(Jesus Calls Saul/Shaul/Paul on Damascus Road - Saturday - 8/19/17)
Paul was an outstanding missionary, theologian, and writer of the early church.
Paul was born in a Jewish family in Tarsus. Paul's family was of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul probably came from a family of tentmakers or leatherworkers and, according to Jewish custom, was taught this trade by his father. Apparently the business thrived and Paul's family became moderately wealthy.
The true way of the Lord was one of the earliest names for Christianity. The glory of God (or Christ) is often described as the light. The street called Straight, which runs through Damascus from east to west. Saul, like the prophets, was chosen for a special purpose.
Saul's conversion marks a turning-point in the history of the early church. The encounter with Christ was followed by three sightless days: Saul was identified with Jesus in his death and three days in the grave, and identified with him too in baptism and newness of life.
The Way was the name given to the church before the people of Antioch invented the new name 'Christian.'
Damascus, a key commercial city, was located about 175 miles northeast of Jerusalem in the Roman province of Syria.
As Paul traveled to Damascus, pursuing Christians, he was confronted by the risen Christ and brought face to face with the truth of the Gospel.
Paul refers to this experience as the start of his new life of in Christ. At the center of this wonderful life was Jesus Christ - Paul did not see a vision, he saw the risen Christ himself (Acts 9:17).
Anyone who persecutes believers today is also guilty of persecuting Jesus because believers are the body of Christ on earth.
Paul opened his eyes - but could not see - he was temporarily blinded.
Ananias was sent by God to Paul. He greeted Paul as "Brother Saul." Ananias feared this meeting because Paul had come to Damascus to persecute believers and take them in chains to Jerusalem. But in obedience to the Holy Spirit, he greeted Paul lovingly.
Immediately after receiving his sight and being with the believers in Damascus, Paul went to the synagogue to tell the Jews about Jesus Christ. Paul took time alone to learn about Jesus before beginning his worldwide ministry, but he did not wait to witness. Although we should not rush into a ministry unprepared, we do need to wait before telling others what has happened to us.
Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha RSV; The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL; and The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary