The Scripture now turns back to Saul, and states that he is “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” Then we are told of him going to the high priest for letters to give to the synagogues in Damascus to aid him in arresting men and women there. It is in verse 2 that we get our first mention of Christianity having been referred to as “the Way.” The reference also occurs in Acts 19:9,23, 22:4, and 24:14,22.
the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus as painted by Michelangelo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the way to Damascus, Jesus appeared with a light from heaven that shone all around Saul, asking why he was persecuting him and told him to go into the city and wait to be told what to do. The Ananias that was sent to Saul is obviously not the same one in chapter 5. The Lord had come to him in a vision and told him what to do about Saul. Ananias at first argued with the Lord because of Saul’s well-known reputation, but He told him that “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” Saul had been left blinded and had to be led into Damascus, where he remained for three days before Ananias laid his hands on him and restored his sight. And with that done, the worst persecutor of the church was then baptized!
His conversion complete, the man who just recently had been having Christians arrested and even murdered was now proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God. Naturally, this created quite a stir among both believers and the Jewish religious leaders, the latter of whom were now plotting to kill Saul. But word of this plot came to Saul, and his disciples helped him escape “through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.” This was in verse 25. In verse 26, he enters Jerusalem, but we learn in Galatians 1:15-24 that 3 years had passed before that happened. A good deal of that time he spent proclaiming the gospel back in Damascus a second time.
Joppa, or Jaffa. Location of Simon the tanner’s home.
When he did arrive in Jerusalem, they were at first afraid of him. But Barnabas (who we met at the end of chapter 4) brought him to the apostles and told them his story. After that he came and went among them as he preached. But again his life was threatened. So the brothers “brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.”
In verses 32-42, we read of Peter’s miraculous healing of Aeneas, who was paralyzed, and raising Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead – and “it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” Verse 43 tells us that Peter stayed in Joppa for many days with a tanner named Simon.
Side note: The street named Straight mentioned in verse 11 is the subject of an article with photos at this link to Ferrell’s Travel Blog. And this other article there has a picture of the traditional house of Simon the tanner.
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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