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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 9 - Verse 3

Verse 3. And as he journeyed. On his way; or while he was travelling. The place. where this occurred is not known. Tradition has fixed it at the mountain now called Cocab. See Barnes "Ac 9:2".

All that we know of it is, that it was near to Damascus.

And suddenly. Like a flash of lightning.

There shined round about him, etc. The language which is expressed here would be used in describing a flash of lightning. Many critics have supposed that God made use of a sudden flash to arrest Paul, and that he was much alarmed, and brought to reflection. That God might make use of such a means cannot be denied. But to this supposition in this case there are some unanswerable objections.

(1.) It was declared to be the appearance of the Lord Jesus: Ac 9:27, "Barnabas declared unto them how that he had seen the Lord in the way." 1 Co 15:8: "And last of all he was seen of me also." 1 Co 9:1: "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?"

(2.) Those who were with Saul saw the light, but did not hear the voice, Ac 22:9. See Barnes "Ac 22:9".

This is incredible on the supposition that it was a flash of lightning near them.

(3.) It was manifestly regarded as a message to Saul. The light appeared, and the voice spake to him. The others did not even hear the address. Besides,

(4.) it was as easy for Jesus to appear in a supernatural manner, as to appear amidst thunder and lightning. That the Lord Jesus appeared, is distinctly affirmed. And we shall see that it is probable that he would appear in a supernatural manner.

In order to understand this, it may be necessary to make the following remarks:

(1.) God was accustomed to appear to the Jews in a cloud; in a pillar of smoke, or of fire; in that peculiar splendour which they denominated the Shecaniah. In this way he went before them into the land of Canaan, Ex 13:21,22. Comp. Isa 4:5,6. This appearance or visible manifestation they called the glory of JEHOVAH, Isa 6:1-4; Ex 16:7, "In the morning ye shall see the glory of the Lord;" Le 9:23; Nu 14:10; 15:19; 24:16; 1 Ki 8:11; Eze 10:4. See Barnes "Lu 2:9, "The glory of the Lord shone round about them."

(2.) The Lord Jesus, in his transfiguration on the mount, had been encompassed with that glory. See Barnes "Mt 17:1-5".


(3.) He had spoken of similar glory as pertaining to him; as that which he had been invested with before his incarnation; and to which he would return. Joh 17:5, "And now, Father, glorify thou me, etc., with the glory Which I had with thee before the world was." Mt 25:31, "The Son of man shall come in his glory." Comp. Mt 16:27; 19:28. To this glory he had returned when he left the earth.

(4.) It is a sentiment which cannot be shown to be incorrect, that the various appearances of" the angel of Jehovah," and of Jehovah, mentioned in the Old Testament, were appearances of the Messiah; the God who should be incarnate; the peculiar Protector of his people. See Isa 6, comp. with Joh 12:41.

(5.) If the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul, it would be in this manner. It would be in his appropriate glory and honour, as the ascended Messiah.

That he did appear is expressly affirmed.

(6.) This was an occasion when, if ever, such an appearance was proper. The design was to convert an infuriated persecutor, and to make him an apostle. To do this, it was necessary that he should see the Lord Jesus, 1 Co 9:1,2. The design was, further, to make him an eminent instrument in carrying the gospel to the Gentiles. A signal miracle; a demonstration that he was invested with his appropriate glory, Joh 17:5; a calling up a new witness to the fact of his resurrection, and his solemn investment with glory in the heavens, seemed to be required in thus calling a violent persecutor to be an apostle and friend.

(7.) We are to regard this appearance, therefore, as the reappearance of the Shecaniah, the Son of God invested with appropriate glory, appearing to convince an enemy of his ascension, and to change him from a foe to a friend.

It has been objected, that as the Lord Jesus had ascended to heaven, it cannot be presumed that his body would return to the earth again. To this we may reply, that the New Testament has thrown no light on this. Perhaps it is not necessary to suppose that his body returned, but that he made such a visible manifestation of himself as to convince Saul that he was the Messiah.

From heaven. From above; from the sky. In Ac 26:13, Paul says that the light was above the brightness of the sun at mid-day.

{a} "why persecutest thou me" Mt 25:40,45

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