4

Acts 9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

What is the significance of persecuting me instead of persecuting the church?

2
  • 1
    Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics. Please take our Tour to understand how we are different to other sites and what we look for in questions that show evidence of your own research: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour – Lesley May 26 at 16:30
  • For what it's worth, by persecuting the church Saul was persecuting Jesus because it is the church Jesus established that Saul was persecuting. – Lesley May 26 at 16:32
4

Jesus took it personally as in Matthew 25:

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Paul affirmed this intimacy in 1 Corinthians 12:27

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

What is the significance of persecuting me instead of persecuting the church?

Saul wasn't just persecuting the physical church. The "Saul Saul" repetition suggests the seriousness of the matter. In reality, persecuting the church is persecuting the body of Christ. Jesus spoke the spiritual reality to Paul.

1
  • +1 Very relevant quote from Matthew 25. – Nigel J May 26 at 19:14
2

Of this one body, “the body of Christ,”1 the Lord Jesus Christ is “the head,”2 and Christians are “individual members”3 “of his body, of his flesh and of his bones,”4 even “members of one another.”5

The apostle Paul wrote,6

25 There should be no schism in the body, but the members should care the same for one another. 26 And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer together. Whether one member is honored, all the members rejoice together.

What affects one Christian, whether beneficially or detrimentally, affects all Christians, since all Christians are spiritually united as members of the body of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “In so far as you did it to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”7 Also, “In so far as you did not do it to one of the least of these [brothers of mine], you did not do it to me.”8

The unity of the Church is effected by the communion of the Holy Spirit,9 for “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body,”10 “there is one body, and one Spirit,”11 and “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”12

Footnotes

1 1 Cor. 12:27
2 Col. 1:18
3 1 Cor. 12:27. In this context, the Greek noun μέρος refers to a body part.
4 Eph. 5:30
5 Eph. 4:25
6 1 Cor. 12:25–26
7 Matt. 25:40
8 Matt. 25:41
9 2 Cor. 13:14
10 1 Cor. 12:13
11 Eph. 4:4
12 1 Cor. 6:17

1
  • 1
    +1 Very relevant regarding unity and also Eph 4:4. – Nigel J May 26 at 19:15
1

The episode of the Conversion of Saul is narrated three times throughout Acts (Acts 9:4,5; 22:7,8; 26:14,15)

In all three occasions, there is the same echange between the Lord Jesus and Paul (apparently called by Jesus with his Hebrew name Saul):

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”

The standard answer to the Question is that Jesus is the Head of the Church, which, in turn, is the "body of Christ".

Maybe Paul who, in his epistles, attributes to Jesus expressions that in the OT are attributed to YHWH, had also in mind Isaiah 63:9 ("Through all that they suffered, he suffered too") and/or Zechariah 2:8 ("anyone who touches you touches the pupil of his eye"). Of course, in the OT they were referred to YHWH in relation to Israel.

1

This way of expressing sin is not unusual:

Against you, you only, have I sinned 
 and done what is evil in your sight, 
so that you may be justified in your words 
 and blameless in your judgment. 

(Psalm 51:4, ESV)

Paul was well versed in the Tanakh (Old Testament). If this didn't come to mind immediately, it probably did eventually. By making the persecution/sin against the Lord Jesus, it justified his words and made his judgment blameless.

Other places in the Bible:

David said to Nathan, “I stand guilty before the LORD!” And Nathan replied to David, “The LORD has remitted your sin; you shall not die. (2 Sam. 12:13, JPS)

He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Ge 39:9, ESV)

Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. (1 Cor. 8:12, ESV)

He who withholds what is due to the poor affronts his Maker; He who shows pity for the needy honors Him. (Prov. 14:31, JPS)

that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God. (Deut. 20:18, ESV)

See 2 Sam 12:13, 14, Gen 39:9, 1 Sam 12:23, 1 Sam 14:34, 2 Chron 19:10, Prov 17:5, Jer 34:19, Eze 13:19

1
  • 1
    Good answer - you could also quote 1 Cor 8:12, Prov 14:31, Deut 20:18, 2 Sam 12:13, 14, Gen 39:9, 1 Sam 12:23, 1 Sam 14:34, 2 Chron 19:10, Prov 17:5, Jer 34:19, Eze 13:19 – Dottard May 26 at 21:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.