The Conversion of Saint Paul, by Giordano Nancy

Acts Devotional Commentary [Acts 9:3-9] Saul Blinded by The Lord


Saul Blinded by The Lord


Acts 9:3-9

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, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

 


Observations and Reflections


Paul, having secured permission from the Sanhedrin to extradite Christians in foreign cities, has now on his way to Damascus. Damascus was actually considered part of 1st century Syria and at one time was the capital city of ancient Aram, the foes of Israel during the united kingdom period. It was located just northeast of Israel’s northern most settlement of the tribe of Dan. Syria was not considered a Judean territory but it was still under the jurisdiction of Rome, which allowed the Sanhedrin the power to capture Jews (and Christians) there for extradition.

Kingdoms of the Levant

Kingdoms of the Levant

Saul embarked on what was a very dangerous journey, however, he was not met with danger but with a flash of light that blinded him. A few questions arise from this light that the scriptures do not answer but most readers would wonder about. For example, was it the light that blinded him or did he hit his head on the ground when he fell? Or perhaps, he was blinded by God supernaturally during the process. Secondly, did the traveling companions with Saul also see the light? Thirdly, how did Saul know to call the Lord, “Lord”, without knowing who it actually was? He was blind after all.

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

I think the third question might actually be answered by simple logic. If a voice from heaven speaks to you in a flash of light, you refer to it as Lord even if you have no idea who it is. It’s obviously more powerful than you are. In most cases the title Lord was less of a name (like we use it) and more of a generic title for people and entities in high status. In the Old Testament some wives even refereed to their husbands as lord. Thus, Saul really does not know who is calling to him but he knows it’s a much higher power than he.

The exchange of dialog between Saul and Jesus is not recorded in Acts. From what information was recorded, it seems as though Jesus is quite serious about the state of things. He was not interested in small talk or trying to explain to Saul the error of his ways. In just a short phrase Jesus was able to convey the gravity of the matter.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Having experienced something so profound I can only assume that Saul complied without question. Is the impact of this even the reason why he did not eat or drink for the next 3 days?

For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything

Or was it that God caused him to not be able to eat or drink? I think the passage is better understood to mean that Saul was so shook by the experience that he did not eat or drink out of his own compulsion.

 


Comments, curses, and blessings welcome!

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