Saul’s Sight Restored
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Observations and Reflections
Got to the house of Judas on Straight Street..
Many have wondered about the Judas that is hosting Saul after his encounter with the Lord. Is he a companion of Saul’s? If so, how did Paul acquire a companion from Damascus? Was this man a Jew or a Gentile? Is it possible that this man has no relation to Saul or his companions but just happened to be nearby the incident and Paul invited himself using his authority as Roman with extradition papers?
I believe a few things are clear from the reading. First, Judas was primarily a Jewish name. Judas not only had a Jewish name but Paul has not yet been called to teach the Gentiles, so housing with one would have been out of the question. First century Jews did not sup with Gentiles, as evidenced by Peter in Galatians 2:12.
For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (Galatians 2:12)
Moreover, it’s probable that this man was Jewish and also that he had not yet accepted Christ because no Christian located in Damascus would dare invite Saul into their home knowing that he was on a mission to round up and kill the Christians. This is evidenced by Ananias’ reaction to the Lord’s request to go seek out Saul.
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” (Acts 9:13)
It can also be assumed that Judas was likely a man of means or at least a man with a sizable home. Acts does not say how many men traveled with Saul but probably a few people were with him for protection or for muscle. Luke only references the other men when Saul falls off his horse.
The men who traveled with him stood speechless (Acts 9:7)
Judas also lived on a popular street in Damascus which was one of the main drags and prime location. Even more intriguing is that Ananias did not request any information about the location of Judas’ house. The Lord simply said “Got to the house of Judas on Straight Street“. Was he known to Ananias? Was he known to most of the locals? Most likely he was well-known as a man of status or Ananias knew him personally.
The healing of Saul’s site is another mystery as we see that “something like scales” fell from his eyes. What are these scales? It’s a question that has been asked through the ages. The Greek text could also be translated as “flakes” or a peel of skin. In Saul’s case it’s hard to know what Luke was referring to because he says “something LIKE scales”. Thus, even the author of the story is unclear about what fell from Saul’s eyes.
It is both interesting and important to note that immediately receiving his site, Saul gets baptized. He did not wait. This is consistent with the rest of the NT. We should take note of this practice today as we tend to baptize people in the modern church when it’s most convenient or most compelling towards others. However, in the NT baptism was immediate. Many have speculated that this is because it was believed that baptism was the means by which sins were washed away. This is based on Acts 2:38.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
However, the speech by Peter in Acts is not really saying that we must be baptized for the remission of sins. Rather, it’s a generalizing the reason to repent AND be baptized. Peter is merely instructing the crowds that they should repent and turn to Christ so that their sins will be forgiven. It was not a theological discourse on the purpose of baptism. It would also go against other scripture if we assume that anything other than Jesus can deal with our sins. It is more likely that the linking of sin forgiveness in Acts 2:38 is because Peter was calling the people to repent in Jesus’ name, not because he instructed them to be baptized.