Acts 9

Saul’s Conversion

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest
2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.
14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.
16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem

19 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.
21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”
22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him,
24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.
25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him.
30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

Aeneas and Dorcas

32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda.
33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years.
34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up.
35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.
37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.
38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”
39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.
41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.
42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.
43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

Acts 9 Commentary

Chapter 9

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)

Verses 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, ch. ( Acts 22:14 , 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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 ( 1 Corinthians. 13:5 ) 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 ch. 22:21 . 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Cross References 58

  • 1. S Acts 8:3
  • 2. Isaiah 17:1; Jeremiah 49:23
  • 3. Acts 19:9,23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:14,22
  • 4. 1 Corinthians 15:8
  • 5. Isaiah 6:8
  • 6. ver 16; Ezekiel 3:22
  • 7. John 12:29
  • 8. Daniel 10:7; Acts 22:9
  • 9. ver 18
  • 10. Ac 10:3,17,19; Acts 12:9; Acts 16:9,10; Acts 18:9
  • 11. ver 30; Acts 11:25; Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3
  • 12. S Mark 5:23
  • 13. ver 32; Acts 26:10; Romans 1:7; Romans 15:25,26,31; Romans 16:2,15; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1
  • 14. S Acts 8:3
  • 15. ver 2,21
  • 16. S Acts 2:21
  • 17. Acts 13:2; Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:12
  • 18. Romans 11:13; Romans 15:15,16; Galatians 1:16; Galatians 2:7,8; Ephesians 3:7,8
  • 19. Acts 25:22,23; Acts 26:1
  • 20. Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; 2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 2:3,9
  • 21. S Acts 6:6
  • 22. S Luke 1:15
  • 23. S Acts 2:38
  • 24. S Acts 11:26
  • 25. Acts 26:20
  • 26. Acts 13:5,14; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:2,10,17; Acts 18:4,19; Acts 19:8
  • 27. S Matthew 4:3
  • 28. S Acts 8:3
  • 29. ver 14; Galatians 1:13,23
  • 30. S Luke 2:11; Acts 5:42; Acts 17:3; Acts 18:5,28
  • 31. S Acts 20:3
  • 32. Acts 20:3,19; Acts 23:16,30
  • 33. 1 Samuel 19:12; 2 Corinthians 11:32,33
  • 34. Acts 22:17; Acts 26:20; Galatians 1:17,18
  • 35. S Acts 4:36
  • 36. ver 3-6
  • 37. ver 20,22
  • 38. Acts 6:1
  • 39. 2 Corinthians 11:26
  • 40. S Acts 1:16
  • 41. S Acts 8:40
  • 42. S ver 11
  • 43. Acts 8:1
  • 44. S Acts 2:41
  • 45. S ver 13
  • 46. Acts 3:6,16; Acts 4:10
  • 47. 1 Chronicles 5:16; 1 Chronicles 27:29; Song of Songs 2:1; Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 65:10
  • 48. S Acts 2:41; Acts 11:21
  • 49. Joshua 19:46; 2 Chronicles 2:16; Ezra 3:7; John 1:3; Acts 10:5
  • 50. 1 Timothy 2:10; Titus 3:8
  • 51. Acts 1:13; Acts 20:8
  • 52. S Acts 11:26
  • 53. Acts 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:3
  • 54. Matthew 9:25
  • 55. Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60
  • 56. S Luke 7:14
  • 57. S Acts 2:41
  • 58. Acts 10:6

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. That is, Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture

Acts 9 Commentaries