Saul on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:3)

“Now as Saul

Was going along,

He was approaching Damascus.


A light from heaven

Flashed around him.”

Ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι ἐγένετο αὐτὸν ἐγγίζειν τῇ Δαμασκῷ, ἐξαίφνης τε αὐτὸν περιήστραψεν φῶς ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ,

The author of Acts indicated that as Saul was going along (Ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι), he was approaching near (ἐγένετο αὐτὸν ἐγγίζειν) to Damascus (τῇ Δαμασκῷ).  Suddenly (ἐξαίφνης), a light (φῶς) from heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) flashed around him (τε αὐτὸν περιήστραψεν).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word περιήστραψεν, that means to fly around, flash, like lightning.  This is the first of the three descriptions of Saul’s conversion experience in Acts.  In the second account, Acts, chapter 22:6, Saul said that as he was on his journey and drew near to Damascus, (Ἐγένετο δέ μοι πορευομένῳ καὶ ἐγγίζοντι τῇ Δαμασκῷ) about noon (περὶ μεσημβρίαν), suddenly (ἐξαίφνης) a great light (φῶς ἱκανὸν) from heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) shone about him (περιαστράψαι περὶ ἐμέ).  It was almost the same as here, except he said it was about noon and the light was great.  The third conversion description in Acts, chapter 26:13, had Saul say that at midday (ἡμέρας μέσης), he saw on the way there (κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν εἶδον), O king (βασιλεῦ), a light (φῶς) from heaven above (οὐρανόθεν ὑπὲρ), with the brightness of the sun (τὴν λαμπρότητα τοῦ ἡλίου) shining around him (περιλάμψαν με) and on those who journeyed with him (καὶ τοὺς σὺν ἐμοὶ πορευομένους).· This version said that those with him saw the light that was like a bright sun.  In all three versions of this story, Saul was persecuting the early Christian community.  He was on his way to Damascus when he saw a great light.  It probably was midday according to two of the versions.  Damascus was a Syrian city north of Israel, less than 200 miles from Jerusalem.  There must have been Jewish people living there, as well as some followers of Jesus.  This event took place in the early 30s CE, within a few years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That brings up the question of whether Saul was in Jerusalem when they crucified Jesus.  Have you ever seen a bright light that confused you?

One thought on “Saul on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:3)

  1. Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same
    layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

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