In Acts 9:4-6 what is meant by “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”?
The phrase “kick against the pricks” occurs in Acts 9:4-6 in the King James Version and the New King James Version. Sometimes the phrase is translated as “kick against the goads”. The phrase does not occur in most of the other major translations. The phrase you refer to is found in 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. Acts 9:5 (KJV)
The English word pricks comes from the root Greek word kentron. Kentron is sometimes also translated as goads. This word has the idea of a “sharp, pointed projection used in stinging.” The prick or goad was a pointed stick that was used to urge some stubborn animal to move. The stick was made of wood or metal (Judges 3:31; 1 Samuel 13:21). Sometimes the animal refused to move and would kick back at the pointed object and as a result stab itself on the goad or prick.
The word kick is translated from the root Greek word laktizo which has the basic meaning of “to hurt by resistance” or “to kick.”Simply put – “to kick against the pricks” implies someone is resisting and in the process is hitting a sharp object. Ouch! A goad was typically a sharp stick or prod used to drive cattle. In the ancient Greek and Roman times, the phrase was a well-known expression indicating that someone was opposing a deity. If we put it all together, we discover that God told Paul that he was only hurting himself in his effort to eliminate Christians. He was unknowingly opposing God.