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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]

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The[v] Lord[w] said to him in a vision, “Ananias,” and he replied, “Here I am,[x] Lord.” 11 Then the Lord told him, “Get up and go to the street called ‘Straight,’[y] and at Judas’ house look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. For he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision[z] a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he may see again.” 13 But Ananias replied,[aa] “Lord, I have heard from many people[ab] 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 imprison[ac] all who call on your name!”[ad] 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument[ae] to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel.[af] 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”[ag]

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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.
  22. Acts 9:10 tn Grk “And the.” 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.
  23. Acts 9:10 sn The Lord is directing all the events leading to the expansion of the gospel as he works on both sides of the meeting between Paul and Ananias. “The Lord” here refers to Jesus (see v. 17).
  24. Acts 9:10 tn Grk “behold, I,” but this construction often means “here is/there is” (cf. BDAG 468 s.v. ἰδού 2).
  25. Acts 9:11 sn The noting of the detail of the locale, ironically called ‘Straight’ Street, shows how directive and specific the Lord was.
  26. Acts 9:12 tc ‡ The words ἐν ὀράματι (en oramati, “in a vision”) are not found in some of the earliest and best mss (P74 א A 81 lat sa bo), but are implied from the context. The phrase is included, although sometimes in a different order with ἄνδρα (andra, “man”) or omitting ἄνδρα altogether, by B C E Ψ 33 1175 1739 M. The order of words in NA28, ἄνδρα ἐν ὁράματι, is supported only by B C 1175. Generally speaking, when there are three or more variants, with one an omission and the others involving rearrangements, the longer readings are later scribal additions. Further, the reading looks like a clarifying note, for an earlier vision is explicitly mentioned in v. 10. On the other hand, it is possible that some scribes deleted the words because of perceived repetition, though this is unlikely since it is a different vision two verses back. It is also possible that some scribes could have confused ὁράματι with ὀνόματι (onomati, “name”); TCGNT 319 notes that several mss place ονόματι before ᾿Ανανίαν (Ananian, “Ananias”) while a few others drop ὀνόματι altogether. The Sahidic mss are among those that drop the word, however, and they also lack ἐν ὁράματι; all that is left is one version and father that drops ὀνόματι. Perhaps the best argument for the authenticity of the phrase is that B C 1175 preserve a rare, distinctively Lukan word order, but this is not nearly as harsh or unusual as what Luke does elsewhere. A decision is difficult in this case, but on balance the omission of the phrase seems to be authentic. The words are nevertheless added in the translation because of contextual considerations. NA28 places the words in brackets, indicating doubts as to their authenticity. sn Apparently while in Damascus Paul had a subsequent vision in the midst of his blindness, fulfilling the prediction in 9:6.
  27. Acts 9:13 sn Ananias replied. Past events might have suggested to Ananias that this was not good counsel, but like Peter in Acts 10, Ananias’ intuitions were wrong.
  28. Acts 9:13 tn The word “people” is not in the Greek text, but is implied.
  29. Acts 9:14 tn Grk “to bind.”
  30. Acts 9:14 sn The expression “those who call on your name” is a frequent description of believers (Acts 2:21; 1 Cor 1:2; Rom 10:13).
  31. Acts 9:15 tn Or “tool.”
  32. Acts 9:15 tn Grk “the sons of Israel.” In Acts, Paul is a minister to all nations, including Israel (Rom 1:16-17).
  33. Acts 9:16 tn Or “because of my name.” BDAG 1031 s.v. ὑπέρ 2 lists Acts 9:16 as an example of ὑπέρ (huper) used to indicate “the moving cause or reason, because of, for the sake of, for.”