Study Guide

Acts of the Apostles Vision

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Seeing is believing. Or that's what they say anyway (whoever they are). But in Acts of the Apostles, seeing and not seeing are pretty literally tied to believing.

He Saw The Light

In one of the most famous now-you-see-me-now-you-don't scenes in the Bible, Paul is (not) minding his own business while walking along on his way to Damascus when:

Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" […] The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9)

When Paul's sight finally comes back "something like scales fell from his eyes" (9:17). Paul can now see the truth. This Jesus he's been persecuting is actually a pretty swell guy. He rushes out to be baptized and start preaching. Spoiler alert: he's really good at it.

Later, Paul pulls the same trick with the false prophet, Bar-Jesus. He temporarily blinds the guy and others instantly start to believe (13:9-12). Paul gets all his best ideas from God.

This symbol is actually pretty simple. Those who can't "see" the truth about God—Paul and Bar-Jesus—become literally blind. Paul's blindness ends with him finally understanding who Jesus really is, and the episode with Bar-Jesus helps others figure it out. We love it when symbols all come together like this.

They Had A Vision Of God

There's also the little extra layer of people experiencing visions from God:

  • Stephen sees a vision of Jesus before he's going to die. That's a little different than your life flashing before your eyes. (7:56)
  • God tells Ananias in a vision to heal Paul's vision. Does that mean it's a double vision? Get it? (Sorry, you can groan now.) (9:10)
  • Cornelius has a vision telling him to contact Peter. By phone or email? (10:3)
  • Peter sees a vision of animals on a sheet. God is cryptic sometimes. (10:17)
  • Paul has loads of visions telling him where to travel and what to do. (16:9, 18:9)

In all these cases, the believer sees something that's not apparent to everyone else. This is a super unique and important message from God. The correct interpretation relies on the person seeing the truth behind the message and knowing what to do. 'Cuz sometimes it's tough to figure out what animals and sheets floating in the sky mean.

In Popular Culture

  • Oedipus is blind to the truth (that he killed his dad and married his mom—yikes). When he finds out, he literally blinds himself. With pins. Double yikes.
  • Mama Odie from The Princess and the Frog may be literally blind, but she sees everything. Including the future.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the Uruk-hai are blinded by the light from the sun behind Gandalf and friends.
  • Harry Potter has visions warning him about what Voldemort is up to… except he can't always trust them.
  • Luke sees a vision of Darth Vader who he fights and kills in The Empire Strikes Back. Jedi have visions, too.

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