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12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

 

Continuing his speech before King Agrippa in Caesarea about his background, Paul related how he encountered God directly while on the road to Damascus to arrest Christians (vv. 12-15).

For the third time in Acts, Luke relates Paul’s personal testimony to his readers (Acts 9:1-30; 22:5-21). The primary emphasis in this testimony is Paul’s commission by God to be a world missionary.

26:12

“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

While in a state of being enraged against Christians, he journeyed to Damascus, Syria, with authority from the chief priests in Jerusalem to persecute believers.

26:13

at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.

During the process of persecuting Christians, Paul had a striking experience with God.

26:14

And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language [Aramaic], ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?

Paul’s experience with God involved hearing him speak. A voice asked Saul, who became Paul, why he persecuted Him by persecuting Christians.

It is hard for you to kick against the goads [pointed sticks].’

A goad is a stick to prod cattle in the right direction. Jesus personally prodded Saul to stop persecuting Christians and become one of them. The Lord had been working on Saul to embrace Him as Savior for some time. He had been dealing with this persecutor for some time by prodding him with the pointed metaphorical sticks that speared him in the direction of becoming a Christian. Jesus said Paul’s negative volition about this would be at his peril.

26:15

So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Saul asked who it was that spoke to him. Jesus replied that it was He who he was persecuting. To persecute His own is to persecute Him.

26:16

But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister [subordinate, an under-rower] and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

Jesus asked Paul to stand up and move on because He had an ultimate purpose for the persecutor to testify for Christ. This verse explicitly explains why the Lord put the apostle on the map— He commissioned him to witness to the world. He would carry the roles of a “minister” (one who serves subordinately) and a “witness” (one who bears witness to someone else) in this role. Paul especially carried his witness of the resurrected Christ everywhere he went.

26:17

I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,

Paul shared with Agrippa Jesus’ promise to deliver him from either Jews or Gentiles when He sent him on a mission.

26:18

to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God,

God’s commission and mission for Paul was to open the eyes of the lost to the light of who Jesus is and turn them away from the power of Satan. Opening the eyes of the lost is the role of an evangelist. In doing this, they could turn to God and receive forgiveness so God would sanctify them “by faith” in Jesus.

that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Two outcomes follow for the person who responds to God’s witness: (1) the removal of what keeps them from God —forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14) and (2) an eternal inheritance with God. Imagine the impact of this verse on Festus and Agrippa as they listen to Paul’s testimony. God sets aside (sanctifies) people as His own when they believe His promises (1 Co 1:30).

PRINCIPLE:

Every Christian carries the role of a witness.

APPLICATION:

If believers bear witness to the light of the gospel, it will turn people from the darkness of a world without revelation (Acts 1:8). It will also direct people away from Satan’s power to what God can do for those who come to believe. Every person has the option to choose those opposite directions in life.

Both divine and human agents involve themselves in evangelism; it is not God alone nor human alone. One cannot exclude the other. However, God ultimately does the inviting and convincing of the lost. He “draws” people to Himself.

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