God’s Word for You
Acts 9:17-19a Something like flakes fell
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, January 30, 2020
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me to you so that your sight may be restored and so that you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately something like flakes fell from his eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after he ate some food, he regained his strength.
Luke’s clipped style bursts into the room, as it were, to find Ananias and Saul together. There is no mention of the other people there in the house; for our purposes, it doesn’t matter who else was there. In came the Christian, on went the hands (Saul was blind; the laying on of hands was all the more significant in this case because of the blindness). From this moment, we understand that Saul was already a believer in Christ, but with very little instruction. He was by this time probably piecing together some of the great Messianic passages of the Old Testament to say: Yes, there he was all the time: the Lord Jesus proclaimed by Moses, David, Isaiah, and all the rest!
“Brother Saul,” not “O Saul.” From the first, Ananias laid his hands on this brother in Christ and called him Brother. Jesus had already done the work of conversion, and Ananias was following up with the task appointed to him. He told him he was there to restore Saul’s sight, and having done nothing more than announce his mission, his mission was fulfilled. Something fell away from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.
Luke says that it was ὡς λεπίδες. Lepides means fish scales, or little flakes. The hos (ὡς) means “like” in this context, and some substance Saul wasn’t sure about fell away. It was more than just “rubbing the sleep from his eyes.” The physical act of having this substance fall away showed that his blindness was at an end, and that his spiritual blindness was at an end, as well.
Luke tells us that Saul “got up” (a blind man fasting would not do a lot of standing or walking) and then was baptized. The translator cannot say with certainty whether the passive infinitive ἐβαπτίσθη (ebaptisthe) is a purpose infinitive or an infinitive of result: Either (a) he got up in order to be baptized, or (b) he got up and then was baptized. Perhaps both are correct. At any rate, it is most likely that Ananias simply used water on hand there in the house of Judas on Straight Street. It’s likely that Luke would have fleshed out his narrative more if there had been a rigamarole with the weak and fasting Saul to have struggled out to the Abana River (about five city blocks to the north), down into the river, back out again, and then five blocks back to Judas’ house, to do something that could have been done with a bowl of water in the kitchen.
Ananias seems to have been the one to baptize Saul. There is no one else mentioned, and since Saul’s traveling companions had also been delegated by the Sanhedrin, who else would there have been to baptize? Ananias found water, said the words, and where the words approach the element, there is the sacrament. Later, this same Saul would baptize people in all sorts of unusual circumstances and places, including the kitchen of the jail in Philippi.
Saul ate after his baptism (perhaps someone was preparing some food for him while the baptism was performed), and he regained his strength. He was refreshed physically and spiritually. He had been assured of his forgiveness, and from this moment he was a Christian.
The gospel has effects in us which we would never have suspected if the peace of salvation had not come to us. “In the same way,” says Theodoret, “many objects have their innate efficacy concealed. Pepper, for instance, appears outwardly to be cold, and to those unacquainted with it, shows no semblance of heat. But let one grind it with his teeth, and he perceives that it is hot like fire. Thus also a grain of corn may contain a root and stalk and ear, but that does not become manifest until it is sown in the furrows of the earth” (Works Vol. III, on Rom. 1:16).
The apostle of the Sanhedrin was now a baptized child of God, a spiritual brother and disciple of Jesus Christ. His whole world had changed. This is the change that has come to us, but since so many of us are baptized as little children, we have mercifully been spared a lifetime of sin and unbelief leading up to our conversion. Thanks be to God! How many of us would never have come to faith if it had not been offered to us right along with the baby bottle from the very beginning? How many babies would never learn to breathe when they are born if they weren’t given just a little bit of help from a mother, a midwife, a nurse, or a doctor? Praise God for what so many of us have had our whole lives. We must continue to give the same spiritual food to our children, to teach them to breathe in the air of the gospel and not abandon them to discover it on their own or perish. Bless your children with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let the Lord cause the flakes of unbelief to fall from their eyes. Then he will open those eyes to see the glory of their Savior their whole lives through, and forevermore in eternity.
Pastor Timothy Smith