AND they followed the Mosaic Law to the letter and continued in temple worship. The apostles never taught the Jews otherwise.
20And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
We read Acts and throw in the term Christian interchangeably with believer and it is not so! Jews were not Christian! The Apostle James calls them Jews here in 59 AD, 30 years after the resurrection! This would denote; 1. a Gentile and 2. does not follow Moses law! It would be an insult to these law keeping Jewish believers. There is none called Christian here in chapter 9 and will not be until chapter 11 more than three years later and will be referring to the Gentile believers in Antioch.
17And 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.
18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
19And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
"Brother Saul", Ananias uses this term as a fellow Jew and kinship in the faith. When he laid hands on him, scales fell from his eyes. Now these were literal scales. This is not an allegory, why would Luke write in such a way. He has been precise so far. Why not write, "He regained his sight"? I believe it was literal.
The conversion of Saul in progression is this (different from the Jews so far):
- He believed
- He was filled with the Holy Spirit
- He was baptized
We will soon see later this is the same order as the Gentiles.
JEWS AT DAMASCUS WANT TO KILL SAUL
20And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
21But 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?
22But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
23And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
24But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
25Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
Saul immediately went to the Jews to preach Christ. Evidently, he had not yet fully been commissioned to reach the Gentiles. His knowledge in the scripture, was now coming to force. The light is coming on regarding the Christ and his knowledge coming to bear on these Jews. They hate him and want to kill him. Now who better can understand the zeal of those wanting to kill Saul, than Saul? Saul can have compassion and patience with these zealous brethren of his. After all it took a blinding light from heaven to convert him.
There is a three year break between this verse and the next. We know this from Galatians 1:17,18 "17 … I went into Arabia and returned again unto Damascus. 18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days."
3 YEARS LATER - GRECIAN JEWS WANT TO KILL SAUL
26And 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.
27But 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.
28And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
29And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
30Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
31Then 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.
Saul only saw the Apostles Peter and James (the Lord's brother) in Jerusalem from Galatians 1:19.
Grecians are Jews. Do not forget the terminology here. So now Saul is a dead man walking already in Damascus and now Jerusalem.
Then had the churches (assemblies - ecclesia) "rest". The persecutions evidently had ceased, of course we know their leader is now a believer, but also the fervor must also have ended with Saul's conversion.
GOD USES PETER - HEALS AENEAS AND RAISES TABITHA FROM THE DEAD
32And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
33And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
34And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
35And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
The Lord heals Aeneas and "ALL" (Jews) at Lydda and Saron believed. We know this from the next chapter.
36Now 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.
37And 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.
38And 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.
39Then 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 shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
40But 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.
41And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
42And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
43And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
A paralyzed man, in bed - so he must have been a quadriplegic, is healed and everyone believes. A woman is raised from the dead and "many" believe. You would think the greater miracle would result in greater belief, but it did not. So the phrase, "seeing is believing", is not true.
Faith is not based upon what we see, but is 'the faith' in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the mashiac of Israel, whom by we are sealed by the promise of the Holy Spirit, forever, so that we might have everlasting life.