The Conversion of a Major Player

Today’s DBR (Daily Bible Reading) is Acts 9.  Instead of me being a “talking head”, let’s study the passage together and write today’s devotion.  Read Acts 9:1-31 which describes the dramatic conversion of Saul and his initial spiritual growth.  In a matter of days, Saul goes from killing Christians to preaching the gospel of Jesus in the synagogues.

What are your observations?  (Who, what, why, where, when, how?)

Interpretations?

Applications?

I’m looking for a little dialogue here…

10 replies »

  1. I think his conversion involves seeing God for who He really is and seeing himself for what he was. There is the element of repentance and awe of the power of God that is often lacking in today’s “conversions”.

    • Ann,
      Thank you for sharing. Great observation about Saul “seeing” who God really is while he was physically blinded.

      I guess the readers of my blog have not read the passage for the day or simply have chosen NOT to join the discussion?

  2. Thoughts on Acts 9—

    – I love that Christianity is referred to as “the Way”. (v2) I don’t know why it is called that, and commentators don’t seem to know either… at least they don’t agree. (: But I like it b/c it makes me think of John 14:6 where Jesus called Himself “The way…”

    – I am selfishly glad that God didn’t confront my sin in such dramatic, public way, LOL (v3, 7). But seriously, I think that humiliation can play an important part in repentance. It has in my life, for sure, b/c I like to appear like I have it all together. If my sin is exposed, repentance is around the corner. It wouldn’t seem appropriate for God to confront Saul in secret when Saul made it his life ambition to kill Christians.

    – Paul was not only persecuting Christians… he was persecuting Jesus Himself. (v4). This is comforting to me as a Christian but also convicting. When someone irritates me, I always try to remember to tell myself “this is a person for whom Christ died”, but I have certainly hurt Jesus b/c of my treatment of others at times.

    – Saul asks the most important question we can ask before we are Christians (verse 5), which is “Who are you, Lord?”

    – The NKJV translates the beginning of v 6 as “So he [Saul], trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” I think this is the most important question we can ask as Christians.

    Those two questions remind me of what was asked of all the folks getting baptized.

  3. I love the obedience of Ananias. What if he was disobedient to God’s will? The conversion of Paul stands as clear evidence as to the existence of God, and reality of Christ changing lives. No one who ever encounters Christ will ever be the same, either they will believe in Him, or harden their heart. He always changes you.

    The other observation is the clear call to the Gentiles – we are in the time of the Gentiles according to Romans. We can learn alot about missions from the Apostle Paul. God is so good to provide us such a great example.

  4. I am wondering why “.. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”? (v9)

    Did God ask him not to? Was this such a shocking experience that he couldn’t perform any of his basic human tasks of life? or could it be that, in some way, Saul was mourning his now-evident-sin by the light of God’s holiness, in the typical ‘sackcloth & ashes’ attitude the Jews would often have when showing repentance toward God? .. for three days!

    I’m wondering if this is an allegory to the death-to-sin and death-to-self we are to experience when faced with Jesus, which, after three days, -like The Cross, concluded with what we can call Saul’s new birth in verse 17: “….The Lord Jesus…has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”.

    This tells me that:
    (a) not only conversion is more than a moment of ‘yes I believe’ but a process of true and heartfelt agreement with God about my sin reflected on my dying to my old me, but also (b), As Paul himself says, I, as already Christians, am to live in a constant reminder that I am dead to sin (…In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. -Rom 6:11)

  5. Great dialogue everyone. I have a few more thoughts. God obviously pursued a relationship with Saul. He called him to Himself and he called him to take the gospel to the Gentiles. So, God obviously had a very special plan for Saul’s life. But one of the things that blows me away is that Saul begins preaching in the Synagogue a few days later. He immediately began serving God and proclaiming boldly the gospel of Jesus.
    In our churches today, we would never let a recent convert preach on a Sunday morning. We could discuss this more, but what I’m really thinking about is the importance of following up a new convert and getting them growing spiritually. We discussed in my men’s discipleship group tonigh that the key is a one on one relationship with an older, mature Christian.
    In verse 19, it does say that Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus a few days. Was this a crash course in discipleship?
    Then, we read later in the passage when Saul went back to Jerusalem that Barnabas took Saul under his wing. So, it appears that even the Apostle Paul was followed up one on one. I’m just wondering how we can effectively follow up one on one new converts at Graystone?

    It is interesting the major impact Ananias had in being obedient to God. And no one really remembers his name.

    On a side note, do you find it interesting that the Lord told Ananias to go the Straight Street? It’s just interesting that Luke goes into so much detail to include God’s mapquest directions and it is “Straight Street”. Probably no significance but I just find it interesting. Just making observations.

  6. Jonathan,
    I agree that new believers (and of course mature ones as well) can and should be able to ‘witness’ (sharing their experience of repentance, conversion and new birth) and thus fulfilling the Great Commission from the very first day (assuming true conversion and change of heart) as exemplified in the story of the woman at the well in John 4.

    However, I wonder if the background reason for Saul’s still ‘blowing-away’ attitude of ‘immediately’ preaching right after his conversion was the fact that he was already well learned on the Old Testament -he was as knowledgeable in the matters of the law, as he states, as it can be. He knew the story that the Old Testament tells and all he needed was to place a name and a face into he “Messiah’ person (http://thoughtswithaccent.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/was-jesus-just-another-good-person/) and voila!, he was then a well trained evangelist.

    Now, even if this analysis is correct, it does no take away from your idea of ‘discipleship’ which is well presented in the events reported in the following verses (Barnabas > Paul >Timothy etc).

    In fact, I would dare comparing Sauls’ previous knowledge of the Judaic law and the Messiah with the vast riches of information that so many Americans have after being raised in Christian families surrounded by the Bible and religious terms whom, may not come to actually be born again until later in life, but when they do, they may have a whole load of information in their heads that NOW makes sense and are therefore ready to do the very thing we are discussing: one on one discipleship and multiplication. (Bible study in small groups)

    • Well said Luis. I really like your analogy of Saul/Paul having the strong Jewish/OT background with the person who grows up with a strong Christian/church background but has never truly committed his/her life to Christ. And I have seen some examples of those people quickly becoming strong Christian leaders and having an impact for Christ.

  7. Luis – you are one smart dude – thanks for sharing. I love Paul’s zeal. You know its good to see people passionate for what God puts on their heart. “Its good to be zealously affected always in a good thing.”

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