Acts 9:1-30 is a crucial event in the history of the church’s witness for Christ, as it relays the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who would become known as Paul the apostle (“Saul” was his Hebrew name, “Paul” his Roman name). Saul as a zealous Pharisee was concerned about the perceived threat to Judaism, and thus sought to eradicate Christianity.
Saul’s conversion occurred through Jesus’ personal appearance to him. God had chosen Saul to be Jesus’ witness to Gentiles, kings, and Jews (v. 15). Thus God opened Saul’s eyes—spiritually as well as physically!—to believe the truths about Jesus. Saul’s immediately witnesses to Jesus’ deity (“he is the Son of God,” v. 20) and being Israel’s Christ and King (“proving that this Jesus is the Christ,” v. 22).
The last two events—the healing of Aeneas and raising Dorcas from the dead—were miracles authenticating that Jesus is the Christ (v. 34). As a result many repented of their sins, believing that Jesus is the Christ (vv. 35, 42). These events—occurring in Lydda and Joppa—also set the stage for the next two chapters.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- The church is Jesus’ body (Col 1:24) and he is jealous for her. Jesus will judge those who seek to destroy the church (cf. 1 Cor 3:17). Christian, do not fret when persecuted; your Lord and Savior will deal with those who are enemies of Christ (Phil 3:18-19; 2 Thess 1:6-10). Focus on serving Christ more than saving your life!
- One can be very devoted to religion that’s based on the Bible and be very wrong. Years later Paul would testify that his religion before Christ was worthless compared with Christ (Phil 3:2-11). What are you depending on for forgiveness of sins? To be accepted by a holy and righteous God? Good works and good religion can’t do it! (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:3-7)
- The circumstances surrounding one’s conversion may differ, but salvation always involves gospel truth and the right response of repentance and faith. Paul’s conversion experience was both one-of-a-kind (Jesus appearing to him) yet like every other sinner’s salvation (repentance and faith).