Acts 9:10-22 The Radical Transformation of Saul
In our last study we left Saul sitting in darkness. The man who struck fear in the hearts of believers is blind. Saul has entered the 'dark night of the soul.' But we will soon see that God has great plans for this man. And so even in his darkness, Saul is given a vision of a man named Ananias coming to him. Let's pick up our study ...
This is Acts 021 - Acts 9:10-22 The Radical Transformation of Saul.
Vs10-12: "Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, 'Ananias.' And he said, 'Here I am, Lord.' And the Lord said to him, 'Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.'
.... So far our studies have kept us in the Jewish world. The door for the Gentiles has yet to be opened. Everything that has happened so far can be called 'in house.' Everyone is a Jew. The believers are Jews. Those against Jesus are Jews. It is a Jewish battle.
Perhaps we need to reflect on a prophecy given to Mary. When the baby Jesus was brought to the temple, according to the custom of the time, the prophet Simeon said, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed--?" (Luke 2:35)
Many in Israel failed to turn the corner with the new covenant. This became their 'falling.' Will they rise again? Most certainly. This is why we cannot separate the history of the Church from the people of Israel. Our future is intertwined. The new covenant is a Jewish covenant. It has never stopped being that. And it can only complete its work when Israel through her leadership, calls upon Jesus as Messiah.
Jesus said, "From now on you will not see Me until you say, 'Blessed is He [Jesus] who comes in the name of the LORD!'" (Matt23:39)
Back to Ananias....
.... The name Ananias is the same as Hananiah. And as we read what happens to Ananias, it is much like reading the story of the Lord speaking to the child Samuel. After calling his name the third time, Samuel says, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."
.... But the distinction is much different. Samuel wasn't sure who was speaking to him. Saul is perplexed, and asks, "Who are you Lord?" But with Ananias, he knows exactly who is speaking to him. When he says, "Here I am, Lord," he is responding to Jesus.
.... This brings us back to what Jesus said about His sheep; "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me." And, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:14,27) This is the strength of true Biblical Christianity. Every person born again knows Jesus in a very personal way, and certainly knows His voice.
.... But the message Ananias hears is astonishing. He feels compelled to question the Lord. Saul of Tarsus? The Lord's response is very telling. Saul is praying. Saul has had a vision of Ananias coming. Saul sees Ananias in a vision laying hands on him for his healing. The Lord always works on both ends.
.... Everything Jesus says to Ananias, is to build this disciple up for the task set before him. It is important to understand that a true walk of faith is never a step into darkness. It is always a step into light. Not that we will know all the facts of the future, but we will know that our forward movement is ordained by the Lord. This is why it is always best to wait, if you are not sure.
Vss13,14: "But Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.'"
.... The news of Saul's playing havoc on the Church had spread when the Jewish believers scattered out of Jerusalem. The reports had reached Damascus.
Vss15,16: "But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake.'"
.... Here we see one of the great mysteries of our faith. Everything that happens in bringing Saul to the Lord, has been the Lord's doing. At no point could it is be said that Saul was a seeker. Later we hear Paul say that God had set him apart from his mother's womb. (Cf. Gal1:15)
.... This is what Ananias hears about Saul. The Lord says:
(1) He is a chosen instrument.
All believers are said to be chosen in Christ, but not all believers are chosen instruments in the same sense as was Paul. What is said about Saul, the Lord had earlier said to the original apostles; "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit..." (Cf. John 15:16)
The apostle Paul later writes the believers, and says, "He chose us [all believers] in Him before the foundation of the world." (Cf. Eph1:4)
Such a wondrous mystery this....
(2) He will bear the name of Jesus before Gentiles, and kings, and the sons of Israel.
As we move forward in Acts, we will see this to be the case. But this statement goes far beyond Acts. The apostle Paul has done more to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ than any other person in the history of the Church. It is not uncommon to find certain Jewish writers today of accusing Paul of being the originator of Christianity.
(3) He will suffer much for his faith in Jesus Christ.
And he did. Listen to Paul's later description of his service to the Lord:
"...in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches." (2Co11:23-28)
.... For those who love being called apostles today, makes you wonder how they would measure up to the man called Paul.
Vss17-19: "So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus."
.... Saul's last instructions were, "Enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do." (Acts 9:6) It is at the moment of the laying on of hands that Saul receives his healing, and is given the Spirit of the covenant. (Birth from above. Paul later gives more fill in on this experience.)
.... He is now in fellowship with the disciples in Damascus. Here again we see the kind of love that is poured out in the hearts of believers. Saul is a brother in the Lord. His past is forgiven. He is one with Jesus Christ. And he is loved as a true brother of the faith.
Vss20-22: "...and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.' All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, 'Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?'"
.... What greater miracle is there than a radically transformed life? There is the no greater miracle. What makes this even more awesome, is that Saul the tormentor brings that same zeal he had as a persecutor of the Church, over into his life as a witness to Jesus. This is some of what Jesus meant, when He said, "You shall be my witnesses." (The transformed life is a sure testimony to the truth of the gospel.)
.... Guess who is confounded now? The Sanhedrin has just lost their greatest warrior. He is now a warrior for Jesus. And this new warrior turns his full attention to preaching Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus. (So much for 4 years of seminary training.)
Vs22: "But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ."
.... Even the Jewish leadership in the synagogues were no match for Saul. This man not only had the knowledge that came from his years of training under Gamaliel, combined with the fact that he was from a family of Pharisees, that is, the most devoted sect in Israel to the Scriptures, he now has the anointing and wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give. Saul now has what he saw in Stephen.
Let's complete this part of our study at this point.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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