Sermons

Summary: THE CONVERSION OF PAUL IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE ACCOUNTS RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE. NO TWO CONVERSIONS ARE EVER THE SAME, AND I BELIEVE IT COULD BE ARGUED THAT THE ACCOUNT OF PAUL’S CONVERSION IS THE MOST DRAMATIC, AND THE LONGEST RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE

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THE CONVERSION OF PAUL

ACTS 9:1-18

THE CONVERSION OF PAUL IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE ACCOUNTS RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE. NO TWO CONVERSIONS ARE EVER THE SAME, AND I BELIEVE IT COULD BE ARGUED THAT THE ACCOUNT OF PAUL’S CONVERSION IS THE MOST DRAMATIC, AND THE LONGEST RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE.

I WANT TO SUGGEST TO YOU THAT THE CONVERSION OF PAUL BEGAN WITH THE ARREST OF STEPHEN IN CHAPTER SIX. I BELIEVE THAT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ACCOUNT OF STEPHEN’S MARTYRDOM WAS NOT THE FACT THAT HE WAS THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYR, FOR THIS FACT IS NOT SUPPORTED BY SCRIPTURE.

I BELIEVE THAT LUKE RECORDED THE MARTYRDOM OF STEPHEN TO INTRODUCE US TO A MAN NAMED SAUL. THIS DOES NOT TAKE AWAY ANY SIGNIFICANCE FROM THE LESSONS THAT CAN BE LEARNED FROM STEPHEN’S DEATH, BUT IT IS SIGNIFICANT TO NOTE THAT IN THE ENTIRETY OF THE ACCOUNT OF STEPHEN’S MARTYRDOM, THE ONLY OTHER NAME EVER MENTIONED IS THAT OF SAUL. IT IS MENTIONED TWICE IN ACTS 7:58 AND 7:60.

SAUL WOULD HAVE HEARD WHAT STEPHEN SAID IN DESCRIBING HIS VISION. HE WOULD HAVE HEARD HOW HE PRAYED FOR FORGIVENESS FOR THE MEN ABOUT TO KILL HIM. HE WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZED AT THE CALMNESS AND PEACE THAT WAS AROUND STEPHEN AS HE WAS BEING STONED. THESE WOULD ALL LEAVE AN INDULLABLE IMAGE IN HIS MIND.

POINT ONE: ACTS 9:1-3

WE ARE THEN INTRODUCED TO THE PERSECUTION THAT TOOK PLACE IMMEDIATELY AFTER STEPHEN’S DEATH. WE ARE TOLD THAT MANY OF THE HELLENISTIC CHRISTIAN JEWS LEFT JERUSALEM AND WENT INTO HIDING SPREADING THE GOSPEL AS THEY DID. SOME WENT TO DAMASCUS WHERE A GREAT CHRISTIAN PRESENCE ALREADY EXISTED.

DAMASCUS WAS AN IMPORTANT COMMERCIAL CENTER AND A KEY STOP ALONG THE TRADE ROUTE BETWEEN EGYPT AND MESOPOTAMIA. MANY JEWS LIVED IN THE AREA BEFORE THE PERSECUTION AND THERE WERE AN ESTIMATED 30-40 SYNAGOGUES IN THE CITY. THE JEWS FROM JERUSALEM MAY HAVE FELT THAT THEY WOULD GET SOME SANCTUARY FROM THE PERSECUTION THEY WERE RUNNING FROM.

THIS SENT SAUL ON WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS A HOLY PILGRIMAGE TO DESTROY THE CHRISTIANS AND THE BLASPHEMY THEY WERE TEACHING. HE OBTAINED FROM THE SANHEDRIN OPEN LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION THAT HE COULD SHARE WITH THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THE PLACES HE WOULD VISIT. SEETHING WITH RAGE HE AND HIS COMPANIONS BEGAN THE SIX DAY 175 MILE JOURNEY FROM JERUSALEM TO DAMASCUS.

POINT TWO: ACTS 9:3-10:

THERE ARE THREE ACCOUNTS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS THAT DEAL WITH THE CONVERSION OF PAUL. THEY ARE FOUND HERE, AND IN CHAPTER 22 AND 26, WHERE PAUL IS SPEAKING WHILE UNDER ARREST. EACH ACCOUNT SHEDS MORE LIGHT ON THE INCIDENT.

SAUL’S ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS HAPPENS NEAR DAMASCUS, MOST LIKELY PART OF GOD’S PLAN TO KEEP SAUL FROM HAVING TO TRAVEL A GREAT DISTANCE IN A BLIND STATE.

WE ARE TOLD THAT AT MIDDAY AN INTENSE LIGHT, FROM HEAVEN, FLASHED AROUND THEM. WHAT THIS LIGHT WAS WE DO NOT KNOW, BUT PAUL WOULD LATER SAY IT WAS BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN.

ACTS 26:13: ON THE WAY THERE, AT NOON, I SAW A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN. IT WAS BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN AND FLASHED ALL AROUND ME AND THOSE WHO WERE TRAVELING WITH ME.


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