Acts 9:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 9:4, NIV: He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'

Acts 9:4, ESV: And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Acts 9:4, KJV: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts 9:4, NASB: and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'

Acts 9:4, NLT: He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?'

Acts 9:4, CSB: Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? "

What does Acts 9:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Saul is headed to Damascus with one mission: to arrest anyone who claims Jesus is the Messiah, take them to Jerusalem, and see them tried, convicted, and executed for blasphemy (Acts 9:1–2; 26:10). Instead, on the road outside of the city, he is thrown to the ground by a great heavenly light and a life-changing question.

"Persecute" is from the Greek root word diōkō. It means "to harass, trouble, or mistreat someone" or "to chase after someone as they flee." Saul has done all these to the Jesus-followers. He watched approvingly while Stephen, one of the first deacons, was murdered by a mob (Acts 7:58). Under the orders of the Jewish council, he searched Jerusalem, house-by-house, to arrest Christians and take them to trial, where he voted that they should be executed for blasphemy (Acts 8:1–3; 26:10). He did everything he could to get them to denounce their faith in Jesus, and he did it all "in raging fury" (Acts 26:11).

Now, Saul is told everything he did to followers of Jesus, he did to Jesus Himself. Jesus warned the disciples of this (Matthew 10:17–23). He told them, "whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God" (John 16:2), but He also prayed, "That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21). And He told the disciples, "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me" (Matthew 10:40) and "as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).

Saul, indeed, thinks he is defending God's honor. That has always been his desire. But he was trained as a Pharisee, a sect which valued manmade regulations over a careful consideration of the prophecies and how Jesus of Nazareth might fulfill them. God will use that training to bring an even perspective to the establishment of the Gentiles in the church and He will use Saul's fervor to push on as he suffers for Jesus' name (Acts 9:16).