Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
-Psalm 138:2, KJV

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Thomas Holland's Crowned With Glory, ©2000, used with permission.

Acts 9:5-6 - "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks"

"And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."

The phrase from verse five, "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks," is in the Old Latin and some Vulgate manuscripts. It is also in the Peshitta and the Greek of Codex E and 431, but in verse four instead of verse five. The passage from verse six that reads, "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him" is in the Old Latin, the Latin Vulgate, and some of the Old Syrian and Coptic versions. These phrases, however, are not found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts and therefore do not appear in either the Critical Text or the Majority Text. Yet, they are included in the Textus Receptus. On the surface the textual evidence looks weak. Why, then, should the Textus Receptus be accepted over the majority of Greek witnesses at this point? Because the phrases are preserved in other languages, and the internal evidence establishes that Christ in fact spoke these words at the time of Paul's conversion and are therefore authentic.

Acts chapter nine is not the only place in Scripture where the conversion of Paul is established. In Acts 22:10 and 26:14 we have the testimony of the Apostle himself. There, in all Greek texts, the phrases in question appear.

Acts 22:10
And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.

Acts 26:14
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

When the apostle Paul recounts his conversion he cites the words in question. It is certain that the Holy Spirit inspired these words which should be included at Acts 9:5-6. We must conclude that these words were spoken when the event originally occurred. Although they have not been preserved in the Greek manuscripts at Acts 9:6, they have been preserved in the Latin manuscripts (ar, c, h, l, p, ph, t) as well as other translations (Georgian, Slavonic, Ethiopic). The greatest textual critic of all, the Holy Spirit, bears witness to their authenticity by including them in Acts 22:10 and 26:14.

A similar example may be noted in Matthew 19:17, although the textual evidence is much stronger there. The King James Version reads, "And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Modern texts render "why callest thou me good" to "why do you ask me about what is good." Also, the reply of Christ, "there is none good but one, that is, God" is rendered "there is only one who is good."

This verse, as it stands in the King James, wonderfully establishes the deity of Jesus Christ. If only God is good and Christ is called good, He must be God. The Greek support for the reading of the KJV, as presented in the Traditional Text, is substantial. Among the uncials it is found in C and W (fifth century), K and D (ninth century) and a few others. It is the reading of the majority of Greek cursives and lectionaries. It is also the reading of the Old Latin, the Old Syriac, the Coptic, and other early translations. The textual evidence is much stronger than that of Acts 9:5-6. Similarly, this passage has additional references to determine what the original reading must be. Again the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of this textual problem by providing for us two other places where this event is cited. In both cases there is no textual variant in the places supporting the disputed passage.

Mark 10:18
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Luke 18:19
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

In neither passage does the Lord say anything like, "Why do you ask me about what is good?" And, in both passages we find the noun "God." Therefore, we do not have to ask ourselves which reading in Matthew 19:17 is correct because the Holy Spirit has made it clear in additional passages which one is the correct reading. The same principle may be applied to Acts 9:5-6. Once again God bears testimony to His word.

 

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