Wow! Another day in Acts! I’m learning a lot, aren’t you? It’s interesting to go slowing through the Scriptures, especially ones relating directly to the founding and organizing of the original New Testament Church. Today we’ll read about Saul.
After the previous 8 days, I strongly encourage Scripture writing for anyone who hasn’t tried it. Not only is it therapeutic all by itself, but it also forces you to move more slowly through the words and you just soak up more that way. At least that is my opinion 🙂
Here are the posts we’ve already been through if you’d like to go back and read them in order. However, any way you read them is good!
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(Vs. 1) And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Saul, in his “heyday” so to speak, didn’t just talk about slaughtering Christians… he breathed it. He was zealous for the work, not just taking on the “work” that the high priests passed his way. No, he even went so far as to petition for permission to go into cities and seek out those in the way.
(Vs. 2) And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
He didn’t care whether they were men or women, he wanted all Christians. He wound bind them and bring them to Jerusalem so he could try them for the heinous crime of following Jesus!
Saul Meets Jesus
(Vs. 3) And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
(Vs. 4) And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
(Vs. 5) And he said, Who are thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
I love that Jesus quickly got right to the meat and potatoes of what Saul was doing! He wasn’t just arresting Christians, he was literally persecuting Jesus! The implications are deep. While striving against those who love the Lord is one thing, all of these believers had the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
We know this because every time there was a meeting, preaching, or even a chance encounter when hands were laid on the believers, they received the Holy Ghost. We could probably get away with saying that all Christians receive the Holy Ghost when they are “saved” but that simply isn’t Biblical, you’ll find as you begin to study and rightly divide the word.
For an on-looker to KNOW that a person had the Holy Ghost, there had to be some outward sign, as we’ve seen repeatedly through these Chapters so far and will see even more of as we continue our journey. The only sign given, according to any Scripture, that the Holy Ghost has been given is speaking with other tongues. The Word calls it the “evidence” and that’s good enough for me.
(Vs. 6) And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Saul Receives Instruction
(Vs. 7) And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
(Vs. 8) And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
(Vs. 9) And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
If Saul hadn’t known when he was knocked to the earth… if he hadn’t known when he heard a voice speaking to him… then he definitely knew when he realized he couldn’t see. This is just one of many things that didn’t make sense in a fleshly sense.
But God was on the move. There was a church to be built, and Gentiles and Jews alike to be preached to. More than that, there was a great deal of explaining to be done, and since He was no longer present on this earth, it was the disciples and apostles who would carry on the message, as Jesus saw fit.
Ananias Learns of Saul
(Vs. 10) And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
(Vs. 11) And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
(Vs. 12) And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
There are no clues as to why God chose Ananias over anyone else. He could have chosen one of the more well-known apostles. It would have seemed quite appropriate, wouldn’t it? That one of those who turned the world upside down also managed to be the one to give this vision to Saul?
But God so often uses people of lower notoriety, people not necessarily known by the crowd. These people have no claim to fame and are generally not at risk of becoming proud or arrogant in all that they do know. So, Ananias it was!
Ananias Is a Bit Reluctant
(Vs. 13) Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
(Vs. 14) And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
I can only imagine if it was me the Lord called on to speak to Saul, can’t you? Um, okay Jesus, but you know this is the one who specifically came here to kill us all, right?? That is actually what Ananias was saying.
To even be considered a messenger for God, I’m sure Ananias had to be close to the Lord. So he should have known, already, that there’s nothing God doesn’t know. God could have said so at any time, but instead, like the loving Father that He is, he went on to explain it. This would allow Ananias’s fleshly mind to grasp what He was doing.
(Vs. 15) But 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:
(Vs. 16) For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Ananias: Reluctant, but Willing
(Vs. 17) And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
I love the fact that there is no small talk. Ananias went into the house, put his hands on Saul, and laid that bag of snakes out straight! BAM!
Ok, my brother, Jesus says you’re gonna get your sight back and get filled with the Holy Ghost!
(Vs. 18) And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
Though he was blind, he gained his sight back. And immediately he was baptized for the remission of his sins.
(Vs. 19) And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
My, my, how God can truly turn a thing around! Just a few days prior, these were the very people Saul had asked permission to come and arrest, so that he could toss them relentlessly into a Jerusalem prison! Remember, too, that not too long before that, he had held the coats of the ones that had stoned Stephen to death.
I don’t have a single doubt that these things had to have played through his mind. Oh, to have a bit of insight on what he thought, how he dealt with it, and how he reconciled it within himself to be able to go on and do the things Jesus wanted him to do!
Saul, the Preacher
(Vs. 20) And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
And STRAIGHTWAY he preached… He had been baptized in the Name of Jesus, and filled with the Holy Ghost, and nothing could keep him from preaching Jesus!
(Vs. 21) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might being them bound unto the chief priests?
It must have been hard for people to get a grasp on just what was going on. One day, they’re fearing for their lives, wondering when the mighty Saul would come kicking their door down. The next, they’re watching that same man preach the very Name of the One he persecuted so vehemently! I’m sure many of them listened just to see if it was true!
Saul Now in Danger
(Vs. 22) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
(Vs. 23) And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
They had sought to kill Jesus, and many who were with Him. They constantly tried to catch people “in the act” of worshiping, teaching, or preaching that Name, which they had forbid at all costs.
Now, here they were, watching their best soldier, the one that had really made a havoc of the early church, actually preaching the Good News of the Gospel! They surely must have thought they couldn’t allow him to make a mockery of them that way. So they watched. And they waited.
The Disciples Rescue Him
(Vs. 24) But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
(Vs. 25) Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
(Vs. 26) And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
So here was Saul… having experienced Jesus on the road, been struck blind and then healed from blindness. He received the Holy Ghost, was baptized, and preached the Word boldly. Not “the Word” as in the Holy Bible. No, Saul KNEW the Word. He knew Him personally. That Word Saul preached so boldly, so vehemently, and so shamelessly, was none other than Jesus Christ Himself. THAT was his message!
All of that, only to arrive at Jerusalem to disciples who didn’t even believe he was for real!
How many of us have been there? Sometimes, we aren’t always received with the loving arms we expect, from the people who should extend them the most. But, that is no cause to worry. Jesus always sends someone before or beside you, and He always makes the path straight.
Barnabas Introduces Saul
(Vs. 27) But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
(Vs. 28) And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
(Vs. 29) And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
Once Barnabas made the necessary introductions, he explained everything that had happened. He explained how Saul had been transformed and how that he preached so boldly.
After that, Saul was with them in their comings and their goings, and he spoke BOLDLY in the Name of Jesus. More than that, he “disputed” with the Grecians.
“He spoke boldly,” meaning he defended Jesus openly and blatantly.
“In the name of Jesus,” meaning, by the authority that Jesus left with the disciples at his departure from earth after the resurrection. (Again, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is another snippet that proves the signs, wonders, and authority of the Name was never limited to, and never MEANT to be limited to, only “those twelve” who were with him.)
“Against the Grecians,” meaning Paul not only spoke with those in Jerusalem who spoke in Hebrew, but he was just as content boldly proclaiming the truth in the Greek tongue as well. These Greeks often came to Jerusalem to worship and would have been just as much at enmity with the doctrine of Jesus and His resurrection as anyone else in Jerusalem at the time.
Saul, Running for His Life Again
(Vs. 30) Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
Once again having spoken so boldly, they wanted to kill him, Saul had to get out of town again, and the brethren helped him. This time they sent him through Caesarea and on into Tarsus.
(Vs. 31) Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
With Saul, the Christian-hater now turned Christian himself, the persecution of the church as a whole simply stopped. This is another way we know that Saul’s persecution, while it went on, was pointed, vehement, and deadly. Now, the church was free to worship and they walked in the fear of the Lord, and the Holy Ghost comforted them, and so the church was multiplied.
Peter Heals Aeneas
(Vs. 32) And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
(Vs. 33) And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
(Vs. 34) And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
I love to read of how the disciples and apostles healed people. There were no rigorous prayers, no asking questions to see how long the sick people had been waiting, or involved in church, or committed to the way. I wonder sometimes, can it be that simple? Is this simplicity we see in the healing carried out in the Book of Acts the way we should be conducting the business of Jesus? Would he want us to do it this way still, today?
(Vs. 35) And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
One thing is common throughout Scripture: when there is a massive move of God, where signs and wonders are present and common, people turn to Jesus with a quickness!
Peter Called On To Heal Dorcas
(Vs. 36) Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretations is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
(Vs. 37) And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
(Vs. 38) And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
(Vs. 39) Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
(Vs. 40) But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
Sometimes – and I believe this with all my heart – you simply have to separate yourself from the UNBELIEVING MAJORITY in order to see a real move of God. That’s not to say that we can have nothing to do with those of little faith. Quite the opposite… we have to offer our light to ALL who don’t have light of their own!
But in certain situations, such as this woman lying here dead, there has to be a removal of everything that is anti-faith. Is that the case always? I don’t know, but I do believe the Lord will show us at such a time as it is necessary.
It is also my personal belief that when Peter prayed, he wasn’t praying for Dorcas/Tabitha to be brought back to life. When Jesus left, He said, “HEAL the sick” NOT “PRAY that the sick would be healed!” We must remember who we are, the commission that’s been given, and by whose authority we are to speak. These facts CHANGE THINGS!
(Vs. 41) And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
(Vs. 42) And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
(Vs. 43) And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner
Please feel free to share your thoughts below! And thank you for reading!
Ever In His Service,