Road to Damascus

Saul / Paul on the road to Damascus

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Saul on the Road to Damascus

Acts 9:3-9 Road to Damascus

ACTS 9:3-4  3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Had Saul been riding a horse or walking on the road to Damascus?
Some have argued that Saul must have been riding a horse, reasoning that since the road from Jerusalem to Damascus covered over 135 miles (220 kilometers), he would have wanted to ride a horse to get to Damascus faster. But such speculation is unsubstantiated. Acts 9:4 simply state that Saul "fell to the ground," not that he fell off a horse. Also, the men who were on the road with Saul "stood" (Acts 9:7 below) speechless, which means that they were on foot; since a group can travel only as fast as its slowest member, having had companions walking on the road refutes the notion that Saul would have been on horseback because he wanted to get to Damascus faster. And had there been even one horse among them, it also would have been easier to put the blinded Saul (see below) on the horse and lead it, which can see, by its rein, as opposed to leading a blinded Saul "by the hand" (Acts 9:8).

Who spoke to Saul?
Jesus: "I am Jesus." (Acts 9:5 below)

Since Jesus ascended to heaven, did He come back for a visit before His second coming?
No, a "light shone... from heaven" (Acts 9:3) just as Saul heard Jesus, who had earlier declared Himself, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12), so the Lord was speaking from heaven.

Is it accurate to say that Saul persecuted Jesus?
Since Christians are the "Body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27), when Saul persecuted Christians, he was persecuting Jesus.

How is this different today?
It isn't. Anyone who persecutes a Christian is persecuting Jesus.

ACTS 9:5-6  5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

What did Jesus mean by, "It is hard for you to kick against the goads" (Acts 9:5)?
See Kick against the goads.

What is remarkable about the exchange between Jesus and Saul?
It's brevity and efficiency. There is no long and heated argument as there had been between Jesus and the Pharisees (see I am the light of the world).

Why not?
Saul recognized both his sins and the Lordship of Jesus. The "light that shone around him" (Acts 9:3) wasn't ordinary light. It was "from heaven" (Acts 9:3) and had supernatural power that knocked a man to the ground. Just as Saul was wondering about the cause of what had just happened, Jesus gave him the answer: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4) The people he had been persecuting were the followers of Jesus... To whom did this voice belong? Hearing “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5) must have crushed his world. He now knew that Jesus was real, and that he - Saul - had been committing murder. The goading of his conscience when he imprisoned and killed Christians had been for a reason... Did Jesus know? “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5). Saul no longer knew what to do, but he knew one thing: Jesus was Lord - “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6) - and would now follow His instruction: “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:6)

How does this differ from the exchange Jesus has with sinners today?
It isn't. There are no small sinners and great sinners, but just sinners. If we accept our sins and Jesus as Lord, the discussion is short. It's only when we try to deny our sins or the Lordship of Jesus that the discussion and the goading drags on.

How would you characterize your conversation with Jesus?

ACTS 9:7-8  7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

Why didn't "the men who journeyed with" (Acts 9:7) Saul fall to the ground as well?
They did fall - "... I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice ..." (Acts 26:13-14) - but apparently had gotten up and "stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one." (Acts 9:7)

Did Saul's travel companions hear Jesus as well?
According to Acts 9:7, "And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one." But according to Acts 22:9, "And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me."

Which account is correct?
The root Greek word translated "hearing" in Acts 9:7 and "hear" in Acts 22:9 is akouo, which means "to hear" in the audible sense but also "to hear" in the sense of comprehending or understanding. Saul's travel companions audibly heard a voice (Acts 9:7) but did not comprehend it (Acts 22:9), so both accounts are correct.

ACTS 9:9  9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

What didn't Saul do during his first three days in Damascus?
He "neither ate nor drank." (Acts 9:9)

Wasn't he hungry and thirsty?
Chances are, he didn't care. Saul had thought he was doing his best to serve God by arresting and killing Christians. Now he knew that he had been persecuting God and murdering innocent true followers. He probably spent those three days as a total wreck in a heap of tears and deep in prayer of repentance.

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