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How did Paul see that the crippled man had faith to make him well? What does this mean?

Acts 14:8-10 ESV Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.

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    We don't allow questions that are 'searching for a text', so I made a slight edit to focus this question on the specific text being asked about.
    – Dan
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 19:18
  • What kind of answer are you looking for exactly? Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 23:49
  • @davidbrainerd The objectively perfectly inarguably correct one. :). Understanding the greek might be a good start to find out what he means.
    – LCIII
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 23:57

3 Answers 3

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Ah, the ESV's breaking up of the runon sentence I think makes it harder to catch the meaning. Because they disconnected "He listened to Paul speaking" from "And Paul, looking intently at him" with a period, I completely missed that all this happened while Paul was speaking. Until I went to Unbound Bible to look at the Greek, and I also read the ASV.

This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, (verse 9, ASV)

ουτος ηκουσεν του παυλου λαλουντος ος ατενισας αυτω και ιδων οτι πιστιν εχει του σωθηναι (verse 9, Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Majority Text, 2000 edition)

The actual grammar in the Greek is just like the ASV has it. Unlike the ESV's "He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking" it is a runon, with Paul's name occuring only once, and with the word ος (who) separating two clauses.

The word "seen" is just ιδων, which is common for actual sight as well as perception. I don't see anything special to take note of as far as Greek terms involved. But the runon sentence aspect of this makes it more dynamic than when its broken up into mini-sentences. It kind of evokes the idea of Paul preaching away, while this guy is in the audience nodding his head or in some way making it obvious that he believes what Paul is preaching, and Paul seeing this perceives that he has faith.

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  • Perhaps the best answer that can be given is in the context of Paul's preaching, he saw the man was "receptive"(had faith to believe). +1
    – Tau
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 4:10
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Paul simply knew the crippled had faith to be healed. It wasn’t his action (none was described), for you might want to argue that Jesus saw the faith of the four friends who lowered the paralytic. If that was true, then all actions towards God would be counted as faith. Faith comes when we hear God's word and that word is revealed to us on the inside. If you walk with God enough, He will let you 'know' things.

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    Welcome to BH. Do read the tour [below, left] to see how this site works. Many may agree with you when you say "If you walk with God.. etc:" but on this site we like to see a Bible reference to see how you got there. Could you edit in a reference?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Apr 28 at 7:28
  • Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. We are glad you are here. Please take a moment to take the site tour and check out what we are looking for in answers and the FAQs. We look for questions that show their work which means that Some of the information contained in this post may require additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here.
    – Jason_
    Commented May 3 at 11:23
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The Greek indicates that Paul looked at him intently, kind of scrutinised him in particular, rather than just observing him along with the rest. He then took knowledge, was made aware, that the man had faith. I get the picture that the man was indicating that he was wrapt by what Paul was saying, fully and uncritically engaged, demonstrating the child like and unquestioning belief that Jesus stated we need to receive the kingdom. If you speak before an audience you can see those who are paying attention and who are receiving what you are saying.

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    Welcome to BH. You need to substantiate what you are saying about the Greek language. Perhaps link to Biblehub so we can check your reasoning. Otherwise it is just an unsupported opinion.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 21:27

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