Lessons From Saul's Conversion

In Acts chapters 9, 22, and 26 as well as Galatians 1, we get an account of the conversion of Saul, who became the apostle know better as Paul. In this short article, I would like to look at Saul’s character and how we should have the same character in many ways. What kind of man was Saul?

Acts 9:1

— …breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…

Acts 22:4

— I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons

Acts 26:11

— And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them…

So, was Paul just a mean guy? Was he that evil? His reason for all of this is found in Galatians 1:14 — …being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. Paul did all of these things believing that he was serving God. From his traditions, he believed that Christ and His followers were blaspheming God. He had a lot of “great” Pharisaical traditions to show him where Jesus had broken the Sabbath by healing on that day (Luke 6:6-11), and had blasphemed God by making himself equal with God (John 5:18).

Even though Saul was persecuting Jesus and His followers, Jesus hand picked him to be his apostle to the Gentiles even before Saul was saved. You find this in Acts 9:15-16. Why was this? Saul’s actions after Jesus spoke with him and after he was saved show us his character. He fasted and prayed for three days when he saw the error of his way. He immediately preached Christ in the synagogues (Acts 9:20) after he was baptized into Christ and saved[^1]. He debated with the Jews, proving this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22). As soon as he understood the truth for what it was, he made a complete turn around in his actions.

Saul would do everything he believed was right with everything he had. He had previously been sinning because his belief was wrong. In his defenses before the Jews and Romans when he was on trial, he said that he lived always with a good conscience (Acts 23:1; 24:16).

What kind of people must we be so that Jesus will have the same respect for us that He had for Saul (remembering that He does not show partiality — Acts 10:24). We must do what we believe is right with everything we have regardless of the consequences. But we must also ensure that what we believe is from Christ, and not find ourselves being zealous for the traditions of men.


[1] Many people teach and believe that Saul was “saved on the road to Damascus.” In the Bible, we read however that on the road was when he found out that he was in sin. Jesus sent into the city where it would be told him what to do (Acts 22:10). In Acts 22:16, we read that he still had his sins. He would be forgiven in the same way everyone else is under the New Covenant, through being buried with Christ in baptism. For more details on baptism, see Romans 6.