Struck Down (9:1-9)
Saul's conversion - 35 A.D.
Note: Account of conversion given three times in Acts, 22:5-6; 26:12-18. Also Gal. 1:15-2:2.
Paul diligent in persecution.
Christianity, at this time, was known as "the way."
Letter from Sanhedrin had authority over Jews as well as a letter from the high priest.
How could Paul have the authority over Jews that were outside the immediate jurisdiction of Jerusalem?
"The matter which Paul was coming to
Damascus for would have contravened local laws had there not existed a
special agreement with the Romans at the time.” F.F. Bruce, author of the book
"Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free" states:
"When the Jewish state (that is Judah) won independence under the Hasmoneans, it had powerful patrons in the Romans who let the countries surrounding Judea know this and demanded that Judea should be granted the rights and privileges of a sovereign state, including the right of extradition...The history in I Maccabees 15:15-21 show this working:...'If therefore, any traitors have escaped from their country to you, hand them offer to Simon the High Priest to be punished by him according to the law of the Jews.'
God undoubtedly equipped His Apostle to the Gentiles with a 'birthright' privilege that could carry enough authority to preserve Paul's life and at the same time help him fulfill his commission.
Mackington quotes Cicero to show the importance of Roman citizenship in his book, The Rome of Saint Paul:
"To bind a Roman citizen is a misdeed, to scourge him is a crime, to put him to death is almost a parricide." P. 1O2
HOW COULD CITIZENSHIP BE
A. Awarded for outstanding service.
Probably awarded Paul's father for service in the army.
B. It could be bought.
C. Could get it because born in a Roman free city
* Some think that Tarsus was such a city and Paul acquired it this way.
Samuel Lumen explains the difference
between freeborn and citizenship in his book, Far Hence Unto The Gentiles:
"The scattered Jews could hold citizenship in the particular city in which they lived if the city was a free city or colony. Only 'freemen' of a 'free city' could obtain this privilege, and the Judean Jews were not freemen and hence not able to obtain the privilege. Paul however, being born in the city of Tarsus was 'born free' since Tarsus had been made a free city in 41 B.C. But 'freedmen' status did not confer the rights of a Roman citizenship upon him. 'It only smoothed the way to his acquisition of the higher distinction. The granting of this privilege would compel his presence in Rome for the necessary formalities.'...Roman citizenship and its freedom were obtained with difficulty only through certain conditions. Only certain individuals could secure the treasured privilege, and they had to pay large sums to do so. But a freeman could 'obtain the distinction as a right by complying with the formalities, without monetary consideration." ..."The difference between being a Roman citizen and being born free is evidenced in the behavior of the officer at the time of Paul's arrest in Jerusalem. When asked if he was the Egyptian who had been creating a disturbance, Paul replied that he was not, but was a Jew born in Tarsus. The officer would be aware that Paul was a freeman because Paul was born in Tarsus, and he ...'commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.' Paul immediately declared himself to be not only born free, but to be a Roman citizen as well. This status caused them to release him from his bonds and treat him with courtesy." P. 13O
5. Paul was probably a few years
younger than Christ.
6. Spoke four languages.
7. Instructed at feet of Gamaliel.
8. Was an up and coming Rabbinical student.
9. Saul's misguided zeal led him to persecute the early Church.
Acts 9:21; I Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; Phil. 3:6; I Tim. 1:13
Note: Paul ever married? We don't know. Probably not. A member of the Sanhedrin? Doubtful. Had to be at least 30, married, and have children.
Speculation: Paul walked 7 days alone which gave him plenty of time to think of Stephen and Gamaliel.
"It is hard for you to kick against the pricks" means defy the established authority.
Barbara M. Bowen writes on page 66 in
her book, Strange Scriptures That Perplex The Western Mind:
"The plowman in Bible Lands carries in his hand a long pole or goad, with a sharp metal point or prick on one end of the pole and at the other there is a flat piece of iron which is used to clean the plowshare. Quite often the young ox, probably not well broken in, will kick, because he does not like his work. The plowman then holds the pole or goad in such a position that when the ox kicks again, he will kick against that prick of sharp point, and thus the animal will learn it doesn't pay."
Paul was evidently under conviction and was trying to stifle the pricking of his conscience by increasing the intensity of his persecution.
A sudden change of heart and mind. Totally submissive.
"hearing" but not seeing? See Acts 22:9. "But they heard . . ."
Key: Two meanings:
Point: They heard but did not understand.
Paul's fame had spread and Ananias was very aware. Saints (haggious, Greek) means holy.
Note: Chosen to bear name to Gentiles, Kings, and Children of Israel. Not an easy task, as we will see.
Seems that Paul received the Holy Spirit before he was baptized.
Paul spent three years in Arabia; possibly Petra. Taught personally by the Eternal. Gal. 1:12-17.
Coincidentally: "Many days" -- I Kings. 2:38 shows could represent three years (same phrase).
Trouble Comes (9:20-:26)
Approximately 38 A.D.
Paul spent l5 days in Jerusalem. Then, Paul is out of the scene for about five years. Acts 22:18.
Point: Not suddenly made an apostle.
James the Lord's brother is introduced - Gal. 1:19
Peace in Churches (9:27-31)
Barnabas - a wealthy Church member and merchant who was probably baptized along with original 3000.
Paul in Tarsus
Because Paul was converted, Churches had rest. Also because of what was happening in Roman Empire -- during reign of Caligula.
"were multiplied" -- shows growth once again.
Conclusion: Explains "Churches had rest" in Acts 9:31 - period from about 37 A.D. to 41 A.D.
Gentiles Come In
Peter's Journeys (9:32-43)
Peter's journeys - Lydda, Joppa (Tabitha)
Two kinds of gifts of healing:
Joppa - Tabitha (9:36-43)
Peter, interestingly enough, put out the doubters first.
Point: Is not a test of faith.
RAISED FROM DEAD
Index | Chapter 8 | Chapter 10