Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Fifty-three: Saul's Conversion   Restitution of All Things
  Home Table of Contents Previous Chapter Next Chapter
New Testament Bible
Story

Chapter Fifty-three:

Saul's Conversion


                      THE BOOK OF ACTS 
                             AND
                      RELATED EPISTLES

                      ACTS chapter Nine



THE CONVERSION OF SAUL 

     Saul was introduced to us briefly at the beginning of
chapter eight. While the Gospel was now going further a field,
Saul was busy as a beaver trying to stop this new "Jewish sect"
and following of this man known as Jesus Christ. He went to the
High Priest in Jerusalem and desired official letters from him
regarding the city of Damascus (a city about 60 miles north-east
of the Sea of Galilee, or about 150 miles north-east of
Jerusalem) and that if he found in the synagogue there anyone of
"the way" (as the Jesus' movement was now being called by some),
whether man or woman, he might bring them bound with ropes or
chains, back to Jerusalem.
     He was granted this official letter from the High Priest and
set out for the city of Damascus. He was very near the city,
when.....all of a sudden out of the blue sky a blinding light
came and covered him. Saul immediately fell to the ground in a
shock of panic. Then to his utter surprise he heard a voice
saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" And saul, with a
trembling voice replied, "Who are you, Lord?"  Saul obviously had
enough sense to know this person speaking to him was a "lord" or
"master" of something much greater than he was, something of the
supernatural. He did not as yet know it was Jesus speaking to
him, but he sure had enough respect towards whoever the
voice belonged to, that he automatically called him "lord."
     And the Lord answered, "I am Jesus whom you persecute: it is
hard for you to kick against the thorns." If you try to kick
against sharp objects that cannot be removed, you will only do
yourself injury. Saul was waging war against someone whom he
could never defeat, and only bringing harm upon himself, as a man
bashing his head against a brick wall. The brick wall will never
collapse, only the man's head will get smashed up.
     Saul, on hearing the reply from Jesus, started to shake,
literally, in his boots as we say. He was astonished and cried
out, "Lord, what is it that you want me to do? And the Lord said,
"I want you to get up and go into the city, and when you are
there it will be told you what you must do."

     The men who accompanied Saul were speechless. They heard a
voice but could not see what Saul was seeing, they could see no
form of a man as Saul could see. Saul got up from the ground, and
when he looked around he saw no man or anything, for he
was blind. They had to lead him by the hand into the city of
Damascus. He was three days not being able to see anything, and
he was so shaken up by his experience that he did not eat or
drink during those three days (Acts 9:1-9).

ANANIAS THE DISCIPLE IS SENT TO SAUL

     There was living in the city of Damascus a disciple (he is
not called any other name but "disciple" - the common Greek word
used throughout the New Testament for a follower of Jesus) by the
name of Ananias. The Lord came to him in a vision and said,
"Ananias!" And Ananias replied that he heard Him. And the Lord
then continued to say, "I want you to arise and go to the street
which is called 'Straight' - there inquire in the house of one
called Judas, for the man called Saul of Tarsus - he is praying,
and has seen in a vision a man called Ananias coming to him, and
putting his hands on him, that he might have his eye-sight
restored to him."
     Well Ananias was a little stunned at what the Lord was
telling him to do. "Lord," said Ananias, "I have heard about this
man Saul, and how much evil he has done to all the saints in
Jerusalem. And I understand from others that he has official
letters from the High Priest to put in chains all that call upon
your name."
     But Jesus answered, "You must go Ananias, and do what I have
told you, for this man Saul is a chosen one I will use, to
declare my name and word before the Gentiles, and before kings,
and to the children of Israel in general. For I will show him how
sometimes great things one must suffer for my name's sake."

     Ananias did as the Lord commanded him. He came into the
house where Saul was, and putting his hands on him said, "Brother
Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to you on the road to
Damascus, has sent me, so you might receive again your
sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit."  Immediately as
Ananias spoke these words, it was as if scales of callous skin
fell from Saul's eyes, and in a short time he again had
vision. He then arose, went with Ananias to where there was a
body of water and was baptized.
     Saul then began eating again and soon felt physically strong
once more. He stayed in Damascus for some days with the disciples
of Jesus.
     Just about immediately Saul started to preach in the local
synagogues that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. He surely knew
it was true, for Jesus had personally appeared and spoken to him
as we have seen.
     All that heard him speak were amazed for they said among
themselves, "Is not this the same man who destroyed, those in
Jerusalem,  who called on the name of this Jesus man, and did he
not come to Damascus with the intent to bring back in chains, to
Jerusalem, and the high Priest, those who believe on this Jesus?"
     
     But Saul just increased more and more in the ability to
preach Jesus, confounding the Jews which lived in Damascus,
proving that Jesus was indeed the very Christ, or Messiah (Acts
9:10-22).

ACTIVITY OF PAUL FROM HIS OWN WORDS

     From here on we shall call Saul by his more familiar name of
the New Testament - Paul.

     Luke does not record for us all the details of Paul's life
in those early years of being converted and preaching in
Damascus. It is Paul himself who fills us in on the important
parts of those details in his early conversion years. We find the
information in Paul's book of Galatians. He is telling the
Galatians that the Gospel he preached to them was not from any
human man that he received it, but from Jesus Christ Himself, in
revelation (Gal.1:11-12). He reminds them about his
pre-conversion days, and his profitable skill of anyone in his
nation, in the "Jews religion" and of his extremely zealous
life in the traditions of the fathers of the Jews religion
(verses 13-14).
     We need to bear in mind that these words in Galatians about
"the Jews religion" has no direct bearing on what was the true
way and true understanding of the Scriptures. He is simply
telling us that he was mighty and zealous in the traditions of
the Jews religion that he was part of. It is in Phillipians
chapter three that Paul tells us that he was of the stock of
Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, and
as concerning religious faith, he was a Pharisee. And with zeal
he persecuted the Church of God. As concerning the letter of the
law and the righteousness which is in the law, as governed by the
Pharisee religion, he was blameless. But what he thought was
profit and gain in all of that, he found to be just a loss, for
to gain and profit in Christ. He went on to say that it did not
matter what he looked at in his life, he was happy to see it all
as a loss, if he could gain the excellency of the knowledge of
Christ Jesus his Lord. He counted all that he had in his
pre-conversion days to dung,  in comparison to winning Christ,
and having Jesus in him to fulfil the true righteousness of God
through faith (Philippians 3:5-9 and Gal.2:20).

     Going back to Galatians chapter one. Paul tells us that God
called him, and called him to preach Jesus among the heathen. And
that in that calling he did not confer with other human beings.
He did not go up to Jerusalem to confer with the twelve apostles.
But he tells us that he went into ARABIA, and then, after
whatever time he was in Arabia, he returned to Damascus
(Gal.1:15-17).

     We gather from this information from Paul that he was taught
all the details of the Gospel from Jesus Christ Himself while he
was in Arabia - like having a personal College course on the
truth of God's word from Jesus Himself. Knowing this fact then
helps us to understand while Paul could be so bold, so very bold
at times, in what he taught, as being the very truth from God,
and as to why he never backed down from anyone with that truth,
not even from any of the apostles, who were apostles before his
conversion. Read the second chapter of Galatians and this is made
very abundant as to what I have just stated about the authority
of Paul. He was indeed taught by Jesus personally, probably while
in Arabia.

     After his college course in theology from Jesus, he tells us
he came back to Damascus. Then after three years of teaching and
preaching in Damascus he finally went up to Jerusalem and visited
with Peter and James the Lord's literal half brother. But he
did not visit with any of the other apostles at that time
(Gal.1:18-19).

     Returning to Acts 9, Luke picks up his story when Paul is
back in Damascus after being in Arabia (as Paul told us in
Galatians), with the words he writes in verses 23-25.
Paul was now back in Damascus and had been there for three years
preaching and teaching Jesus. Finally after this three year
period, the unbelieving Jews had had enough of Paul, and gathered
together to decide how they could kill him. Those Jews watched
the city gates day and night intending that when he came through
them, they would at that time, kill him. But their clandestine
plan came to the knowledge of Paul and the disciples in Damascus.
The disciples told Paul he just had to get out of that city and
go elsewhere, or he would end up as a dead man. Paul agree that
it was true. He knew he had to flee Damascus. The disciples took
Paul during the night to part of the city wall, not near a city
gate, and tied a large strong basket to a rope. Paul got inside
the basket and they let him down to the ground. He was now
outside the city and was able to flee from those who were looking
to kill him (Acts 9:23-25).

PAUL GOES TO JERUSALEM

     Paul had decided it was a good time to go to Jerusalem and
visit with a few of the apostles there (Acts 9:26 and Gal.1:18).

     This was the first time Paul had been to Jerusalem since his
conversion, and the disciples there were still not very sure of
him, they still had doubts that he really was a changed man from
his old zealous persecuting days. They just had trouble believing
he really was a disciple of Jesus. They had only heard certain
things about him, but had little personal knowledge that those
things were as people had reported. They thought they better play
it safe, better be safe than sorry as the saying goes.
     But Barnabas, a disciple and a man God was using in a mighty
way for His work, was confident that Paul was a true convert and
that God had indeed called and chosen him for His work. Maybe the
Holy Spirit laid it plainly on Barnabas' mind that this was so.
Barnabas took Paul in, and then brought him before the apostles,
declaring to them that Paul had indeed seen Jesus and had spoken
to Him, as well as how Paul had preached very boldly at Damascus
for a number of years, in the name of Jesus. The apostles on
hearing from Barnabas, knew that God was speaking to them. Paul
was accepted by them. He never visited for any length of time in
a private way with any of them but Peter (he stayed with Peter
for 15 days) and James, as we saw Paul tells us in Galatians, but
he was among the general fellowship of the disciples at Jerusalem
(Acts 9: 26-28).

PAUL IS SENT ON TO TARSUS

     While Paul was at Jerusalem he spoke boldly in the name of
the Lord Jesus, and disputed with the unbelieving Grecians,
Jewish people who had a Greek upbringing and culture. So strong
was Paul's words and authority in the Scriptures that  once more
his life was in danger. This time the Grecian Jews were planning
how to kill him, and when this news got back to the brethren,
they decided to send a few disciples with him and take him down
to Caesarea. From there Paul was sent to Tarus. He himself tells
us in Galatians chapter two, that he did not visit Jerusalem
again for fourteen years. 

     Whatever all the reasons may had been, which we are not
told, except that Paul was not longer there with his very bold
preaching and debating (as he was now in Tarus), the churches had
rest throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria. There was relative
peace among the churches of God in those regions. It was a time
conducive to and the multiplying of, edification, to walking in
the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts
9: 29-31).

NOW WE FOCUS ON PETER AGAIN

     We have been given the basic background on the conversion of
Paul, and his early years in the Church of God. It was then a
time for Peter to be used by the Lord in a special way once more,
as the work of God was to go forth to others, and as we shall
see in the next chapter, to go forth to those who were not of
Jewish or Israelite stock or birth. Up to this time the disciples
had not really thought about moving in a large way to preaching
to the Gentiles, except as some Gentiles came into the synagogues
to worship on the Sabbath. The disciples were still basically of
the old mind-set, that God's word and truths were mainly for the
Jews, and only for the Gentiles as the Gentiles would kind of
walk by it on the way to the synagogue. So only Gentiles of a
"Jewish religious thought" would be effected by the Gospel of
Jesus. The apostles and disciples had not yet come to realize the
Gospel should go out to the Gentiles in an organized, deliberate
manner. That was all to soon change. But first we are told about
two great miracles Peter performed.

PETER AGAIN PERFORMS GREAT MIRACLES

     Peter was out on a visitation of many of the towns and
cities where the saints of God were living and he came to those
who dwelt in Lydda (about 30 miles north-west of Jerusalem). 
There he found a man named Aeneas, who was bed-ridden with palsy
(or a type of paralyzation). Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ
makes you wholly healed; arise and make your bed." And
immediately he did what Peter told him to do. And all those
who dwelt in Lydda and Saron (another nearby town) saw the man
that had been paralyzed, and who was now healed, and they turned
to the Lord.

     At the town of Joppa, about 20 miles west from Lydda. There
was in that town a disciple named Tabitha, and she was always
doing good works for people as well as donating whatever she
could so others could be helped. She became sick and died. She
was laid to rest in an upper room. The other disciples at Joppa
heard that Peter was in Lydda, and sent two men to ask him to
come to Joppa without delay. Peter was very willing to do as they
asked. Arriving in Joppa, Peter was brought into the room where
Tabitha lay sleeping in death. The widows who were there weeping
with sorrow over Tabitha, showed Peter all the lovely coats and
garments Tabitha had made when she was alive. She had probably
given those widows many coats and garments. Peter smiled but
asked them to leave the room, which they did. Then he kneeled
down and prayed. After saying his pray he turned to dead Tabitha
and said, "Tabitha, rise up!" And she opened her eyes; and when
she saw Peter, she sat up. Peter gave her his hand and helped her
to stand up, and when he called for the saints and widows to come
into the room, he presented her alive to them.
     Soon the whole town of Joppa came to know what miracle Peter
had done through Jesus' name, and many became believers in the
Lord.  Peter stayed on in Joppa we are told for many days, with a
man called Simon, who was a tanner of skins by trade. It is not
recorded for us but we can be pretty well sure that Peter would
have done much teaching and preaching about Jesus and no doubt
performed other miracles of healing (Acts 9: 32-43).

     In the next chapter we shall see how God reveals to Peter
that the Gospel is to go out to the Gentile world as much as to
the Jews.

               ..............................

TO BE CONTINUED


  Home Table of Contents Previous Chapter Top of Page Next Chapter

 
Navigation List:
 

 
Word Search:

PicoSearch
  Help