Jesus and Saul
Acts 22:3 (Saul studied under Gamaliel)
Acts 23:6 (Saul and his father were both Pharisees)
Acts 7:58-Acts 8:3 (Saul persecuted Christians)
Philippians 3:5 (Paul was born from the tribe of Benjamin)
Acts 9:3-9 NKJV
2 Corinthians 11:25-28 NKJV
John 8:12 (Jesus is the Light)
Acts 26:15b-18 NKJV
Isaiah 42:6b-7 NKJV
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Romans 8:37-39 NKJV
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
Colossians 3:12-15 NKJV
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 NKJV
A Story of Love
Saul of Tarsus was born around 5 A.D. to Jewish parents who were also Roman Citizens. Because of his birth status Saul was also a Roman Citizen. According to Acts 22:3, Saul was born in Tarsus and he studied under the Hebrew scholar, Gamaliel.
We learn in the last section of Acts 7 and the first part of Acts 8 that Saul zealously pursued Christians and he was at the trial for Stephen who was martyred for being a believe Jesus (Acts 7:58–Acts 8:3). We know from Acts 23:6 that Saul’s Father and Saul were both Pharisees. According to Philippians 3:5 Saul was from the Hebrew tribe of Benjamin.
Saul considered Jesus of Nazareth to be an enemy of the Hebrew people.
Then while traveling on the road to Damascus we read about a Saul in Acts 9:3-9, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”
Jesus’ comment about kicking against the goads referred to a long rod that had a sharp end on it to keep the oxen (or other animal) headed in the right direction. In other words Saul was harming himself by persecuting Christians. Saul was not listening to God. Jesus was telling Saul He was the one sent by God.
From that day forward, everything in Saul’s life changed. He was no longer Saul. He was now called Paul.
On that road, The course of Paul’s life was forever changed. We read in 2 Corinthians 11:25-28, “Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
Since his conversion on the Road to Damascus, Saul the persecutor became Paul the persecuted.
He saw the light (John 8:12) of Jesus. In Acts 26:15b-18, Paul told King Agrippa of Judea (from 41-44 A.D.), he met Jesus on that road and Jesus told him, “‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
Saul had been blind to what the prophet Isaiah meant in 42:6b-7, “I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”
When Paul’s eyes were opened to the love of Jesus he then wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Paul became a new man the day he was filled with the love of Jesus on the road to Damascus.
In Romans 8:37-39 Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus loved Saul and His the light of His love changed him. Saul became Paul who was forever changed by the love of Jesus.
When all is said and done, the writings of Paul are a great personal comfort and guide for me. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Paul wrote in Colossians 3:12-15, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
The list of scriptures I personally cling to when I am weary and discouraged that the Apostle Paul wrote goes on and on. “The thirteen books written by Paul are: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.” So Paul wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament (https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/how-many-books-of-the-bible-did-paul-write.html).
Because Paul gave up the life of a Pharisee he had planned and worked so hard for and surrendered to the love of Jesus, WE are the beneficiaries of his writings.
Through His great love, God had a plan for Paul and it was much greater than anything he could have ever hoped to achieve!
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: BE Changed
Let the Love of Jesus shine on you. Ask God to change you day by day to forgive and love like Jesus.
In God, Deborah