Chapter 9: Acts 9:1-43, Damascus Road Conversion, Raising of Tabitha
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us another day to study Your word. We pray for attention and concentration. We pray for You to speak to us, precept-by-precept, word-by-word, line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph, and chapter=by-chapter, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-2, 1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Saul took warrants of arrest from the high priest in Jerusalem and went on his way to Damascus. He wanted to arrest Christians in Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem to face imprisonment.
VV 3-6, 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?” 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.”
As he approached Damascus, a blinding light shone from heaven causing him to fell to the ground. Jesus spoke to him calling him by name, Saul, Saul. Jesus revealed to Saul His identity and told Saul to stop persecuting Him. Goads are sharp-pointed sticks used to discipline disobedient animals like oxen or sheep. Trembling with fear, Saul called asked the Lord what to do. The Lord instructed him to get up and go into the city.
VV 7-9, 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. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Saul’s companions heard a voice but did not see anyone. Saul got up on his feet and could not see. His companions held his hands and guided him into Damascus. Saul could not see and did not eat or drink for 3 days.
VV 10-12, 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him, the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight.”
The camera angle shifted to Ananias, a disciple at Damascus. Jesus appeared to Ananias, in a vision, calling him by name. He instructed Ananias to go to Saul in the house of Judas in Straight street. Meanwhile, Saul was praying and having a vision of Ananias laying hands on him to receive his sight.
VV 13-16, 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Ananias objected but the Lord reassured him that it was okay to go. The Lord had handpicked Saul to be his instrument to take the gospel to the Gentiles, kings, and the Jews. Saul would also suffer greatly for The Lord.
VV 17-19, 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house, and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once, and he arose and was baptized.19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Ananias entered the house and found Saul. Calling him brother Saul, he laid hands on him and prayed for him. Scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. Ananias baptised Saul and gave him food to eat. Saul stayed on in Damascus. Today, Straight street in the old town of Damascus is a popular tourist attraction.
VV 20- 20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem and has come here for that purpose so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Saul immediately preached Christ as the Son of God in the Jewish synagogues. The people were amazed at his sudden transformation. Saul confounded the Jews by proving from scripture that Jesus was the Messiah.
VV 23-24, 23 Now after many days were passed, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
After many days was 3 years. Soon after his conversion, Saul went to the Nabatean desert of Arabia all alone by himself before returning to Damascus 3 years later, Galatians 1: 17-18. The hostile Jews at Damascus wanted to kill Saul but he escaped through a basket lowered down the city wall and made his way to Jerusalem.
Galatians 1:17-18, “nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.”
VV 26-30, 26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
When Saul came to Jerusalem, the apostles rejected him but Barnabas came to his rescue and successfully reconciled him with the apostles. True to his name, Barnabas encouraged and supported Saul. When Saul preached Jesus as the Son of God in Jerusalem, the Hellenist Greek-speaking Jews plotted to kill him. The disciples sent Saul back to his home town Tarsus, via Caesarea. Saul stayed in Tarsus out of the limelight, until Barnabas came to look for him 7 years later.
VV 31, Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
With Saul out of the picture, the churches in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a period of peace, continued to grow, and multiplied.
VV 32-34, 32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. 33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. 35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
The camera angle shifted from Saul at Tarsus to Peter at Lydda. Peter healed Aeneas, a paralytic man of 8 years duration, commanding him to walk in the name of Jesus. All the residents of Lydda and Sharon believed in Jesus. Sharon was the name of the region where ancient Lydda was located.
VV 36-37, 36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated, Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
The camera angle shifted to a woman called Tabitha in Joppa who fell sick and died. Tabitha is a Hebrew name that means gazelle, a beautiful and graceful deer. Dorcas is the equivalent Greek word for Tabitha with the same meaning.
VV 38-39, 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.
The disciples went to Peter in Lydda and brought him to Joppa to the upper room where Tabitha’s corpse laid. Peter saw the widows mourning for Tabitha.
VV 40-43, 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.
Peter sent everyone out of the upper room and raised Tabitha to life, by praying and saying “Tabitha arise”. Peter followed the footsteps of Jesus when he raised Tabitha. Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter by saying “Talitha cumi”. Peter raised Tabitha by saying Tabitha arise.
Ananias was an unsung hero of the faith. Ananias acknowledged Saul, as a brother, laid hands on him, and converted the greatest New Testament apostles of all time. The church today needs Ananias. Are you an Ananias? Have you led anyone to Christ? One-to-one conversion can be very powerful. Who knows, someone you lead to Christ today may become another Billy Graham tomorrow.
Heavenly Father, You are the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life and true vine. We thank You for speaking into our hearts to listen to Your inspired word, in Jesus’ name, Amen.