What does Acts 9:7 mean?
ESV: The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
NIV: The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
NASB: The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
CSB: The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one.
NLT: The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one!
KJV: And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Saul has been stopped outside of Damascus by a bright light and the voice of Jesus asking why he is persecuting Jesus' followers. Saul's traveling companions see the light and hear a noise, but they can't understand the words (Acts 22:9). This is not unlike the time Jesus asked God the Father to glorify His name and God responded. Some people heard God the Father's words clearly while others heard only thunder (John 12:28–29). Or the time only Daniel could see a vision, although the men around him fled in fear (Daniel 10:4–7). Only those God chooses can hear Him.
This is drastically different from where Saul thought he would be. Not long ago, he stood proudly, watching over the coats of the men who stoned Stephen, a deacon of the church, to death (Acts 7:58). Then he chased the Jesus-followers in Jerusalem, arrested them, and brought them to trial (Acts 8:1–3). When the Jesus-followers fled, he traveled 133 miles from Jerusalem to Damascus to continue terrorizing the new church (Acts 9:1–2).
Now, he is knocked to the ground. The man his mentors crucified is speaking to him from the midst of the light of the glory of heaven. As Jesus warned His disciples, Saul thought he was doing God's will by persecuting these upstarts (see John 16:2). He was wrong.
There's some discrepancy between Luke's account here, based on Saul's testimony, and Saul's later testimony to King Agrippa. In Acts 26:14, Saul says, "And when we had all fallen to the ground…" Did the other men stand (Acts 9:7) or fall (Acts 26:14)? "Stand" is from the Greek root word histēmi and, like the English, can either mean "balance upright on one's feet" or "to remain fixed in a situation." So, one option is they fell to the ground and their inability to speak remained through the event. Another is that the men fell and then stood again while Saul stayed on the ground.
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.
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).
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.
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 12/6/2023 10:18:42 PM
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