And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will you have me to do? And the Lord said to him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And he trembling and astonished . . .—The words stand, as far as textual authority is concerned, on the same footing as the foregoing, but, for the same reason, will be dealt with here. We note (1) the use of the word “Lord,” now, we must believe, with a new meaning, as applied to the Nazarene whom he had before despised. (2) The entire surrender of his own will to that of Him whom he thus recognised as commanding his allegiance. At that moment Christ was formed in him (Galatians 1:16); the new man came to life. He lived in Christ, and Christ in him. “Not I, but Christ that liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20) was henceforward the axiom of his life.
Arise, and go into the city.—In the narrative of Acts 26:16 there appears a fuller manifestation of the divine purpose as made at this time; but there St. Paul, in his rapid survey, is obviously combining, in one brief summary, the whole sum and substance of the teaching that was associated with that great turning-point of his life. We may trace in the command actually given a stage in the divine discipline appointed for his spirit. Silence and submission, and acquiescence in ignorance of the future, and patient expectation, and prayer for light—these were needed before he could be ready for the great work which was to be committed to his charge.- Acts
Mark 10:51. - Acts 9:6.
Christ asks the first question of a petitioner, and the answer is a prayer for sight. Saul asks the second question of Jesus, and the answer is a command. Different as they are, we may bring them together. The one is the voice of love, desiring to be besought in order that it may bestow; the other is the voice of love, desiring to be commanded in order that it may obey.
Love delights in knowing, expressing, and fulfilling the beloved’s wishes.
I. The communion of Love delights on both sides in knowing the beloved’s wishes.
Christ delights in knowing ours. He encourages us to speak though He knows, because it is pleasant to Him to hear, and good for us to tell. His children delight in knowing His will.
II. It delights in expressing wishes-His commandments are the utterance of His Love:
His Providences are His loving ways of telling us what He desires of us, and if we love Him as we ought, both commandments and providences will be received by us as lovers do gifts that have ‘with my love’ written on them.
On the other hand, our love will delight in telling Him what we wish, and to speak all our hearts to Jesus will be our instinct in the measure of our love to Him.
III. It delights in fulfilling wishes-puts key of treasure-house into our hands.
He refused John and James. Be sure that He does still delight to give us our desires, and so be sure that when any of these are not granted there must be some loving reason for refusal.
Our delight should be in obedience, and only when our wills are submitted to His does He say to us, ‘What wilt thou?’ ‘If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.’Acts 9:6. And, trembling and astonished — To find that he whom he had so often affronted and despised, yea, blasphemously and virulently opposed, even Jesus of Nazareth, was such a glorious and powerful person; and yet, that instead of destroying him immediately, as he might have easily done, he had condescended thus compassionately to expostulate with him, he was overwhelmed with confusion and dismay; and in the deepest self-abasement and contrition, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do — What is thy will concerning me? Can mercy be extended to me? If so, I am prepared for any submission, self-denial, labour, or hardship which may be required of me. These were the first words that grace spoke in and by Saul; and with these began his spiritual life. In these he manifested a serious desire to be instructed by Christ in his duty, and a sincere resignation of himself to Christ’s conduct and government. And the Lord said, Arise, and go into the city, &c. — To which thou art now near; and it shall be told thee what thou must do — Thou shall be instructed in all things which I have appointed concerning thee. It was encouragement enough to Saul, to have further instruction promised him. But, 1st, He must not have it yet: it shall be told him by and by what he must do: but for the present he must pause upon what has been already said to him; and must improve that: let him consider a while what he has done in persecuting Christ and his people, and be deeply humbled for that, and then he shall be told what he has further to do. 2d, He must not have further instructions in this way, by a voice from heaven, for it is what he cannot bear. He trembles and is astonished; he shall be told, therefore, what he must do, by a man like himself, whose terror shall not make him afraid. Observe, Christ declares his mind to his people by degrees; and both what he doth, and what he would have them do, though they know not now, they shall know hereafter.
And astonished - At what he saw.
Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? - This indicates a subdued soul, a humbled spirit. Just before, he had sought only to do his own will; now he inquired what was the will of the Saviour. Just before he was acting under a commission from the Sanhedrin; now he renounced their authority, and asked what the Lord Jesus would have him to do. Just before he had been engaged in a career of opposition to the Lord Jesus; now he sought at once to do his will. This indicates the usual change in the mind of the sinner when he is converted. The great controversy between him and God is, whose will shall be followed. The sinner follows his own; the first act of the Christian is to surrender his own will to that of God, and to resolve to do what he requires. We may further remark here that this indicates the true nature of conversion. It is decided, prompt immediate. Paul did not debate the matter Galatians 1:16; he did not inquire what the scribes and Pharisees would say; he did not consult his own reputation; he did not ask what the world would think. With characteristic promptness - with a readiness which showed what he would yet be, he gave himself up at once, and entirely, to the Lord Jesus, evidently with a purpose to do his will alone. This was the case also with the jailor at Philippi, Acts 16:30. Nor can there be any real conversion where the heart and will are not given to the Lord Jesus, to be directed and moulded by him at his pleasure. We may test our conversion then by the example of the apostle Paul. If our hearts have been given up as his was, we are true friends of Christ.
Go into the city - Damascus. They were near it, Acts 9:3.
And it shall be told thee - It is remarkable that he was thus directed. But we may learn from it:
(1) That even in the most striking and remarkable cases of conversion, there is not at once a clear view of duty. What course of life should be followed; what should be done; nay, what should be believed, is not at once apparent.
(2) the aid of others, and especially ministers, and of experienced Christians, is often very desirable to aid even those who are converted in the most remarkable manner. Saul was converted by a miracle; the Saviour appeared to him in his glory; of the truth of his Messiahship he had no doubt, but still he was dependent on an humble disciple in Damascus to be instructed in what he should do.
(3) those who are converted, in however striking a manner it may be, should be willing to seek the counsel of those who are in the church before them. The most striking evidence of their conversion will not prevent their deriving important direction and benefit from the aged, the experienced, and the wise in the Christian church.
(4) such remarkable conversions are suited to induce the subjects of the change to seek counsel and direction. They produce humility; a deep sense of sin and of unworthiness; and a willingness to be taught and directed by anyone who can point out the way of duty and of life.
Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee, &c.—See on Ac 8:26-28.Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Saul, being thoroughly humbled, and brought to resign himself wholly to God, makes this question, giving up himself as a white paper, for Christ to write what he would upon: he had thought he had done God good service, (as it is said many persecutors should think so too, John 16:2), but he is now powerfully brought off from his obstinacy in that persuasion.
Go into the city; Damascus, which was near at hand. Whether Christ revealed his gospel now unto him, or in the three days in which he remained blind in Damascus, Acts 9:9, is not so certain; but it is certain that he was Xristo didaktov, taught immediately by Christ himself, as he testifies. Galatians 1:12, and in that, without any further instruction, he was baptized, Acts 9:17,18: yet many things might be left for Ananias to confirm him in; and God, by this sending of him to Ananias, would honour his own ordinance, and recommend the ministry and use of means, which are the power of God unto salvation, Romans 1:16: and thus, though God could have instructed Cornelius by the angel which appeared unto him, Acts 10:3, yet he is commanded to send for Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, Acts 9:5,6.
said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? he was willing to do any thing he should him to, whereby he might make satisfaction for the injury he had done him, and by which he might be saved; for he was still upon the covenant of works, as persons under first convictions commonly are:
and the Lord said unto him; this, with all that goes before in this verse, is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and Syriac version: "arise and go into the city"; that is, of Damascus, as the Ethiopic version reads:
and it shall be told thee what thou must do; what was appointed for him to do, Acts 22:10 and there it was told him both what he should do and suffer for Christ, but not to obtain salvation; and this was done internally by the Spirit of God, who instructed him in the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel, and externally by Ananias: in two of Beza's copies, and in the Syriac version, it is read, "there shall it be told thee", &c.And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 9:6. ʼΑλλά] breaking off; see on Mark 16:7, and Bäumlein, Partik. p. 15.
According to chap. 26., Jesus forthwith gives Saul the commission to become the apostle of the Gentiles, which, according to the two other narratives, here and chap. 22., is only given afterwards through the intervention of Ananias. This diversity is sufficiently explained by the fact that Paul in the speech before Agrippa abridges the narrative, and puts the commission, which was only subsequently conveyed to him by the instrumentality of another, at once into the mouth of Christ Himself, the author of the commission; by which the thing in itself (the command issued by Christ to him) is not affected, but merely the exactness of the representation, the summary abbreviation of which on this point Paul might esteem as sufficient before Agrippa (in opposition to Zeller, p. 193).Acts 9:6. For this verse see critical notes and also Acts 22:10. Ἀνάστηθι: verb characteristic of St. Luke, see on Acts 5:7. Here, if we compare Acts 26:16 (Acts 14:10), it is evidently used in a literal sense.—καὶ λαληθήσεταί σοι, see note on Acts 26:15.6. Arise] The MSS. which omit the above words insert a conjunction here. Read, But arise. Saul had continued prostrate as he had fallen down at the first.
and go into the city] A proof that the party of travellers had arrived very nearly at Damascus. Tradition here, as in many other instances, has fixed on a spot as the scene of this Divine vision. It is placed outside the eastern gate, and about a mile from the city. Such a situation answers very well, but its fitness is the only ground for attaching any weight to the tradition.
and it shall be told thee what thou must do] In Acts 26:16-18 we have an abstract given by the Apostle of the labours for which Christ designed him, and the words in that passage are placed as a portion of the Divine communication made before Saul entered Damascus, but as in that narrative no mention is made of Ananias or his visit, we may conclude that we have instead a brief notice of the message which Ananias brought to him, and that therein is contained a declaration of what Jesus in the vision only spoke of as “what thou must do.”Acts 9:6. Ἀλλὰ) Instead of this particle, the longer portion (periocha) has been introduced, σκληρόν σοι πρὸς κέντρα λακτίζειν· τρέμων τε καὶ θαμβῶν εἶπε, Κύριε, τί με θέλεις ποιῆσαι; καὶ ὁ Κύριος πρὸς αὐτόν: That this is a gloss, composed from the parallel, ch. Acts 26:14, and from a paraphrase, is betrayed by the manifold discrepancy among the few authorities which support the passage. See App. Crit., Ed. ii., on this place [which altogether refutes this paraphrase that has originated from the parallelism. This is done more fully in the Defence of the New Testament, published separately, A.D. 1739 and 1745. (App. Ed. ii., P. iv. n. ix.)—Not. Crit.]
—εἰς τὴν πόλιν, into the city) Saul is desired to prosecute his journey and enter the city, but now in a different state of mind. Without this command, he would not have known what he ought to do. It was in those localities first, wherein he had been a persecutor, that Saul confessed the name of Jesus: ch. Acts 26:20.—λαληθήσεται, it shall be told thee) Saul was obliged to wait and submit himself to the ministry, as was the case with Cornelius afterwards: ch. Acts 10:5, “Send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon,” etc. To the ministry Jesus sent away the one, the angel the other, in words which were for that reason few. They are not exempt from danger who, without communion with competent men, seek a path to heaven. The συγκατάβασις, condescension, is marvellous, that the Lord deals with us through men like ourselves.—τί σε δεῖ ποιεῖν, what thou must do) Saul had asked concerning this: Ananias told him this, Acts 9:17. The apostle learned the rest from the Lord Himself.
 Vulg. Amiat. supports the addition of these words as in Rec. Text: but not so Amiat. corrected. Also Syr. with an asterisk has them. None other of the oldest authorities has them, except that Hilary has this part of them, “Tremens et pavens dixit, Domine, quid me vis facere?” ABCEe (Ee Syr. add σκληρόν σοι πρὸς κέντρα λακτίζειν after ver. 4) Memph. and Theb. omit the words. Also Lachm. seems to state that Amiat. Vulg. omits them; but Tisch. otherwise.—E. and T.Verse 6. - Rise, and enter into the city for Arise, and go, etc., A.V.
The best texts omit.
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