This Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's transcription/ location
is provided by
http://www.theseason.org/plough.htm


The

Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 9

"Saul's conversion, Persecution, and Ministry."

The man named Saul is about to have a conversion. Saul was the young man that was educated under Gamaliel, the great teacher of the law. He stood by when Stephen was stoned, and held the coats of them that did the stoning.

Acts 9:1 "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,"

With every breath that Saul made, he threatened the Christians, the disciples of Jesus Christ. Saul was in a murdering frame of mind, and that is what his free will was. We will see in this chapter the difference between "free will", and "destiny". Saul, who will later have his name changed to "Paul" had a free will to slaughter Christians. They are the "disciples of the Lord". Paul now desires to leave Jerusalem and go to Damascus and hunt down more converts.

Acts 9:2 "And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem."

Paul's free will was to go to the high priest and request letters of authority from him to go to Damascus and to the synagogue there. While there he would look for those men and women that were following the way of Jesus Christ. It didn't make any difference to Saul whether they were men or women, he would bring them bound in chains back to Jerusalem.

There are those that say; "Every man must have free will to select God as his God." That is not true, because there are some people that have a destiny, and Paul happens to be one of them. Paul's free will was to murder Christians. But Christ had another part of Paul to play in His plan.

This goes back to those that were fore-ordained. This applies to the world that was, referring to the earth age prior to this age of flesh man.

Acts 9:3 "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shine round about him a light from heaven:"

This flash of light from heaven struck Paul down on the road to Damascus. When God wants your attention, He has ways of getting it. It doesn't matter whether you have "free will", or "one of God election".

Acts 9:4 "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?"

Friend, anytime you drag a Christian lady from a church, or take a Christian's child and shake them up, you are persecuting Christ. Anytime you take a man who is a servant of God, and chain him, you are persecuting our Lord. That is why this is happening to Paul.

Acts 9:5 "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."

Paul cried out, "Who art thou Sir?" This is a figure of speech in the Greek, and what it is saying is as follows. Have you ever seen a great big cactus out in the desert? This is a desert land where Paul is walking. So if you walk up to one of these cactus plants, and take your shoe off, and stand there and just kick that cactus over and over. The only one that will hurt is you and your foot.

With this in mind, Jesus is telling Paul that the only one that Paul is hurting is himself. When you try to persecute me, the only one that you hurt is yourself.

Acts 9:6 "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." "

Remember that Paul was a very zealous man. He thought he was doing God's work in destroying Christians, but he is learning the hard way that Christianity is "THE WAY". God struck Paul down, blind, and then made him wait a little bit, to think things over. Take one of these that likes to persecute the Church, and show them the power of God, and let them wait.

Acts 9:7 "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."

Acts 9:8 "And Saul arose from the earth: and shen his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus."

When Saul, or Paul got up off the ground, he was blind. Paul was being converted here. Is he walking down the sawdust trail, with one of the Simonized preachers saying, Just as your are, come? No, Jesus knocked him to the ground blind, and then Jesus showed Paul his "destiny", as we will see later in this chapter. We know that Paul was converted and became the author for Jesus Christ to write most of the New Testament.

Acts 9:9 "And was three days without sight and neither did eat nor drink."

Paul lay there blind, for three days and night. He was so shook over the events that had taken place, Paul would not eat or drink.

Acts 9:10 "And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, "Behold, I am here, Lord."

This is the second individual named Ananias that we have studied so far in Acts. When we pass the third, man named Ananias were will discuss the three men. "Ananias" in the Hebrew tongue, means "whom God has graciously given". God will use this Ananias to give Paul back his sight, as well as an education.

Acts 9:11 "And the Lord said unto him, "Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enguire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,"

You know Paul was having a prayer session. He was blind as a bat, at the hand of our heavenly Father, and trying to figure out just where he had gone wrong. Remember that God Himself had spoken to him out on that road to Damascus. Paul knows that he has already taken part in the death of Stephen, as we saw in Acts 7:58; "And cast him out of the city, and stoned him [Stephen]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul."

Paul [Saul] was a chosen man of God, yet the blood of another man is on his hands, Paul was a participant in the murder, for he held the coats of those that threw the stones and killed Stephen, and this doesn't take into consideration of the other hundreds of Christians, men, women and children that he had beaten and killed. You bet Paul was praying, for he had a lot to pray about.

Acts 9:12 "And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight."

Though Saul of Tarsus doesn't know Ananias, Ananias for sure knows of Saul after the many murders and havac that Saul has caused in the church of Christ. Ananias is not going to argue with God, however Ananias wants to be sure that he understands that Saul is the right man that he is to go to. To Ananias, Saul was the enemy, and he wants to know that Saul is the person that Jesus wants healed of his blindness.

Listen to the words spoken, and understand that man hasn't changed over a two thousand year period.

Acts 9:13 "Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem:"

Acts 9:14 "And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name"

Ananias is trying to tell the Lord something that he thinks the Lord has overlooked, however Ananias was wise enough to know that you don't question God. Ananias was asking for reassurance that Saul was the right man.

Acts 9:15 "But the Lord said unto him, "Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:"

Does this say that Paul was a volunteer for the service of the church? No, God said, "He is a chosen vessel unto me," meaning that Paul was one of God's elect. Paul had gained the experience to serve a purpose for God, and God knew Paul from the beginning. From before even the foundations of the world [this earth age of the flesh].

Paul was selected by God to bare the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God, before the Gentiles, the kings, which are those in authority, and the children of Israel. Paul had a three fold mission. Paul therefore taught on three levels, and it is for this reason that any true teacher, gifted in God's Word, will also teach on three levels. These levels mean that wherever one person is in the Word of God, there will be a message in it for them.

As those people grow and mature in the Word, they could listen to that same teacher three times and each time through, they should learn something new each time. They will think that it is a new discovery each time through, for God's Word builds on itself, and what is important to the baby in Christ, seeking the milk of the Word, is different then the mature Christian that seeks more then just salvation and baptism. A gifted teacher teaches on whatever level the listener is at. That is why it is important that you learn from the Word of God, and not the words and traditions of men.

Notice there is a difference between those men of free will, and those men that have a destiny, and purpose of the elect of God. Those of the elect know deep inside themselves that they have a destiny and purpose for their lives. Paul knew he had a destiny, only he was confused which way that was. He grabbed out at man's way, instead of seeking God's way. When the time came, God put a stop to Paul's way, and He blinded him.

Acts 9:16 "For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake."

From this day forward, it wasn't going to be an easy trip for Paul. Paul had experienced all levels of humanity, both good and bad, and he had tasted of the other side. Now Paul is hand picked by God to go not only to the Gentile, he was also sent to the rulers, the kings and queens. The "kings and queens" has a deeper meaning for those on the third level, it refers to the kings and queens of the ethnos, that shall lead their people in the final generation. And the other area where Paul was sent was to the house [children] of Israel.

Acts 9:17 "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, That appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hast sent me, that hou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Ananias did not question God over the matter, but once he understood, went immediately to Paul and put his hands on Paul. God does not play game when He speaks to people. God had already spoken to Paul, and already told him that Ananias was coming. Then when God spoke to Ananias, God revealed to Ananias what Paul happened to Paul, and the purpose for his going to Paul. This was no surprise to either of them. Paul received his sight and the Holy Spirit entered Paul at the same time.

Acts 9:18 "And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."

Paul was healed instantly, that is the way our Father operates.

Acts 9:19 "And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus."

Think of those late night bible studies into the Scriptures with the disciples, and the questions that Paul would ask. Paul needed no teaching in the Scriptures themselves, which we call the Old Testament today for he knew it well. It is one thing to know the Scriptures, and it is something else to understand what they mean. The greatest example of this fact is Paul himself. Paul could quote Scripture, but he had no depth in their meaning.

When the doubt and fear was Gone, and after Paul had seen Christ on that day, and heard His voice, Paul knew that christ child born in Bethlehem was Jesus the Messiah.

Acts 9:20 "And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God."

What a turn about. Paul [Saul] in the past went to the synagogues seeking to take Christians into bondage that would preach Christ, and now it is Paul that is preaching Christ to those same people in the synagogues. The word of God can change your life and turn you around and head you into an entirely different direction. What was hard for you to do before will become a snap for you, when the Holy Spirit comes into your life. Christ does make a difference.

Acts 9:21 "But all that heard him were amazed, and said; "Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?"

The people are amazed at what they are hearing, as Paul is speaking to them in the synagogue. Paul's reputation was well known to everyone of that day, for his zeal to terrorize Christians and kill them. Now standing before them, is this same Paul that came to Damascus to capture and bind them for the chief priests, those Kenite rulers in Jerusalem.

Acts 9:22 "But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ."

Just as Paul was strong in the ways of the Jews, he was that much stronger in his preaching of Christ, and this confounded the Jews. Paul threw the entire Jewish religious community into an uproar, for they were in complete disorder that what was taking place in their religious circles. The Jews were stunned at what had happened at Damascus. Paul was proving that Jesus was truly the Christ.

Paul was studying the manuscripts all of his life, and after Christ had touched him with that bolt of lightning on Damascus road, and changed him, Paul woke up to the fact that Christ was the fulfillment of those prophesies that he had learned at the feet of Gamaliel. Psalm 22 came alive speaking of those events surrounding Jesus Christ's crusifixion on the cross. The prophesies of Isaiah, and Jeremiah all even Moses dealing with Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, being born of a virgin, and dying on the cross for your sins and mine, became reality, and Paul understood their meanings. Even the Kenites became a reality to him, and what they were doing, and what part of God's overall plan they were to play.

All of Jesus' Words on the cross came to his mind, that it was Jesus that we crucified, and here I, a student of that same word where it is written, have taken part in that prophecy. Paul remembered the very miracles that Jesus performed in public, and the lessons that Jesus had taught, they all came to Pauls mind, who observed them as a youth studying under Gamaliel, there in Jerusalem.

Paul could preach strongly, because the more he taught, the more things would come to mind for the manuscripts that he was an authority of; and now he understood those writings that before were just words on the tablets. Paul was an authority now an the very scripts that documented Jesus Christ as Emmanuel, God with us in the flesh.

This is exactly as it will be for you, as you get into all of God's Word, cover to cover and it begins to live in your being.

Acts 9:23 "And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took council to kill him:"

It is time that we pause and get straight in our minds this term "Jews". In the Greek the word "Jew" is # 2453 in the Strong's numbered Greek dictionary. The word is; "Ioudaios, ee-oo-das'-yos, from the country of Judaean, i.e. belonging to Judaea." It refers to a person that lives in and is a resident of the country of Judaea, and not of the tribe of Judah, only members of Judah are also of Judaea.

Those that hated Christ to the point of wanting to murder Jesus and all followers that claimed His name, were of the Kenites. The Kenites claimed to be of the Tribe of Judah, but were not, but as Christ tells us in Revelation 2:9; "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich), and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."

Kenites give brother Judah a bad name,but the main thing that we must understand is that they were the heads, the chief priests, and Pharisees, and scribes in the religious community. They thought themselves to be very rightous people, when in fact, they were murderers of all that didn't agree with them. That was their democracy of the church.

We are told by Ezra and Nehemiah that these Nethinims had taken over the Levitical priesthood from top to bottom, by the time that house of Judah [the tribes of Judah and Benjamin] came out captivity in Babylon. Not only was the priesthood taken over, but we are told in I Chronicles 2:55 that these Kenites had even taken over the scribes duties of recording of the Scriptures, and documents relating to God's house, and people.

I Chronicles 2:55 "And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez [Jerusalem's former name], the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab." They came from the house Cain the first murderer. They were the children of Cain, the offspring of the sexual union between Satan and Eve.

Are you starting to understand why the religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus right from the start of His ministry? and why they sought to kill Lazarus when he came out of the grave. They plotted to kill Peter and John during the trial, when Gamaliel spoke out, and they killed Stephen. Now they are again out to murder another person, Paul who dares to go against them. They have the mind of Satan because they are the physical children of Satan, and not of Adam, as is taught in ignorance in most churches today. Friend that is tradition, and that tradition will cause you to become the bride of the wrong Christ in this generation. These Kenites now are laying in wait to kill the one they know as Saul.

Acts 9:24 "But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him."

They thought Saul was one of them, only now they find out that he is not, and they want to kill him. Remember where Jesus was teaching the parable of the tares, when the servants told the master that someone had sown tares in the field, and the said; "Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?" [Matthew 13:28] The master answered them;

Matthew 13:29 "But he said, `Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them."

Matthew 13:30 "Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, `Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.' "

Though the Kenites had so blended with the house of Judah upon the return from Babylon, that many did not know the Kenite from the true man of Judah and Benjamin, Jesus did in his teaching, and that is why were are not to seperate the two. If the Christians were, Paul would have for sure been classified as a Kenite and of them. Jesus told us when and by whom the separation would take place in Matthew 13:39, 40.

Matthew 13:39 "The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels."

The end of the world is in reference to the end of this earth age of the flesh. That time is the coming of Jesus Christ at the seventh and last trumpet. The enemy is the devil, and the seed that was planted, was planted in Eve, and that seed is the Kenite(s). We are not to damage the tares, because only God knows the heart, and when a Kenites repents and turns to Christ, he is no longer a Kenite, but a child of God.

Matthew 13:40 "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so also shall it be in the end of this world."

Friend, if it was left up to the Christians to go after and destroy those that they thought were Kenites, Paul would have been one to the first for the damage that he had done to the Church, yet God had a purpose for Paul, and God allowed Paul to experience both sides of the fence to make him a better witness for Him. Paul was chosen before the foundation of this earth to be the witness that he was, and at God's chosen time, Paul was struck down.

Acts 9:25 "Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket."

Acts 9:26 "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple."

When Paul left Damascus he returned to Jerusalem, and tried to join himself to the disciples, but when you had a reputation like Saul [Paul] had of murdering and beating up on women and children, it is a little difficult for them to accept you. Christians had a way of disappearing when Paul came around. As much trouble as Paul gave them, I don't blame them for keeping their distance. The image of Paul standing there and taking part in Stephen's murder was still fresh in their memory. Remember though that God always is in control.

Acts 9:27 "But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."

The Lord has his way of giving credentials to those that need it, and those He wants working for him. Credentials are what gives you the acceptance of those you need to be with. It was the Holy Spirit that gave Barnabas the vision and spoke to him of the preaching of Paul in Damascus.

Acts 9:28 "And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem."

Once the apostles got to know Paul, they wanted to be around him, for he was very knowledgable of the manuscripts. Paul was a very likable person. He was very zealous person for the preaching of the gospel.

Acts 9:29 "And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him."

Did Paul try to hide from the religious community in Jerusalem? No, he preached boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and he would debate the learned community where ever he could. The more Paul taught, the more they sought to kill him. Now the ones that Paul held their coats for during the murder fo Stephen, wanted to kill him. However Paul now carries the credential of having the hand of God placed on him, as a chosen vessel, purposed by God Himself to deliver this New Testament us, and to touch your life.

Acts 9:30 "Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus."

Things were getting to hot in Jerusalem, and the Apostles brought him to Caesarea, where he went on to Tarsus his birth place and home.

Acts 9:31 "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied."

The church grew and multiplied fast in the reverence of Jesus Christ, and in the comfort that only the Holy Spirit can give in ones heart. It is a peace that cannot be measured. The true Word of God coming from a gifted teacher, will make that Word come to life. God's Word will be understandable, and give vitality to your spiritual life to where you simply cannot help but tell others what God has done for you. It brings joy to your soul to know that you have communication with God, and He cares for you.

Acts 9:32 "And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda."

Lydda was a place of strife, and Peter was just passing through.

Acts 9:33 "And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy."

Aeneas was sick with palsy for the past eight years and bedfast. In biblical numerics is new beginnings. This man is going to have a new beginning, and just as this man will see a new beginning, so also will the Church, as Paul and the other Apostles are preaching boldly the gospel of Christ. We will read of this new beginning with the Gentiles in the next Chapter.

Acts 9:34 "And Peter said unto him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed." And he arose immediately."

Acts 9:35 "And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord."

The Words that Peter spoke, and the healing of Aeneas was powerful, it was God's Word in action. It was all part of the new beginnings for the Church.

Acts 9:36 "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did."

This person we are talking about here in Joppa is a girl know as Tabitha. She is a young girl that loves the Lord, and is studing His Word. That is what a disciple is, a student of the Word. So the Word in this verse is going to interpret this girls name from Aramaic, the Hebrew, into the Greek. In Greek Tabitha is called Dorcas, and in both cases the word means "Antelope, or gazelle."

Dorcas had compassion for all people, and went out of her way to help those in need. By "almsdeeds" it means that she expected nothing in return. She had true charity and love for all people. Dorcas was a special young lady that everyone loved, a disciple of what a servant of God should act like.

When the Scriptures say, "by interpretation" it is calling your attention to this woman and her acts, as well as relating it to His bride, the bride of Christ. This woman is special to Christ, and is to be an example of what He expects of each of us. So this new beginnings of the church, and the works of this woman, has to do with our Lord's first love. God is going to bring this woman back into the fold to do His work, and His will.

Acts 9:37 "And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed they laid her in an upper chamber."

Dorcas died and they prepared her for burial services. She was dead. Dorcas symbolized the church of God, it was dead as a hammer, and God was about to revive both. The church today is ever so nice in almsgiving, and that of the physical realm, but spiritually dead. Put a hammer on the table and look at it, for spiritually that is what the church of today is becoming, dead. This is before the new beginnings.

Acts 9:38 "And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men desiring him that he would not delay to come to them."

Lydda and Joppa are towns close together, and when Peter came to Joppa, the news spread fast into Lydda. The people of Lydda knew who Peter was, and that many wonderful miracles were done by the Holy Spirit through him. So those disciples or students of God's Word in Lydda sent two men immediately to come to Lydda. This woman needed to be put away, and they felt her only hope was for Peter to arrive there first. Dorcas was special to the Christian community in Lydda. The only problem was that she was dead, and this is symbolic of the Children of God, and their chances of hearing the Word of God, and coming to life. Peter wasn't there by accident, for Christ sent Peter, by His Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:39 "Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, which she was with them."

When Peter arrived in Lydda, they took him right into the upper chamber where Dorcus was lying dead. You can just see the place full of all those widows standing around Peter weeping holding out their coats that Dorcas made for them, when they had nothing. They were all trying to show the beautiful work that Dorcas had done for them, in her almsgiving. Then as they were sobbing and pleading with Peter, he asked them all to leave and turned to that dead body of Dorcas. To the people Dorcas was dead, there was no faith in the whole bunch of them

Acts 9:40 "But Peter put the all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up."

Peter ran them out, then he kneeled down and prayed. When Peter spoke he said "Tabitha, arise." And her eyes opened, and she say Peter, and got up. Symbolically this is the church coming back to life, but today we don't go to someone today who is biologically dead and do this, but if you are a true Christian you know that the soul of a dead person is still alive, and with the Father in Paradise.

To the flesh there is sorrow for the dead flesh, but we know that Christ is preparing an army to come back with Him, and set up His kingdom here on earth. God is calling a few good ones home to get ready to join that army. It may be a child here, or a young lady there, but whomever it is, when God calls them home it is for a purpose, and ours is not to question the plan and purpose of God. Peter knew that Dorcas, who's name also is Tabitha was not dead, but was with the Lord. For only reasons that God knows, God gave that young lady back physical life.

Acts 9:41 "And he gave her his band, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive."

Just like Dorcas received new life, so also the church in Lydda received new life and hope in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Peter brought life to the church by the Word of God. That life comes only through prayer and the petitioning of our heavenly Father. Peter gave Dorcas his hand, and lifted her to her feet, and then he called for the saints and widows to come in. Then Peter presented Dorcas alive to the saints.

Acts 9:42 "And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord."

By bringing Dorcus to life, the news spread like wildfire not only in Lydda, but in Joppa, and neighboring town, and many came to believe on the name of Jesus Christ by the raising of this woman. It was part of the rebirth of the Church, and the drawing of many to Jesus. Was this done to show how great Peter was? No, It was the name of Jesus Christ that grew, for Peter was only the instrument that was used by the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:43 "And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner."

Peter stayed in Joppa a while teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ, and the church as growing. Just as life came into this girl, so alse came life back into the church.

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