Acts 9:5


King James Version (KJV)

And he said, Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you persecute: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.

American King James Version (AKJV)

And he said, Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you persecute: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.

American Standard Version (ASV)

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And he'said , I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:

Basic English Translation (BBE)

And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are attacking:

Webster's Revision

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goads.

World English Bible

He said, "Who are you, Lord?" The Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

English Revised Version (ERV)

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:

Definitions for Acts 9:5

Art - "Are"; second person singular.

Clarke's Acts 9:5 Bible Commentary

Who art thou, Lord? - Τις ει, Κυριε; Who art thou, Sir? He had no knowledge who it was that addressed him, and would only use the term Κυριε, as any Roman or Greek would, merely as a term of civil respect.

I am Jesus whom thou persecutest - "Thy enmity is against me and my religion; and the injuries which thou dost to my followers I consider as done to myself." The following words, making twenty in the original, and thirty in our version, are found in no Greek MS. The words are, It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks: and he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? and the Lord said unto him. It is not very easy to account for such a large addition, which is not only not found in any Greek MS. yet discovered, but is wanting in the Itala, Erpen's Arabic, the Syriac, Coptic, Sahidic, and most of the Slavonian. It is found in the Vulgate, one of the Arabic, the Ethiopic, and Armenian; and was probably borrowed from Acts 26:14, and some marginal notes. It is wanting also in the Complutensian edition, and in that of Bengel. Griesbach also leaves it out of the text.

It is hard for thee, etc. - Σκληρον σοι προς κεντρα λακτιζειν. This is a proverbial expression, which exists, not only in substance, but even in so many words, both in the Greek and Latin writers. Κεντρον, kentron, signifies an ox goad, a piece of pointed iron stuck in the end of a stick, with which the ox is urged on when drawing the plough. The origin of the proverb seems to have been this: sometimes it happens that a restive or stubborn ox kicks back against the goad, and thus wounds himself more deeply: hence it has become a proverb to signify the fruitlessness and absurdity of rebelling against lawful authority, and the getting into greater difficulties by endeavoring to avoid trifling sufferings. So the proverb, Incidit in Scyllam qui vult vitare Charybdim. Out of the cauldron into the fire. "Out of bad into worse." The saying exists, almost in the apostolic form, in the following writers. Euripides, in Bacch. ver. 793: -

Θυοιμ' αν αυτῳ μαλλον, η θυμουμενος

Προς κεντρα λακτιζοιμι, θνητος ων, Θεῳ.

"I, who am a frail mortal, should rather sacrifice to him who is a God, than, by giving place to anger, kick against the goads."

And Aeschylus, in Agamemnon, ver. 1633: -

Προς κεντρα μη λακτιζε.

Kick not against the goads.

And again in Prometh. Vinct. ver. 323: -

Προς κεντρα κωλον εκτενεις, ὁρων ὁτι

Τραχυς μοναρχος ουδ' ὑπευθυνος κρατει.

"Thou stretchest out thy foot against goads, seeing the fierce monarch governs according to his own will."

Resistance is of no use: the more thou dost rebel, the more keenly thou shalt suffer. See the Scholiast here.


Barnes's Acts 9:5 Bible Commentary

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? - The word "Lord" here, as is frequently the case in the New Testament, means no more than "sir," John 4:19. It is evident that Saul did not as yet know that this was the Lord Jesus. He heard a voice as of a man; he heard himself addressed, but by whom the words were spoken was to him unknown. In his amazement and confusion, he naturally asked who it was that was thus addressing him.

And the Lord said - In this place the word "Lord" is used in a higher sense, to denote "the Saviour." It is his usual appellation. See the notes on Acts 1:24.

I am Jesus - It is clear, from this, that there was a personal appearance of the Saviour; that he was present to Saul; but in what particular form - whether seen as a man, or only appearing by the manifestation of his glory, is not affirmed. Though it was a personal appearance, however, of the Lord Jesus, designed to take the work of converting such a persecutor into his own hands, yet he designed to convert him in a natural way. He arrested his attention; he filled him with alarm at his guilt; and then he presented the truth respecting himself. In Acts 22:8, the expression is thus recorded: "I am Jesus of Nazareth," etc. There is no contradiction, as Luke here records only a part of what was said; Paul afterward stated the whole. This declaration was suited especially to humble and mortify Saul. There can be no doubt that he had often blasphemed his name, and profanely derided the notion that the Messiah could come out of Nazareth. Jesus here uses, however, that very designation. "I am Jesus the Nazarene, the object of your contempt and scorn." Yet Saul saw him now invested with special glory.

It is hard ... - This is evidently a proverbial expression. Kuinoel has quoted numerous places in which a similar mode of expression occurs in Greek writers. Thus, Euripides, Bacch., 791, "I, who am a frail mortal, should rather sacrifice to him who is a god, than, by giving place to anger, kick against the goads." So Pindar, Pyth., 2:173, "It is profitable to bear willingly the assumed yoke. To kick against the goad is pernicious conduct." So Terence, Phome., 1, 2, 27, "It is foolishness for thee to kick against a goad." Ovid has the same idea, Tristam, ii. 15. The word translated "pricks" here κέντρον kentron means properly "any sharp point which will pierce or perforate," as the sting of a bee, etc. But it commonly means an ox-goad, a sharp piece of iron stuck into the end of a stick, with which the ox is urged on. These goads among the Hebrews were made very large. Thus, Shamgar killed 600 men with one of them, Judges 3:31. Compare 1 Samuel 13:21. The expression "to kick against the prick" is derived from the action of a stubborn and unyielding ox kicking against the goad. And as the ox would injure no one by it but himself; as he would gain nothing, it comes to denote "an obstinate and refractory disposition and course of conduct, resisting the authority of him who has a right to command, and opposing the leadings of Providence, to the injury of him who makes the resistance." It denotes "rebellion against lawful authority, and thus getting into greater difficulty by attempting to oppose the commands to duty." This is the condition of every sinner. If people wish to be happy, they should cheerfully submit to the authority of God. They should not rebel against his dealings. They should not complain against their Creator. They should not resist the claims of their consciences. By all this they only injure themselves. No man can resist God or his own conscience and be happy. People evince this temper in the following ways:

(1) By violating plain laws of God.

(2) by attempting to resist his claims.

(3) by refusing to do what their conscience requires.

(4) by attempting to free themselves from serious impressions and alarms.

(5) by pursuing a course of vice and wickedness against what they know to be right.

(6) by refusing to submit to the dealings of Providence. And,

(7) In any way by opposing God, and refusing to submit to his authority, and to do what is right.

Wesley's Acts 9:5 Bible Commentary

9:5 To kick against the goads - is a Syriac proverb, expressing an attempt that brings nothing but pain.

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