Acts Chapter Nine
A work and a workman of another character begin now to dawn upon the scene.
We have seen the inveterate opposition of the heads of Israel to the testimony of the Holy Ghost, their obstinacy in repelling the patient grace of God. Israel rejected all the work of the God of grace in their behalf. Saul makes himself the apostle of their hatred to the disciples of Jesus, to the servants of God. Not content with searching them out at Jerusalem, he asks for letters from the high priest, that he may go and lay hands on them in foreign cities. When Israel is in full opposition to God, he is the ardent missionary of their malice-in ignorance, no doubt, but the willing slave of his Jewish prejudices.
Thus occupied, he approaches Damascus. There, in the full career of an unbroken will, the Lord Jesus stops him. A light from heaven shines round about him, and envelopes him in its dazzling brightness. He falls to the earth, and hears a voice saying unto him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" The glory which had thrown him to the ground left no doubt-accompanied as it was by that voice-that the authority of God was revealed in it. His will broken, his pride overthrown, his mind subdued, he asks, "Who art thou, Lord?" The authority of the One who spoke was unquestionable; Saul's heart was subject to that authority: and it was Jesus. The career of his self-will was ended for ever. But moreover the Lord of glory was not only Jesus; He also acknowledged the poor disciples, whom Saul desired to carry prisoners to Jerusalem, as being Himself.
How many things were revealed in those few words! The Lord of glory declared Himself to be Jesus, whom Saul persecuted. The disciples were one with Himself. The Jews were at open war with the Lord Himself. The whole system which they maintained, all their law, all their official authority, all the ordinances of God, had not prevented their being at open war with the Lord. Saul himself, armed with their authority, found himself occupied in destroying the name of the Lord and His people from off the earth: a terrible discovery, completely overwhelming his soul, all-powerful in its effects, not leaving one moral element of his soul standing before its strength. Extenuation of the evil was fruitless; zeal for Judaism was zeal against the Lord. His own conscience had only animated that zeal. The authorities constituted of God, surrounded with the halo of centuries of honour, enhanced by the present calamities of Israel which had now nothing but her religion-these authorities had but sanctioned and favoured his efforts against the Lord. The Jesus whom they rejected was the Lord. The testimony which they endeavoured to suppress was His testimony. What a change for Saul! What a new position, even for the minds of the apostles themselves who remained at Jerusalem, when all were dispersed-faithful indeed in spite of the opposition of the rulers of Israel, but themselves in connection with the nation.
But the work went deeper yet. Misguided no doubt, but his conscience in itself-for he thought he ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth-left him the enemy of the Lord. Blameless righteousness according to law, as man could measure it, more than left him hardened in open opposition to the Lord. His superiors, and the authorities of the ancient religion-all his soul was based on morally as well as religiously-all was smashed within him for ever. He was broken up in the whole man before God. Nothing remained in him but discovered enmity against God, save as his own will was also broken in the process, he who an hour before was the conscientious, blameless, religious man! Compare, though the revelation of Christ carried him much farther, Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 4:10; and a multitude of passages.
Other important points are brought out here. Saul had not known Jesus on earth. He had not a testimony because he had known Him from the beginning, declaring that He was made Lord and Christ. It is not a Jesus who goes up into heaven where He is out of sight; but the Lord who appears to him for the first time in heaven, and who announces to him that He is Jesus. A glorious Lord is the only one whom he knows. His gospel (as he expresses it himself) is the gospel of the glory. If he had known Christ after the flesh, he knows Him thus no more. But there is yet another important principle found here. The Lord of glory has His members on earth. "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." It was Himself: those poor disciples were bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh. He looked upon them and cherished them as His own flesh. The glory and the oneness of the saints with Jesus, their Head in heaven, are the truths connected with the conversion of Saul, with the revelation of Jesus to him, with the creation of faith in his heart, and that in a way which overthrew Judaism in all its bearings in his soul; and that in a soul in which this Judaism formed an integral part of its existence, and gave it its whole character.
Another point, borrowed from his account of the vision later in the book, which is remarkable in connection with his career: "Separating thee," says the Lord, "from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom I now send thee." This moral end of Saul separated him from both-of course from the Jews, but did not make a Gentile of him either-and united him with a glorified Christ. He was neither a Jew nor a Gentile in his spiritual standing. All his life and ministry flowed from his association with a heavenly glorified Christ.
Nevertheless he comes into the assembly by the usual means-like Jesus in Israel-humbly taking his place there where the truth of God was established by His power. Blind for three days and fully engrossed-as was natural-with such a discovery, he neither eats nor drinks; and afterwards, besides the fact of his blindness, which was a quiet, continual, and unequivocal proof of the truth of that which had happened to him, his faith must have been confirmed by the arrival of Ananias, who can declare to him from the Lord that which had happened to him, although he had not been out of the city-a circumstance so much the more striking because, in a vision, Saul had seen him come and restore his sight. And this Ananias does: Saul receives sight, and is baptised. He takes food and is strengthened. The conversation of Jesus with Ananias is remarkable, as shewing with what distinct evidence the Lord revealed Himself in those days, and the holy liberty and confidence with which the true and faithful disciple conversed with Him. The Lord speaks as a man to his friend in details of place and circumstances, and Ananias reasons in all confiding openness with the Lord in regard to Saul; and Jesus answers him, not in harsh authority, though of course Ananias had to obey, but with gracious explanation, as with one admitted to His confidence, by declaring that Saul is a chosen vessel to bear His name before Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel; and that He will shew him how great things he must suffer for His sake.
Saul makes no delay in confessing and declaring his faith; and that which he says is eminently worthy of notice. He preaches in the synagogue that Jesus is the Son of God. It is the first time that this is done. That He was exalted to the right hand of God-that He was Lord and Christ-had been already preached; the rejected Messiah was exalted on high. But here it is the simple doctrine as to His personal glory; Jesus is the Son of God.
In the words of Jesus to Ananias, the children of Israel come last.
Saul does not yet begin his public ministry. It is, so to speak, only the expression of his personal faithfulness, his zeal, his faith, among those that surrounded him, with whom he was naturally connected. It was not long before opposition manifested itself, in the nation that would have no Christ, at least according to God, and the disciples sent him away, letting him down by the wall in a basket; and through the agency of Barnabas (a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, whom grace had taught to value the truth with regard to the new disciple) the dreaded Saul found his place among the disciples even at Jerusalem.  Wonderful triumph of the Lord! Singular position for himself there, had he not been absorbed by the thought of Jesus. At Jerusalem he reasons with the Hellenists. He was one of them. The Hebrews were not his natural sphere. They seek to put him to death; the disciples bring him down to the sea, and send him to Tarsus, the place of his birth. The triumph of grace has, under God's hand, silenced the adversary. The assemblies are left in peace, and edify themselves-walking in the fear of God and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, the two great elements of blessing; and their numbers increase. Persecution accomplishes the designs of God. The peace which He grants gives opportunity for ripening in grace and in the knowledge of Himself. We learn the ways and government of God in the midst of the imperfection of man.
Peace being established through the goodness of God-sole resource of those who truly wait upon Him in submission to His will-Peter passes throughout all parts of Israel. The Spirit of God relates this circumstance here, between the conversion of Saul and his apostolic work, to shew us, I doubt not, the apostolic energy in Peter existing at the very time when the call of the new apostle was to bring in new light, and a work that was new in many important respects (thus sanctioning as His own work, and in its place, that which had been done before, whatever progress in accomplishment His counsels might make); and in order to shew us the introduction of the Gentiles into the assembly as it was at first founded by His grace in the beginning, preserving thus its unity, and putting His seal upon this work of heavenly grace.
The assembly existed. The doctrine of her oneness, as the body of Christ, outside the world, was not yet made known.The reception of Cornelius did not announce it, although paving its way.
 This was, it would appear, later, but is noticed here to put him, so to speak, in his place among Christians.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Acts》
The conversion of Saul. (1-9) Saul converted preaches Christ. (10-22) Saul is persecuted at Damascus, and goes to Jerusalem. (23-31) Cure of Eneas. (32-35) Dorcas raised to life. (36-43)
Commentary on Acts 9:1-9
(Read Acts 9:1-9)
So ill informed was Saul, that he thought he ought to do all he could against the name of Christ, and that he did God service thereby; he seemed to breathe in this as in his element. Let us not despair of renewing grace for the conversion of the greatest sinners, nor let such despair of the pardoning mercy of God for the greatest sin. It is a signal token of Divine favour, if God, by the inward working of his grace, or the outward events of his providence, stops us from prosecuting or executing sinful purposes. Saul saw that Just One, 14; 26:13. How near to us is the unseen world! It is but for God to draw aside the veil, and objects are presented to the view, compared with which, whatever is most admired on earth is mean and contemptible. Saul submitted without reserve, desirous to know what the Lord Jesus would have him to do. Christ's discoveries of himself to poor souls are humbling; they lay them very low, in mean thoughts of themselves. For three days Saul took no food, and it pleased God to leave him for that time without relief. His sins were now set in order before him; he was in the dark concerning his own spiritual state, and wounded in spirit for sin. When a sinner is brought to a proper sense of his own state and conduct, he will cast himself wholly on the mercy of the Saviour, asking what he would have him to do. God will direct the humbled sinner, and though he does not often bring transgressors to joy and peace in believing, without sorrows and distress of conscience, under which the soul is deeply engaged as to eternal things, yet happy are those who sow in tears, for they shall reap in joy.
Commentary on Acts 9:10-22
(Read Acts 9:10-22)
A good work was begun in Saul, when he was brought to Christ's feet with those words, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And never did Christ leave any who were brought to that. Behold, the proud Pharisee, the unmerciful oppressor, the daring blasphemer, prayeth! And thus it is even now, and with the proud infidel, or the abandoned sinner. What happy tidings are these to all who understand the nature and power of prayer, of such prayer as the humbled sinner presents for the blessings of free salvation! Now he began to pray after another manner than he had done; before, he said his prayers, now, he prayed them. Regenerating grace sets people on praying; you may as well find a living man without breath, as a living Christian without prayer. Yet even eminent disciples, like Ananias, sometimes stagger at the commands of the Lord. But it is the Lord's glory to surpass our scanty expectations, and show that those are vessels of his mercy whom we are apt to consider as objects of his vengeance. The teaching of the Holy Spirit takes away the scales of ignorance and pride from the understanding; then the sinner becomes a new creature, and endeavours to recommend the anointed Saviour, the Son of God, to his former companions.
Commentary on Acts 9:23-31
(Read Acts 9:23-31)
When we enter into the way of God, we must look for trials; but the Lord knows how to deliver the godly, and will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape. Though Saul's conversion was and is a proof of the truth of Christianity, yet it could not, of itself, convert one soul at enmity with the truth; for nothing can produce true faith, but that power which new-creates the heart. Believers are apt to be too suspicious of those against whom they have prejudices. The world is full of deceit, and it is necessary to be cautious, but we must exercise charity, 1 Corinthians 13:5. The Lord will clear up the characters of true believers; and he will bring them to his people, and often gives them opportunities of bearing testimony to his truth, before those who once witnessed their hatred to it. Christ now appeared to Saul, and ordered him to go quickly out of Jerusalem, for he must be sent to the Gentiles: see 21. Christ's witnesses cannot be slain till they have finished their testimony. The persecutions were stayed. The professors of the gospel walked uprightly, and enjoyed much comfort from the Holy Ghost, in the hope and peace of the gospel, and others were won over to them. They lived upon the comfort of the Holy Ghost, not only in the days of trouble and affliction, but in days of rest and prosperity. Those are most likely to walk cheerfully, who walk circumspectly.
Commentary on Acts 9:32-35
(Read Acts 9:32-35)
Christians are saints, or holy people; not only the eminent ones, as Saint Peter and Saint Paul, but every sincere professor of the faith of Christ. Christ chose patients whose diseases were incurable in the course of nature, to show how desperate was the case of fallen mankind. When we were wholly without strength, as this poor man, he sent his word to heal us. Peter does not pretend to heal by any power of his own, but directs Eneas to look up to Christ for help. Let none say, that because it is Christ, who, by the power of his grace, works all our works in us, therefore we have no work, no duty to do; for though Jesus Christ makes thee whole, yet thou must arise, and use the power he gives thee.
Commentary on Acts 9:36-43
(Read Acts 9:36-43)
Many are full of good words, who are empty and barren in good works; but Tabitha was a great doer, no great talker. Christians who have not property to give in charity, may yet be able to do acts of charity, working with their hands, or walking with their feet, for the good of others. Those are certainly best praised whose own works praise them, whether the words of others do so or not. But such are ungrateful indeed, who have kindness shown them, and will not acknowledge it, by showing the kindness that is done them. While we live upon the fulness of Christ for our whole salvation, we should desire to be full of good works, for the honour of his name, and for the benefit of his saints. Such characters as Dorcas are useful where they dwell, as showing the excellency of the word of truth by their lives. How mean then the cares of the numerous females who seek no distinction but outward decoration, and who waste their lives in the trifling pursuits of dress and vanity! Power went along with the word, and Dorcas came to life. Thus in the raising of dead souls to spiritual life, the first sign of life is the opening of the eyes of the mind. Here we see that the Lord can make up every loss; that he overrules every event for the good of those who trust in him, and for the glory of his name.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Acts》
 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
And suddenly — When God suddenly and vehemently attacks a sinner, it is the highest act of mercy. So Saul, when his rage was come to the height, is taught not to breathe slaughter. And what was wanting in time to confirm him in his discipleship, is compensated by the inexpressible terror he sustained. By his also the suddenly constituted apostle was guarded against the grand snare into which novices are apt to fall.
 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
He heard a voice — Severe, yet full of grace.
 And 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.
To kick against the goads — is a Syriac proverb, expressing an attempt that brings nothing but pain.
 And 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.
It shall be told thee — So God himself sends Saul to be taught by a man, as the angel does Cornelius, Acts 10:5. Admirable condescension! that the Lord deals with us by men, like ourselves.
 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
The men — stood - Having risen before Saul; for they also fell to the ground, Acts 26:14. It is probable they all journeyed on foot.
Hearing the noise — But not an articulate voice. And seeing the light, but not Jesus himself, Acts 26:13, etc.
 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
And he was three days — An important season! So long he seems to have been in the pangs of the new birth.
Without sight — By scales growing over his eyes, to intimate to him the blindness of the state he had been in, to impress him with a deeper sense of the almighty power of Christ, and to turn his thoughts inward, while he was less capable of conversing with outward objects. This was likewise a manifest token to others, of what had happened to him in his journey, and ought to have humbled and convinced those bigoted Jews, to whom he had been sent from the sanhedrim.
 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
Behold he is praying — He was shown thus to Ananias.
 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
A man called Ananias — His name also was revealed to Saul.
 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
But he answered — How natural it is to reason against God.
 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
All that call on thy name — That is, all Christians.
 But 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:
He is a chosen vessel to bear my name — That is, to testify of me. It is undeniable, that some men are unconditionally chosen or elected, to do some works for God
 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
For I — Do thou as thou art commanded. I will take care of the rest; will show him - In fact, through the whole course of his ministry.
How great things he must suffer — So far will he be now from persecuting others.
 And 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.
The Lord hath sent me — Ananias does not tell Saul all which Christ had said concerning him. It was not expedient that he should know yet to how great a dignity he was called.
 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
They guarded the gates day and night — That is, the governor did, at their request, 2 Corinthians 11:32.
 And 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.
 But 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.
To the apostles — Peter and James, Gal. i, 18, 19. Galatians 1:18,19 And declared - He who has been an enemy to the truth ought not to be trusted till he gives proof that he is changed.
 Then 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.
Then the Church — The whole body of Christian believers, had peace - Their bitterest persecutor being converted.
And being built up — In holy, loving faith, continually increasing, and walking in - That is, speaking and acting only from this principle, the fear of God and the comfort of the Holy Ghost - An excellent mixture of inward and outward peace, tempered with filial fear.
 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
Lydda was a large town, one day's journey from Jerusalem. It stood in the plain or valley of Sharon, which extended from Cesarea to Joppa, and was noted for its fruitfulness.
 Now 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.
Tabitha, which is by interpretation Dorcas — She was probably a Hellenist Jew, known among the Hebrews by the Syriac name Tabitha, while the Greeks called her in their own language, Dorcas. They are both words of the same import, and signify a roe or fawn.
 And 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.
The disciples sent to him — Probably none of those at Joppa had the gift of miracles. Nor is it certain that they expected a miracle from him.
 Then 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.
While she was with the in — That is, before she died.
 But 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.
Peter having put them all out — That he might have the better opportunity of wrestling with God in prayer, said, Tabitha, arise.
And she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, sat up — Who can imagine the surprise of Dorcas, when called back to life? Or of her friends, when they saw her alive? For the sake of themselves, and of the poor, there was cause of rejoicing, and much more, for such a confirmation of the Gospel. Yet to herself it was matter of resignation, not joy, to be called back to these scenes of vanity: but doubtless, her remaining days were still more zealously spent in the service of her Saviour and her God. Thus was a richer treasure laid up for her in heaven, and she afterward returned to a more exceeding weight of glory, than that from which so astonishing a providence had recalled her for a season.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Acts》
Chapter 9. Conversion of Saul
A Man Named
He Is Praying
I. A Vision in Damascus
II. Paul's Testimony in Early Days
III. Peter's Ministry and Miraculous Signs
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter Nine General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To study the conversion of Saul, comparing Luke's account in this
chapter with Saul's own words recorded later on in chapters 22 and 26
2) To note two miracles by Peter, and the affect they had on many people
who heard about them
Not content with persecuting Christians in
, Saul received Jerusalem
permission from the high priest to seek out those of the Way in
and bring them bound to
. It was near Jerusalem that Saul was Damascus
blinded by a vision of the risen Jesus. Told to go into
further instructions, Saul was led blind into the city where he waited
for three days, neither eating nor drinking (1-9).
The Lord then appeared to a disciple named Ananias and sent him to
restore Saul's sight and tell him what he would do as a chosen vessel
for Christ. With his sight restored, Saul was baptized and resumed
eating. For some days Saul remained in
and began immediately Damascus
preaching in the synagogues that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God,
to the amazement of those who knew that he had come to the city to
arrest Christians (10-19).
After many days had passed (during which Saul apparently spent about 3
Arabia, cf. Ga 1:17-18), Saul barely escaped a plot to kill him
by the Jews in
(cf. 2 Co 11:32-33). He went to Damascus where Jerusalem
after Barnabas spoke in his behalf he was accepted by the brethren.
Another plot by the Jews to kill Saul prompted the brethren to bring him
to Caesarea and send him on to
. The churches in Judea, Tarsus Galilee,
then enjoyed peace and grew as they walked in the fear of Samaria
the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit (20-31).
Luke then records two miracles performed by Peter. The first in Lydda,
where Peter healed Aeneas, a man paralyzed and bedridden for eight
years. This led many in Lydda and Sharon to turn to the Lord. In
nearby Joppa, a disciple named Tabitha (Dorcas) became sick and died.
Having heard that Peter was in Lydda, the disciples sent for him to come
without delay. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, leading many people
in Joppa to believe on the Lord. Peter then remained in Joppa for many
days, staying with Simon, a tanner (32-43).
I. CONVERSION OF SAUL (1-31)
A. THE APPEARANCE ON THE ROAD (1-9)
1. Saul granted authority by the high priest
a. While aggressive in persecuting disciples of the Lord
b. With letters to the synagogues in
c. To find those of "the Way" and bring them bound to
2. The Lord's appearance on the road to
, suddenly a light from heaven shone Damascus
b. Falling to the ground, he hears a voice: "Saul, Saul, why
are you persecuting Me?"
c. When he asks, "Who are you, Lord?", he is told:
1) "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
2) "It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
d. When asked what to, he is told:
1) "Arise, go into the city."
2) "You will be told what you must do."
e. His companions stand speechless, hearing a voice but seeing
3. Saul's arrival in
a. Getting up, he sees no one
b. His companions lead him by the hand into the city
c. There he waits for three days, without sight, neither eating
B. THE ARRIVAL OF ANANIAS (9-19)
1. The Lord appears in a vision to Ananias, a disciple in
a. Instructed to go to house of Judas on the street called
1) Where Saul is praying and has seen a vision in which
Ananias restores his sight
2) Ananias is reluctant, knowing of Saul's persecution of
b. Ananias is commanded to go, for Saul is a chosen vessel
1) Who will bear the Lord's name before Gentiles, kings, and
the children of
2) Who will be shown how many things he must suffer for His
2. Ananias goes to Saul
a. Laying hands on Saul as he explains his purpose in coming
1) That Saul might receive his sight
2) And be filled with the Holy Spirit
b. Saul's sight is immediately restored, and is baptized
c. He resumes eating and spends some days with the disciples
C. THE MINISTRY IN
1. Saul immediately preaches Christ as the Son of God in the
a. To the amazement of all who heard and knew his background
1) How he destroyed those in
who called on His Jerusalem
2) How he came to
to bring them bound to the chief Damascus
b. He increases in strength
1) Confounding the Jews who dwelt in
2) Proving that Jesus is the Christ
2. Saul is forced to leave
a. After many days, the Jews plot to kill him
b. When the plot is revealed, they watch the gates day and
night to kill him
c. The disciples help Saul escape at night by letting him over
a wall in a basket
D. THE VISIT TO
1. Saul joins himself to the disciples
a. Though at first they were afraid and did not believe him
b. Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them:
1) How he had seen the Lord on the road, who spoke to him
2) Of his bold preaching in
c. Saul is accepted and circulates freely among the disciples
2. Saul is forced to leave
a. He speaks boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus
1) Disputing against the Hellenists
2) Who attempt to kill him
b. The brethren learn of the attempt to kill Saul
1) They bring him down to
2) They send him to
II. MIRACLES OF PETER (32-43)
A. THE HEALING OF AENEAS (32-35)
1. Peter comes to the saints in Lydda
2. He meets Aeneas, paralyzed and bedridden for eight years
3. Peter tells him that Jesus Christ heals him, and he arose
4. All who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the
B. THE RAISING OF DORCAS (36-43)
1. At Joppa, a certain disciple named Tabitha (Dorcas) dies
a. A woman full of good works and charitable deeds
b. Her body was washed and laid in an upper room
c. Two men were sent to Peter in nearby Lydda
2. Peter raises Dorcas from the dead
a. He is brought to the upper room, where weeping widows showed
garments by Dorcas
b. Sending the widows out, Peter kneels down and prays
c. Telling her "Tabitha, arise", she opened her eyes and sat up
d. Peter presents her alive to the saints and widows
e. As it became known throughout Joppa, many believed on the
3. Peter remains in Joppa with Simon, a tanner
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- Conversion of Saul (1-31)
- Miracles of Peter (32-43)
2) What was Saul doing when he went to the high priest? (1)
- Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord
3) What did Saul get from the high priest? (2)
- Letters to the synagogues of
, authorizing him to arrest Damascus
and bring those of "The Way" to
4) As Saul came near
, what happened? What did he hear? (3-4) Damascus
- Suddenly a light shone around him from heaven
- Falling down, he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you
5) When he asked "Who are You, Lord?", what was he told? (5)
- "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
6) What did Jesus tell Saul to do? (6)
- To go to the city, where he would be told what to do
7) How did the men with him respond to what was happening? (7)
- They stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one
8) How was Saul led into the city? What did he do for three days? (8-9)
- By the hand, for he was blind when he arose from the ground
- He did not eat or drink, and remained without sight
9) To whom did the Lord appear in a vision? (10)
- A disciple at
named Ananias Damascus
10) What did Jesus tell him to do? (11)
- To go to the street called Straight
- To inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul
11) What had Saul been doing during this time? What had he seen in a
- Praying; a man named Ananias laying hands on him that he might
receive his sight
12) Why was Ananias hesitant to go? (13-14)
- He had heard what Saul had done to the saints in
, and why Jerusalem
he had come to
13) What did the Lord say about Saul to reassure Ananias to go to him?
- Saul is His chosen vessel to bear His name before Gentiles, kings,
and the children of
- He will be shown how many things he must suffer for the Lord's sake
14) When Ananias laid his hands on Saul, what did he say as to why the
Lord sent him? (17)
- That Saul might receive his sight
- That Saul might be filled with the Holy Spirit
15) What happened immediately thereafter? (18)
- Something like scales fell from his eyes and his sight returned
- He arose and was baptized
- He was strengthened when he ate
16) What did Saul then do? (19-20)
- He received food and was strengthened
- He spent some days with the disciples at
- He immediately began preaching in the synagogues Christ as the Son
17) What was the reaction of those who heard him? (21)
- They were amazed, for they knew what he had done in
why he came to
18) As Saul increased in strength, what did he do? (22)
- He confounded the Jews in
, proving that Jesus was the Damascus
19) After many days had passed, who plotted to kill Saul? How did he
- The Jews, who watched the gates day and night
- The disciples let him down through the wall in a large basket
20) When Saul came to
, what did he try to do? What was the Jerusalem
- To join the disciples; they were afraid of him, for they did not
believe he was a disciple
21) Who brought him before the apostles? What did he tell them about
- Barnabas; how Saul had seen the Lord who spoke to him, and how Saul
preached boldly at
in the name of Jesus Damascus
22) What was Saul then permitted to do? (28)
- To be with the disciples, coming in and going out
23) What did Saul do while at
? What then happened? (29-30) Jerusalem
- He spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed with the
- An attempt was made to kill him, but the brethren took him to
Caesarea and sent him on to
24) What was the condition of the churches in Judea,
at that time? (31) Samaria
- They had peace and were edified
- Walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit,
they were multiplied
25) Where did Peter go and what did he find there? (32-33)
- He went to Lydda where he found Aeneas, paralyzed and bedridden for
26) What did Peter do and what was the result? (34-35)
- He healed him in the name of Jesus, all in Lydda and
to the Lord
27) Who died at Joppa, and what did the disciples there do? (36-38)
- A disciple named Tabitha (Dorcas), a woman full of good works and
- They washed her body, laid her in an upper room, and sent two men
28) When Peter arrived, what did he see and what did he do? (39-41)
- Widows weeping in the upper room, showing the garments Dorcas made
- He sent the widows out, knelt and prayed, and then said "Tabitha,
- After she opened her eyes and sat up, Peter called the saints and
widows back into the room and presented her alive
29) What happened when this became known throughout all Joppa? (42)
- Many believed on the Lord
30) What did Peter then do? (43)
- Stayed in Joppa for many days with Simon, a tanner
(9:1-19; 22:6-16; 26:12-18) Tarsus
1. From the conversion of "The Ethiopian Eunuch", we now turn our
attention to what is perhaps the most famous of conversions in the
a. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus, chief persecutor of the early
church - Ac 8:1,3; 9:1-2
b. Who became Paul the apostle (Ac 13:9), a recipient himself of
much persecution for the cause of Christ - cf. 2 Co 11:23-28
-- Whose conversion stands as a powerful testimony to the
resurrection of Jesus Christ
2. There are actually three records of his conversion in The Book of
a. Ac 9:1-19 - where Luke describes it as it happened
b. Ac 22:6-16 - where Paul recounts his conversion before a large
c. Ac 26:12-18 - where Paul defends himself before King Agrippa
3. From the example of the conversion of "Saul of
a. We find not only a powerful testimony to the resurrection of
b. But also more evidence concerning the nature of conversions as
they are revealed in The Book of Acts
4. For example...
a. When was Saul (Paul) saved?
1) Was it on the road to
, when the Lord appeared to him? Damascus
2) Or was it in
, at some point after he arrived there? Damascus
b. How was Saul (Paul) saved?
1) Through saying a sinner's prayer?
2) Or by being baptized?
[Such questions can be answered by a careful consideration of Biblical
evidence. Let's begin with a review of the evidence provided by all
three accounts of Saul's conversion...]
I. A HARMONY OF THE CONVERSION OF SAUL
A. SAUL WAS ON HIS WAY TO
1. To persecute more Christians - Ac 9:1-2; 22:4-5; 26:9-11
2. When a light shone around him from heaven - Ac 9:3; 22:6;
3. When a voice began to speak to him in Hebrew...
a. Identifying itself as the voice of Jesus - Ac 9:4-5;
b. Jesus then tells Saul...
1) Why He has appeared to him - Ac 26:16-18
2) To go on to
, where... Damascus
a) He will be told "what you must do" - Ac 9:6
b) He will be told "all things which are appointed for
you to do" - Ac 22:10
B. SAUL ARRIVES IN
1. Led by the hand, having been blinded by the light - Ac 9:8;
2. For three days, he neither eats nor drinks - Ac 9:9
C. THE LORD SENDS ANANIAS TO SAUL...
1. The Lord appears to Ananias in a vision, and tells him to go
to Saul - Ac 9:10-16
2. Ananias goes to Saul, and...
a. Has his sight restored - Ac 9:17
b. Is told why the Lord appeared to him and how he will be a
witness of what he has seen - Ac 22:14-15
c. Is told to be baptized and wash away his sins, calling upon
the name of the Lord - Ac 22:16; cf. 9:18b
D. HIS CONVERSION COMPLETE, SAUL BEGINS HIS WORK...
1. Preaching immediately in
- Ac 9:20 Damascus
2. And later in
Jerusalem, Judea, and to the Gentiles - Ac 26:
[As mentioned previously, the conversion of Saul is a powerful
testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What other reasonable
explanation can be given for the drastic change from "chief persecutor"
of the Christian faith to "chief proclamator" of the Christian faith?
But the conversion of Saul is also valuable for the insights we can
glean into the process of conversion. With that in mind, allow me to
II. SOME OBSERVATIONS
A. CONCERNING "WHEN" SAUL WAS SAVED...
1. It is often stated that Saul was saved on the road to Damascus
a. When the Lord appeared to him
b. That his conversion took place at that moment
2. Saul was not saved until after he arrived in Damascus
a. Note that while on the road, the Lord said it would be in
Damascus where he would be told "what you must do" - Ac 9:6
b. In Damascus, Ananias told him to "wash away your sins"
- Ac 22:16
1) At that point, Saul was still in his sins!
2) I.e., he was still not saved!
-- While in one sense he was indeed "converted" on the road (his
view of Jesus certainly changed), conversion in the sense of
salvation did not occur until after he arrived in Damascus
B. CONCERNING "HOW" SAUL WAS SAVED...
1. From the statement of Ananias in Ac 22:16 (to wash away his
sins), we learn that:
a. Saul was not saved by virtue of the vision on the road
b. Saul was not saved by virtue of the prayers and fasting he
had offered for three days - cf. Ac 9:9,11
2. Saul was saved when his sins were "washed away" - Ac 22:16
a. Which occurred after spending three days in Damascus
b. Which occurred when he was baptized to wash away his sins!
-- This concurs with what Peter said about the purpose of
baptism in Ac 2:38
C. CONCERNING BAPTISM AND CALLING UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD...
1. After quoting Joel who wrote of calling upon the name of the
Lord to be saved (Ac 2:21), Peter told his crowd to be
baptized - Ac 2:38
2. Now Ananias commands Saul to be baptized, "calling upon the
name of the Lord" - Ac 22:16
3. As Peter wrote, baptism saves us, and is an appeal for a clear
conscience - 1 Pe 3:21
4. In baptism, then...
a. We are "calling upon the name of the Lord"
b. We are appealing to God by the authority of His Son Jesus
to forgive our sins
5. While we can certainly pray as we are being baptized, baptism
itself is a prayer (an appeal) to God for a clear conscience!
1. From the conversion of Saul we learn that one is not saved by...
a. Visions of the Lord (who could have a vision more impressive than
b. Saying the sinner's prayer (Saul had been praying and fasting for
2. In keeping with what we have seen already, one is saved when...
a. They are baptized for the remission of their sins - Ac 2:38
b. They are baptized to have their sins "washed away" - Ac 22:16
3. Of course, we learn from Paul's discourse in Romans 6 that the
simple rite of baptism is efficacious because in baptism...
a. We are baptized into Christ's death - Ro 6:3-4
b. We are united with Christ in the likeness of His death - Ro 6:5
c. We are crucified with Christ, and our body of sin is done away
- Ro 6:6
d. We die to sin, and are therefore freed from sin - Ro 6:7
-- Of course, such baptism is conditioned upon faith and God's
working - Ac 8:36-37; Co 2:12
4. In his commentary on Ro 6:3, Martin Luther wrote:
"Baptism has been instituted that it should lead us to the
blessings (of this death) and through such death to eternal
life. Therefore IT IS NECESSARY that we should be baptized
into Jesus Christ and His death." (Commentary On Romans,
Kregel Publications, p. 101)
And so we say, as did Ananias, to anyone who has yet to be baptized for
the remission of their sins...
"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash
away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
"WALKING IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD"
1. In writing about the early church, Luke recorded:
"Then 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." (Ac 9:31)
Note that they were "walking in the fear of the Lord"!
2. In writing to the church at Philippi, Paul told them:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling;" (Ph 2:12)
3. The concept of "fear and trembling" in connection with God is not a
popular concept today
a. People prefer to hear about God's love, longsuffering and mercy
b. Sometimes, when we point out God's righteous indignation,
holiness, and justice, people reply "My God is not like that!"
4. The emphasis on God's love and mercy today is probably an reaction
to the "hell, fire, and brimstone" preaching of another generation
5. But could it be that we have gone to other extreme?
a. Where there is no concept of "fear and trembling" as it relates
to the Christian?
b. Could this be why many Christians are apathetic in their service?
c. Could it be we have forgotten Whom we should fear if we are
negligent in our service? - cf. Mt 10:28
6. In this lesson, I hope to accomplish three things:
a. Define the "fear of the Lord"
b. Point out why the "fear of the Lord" is important to the
c. Suggest how we can develop a healthy "fear of the Lord" without
going to one extreme or the other
[We begin by...]
I. DEFINING THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"
A. THE WORD "FEAR"...
1. In the Hebrew, the word is "YIR'AH" and is used in the Old
Testament to describe:
a. fear, terror
b. awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)
c. fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety
2. The Greek word is "PHOBOS", and it is used to describe:
a. fear, dread, terror
b. that which strikes terror
B. IN CONNECTION WITH THE "FEAR OF THE LORD", IT IS OFTEN DEFINED AS
"REVERENCE" OR "AWE"...
1. Which is fine as far as it goes...
2. But I wonder if this definition truly goes far enough...
3. For though the terms "reverence" and "awe" imply a place for
"trembling", do most people make the connection?
C. THE "FEAR OF THE LORD" SHOULD INCLUDE A PLACE FOR "TREMBLING"!
1. Even as Paul indicated in Ph 2:12, by combining "fear and
2. The Greek word for "trembling" is "TROMOS" and means "a
trembling or quaking with fear"
3. Just as one would likely tremble in the presence of one who
could take our life, so Jesus taught us to fear the Lord
- Mt 10:28
D. A PROPER "FEAR OF THE LORD" WOULD THEN INCLUDE...
1. "reverence and awe..."
2. "being afraid to offend God in any way" - HENDRICKSEN
3. A trembling and quaking if one knows they have offended God
and have not obtained forgiveness! - cf. He 10:26-27, 30-31;
[The value of such an attitude is seen as we continue on and now
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"
A. FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS, WE LEARN...
1. The "fear of the Lord" is the beginning of knowledge - Pr 1:7
2. The "fear of the Lord" will cause one to hate evil - Pr 8:13
3. The "fear of the Lord" will prolong life - Pr 10:27
4. The "fear of the Lord" provides strong confidence and is a
fountain of life - Pr 14:26-27
5. The "fear of the Lord" prompts one to depart from evil - Pr
6. The "fear of the Lord" leads to a satisfying life, and spares
one from much evil - Pr 19:23
7. The "fear of the Lord" is the way to riches, honor, and life!
- Pr 22:4
B. WITHOUT THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"...
1. We close ourselves to the treasures of God's wisdom and
2. We will flirt with evil and be corrupted by it
3. Our lives are likely to be shortened by our refusal to heed
God's word (e.g., suffering sexually transmitted diseases
because we did not heed His Word on sexual relationships)
4. We will not come to know the love of God that gives us
assurance and confidence of our salvation
5. When fallen into sin, we will not be motivated to repent and
turn to God!
6. We will not be motivated to truly "work out our own
[Without the "fear of the Lord", we cannot please God (cf. Is 66:1-2).
Only the person who "trembles at His Word" has God's promise to receive
His tender mercy! (cf. Ps 103:17-18).
But how does one develop the proper "fear of the Lord" without going to
the extreme of earlier generations?]
III. DEVELOPING THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"
A. THE "FEAR OF THE LORD" COMES THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD!
1. Just as "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God" (Ro 10:17), the same can be said for the "fear of the
2. Notice Deu 31:10-13, where the children of Israel were told
to gather every seven years to read and hear the Word...
3. The purpose? "...that they may learn to fear the Lord"!
4. As one reads the Word of God, they should gain a healthy
degree of the "fear of the Lord"
a. Consider the words of Paul in Ro 2:4-11
b. Or how about the words of Peter in 2 Pe 3:7-14
B. THE WORD OF GOD, PROPERLY USED, WILL MAINTAIN A PROPER BALANCE...
1. It is important to emphasize, however, that to avoid extremes,
we must read ALL of God's Word
a. Some read only those portions will reveal God's love and
mercy, and have no "fear of the Lord"
b. Others emphasize the "fire, hell and brimstone" passages,
and know nothing of God's everlasting lovingkindness
c. The one develops an attitude of permissiveness that
belittles God's holiness and justice
d. The other develops a psychosis of terror that forgets God's
grace and compassion
2. Even in the passages noted above, the context of each speaks
much of God's grace and forgiveness for those who will repent!
3. So we must be careful how we use the Word of God, but use it
1. The Psalmist said...
"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to
be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him." (Psalms 89:7)
2. Why do we need to "fear the Lord"? So we will be sure to "work out
our salvation with fear and trembling"!
3. The warning is necessary, for as it is written in Hebrews:
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering
into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto
us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word
preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them
that heard [it]." (Hebrews 4:1-2)
"Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall
after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:11)
4. With the proper "fear of the Lord", we will "work out our
salvation", we will "labour...to enter into that [heavenly] rest"!
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting
holiness in the fear of God." (2 Co 7:1)
Are you "perfecting holiness in the fear of God"?