Confronted by Jesus

KEY VERSE: “The Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” —Acts 9:15

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 9:1-6, 10-20

WE UNDERSTAND THAT Saul of Tarsus attended the same Hellenist synagogue where Stephen witnessed to the Jews. He is mentioned as holding the coats of those who stoned Stephen.—Acts 7:58; 8:1

Saul was so incensed against the beliefs of the Christian Jews that he tried to “destroy the church.”(Acts 8:3, New International Version) In Jerusalem Saul went from house to house, dragging men and women to prison, and “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” (Acts 9:1, NIV) When many Christians left Jerusalem because of this intense persecution, Saul decided to pursue them and bring them back as prisoners to Jerusalem. He received permission in the form of letters to the synagogues in Damascus from the High Priest, to bring back any Jews who were in “this way.” (Acts 9:2) So Saul, with a party of men, set off for Damascus.

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? “Who are you, Lord’, Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’, he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’.”—vss. 3-6, NIV

The aggressive Saul arose humbly from the ground, having been blinded by the brilliant light. He was meekly led by others in his party into Damascus to the home of Judas, remaining for three days without sight, not eating nor drinking. He prayed for forgiveness of his sins. He realized that his opposition to Christian Jews was wrong.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord appeared to him in a vision, and instructed him to go to the house of Judas on the street called Straight, and to ask for Saul of Tarsus where he was praying. Ananias demurred, reminding the Lord that he had heard about Saul, and the evil and harm he had done to the saints in Jerusalem, and how he had come with the same intent to Damascus. But the Lord said to him, “Go [‘Do as I say’], this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”—vs. 15, NIV

Ananias carried out the Lord Jesus’ instructions, and addressed Saul as ‘Brother Saul’, knowing now that Saul was indeed a brother in Christ. “Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.” (vs. 18, NIV) Then Saul took food for the first time in days, was strengthened, and spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.

It might appear that Saul then started at once to preach in Damascus, but Luke has omitted part of his experiences later supplied in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. (Gal. 1:17) Paul needed to be taught God’s wonderful plan, which he received by a direct revelation of Jesus Christ. See Galatians 1:11,12,16,17, and II Corinthians 12:1-4. From Damascus he went to Arabia where he stayed several months, and then returned to Damascus, where the narrative of Acts 9:20 resumes. Paul never forgot his confrontation with the glorified Lord Jesus. He said, “I am the least of the apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”—I Cor. 15:9, NIV

Dawn Bible Students Association
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