Acts 9:9
And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
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(9) He was three days without sight.—It is natural to think of this period of seclusion from the visible world as one of spiritual communion with the invisible, and we can hardly be wrong in referring the visions and revelations of the Lord, the soaring as to the third heaven, and the Paradise of God, of which he speaks fourteen or fifteen years later, to this period. (See Notes on 2Corinthians 12:1-4.) The conditions of outward life were suspended, and he lived as one fallen into a trance—in the ecstacy of an apocalyptic rapture. (Comp. the analogous phenomena in Ezekiel 8:1-4.)

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.And neither did eat nor drink - Probably because he was overwhelmed with a view of his sins, and was thus indisposed to eat. All the circumstances would contribute to this. His past life; his great sins; the sudden change in his views; his total absorption in the vision; perhaps also his grief at the loss of his sight, would all fill his mind, and indispose him to partake of food. Great grief always produces this effect. And it is not uncommon now for an awakened and convicted sinner, in view of his past sins and danger, to be so pained as to destroy his inclination for food, and to produce involuntary fasting. We are to remember also that Paul had yet no assurance of forgiveness. He was arrested, alarmed, convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, and humbled, but he had not found comfort. He was brought to the dust, and left to three painful days of darkness and suspense, before it was told him what he was to do. In this painful and perplexing state, it was natural that he should abstain from food. This case should not be brought now, however, to prove that convicted sinners must remain in darkness and under conviction. Sail's case was extraordinary. His blindness was literal. This state of darkness was necessary to humble him and fit him for his work. But the moment a sinner will give his heart to Christ, he may find peace. If he resists, and rebels longer, it will be his own fault. By the nature of the ease, as well as by the promises of the Bible, if a sinner will yield himself at once to the Lord Jesus, he will obtain peace. That sinners do not sooner obtain peace is because they do not sooner submit themselves to God. 9. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink—that is, according to the Hebrew mode of computation: he took no food during the remainder of that day, the entire day following, and so much of the subsequent day as elapsed before the visit of Ananias. Such a period of entire abstinence from food, in that state of mental absorption and revolution into which he had been so suddenly thrown, is in perfect harmony with known laws and numerous facts. But what three days those must have been! "Only one other space of three days' duration can be mentioned of equal importance in the history of the world" [Howson]. Since Jesus had been revealed not only to his eyes but to his soul (see on [1970]Ga 1:15, 16), the double conviction must have immediately flashed upon him, that his whole reading of the Old Testament hitherto had been wrong, and that the system of legal righteousness in which he had, up to that moment, rested and prided himself was false and fatal. What materials these for spiritual exercise during those three days of total darkness, fasting, and solitude! On the one hand, what self-condemnation, what anguish, what death of legal hope, what difficulty in believing that in such a case there could be hope at all; on the other hand, what heartbreaking admiration of the grace that had "pulled him out of the fire," what resistless conviction that there must be a purpose of love in it, and what tender expectation of being yet honored, as a chosen vessel, to declare what the Lord had done for his soul, and to spread abroad the savor of that Name which he had so wickedly, though ignorantly, sought to destroy—must have struggled in his breast during those memorable days! Is it too much to say that all that profound insight into the Old Testament, that comprehensive grasp of the principles of the divine economy, that penetrating spirituality, that vivid apprehension of man's lost state, and those glowing views of the perfection and glory of the divine remedy, that beautiful ideal of the loftiness and the lowliness of the Christian character, that large philanthropy and burning zeal to spend and be spent through all his future life for Christ, which distinguish the writings of this chiefest of the apostles and greatest of men, were all quickened into life during those three successive days? Some have thought that in these three days Paul had that rapture into the third heavens, which he speaks of, 2 Corinthians 12:2; but that seems rather to have been afterwards; God would, however, by this humble and try him, and excite his dependence wholly upon him, and that he might value his restored sight the more.

Neither did eat nor drink; that by fasting he might be more intent in prayer; for fasting does prepare for prayer, and therefore fasting and prayer are so often put together, Matthew 17:21 Acts 13:3. In those places they could fast longer without prejudice to their health, than amongst us, and, as I might add, were more willing to fast for any spiritual advantage than we are.

And he was three days without sight,.... Without bodily sight; for otherwise all this while his spiritual sight was increasing, and Christ was giving him by his Spirit a full view of himself, his state and case, and where his salvation was; and a clear insight into the doctrines of the Gospel, which he is said to have by the revelation of Christ, whereby he was fitted for the immediate preaching of it:

and neither did eat nor drink; having no regard unto, or time for either; being filled with grief and sorrow, and true repentance for sin, and taken up in prayer to God, and employed in attending to, and receiving the doctrines of grace, he was afterwards to publish.

And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Acts 9:9. ἦνμὴ βλέπων: on ἦν with participle, characteristic, see above on chap. Acts 1:10. Wendt (in seventh edition, not in eighth), and so Felten, Alford, Hackett, distinguish between μή and οὐ with ἔφαγεν and ἔπιεν, and see especially Winer-Moulton, Leviticus , 5. οὐ β. would have simply meant blind; μὴ β. is not seeing (not able to see)—said of one who had been, and might appear to be again, possessed of sight; the not eating and not drinking are related simply as matters of fact; see the whole section. Blass regards μή with participle as simply = οὐ, so in Acts 9:7 μηδένα with participle = οὐδένα, ut alias (see also Lumby’s note).—οὐκ ἔφαγ. κ.τ.λ.: there is no reason why the words should not be taken literally, in spite of Wendt’s objection as against Meyer in loco, as an expression of penitential sorrow and contrition for his perversity (so Weiss and Holtzmann, no less than Felten): “with what fervour must he then have prayed for ‘more light’ ” (Felten). On Saul’s blindness and its possibly lasting effects, see Plumptre, in loco, Felten, p. 196, and on the other hand Lightfoot on Galatians 6:11, and Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, etc., pp. 38, 39.

9. And he was three days without sight] During this time we cannot but think the illumination of his mind was being perfected by the Spirit. He had been convinced by the vision that Jesus was risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. But more than this was needed for the preparation of this mighty missionary. He himself (Galatians 1:16) speaks of God revealing His Son not only to but in him, and that his conferences were not with flesh and blood, and we are told below (Acts 9:12) that the coming of Ananias had been made known unto him by vision. To this solemn time of darkness may also perhaps be referred those “visions and revelations of the Lord” which the Apostle speaks of to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). While his bodily powers were for a time in suspense, he may fitly describe himself as not knowing whether what he saw was revealed to him “in the body or out of the body,” and it was the spiritual vision only which saw the third heaven and paradise, and the spirit heard those “unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

and neither did eat nor drink] The mental anguish for a time overpowered the natural craving for food. The newly called Apostle was contemplating in all its enormity his sin in persecuting the Church of Christ, and though there were times of comfort and refreshing before Ananias came, yet the great thought which filled Saul’s mind would be sorrow for his late mad and misdirected zeal, and so the three days of blindness formed a period of deep penitence.

Acts 9:9. Ἡμέρας τρεῖς, three days) A period worthy of note. Whilst his sight and taste were quiescent, he was inwardly collected in mind and recovered (reconciled to God) through prayer: Acts 9:11. The business of conversion is worthy that a man should bestow whole days upon it, when he is being drawn to God. If he does not do so (devote whole days to it) of his own accord, the goodness of GOD confines him to his bed for the purpose.—μὴ βλέπων, not seeing) And yet however he is not said to be ‘blind,’ because it was not a punishment. Comp. ch. Acts 13:11 (where, on the contrary, in the case of Elymas’ punishment it is said, “Thou shalt be blind”).

Verse 9. - Did neither for neither did, A.V. The same reason, we may venture to think, which caused the interposition of three days' blindness between Saul's conversion and his baptism, led Saul himself to pass those days in a voluntary self-abasement. His sin in persecuting the Church of God and its Divine Head, his guilt in assisting at the death of God's saints, and in rejecting the testimony to Christ's resurrection, had been very great. These three days of blindness and of fasting were therefore a fitting preparation for the grace of forgiveness about to be so freely and fully given to him (1 Timothy 1:12-16). What thoughts must have passed through Saul's mind during those three days! Before passing on, it may be well to observe that it is to this appearance to him of Jesus Christ that St. Paul undoubtedly refers when he says (1 Corinthians 9:1), "Have not I seen Jesus Christ?" and again (1 Corinthians 15:8), "Last of all, he was seen of me also," where he puts this appearance of Jesus to himself on a par with those to Peter and James and the other apostles, which made them competent witnesses of the resurrection of Christ. And so in ver. 17 of this chapter Ananias says, "The Lord Jesus which was seen by thee" (ὁ ὀφθείς σοι); and Barnabas (ver. 27), when he brought Saul to the apostles, related "how he had seen the Lord in the way." And in Acts 22:14 Ananias says, "God hath appointed thee to see the Righteous One." Moreover the description in ver. 7 of Saul's fellow-travelers, that they "saw no man," implies, by contrast, that Saul did. The reticence of both St. Paul and St. Luke as to what he saw, and what was the appearance of the Lord Jesus, seems to arise from profound reverence and awe, such as St. Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12:4. It may be also worth remarking how this appearance of Christ was deferred till he was quite close to Damascus, according to one tradition only a quarter of a mile from the gates, but according to Porter, whom Farrar and Lewin follow, at a distance of about ten miles, at a village called Caueab. So the intervention of the angel by which Isaac's life was spared was not till Abraham had the knife in his hand to slay his son; and Peter's prison doors were opened not till the very night before he was to have been brought forth to death. Faith and patience are thus strengthened, and God's intervention is more marked. There is not the slightest trace in the narrative of what the fancy of many has suggested, that Saul's uneasy conscience was wrought up into a paroxysm as he approached Damascus, and so prepared the way for the vision of Christ. Even Canon Farrar's eloquent description of what he supposes to have been the thoughts which agitated Saul's mind on his eventful journey seems hardly to rest on any solid base (see 'Life of St. Paul,'vol. 1. Acts 10.). Acts 9:9
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