What does Acts 9:4 mean?
ESV: And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
NIV: He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'
NASB: and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'
CSB: Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? "
NLT: He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?'
KJV: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
NKJV: Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Acts 9:1–9 tells the story of how the lead persecutor of the early church meets Jesus. Saul, who had arrested the Jesus-followers in Jerusalem (Act 7:58; 8:1–3), expands his terror outside of Judea and travels north to Damascus. Jesus stops Saul and reveals He is not only alive, He is glorified by the light of heaven. Saul is stunned—and blinded. His companions lead him into the city where he waits, without food or drink, for three day until Jesus' messenger comes to tell him what to do. Saul goes into further detail in Acts 22:6–16 and 26:9–18.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 9 sets the stage for the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. Saul continues the persecution of the church by traveling to Damascus to arrest Jesus-followers. Before he reaches the city, Jesus confronts him. Saul realizes Jesus is the Messiah and immediately starts spreading the news, first in Damascus and later in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Peter travels to modern-day Tel Aviv to heal a paralyzed man and bring a dead woman back to life. The miracles aren't unusual, but the story leaves him in Joppa, poised to take the next step in Jesus' mandate to be His witness (Acts 1:8).
Chapter Context:
The murder of the Jesus-follower Stephen has ignited a fierce persecution against the church, led by a young Pharisee-trained man named Saul (Acts 7:54—8:3; 9:1–2). When he realizes Jesus truly is the Messiah, that fervor fuels his own evangelism (Acts 9:3–30). Meanwhile, Peter travels to the coast of Judea. Soon, he will teach a prominent Gentile household about Jesus and discover that Gentiles can be saved (Acts 10). The stage will be set for Saul to spread the saving news of Jesus to ''the end of the earth'' (Acts 1:8) under the Greek version of his name: Paul.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 5/27/2024 11:50:22 PM
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