Saul to Paul
Series: Pauline Letters
Acts 9:1-6 ESV
Acts 9:10-17 ESV
Who was Saul?
Saul the Pharisee who became Paul the Apostle was a most interesting fellow.
His “mission” in life was to change the world by getting rid of a new sect of people who followed a man called Jesus.
Saul of Tarsus was a highly educated Hebrew scholar. He spent his life studying Hebrew Scriptures.
He was a devout follower of Judaism. He would have started his studies when he was a young boy with the other Hebrew boys in Tarsus. Jewish boys were sent to school for a period of time, but the timing was dependent on how well they did in school. If they studied hard and did well they could advance to the next level. At some point if a boy did not prove he had the ability to continue his studies and excel, he was sent home to pursue a trade…the trade of his father.
For example, Jesus was the son of a carpenter and by all rights if he did not excel in school he would have become a carpenter, but God had other plans for Jesus.
Paul on the other hand continued to excel in school. He did so well that he became a Pharisee and he was chosen to study with the famous Hebrew scholar, Gamaliel.
Studying Hebrew scripture was his life.
It was all he knew.
Saul was committed to this life. He was so committed that when he saw others putting forth the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth or even following Jesus he was determined to stop them. He was not willing that any would endanger the long standing Hebrew traditions (which included educating Hebrew boys in the scriptures.) Saul considered Jesus to be a danger to his way of life. We have no record of how Jesus performed in the Hebrew school for boys, but Saul would have considered Jesus’ teaching to be contrary to everything he was taught.
Saul was determined to hold onto their way of life and he wasn’t about to let one man (Jesus of Nazareth) change their culture.
We learn in Acts 9:1-6, “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
On the Road to Damascus, Saul met Jesus!
The followers of Jesus were known as the people of the “Way”.
On the Road to Damascus that day when Jesus appeared to Saul, everything changed for Saul the Pharisee.
The life he had known changed. Everything he had worked for all his life was called into question. He had believed that the man called Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God was no different from any other man.
Saul wasn’t the only person who was about to change. We are told in Acts 9:10-17, “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at 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 instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The man named Saul of Tarsus who met Jesus on the road was blind after he met Jesus. The men who were traveling with Saul could hear a voice but they did not see Jesus when He appeared.
They didn’t know what to think!
So God spoke to Ananias and instructed him to go find Saul of Tarsus who was now to be known as Paul. Even though Ananias was unsure about approaching Paul, he obeyed and went to find the man who had been persecuting the people of the way.
That would certainly not have been an easy task for Ananias!
Even though I have had dreams and visions for over fifty years, it would be difficult for me to approach someone who had the power to arrest me. But Ananias did not hesitate.
He arose and went to find Paul and he laid hands on him and restored his sight!
I think Ananias made a bold choice that day when he had a vision and did what God called him to do.
The choice would not have been an easy one but Ananias arose and went to find Paul. When he found the man who had been persecuting the people of the way he laid hands on him and God restored Paul’s sight.
I think that’s mind boggling.
Any number of things could have gone wrong that day allowing Saul to capture Ananias and possibly his friends. In other words, it could have been a trap.
Regardless of the possible dangers, by faith Ananias chose to believe the vision to be from God and he responded to the call. Because he responded Saul, now called Paul, had his sight was restored by God and he took his place as a follower of Jesus and a leader among men.
And everything in Paul’s life changed…
Spiritual Practice: The call
Has God called you? If you’re not sure, ask… if God has called you, be grateful and respond to the call. Say yes.
In God, Deborah