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I was in Antioch on business recently and on the Sabbath I went to the meeting place of the new group who called themselves Christians.  After the reading of the Scriptures, God’s Law and the Prophets, the leader asked the group, “Brethren, do you have anything to say?  A word of encouragement?”

Well, guess who stood up to address the crowd --- none other than Saul of Tarsus. You remember him….he was the major persecutor of followers of Jesus, the Jew who was crucified for claiming to be the Son of God.  If you remember, three days later followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead and no one has found even a trace of His body.  Over five hundred of His followers said Jesus appeared to them, and they claim He ascended into Heaven to sit on the right hand side of God and one day He is coming back to judge the people who reject Him.

Further, if you will recall, “as he (Saul) journeyed through the area, he came near Damascus and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’  And he (Saul) said, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’  And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom thou persecutes.’” Acts 9:3-5 (KJV)   

“And he (Saul) trembling and astonished said, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’  And the Lord said unto him, ‘Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.’” Acts 9:6   (KJV)  

“And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man.”  Acts 9:7 (KJV)  

“And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  And he was there three days without sight, and neither did he eat nor drink.” Acts 9:8 -9 (KJV)  

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision….’arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision, a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him (Saul), that he might receive his sight.’”  “…he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:10a-12, 15a (KJV)

I don’t have to tell you Ananias was not happy with this assignment.  Everyone knew how vicious Saul was to followers of Jesus.  Ananias was shaking in his sandals.  But, he went and did as the Master requested.

Ananias “putting his hands on him (Saul) said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.’ And immediately there fell from his (Saul’s) eyes as it had been scales: and he received his sight forthwith, and arose and was baptized.  And when he had received meat he was strengthened.  Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.” Acts 9:17b-19 (KJV)  

A follower of Jesus, Barnabas, introduced Saul to the other followers and he was accepted. “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” Acts 9:31 (KJV)

Saul’s Hebrew name has been changed to Paul, his Greek name, and he is such a fervent minister of Jesus, it wouldn’t be a surprise if in time to come he is called Saint Paul.

Paul is very personable, and will walk up to someone on a road, or ship, or meeting place and began talking to the person.

The words Paul says to the crowds he just as likely might whispered into your ear, such as,”…the Lord commanded us saying, ‘I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.’” Acts13:47 (KJV)

Perhaps you are concerned about an act you have committed which is displeasing to God and you have just heard Paul speak to a group on the subject of grace.  Wouldn’t you like to have him pull you aside and say, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he (God) removed our transgressions (sins) from us.” Psalm 103:12 (KJV)

Traveling on the Great Mediterranean Sea from Antioch to Ephesus, I was confined to my cabin during a prolonged period of bad weather. During my confinement I had time to ponder Paul’s explanation of Christianity.  The steady thumping of the drum as the oarsmen answer the beat with the clacking of the oars while the ship was being pulled through the deep, turbulent water lulled me into a pensive mood.  I puzzle what it all means; where do I fit into the scheme of things?  Some of Paul’s statements ring in my ears and disturb my sleep.

I am intrigued with this man, Paul.  He is more passionate in spreading the news about Jesus than he had been in persecuting the followers of Jesus; he was a fearsome and feared enemy of the brethren.  I try to coincide my business travels with Paul’s schedule to the various cities in which he plans to speak.  However while in Ephesus I content myself with hearing the Ephesus church read Paul’s letters written from Rome where he is being held in prison awaiting trial.  

I will write more later.

Meet St. Paul

This series of articles in "Meet Saint Paul" is written from the perspective of an individual who was or might have been a witness to the activities of Saul/Paul.