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Bobby Stafford The Conversion of Saul
Acts 9-1-19 Lesson 23

The Book of Acts

The Conversion of Saul


The conversion of Saul might very well be the most famous conversion in all of the New Testament.  The Book of Acts records three accounts of his conversion:  Acts 9 [Luke’s recording of it as it happened], Acts 22 and Acts 26 [Paul’s retelling of it].  Two important questions will be answered in this lesson:  1. When was Saul saved?  2. How was Saul saved?

Text:  Acts 9:1-19


I.  On the Road to Damascus  (Acts 9:1-9)  

Acts 9:1-2 “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”  NKJV  Saul was passionate about destroying this new movement – the Way.  After persecuting Christians in Jerusalem, he then turned to areas outside Jerusalem.  (Acts 26:9-11) “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints  I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.  And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”  NKJV  He got arrest warrants from the high priest so he set out for Damascus, 140 miles N.N.E. of Jerusalem.  Acts 9:3-5 “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.  Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’  Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”NKJV  Nearing Damascus at noon an extremely bright light shone from heaven.  He and his companions fell to the ground.  A voice spoke to him in Hebrew and said, “Saul, Saul.”  He probably knew he was in trouble!  The voice identified himself as Jesus.  So Saul had been wrong.  Jesus was alive.  By persecuting Christians, Saul had been persecuting Jesus.  It was “hard to kick against the goads.”  A goad was a long, pointed stick used to prod stubborn animals.  Saul had resisted the Lord’s “goading” him to become a Christian. 

Acts 9:6 “So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’  Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ ” NKJV  Saul wanted to know what he could do.  Was there any hope for him?  The Lord revealed that he needed to go on to Damascus and it would be told him what he must do.  Acts 9:7-9 “And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.  Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one.  But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”  NKJV  The vision of Jesus was for Saul’s eyes only.  He couldn’t see; so he was led by hand.  He was overcome with remorse, no doubt remembering all the Lord’s disciples that he had put to death.  He could not eat or drink.  Saul now believed in the resurrected Christ, he was penitent, and he had even confessed Jesus.  (Acts 22:10) “So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’  And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ ” NKJV  But the guilt of sin still ate away at his soul.  He was still lost! 

II.  Saul Meets Ananias in Damascus (Acts 9:10-19)  

Acts 9:10-16 “Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, ‘Ananias.’  And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’  So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.  And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.’  Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  And here he has authority from the chief priest to bind all who call on Your name.’  But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’ ” NKJV  Ananias was chosen by God as a messenger.  (Acts 22:12) “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there,” NKJV  Paul was told to go to a street called Straight.  This street, about a mile long, is still in Damascus.  Ananias was told about Saul and that he was praying [probably begging for mercy from the Lord].  Ananias was reluctant to go because Saul was a persecutor of the saints – those who call on the name of Christ.  (Acts 2:21) “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” NKJV  While Ananias called Saul a persecutor, Jesus called him a chosen vessel.  (Acts 26:16-18) “But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.  I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” NKJV  Acts 9:17-19 “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’  Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.  So when he had received food, he was strengthened.  Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.” NKJV  Ananias didn’t argue with the Lord.  He just obeyed His command.  Saul’s sight was restored.  In Acts 22:14-15, “Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth.  For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.’ ” NKJV Ananias alluded to the fact that Saul will be an apostle of Christ.  Then Saul is told to be baptized and wash away his sins. 

III.  When and How Was Saul Saved? 

·  Some say Saul was saved on the road to Damascus when Jesus appeared to him.  This can’t be true because after appearing to Saul, the Lord told him to go to Damascus and it would be revealed to him what he must do.  When he got there, Ananias told him “to wash away his sins.”  (Acts 22:16) “And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” NKJV  So Saul’s sins still had to be forgiven.  He was still lost while on the road to Damascus.

·  This text also reveals how Saul was saved.  The vision of the Lord had not saved him.  His prayers and fasting had not saved him either.  He was saved when his sins were “washed away” in the waters of baptism.  This agrees with what Peter proclaimed in  Acts 2:38. “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” NKJV

·  We also see from the conversion of Saul what it means to “call on the name of the Lord.”  One acknowledges Jesus as Lord by being baptized, by His authority for the forgiveness of sins.


We should always let the Bible speak for itself.  It clearly reveals that the penitent believer must confess the name of Christ and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins. 

Bobby Stafford  October 25, 2015 [Evening] 

Acts:  Lesson 23  Acts 9:1-19

 More Studies on Acts


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