Saul of Tarsus, as he was originally known, was a Jewish zealot who was bent on stopping the early Christians from spreading the Gospel.
Saul, later known as Paul, writes in Galatians 1:13-14:
“For ye have heard of my conversation (behaviour) in times past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
The first time we read of Saul in the scriptures is in Acts 7:58, where we have the account of Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr.
Stephen is called a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. He was well known for “the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke.”
In Acts chapter seven, Stephen was speaking to the people of Jerusalem and, when he was finished speaking, Saul and others were furious and cast Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death.
In Acts 8:1, the scriptures say Saul was consenting or giving assent to the killing of Stephen.
The last thing Stephen said was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”
These early believers were known by their changed lives and not only how they lived, but how they died.
Stephen’s dying words were not words of revenge, but rather forgiveness toward those that hated him.
All these things were a very clear voice to Saul of Tarsus and made him think of his need to trust the Saviour as well.
In Acts 9:1, we read of Saul, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.
He obtained letters of authority to go to Damascus and find men or women who were believers, to arrest them and bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Unknown to Saul, the Lord had other plans for the trip to Damascus.
While on the way to Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven shone down around Saul and asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Saul replied, “Who are you Lord?”
The Lord then said, “I am Jesus, who you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Saul, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what will Thou have me to do?”
The Lord answered Saul,
“Go into Damascus and it will be told you what to do.”
Saul, because he had been temporarily blinded, had to be led by the hand into Damascus. The men who had journeyed with Saul heard a voice, but didn’t see who was speaking
So Saul came into Damascus and was without sight three days and didn’t eat or drink.
A believer at Damascus, named Ananias, was sent by the Lord to speak to Saul.
At first, Ananias was not sure about going to visit Saul, but he was assured it was all good. Ananias was to tell Saul about the work that the Lord had for Saul to do.
Part of what Ananias had to tell Saul was that he was going to suffer greatly for the Lord. Saul received his sight back then and his new found salvation from sin was now what he began to preach in Damascus.
He wrote years later in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of (or trusting) the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
This early preacher of the gospel was greatly used by God to speak to multitudes of the people of his day.
He wrote at least 13 of the New Testament books and did suffer many hardships from those who opposed his preaching.
Known later as Paul, he wrote in 2nd Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Some of Paul’s last written words to Timothy were in 2nd Timothy 4:6, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is
This preacher who was saved on the road to Damascus later wrote in his letter to believers in Rome, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1).
John Eggers is an elder in the assembly that meets in Westsyde Gospel Hall in Kamloops.
KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and include a headshot of the author, along with a short bio. Send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.