New Defender's Study Bible Notes
9:3 Damascus. Damascus is one of the world’s oldest cities, first mentioned in the Bible at the time of Abraham (Genesis 14:15) and still thriving today as the capital of modern Syria. In Paul’s day, it had a large Jewish population and a significant number had become Christians. Paul’s commission from the high priest, however, was probably to arrest and bring back to Jerusalem those Christians who had fled the city following the stoning of Stephen.
9:4 Saul, Saul. This repetition of the name of the person addressed always indicated a message of special importance. Other examples include the following: Abraham (Genesis 22:11); Moses (Exodus 3:4); Samuel (I Samuel 3:10); Absalom (II Samuel 18:33); Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37); Simon Peter (Luke 22:31).
9:5 whom thou persecutest. Jesus regards any persecution against His followers as persecution against himself (note John 15:20).
9:5 kick against the pricks. The future apostle is addressed here as behaving like a stubborn animal, rebelling against the pain caused by the goads in his harness. The Lord already had been speaking to him, as he would recall Stephen’s dying prayer (Acts 7:60), and possibly also through the testimony of Christian relatives (Romans 16:7). He must also, with his training and position, have learned something about the teachings of Jesus, and especially the evidence of His resurrection. Yet he had been rejecting all this testimony.