What does Acts 26:9-18 really mean?

Acts 26:9-18 is about the dramatic conversion of Saul to Paul, showcasing the transformative power of encountering Jesus Christ and being called to a life of serving and spreading the message of God’s grace and redemption.

9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.
11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.”
13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’


Setting the Scene for Acts 26:9-18

In Acts chapter 26, we find the apostle Paul standing before King Agrippa, Governor Festus, and other prominent officials in Caesarea. The scene is set in a grand hall within the palace, adorned with luxurious furnishings and intricate decorations. The room is filled with an air of authority and power, as the Roman officials are seated on ornate thrones, dressed in their finest garments.

Paul, a prisoner at the time, is brought before the assembly to present his defense against the accusations brought forth by the Jewish leaders. As he stands before King Agrippa, he begins to recount his conversion story, detailing his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul speaks passionately about his transformation from a persecutor of Christians to a devoted follower of Christ, sharing the message of salvation and redemption.

The atmosphere in the room is tense yet captivated, as Paul’s words resonate with conviction and sincerity. King Agrippa and the others listen intently as Paul recounts his journey of faith and the divine calling he received from God. The scene is a powerful display of courage and faith in the face of adversity, as Paul fearlessly proclaims the gospel message to those in positions of authority.

What is Acts 26:9-18 about?

Isn’t it fascinating how life can take unexpected turns? Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is a powerful reminder that transformation is always possible, even for those who are completely opposed to change. Paul’s calling to preach to the Gentiles signifies a shift in his purpose and mission. Through this experience, Paul’s heart was opened to a new path, one that would lead him to communicate the teachings of Jesus Christ to a wider audience.

Just like Paul, we too can experience transformative moments in our lives that push us towards new directions and purposes. This verse serves as a reminder that no matter how set we may be in our ways, there is always room for change and growth. It challenges us to reflect on our own journeys and consider how we can step into new roles or embrace new callings that may be waiting for us. We should remain open to the unexpected opportunities that come our way, always willing to listen to the whispers of our hearts guiding us towards a higher purpose.

Understanding what Acts 26:9-18 really means

In Acts 26:9-18, we witness Paul’s compelling testimony before King Agrippa, where he vividly recounts his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. This passage serves to showcase the transformative power of encountering Christ and the profound mission that follows such a life-altering experience. Paul’s words resonate with a sense of urgency and purpose, inviting us to reflect on our own encounters with the divine and the subsequent call to action that may unfold.

Paul’s admission that he was once fervently opposed to the name of Jesus of Nazareth underscores the depth of his transformation. His zeal in persecuting Christians gives way to a radical shift brought about by a blinding light from heaven, brighter than the sun, enveloping him and his companions. This divine encounter symbolizes enlightenment and revelation, marking a pivotal moment in Paul’s journey towards faith and mission.

The poignant words of Jesus to Paul, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads,” highlight the futility and pain of resisting God’s will. This imagery of an ox kicking against a sharp stick serves as a powerful reminder that aligning ourselves with God’s purpose brings liberation and fulfillment, while resistance only leads to unnecessary struggle. Paul’s mission to open eyes, turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God underscores the transformative power of the Gospel in bringing about spiritual awakening and freedom.

Drawing parallels to other biblical passages such as Acts 9:1-19, Galatians 1:13-16, and Ephesians 5:8, we see a consistent theme of transformation from darkness to light. These passages reinforce the idea that encountering Christ leads to a profound change in one’s identity and purpose. Today, individuals can still undergo radical personal transformation through faith, discovering their unique mission and purpose in the process.

Consider the story of C.S. Lewis, a former atheist who underwent a profound conversion and became a prominent Christian apologist. His journey from skepticism to faith mirrors Paul’s transformation, illustrating the timeless relevance of Acts 26:9-18. Like Paul, Lewis’s encounter with Christ reshaped his life, leading him to embrace a new mission and purpose that impacted countless lives.

Acts 26:9-18 stands as a powerful testament to the life-changing impact of encountering Christ. It challenges us to remain open to divine guidance, embrace our unique mission, and trust in the transformative power of faith. Just as Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus altered the course of his life, may we too be open to the transformative work of Christ in our own journeys.

How can we have a personal encounter with God?

To have a personal encounter with God, we must be open to His revelation and guidance. We too can encounter God in our own lives when we are receptive to His calling, just as Paul experienced a life-changing encounter with God on the road to Damascus. This encounter may come in various forms – through prayer, scripture, worship, or even through the people and circumstances that God places in our lives.

It is essential to have a heart that is seeking after God and willing to surrender to His will. When we humble ourselves before Him, confess our sins, and turn towards Him with faith and repentance, we position ourselves to experience a personal encounter with the living God. Like Paul who was transformed from a persecutor of Christians to a devoted follower of Christ, our encounter with God can lead to a radical transformation of our lives, renewing our purpose and calling as we walk in His ways. A personal encounter with God ultimately transcends mere knowledge or intellectual understanding and is a deeply spiritual experience. It is a moment of divine encounter where God’s presence is felt, His voice is heard, and His love is experienced in a profound and life-changing way. Such encounters are a reminder of God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness towards us, and they empower us to live for His glory and to fulfill the purpose He has ordained for our lives.


Reflect on the impact that encountering Christ can have on your life. Much like Paul’s dramatic transformation on the road to Damascus, consider where you may need to redirect your focus towards the light of Christ. Actively pursue God’s purpose for your life and fearlessly spread His message, just as Paul did. Will you step up to live a life devoted entirely to Christ, and spread His message of love to those closest to you?