Saul to Paul
Acts 9:1-19 (NKJV)
One of the most interesting miracles in scripture is the conversion of Saul. Saul was born Hebrew and studied under the notable Hebrew scholar Gamaliel. Only a small number of men attained that rank. That could explain why and how Saul was so bold when he was persecuting Christians. He held a position of great respect in the Hebrew community.
Another interesting thing to note is that Saul was 100% sold out when it came to serving the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was fully committed to Yahweh and he honestly believed the people of the WAY who served Jesus were a danger to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It’s also interesting to note that Saul was born a few years after Jesus but there is no record of their meeting before Jesus was crucified. Saul lived in Tarsus which is in modern day Turkey. Also, I believe if Saul would have met Jesus before the crucifixion, he would have written about the account in his letters.
I share all of that about Saul because when he decided to go to Damascus that day the only thing he had on his mind was capturing and killing the followers of Jesus (called the people of the way). Converting to Christianity was the last thing Saul intended to do.
This is what happened on the road to Damascus as written in Acts 9:1–9 (NKJV):
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 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.
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.”
Notice in Jesus’ meeting with Saul he introduced himself and he told Saul what he was doing was pointless (kicking against the goad). A goad is a stick with very sharp pointed ends that they used to move oxen or a herd of cattle. Jesus was telling Saul he was wasting his time and he would NOT win. Upon their meeting Saul immediately recognized Jesus as ‘Lord’ and he surrendered to Him. Not only did the bright light blind Saul, he was left unable to eat for three days.
Remember what a shock this was to Saul...he did not want to believe in Jesus. He did not seek Jesus. He had resolved he would eradicate those who followed Jesus.
He was not given a choice, but in an instant he WAS a follower of Jesus.
God WAS in CHARGE.
On the road that day, Jesus told Saul he would be given further instructions.
In Acts 9 10-19 we learn,
“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.”
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. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
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.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.”
About the same time the Lord appeared to Ananias, a faithful follower of Jesus. Jesus told him to go to Straight Street to the house of Judas and ask for Saul of Tarsus. Ananias had a vision that he was supposed to give Saul back his sight and he would be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Ananias was a bit freaked out because he had heard of Saul...I mean, what Christian had NOT heard of Saul? Still, the Lord told him to go find Saul because God had plans for him.
In verse 17 we learn that Ananias obeyed. I think that was miracle number two. So, Ananias went and found Saul, restored his sight, and laid hands on his so he would receive the Holy Spirit.
Ananias went, and when he touched Saul, scales fell from his eyes and he was baptized. The name eventually changed from Saul to Paul because the same man who was converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus was called Paul in Acts 13:9 and Acts 13:13.
The Hebrew meaning for the name Saul was “to ask, or pray for” (https://nameberry.com/babyname/Saul).
The Hebrew meaning for the name Paul was “humble” (http://www.allhebrewnames.com/hebnames/en/name_details.seam?nameID=1054). Scripture does not tell us that God changed Sauls name (like he changed Abrams name to Abraham) so it may have been Saul who eventually referred to himself as Paul. Scripture does not specifically say why he was eventually called Paul, but the meaning of both names is vastly different!
Certainly, God changed Saul who was a man who had studied, asked questions, and prayed to God to Paul who was a humble Apostle who served God/Jesus with all his might.
I think this WAS truly miraculous because it was not SOUGHT by the recipient. Saul absolutely did not intend to meet Jesus of Nazareth when he set out on the road to Damascus that day. Yet, on that road his life was forever changed!
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Ask God
Ask God to surprise you with a miracle.
And BE Blessed, Deborah