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Acts 9:1-6, (7-20) - Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

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Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" He asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." [The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.


Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.


For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."]


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This is the mandatory “First Reading” that comes from the Book of Acts. It will be read aloud on the third Sunday of Easter, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will precede a singing of Psalm 30, where David wrote, “You brought me up, Yahweh, from the dead; you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.” That song will be followed by a reading from Revelation, where John wrote: “I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”’ All will accompany the Gospel reading from John, where the prophet wrote, “Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.”


In this mandatory reading from Acts 9, which is only read on this third Sunday of Easter, in the Year C schedule, this must be understood as telling of the acts of surrender, the giving of oneself to Yahweh. this is the story of Paul’s conversion; but there is no mention of that name here. The name “Saul” is written six times (a NRSV presentation of a seventh is not written, so I have stricken it out). The name “Saul” means “Asked For.”


In verse one is written “mathētas tou Kyriou,” which is translated above as “disciples of the Lord.” The Genitive case in “tou Kyriou” makes this better understood as “of this of Lord.” The possessive statement – “of Lord” – makes it easier to realize the persecution that Saul took out on “disciples, pupils, learners,” was “breathing threats kai murder” (terrible sins) against those who were no longer who they had been, as they (having been raised from dead) were possessed divinely by the soul of Jesus. The presence of that soul then had the old “disciples” submit to Yahweh and the resurrection of His Son, so Jesus’ soul became the “Lord” of their souls. That is the truth “of this” relationship with Jesus, Jesus had gained possession, “of this of Lord.” The capitalization of “Kyriou” divinely elevates this from a physical student-teacher relationship (physical Jesus was forever gone), to a spiritual one, uniting two souls as one, with the soul of Jesus becoming the “Lord of” the two.


When we read that Saul went to the high priest (Caiaphas) and asked “for letters to the synagogues at Damascus,” the use of “synagogues” (from “synagōgas”) means a written introduction to all the Jewish “gathering places” or houses of “assembly,” saying Saul had Jerusalem’s authorization to take any Jew who said Jesus was his or her “Lord” prisoner, and take them “bound” back to Jerusalem to be tried for heresy and slander. The use of “synagogue,” instead of “churches” (“ecclesia”), says Jewish Christians did not gather separately. The meaning of “ekklesia” was less about a place where Christians gathered together, as that would be the epitome of “preaching to the choir.” An “ekklesia” is the true meaning of a “church,” which is wherever two or three (a traveling ministry group) were each in the “name of Jesus” – each Spiritually possessed – so Jesus was there in each. That is the truth behind the term “Christianity” – ALL are Christs in the name of Jesus.


To see that Saul planned to travel to Damascus, thus he sought a permission letter to round up those preaching in the name of Jesus there and arrest them, the name “Damascus” makes this trip more than coincidental. While the precise name is unsure, it is believed to be close to meaning “The Beginning Of Salvation.” This is based on the Hebrew word “dammasq” having that essence of “Salvation. This is opposed to the Greek meaning of “Damascus” means “tameness” of “synchronicity.” While those can still be read here, the capitalization makes these be a divinely elevated state that says “Saul” (“Asked For”) was heading to a Spiritual transformation (one he did not expect).


When the NRSV translates, “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around [Saul],” the Greek word “periēstrapsen” is the third-person past tense version of the word meaning “to tie around,” implying “flashing around like lightning.” This must be understood as a spiritual “shining” (from “light” – “phōs”) that only targeted Saul. Because it came “from heaven,” that metaphor must be read as “spiritual” in nature, not visible to human eyes. Thus, anyone traveling with Saul would not have witnessed this “sudden light.”


When we read that Saul “fell to the ground,” the Greek word “pesōn” means “having fallen” (Aorist participle), with the next words literally saying, “on the basis of this earth.” Here, “earth” (“gēn”) must be read as meaning “of this world” or “of the flesh;” so, the metaphor says the sudden light flashed around Saul because he had become like a “fallen” angel, serving Lucifer, not Yahweh. Whether Saul fell down off a mule or tripped on a stone while walking, the literal fall is minor, compared to this spiritual encounter. This is due to the soul of Saul having sunk to such a lowly state of existence.


When we then read that Saul heard a voice, this voice was like the light, as it was inaudible to anyone else nearby. The repeating of “Saul, Saul,” is saying, “You Asked For this by serving Satan.” Then, saying, “You Are Asked For elsewhere; and, this light and voice comes to you because Yahweh wants your soul not to go to Satan.”


When we then read that Saul was asked, “why me do you persecute?” it becomes imperative to know “Jesus” (jumping ahead to that identification) had been dead and gone (physically) for some time. The “disciples of this of Lord,” whom Saul did persecute, were each Jesus’ soul resurrected into their soul-flesh; so, Saul persecuted Jesus many times over. He was heading to a place to round up some more Jesuses to take back to Jerusalem and persecute.


When we read of Saul asking, “Who are you, Lord?” the reality of the Greek written (“Tis ei , Kyrie ?”) literally translates to ask, “Who you exist , Lord ?” That should be read as if Saul thought he had died. He was asking if he had gone to heaven, where Yahweh was the “Lord.”


Then, Saul was told, “I am Jesus , who you are persecuting .” In that, the capitalized “Egō” is a divinely elevated statement of “I,” which in the first-person becomes Yahweh – as “I AM.” Following that is the word “eimi,” which says in the lower-case, “I am.” To then use the capitalized “Jesus,” which is divinely elevated to be the meaning behind the name, saying “Yah Saves,” then what Saul was told by a voice said, “Yahweh speaks through His creation, who is His Salvation.” Keep in mind that Saul (“Asked For”) was headed to “The Beginning Of Salvation” (“Damascus”).


Because the voice of Jesus is heard by Saul, identified as the soul who speaks for the Father, the soul of Jesus had already penetrated the soul of Saul. The presence of Jesus had cast out the demons that had possessed Saul’s soul. In this regard, verse five includes the following statements within brackets (seen as asides, so the NRSV throws all asides out the window).


“{sklēron soi pros kentra laktizein} . {tremōn te kai thambōn eipi , Kyrie , ti me theleis

poiēsai} .



That literally translates to state: “{harsh to you towards stings to kick} . {him trembling both kai he astonishing said , Lord , what myself to you intend to do} .” This second aside, stated by Saul, is not ended with a question mark. As such, Saul knew instantly – in his soul (thus the aside brackets, indicating an unspoken awareness) – his actions had become cruel, placing others under his feet, as if he was of some superior race of mankind, with some god-given (not God-given) right to persecute whoever he deemed fit. The soul of Saul “both trembles” with fear, but importantly, he felt an overwhelming presence within him, which brought “astonishment” along with his fear. His fear was of Yahweh (which should be). His astonishment was from the Spirit bringing into Saul’s soul the soul of Jesus, which made him realize how wrong he had been and how little he knew. Therefore, he recognized the soul of Jesus as his “Lord;” so, Saul submitted to that “Lord,” saying, “do whatever you intend for me to do.”


It is here that verse six has the voice of Jesus tell Saul, “get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” Knowing what was said silently by Saul’s soul to the soul of Jesus, unheard by those with Saul, this command given is then said to be heard by Saul’s travel companions. However, there was no physical source for the voice seen. In the use of “anastēthi,” translated cheaply as “get up,” the image still has Saul “haven fallen on the ground,” so a command to “get up” makes sense to a common reader (and translator). However, the word means “raise up,” where Strong’s specifically says this word implies, “I rise from among (the) dead.” This (regardless if Saul was laying on the ground or not) speaks spiritually, as a command for Saul to stop sinning and sentencing his soul to eternal death.


When verse eight says, “Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing,” this indicates that the soul of Saul was indeed spiritually raised; so, he was no longer the bad hombre he thought he was before. His eyes were opened, but he no longer saw anything of the world as he had before. Saul found his soul alone was utterly blind to the spiritual reality that he said he revered. Saul could see nothing, because Saul’s physical eyes would no longer allow his brain to process external stimuli in the only way his brain knew. Thus, from being divinely “raised” and fully “awake” (from “ēgerthē” beginning verse eight), Saul could no longer see as Saul had before, his vision was then blocked from reaching his brain. Therefore, big bad Saul had to be led around by the hand, like a little child.


In the naming of “Ananias,” saying he was “a certain disciple in Damascus” (“tis mathētēs”) this says Ananias was another who was led as Jesus reborn. His name means “Yah Has Been Gracious” or “Graciously Given Of Yah.” This makes the name “Ananias” have a similar meaning to “John.” In the ‘optional’ (bracketed by the Episcopal Church) verses that tell the story of Ananias, it is important to see he has apprehensions, just as Peter had about going to meet with Gentiles, in a Gentile home. Both expressed the truth of their concerns; and, both were told not to worry, so both did as the soul of Jesus within led them to do. Therefore, I will not go deeply into interpreting these verses; just know all servants of Yahweh, reborn as his Son, retain their own soul identity. So, Christianity is not about being a mindless robot. It is about learning why the right way is the right way.


What is important to grasp in these verses is shown by the NRSV as saying, “laid his hands on.” This is where I have stricken the NRSV inserting the name Saul, which the Episcopal Church runs with, even when the NRSV footnote that naming as “him” was written. The Greek text written is this: “kai epitheis ep’ auton tas cheiras,” which literally translates to state (importantly – from “kai”), “having added upon himself these hands.” The use of “auton” (which the NRSV footnoted as not stating “Saul”) as “himself,” where a “self” equates to a “soul,” the plural number of “hands” must be seen as those of Ananias and Saul, who both were equally “hands” of Yahweh. The mistake is thinking any human being (a soul in a body of flesh) has some power to “lay hands on” someone and act like a god on earth. The touching of Ananias to the blind Saul acts as a transfer of Yahweh’s Spirit from one soul to another. The Spirit within Ananias was not his to use as he wished. Thus, he was sent there for that transfer purpose; and, this is called a baptism of Saul, which is was. However, the Baptism was from Yahweh, through His servant Ananias.


Finally (for this commentary), verse twenty is shown to state, “[Saul] began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God.”’ While that appears to be what is written, the truth of the Greek is this: “Kai eutheōs en tais synagōgais ekēryssen ton Iēsoun , hoti houtos estin ho Huios tou Theou .” This literally says, “[Most importantly] immediately within these assemblies he began proclaiming this Jesus , because this he exists Son of this of God .” That says that Saul became one of all the “assembles” that would become called “churches,” which is not a building, but gatherings of those who all were Jesus reborn. As such, Saul began “proclaiming” that he was “Jesus” reborn, a name that means “Yahweh Saves.” Saul could truthfully make that “proclamation because this he exists.” Saul became a “Son” in the name of “Jesus,” because he was divinely possessed “of this” soul of Jesus and “of God,” through the “Spirit Holy.”


This is a very important way to read this selection, it being a mandatory Acts reading during the Easter season. Following last Sunday’s commentary about Revelation 1, where the thought of waiting until the end of the world to see Jesus coming again on a cloud from heaven is simply bad translations and being lazy about one’s faith. Saul was acting like a Roman that wanted to round up Christians and throw them to the lions in Roman arenas, just because he saw anyone claiming to be Jesus reborn as a heretic. Such a claim would make the Sanhedrin seem like murderers (which they were). There is absolutely no way for anyone to do the Acts of the Apostles without being divinely married to Yahweh, having receive His Spirit and been made a Saint. That allows one’s soul to be the resurrection place for the soul of Jesus – Yahweh’s creation for Salvation of souls. It is not a hard thing to see. It is just the problem of so many calling themselves Christians (like Saul called himself an honored Jew) are blinded from spiritual matters. One has to stop seeing the lies as the truth and find a Saint to touch with his or her Spirit, so Yahweh can Baptize one to Holiness.

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