But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now 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.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (ESV)
Paul was called by the Lord Jesus, in Him and for Him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, plant churches, write the Epistles, suffer for the Gospel, and to train and mentor other Christian leaders (e.g. Timothy and Titus).
But how did it all begin? We see Paul’s:
- Deadly devotion (v 1):
Paul was committed to persecuting Christians and upholding Jewish Law. Paul believed he needed do defend the “truth” as he saw it (Acts 22; Galatians 1).
- Divine deliverance (v 3):
a. The Path of the Law
Paul’s way was the way of the Law, not the way of Life.
b. The Penetrating Light
Then came his divine deliverance – a light from heaven! This was a miraculous sign of God’s power and grace. It was the direct intervention of Christ Himself that saved Paul. It’s a powerful example of the transformative power of our Lord’s grace. The Lord’s divine intervention shows that no one is beyond grace.
c. The Persecuted Lord (verse 4)
(i) The Lord’s presence
Paul’s falling to the ground symbolized his recognition of the majesty and power of the risen Christ, underscoring God’s sovereignty in salvation.
(ii) The Lord’s probing
He challenged Paul’s thinking (see 1 Cor. 9:1, Gal. 1, Acts 9:27). Persecuting the saints is persecuting the Saviour!
(iii) The Lord’s person
He told Paul whom he was persecuting – the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Israel – the Prophet like Moses, the Priest after the order of Melchizedek and great King on David’s throne!
- Divine directive:
a. Paul’s God-directed future
The Lord said he must rise and go to Damascus. The Lord appointed Paul to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, plant churches and suffer for the Gospel (see Acts 22). Paul needed to see the righteous One, know His will and hear Him speak!
b. Paul’s God-given fellowship (v 7)
His whole theology is set right, his life is changed and he has a long way to go to Damascus. Paul was blind and desperately needed help! Paul was helped by the body of Christ (those he was traveling with) as he made his way to Damascus.
c. Paul’s Godly fasting (v 9)
For three days he was without sight and he fasted for 3 days. “It wasn’t punishment but as a result of the intensity of his encounter with Christ, designed to produce a time of reflection.” (ESV Study Bible).
God miraculously changed Paul and made him an Apostle, enabling him to finish the race, keep the faith, fight the good fight and receive the crown of righteousness together with all who loved the Lord’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:6-8).