But rise, and stand on your feet: for I have appeared to you for this purpose…
If you had given you what was asserted to be a speech made long ago by your father, the first reading of it would settle the matter. Knowing your father, his sentiments, his mode of expression, you would be able to say instantly whether the speech was authentic or fabricated. We ought by this time to know enough of Christ's manner to be able to say whether any speech purporting to be His was actually ever spoken by His lips. Is this? Let us see. Christ is reported as saying —
1. "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose." Here I recall the words which made the first ministers, "Follow Me." He is as personal as ever.
2. "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make —" Here I remember the word, "I will make you fishers of men." Jesus Christ is still Creator. The speaker does not propose to modify, add to, rearrange.
3. "To make thee a minister" — that is a new word — "and a witness" — that is an old word. "Ye are," said Jesus Christ, "witnesses of these things."
4. Proceed still further: "a witness both of these things which thou hast seen." Why, that is the old method: "Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see." We speak as eyewitnesses; we are not quoters from authors of an ancient date.
5. Proceed further: "and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee." Jesus said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." There is no end to the meaning of revelation. There is no end to the literature of the alphabet. The letters are but six-and-twenty in number, and no man attempts to add another! It is the same with the New Testament. Observe, nothing is added to the revelation. However large the book, it is all in the alphabet; however magnificent the unfoldment of the truth by human eloquence, the truth itself is the distinct and direct gift of God alone.
6. Proceed now to ver. 17: "Delivering them from the people and from the Gentiles." Here is the Lord's own speech: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves," etc. It is a marvellous thing if this was invented. It is impossible, considering Saul's antecedents, that he could have invented a speech so perfect, not only in the letter, but in the spirit.
7. The eighteenth verse is a summary of all that Jesus began both to do and to say. The miracles and the gospels are all there. For example, "To open their eyes." That is what Jesus Christ was always doing. He could never be at rest in the presence of the blind. Again and again He said, "According to your faith, be it unto you." Christ will not have any blind followers.
8. "To turn them from darkness to light." When did He ever turn men from light to darkness? Whenever He visited a town, the inhabitants were startled by an excess of intellectual lustre; old thoughts stood up in new meanings when He breathed them; the law itself became a kind of gospel when He repronounced its awful words.
9. "And from the power of Satan unto God." When did He ever reverse that process? His first battle was with the devil in the wilderness, and His last battle was with the devil on the Cross.
10. Go further: "that they may receive forgiveness of sins." That is His very word: "Son, daughter, thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee." That is not the kind of word which a bad man would be likely to invent.
11. But how was this forgiveness to be accomplished? and how was it be followed? By "inheritance among them which are sanctified." The whole process is set down to the action of "faith." Have we ever heard that word before? Why, the word is the keyword of Christ's ministry. Conclusion: So far the speech is self-proving. I find in it no syllable or tone that is not in vital accord with everything we have read in the Gospels ever spoken or done by the Son of God. This is a field of evidence to which I would invite every student of the Scriptures. Read the Book carefully through with a view to see how far its parts are confirmed by one another, and how far even apparent discrepancies admit of a kind of reconciliation which adds infinite force to the substantial argument for the unity of the Scriptures. Perhaps a more vivid instance of confirmation could hardly be produced than the one which is now before us. Paul is supposed to be in a fanatical state of mind; he is struck down to the ground, blinded, disabled; he is supposedly the victim of an hallucination of the most complete kind; yet when he himself reports what happened to him, no slip or flaw can be found in his evidence which throws the slightest doubt upon the identity of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the accepted Gospels. More than Chat, everything is here which is needed. Take this as a programme for the revolution, regeneration, and perfecting of the world, and add to it one line that is not involved in its unfathomable wisdom. It cannot be done.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
WEB: But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you;