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Bible Statistics and History
New Testament

In the Bible what does to 'kick against the goads' mean?


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November 02, 2016 10:12PM

Kicking against the goads (or 'pricks') is a reference to an ox being used to pull a plough. The ox soon learn that kicking back against the goad simply results in even more pain.

This line in Acts of the Apostles comes from the Bacchae, an ancient play by Euripedes. Sufficient parallels have been located, to leave little doubt that the author of Acts wrote this from knowledge of the play.

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March 24, 2014 10:38PM

There is some discrepancy about that verse, because "kick against the goads" is actually not in the original manuscript of Acts 9:5 that tells the story of Paul's conversion. Some think that an overzealous monk may have added it when transcribing when it appears later in Paul's retelling of the event in Acts 26:14. But more than likely, it was either 1) something that Paul received personally from God during the event or 2) a then common day proverb that, in hindsight, Paul later related his pre-conversion life to.

Ultimately, "kick against the goads" is a metaphor. Goads were used to prod cattle and livestock forward, and they would frequently kick back at them, only causing themselves more injury. The thought is that Paul has been kicking against God's "goading," and God has been trying to urge him to go in a certain direction.

The relation in modern day is that Paul is telling us that people still "kick against the goads" today. There is a way of right life & right belief but we fight it. And in doing so, we aren't hurting God... we are only hurting ourselves.