I love the story of Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul.
Saul was one who had a hate for Christianity. As a young man he witnessed the stoning of Stephen and he grew to be one who would make it his mission to persecute the Christian Church. When I think of Paul, I think of some ISIS leader. One with very evil intentions, who has a motivation to imprison and kill Christians. What would it take for an ISIS leader to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, quit their ways, and begin preaching the good news with the risk of being imprisoned or killed? Do any of us Christians feel like we want to be on the first ride out, in hopes of meeting an ISIS militant leader and preaching the good news? I don’t see anyone taking that trip now, and I doubt anybody felt like taking that risk with Saul in those days. So what would it take for a person of this character to find Jesus. A miracle? The touch of God? This is more in line with what happened with Saul. Saul didn’t learn about and accept Christ over a cup of coffee. Something incredible happened.
Saul was on the road to Damascus, a light from heaven flashed around him and he fell to the ground. He heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul replied, “Who are you, Lord?”. The voice responded, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”. Saul could no longer see. Jesus gave him instructions to go into the city, and more instructions came after. He met with a man by the name of Ananias who also was instructed by the Lord to meet Saul through a vision. Upon their meeting Ananias placed his hands on Saul and let him know Jesus sent him so that Saul can see again and be filled with the holy spirit. Something like scales fell off his eyes, Saul was baptized and then after this he took some food and regained his strength. [Check out the book of Acts Ch 7-9]
As time went on Saul was more and more referred to as Paul and now we know him as the Apostle Paul. He dedicated his life to serving Christ, and wrote much of the New Testament. God had a purpose with Saul.
The following is a breakdown of the letters Paul wrote and the possible time-frames he wrote them:
Galatians (AD 47)
1 and 2 Thessalonians (AD 59—51)
1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans (AD 52—56)
Ephesians, Philemon, Colossians, and Philippians (AD 60—62, during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment)
1 Timothy and Titus (AD 62)
2 Timothy (AD 63—64, during Paul’s second Roman imprisonment)
It is debated whether Paul wrote the book of Hebrews or not, if so that would make 14 books total out of 27 in the New Testament.
Here’s a question you may take your time with and consider. Why do you think Jesus would guide someone like Saul, a persecutor of the Church, to come to believe in Him and write so much of the New Testament?
Here are some thoughts.
For myself, the story of Saul described an amazing transition. Saul wasn’t just somebody – he hated the faith. Have you ever known someone who truly hates something? What would it take for that person to love that same thing with all their heart? Something truly amazing must have happened. I think Paul was the last person any of us, both at that time and now, would expect to end up following Christ. Not only do we receive great instruction from our Father in Heaven through the Apostle Paul. This is a reminder to me that our Lord and Savior wants everyone to come to Christ, and he has no favorites. God has the power to soften the hearts of absolutely anyone. I wonder if any followers of that time every prayed for Saul prior to Saul coming to find Christ? Just a thought. Perhaps something we should continue doing for those living far from Christ, and for those many of us consider to be enemies of the faith.
Once upon a time I heard someone question the validity of the Bible due to it’s number of authors. For me, it helps knowing that more than one person wrote the bible. One thing to remember is that all scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Yes there were multiple writers of the New Testament. But don’t stop there; who were they? The writers of the Gospels were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John who all lived in the time of Jesus, two of which were Jesus chosen disciples. They were eye witnesses. Then you have the Apostle Paul. The one we’ve been talking about. The last person anyone would expect to follow Christ, where his earlier mission was to stamp out the Christian Church, followed by an amazing transition to living for Christ.
If you would like to dig further into the writers, you can start here for a list of Bible Authors.
Have you ever fell into the belief, or should I say the lie, that someone you know of will never find God because of who they are, or who you believe them to be? Guilty. But with Faith, all things are possible, and our God is an all powerful God full of Grace, Forgiveness and Love. Just like with Paul, God can make the impossible possible.
So where do we go from here? I think we need to continue to remind ourselves of our own role in this. In all walks of life our role is to remain faithful and obedient, as we continue our walk with Jesus, following his ways and growing in our relationship with him. Where would we be if the Apostle Paul chose not to be faithful and obedient? I’m very thankful that Paul made that daily decision to follow Christ. Just like with Paul and many others, God had a purpose and a plan for him, just as he does with you and me.
Making that decision to follow Christ daily brings a life full of joy as well as challenges. Life will still have it’s ups and downs. But with living a life for Christ, one thing you cannot call it is boring. It’s the adventure of all adventures.