Two Roadside Conversions

Acts 8:25-9:22

Two Roadside Conversions: Ethiopian and Saul

Who is Saul?

We like Ananias can find out a lot about Saul very quickly. His actions were not disguised. His motivations were ever too clear.

*  Laid aside their robes (Acts 7:58)

This odd detail actually shows us that Saul took charge of this murder. He was ultimately responsible for this killing much like Bin Laden for the 911 incident. As Philippians 3:3-6 clearly shows, he was a zealous Pharisee that was trained under the prestigious Gamaliel.

* Saul’s attitude toward Christians (Acts 8:1)

Saul was not satisfied with one killing. He was going to prove his zealousness by arresting and killing more Christians. His actions no doubt were behind the persecution that is mentioned in 8:2 that scattered many Christians all over.

* Saul’s actions against Christians  (Acts 8:3)

The words ‘ravaging,’ ‘entering house after house,’ and dragging off men and women does not give us the best impressions of this Saul. It is possible that many of his Jewish friends did not like his excessiveness. Later on he would learn all about suffering personally.

How is Saul saved?

Although Saul’s conversions seemed to greatly differ from the Ethiopian eunuch’s, in the end we see that both were specially converted by God’s intervening hand.

* The setting and event (Acts 9:1-9)

Saul was saved at the most unlikely time possible. Ananias and the other Christians did not have time to hear of the change in Saul’s life. Saul the general was on the warpath, and the Christians were bracing themselves for the storm.

Saul was greatly humbled by Jesus’ voice. He fell to the ground blind. He heard that it was Jesus Himself that He was persecuting.

* The call and response (Acts 9:10-17)

Ananias, a Christian leader in Damascus, had a vision from the Lord. He answered in the Samuel mode, “Behold, here am I, Lord.” The Lord gave him very clear and specific directions on where he was to go and what he was suppose to do. Even his address (Straight street and Judas’ house) was provided. He was told the vision that Saul the Christian-hater had about Ananias coming to lay his hands on him that he might have a stronger faith. Ananias did mention a slight problem in God’s plans (Acts 9:13), but God rebuffed his concern and told him to go.

* The change in Saul  (Acts 9:18-22)

Saul had three ‘dark’ days to meditate on his experience, the light, Jesus’ words and the vision of Ananias. There is no doubt that he was carefully reviewing the scriptures that he so well had mastered. From his later sermons, we can see that he had gained a clear understanding of the Messiah from the Old Testament. Even in 9:20 we see him proclaiming ‘Jesus as the Son of God’ in all the synagogues. He went from being the persecutor to being the persecuted.

* Was baptized  (Acts 9:18)

Saul like the Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized. Many people wrongly baptize people before they believe. This includes infant baptism. Instead people are to ‘believe and be baptized.’ Baptism does not bring salvation, but is a symbol of conversion by a public act of obedience.

How do we respond to Sauls?

We will be most fortunate if we never meet up with people like Saul in his pre-conversion days, but since we have a number of terrorists that have publicly stated their desire to kill Christians, we will do well to understand how we should respond to people like Saul.

• Was Saul a terrorist?

Saul clearly was a terrorist. He openly led others to kill people because of their belief or behavior. We might consider terrorism as a private war but in fact because it has to do with religious and political beliefs all rolled up together, it is best to see it as a public issue. Saul personally led others in imprisoning and killing Christians. His murder of Stephen was illegal under Roman Law. Terrorists find that they are impatient with public law and try to caring out ‘justice’ on their own terms.

• What is our attitude toward terrorists?

You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

We are to pray for those who persecute us. We should therefore pray for Usama Bin Laden and the likes. We do not know where he is hiding, but God knows. God has clearly showed us that we should have confidence in God’s ability and desire to save such people. He saved Saul, did He not? Then we need to start approaching God’s throne with a cry for mercy for such people. This brings us to our next discussion. Why is it that God would or could save such a person?


Acts: Other BFF Articles

Acts                Introduction and Outlines
Acts Map:       Paul's 1-2 Journeys

Acts Map:       Paul's 3 & Rome Journeys

Acts_07_        Stephen's Defense

Acts_8.2-25    Persecution & Evangelism
Acts_8.14-24  Simon & Gnosticism

Acts_8.25-40  Ethiopean Eunuch

Acts_9:1-22   Saul the Terrorist

Acts_8-9        Perspectives on Conversion

Acts_10:1-48:       Intersecting in Time: Vision #1
Acts_10:9-16        Vision #2 Peter

Acts_10:17-48      The Meeting that Changed History

Acts_10:34-44      The Christian Historical Message

Acts_13-14           Paul's First Missionary Journey

Acts_13:1-3          Sending Out Missionary Church

Acts_13:4-12        Power Encounter in Cyprus

Acts_13:13-50      Gospel Message in Antioch

Acts_13:51-14:28 Other Missionary Stops

Acts 20:28-30       
Detecting Error in the Church

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell