The conversion of Saul of Tarsus
This chapter marks a turning point in the Book.
Peter has been prominent—the Jew.
From now on Paul will gradually become the foremost figure, the gospel will increasingly go out to the Gentiles.
Saul was about 30 years of age.
He was one of the most promising young men in Judaism.
As to zeal he outstripped his fellows. Philippians 3:4-6.
As he watched the growth of Christianity, known then as “the way” he saw it as a threat to her own religion.
Therefore with unbounded zeal, he set out to destroy it.
He was supported in this by the authorities.
At this point they gave him official authorization to search Damascus for disciples and to bring them to trial in Jerusalem.
Verse 1-2 Describes for us the inward hatred Saul had for Christians.
It also discloses his false zeal for God.
He was a merciless persecutor. See 1 Timothy 1:13.
On his way to arrest others he himself was arrested by Jesus of Nazareth. Human cruelty was met by divine mercy. Grace arrested this great sinner—grace ever afterwards was his theme. Marvelous—infinite—matchless grace.
Verse 3 As he came near Damascus, suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven.
Verse 4 He fell to the ground—He heard a voice saying “Saul, Saul.” The Lord knew his name—He knows ours.
The voice said Why persecutest thou Me?
The Lord identifies Himself with His people.
Verse 5 Paul said Who art Thou Lord?
Read the answer. “I am Jesus!”
Think of the emotional upset Paul had. He thought Jesus of Nazareth was dead and buried in a Judean grave. Now with crushing force, he learns that Jesus is not dead at all, but has been resurrected and glorified at the right hand of God.
It is hard for you to kick against the goods. (Describe)
Verse 6 Lord what will you have me to do?
May this be the cry of our hearts this morning.
He then is led into the city to await further instructions.
Verse 7 The men who traveled with Saul were in a thorough daze.
They had heard a sound from heaven but not the articulate words which Saul had heard—they did not see the Lord, only Saul did. Conversion is an individual experience.
Verses 8-9 The proud Pharisee is led by the Lord to Damascus where he remained blind for three days.
Verses 10-19 Saul’s experiences at Damascus
Describe how the believers in the city felt.
Think of how Annanias must have felt when God spoke to him.
The vision Verses 10-12.
The reaction Verses 13-14.
God’s assurance Verses 15-16.
Annanias’ obedience Verse 17.
The effect on Saul Verses 18-19.
Verse 20 Immediately he preached Christ declaring that He is the Son of God.
Verse 21 Those that heard him preach were amazed.
The Arabian wilderness experience of Galatians 1:17 probably took place between Verses 21 and 22 (3 years).
Mention at this point the necessity of a period of preparation.
Saul who afterwards became Paul needed time for prayer, meditation, and communion with God.
Paul did not begin to preach immediately after he was saved.
He spent 3 years in the Arabian desert.
Verse 22 Upon his return from Arabia to Damascus he began to preach.
Verses 23-24 His preaching, which showed that Jesus was the Christ so stirred up his fellow Jews that they sought to kill him.
Verse 25 He escapes through a window in the wall, in a basket.
Verse 26 From Damascus, Paul went to Jerusalem—the disciples were afraid of him.
Verse 27 Barnabas took him and introduced him to the disciples. He then began to preach.
Verse 29 He spoke boldly—they tried to kill him.
Verse 30 The apostles sent him back to Tarsus.
Verse 31 Read this verse.
It looks as if Saul was out of the public eye for about 12 years. After he was saved…till he entered into what we call today “full-time service” for the Lord.
All these years were spent in preparation for his life’s work.
If Paul needed this preparation, so does every preacher today.
Moses had 40 years in the college of the desert.
Elisha humbly waited on his master Elijah as a common slave to be fitted to take up.
Elijah went for a forty-day walk to learn the council of God.
Jesus, the greatest Preacher of all spent 30 years in obscurity before His public amnesty.
Verses 32-35 Aeneas healed by Peter at Lydda.
Peter comes into the picture again—he evidently has moved out from Jerusalem.
He finds a paralytic who has been bed ridden for eight years.
Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ makes you well.” Peter announces that Christ is the Healer.
“Arise and make your bed”—similar to our Lord’s instruction. Luke 4.
The man did what he was commanded—many got saved.
Verses 36-43 The raising of Dorcas from the dead.
Verse 36 She was a good woman. Note her works Verse 39.
Verse 37 Dorcas died.
Verse 38 They sent for Peter.
Verse 39 Her friends were mourning for her.
Verse 40 Peter put them all out. (Jarius’ daughter)
He kneeled down—prayed—then commanded Dorcas to arise.
Verse 41 He presented her to her friends alive.
Many became Christians because of this miracle.