Saul Is Converted
Verse 1 – Then Saul, still breathing threats, and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
Verse 2 – and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Saul had permission from the high priest to travel as far as Damascus to arrest anyone who was a follower of Christ. “The way” was what Christianity was called. Saul was a true Pharisee.
Verse 3 – And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
Verse 4 – Then he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Verse 5 – And he said, “Who are You Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
When you come against a Christian, you are coming against Christ Himself. However, Saul was about to be used by the Lord in a way like no other. He had been persecuting Christians and was now trying to stop the spread of Christianity. Here is what we can learn from this: God can use anyone He wills. Your past does not control your future. And if you are persecuting a brother or sister in Christ, you are doing the work of Satan. Some conversions are not as dramatic as Saul’s , but make no mistake they are just as important to the Lord.
Verse 6 – So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” And the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Verse 7 – And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless hearing a voice but seeing no one.
Verse 8 – Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
Just as Saul was blinded, are we not all spiritually blind before coming to Christ? The only way our spiritual eyes can be opened is to recognize Jesus for who He truly is.
Verse 9 – And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
I imagine he didn’t say much either. The man was in shock. Aren’t we all when we learn the truth and are convinced that the way we were living was sinful?
Verse 10 – Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am Lord.”
Verse 11 – So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.
Verse 12 – “And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hands on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
Verse 13 – Then Ananias answered, “Lord I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
Verse 14 – “And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
Verse 15 – But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
Verse 16 – “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Anytime you might think, “That person will never be saved,” think again of Saul’s conversion. He was a murderer and wanted nothing to do with Jesus. But one encounter with Christ not only changed his life, it changed the world! We don’t have any idea what the purpose or plans are for someone else.
Verse 17 – And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Even though Ananias was afraid of Saul, he still laid hands on him and lovingly called him brother. He was obedient to the Lord’s command. And yes, it’s hard to be kind or pray for those who have openly persecuted, you, but the Lord says do it anyway!
Verse 18 – Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
Verse 19 – And when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Verse 20 – Immediately, he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
We don’t know the number of days that Saul was with the disciples, but I’m sure they were spent learning of Jesus. Not everyone is saved one day and out preaching the next. However, if God chooses to use someone in that way, so be it.
Verse 21 – Then all who heard him were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
Verse 22 – But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
A person’s testimony can be a powerful tool in witnessing to the lost, especially if they knew you before you were saved. These people had heard of Saul’s hatred for the Christian, but now saw a different man. Don’t ever be afraid to tell others what kind of person you were before Christ. You just might hit a nerve with someone listening that reminds them of themselves. But please remember: Your testimony has to line up with a changed life!
Verse 23 – Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.
According to Galatians 1:17, 18, Paul left Damascus and went to Arabia, where he lived for three years. I’m sure the chief priest was pretty angry, after all, Saul had went there to arrest and persecute the Christians, not become one himself.
Verse 24 – But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.
Verse 25 – Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
Saul had been in Arabia for three years and traveled back to Damascus, and this is when they tried to kill him, but he escaped with the help of the other disciples.
Verse 26 – And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.
When you become a Christian, there will be some that know your past. The old opinion people have for you doesn’t just change because you say it should. You have to prove that your behavior lines up with the new you.
Verse 27 – But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
The biggest problem that new converts have is guidance from another believer to teach them. No one stands with them while they learn the ways of the Lord. However, Barnabas stood up for Saul, because he heard him preach.
Verse 28 – So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.
Verse 29 – And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenist, but they attempted to kill him.
The Hellenist were Greek speaking, Jewish Christians, which Saul had been. They had returned to Jerusalem and because Saul used to be one of them, they didn’t like it that he had changed.
Verse 30 – When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
Verse 31 – Then the churches throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit they were multiplied.
Verse 32 – Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.
Lydda was about 40 miles from Jerusalem. These Christians had possibly went there after Pentecost and set up churches there.
verse 33 – There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had become bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.
Verse 34 – And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.
Verse 35 – So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Because of this one miracle, all turned to the Lord. When was the last time you saw a miracle like this in a church service? Or, have you ever? When the true Gospel is preached, there will always be evidence, either saved lives, infilling of the Holy Spirit, or miracles of healing.
Verse 36 – At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman who was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.
Verse 37 – But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
Verse 38 – And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.
Verse 39 – Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas (Tabitha) had made while she was with them.
Verse 40 – But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” and she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
Verse 41 – Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
Verse 42 – And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.
Verse 43 – So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.
Nowhere in Scripture do you see Peter or any of the other disciples, setting up churches with their names in lights, declaring that they had the ability to heal and raise the dead, as we see people do on mega stages today. No one possesses any one gift. The gifts belong to the Holy Spirit and He uses them at His will, through whom He chooses!