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Chapter 9

Saul’s Conversion. [a]Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,(A) went to the high priest(B) and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,[b] he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.(C) He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”(D) He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.(E) Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”(F) The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one.(G) Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;[c] so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.(H) For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

Saul’s Baptism. 10 (I)There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying,(J) 12 and [in a vision] he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay [his] hands on him, that he may regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones[d] in Jerusalem.(K) 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.”(L) 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites,(M) 16 and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” 17 So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, 19 and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.[e]

Saul Preaches in Damascus. He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,

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  1. 9:1–19 This is the first of three accounts of Paul’s conversion (with Acts 22:3–16 and Acts 26:2–18) with some differences of detail owing to Luke’s use of different sources. Paul’s experience was not visionary but was precipitated by the appearance of Jesus, as he insists in 1 Cor 15:8. The words of Jesus, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” related by Luke with no variation in all three accounts, exerted a profound and lasting influence on the thought of Paul. Under the influence of this experience he gradually developed his understanding of justification by faith (see the letters to the Galatians and Romans) and of the identification of the Christian community with Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor 12:27). That Luke would narrate this conversion three times is testimony to the importance he attaches to it. This first account occurs when the word is first spread to the Gentiles. At this point, the conversion of the hero of the Gentile mission is recounted. The emphasis in the account is on Paul as a divinely chosen instrument (Acts 9:15).
  2. 9:2 The Way: a name used by the early Christian community for itself (Acts 18:26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). The Essene community at Qumran used the same designation to describe its mode of life.
  3. 9:8 He could see nothing: a temporary blindness (Acts 9:18) symbolizing the religious blindness of Saul as persecutor (cf. Acts 26:18).
  4. 9:13 Your holy ones: literally, “your saints.”
  5. 9:19–30 This is a brief resume of Paul’s initial experience as an apostolic preacher. At first he found himself in the position of being regarded as an apostate by the Jews and suspect by the Christian community of Jerusalem. His acceptance by the latter was finally brought about through his friendship with Barnabas (Acts 9:27).

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