6” But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” (Acts 9:6–9)
Following this initial encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus then commanded Saul to get up and go to Damascus. This newly converted man, who knew exactly what he was going to do in the Syrian capital moments before, now had new orders. Jesus instructed Saul that once he arrived in Damascus, he would be told what he would be responsible to do.
Luke then provides the reader with further information about this scene. The other men who were with Saul stood speechless. They heard the Lord’s voice but did not see anyone. While the others heard a sound, they did not understand what Jesus had said to Saul.
Acts 22:6-9 says, 6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me.”
Saul got up but was now blind. Moments before, Saul could physically see but was spiritually blind. Now, he could spiritually see but was physically blinded by the brilliant brightness of the glory of God. In the Scriptures, God sometimes struck people with blindness either to prevent them from sinning or to get their attention (Genesis 19:11; 2 Kings 6:15-20).
Acts 22:10-11 says, “10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.”
Saul’s companions led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. While there, he remained blind and did not eat or drink for three days. One commentator writes, “Three days was not uncommon for a fast; but without water one would become dehydrated, and to continue without water would eventually lead to death. New Testament examples usually conjoin fasting with prayer, but fasting was commonly an expression of mourning or repentance. According to this narrative, Saul does not change religions; he learns the true way to follow his Jewish religion.”
Saul intended to bring judgment upon the followers of Jesus. He had been a man void of grace. Now, instead of the judgment of God he rightly deserved, Saul received the grace of God which he ill deserved.
Author Jerry Bridges writes, “What turned a once proud Pharisee into a humble apostle of Christ? It was Paul’s understanding of the grace of God. He understood God’s grace to be more than undeserved favor. He saw himself not just undeserving but ill deserving. He knew that in himself, apart from Christ, he fully deserved the wrath of God. Instead, he had been made a herald of the message he once tried to destroy. That is why he followed his assessment as the least of the apostles by the statement “but by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). That is why he would say, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given” (Ephesians 3:8). He saw himself as a prime example of the grace of God, and his theology of grace produced his humility.”
More to come.
Soli deo Gloria!