The apostle Paul–formerly the ultra-strict Pharisee called Saul, who was intent on persecuting early Christians–has a tremendously appealing conversion account.
Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute any and all Christians he found in that city when he had an unexpected meeting with the crucified and arisen Jesus Christ.
“And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 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.”
–Acts 8:1,3 9:1-2
So Saul was quite the vicious, zealous persecutor of any and all Christians he might discover worshiping the wrong way.
THEN, Saul had his quite UNEXPECTED MEETING WITH JESUS while Saul was on his way to Damascus to work high mischief.
“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 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. 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. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”
The encounter left Saul temporarily BLIND and he had to be led to Damascus by holding the hands of his companions.
Saul was blind for three days before his sight was restored in a somewhat-curious manner. Apparently, the plans Jesus had for Saul included the Pharisee being able to see.
“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. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 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: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Certainly a DRAMATIC way for someone to start their new life as a Christian!
So, Ananias went to the aforementioned home and laid his hands on Saul and Saul’s sight was restored.
[Saul/Paul seems to be a particular TARGET of those who desire God’s Word to mean little. These are those who cling to ANY Scripture which they believe might prove their doubt and lack of faith.
MUCH has been made in some circles about the apparent discrepancy in Paul’s accounts of his conversion. In Acts 9:7, Scripture says “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” While the account in Acts 22 states “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.”
This is much ado about nothing. The two accounts are not contradictory so much as they are different. Has the reader EVER heard a loud noise but could not make out exactly what it might be? In the first account, Paul says the men heard a ‘voice’; in the second, Paul says they heard not the voice. Might Paul’s companions have heard a voice but not what that voice was saying?
Again, those who WANT to believe God’s Word contains contradictions will believe what they want to believe. NO explanations or ‘clarifications’ will change what they WANT so desperately to believe.]
After having his sight restored, Paul’s life experienced a 180-degree CHANGE.
Saul demonstrated that his life had been transformed: that he was a new creature in Christ.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
He did this by forsaking the things of his former life.
“And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
Saul’s radical change in behavior was not immediately believed by many of the early Christians, but eventually Saul was accepted by the early Christians (who obviously observed what Saul was DOING and NOT what Saul has PREVIOUSLY done.)
“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? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 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. 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. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 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 Ghost, were multiplied.”
Now, after this, Saul went off by himself and received the information he used when preaching to the Gentiles.
BUT, where did Saul go?
And where did Saul receive that information from?
Saul–who became the apostle Paul–said that he did NOT receive his information from ‘flesh and blood.’ Paul also wrote that he did not mingle with the other apostles right then, but first spent three years in ARABIA.
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”
Might Paul have been instructed in the finer points of Christianity–which Paul then WROTE about in the letters which became the New Testament–by God and Jesus Christ Himself?
Paul was FULL of information on Christianity after hanging out in Arabia for THREE YEARS. And this information was not easily understood by the OTHER apostles–who had walked with Jesus Himself.
As the apostle Peter wrote
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
So, Paul had his conversion experience on the way to persecute the Christians in Damascus. Shortly thereafter, Paul traveled to Arabia for three years and consulted with authorities who were NOT ‘flesh and blood.’
THEN, the apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem via Damascus and spent about two weeks with the apostle Peter. At this time, Paul–formerly Saul–was FULL of information about Christianity and its namesake, Jesus Christ.
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.”
Paul wrote about his experiences (he does NOT say they happened in Arabia; he does NOT even say they happened to him) in 2CORINTHIANS 12:1-6.
Again, WHERE did Saul (Paul) get all of his revelations from?
WHAT does the reader think?
It is not YET too late: there is still a little time to change direction (repent), place your faith (hope) for the future entirely on Jesus Christ and enter the kingdom of heaven.
DOES the reader believe he is saved?
DOES the reader believe he is NOT saved?
THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. ”
–1 Corinthians 15:1-8
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
[Portions of this piece appeared originally in End Times Prophecy Headlines: January 14-16, 2022.]
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- DISOBEDIENCE and REBELLION: The Wisdom of Man OR the Word of God?
- Apostate Church: Breaking Every Chain
- Persecution, Tribulation, Troubles, Trials: What the Bible says to Christians
by Jeremiah Jameson
–with Mondo Frazier
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