About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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ch. 9:1-19    ch. 9:19-31    ch. 9:32-42 

 

Saulís Conversion  (ch. 9:1 - 19)

Luke returns to the subject of Saul here in chapter 9.  It's no happenstance that Acts 9 comes soon after Acts 7 where we see Stephen preaching to the Jewish leadership.  The record of what Stephen said is quite lengthy.  You might even call it systematic theology, especially of the Old Testament.  We know that Paul was standing and watching Stephen being stoned.  My guess is that Paul was also there listening to what Stephen said.  He being a good Pharisee would have listened very closely.  Therefore, it's not surprising that what Paul would later teach falls right in line with exactly what Stephen taught.     

 

In verse 1 Luke says,  "Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lordís disciplesÖ"  Luke says that during the time when Philip and others were preaching the good news with miraculous signs, Saul was still going about persecuting Christians, or as Luke puts it, persecuting "the Lordís disciples". 

 

We see how violent Saul is here, with the words "murderous threats".  These threats had teeth in Jerusalem, where Saul had help from the Temple Police and the Sanhedrin to carry out these threats.  Paul was acting in accordance with the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin authorized Paul to arrest any Christian he could find.  

 

Acts 26:11 tells us that Paul was obsessed with persecuting the Christians.  Some suggest that after Stephen's death that Paul most likely helped stone, or, kill, other Christians.  The use of the word "murderous"  might well suggest that. Also, in Acts 9:29 we see that the Jews attempted to kill Paul.  Paul would have been one of these types of Jews who were out to kill Christians.  I conclude that it is quite possible that Paul himself killed Christians prior to his conversion here in Acts 9. 

 

We should note that the disciples mentioned here were the "Lordís disciples", not Peterís disciples or Johnís disciples.  One mistake that is often made in the modern discipleship movements is that we fail to recognize the disciples belong to Jesus, not to the earthly man who is leading the disciples.  The word "disciple" means "someone who is learning or following one who teaches".   In today's world, the word "Christian" has been watered down to mean something it was never meant to mean.  Many people living in the western world these days consider themselves to be Christians.  Such use of the term "Christian" is not the Biblical definition for the word.  Christians are disciples of Jesus.  They are those who are in the present, and in real time, learning and following the Lord Jesus Christ and His teaching.   

 

In verse 2 Saul asked the Jewish leaders for a letter of recommendation so he could carry out his campaign of terror north to Damascus, about 150 miles from Jerusalem.  This city was the oldest city in the known world at this time and still to this day is the longest continuing city in history.  It had many synagogues.  This letter would have been presented to the synagogue leaders as proof that Saul had permission from the Sanhedrin to arrest any person of "the Way". 

 

We see the term "the Way" used in verse 2 to denote Christians.  Jesus called Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life in John 14:6.  He said that He is the only way to God the Father.  Following in the steps of Jesus, the disciples were called the Way as well.  Another reason for being called the Way might be that Christianity was more than a belief system.  It was a total new living experience. The Greek word translated as "way" means a "well walked path".  This clearly suggests that the Christian life is more than a belief system.  It's the way we live.  It's a daily walk with Jesus.  I've heard it said that the Bible doesn't emphasize decisions but disciples.  I like that.    

 

The idea was that Saul would arrest, both men and women, as he did in Jerusalem , and bring them back to Jerusalem where they would be put into jail.  Note that Paul didn't just arrest the men.  He arrested women as well.  This clearly shows us his obsession with persecuting Christians.

 

Luke says in verses 3 and 4, "As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from Heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ĎSaul, Saul, why do you persecute me'"? 

 

We know that these words came from the Lord Jesus.  He calls out Saulís name twice, as if to get Saulís attention, as if He had not already had it from the flash of light.  Also, the doubling of Saulís name suggests great emotion from the one doing the speaking.  It reminds me of Jesus crying over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 when He cried out, "O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem Ö"  In both instances, Jesus' words were  spoken with great passion.

 

Note the question that was asked of Paul in verse 4.  "Why do you persecute me"?  Clearly, in the eyes of Jesus, when someone persecutes His disciples they persecute Him.  Jesus is so associated with His people, mainly because the Holy Spirit lives in His people, that Jesus takes such persecution not only seriously but personally.   

 

Verse 5 gives us Paulís response in the form of a question.  Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord"  The comma and the question mark in this sentence is important.  I think many of us read this question without pausing at the comma, and without inflecting our voices at the question mark.  Saul did not say, "Who are you Lord".  He said, "who are you, (pause for a moment Ė the continue), Lord" (as in a question Ė are you the Lord) Saul was not addressing a statement to the Lord.  He was simply asking if the voice he heard was the voice of the Lord.  I think he knew it was the voice of the Lord.  He was only wanting to be sure.  Then of course, who he thought was Lord, meaning the God of Abraham, was in fact Jesus.  Paul didn't get this at this moment of time, but he'd soon find out that the God of Abraham was in fact the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

Now, all that I've just said is based on a comma in our English text.  The Greek in which this was originally written had no punctuation marks.  There was no comma.  Therefore, what I've just said is somewhat conjecture.  You can take it or leave it.  That being said, even though Greek had no punctuation marks, which would include this question mark in our English text, this was a question.  Paul was asking whose voice he was hearing. If Paul had known that the voice was from the Lord he would not have asked the question.  I believe I can at least safely say that Paul thought the voice was from the Lord, and from his frame of reference, Lord meant Yahweh, not Jesus.  We've got to understand that this must have been one shocking experience for Saul. 

 

Some translations don't capitalize the word "Lord" in Saul's question as the NIV and other translators do.  They believe the Greek word translated as "Lord" here can mean "sir", and other similar words.  Therefore, by not capitalizing the word "Lord" they remove any hint that Saul had Yahweh in mind when he asked this question.  Their translation suggests that Saul was simply calling the voice "sir".  I just don't see this to be so.  When Jews used the word "Lord" their understanding of Lord was Yahweh.  I believe Saul thought this voice came from Yahweh.  He was simply startled and confused by this event.  He just needed confirmation.  Then, when He got the answer that the voice was Jesus' voice that would have only added to his confusion.    

 

To interject for a moment, it is thought that the date of this event was probably around 33 or possibly 34 or 35 A D, only a couple of years after Jesusí death, resurrection, and  ascension. 

 

Now let's return to the narrative.  The voice replied by saying, "I am Jesus, who you are persecuting".  This must have totally stunned Saul.  Here he was on his way to arrest the followers of Jesus.  Most likely his thoughts were full of anticipating his arrival in Damascus.  Every step closer would have been a step of excitement. Then suddenly he gets knocked to the ground, sees a great light, and hears this voice.  He asks who is speaking to him, and the voice says that "it is Jesus, who  you are persecuting".  What a tremendous shock this would have been to his system.  The event itself was terrifying to him, but with the added sense of the presence of Jesus, this had to have been an experience that was out of this world. 

 

Again, note that Jesus says that Paul is persecuting Him.  Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the disciples, when the disciples are being persecuted, so is Jesus being persecuted.  Jesus totally associates Himself with His followers that Saul is out to arrest and kill.  When the voice says that "I am Jesus who you are persecuting", He means that whatever you do to mine, you do to me.  Of course, we know that this had always been Jesusí stance.  Once, when speaking of the future judgement He said that those who did, or did nothing, to the least of these my brothers, have done the same to me. (Matthew 25:40)

 

In verse 6 the Lord says one other thing.  "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do".  Apparently Jesus said nothing else.  Most likely nothing else needed to be said.

 

One thing we should note here and that is the NIV leaves out a phrase that is found in the KJV.  The KJV says that God told Paul that it was hard for him "to kick against the pricks."  The word Ēpricks" is from a Greek word that means sting, as in a bee sting.  The point is that God had been stinging Paul with pricks, trying to get Paul over to His side, but Paul was ignoring these stings.  Therefore God had to be more drastic with Paul.  Thus we see the events of chapter 9.  There is clearly a manuscript problem here because this phrase is not found in the majority of manuscripts.  The KJV added these words as it sometime does.  The reason for this addition is most likely do to the fact that in Acts 26:14, when Paul recounts this event, these words are found, but once again, these words are not found here in Acts 9:6.   

 

Jesus presented Saul with the issue of his most outstanding sin, which was, persecuting Him.  It is interesting to note that Jesus did not preach the good news to Saul.  He left that up to a human being to do.  This is interesting.  Jesus could have easily shared the gospel to Saul, but that is not His job to do.  That is our job.  So Jesus tells Saul to go into Damascus and he would be told what to do next. 

 

It is hard to say just how Saul felt at this moment.  He most likely felt totally humiliated, in front of those with him, and in the presence of the Lord Jesus.  He must have felt awe struck, probably even scared.  He must have felt confused; not really knowing what was next, having his plans divinely interrupted.  Beyond all of this, when Saul got up from the ground, and opened his eyes, that were blinded from the blinding light, he could not see.  He was blind, and needed someone to lead him around. The powerful Saul was cut to the ground.  I suppose that Jesus had to do something very drastic to get Saul's attention.   He would become the main spokesman to the Gentiles from the early church.  I believe that Saul is the New Testament Moses.  Much of New Testament theology is defined and set forth by Saul who would later be known as Paul.  The initiation of his new life and ministry was accompanied with great power.  

 

At this point I refer you to Galatians 1:15 and 16 we note that Paul believed God set him apart at birth.  Then, in verse 16 we note that God revealed Himself in Paul.  This revealing began in Acts 9 on the road to Damascus .  You might ask, "Since God had planned Paul's work for him at birth, why didn't He bring Paul to salvation at an earlier age"?  We can only speculate the reason why, but what is clear to me is this.  God's plan was for Paul to meet Jesus on that road and at that exact time in his life.  You might remember that Jesus said that no one comes to Him except the Father draws him.  Paul could not have given his life to Jesus any earlier than what he did.  He, or we, can't come to Jesus for salvation just any time we want.  We must be drawn to Jesus by God through His Holy Spirit.  God has a time for each one of us to be presented to Jesus.  It is at this point that we can step into salvation or reject it.  This may sound Calvinistic, and maybe it is, at least to a degree.  That being said, I believe it's Biblical.  Evangelicals tend to thing that we can get saved any time we want.  I don't believe that to be so, and I believe what Paul says here in verses 15 and 16 shows that to be true.  There was a set time for Jesus to be revealed to Paul and there is a set time for Jesus to be revealed to everyone else.

 

Verse 7 says that the men with Saul were speechless, having heard the sound, but seeing no one. 

 

Many over the years have pointed out an apparent contradiction.  Here (in the KJV) Luke says that those with Saul "heard a sound".  In Acts 22:9 (KJV) Paul says that those with him did not hear the voice.  One possible way to reconcile this is to say that those with Saul indeed heard a sound as it says in chapter 9 but did not hear specific words spoken to Saul.  The words were probably a loud garbled sound.  Besides, the words were spoken to Saul and to no one else.The Greek construction of these two verses confirms this rendering that the NIV makes clear.   

 

You should note the when reading the NIV you do not see this apparent discrepancy.  The NIV in chapter 9 says that they heard the sound.  In chapter 22 it says that they did not understand the voice, which differs from the KJV and my Interlinear Bible. It appears that the 1994 edition of the NIV has attempted to fix this problem in the translating process.   

 

Verse 8 simply tells us that Paul could not see.  "He was blinded by the light", as the saying goes. It's amazing how many well used English phrases come from the Bible.

 

In verse 9 Luke says that those with Saul led him into town and for three days Saul did not eat or drink anything.  We donít really know if Paul was fasting, as in the sense of fasting and praying, or if he was so out of sorts that he could not eat or drink anything.  We do know that in verse 11 Luke says that Saul was praying.  This might suggest fasting in order to pray.  We can only imagine what Paul might have been going through.

 

It is my thinking that Saul was very contemplative.  He must have been rethinking his whole life.  The words of Jesus must have been still ringing in his ears.  "It is Jesus, who you are persecuting".  Agony and torment must have filled Saulís heart and mind.  I'm sure this was a time of great repentance on Saulís part.

 

In verse 10 we see that while Saul was in prayer the Lord spoke to a man named Ananias. The Lord called out his name, and he answered the Lord by saying, "yes, Lord".  Once again we note the dynamics of the miraculous in these early disciples.  Unlike Saul, this man clearly knew who was speaking to him. The man's name was Ananias.  In Acts 22:12 we see Ananias again, assuming it's the same man.  He was a believing Jew from Damascus .  

 

In verse 11 the Lord proceeded to tell Ananias, "go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.  In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight".

 

From what the Lord told Ananias we now know that Saul had a vision while praying during these three days. This suggests to me that the Holy Spirit was working in Saulís life for those three whole days prior to Saul having the Holy Spirit in his life.  These were three very important days in the life of Saul. 

 

When Ananias heard this, he was not impressed.  In verse 13 he reminded the Lord of who Saul was, and why he had come to Damascus in the first place.  I really don't think the Lord needed to be reminded of this.  He knew very well what Paul had been up to.  At first mention of Saulís name, even from the Lord, Ananias wanted nothing to do with him.  This tells us that the followers of Jesus had to have had their ears open to what was going on in the community around them.  They somehow knew in advance that Paul was on his way to persecute them.  They might well have had a network of people who would pass such information on to others.  Verse 13 would confirm this when Ananias said that he had "heard of many reports" concerning Saul.  You might think in terms of the church being an underground church here, like that in China and elsewhere today.  They might well have had people passing such messages from one community of believers to another back then. 

 

Note in verse 14 that Saul had permission from the Jewish leadership to arrest anyone "who called on the name of the Lord".  This is just another way of saying that Saul would arrest believers, disciples, or, Christians.  Christians are those who call, that is present tense, "who continually call on the name of the Lord".   The word "call" in Biblical terms often means cry.  It's a serious plea to the Lord.  The early Christians seriously cried out to God for their very lives.    

 

Verse 15 gives the Lordís response to Ananias.  He says, "Go!  This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for my name sake".

 

The Lord just told Ananias some important information about Saul.  We donít know if the Lord had actually told Saul this at this point, but I think we can safely say that he found out sooner than later Godís plans for him.  Right at the beginning, at Saulís conversion, the Lord told him that he was a chosen instrument to carry the gospel of Jesus, both to Jews and to Gentiles, and to the Gentile kings.  How this would happen would be a result of Saul's great suffering.  Saul understood from the very beginning that his new life would not be easy, that he would suffer much for the name of Jesus.  In the same way that he caused suffering on Christians before his conversion, he would suffer himself in like fashion as a Christian.

 

When it comes to suffering because of one's association with Jesus in the early church, it was simply the thing to expect.  Becoming a disciple of Jesus was very serious.  You didn't say a sinner's prayer and live happily ever-after.  You gave your life to Jesus, and for many, that was a literal life or death decision.  

 

God called Saul during these three days.  This calling was a special calling, a calling that ranked with the twelve apostles themselves.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:8, he was born out of season, meaning he was born into this ministry later than the twelve apostles.  Without getting too involved here, 1Corinthians 15:8 suggests that Paul viewed himself as one like the twelve, that is, one with just as much importance.  If you remember, the stipulation that Peter made in Acts 1 for Judas' replacement was that he had to have seen Jesus.  Paul might have known this and that is why he said what he said in 1 Corinthians 15:8.  Paul did see Jesus. He saw Him here in Acts 9.          

 

We read in verse 17 that Ananias obeyed the Lord.  He went to the house and met Saul and said, "Brother SaulÖ"  Right away we see that Ananias recognized Saul as a brother in the Lord.  We should take from this that Saul was now classified as a real Christian, although he might not yet have received the Holy Spirit into his life.  Whether he first believed on the road to Damascus or during the three days, he had given his life to Jesus, and Ananias knew that. 

 

Ananias continues by saying, "the Lord Ė JesusÖ"   It seems to me that Ananias wanted to make sure that Saul knew what Lord was in fact Jesus.   The Lord God of Abraham was the in all reality the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus was Yahweh.  That would have simply blown Saul's Pharisee indoctrinated mind.  Saul would later teach that Jesus was the all-important offspring of Abraham.  See Galatians 3:16.

 

Ananias continues.  "Jesus, who appeared to you on the road  Ö has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."  Two things were going to happen to Saul when Ananias lays his hands on Saul.  They were, Saulís blind eyes would be healed, and Saul would be filled with the Spirit. 

 

Again, we see the term "filled with the Holy Spirit".  The question can be asked, "Did Saul have the Holy Spirit before Ananias laid hands on him"?  The text does not give us the answer to this question, so I speculate.  According to what I have seen so far in the book of Acts, and what comes later, it is quite likely that Saul actually received the Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him; just the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit in Acts 8 when Peter and John laid hands on them.  Saul first became a believer, then after three days he received the Holy Spirit. As I've said before, the conversion experience is made up of three things.  One must repent, then believe, and then receive the Holy Spirit.  This can take place all at once, or over a period of time.  I think with Paul, it might have taken three days. 

 

Some may argue that Saul had received the Holy Spirit during his three days of blindness, and maybe they are right.  I just don't see it that way.     

 

We see in verse 18 that as soon as Ananias prayed for Saul his eyes were healed.  Luke says that it was like scales falling off his eyes.  Luke does not record any evidence of Saul being filled with the Holy Spirit, but I am sure he was.  If the Lord told Ananias that Paul would be filled with the Spirit, then that surely happened. Besides, in Peter's first Christian sermon in Acts 2 he clearly points out that one who repents and is baptized will receive the Holy Spirit.  That should not be questioned.

 

Note the term "filled with the Holy Spirit".  This term is used in two ways in Acts.  It's used in reference to someone receiving the Holy Spirit for the first time.  It is also used in reference to someone having the Holy Spirit come on him after already receiving the Holy Spirit.  As I've said earlier, I believe Saul received the Holy Spirit here.  I don't see this as a subsequent filling of the Spirit after he had already received the Holy Spirit.  The context must show us how to understand the term "filled with the Spirit".

 

Verse 19 says that after this had happened Saul ate some food to regain the strength he had lost while fasting for 3 days.

 

We should also note that Saul was immediately water baptized.  The early church did not wait to water baptize people.  They did not put them through a ten week course of study on water baptism.  They would have briefly explained the process and baptized the new believer right away.  From this point on, Saul was a changed man.

 

Concerning when a person should be water baptized we should note that Saul was water baptized after receiving the Holy Spirit.  The Samaritans in Acts 8 were baptized before they received the Holy Spirit, and so were the one hundred and twenty in Acts 2.  We'll see that the Gentiles in Acts 10 were baptized after they received the Holy Spirit too, as were the Ephesians in Acts 19.  I say this to show that there is no real consistency here when it comes to when one gets water baptized.  You can't build a doctrine on this.  I suggest that one gets water baptized as soon as possible, as soon as it is humanly convenient.  For Paul this was after he was healed of his blindness.     

   

Concerning Saul being blind and then being healed, some suggest that Saul's "thorn in the flesh" was an eye problem, and that might well be the case.  More and more I am leaning towards this thinking.  Some say that even though Paul was healed here, there might well have been a residue of a serious eye problem, maybe as a reminder of his old life.  Of course, this is speculation.  We don't know.  Some might suggest, and for good reason, that Saul was totally healed from blindness because if God heals, he doesn't heal half way.

Saul In Damascus And Jerusalem (ch. 9:18 - 31)

 

In verse 20 Luke says that Saul spent "several days in Damascus" and "at once he began to preach in the synagogue that Jesus was the Son of God". Here we see the zeal of Saul.  It didnít take long, as a matter of fact; he started preaching right away in the synagogue.  He preached, in these early days, the one thing he knew from his encounter with Jesus, and that was "Jesus was the Son of God". 

 

I believe that Paul was a zealous man by nature, and when Jesus took over his life, that zeal was used by the Lord, just as it was once used by the devil.  When someone comes to Jesus, the Lord doesn't take away the characteristics that He placed in the person at birth.  If a man is zealous prior to be saved, he is zealous after getting saved.  It a man is a good organizer prior to being saved; he is a good organizer after getting saved.  All human characteristics that were once used for self prior to conversion are meant to be used for Jesus after conversion.      

 

In verse 21 we note that everyone who heard Saul was totally astonished because they all knew why he had come to Damascus, and now he was preaching the very thing he came to destroy.  What a testimony this must have been.

 

From what Luke says in verse 22 we can see that it did not take Saul long to learn.  He "baffled the Jews in Damascus " with his powerful preaching.  It might not have been that hard for Saul to baffle the Jews.  He knew the Old Testament better than most.  He was a skilled teacher and debater.  All he needed to do was to incorporate Jesus into what he already knew.   

 

In verses 23 to 25 we see that it did not take long for the Jews to get angry with Saul.  They were so upset with him they tried to kill him.  They guarded the gates to the city in case he escaped, but Saulís "followers", as Luke puts it, helped him escape one night by lowering him in a basket in a whole in the city wall.

 

We should know that houses were often joined to the city walls.  Therefore, the outside of these houses was the wall of the city, thus the window in the wall that Paul was let out through.

 

In verse 26 we note that after this Saul went to Jerusalem, but instead of reporting back to the Sanhedrin like he normally would have, he tried to join himself to the disciples, but as could be expected, they were somewhat afraid of him and did not accept him as true disciples. They could have easily thought Saul was acting covertly, and once he found out who the leading disciples were, he'd have them arrested. 

 

We can ask, "When did Saul go down to Jerusalem"?  In Galatians 1: 17 and 18 we read that after his conversion Saul did not "go up to Jerusalem Ö but went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.  Then after three years went up to Jerusalem".

 

To clarify things, geographically speaking, Jerusalem is down from Damascus geographically speaking, but in elevation it is up.  Jerusalem is always considered as being "up" no matter what direction one would be coming from. 

 

Paul did not go up to Jerusalem right after his conversion, and maybe for good reason.  Those who sent him to Damascus were probably out to kill him at this point.  After his conversion Saul went into Arabia, which most feel is the land east of Damascus.  Some suggest a bit farther south.  Then after three whole years he finally went up to Jerusalem.  Saul spent 10 years in Syria and Cilicia preaching the gospel.  So, from Saul's conversion to the time of his first missionary trip was 13 years. 

 

Some commentators say that Saul spent 3 years in Arabia, but the Galatian account, at leas to me, states that he returned to Damascus after being in Arabia, then after 3 years went to Jerusalem. 

In verse 24 we see Barnabas, who was obviously well respected by the disciples.  We first see Barnabas in Acts 4:36 where we see him selling some land to lay at the apostle's feet.  He intervened on Saulís behalf.  He convinced the apostles that Saul had really met the Lord and had been preaching the gospel "fearlessly".  It appears that Barnabas did a good job in Saulís defense because Saul was now accepted by the disciples and "moved around freely in  Jerusalem".

 

Note that Barnabas didn't say that Saul had a vision of Jesus.  He said Saul met Jesus, as Paul himself said.  We have to know for sure that Saul met the living Jesus.  He didn't have a vision, although, Saul did have visions from the Lord after his conversion.    

 

Verse 29 tells us that Saul preached to the Grecian Jews in Jerusalem .  As a result, these Jews tried to kill Saul.  So, the disciples, as in Damascus , snuck him out of town.  Then, as we see in verse 30 Paul went first to Caesarea, where Philip lived, and then farther north to Tarsus, his home town.

 

Tarsus was one very important city, especially for educational purposes. It had the third largest university in the Roman Empire .  Saul would have been well educated, not just in Judaism but in Roman secular philosophy.  We often see Saul quote the Greco Roman philosophers. 

 

Verse 31 says, "Then the church enjoyed a time of peace".  The word "then" would refer to the fact that once Saul left the area of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria , things settled down measurably.   Saul, who caused much trouble before his conversion by his persecution was still the source of problems for the church, but for different reasons.  So in one way or another, trouble always followed Saul around.       

 

During this time of peace, the Holy Spirit strengthened and encouraged the church, as the church feared the Lord. As a result, the church grew numerically.  

 

Luke specifically says that these disciples "lived in the fear of God".  I believe when the Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord it is more than a healthy respect, reverence, or awe.  I believe fear is fear.  People in one real sense of the word were afraid of God, and rightly so.  The fear of the Lord is something we know little of these days, and I believe our churches show the results.  There is little growth in many sectors of the western church, either numerically or spiritually, and, it's because we are not afraid of God. 

 

The fear of the Lord is balanced with love for Him.  We love the one we fear and we fear the one we love.  We want to run from God because as the book of Hebrews states, "He is a consuming fire".  On the other hand we realize that there is no place to run to escape God, so we run back into His loving arms.    

 

Aeneas And Dorcas  (ch. 9:32 - 42)

Luke now turns his attention from Saul back to Peter.  In verse 32 we see that Peter often traveled throughout the country side preaching the good news of Jesus.  On one of these occasions he visited the saints in Lydda.  Lydda was North West of Jerusalem, closer to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea .  This is the region in which we saw Philip preaching after he left the eunuch from Ethiopia.

 

In verse 33 we have Acts 3 all over again.  There was a crippled man who had been this way for eight years.  It's hard to know how to translate this verse.   Although most translations say this man was crippled for eight years, it could also be translated that he was crippled since he was eight years old.  His name was Aenaes. 

 

When Peter saw his condition, in verse 34 Peter simply told him that "Jesus Christ heals you".  The Greeks says, "Jesus instantaneously, as in right now, heals you".  The point is that there was no waiting around.  The miracle was instantaneous. 

 

I donít believe there is some Biblical formula for healing in the New Testament.  Here Peter tells this man that Jesus heals him.  In Acts 3 Peter just tells the crippled man to get up in the name of Jesus.  Whatever way that this man or any other person is healed, it makes a difference in those around.  I know this from my own life.  My father became a Christian when Jesus healed me of Juvenile Diabetes at the age of five years old.  Luke says that all those who lived in those parts believed the gospel because of this miracle.  This again is why we have miracles.  They are signs that bring people to Jesus.

 

You might have heard the term "rose of Sharon".  You see the town of Sharon mentioned in verse 35.  The term "rose of Sharon" comes from the Valley of Sharon .

 

Verse 35 tells us that "all" those in Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord.  Sometime "all" doesnít always mean "all" in the real sense of the word.  Many Bible teachers suggest that sometimes "all" is non-inclusive, meaning, many.  Did every last person in this area turn to Jesus?  It's highly unlikely.  An interesting example of this is seen in Luke 2:1 where Caesar Augustus decreed that "all the world" should be taxed.  This is how the Greek text as well as the KJV puts it.  It's interesting that the NIV does not translate "all the world".  It translates it as "entire Roman Empire ".  The NIV translators obviously thought that "all' didn't mean "all".          

 

In verse 36 Peter leaves Lydda and goes to Jappa, farther to the north and to the west, a city on the coast.  Peter went to Jappa because a lady named Dorcus had died.  Since the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda they asked him to come to Jappa since it wasnít that far.  They asked him, "please come at once".  Now at this point Dorcus was already dead and ready to be buried. They had placed her body in an upper room, most likely waiting for Peterís arrival.

 

We should know that in the city of  Jerusalem, when someone died, the person would be buried within the day.  This wasn't necessarily the case for those who died outside the city of Jerusalem.  Dorcus was probably dead for more than one day.  It appears that they waited for Peter to come.  It seems they had great faith that Peter could raise this lady from the dead.  

 

In verse 39 Peter enters the upper room and saw many of Dorcusí women friends in tears because of her death. They showed Peter some of the clothing that she had made.  They were very saddened by her sudden illness that led to this death.  Dorcus spent her time making clothes for the poor in the area.  She was a woman of good works, thus the reason for all the tears.  She was well loved.

 

In verse 40 Peter sent everyone out of the room.  Why he did this, we donít know.  We do know that he had seen Jesus do this a time or two.  After they all left, he knelt down on his knees and prayed.  What Peter prayed we don't know.  He then turned to the dead woman and said "Tabitha (or Dorcus) get up".  Peter did not pray and ask Jesus to raise her up, at least not then.  Maybe he did before.  We just don't know.  Peter merely told her to get up.  This is most likely due to the fact that Peter represented Jesus in that upper room.  He spoke on His behalf. 

 

In my thinking there was a bit of a time laps between Peter getting on his knees and praying and then turning to the lady and telling her to get up.  Again, this tells me that there is no set formula in the Bible when it comes to healing.  Whatever seems right at the time would be the rule of thumb I guess.  

 

After saying these words to Dorcus, she opened her eyes and sat up.  In verse 41 Peter took her by the hand and helped her up.  Then Peter called in the disciples and presented Dorcus to them alive and well.  Once again we see Peter is an example of a man used in miraculous ways in the early church.  As usual, because of the miracle, many came to believe in Jesus throughout Jappa.

 

In verse 43 we note that Peter decided to stay in Jappa for "some time" with a "tanner named Simon".  We should note that Peter is beginning to lose some of his Jewish orthodoxy.  A tanner dealt with dead animals which was against Jewish law.  In Jewish terms, Peter should not have been staying in the same house with a tanner.         

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