New American Standard Bible
As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;
King James Bible
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Darby Bible Translation
But as he was journeying, it came to pass that he drew near to Damascus; and suddenly there shone round about him a light out of heaven,
World English Bible
As he traveled, it happened that he got close to Damascus, and suddenly a light from the sky shone around him.
Young's Literal Translation
And in the going, he came nigh to Damascus, and suddenly there shone round about him a light from the heaven,
Acts 9:3 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
And as he journeyed - On his way, or while he was traveling. The place where this occurred is not known. Irby and Mangles say it is "outside the eastern gate." In the Boat and Caravan it is described as about a mile from the town, and near the Christian burying-ground which belongs to the Armenians. All that we know of it is that it was near to Damascus.
And suddenly - Like a flash of lightning.
There shined round about him ... - The language which is expressed here would be used in describing a flash of lightning. Many critics have supposed that God made use of a sudden flash to arrest Paul, and that he was thus alarmed and brought to reflection. That God might make use of such means cannot be denied. But to this supposition in this case there are some unanswerable objections:
(1) It was declared to be the appearance of the Lord Jesus: Acts 9:27, "Barnabas declared unto them how that he had 'seen the Lord in the way;'" 1 Corinthians 15:8, "And last of all he was seen of me also"; 1 Corinthians 9:1, "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?"
(2) those who were with Saul saw the light, but did not hear the voice, Acts 22:9. This is incredible on the supposition that it was a flash of lightning near them.
(3) it was manifestly regarded as a message to Saul. The light appeared, and the voice spake to him. The others did not even hear the address. Besides,
(4) It was as easy for Jesus to appear in a supernatural manner as to appear amidst thunder and lightning. That the Lord Jesus appeared is distinctly affirmed, and we shall see that it is probable that he would appear in a supernatural manner.
In order to understand this, it may be necessary to make the following remarks:
(1) God was accustomed to appear to the Jews in a cloud; in a pillar of smoke, or of fire; in that special splendor which they denominated the Shechinah. In this way he went before them into the land of Canaan, Exodus 13:21-22; compare Isaiah 4:5-6. This appearance or visible manifestation they called the "glory of" Yahweh, is. Isa 6:1-4; Exodus 16:7, "in the morning ye shall see the glory of the Lord"; Acts 9:10; Leviticus 9:23; Numbers 14:10; Numbers 16:19, Numbers 16:42; Numbers 24:16; 1 Kings 8:11; Ezekiel 10:4. See the notes on Luke 2:9, "The glory of the Lord shone round about them."
(2) the Lord Jesus, in his transfiguration on the mount, had been encompassed with that glory. See the notes on Matthew 17:1-5.
(3) he had spoken of similar glory as pertain that with which he had been invested before his incarnation, and to which he would return; John 17:5, "And now, Father, glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was"; Matthew 25:31, "The Son of Man shall come in his glory." Compare Matthew 16:27; Matthew 19:28. To this glory he had returned when he left the earth.
(4) it is a sentiment which cannot be shown to be incorrect, that the various appearances of "the angel of Yahweh," and of Yahweh, mentioned in the Old Testament, were appearances of the Messiah the God who would be incarnate - the special protector of his people. See Isaiah 6:1-13; compare with John 12:41.
(5) if the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul, it would be in his appropriate glory and honor as the ascended Messiah. That he did appear is expressly affirmed.
(6) this was an occasion when, if ever, such an appearance was proper. The design was to convert an infuriated persecutor, and to make him an apostle. To do this, it was necessary that he should see the Lord Jesus, 1 Corinthians 9:1-2. The design was further to make him an eminent instrument in carrying the gospel to the Gentiles. A signal miracle; a demonstration that he was invested with his appropriate glory John 17:5; a calling up a new witness to the fact of his resurrection, and of his solemn investment with glory in the heavens, seemed to be required in thus calling a violent persecutor to be an apostle and friend.
'And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2. And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them hound unto Jerusalem. 3. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? 5. …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts
Paul's First Prayer
Such, we May Believe, was that John the Monk...
Whether any Preparation and Disposition for Grace is Required on Man's Part?
But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
"But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me,
"While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests,
1 Corinthians 9:1
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
1 Corinthians 15:8
and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
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