I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are to do.’Acts 22:10
“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”Acts 9:6
“Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future.”Acts 26:16
Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.Acts 9:1-18
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the one you are persecuting.’
The people with me saw the light but didn’t understand the voice speaking to me.
“I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’
And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are to do.’
I was blinded by the intense light and had to be led by the hand to Damascus by my companions. A man named Ananias lived there. He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus. He came and stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And that very moment I could see him! Then he told me, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and hear him speak. For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard. What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.’Acts 22:7-16
“One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’ “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’
“And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven.Acts 26:12-19
What a remarkable story told by the one who experienced it. One who was bitterly opposed to the followers of the Way. In summary it’s the story a devout Jew living in Damascus, one who follows the strict Jewish interpretation of the Law who was sent by God to a Pharisee who was persecuting followers of the Way to death which resulted in the conversion of the latter to become a follower of the Way. Pardon! Let me run that by you once again. Ananias, a devout Jew is sent by God to Saul, a Pharisee who was equally devout in his hatred for the Christians and Ananias tells Paul he needs to be baptized and become a follower of the Way. Incredible. That in essence is the story. Destined to become a tale told straight from Hollywood. But that in essence is what is recorded here. I don’t know where to start in pointing all the features of this account.
Notice how Paul is careful to explain Ananias’ involvement because his involvement IS important. When we put all three accounts together (Acts 9, 22 and 26) we can see clearly that God has been at work in multiple places and in many people all at the same time. I don’t intend to look at the message given to Paul by Ananias in this Gem – the one that is introduced by God by the words – In Damascus you will be told everything you are to do. I will leave that message for a following Gem. Let’s investigate the encounter carefully.
Paul is on his way to Damascus to round up the renegade Jews who have become Christians, fled Jerusalem after persecution broke out, and are now living in the Damascus. Paul is bent on rounding them up and bringing them back to Jerusalem to face the punishment they deserve. That much of the story is very clear. On the way Paul is met by Jesus of Nazareth (Paul’s term) in the middle of day and the brightness of Him in the encounter of road outside of Damascus outshines the sun. Paul is knocked to the ground and afterwards when he gets up realizes he can no longer see. He tells the crowd and the members of the Sanhedrin he could no longer see because of the brightness of the light. That is incredible. Furthermore he makes it clear that it was not just a temporary blinding, we know it last for three days before he could see again. The blinding is clear proof of the reality of what happened.
Even the account of the blinding is interesting. Paul was travelling with a group. All of the group experienced the encounter but in different ways. All fell down, all heard something. But only Paul understood the words and only Paul ended up effectively blind for three days, unable to see. Paul is told to go into Damascus. We must assume that Paul goes into the city and is praying for enlightenment on what all this meant. At the time he was praying, God speaks to Ananias and tells him Paul is praying. He told to go to Paul. This same one who was hunting out and killing Jews who had converted to Christianity. Why is Ananias concerned about going to see Paul after he was told Paul was praying? There is a hint in the story that this strictly devout Jew had become Christian. Paul remains blind until Ananias comes to him. Ananias had been told exactly where Paul was in the city. God didn’t tell Paul where to go; He told Ananias where Paul was. God arranged all of this. That much is very clear from Acts 22:10.
Paul’s description of Ananias in Acts 22 is clearly to meant to emphasize from a Jewish point of view that Ananias was the right kind of Jew to have gone to Paul after this encounter. But notice it is Ananias who gives Paul the message to be baptised, which Paul does “straight away” after getting in to the city. Well first he has to wait for Ananias to come and tell him everything he has to do. Remember, “Go into the city and you will be told everything you are to do.” Paul waits unable to see. What made him unable to see for so long. The inference is impossible to escape. Paul had experienced something far greater than their ancestor Moses on Mt Sinai. It was the light of the Glory of God seen in the face of Jesus Christ ( 2 Cor 4:6). The Jewish audience could not have avoided coming to that conclusion. Reinforced by the fact that Paul’s sight was restored at the very moment Ananias said “Brother Saul, Receive your sight.” If it had been a slow gradual recovery we would all attribute it to natural causes. Rather the fact that Ananias was sent to Paul by God and the moment he pronounces that Paul receive his sight, it happens. The cause and effect is beyond doubt for all of us involved. Paul, Ananias, Paul’s companions on the road, the crowd listening to him on the steps of the Anatonia and us now centuries later. We all know the reason.
Now it is time for me to point out something else from the text to you. “At that moment I could see him” is a curious statement. Luke used the Greek word [anablepō] which means both “to recover sight” and “to look up”. Luke uses that same word in Luke 18:41 and 19:5 in each case with the sense of looking up. Question: who was Paul seeing when he looked up? Seemingly Ananias but could it have been the Lord? Let’s now turn to Acts 22:19 where Paul says, “Lord, they themselves know . . . [the nature of who I was.] The pronoun “They” is emphatic. The use of Lord here is unequivocally to carry the meaning that Paul is address the LORD – the God of the Old Testament. The inference being that they now know that something absolutely extraordinary must have happened to Paul to change him from Saul to Paul. This fire breathing persecutor has now become one of those whom he was persecuting. For Saul, who supported the stoning of Stephen and then asked the Sanhedrin for letters of authority to persecute Christian to now have become one of them must have taken Divine Intervention. Yes that is right! They now know! Paul is the very person they need to hear this from, given the track record of what he had done and who he was. This Saul has now become that Paul.
The latter part of verse 22:19 is interesting too where Paul seems to say he himself imprisoned and beat the believers. The word used here to mean “beat” is the Greek word [derō] which means not only to beat, strike or hit, but also “to flay” – to scourge, flog to the point of ripping the skin off. On the face value of the word used it seems Paul himself at times flogged Christians to the point of flaying them. This one who perpetrated such violence on the Christians has now become one of them. That must have taken the Divine Intervention. Yes that is the point of Paul’s defence.
Note then what Jesus, the risen LORD, says to Paul. “Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly because they will not accept your testimony of Me.”
That is an amazing statement. I will not even attempt to go into that now. It is time to stop.
“The glory of God” is a way of saying that there is objective, absolute reality to which all human admiration, wonder, awe, veneration, praise, honour, acclaim, and worship are pointing.John Piper
Of course the glory of God on the face of Jesus outshone the sun at midday on the Damascus road – it was the sun He created.Ian Vail
It’s a travesty to speak of the glory of God in a way that is overly familiar, stale or clichéd that it wakens no sense of wonder.Ian Vail
They now know just as you now know the reason for Paul’s conversion. Have you encountered Him in that way?Ian Vail