And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

Acts 9:6

The mystery of man’s free will is far too great for us! God said to Adam and Eve: “Thou shalt not eat from this tree” (see Genesis 2:16–17). Here was a divine requirement calling for obedience on the part of those who had the power of choice and will. When they disobeyed, they usurped the right that was not theirs!

The poet Tennyson must have thought about this, for he wrote in his “In Memoriam”: “Our wills are ours, we know not how; our wills are ours to make them Thine!”

“We know not how;” then Tennyson girds himself and continues, “Our wills are ours to make them Thine!”

As created beings, that is our only right—to make our wills the will of God, to make the will of God our will! God is sovereign, and we are the creatures. He is the Creator and has the right to command us with the obligation that we should obey.

It is a happy obligation, I might say, for “His yoke is easy and His burden is light!” It is important to agree that true salvation restores the right of a Creator-creature relationship, acknowledging God’s right to our fellowship and communion!

Heavenly Father, intellectually it is easy to say that I want to do Your will, but to really do so I need Your Spirit’s help. Strengthen me, Lord. I am Yours.[1]

6. Now get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Some commentators prefer the reading “Who are you, sir?” They think that because Paul had not yet acknowledged Jesus Christ as the Messiah, he used the polite address sir. But the setting—Paul lying face down on the ground with brilliant light flashing around him and a heavenly voice calling to him in Aramaic—indicates that Paul realizes he is confronted by Jesus, the ascended Lord (see vv. 17, 27; 22:14; 26:15).

Of course, Paul is confused. Thinking that he is doing God’s will in persecuting the Christians, he now hears Jesus’ voice calling him to face reality. Although in writing to the Corinthians Paul seems to indicate that he knew Christ during his earthly ministry (2 Cor. 5:16), we have no solid evidence of Paul meeting Jesus. Yet he has heard the Christians proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. These facts now become reality for Paul as Jesus calls him. Hesitatingly he asks, “Who are you, Lord?”

Jesus replies, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Notice that he uses his earthly name Jesus given to him on the day of circumcision (Luke 2:21). Jesus addresses Paul from heaven, and Paul discerns that the words spoken by Stephen are true: “I see heaven open and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God” (7:56). Jesus is alive, raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God in heaven. In the Greek, Jesus is actually saying to Paul, “Yes, indeed, I am Jesus.” Then he adds, “whom you yourself are persecuting,” to emphasize the direct accusation. That is, what Paul has been doing to the Christians, he has perpetrated against Jesus. For that reason, Jesus declares twice that Paul has been persecuting him. In other words, Paul understands that he has sinned against Jesus, which he acknowledges repeatedly in his letters (see 1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13, 23; Phil. 3:6).

Jesus instructs Paul and says, “Now get up and enter the city, and you will be told what to do.” Paul hardly has time to assimilate that Jesus has appeared to him when he hears Jesus commanding him to get up and enter Damascus. Jesus is in charge and Paul, who earlier breathed death and destruction, obeys. Note that Jesus only tells Paul to enter the city, where he will receive further instructions. At this moment, Jesus says nothing about Paul’s eventual role as apostle to the Gentiles. First, Paul has to be accepted by the Christians in Damascus and be one of Christ’s disciples. Next, he will learn that Jesus commissions him to proclaim the name of Christ to the Gentiles, kings, and the nation Israel (v. 15). And last, he must be prepared to suffer on behalf of Jesus (v. 16).[2]


“but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.” And the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. And Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. (9:6–8)

The genuineness of Saul’s conversion immediately became evident. From Acts 22:10, we learn that he asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” Saul’s surrender was complete, as he humbly submitted himself to the will of the Lord he had hated. In contrast to the teaching of many today, Saul knew nothing of accepting Christ as Savior, then (Hopefully) making him Lord later. The plain teaching of Scripture is that Jesus is Lord (cf. Rom. 10:9–10), independent of any human response. The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship. Saul was, from the moment of his conversion to the end of his life.

In response to Saul’s inquiry, Jesus told him to rise and enter the city of Damascus, and it shall be told you what you must do. Luke notes that the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. This incident was no subjective projection of Saul’s mind but an actual historical occurrence. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. His entry into the city was very different than he had anticipated. Instead of barging in as the conquering hero, the scourge of Christians, he entered helplessly blinded, being led by the hand.

God crushed Saul, bringing him to the point of total consecration. From the ashes of Saul’s old life would arise the noblest and most useful man of God the church has ever known.[3]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 332–333). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (p. 269). Chicago: Moody Press.

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