10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.
12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Ananias (v.10) — Nothing is known of him except what is given here and in Paul’s account of these events in Acts 22 — where we learn that he was a devout Jew who kept the law. He was obviously also a believer in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and was probably on Saul’s hit list when he traveled to Damascus.
street called Straight (v.11) — Visitors to Damascus know the street. It is still there, and constitutes the main highway. Along that street Saul passed, led blind to the house of one Judas, which now lies below the rubbish. That street in Damascus stretched from the western to the eastern gate. In the days of Saul it was very beautiful, typical in every way of that Greek movement; a great highway through the city of Damascus, the principal highway, divided by Corinthians columns into three avenues. — The Acts of the Apostles, by G. Campbell Morgan, pages 232-233.
Judas (v.11) — almost certainly a non-believing Jew who received Saul as the representative of the high priest
Paul’s mission to persecute believers was widely known (vs. 13-14, 21).
chosen vessel (v.15) — the treasure the vessel was chosen to carry is the Lord’s name (see also Jeremiah 18:1-6; Romans 9:21).
kings (v.15) — Paul spoke before Roman governors, King Agrippa (Acts 26) and, perhaps, Emperor Nero (2 Timothy 4:17).
Mark well that right here, at the outset of his ministry, when the Lord first commissions him, the Gentiles are mentioned before Israel. It is true, to be sure, that until Acts 28 he went to the Jews first in city after city, but this was not to further extend Peter’s offer of the kingdom, for that offer could be accepted only in the land. It was rather that Israel as a nation might have no excuse for rejecting Christ. While God was still dealing with Israel, these Jews outside the land were given first opportunity to hear that “Jesus is the Christ,” so that they might decide for themselves whether or not they would join the nation in its rejection of Christ and accept the responsibility for the judgment which was to follow. Furthermore, it was the natural thing for Saul, a Jew, to begin his ministry to “all men” by going first to his own people, who at least believed in the true God, to witness to them that the rejected Jesus was truly God’s Anointed. but Saul’s ministry was to be mainly to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).
It is significant that upon Saul’s first return to Jerusalem after his conversion Christ appeared to him to say: Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning Me (Acts 22:18).
And when Saul argued the case, thinking that his testimony, more than that of others, might bear weight with them, the Lord replied summarily: Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles (Acts 22:21). — Acts Dispensationally Considered, by C.R. Stam, pages 39-40
This [how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake] explains one of his [Paul’s] statements in the Colossians letter with which many have experienced difficulty: [I] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind [still remains] of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).
This passage in no way indicates that our Lord’s death on Calvary did not suffice to pay the whole debt of sin. It has rather to do with the present afflictions of Christ which we, his ambassadors, suffer, or should suffer, for Him.
The world’s attitude toward Christ has not changed. Were He here today they would crucify Him again. But He is exalted far above all, out of their reach. It is we who “fill up” that which still remains of His afflictions.
And Saul is our leader in this. He had led the rebellion and had cruelly persecuted the believers. Now God, allowing the rebellion to continue, had saved Saul, sending him forth as an ambassador of reconciliation to His enemies. Hence he now had to bear the suffering he had once inflicted upon others — suffering for Christ. Ah, but such suffering is sweet. He calls it “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). He rejoices in it (Colossians 1:24).
And we follow him in this too, for we also are ambassadors of grace, ourselves saved by grace. Therefore the apostle says to us: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). — Stam, pages 43-44
Just a few verses earlier (Acts 9:4) , the Lord told Saul that persecuting believers was persecuting Him. Then, in verse 10, He begins to explain how Paul’s sufferings were His sufferings.