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The Conversion of Saul

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing out threats[a] to murder[b] the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues[c] in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way,[d] either men or women, he could bring them as prisoners[e] to Jerusalem.[f] As he was going along, approaching[g] Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed[h] around him. He[i] fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul,[j] why are you persecuting me?”[k] So he said, “Who are you, Lord?” He replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting! But stand up[l] and enter the city and you will be told[m] what you must do.” (Now the men[n] who were traveling with him stood there speechless,[o] because they heard the voice but saw no one.)[p] So Saul got up from the ground, but although his eyes were open,[q] he could see nothing.[r] Leading him by the hand, his companions[s] brought him into Damascus. For[t] three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything.[u]

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  1. Acts 9:1 tn Or “Saul, making dire threats.”
  2. Acts 9:1 tn The expression “breathing out threats and murder” is an idiomatic expression for “making threats to murder” (see L&N 33.293). Although the two terms “threats” and “murder” are syntactically coordinate, the second is semantically subordinate to the first. In other words, the content of the threats is to murder the disciples.
  3. Acts 9:2 sn See the note on synagogue in 6:9.
  4. Acts 9:2 sn The expression “the way” in ancient religious literature refers at times to “the whole way of life fr. a moral and spiritual viewpoint” (BDAG 692 s.v. ὁδός 3.c), and it has been so used of Christianity and its teachings in the book of Acts (see also 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). It is a variation of Judaism’s idea of two ways, the true and the false, where “the Way” is the true one (1 En. 91:18; 2 En. 30:15).
  5. Acts 9:2 tn Grk “bring them bound”; the translation “bring someone as prisoner” for δεδεμένον ἄγειν τινά (dedemenon agein tina) is given by BDAG 221 s.v. δέω 1.b.
  6. Acts 9:2 sn From Damascus to Jerusalem was a six-day journey. Christianity had now expanded into Syria.
  7. Acts 9:3 tn Grk “As he was going along, it happened that when he was approaching.” The phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.
  8. Acts 9:3 tn Or “shone” (BDAG 799 s.v. περιαστράπτω). The light was more brilliant than the sun according to Acts 26:13.
  9. Acts 9:4 tn Grk “and he.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence, the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated here. Instead a new English sentence is begun.
  10. Acts 9:4 tn The double vocative suggests emotion.
  11. Acts 9:4 sn Persecuting me. To persecute the church is to persecute Jesus.
  12. Acts 9:6 tn Or “But arise.”
  13. Acts 9:6 tn Literally a passive construction, “it will be told to you.” This has been converted to another form of passive construction in the translation.
  14. Acts 9:7 tn The Greek term here is ἀνήρ (anēr), which is used only rarely in a generic sense of both men and women. In the historical setting here, Paul’s traveling companions were almost certainly all males.
  15. Acts 9:7 tn That is, unable to speak because of fear or amazement. See BDAG 335 s.v. ἐνεός.
  16. Acts 9:7 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. Acts 22:9 appears to indicate that they saw the light but did not hear a voice. They were “witnesses” that something happened.
  17. Acts 9:8 tn Grk “his eyes being open,” a genitive absolute construction that has been translated as a concessive adverbial participle.
  18. Acts 9:8 sn He could see nothing. This sign of blindness, which was temporary until v. 18, is like the sign of muteness experienced by Zechariah in Luke 1. It allowed some time for Saul (Paul) to reflect on what had happened without distractions.
  19. Acts 9:8 tn Grk “they”; the referents (Saul’s companions) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
  20. Acts 9:9 tn Grk “And for.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.
  21. Acts 9:9 tn The word “anything” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader. The fasting might indicate an initial realization of Luke 5:33-39. Fasting was usually accompanied by reflective thought.