No doubt many have heard this story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. The story of how the primary enemy of the early church meets Jesus is told in Acts 9:1-9. Saul, the man who had detained the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem (Acts 7:58, 8:1-3), moves north to Damascus, expands his terror beyond Judea. Saul is stopped by Jesus, who tells him that He is not only alive but also glorified by the light of heaven. Saul is awestruck and nearly blinded. He is led into the city by his companions, where he waits for three days without food or drink until Jesus’ messenger arrives to instruct him. Acts 22:6-16 and Acts 26:9-18 provide additional information from Saul.
In verses 1-2:
Saul represents the world. Saul was so passionate for his Jewish convictions that he started a mistreatment crusade against any individual who had faith in Jesus (“of this way”). For what reason would the Jews need to oppress Christians to the extent or as far toward Damascus? There are a few prospects: first, to hold onto the Christians who had escaped; second, to contain and forestall the spread of Christianity to other significant urban communities; third, to hold the Christians back from inciting any issues in Rome; fourth, to propel Saul’s vocation and fabricate his standing as a genuine Pharisee, who was enthusiastic for the law; and fifth, to bind together the groups of Judaism by giving them a shared adversary.
As Paul headed out to Damascus, seeking after Christians, he was gone up against by the risen Christ and carried up close and personal with the reality of the Gospel. Occasionally God breaks into an individual’s life in a fantastic way, and now and then transformation is a calm encounter. We are to be careful with individuals who demand that someone should have a specific kind of conversion. The correct method to come to faith in Jesus is the way God brings that individual.
In verses 3-6:
A sinner is recognized. “And suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.” Light always covers darkness. In a dark room, when the lights are turned on, we will turn our heads toward the bright light, but we shield our eyes. This light was so bright that Saul fell to knees, “And he fell to the earth.”
A sinner recognizes the sovereignty of God. “And he said, Who art thou, Lord?” A sinner submits and surrenders unto God’s will (what some Christians should be doing). “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” A sinner is told specifically what to do, (some Christians will not listen). “Arise, and go into the city.”
Paul alludes to this experience as the beginning of his new life in Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1, 15:8; Galatians 1:15-16). At the focal point of this awesome experience was Jesus Christ. Paul did not have a dream nor see a vision; he saw the risen Christ himself (9:17). Paul recognized Jesus as Lord, admitted his own wrongdoing, surrendered his life to Jesus, and made plans to obey. Genuine change comes from an individual experience with Jesus Christ and prompts another life in relationship with him.
Paul believed that he was persecuting blasphemers, yet he was oppressing Christ himself. Any individual who persecutes Christians today is likewise liable of mistreating Jesus (Matthew 25:40, 45), on the grounds that believers of today are part to the body of Christ while they are here on earth.
In verses 7-8:
The men around Saul heard a voice but saw no man. Saul gets up but he cannot see.
In verse 9:
For three days Saul was without sight, and he fasted. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great fish. Jesus was in the tomb for three days. The number three represents divine completeness.
Now we will look at the next section.
The greatest earthly foe of the early church had his heart changed is then explained in Acts 9:10-19. Back in Acts 8:1-3, it describes Saul as a zealous Christian persecutor who is a Jew who speaks Greek and is trained by the Pharisees. Acts 9:1-9 had described his request for permission to pursue followers of Jesus in Damascus, but instead he discovered Jesus. He has been waiting in Damascus for Jesus’ disciple Ananias, blinded by Jesus’ glory. Ananias arrives and takes part in Jesus’ cure of Saul’s spiritual and physical blindness. Saul receives physical nourishment and is baptized. After spending some time in Damascus, Saul immediately uses his extensive knowledge of Jewish Scripture to argue that Jesus is the Messiah. The assassin of the Sanhedrin is now the target of his former friends.
In verses 10-12:
Ananias was called by God and told to go get Saul. Here we have the Lord sending a servant. God told Ananias that Saul was praying. Now we have a servant seeking God.
In verses 13-14:
Ananias represents a doubting Christian. Many give some type of excuse as to why not to work. Ananias automatically brings up a negative. “Not him, Lord, that is inconceivable. He would never turn into a Christian.” This was the embodiment of Ananias’ reaction when God advised him of Paul's change. Given the circumstances, Paul had sought after believers to their demise. Notwithstanding these reasonable sentiments, Ananias submitted to God and ministered to Paul. We should not restrict God. He can do anything. We must comply, following God's direction even to troublesome individuals and places.
In verses 15-16:
The Lord tells Ananias to go and tells him why. Paul is a chosen vessel. He was received the call of duty. Ananias submits to God’s will. Faith in Christ brings incredible blessings yet regularly extraordinary sufferings as well. Paul would suffer over his faith (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). God calls us to responsibility, not relief. He vows to be with us through misery and difficulty, not to save us from them.
In verse 17:
Ananias discovered Paul, as he had been told, and welcomed him as “Brother Saul.” Ananias dreaded this gathering since Paul had come to Damascus to abuse the believers and take them in chains to Jerusalem. Yet, in submission to the Holy Spirit, he welcomed Paul affectionately. It is not easy to show love to other people, particularly when we fear them or are uncertain of or doubt their motives. We should follow Jesus’ command (John 13:34), and Ananias’ model, by showing love and acknowledgment to different believers.
In verses 18-19:
Even though there is no notice of a unique feeling of the Holy Spirit for Paul, his changed life and ensuing achievements bear him as a solid witness of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in his life. Obviously, the Holy Spirit filled Paul when he regained his sight and was baptized. We see that Paul’s physical and spiritual needs are met. The men then had fellowship, which in a sense is basically a church service.
God’s Word pricks a sinner’s heart. Unfortunately, Christians need prodding occasionally so that they do what their told to do. God had to do something drastic to get man’s attention. We need to spend time alone and in prayer and seek God’s will. God answers in His time, not ours.
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