Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary

A Transformed Life
Acts 26: 12 "While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 15 So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' 19 "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come-- 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." (NKJV)



 

The time is 59 A.D. Paul has been kept in confinement by the Roman governor in Caesarea for two years as a result of bogus charges filed against him by the Jews in Jerusalem. Caesarea was the political center for the Roman province of Syria, of which Judea was a part. 

Paul is being held in light chains in Herod’s Palace. He has not been found guilty of any crimes, to the dismay of the Jews in Jerusalem who want him dead for promoting Christianity. 

Paul has asked for a trial before Emperor Nero in Rome and Festus has consented. Now Paul has been brought before Herod Agrippa II, as Governor Festus seeks what he should say about the charges against Paul in the letter to be sent with Paul to Nero. 

In this passage, Paul continues his defense by citing the commission he was given by Jesus and how his obedience to that commission has brought him to the place where he is today. After recounting his time as a persecutor of Christians, Paul now launches into his Damascus Road experience (v. 12). 

He describes the bright light from Heaven that struck him down, a light brighter that of the noon day Sun (vv. 13-14a). At that time a voice from Heaven spoke in Hebrew saying “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (v. 14b). A goad was a sharp pointed stick used on oxen to keep them moving in the right direction. 

After Jesus identified himself as the voice, He called for Paul to stand up. He then commissioned Paul for his life’s work, which would be “to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you” (vv. 15-16). 

The Lord then promised Paul that He would protect him from the Gentiles and Jews until such time as his work was done (v. 17a). Jesus then told Paul that He was sending him to minister to the Gentiles “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (vv. 17b-18). 

Next, Paul turns to the king and states that he has been obedient to the Lord’s commission (v. 19). He has “declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance”, and it is for this reason that the Jews are trying to kill him (vv. 20-21). 

Paul concludes his defense by stating that, by the help of God, he has witnessed to both “small and great…things…which the prophets and Moses said would come” (v. 22). These things were “that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (v. 23). 

Paul’s testimony was powerful. He had been transformed from a persecutor of Jesus to the greatest supporter of Jesus in history. His story was unique, and yet it was not. 

We all can experience a transformation. Jesus can take any of us from a life of shambles to a life of success. We find success only through a relationship with Jesus Christ, from becoming a Christian. Through God’s help, and our obedience, we can live a life of success.