And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,…
The state of the Church and the world calling for such a sign. The want of a greater spirit among the apostles, to undertake the new leadership as the gospel went forth to challenge the whole world. The awakening mind of the disciples - Samaria, Philip and the eunuch, Caesarea (Acts 8:40), all pointed to a new epoch. The hour was there; but where was the man? Peculiar qualifications necessary - intellect; culture; burning zeal; personal experience of the power of Christ. Notice -
I. THE CHALLENGE MET.
1. Saul represented persecution. A successful raid at Damascus would be a decisive blow at the new sect. Preparation made. If prisoners could be brought bound to Jerusalem, an appeal could be made to crush the heresy.
2. The challenge was made to the utmost. He was suffered to draw nigh to Damascus, and was surrounded by his fellow-persecutors.
3. The blow which struck him down was distinctly supernatural, a sign from heaven. Jesus did not fight with carnal weapons. He smote with "light out of heaven," and a voice addressing the heart and conscience.
II. THE MAN CHOSEN AND CALLED.
1. His previous history showed the work of God's Spirit. His question, "Who art thou, Lord?" His remembrance of Stephen and his words. His immediate submission.
2. The manner of Saul's conversion a preparation of his soul for the part he was to take in the Church's work. It was greatly independent of human agency (cf. Augustine; Luther). It was a miracle which to him became the moral basis of all other miracles. It enabled him to say, I have seen the Lord Christ;" and gave him at once an apostolic position.
3. The overwhelming nature of the evidence and the deep spiritual work of those few days prepared such a mind as Paul's for grappling with the mysteries of faith. The eyes were shut that they might be opened the more clearly to spiritual realities. It was especially necessary that Saul should beau his new life feeling that Jesus was able to do all things, that he was revealing his Divine kingdom in the earth.
III. THE GRACE MANIFESTED.
1. The gentleness and compassion. The same stroke might have slain. The enemy was loved, not hated; the shame of his defeat partly hidden from onlookers.
2. The wonderful change wrought by the Spirit: the persecutor turned into the foremost apostle.
3. The gift of such a man to the Church and to the world. Think of what Paul has been to those who came after him. The treasures of knowledge, the marvels of personal history. Especially the fact of his conversion itself as an evidence of the truth of Christianity. Lord Lyttelton and many others convinced by it. Standing miracle which no one can resist except by subterfuge. The effect on the Church at the time and on the Jewish world. A great conversion is always a great converting power.
1. There is a gate of grace close by the gate of sin. Paul was going to Damascus to do evil. Jesus met him to turn him on the path of life.
2. The new world may be entered blindfold, yet if we do what the Lord tells us to do our eyes will be opened at last. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,