Acts 9:17-22

17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”

22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Ananais’ faith was strong — He went to the man who had come to arrest him and called him “Brother.”

fell from (v.18) — a technical medical term, once again pointing to Luke’s profession of physician

scales (v.18) — also a medical term — the particles or scaly substance thrown off from the body

received his sight (v.18) — physically, but probably spiritually too. It was likely at this moment that he was filled with the Spirit.

some days (v.19) — A period of comparatively -short duration

with the disciples (v.19) — those he came to persecute

immediately (v.20) — See my notes on Galatians 1:15-17.

Straightway — Many place Paul’s visit to Arabia (Galatians 1:15-17) between verses 19 and 20, being of opinion that he sought retirement with God before entering upon public ministry. Others consider that it intervenes between verses 21 and 22; while others, again, would place it after verse 22 and before verse 23. Luke has omitted all mention of it as not falling in with the special scope of his missionary history. We know from Galatians 1:17 that Paul returned from Arabia to Damascus again, and Galatians 1:16 (immediately) proves that his retirement took place very soon after his conversion. Though we cannot say certainly at what point this narrative is to be interrupted to make room for it, yet, on the whole, it seems best to insert it between verses 21 and 22. The word “straightway” of the text renders a break after verse 19 very improbable. — Walker, page 214

in the synagogues (v.20) — the same synagogues to which he was carrying letters from the high priest

preached (v.20) = proclaimed as a herald

He is the Son of God (v.20) — the only place in Acts where Jesus Christ is specifically referred to as the Son of God.

A reason why we find Paul proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, here is that the book of Acts is essentially the story of Israel’s fall, not the story of the birth and growth of the Church of this age. The opening question of the book is: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). The answer at the close is: “The salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles” (Acts 28:28). The Body of Christ did have its beginning with Paul, during the period covered by the latter part of Acts, but the main purpose of the book is to show how Israel rejected Christ in spite of the miraculous demonstrations of Pentecost, in spite of the powerful appeals of the twelve and even in spite of the testimony of Paul, who once had been Christ’s greatest enemy on earth. — Stam, page 49

increased all the more in strength (v.22) = was continually strengthened more and more

confounded (v.22) — confusion and perplexity of mind

proving (v.22) — The word means “to establish a conclusion by putting things side by side and comparing them.” Paul doubtless compared the Messianic prophecies of the Jewish Scriptures with the facts of the life and death of Jesus Christ. The verb is found again in 16:10; 19:33; Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:2, 19, with different renderings. — Walker, page 216


The conversion and commission of Saul was representative. Rather than immediately crushing the rebellion against Christ, God was now to save men out of it and send them, like Saul, back into enemy territory with the offer of reconciliation by grace through faith.

It must be emphasized, however, that Saul’s conversion was but the first step in this direction. The salvation of the leader of the world’s rebellion, the call of another apostle, separate from the twelve: these were but the first departures from the prophetic program. This program was to be gradually displaced and temporarily replaced — by a parenthetical program of the mystery. As a whole the prophetic program still prevailed at this time.

This is clear from the fact that the Holy Spirit (as He operated then) was imparted to Saul by the laying on of hands, and that his sight was miraculously restored in the same way.

This is clear also from the fact that he was baptized with water to “wash away” his sins (See Acts 22:16). We know of course, that the washing of water was only symbolic; that it could not in itself wash away sin; that Saul was saved essentially by the grace and power of God. Indeed he was soon to go forth to make this truth known, preaching “the gospel of the grace of God.” But the fact that a new dispensation had begun does not mean that the old had already passed away. The other apostles could not yet have understood the secret purposes of God, nor had it been indicated to them that the discharge of their “great commission” would be interrupted, hence water baptism was still required, along with faith, for salvation (Mark 16:15-16) at the time when Saul was converted, and any true believer would be “baptized for remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

The fact that the old dispensation still prevailed at that time is further emphasized by the type of man God chose to baptize Saul. Paul later says of him: “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me … ” (Acts 22:12-13).

Those who contend that Israel was set aside at the cross and that Peter and the eleven were then sent forth by the risen Christ to preach “the gospel of the grace of God,” must find it difficult to explain why even Paul was later baptized by a devout, law-observing Jew, to wash away his sins!

No, Saul’s conversion was not the fruit of a message of grace preached by the twelve. He was saved “by the revelation of Jesus Christ” while the prophetic program and the “great commission” was still in force. But his salvation and his ministry were to usher in the “the dispensation of the grace of God,” which was to emerge gradually from the deadlock caused by Israel’s failure to accept her Messiah. — Stam, pages 44-46

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