The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus

Read Acts 9:1-19

Let us take a look at the man Saul.

He was known as Saul of Tarsus.

Tarsus is described by Saul as no mean city. Acts 21:39

It was a place of great learning.

Acts 22:3 shows that Saul was born in Tarsus, he was brought up in the city, and was educated at the school of Gamaliel.

Then he moved to Jerusalem where he became the leader of those who persecuted the church. (30 years)

Paul’s appearance was not impressive.

2 Corinthians 10:10. For his letters, they say, are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

He was small of stature, had very little hair, had crooked legs, but had a strong body, his eyebrows were bushy and seemed to meet, but despite this physical weaknesses he was full of grace and sometimes appeared as a man and sometimes like an angel.

There is no record of Saul ever having seen the Lord during His earthly ministry.

He evidently had Christian relatives. Romans 16:7. “Greet Andronicus and Junias my kinsmen and fellow-prisoners.”

This fact plus the martyrdom of Stephen may account for the words “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (More of this later).

We are introduced to a man called Saul in Acts 7:58.

In the 8th chapter his work as a persecutor is mentioned.

He made havoc in the church.

He entered every house.

He dragged men and women from their homes and put them in prison for believing in Jesus.

The result of his work was that the believers were scattered and they took the message of the Gospel with them.

Those who arrived in Damascus were a zealous group…soon a flourishing work was going on, this came to the ear of Saul who instantly made arrangements to visit the city.

Describe the events which took place enroute.

Read Verses 1-3 of Chapter 9.

As they came near to Damascus there shone a light around about him. Verse 3

This made a tremendous impact on Paul.

Giving his testimony before a mob he says that it was a great light that shone around him. Acts 22.

In Acts 26:13 while recounting this experience before Agrippa he said, “At midday, O king I saw in the way a light from heaven above the brightness of the son shining around me.”

Why did Paul make so much of this incident?

Because he met Jesus Christ face to face.

Compare The Transfiguration Matthew 17.

The Lord was transfigured in three different ways.

1. In the glory of His person.

God and man in one Person.

2. The glory of His countenance.

“His face shone as the sun.”

3. The brightness of His garments.

White as light…exceeding white as snow.

This was the One Saul met, and Paul never forgot it.

Notice how personal a matter this was.

Acts 22:9 “They that were with me saw the light and were afraid, but they heard not the voice that spoke to me.”

Saul fell to the ground.

He heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul” etc.

The first shock that Saul received was that he believed Jesus was dead and buried in a Judean grave.

Now with crushing force he learns that Jesus is not dead—but alive at God’s right hand.

E/p Stephen’s testimony and Saul’s reaction. Acts 7:55-56.

This experience affected his ministry and preaching. God is not dead…He is alive.

Every detail has not been written of this experience but one thing is certain, Saul met the Lord—and talked with Him—he saw Him in a special way as one born out of due time.

Peter says that one of the qualifications of an apostle is that he has to have seen the Lord after resurrection.

Acts 1:22.

Paul qualified for this special place in that he saw the Lord in resurrection glory on this great occasion.

“Saul, Saul why persecutest thou Me…it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”

Saul’s kinsmen had shot the arrows of conviction into his soul.

The death of Stephen had probably haunted him, and as he kicked and fought he only hurt himself.

The truth of conviction.

Describe the goads for the rebellious oxen when plowing.

Sovereign grace shines forth here in all its fullness and glory. Marvelous—infinite—matchless. Only the grace of God could save this man.

The chief of sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15. Quote.

Grace mentioned 125 times in N.T. by Paul over 100 times.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are you saved” etc.

The Meeting Of Saul And Annanias
Acts 9:10-19

When Saul had recovered sufficiently to rise up from the earth, Verse 2, “He saw no man”…he was blind.

It also says, “and when his eyes were opened” Verse 8. These were spiritual eyes.

Being blind, Paul’s cohorts led him into the city. They took him to the house of Judas in the street called Straight.

This was probably the house he was to stay in while in Damascus persecuting the believers.

Verses 10-16 The vision of Annanias.

This was incredible. Saul of Tarsus praying. Verse 11.

Verse 12 God is dealing with Saul.

Verses 13-14 The reluctance of Annanias.

Verses 15-16 God’s assurance.

Saul had caused great suffering to God’s chosen.

Verse 16 “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my names sake.”

Verse 17 Annanias entered into the house as instructed. Putting his hand on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul.” A few days ago he was a murderer, now he is a brother in the Lord.

Blood is thicker than water, but Spirit is thicker than blood.

The greatest relationships of life are in Jesus Christ. Saul received his sight (See Verse 12) and was filled with the Holy Spirit…for service.

Verse 18 Saul went the whole way…he was baptized.

Verse 19 Saul stayed a short time with the disciples.

One might think in reading Verse 20 that Paul began to preach immediately after he was saved.

This is not so. Galatians 1:17-18 shows that he went into Arabia for three years.

Those three years should be inserted between Verses 19 and 20.

Before Saul was ready for public service he heeded quietness for meditation—prayer and communion with God. Every servant of God needs this.

Saul went into Arabia with the Pentateuch and the O.T. prophets in his pouch.

He came out of Arabia with Romans and Corinthians and Galatians and Ephesians and Philippians and Colossians and the rest of his wonderful writings in his heart.

It was about 12 years after he was saved that Saul entered into “full-time service.”

Moses had forty years of college in the desert.

Elisha served Elijah as a common slave before he was fitted to take up his master’s work.

The Lord, the greatest preacher of all times, spent 30 years in obscurity.

As we understand this time lapse we can better appreciate Verses 20-22.

1. He preached Christ in the synagogues saying that He is the Son of God.

2. The people who listened were amazed.

3. His chief antagonists were confounded.

Such preaching brought persecution. Verses 23-24

Saul’s escape. Verse 25 Over the wall in a basket.

Verses 26-27

Saul’s reception at Jerusalem was very cool. “They were afraid of him.”

Barnabas, who afterwards became Saul’s fellow missionary, introduced him before he was accepted.

Verse 28 He fellowshipped with the church.

Verse 29 He preached boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, some of the Jews tried to kill him.

Verse 30 The church sent him back to Tarsus. Back to the hometown. c/p Mark 5:19.

“Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you.”

Hometown is the most difficult place to be a Christian.

Verse 31 Then had the churches “rest.”

1. They were built up.

2. They walked in the fear of the Lord.

3. They lived in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

4. They increased in numbers.