Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?” Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer!Acts 9:18-26
But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvellous grace. Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie. After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn’t know me personally.Galatians 1:15-22
- How many days did Saul stay in Damascus?
- If Saul stayed in Damascus for a number of days when did he go to Arabia and see Peter?
- How does this all fit with the time frame found in Galatians 1:15-19?
These were very good questions. Well done you two who were clearly paying careful attention to the text and thinking about what else you had read or had seen the problem stated some other place.
The verses as written are:
But the big question is: Is there a break between these two verses? It appears that Saul stayed in Damascus for a few days and immediately began preaching in Damascus. Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs . . . After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. When Saul arrived in Jerusalem
Some scholars place Saul’s visit to Arabia between “he regained his strength” and “for a few days”. His visit to Arabia needs to exclude a short period of time preaching in Damascus. Or his preaching in Damascus may have followed his return to Damascus (Gal 1:17) We need not place too much importance on “immediately” as Luke has nothing to say about the journey to Arabia. Assumedly he has omitted this side journey, although a pretty important one. If so then the “immediately” refers to a time of residency in Damascus with the disciples which started after Saul returned from Arabia. If that is not the case then it happened right after his conversion. If that is not the case then it is possible that the visit to Arabia happened during the time Luke describes as “after a while”. Because he goes on to say
“When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.
Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.”Galatians 1:16-17
I personally think it fits in this time frame, during the “after a while” used in Acts 9.
There is much debate among the experts over the meaning of [ως ημεραι ικαναι] variously translated as:
“after a while” (NLT) or:
- (ABP+) Now when [3were fulfilled 2of days 1a fit amount],
- (AMP) After considerable time had elapsed,
- (BBE) Then, after some days,
- (CEV/GW) Later
- (ERV) After many days,
- (ESV) When many days had passed,
- (ISV) After several days had gone by
- (KJV) And after that many days were fulfilled,
- (LEB) And when many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted to do away with him.
- (LITV) And when many days were fulfilled, the Jews plotted together to do away with him.
- (MSG) After this had gone on quite a long time, some Jews conspired to kill him,
- (NASB) When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him,
There is much debate over the meaning of [hikanos] as to whether it can extend to years or not. Thus there are some who suggest the visit to Arabia lies between Acts 9:22 and Acts 9:23. Bottom line it is clear that the visit to Arabia lies somewhere between “the few days” of Acts 9:19 and the “after a while” of Acts 9:23. Of course you will have to put the pieces together for yourself and decide where you would place it – if you even care. Each of us have a different reaction to this sort of issue. Some want to work out all the details so they feel confident it all fits and there are no discrepancies. Others are happy to hold it loosely and know that somewhere in there is a trip to Arabia and they don’t mind which way it worked out. They are happy to take Scripture at face value and leave the details to God or the critics.
- What were the scales over Saul’s eyes?
- Was this literal or figurative?
- In what way was Saul strengthened?
Allow me now to deal briefly with “the scales” [lepides] that fell from Saul’s eyes. It enables me to combine the scales with the Arabian time frame and not spend too much time on them but at the same time to answer your questions.[Lepides] denotes “flakes”, “a scaly substance”, “scales” (associated with fish scales), “some incrustation”.
But take note that Luke doesn’t not say scales fell from Saul’s eyes. Rather he uses a simile and writes “something like lepides” as if it were scales. Some see it as an actual substance that fell from Saul’s eyes while other see it as being a figurative statement for the restoration of sight. Having talked with Saul himself over the time before he wrote Acts, Luke writes in a way as though it seemed to Saul like scales had fallen from his eyes. The bottom line is that something physical happened which resulted in Saul seeing again. I have been in situations like that on the occasions that God healed me. In describing it I say it was something like a heat which came on me or it was like someone touched me or was behind me – but that is my way of describing something that was supernatural in nature. It is most likely that Saul is doing the same thing here. When he was asked by the physician what happened chances are he said, “Well Luke it is hard to describe what happened exactly but it was like fish scales fell from my eyes.” Likely as not he didn’t mean he had fish scales on his eyes but that was his way of describing the healing of sight that took place. Remember too it wasn’t just a restoration of his physical ability to see the things around him. I think way more than that happened. Saul is now seeing like a Paul. He begins to put things together on the macro level, not just gaining the ability to see what is in front of him.
A leader needs to see with new eyes in order to be able to lead the people in a new direction. Its the ability to see things from a totally new perspective.Ian Vail
A leader needs a clear mind and spirit in order to focus and not become distracted.Ian Vail
The transformed mind transforms the person, the transformed person transforms the world around them.Anon
Love is the desire to benefit others at the expense of self.Ed Cole
The Lord is building people who contain the Presence.Bill Johnson
You should put His promises in a secure place so you can protect them, and then keep them ever before you in order to steer your course.Ian Vail