General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 1: The Gospels and the Acts, by Witness Lee


We may now examine two portions from Acts. Acts 9 has ministered much life to me. Verses 1 and 2 say, “But Saul, still breathing threatening and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to Damascus for the synagogues, so that if he found any who were of the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” It is noteworthy how the Holy Spirit uses the term the Way in verse 2. The disciples were not in a doctrine, a teaching, or a religion but in the Way. Saul bound not those in a certain mentality but those in a certain living and walk.

Verses 3 and 4 say, “And as he went, he drew near to Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And he fell on the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” We must emphasize the word Me in verse 4. Someone from heaven came to ask Saul, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Verse 5 continues, “And he said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, whom you persecute.”

This word from the Lord surprised the young Saul very much. Saul could have argued, “I never persecuted anyone in the heavens, but now You are speaking from the heavens that I persecuted You. Who are You? I persecuted Stephen and many others, but I never persecuted a man by the name of Jesus.” At this time, however, Saul did not argue. Rather, he received the truth concerning the Body. From the first time he met the Lord, he received the vision of the Body. He saw the vision that all those who believe in Jesus are a part of Jesus. Therefore, to persecute them is to persecute Jesus because they are one with Jesus and He is living in them. In this way, Saul of Tarsus received the revelation that the Body of Christ, including all His members, is Christ Himself (1 Cor. 12:12).

To persecute the disciples of Christ is to persecute Christ Himself, because all the disciples of Christ are the members of the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ is Christ Himself. For someone to hit a part of my body is to hit my body, and to hit my body is to hit me. While Saul was persecuting so many believers, he never realized that he was persecuting Jesus. But when the Lord came to him, He pointed out that Saul was persecuting the Lord Himself because it was He who was moving, living, and acting in all those believers.

When Paul recounted this incident in Acts 26, he added that the Lord said, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (v. 14). A goad is a sharp-pointed stick used to subdue and prod an ox yoked to the plow. The Lord’s word here signifies that even before Saul was met by the Lord, he was under His yoke. For this reason, Paul later said that he was set apart unto the Lord from his mother’s womb (Gal. 1:15).

In Acts 9:6 the Lord said, “But rise up and enter into the city, and it will be told to you what you must do.” The Lord did not tell Saul directly what he should do. Rather, the Lord told him indirectly through a member of the Body. From the first day the Lord met him, Saul was made to know the Body. Saul was put into the Body and made to realize that whatever he did to the Body he did also to the Head, and if he was to do something from the Head, he must know it through the Body. It seems as if the Lord was saying, “Saul, I will not tell you what to do directly. You must go to the city where My Body is. There, a member of the Body will come to you and tell you what to do.”

Verses 7 and 8 say, “And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. And Saul rose from the ground; and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. And they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” Formerly, Saul led other people. Now he was led by others. Verses 10-17 continue, “And there was a certain disciple in Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said to him, Rise up and go to the lane called Straight, and seek in the house of Judas a man from Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying; and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in and laying his hands on him so that he may receive his sight. But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many concerning this man, how many evil things he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Your name. But the Lord said to him, Go, for this man is a chosen vessel to Me, to bear My name before both the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how many things he must suffer on behalf of My name. And Ananias went away and entered into the house; and laying his hands on him, he said, Saul, brother, the Lord has sent me—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road on which you were coming—so that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” For Ananias to lay hands on Saul was to receive Saul into the Body. Moreover, Ananias called Saul “brother.”

Acts 22 contains a similar account of Saul’s calling and provides more details. In verse 8 the Lord says to Saul, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you persecute.” Here the Lord told Saul in a definite and specific way that He was Jesus of Nazareth. Verses 11-16 continue, “And as I could not see because of the glory of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus. And a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well attested to by all the Jews dwelling there, came to me, and standing by, said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight! And in that very hour I looked up at him. And he said, The God of our fathers has previously appointed you to know His will and to see the righteous One and to hear the voice from His mouth; for you will be a witness to Him unto all men of the things which you have seen and heard. And now, why do you delay? Rise up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”

By this account we again can see that from the first day that Saul met the Lord Jesus, he was enlightened to know the Body, that the Body is one with the Head, and that whatever the Lord does must be through His Body. The Lord did not call him in detail in a personal and direct way. Rather, the Lord told him to go to one of the members of His Body. It was through that member of the Body that the Lord’s calling was made known to Saul in detail. Saul was called in such a way that he was made to know the church as the Body.

In principle, many of us have had a similar experience. It is difficult to know the meaning of the Lord’s calling by ourselves alone. Many times we need the members of the Body to interpret the significance of the Lord’s calling. This shows us that the Head Himself lives, works, and moves in the members of the Body. In this way, the work or acts of the believers, the church, are actually the acts of Christ Himself. The members of Christ live and act not by themselves but by another One, by Christ as the Spirit. They take Christ as the Spirit to be their life, strength, power, and everything, and they live by Him.

(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 1: The Gospels and the Acts, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)