He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?”Acts 9:4
and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’Acts 22:8
“And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’Acts 26:14
- One reader asked what happened to the reference to “the goads”?
- Why doesn’t it appear in verse 5?
- What does it mean anyway?
- Paul addressing Agrippa and 26:14 with the reference to ‘goads’ had me looking at different translations and a little confused at what was being said especially given the English translations of the word ‘goad’.
- What does the word goad mean? Is it a goad or a prick?
- More importantly, what is the purpose of this statement and its relationship to the rest of what is recorded?
Here is a summary of the Goad statement in different versions:
And he fell to the ground; and he heard a voice which said to him: Saul! Saul! why persecutest thou me? It will be hard for thee to kick against the goads. (Murdock’s Version)
- (ABP+) It is hardG4642 for youG1473 [againstG4314 spursG2759 to kick].G2979
- (AMP) It is dangerous and turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goads [to keep offering vain and perilous resistance].
- (ASV) it is hard for thee to kick against the goad.
- (BBE) It is hard for you to go against the impulse which is driving you.
- (CEV) It’s foolish to fight against me!”
- (EMTV) It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
- (ERV) You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.’
- (ESV) It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
- (GNB) You are hurting yourself by hitting back, like an ox kicking against its owner’s stick.’
- (GW) It’s hard for a mortal like you to resist God.’
- (ISV) It is hurting you to keep on kicking against the goads.’
- (JUB) It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
- (KJV) It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
- (LEB) It is hard for you to kick against the goads!’
- (LITV) It is hard for you to kick against the prods.
- (MKJV) It is hard for you to kick against the goads.
- (MSG) Why do you insist on going against the grain?’
- (Murdock) It will be a hard thing for thee to kick against the goads.
- (NASB) It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
- (NLT) It is useless for you to fight against My will. ‘
- (RV) it is hard for thee to kick against the goad.
- (TLV) It is hard for you to kick against goads!’
- (WEBA) It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
- (Webster) It is hard for thee to kick against the goads.
- (YLT) It is hard for thee against pricks to kick!
Goad – has two senses:-
- to provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate an action or reaction, to provoke a response,
- or to spur, prick, sting or poke an animal in order to drive it or get it to change course.
You will notice this statement only appears in Paul’s statement before Agrippa. It is not mentioned in Luke’s third person account in Acts 9 neither is it mentioned in Acts 22. It is only mentioned in 26:14. That is not to infer the statement is suspect in that it is missing from the other accounts and appears in 26:14. The fact that Murdock chose to include it in his translation of 9:4 was simply an attempt to harmonise the quote in Acts 9:4 with that in 26:14. There is no reason to suspect sinister intent over the fact that it is missing in verse four. No Greek manuscripts include it in 9:4 but all include it in 26:14. Clearly Luke did not include it in the statement in 9:4. Neither did Paul mention in on the steps of the temple in Acts 22. It only appears in Paul’s statements to Agrippa. Look at the rest of Paul’s defence before Agrippa. These summary statements are very theological.
Is the goad or prick a thing which comes from Saul himself as is inferred by “the impulse which is driving you” in the BBE translation? In other words those things within Saul which cause him to do what he does are harming him. Or is the prick or goad something external, not of Paul’s doing but of divine origin?
The problem is in this context there is nothing recorded which indicates that God was hounding Saul or goading him in any way. But it is also clear that Saul was reacting to something in that he became so zealous to wipe out the followers of The Way. Was it something in Saul which was driving him or was it God leading him through pricks and goading? The bulk of translations fall on the side of this being God at work and the reaction was Saul’s to such divine intervention. If you stop and think about it most of us react adversely to God’s intent or plan for us in the first instance. Especially if we don’t like the idea of what it might be that God is pushing us toward. Those who oppose God most vehemently at the beginning often become the most ardent followers or fans. In this case it was God who had a purpose for Saul’s life but he was bent on doing his own thing. So if I may draw an analogy with Balaam: rather than use a donkey to speak to Saul, Jesus appears to him Himself to drive home the message and to get Paul on the right course. The prick or the goad here is being likened to the prick of the spurs, or the pointed stick, which is used to turn an animal this way or that.
I guess the question for me to ask you at this time is are you resisting the Lord in a particular area? Does He keep trying to gain your attention or steer you in a particular direction but you keep resisting. Is the passion and focus you feel for something really passion and focus or is it an indication that you are opposing or resisting God in a particular area and doing your own thing like Saul was? Perhaps you too need a personal visitation like Saul.
It is futile for you to resist the prodding of the Lord.Ian Vail
Resistance is as pointless as a handle on a snowball.Anon
Change before you are forced to.Anon
Don’t let your personal encounter with God be a correctional one.Anon
Walk with Him in such a way that your God-encounters are motivated by His love for you and not for your correction.Anon