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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2008

The Conversion of Saul

by  AP Staff

Before Paul became a Christian, his name was Saul. At that time, he was a devout Jew. He followed the commands of the Old Testament Law, not understanding that Moses’ law had been done away with by the death of Christ (Colossians 2:14).

Because Paul was so faithful to Judaism, he wanted to stop people who tried to convert Jews to any other religion—including Christianity. So he persecuted Christians. He imprisoned, and sometimes even killed, any Christians he could find.

In Acts 9, we read that Saul had been given orders from the high priest to go from Jerusalem (where the church of Christ started) to Damascus, to arrest more Christians. Saul, honored to be a brave soldier for the cause of preserving the Old Law, headed for Damascus.

While he was on the way, however, something unusual and amazing happened—something that changed Saul’s life forever. At about noon, a bright light flashed all around Saul. It frightened him so badly that he fell to the ground. Then, he heard a voice speak from the light: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).

Saul, knowing that he was in the presence of great power, answered, “Who are you, Lord?”  The voice replied, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.” Jesus told Saul to go on to Damascus, where he would be told what to do. Saul had been blinded by the light, however, so his group of helpers led him to Damascus.

Saul had no idea of the important work he would do for Jesus in the future, but he did know that he wanted to obey Him. Ananias told Saul to arise and be baptized to have his sins washed away (Acts 22:16). Paul did exactly that, and turned his energies from persecuting Christians to boldly preaching Christianity to Jews in the synagogues. Before he died, Paul went all the way to Rome, defending the faith. 

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