For an introduction to this series, click here.
June 4, 2007
This chapter tells the story of the conversion of Saul. Saul was the leading enemy of the church after the death of Stephen. I didn't mention him specifically in the previous chapter, but Luke does, saying that he was ravaging the church.
As a result of the persecution, the church began to scatter and grow. And so now there were believers all over, not just concentrated in Jerusalem. Saul decided his next target would be the believers at Damascus. And then the unthinkable happened: "As he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' And he said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And he said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.'" (9:3-6) It was certainly unthinkable for Saul. He thought he was doing the work of God by throwing the believers in jail, trying to root out this false doctrine. Now here comes Jehovah God to him and tells him that He is the one Saul is persecuting.
Now Saul's conversion is unlike any in history. If one didn't know any better, they might think that God was doing Saul a favor by appearing to him in this way. Somebody might say that if God would appear to them like that, they would be saved too. The foolishness of such a statement is apparent if we think about it. No one who would make such a statement can deny that they are unaware of the Gospel. If people who have heard the Gospel reject it, that is not God's fault. On the other hand (to answer a question I just dismissed) I believe God is the one who ultimately brings all of us to salvation - even the faith to believe is a gift from God. So at some level God does a special work in every believer's life, so to claim that Paul was privileged is nonsense. God's call in Paul's life was just more dramatic than just about everyone else.
Saul's conversion bore immediate fruit, as he began to preach Jesus in Damascus. So much so that the Jewish leaders were planning to kill their former enforcer, and Saul had to be let out of the city in a basket. He came to Jerusalem, and the believers were afraid of him. It took Barnabas to come and introduce him to the church.
The last section of this chapter tells the story of two miracles by Peter. The first is the healing of a crippled man, Aeneas. The second is the resurrection of Tabitha. It is always touching to read about how the people came to Peter and showed him the things Tabitha had made for them. This lady was certainly someone who made a difference in her community.