Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 9:6

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he, trembling - Alarmed at what he saw and heard, and at the consciousness of his own evil course. It is not remarkable that a sinner trembles when he sees his guilt and danger.

And astonished - At what he saw.

Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? - This indicates a subdued soul, a humbled spirit. Just before, he had sought only to do his own will; now he inquired what was the will of the Saviour. Just before he was acting under a commission from the Sanhedrin; now he renounced their authority, and asked what the Lord Jesus would have him to do. Just before he had been engaged in a career of opposition to the Lord Jesus; now he sought at once to do his will. This indicates the usual change in the mind of the sinner when he is converted. The great controversy between him and God is, whose will shall be followed. The sinner follows his own; the first act of the Christian is to surrender his own will to that of God, and to resolve to do what he requires. We may further remark here that this indicates the true nature of conversion. It is decided, prompt immediate. Paul did not debate the matter Galatians 1:16; he did not inquire what the scribes and Pharisees would say; he did not consult his own reputation; he did not ask what the world would think. With characteristic promptness - with a readiness which showed what he would yet be, he gave himself up at once, and entirely, to the Lord Jesus, evidently with a purpose to do his will alone. This was the case also with the jailor at Philippi, Acts 16:30. Nor can there be any real conversion where the heart and will are not given to the Lord Jesus, to be directed and moulded by him at his pleasure. We may test our conversion then by the example of the apostle Paul. If our hearts have been given up as his was, we are true friends of Christ.

Go into the city - Damascus. They were near it, Acts 9:3.

And it shall be told thee - It is remarkable that he was thus directed. But we may learn from it:

(1) That even in the most striking and remarkable cases of conversion, there is not at once a clear view of duty. What course of life should be followed; what should be done; nay, what should be believed, is not at once apparent.

(2) the aid of others, and especially ministers, and of experienced Christians, is often very desirable to aid even those who are converted in the most remarkable manner. Saul was converted by a miracle; the Saviour appeared to him in his glory; of the truth of his Messiahship he had no doubt, but still he was dependent on an humble disciple in Damascus to be instructed in what he should do.

(3) those who are converted, in however striking a manner it may be, should be willing to seek the counsel of those who are in the church before them. The most striking evidence of their conversion will not prevent their deriving important direction and benefit from the aged, the experienced, and the wise in the Christian church.

(4) such remarkable conversions are suited to induce the subjects of the change to seek counsel and direction. They produce humility; a deep sense of sin and of unworthiness; and a willingness to be taught and directed by anyone who can point out the way of duty and of life.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
So ill informed was Saul, that he thought he ought to do all he could against the name of Christ, and that he did God service thereby; he seemed to breathe in this as in his element. Let us not despair of renewing grace for the conversion of the greatest sinners, nor let such despair of the pardoning mercy of God for the greatest sin. It is a signal token of Divine favour, if God, by the inward working of his grace, or the outward events of his providence, stops us from prosecuting or executing sinful purposes. Saul saw that Just One, ch. 22:14; 26:13. How near to us is the unseen world! It is but for God to draw aside the veil, and objects are presented to the view, compared with which, whatever is most admired on earth is mean and contemptible. Saul submitted without reserve, desirous to know what the Lord Jesus would have him to do. Christ's discoveries of himself to poor souls are humbling; they lay them very low, in mean thoughts of themselves. For three days Saul took no food, and it pleased God to leave him for that time without relief. His sins were now set in order before him; he was in the dark concerning his own spiritual state, and wounded in spirit for sin. When a sinner is brought to a proper sense of his own state and conduct, he will cast himself wholly on the mercy of the Saviour, asking what he would have him to do. God will direct the humbled sinner, and though he does not often bring transgressors to joy and peace in believing, without sorrows and distress of conscience, under which the soul is deeply engaged as to eternal things, yet happy are those who sow in tears, for they shall reap in joy.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Trembling - Under a strong apprehension of meeting the judgment he deserved.

And astonished - At the light, the thunder, and the voice.

Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? - The word Κυριε, Lord, is here to be understood in its proper sense, as expressing authority and dominion: in the 5th verse it appears to be equivalent to our word sir.

The pride of the Pharisee is now brought down to the dust; and the fury of the persecutor is not only restrained, but the lion becomes a lamb. What wilt thou have me to do? Wilt thou condescend to employ me among thy meanest servants?

Go into the city, and it shall be told thee, etc. - Jesus could have informed him at once what was his will concerning him; but he chose to make one of those very disciples whom he was going to bring in bonds to Jerusalem the means of his salvation:

  1. To show that God will help man by man, that they may learn to love and respect each other.

2. That in the benevolence of Ananias he might see the spirit and tendency of that religion which he was persecuting, and of which he was shortly to become an apostle.

Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 216

Considering the light that God has given, it is marvelous that there are not scores of young men and women inquiring, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” It is a perilous mistake to imagine that unless a young man has decided to give himself to the ministry, no special effort is required to fit him for the work of God. Whatever may be your calling, it is essential that you improve your abilities by diligent study. Young men and women should be urged to appreciate the heaven-sent blessings of opportunities to become well disciplined and intelligent. They should take advantage of the schools that have been established for the purpose of imparting the best of knowledge. It is sinful to be indolent and negligent in regard to obtaining an education. Time is short, and therefore because the Lord is soon to come to close the scenes of earth's history, there is all the greater necessity of improving present opportunities and privileges. FE 216.1

Young men and young women should place themselves in our schools, in the channel where knowledge and discipline may be obtained. They should consecrate their ability to God, become diligent Bible students, that they may be fortified against erroneous doctrine, and not be led away by the error of the wicked; for it is by diligent searching of the Bible that we obtain a knowledge of what is truth. By the practice of the truth we already know, increased light will shine upon us from the holy Scriptures. As we surrender our will to the will of God, as we humble our hearts before Him, we shall earnestly desire to become colaborers with Him, going forth to save those who perish. Those who are truly consecrated to God will not enter the work prompted by the same motive which leads men to engage in worldly business, merely for the sake of a livelihood, but they will enter the work allowing no worldly consideration to control them, realizing that the cause of God is sacred. FE 216.2

The world is to be warned, and no soul should rest satisfied with a superficial knowledge of truth. You know not to what responsibility you may be called. You know not where you may be called upon to give your witness of truth. Many will have to stand in the legislative courts; some will have to stand before kings and before the learned of the earth, to answer for their faith. Those who have only a superficial understanding of truth will not be able clearly to expound the Scriptures, and give definite reasons for their faith. They will become confused, and will not be workmen that need not to be ashamed. Let no one imagine that he has no need to study, because he is not to preach in the sacred desk. You know not what God may require of you. It is a lamentable fact that the advancement of the cause is hindered by the dearth of educated laborers who have fitted themselves for positions of trust. The Lord will accept of thousands to labor in His great harvest field, but many have failed to fit themselves for the work. But every one who has espoused the cause of Christ, who has offered himself as a soldier in the Lord's army, should place himself where he may have faithful drill. Religion has meant altogether too little to the professed followers of Christ; for it is not the will of God that any one should remain ignorant when wisdom and knowledge have been placed within reach. FE 217.1

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 601

We are living in the most solemn period of this world's history. The destiny of earth's teeming multitudes is about to be decided. Our own future well-being and also the salvation of other souls depend upon the course which we now pursue. We need to be guided by the Spirit of truth. Every follower of Christ should earnestly inquire: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” We need to humble ourselves before the Lord, with fasting and prayer, and to meditate much upon His word, especially upon the scenes of the judgment. We should now seek a deep and living experience in the things of God. We have not a moment to lose. Events of vital importance are taking place around us; we are on Satan's enchanted ground. Sleep not, sentinels of God; the foe is lurking near, ready at any moment, should you become lax and drowsy, to spring upon you and make you his prey. GC 601.1

Many are deceived as to their true condition before God. They congratulate themselves upon the wrong acts which they do not commit, and forget to enumerate the good and noble deeds which God requires of them, but which they have neglected to perform. It is not enough that they are trees in the garden of God. They are to answer His expectation by bearing fruit. He holds them accountable for their failure to accomplish all the good which they could have done, through His grace strengthening them. In the books of heaven they are registered as cumberers of the ground. Yet the case of even this class is not utterly hopeless. With those who have slighted God's mercy and abused His grace, the heart of long-suffering love yet pleads. “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, ... redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:14-16. GC 601.2

When the testing time shall come, those who have made God's word their rule of life will be revealed. In summer there is no noticeable difference between evergreens and other trees; but when the blasts of winter come, the evergreens remain unchanged, while other trees are stripped of their foliage. So the falsehearted professor may not now be distinguished from the real Christian, but the time is just upon us when the difference will be apparent. Let opposition arise, let bigotry and intolerance again bear sway, let persecution be kindled, and the halfhearted and hypocritical will waver and yield the faith; but the true Christian will stand firm as a rock, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, than in days of prosperity. GC 602.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 220

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” He feels that he is the purchase of the blood of Christ and bound by the most solemn vows to glorify God in his body and in his spirit, which are God's. The love of sin and the love of self are subdued in him. He daily asks: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” The true Christian will never complain that the yoke of Christ is galling to the neck. He accounts the service of Jesus as the truest freedom. The law of God is his delight. Instead of seeking to bring down the divine commands, to accord with his deficiencies, he is constantly striving to rise to the level of their perfection. 5T 220.1

Such an experience must be ours if we would be prepared to stand in the day of God. Now, while probation lingers, while mercy's voice is still heard, is the time for us to put away our sins. While moral darkness covers the earth like a funeral pall, the light of God's standard-bearers must shine the more brightly, showing the contrast between heaven's light and Satan's darkness. 5T 220.2

God has made ample provision that we may stand perfect in His grace, wanting in nothing, waiting for the appearing of our Lord. Are you ready? Have you the wedding garment on? That garment will never cover deceit, impurity, corruption, or hypocrisy. The eye of God is upon you. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We may conceal our sins from the eyes of men, but we can hide nothing from our Maker. 5T 220.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 584

“Be strong, and quit yourselves like men.” Ask of Him who suffered reproach, insult, and mockery for your sakes: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” None are too highly educated to become humble disciples of Christ. Those who feel it a privilege to give the best of their life and learning to Him from whom they received them, will shun no labor, no sacrifice, to render back to God in highest service His entrusted talents. In the great battle of life many of the workers lose sight of the solemnity and sacred character of their mission. The deadly curse of sin continues to blight and deface the moral image of God in them because they do not work as Christ worked. 5T 584.1

We see the need of encouraging higher ideas of education and of employing more trained men in the ministry. Those who do not obtain the right kind of education before they enter upon God's work are not competent to accept this holy trust and to carry forward the work of reformation. Yet all should continue their education after they engage in the work. They must have the word of God abiding in them. We need more cultivation, refinement, and nobility of soul in our laborers. Such an improvement as this would show results in eternity. 5T 584.2

“I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” The apostle here links the experience of the fathers with that of the young men; in like manner there is a link between the old disciples in this cause and those who are younger, who have not had an experience in the early events of this message. Those who were young when the message arose will have to be educated by the old standard-bearers. These teachers must realize that too great pains cannot be taken to fit men for their holy trust while the standard-bearers are still able to hold the standard aloft. And yet those who have so long fought in the battles may still win victories. They have been so thoroughly acquainted with the wiles of Satan that they will not be easily moved from the old paths. They remember the days of old. They know Him who is from the beginning. They may ever be light bearers, faithful witnesses for God, living epistles, known and read of all men. 5T 584.3

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