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Paul's Change

TEXT: Acts 9:1-25

The Exposition of the Text: Saul's

1. Saul, the Religious Zealot

Acts 9:1 ¶ And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 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.

A. Saul was a religous man, trained and taught in the Jewish religion.

Ac 22:3 — I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

Acts 23:6 — But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

B. Saul followed his religious convictions.

  • He was TRUE believer.
  • CONTRAST HERODunlike, Herod, the Saducee
    • He was an Edomite, who were forced to merge with Judea and adopt Judaism under a Maccabaen leader. Herod's Grandfather would experience the first to convert to Judaism. (It was in the family.) John Hyrcanus had instituted forced conversions on the Edomites to Judaism. This was an unprecedented move for a Judean ruler; it was the first instance of forced conversion perpetrated by Jews in recorded history.
    • Most Jewish writers, doubt Herod's 'Jewishness'
    • Yet, The Second Temple period is well known for its severe and somewhat obsessive, purity laws. The need to be cleansed and pure enough to worship at the Temple dominated the lives of Jews in Judea. The abundant amount of mikvaot (ritual baths) spread throughout the country, most of which were found in Jerusalem. All of Herod's palaces contained these ritual baths. (compare: Matthew 23:25 ) Hasmoneans in Herods day understood Exodus 10:4 as a prohibition to include any form of artwork depicting real objects in the world. All of Herods palaces (with 1 exception 10+) were ornately decorated with geometric shapes. Herod directed a 50 year building projectect of the temple at Jerusalem which never really was completed. Out of respect, Herod never entered the temple, but remained on the porch. Herod seems to have kept Kosher. After in paranoia murdering his two sons, August Caesar is quoted as remarking with a pun, 'It is better to be Herod’s pig (Greek: hua) than son (Greek: huia).' Herod had special (expensive) vessels for garum (fermented fish sauce), but Herod drank Gentile wine. Herod's greatest deviation from Judaism was his loyalty to Rome. Including placing a large Golde eagle on a gate leading to the temple.
    • — compare Matthew 18:6 & Mark 8:15 — Jesus infers the Saducee relationship
    • who said John the Baptist was resurrected.)

Philippians 3:5 — Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Philippians 3:6 — Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

- He believed in paying tithe (Mt 23:23)
- He believed in attending synagogue (not a temple, but a smaller building with benches around, scripture was read and then discussed)
- He believed in resurrection (not a Saducee)
- He believed in the miracle working power of God
- He believed in the commandments
- He believed in fasting 2 times a week
- Had a CONSCIENCE toward God (Deceived, but honest, sincere), but did not have proper DIRECTION: **HE WAS FAR FROM GOD** 1Ti 1:13

C. Saul attempted to eliminate the enemies of God — they were law breakers.

  • Saul was determined to be God's watch dog. He was zealous for his religion.
  • Jesus warned his disciples of men like Saul of Tarsus.

John 16:2 — They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

  • "Breathing Out (animated, bent on, panting, hostile, ENRAGED) Threatenings (a menace) and Slaughter (murder)" To Saul, These Christians were guilty of blasphemy. (read Leviticus 24:10-16)

  • "desired letters" , "sought accreditation form the high priest" implying a commission to bring them to Jerusalem for trial and punishment.

  • Any of this way, "of this way or mode of life, doctrine, sect, kind of opions and conduct" These had a religous "bounty" on their heads. (Paul is breathing murderous intent, though it is clear he does not directly kill any one.)

2. Saul, the Humbled Sinner

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 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. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 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. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Light from Heaven Acts 9:1-9

Acts 9:3 — And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

1. The Purpose of the Light
  • Why did God ordain just a dramatic event?
  • a. This revealed God's nature. (1 John 1:5; Acts 9:5; Revelation 1:12-17)

1 John 1:5 — This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Isaiah 6:3 — And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

  • b. This revealed the condition of Saul's Spiritual eyes. Paul was an expert in the Jewish religion, but did not really know God.

  • c. Revealed Truth (notice the turn around in Saul's/Paul's doctrine)

Titus 3:5 — Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

2. The Properties of the Light (Characteristics)

shined round about him a light from heaven: [phos: revealing, exposing, uncovering]

  • ILLUMINATING: Paul is steeped totally in religion. (Tribe of Benjamin, Son of a Pharisee, a Pharisee, Zealot, Fanatic) His religion was the only one that was right. THE LIGHT EXPOSED HIS SIN. (God grants repentance. You cannot repent without this GRACE. Heb. 12:16,17)

  • MYSTERIOUS: 'out of heaven'; BRIGHT; a half hour

  • DIVINE: James 1:17

3. The Power of the Light
  • Light is strengthening.

  • Light is healing. This light from heaven is powerful enough to knock a man down, blind him and to heal him!

  • Light is Life ()

Ps 27:1 ¶ <> The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Ps 36:9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

Joh 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

2 Ti 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

3. Saul, the Chosen Vessel

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. 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, 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. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 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: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

4. Saul, the Weakling Made Strong

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. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 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 bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23 ¶ And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

5. Saul, the Disciple

Ac 9:26 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. 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. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 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.