Acts 9:8
And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
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(8) He saw no man.—The blindness was that of one who has been dazzled with excess of light (comp. Acts 22:11), the natural result of the vision of the supernatural glory, a witness to the man himself that the vision was not a mere play of imagination. Traces of its permanent effect on his powers of sight have been found in his habit of dictating rather than writing letters (see Note on 2Thessalonians 3:17), in the large characters traced by him when he did write (see Note on Galatians 6:11), in his not recognising the high priest who commanded him to be struck. (See Notes on Acts 23:2-5.) Of the many theories as to the mysterious “thorn in the flesh” (see Note on 2Corinthians 12:7), there seems most reason for accepting that which connects it with some affection of the eyes, involving, perhaps, attacks of agonising pain. On this assumption, the eager wish of the Galatians, if it had been possible to have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him, receives a special and interesting significance. (See Note on Galatians 4:15.) For Saul himself, the blindness may well have had a spiritual significance. He had looked on himself as a “guide of the blind,” boasting that he saw clearly (Romans 2:19). Now, for a time, till inward and outward light should shine in on him, he had to accept his blindness. The new-born soul had to be as

“An infant crying for the light,

And with no language but a cry.”

They led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.—The mission on which Saul had come was already known at Damascus, and his arrival expected with alarm. Now he came, and the mission fell to the ground. The letters to the synagogues were not delivered.

Acts 9:8-9. And Saul arose from the earth — When Christ bade him; but probably not without help, the vision having made him faint and weak, like Daniel; when, upon receiving a vision, no strength remained in him, Daniel 10:16-17. And when his eyes were open, he saw no man — He was incapable of discerning objects; for his nerves had been so affected with the glory of that light which had shone from the body of Jesus, that he had lost the power of sight, Acts 22:11; but they — That were with him; led him by the hand — For as they had not looked so earnestly and steadfastly, as Saul had done, on the glorious light wherewith the person of Christ was surrounded, but had lain with their faces on the ground, their eye-sight remained. And he was three days without sight — By scales growing over his eyes, not only to intimate to him the blindness of the state he had been in, but to impress him also with a deeper sense of the almighty power of Christ, and to turn his thoughts inward, while he was rendered less capable of conversing with external objects. This was, likewise, a manifest token to others, of what had happened to him in his journey; and ought to have humbled and convinced those bigoted Jews, to whom he had been sent from the sanhedrim. And neither did eat nor drink — This his long-continued fasting was a natural expression of his bitter grief, for having opposed the gospel, and persecuted the disciples of Jesus. With fasting he joined fervent and often-repeated prayer, perhaps, to Jesus; in which he made confession of his sin in persecuting him, and earnest supplication for pardon; all which, being certain signs of his repentance, they are here (Acts 9:11) mentioned as such. During his three days’

blindness and fasting, Saul was instructed by visions and revelations from the Lord, agreeably to what was promised him, that in Damascus it should be told him what he was to do. One vision of this kind is expressly mentioned, in which the restoration of his sight by Ananias was foretold to him. See Acts 9:12. Here it is natural to reflect, that the situation in which Saul now lay, was indeed apparently very melancholy; his sight being lost, his appetite for food gone, and his whole soul wrapt up in deep astonishment, or melted in deep contrition and remorse. But, though he thus sowed in tears, he was soon to reap in joy. Light and gladness were sown for him. He came out of the furnace refined as gold and silver; and these three dark and dismal days are, no doubt, recollected by him in the heavenly world, as the era from whence he dates the first beamings of that divine light in which he now dwells. Let us never be afraid of the pangs of that godly sorrow, which, working repentance to salvation, not to be repented of, will soon be ten thousand times overbalanced by that exceeding weight of glory, and those full transports of eternal joy, for which it will prepare the soul. See Doddridge.

9:1-9 So ill informed was Saul, that he thought he ought to do all he could against the name of Christ, and that he did God service thereby; he seemed to breathe in this as in his element. Let us not despair of renewing grace for the conversion of the greatest sinners, nor let such despair of the pardoning mercy of God for the greatest sin. It is a signal token of Divine favour, if God, by the inward working of his grace, or the outward events of his providence, stops us from prosecuting or executing sinful purposes. Saul saw that Just One, ch. 22:14; 26:13. How near to us is the unseen world! It is but for God to draw aside the veil, and objects are presented to the view, compared with which, whatever is most admired on earth is mean and contemptible. Saul submitted without reserve, desirous to know what the Lord Jesus would have him to do. Christ's discoveries of himself to poor souls are humbling; they lay them very low, in mean thoughts of themselves. For three days Saul took no food, and it pleased God to leave him for that time without relief. His sins were now set in order before him; he was in the dark concerning his own spiritual state, and wounded in spirit for sin. When a sinner is brought to a proper sense of his own state and conduct, he will cast himself wholly on the mercy of the Saviour, asking what he would have him to do. God will direct the humbled sinner, and though he does not often bring transgressors to joy and peace in believing, without sorrows and distress of conscience, under which the soul is deeply engaged as to eternal things, yet happy are those who sow in tears, for they shall reap in joy.When his eyes were opened - He naturally closed them at the appearance of the light, and in his fright kept them closed for some time.

He saw no man - This darkness continued three days, Acts 9:9. There is no reason to suppose that there was a miracle in this blindness, for in Acts 22:11, it is expressly said to have been caused by the intense light. "And when I could not see for the glory of that light," etc. The intense, sudden light had so affected the optic nerve of the eye as to cause a temporary blindness. This effect is not uncommon. The disease of the eye which is thus produced is called "amaurosis," or more commonly "gutta serena." It consists in a loss of sight without any apparent defect of the eye. Sometimes the disease is periodic, coming on suddenly, continuing for three or four days, and then disappearing (Webster). A disease of this kind is often caused by excessive light. When we look at the sun, into a furnace, or into a crucible with fused metal, we are conscious of a temporary pain in the eye, and of a momentary blindness. "In northern and tropical climates, from the glare of the sun or snow, a variety of amaurosis (gutta serena) occurs, which, if it produces blindness during the day, is named nyctalopia; if during the night, it is called hemeralopia. Another variety exists in which the individual is blind all day, until a certain hour, when he sees distinctly, or he sees and is blind every alternate day, or is only blind one day in the week, fortnight, or month" (the Edinburgh Encyclopedia's "Surgery"). A total loss of sight has been the consequence of looking at the sun during an eclipse, or of watching it as it sets in the west. This effect is caused by the intense action of the light on the optic nerve, or sometimes from a disorder of the brain. A case is mentioned by Michaelis (Kuinoel in loco) of a man who was made blind by a bright flash of lightning, and who continued so for four weeks, who was again restored to sight in a tempest by a similar flash of lightning. Electricity has been found to be one of the best remedies for restoring sight in such cases.

8. Saul arose … and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man—after beholding the Lord, since he "could not see for the glory of that light" (Ac 22:11), he had involuntarily closed his eyes to protect them from the glare; and on opening them again he found his vision gone. "It is not said, however, that he was blind, for it was no punishment" [Bengel]. When his eyes were opened; when he opened his eyes as at other times, when he did rise to see, the glorious light had so dazzled him, that he could see nothing: thus Saul as, and all men are, before their conversion; he had the shape of a man, and of one learned in the law, when notwithsanding he is blind, and sees or knows nothing as he ought to know.

And Saul arose from the earth,.... As he was bid by Christ, Acts 9:6

and when his eyes were opened he saw no man; neither Christ, who appeared to him from heaven, whom he had before seen, nor even any of his companions, nor indeed any object: the Syriac version renders it, "he saw nothing"; not anything at all; and the Ethiopic version, "he could not see": when he opened his eye lids, he perceived his sight was gone, and this showed it to be real blindness; and which was an emblem of the ignorance and blindness he had been in:

but they led him by the hand; the men that were with him, perceiving that he could not guide himself, took him by the hand, and led him on his journey;

and brought him into Damascus; and now was fulfilled, at least in part, the prophecy in Zechariah 9:1.

And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
Acts 9:8-9. ʼΑνεῳγμένων δὲ τῶν ὀφθαλμ.] Consequently Saul had lain on the ground with closed eyes since the appearance of the radiance (Acts 9:4),—which, however, as the appearance of Jesus for him is to be assumed as in and with the radiance, cannot prove that he had not really and personally seen the Lord.

οὐδὲν ἔβλεπε] namely, because he was blinded by the heavenly light (and not possibly in consequence of the journey through the desert, see Acts 22:11). The connection inevitably requires this explanation by what immediately follows; nor is the Recepta οὐδένα ἔβλ. (see the critical remarks) to be explained otherwise than of being blinded,[240] in opposition to Haselaar and others, who refer ΟὐΔΈΝΑ to Jesus.

ΜῊ ΒΛΈΠΩΝ] he was for three days without being able to see, i.e. blind (John 9:39; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 308), so that he had not his power of vision; comp. Winer, p. 453 [E. T. 610]. Hence here μή from the standpoint of the subject concerned; but afterwards ΟὐΚ and ΟὐΔΈ, because narrating objectively.

ΟὐΚ ἜΦΑΓΕΝ ΟὐΔῈ ἜΠΙΕΝ] an absolute negation of eating and drinking (John 3:7; Esther 4:16), and not “a cibi potusve largioris usu abstinebat,” Kuinoel. By fasting Saul partly satisfied the compunction into which he could not but now feel himself brought for the earlier wrong direction of his efforts, and partly prepared himself by fasting and prayer (Acts 9:11) for the decisive change of his inward and outward life, for which, according to Acts 9:6, he waited a special intimation. See Acts 9:18.

[240] That the blinding took place as a symbol of the previous spiritual blindness of Saul (Calvin, Grotius, de Wette, Baumgarten, and others) is not indicated by anything in the text, and may only be considered as the edifying application of the history, although Baur makes the formation of the legend attach itself to this idea. That blinding of Saul was a simple consequence of the heavenly radiance, and served (as also the fasting) to withdraw him for a season wholly from the outer world, and to restrict him to his inner life. And the blindness befell Saul alone: ἵνα μὴ κοινὸν καὶ ὡς ἀπὸ τύχης τὸ πάθος νομισθῇ, ἀλλὰ θείας προνοίας, Oecumenius.

Acts 9:8. ἀνεῳγμένων; see critical notes.—οὐδένα ἔβλεπε: his eyes, which he had closed mechanically, as he fell overwhelmed with the dazzling brightness of the light, and of the appearance of Jesus, he now opens, but only to find that he saw nothing (οὐδέν) (see critical note)—he had become blind (so Weiss and Wendt, cf. Acts 22:11). This blindness was the clearest proof that the appearances vouchsafed to him had been a reality (Felten), see also Acts 9:18.—χειραγωγοῦντες: the necessary result of his blindness, cf. Jdg 16:26 and Tob 11:16, but in each case the reading is varied (see H. and R.); in N.T. only in Acts, cf. Acts 22:11 (and see Acts 13:11); it is also found in the Apocryphal Gospel of Peter, x. (ver. 40 in Harnack’s edition). “He who would strike others was himself struck, and the proud Pharisee became a deeply humbled penitent—a guide of the blind” he was himself to be guided by others (Felten).

8. and [but] when his eyes were opened, he saw no man [nothing] The vision had struck him blind. He opened his eyes, but their power had been taken away. Thus his physical condition becomes a fit representation of the mental blindness which he afterwards (Acts 26:9) deplores: “I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”

but [and] they led him by the hand] His companions saw all things as before, and were able to guide him who had started forth as the leader in their mission of persecution.

Acts 9:8. Ἠγέρθη, arose) at the word of Christ, ch. Acts 26:16.—ἀνεῳγμέναν, when his eyes were opened) Therefore they who beheld Saul would not have thought that he did not see.

Verse 8. Nothing for no man, A.V. and T.R.; and for but, A.V. Nothing (οὐδὲν for οὐδένα). So the best manuscripts and editions The idea is, not like that in Matthew 17:8 that when he opened his eyes the person seen in vision had disappeared, but simply that his eyesight was gone, "for the glory of that light," and he could see nothing, but had to be led like a blind man (see Acts 22:11). Acts 9:8
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