When the apostle Paul heard the gospel through Ananias, “something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained sight. Then, he rose and was baptized” (Acts 9:17-18). Exactly what the scale-like thing was is unclear. However, one thing that is clear is that this incident served as a symbol of the apostle Paul’s eyes being opened to the truth. If we take Paul’s blindness symbolically, then what do these scales represent? I think Paul identified some of his scales in the book of Philippians. For instance, Philippians 3:4 tells us that he had “confidence in the flesh” more than his fellow Jews and verse 7 says that he regarded such things as a “gain” before his eyes were opened. Some of his fleshly advantages included being from “ the tribe of Benjamin,” “a Hebrew of the Hebrews,” “a Pharisee as to the law,” and “a blamelessly righteous person under the law” (vs. 5-6). Additionally, Romans 9 gives us a hint as to how he thought about such fleshly advantages before he realized the truth. When he expressed sorrow and anguish for his fellow Jews in this chapter, it was because of their ignorance of God’s righteousness. In other words, they were focused on self-righteousness. So was Paul. He was blinded by his own self-righteousness. Thus, the scales could represent the things that made him have confidence in his own fleshly righteousness.
Coincidently, before the scales fell from his eyes, Paul was persecuting the Lord and His newborn Church (Acts 9:4). In fairness, he had absolutely no idea that’s what he was doing. He was passionate about doing the will of the God of Israel, that he failed to see that what he was doing was actually a great evil and a form of hostility toward God. His “confidence in the flesh” and his “righteousness under the law” made him blind to the truth. Maybe he wrote 1 Corinthians 8:2 based on his own experience. It says, “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” Paul was blind to the realization that he needed to know the righteousness of God instead of relying on his own righteousness.
No one is exempt from such blindness. That is why the gospel is necessary for everyone. For sinners, the gospel is the only truth to remove the blinding scale-like things from their hearts and lead them to salvation. For Christians, the gospel is indispensable for nurturing and maturing them “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). This is especially true when a Christian’s eyes have developed the scales of fleshly confidence and self-righteousness. The point is that no one grows immune to scales, and, therefore, no one graduates from the gospel. In other words, everyone always needs the gospel.
Allowing the gospel to remove the scale-like things from the eyes is one of the greatest blessings. If one is lost, the removal of scales results in salvation just as it did for Paul who obeyed the gospel after his scales fell off. If one is a Christian, the removal of scales means restoration and spiritual growth. Helping people remove the scales from their eyes is the responsibility of the Church. The job of the Church of our Lord is not only to preach and teach the gospel to the lost at every opportunity but also to continually help every member to live it. The Church, through the work of the gospel, saves sinners and nurtures and matures the members. Therefore, the Church is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” as Paul said in 1 Timothy 3:15.
*I am writing this article from a recent personal experience. I appreciate the love, patience, and kindness of brothers and sisters in Christ who have helped me see a scale-like thing that was covering my eyes.