Acts 9:1-5
Acts 9:1 (KJB)
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Slaughter - Murder
The scene reverts to Saul who continues his tirade against the disciples. Saul was not just making glib accusations against the disciples, he wanted to literally murder them all. He did this with the desire to eliminate all those who followed Jesus. Saul wanted to kill them all but he could not act as a lone ranger in this, he needed to do this in connection with the high priest. So for Saul to turn his threatening into actual deeds, he went to the high priest. This is something which is still being done in our day by leaders of false religions all over the world.
Acts 9:2 (KJB)
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Saul wanted to work with the Sanhedrin on his little tirade against the church. He may have gained some notoriety among them when he was consenting to the death of Stephen, so they would have known about him. He wanted to go as far as the Synagogues in Damascus with letters of consent from the High Priest hoping to track down the Christians who lived there and then bring them back bound to Jerusalem to stand trial and then be executed. Little did Saul know, he would have had to have a large entourage because at one time there was 100,000 Christians in Damascus but not at this time, it was just starting to take hold and grow. This is probably why Saul had his eye on Damascus.
Acts 9:3 (KJB)
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Suddenly - Unexpectedly
(Prov 16:9 KJV) A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. Saul definitely had learned the meaning of this Proverb. Saul had his way devised as he thought that he was going to Damascus and bring back many Christians. Well all was going well with his intentions until he came near to Damascus. Suddenly and without warning, Saul is surrounded by a light from Heaven. Light in the Bible is associated with the presence of the Lord. This light must have been extraordinary because in Acts 26:13, Saul claims that it was midday which could be noontime. The sun at high noon in the Middle East is bright and brutal but the light of Christ outshined the physical sun.
Acts 9:4 (KJB)
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Persecutest - Pursue, follow after
Saul was definitely overwhelmed by the light because the text states that he had fallen to the earth and he must have been especially frightened when he heard the voice from Heaven. In the Greek text the Hebrew form of Saul (Saoul) has been preserved because Jesus spoke to Saul in the Hebrew language. (Acts 26:14 KJV) And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. He then asks Saul, why are you persecuting me? Notice Jesus did not ask why he was persecuting the Christians? He knew that those who hate Christians are doing it from a much deeper hatred than just for the Christians. It is a hate for the Lord Jesus Christ which drives those in false religions. The false religionists cannot get to Jesus, so instead, they persecute the followers of Jesus. We see this continuing today and will continue until the last day when those who persecuted the Christians, both past and present, will stand before the Lord and give an account of their actions.
Acts 9:5 (KJB)
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Pricks - Goads (A pointed instrument used to stimulate a beast to move faster), sharp pointed item such as found on a cactus
Kick - Kick with the heel (figurative: to struggle against)
Hard - Rough, cruel, or bitter
Saul had to have known that the light was divine manifestation from Heaven. He then asked who was speaking to him and notice how fast he went from hate mongering against the Christians to a humble man calling the voice “Lord!” Jesus then identifies Himself that it is Jesus whom you are persecuting. I am sure when Saul heard that it was Jesus, the next thing he was probably expecting was probably to be killed for his actions against the church and I am also sure that it brought to mind his consent of killing Stephen. Jesus then uses an illustration concerning the futility of Saul’s mission. Just as an animal cannot kick against a goad and expect to do less work, Saul in his futile attempt to stop the spread of the Gospel would be like someone kicking against something sharp, all they would be doing would be hurting themselves. Jesus was telling Saul the same thing that he would only be hurting himself because his struggle would be futile.