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Acts, chapter nine is the account of Saul of Tarsus.  Let’s read Acts 9:1-9, “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.  And as he journeyed, 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 said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he 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. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 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 three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”

Saul was a great persecutor of the church.  Being empowered by the high priest, he set out towards Damascus to capture and imprison any disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ that he found.  On this journey, the Lord came to Saul.  In Acts, chapter 9, we have the conversion story of this man, Saul of Tarsus.  We learn in Acts, chapter 13, that after Saul’s conversion, his name is changed to Paul.  Acts 13:9-10 says, “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”  This shows how that the man Saul had his name changed to Paul.

Twice in the scriptures, the Apostle Paul shares the account of his salvation.  In Acts, chapter 22, Paul is speaking in Jerusalem and in Acts, chapter 26; he is speaking to King Agrippa.  In giving his testimony on these two occasions, we see there may be slight differences.  It’s not that Paul’s story changes, but even as we sometimes do, when Paul was re-counting the story of his salvation, he might emphasize different points at different occasions.  When we look at all three accounts of Paul’s salvation, we get a complete picture of what happened.

We learn of the viciousness of Saul’s work when we read Acts 22:4 where Paul says, “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.”  So, going after both men and women, Saul persecuted some to the point of death.  The stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:54-60 is an example of this.

In Acts 9:3 we read, “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.”  We read in Acts 22:6, “And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.”  Then we read in Acts 26:13, “At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.”  So, comparing these three accounts, we see that while Saul was drawing near to Damascus, it was about noon, that a light brighter than the noon day sun shone around Saul and all those with him.

We learn in Acts 9:5-7 that the Lord spoke directly to Saul within the earshot of the others.  That says, “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he 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. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”  Acts 22:9 says of the incident, “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.”  Here is where the confusion can come in:  did the others hear the voice of the Lord Jesus as it says in Acts 9, or did they not hear His voice as is says in Acts 22?  Notice how that in Acts 9:7, it says that the others heard a voice.  It doesn’t say that they understood what was being said, simply that they heard the voice.  Have you ever been in a situation where you could hear someone speaking but could not understand what was being said?  That is obviously what is meant in Acts 22:9.  All heard the voice, but only Saul understood what was being said, because as it is written in all three accounts, the words were spoken to Saul, not to the others.  I think the confusion is easily dispelled in light of the knowledge of just who was being spoken to.

There is so much for us to learn from this account of Saul’s salvation.  Let me just point out one thing.  Acts 22:7 says, “And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”  The Lord Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting Him.  As believers, we are so connected to the Lord as His body, as His church, and as His bride, that when someone persecutes us, he is also persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.  How wonderful is this close relationship the Lord has brought us into through faith in Him.  Do you know the Lord?  Do you know this intimate closeness?