THE GREAT PERSECUTOR OF CHRIST
IS TRANSFORMED TO
THE GREAT APOSTLE OF CHRIST.
Paul the glorious Apostle was appointed directly by Christ to bear witness to Him before the nations of the entire world. He was born in Tarsus of Cilicia, and was a citizen of Rome. His parents had him go to Jerusalem where he studied under Rabbi Gamaliel, He was related to Stephen the Proto-martyr. One of his friends was Barnabas who eventually became an Apostle of Christ. When Barnabas was enlightened by Christ, he incessantly prayed for Paul’s soul to come to truth.
Paul learned well, endowed with a keen mind And eventually joined the ranks of the Pharisees. He became strictly zealous of their heritage, and outwardly displayed their piety. In the meantime the Apostles were preaching Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, and engaged in clashes with Pharisees and Sadducees, the latter rejected tradition and the immortality of the soul.
Paul looked upon the preachers of Christ as enemies who were breaking their sacred tradition. He disregarded Barnabus’ preaching of Christ and when Stephen the first martyr was suffering in martyrdom, Paul consented to his death.
Paul not being satisfied with the amount of followers of Christ he had imprisoned, received papers from the high priest to the synagogues and , breathing bitterness against the new sect, he went on the road to Damascus, to bring even more to jail in Jerusalem. These preachers who heralded the coming of the Messiah being Jesus Christ had to be stamped out, thus preserving the traditions of the fathers.
Saul was on his way to Damascus, when suddenly a light, powerful and blinding shone on him from the heavens. Then he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me. Filled with amazement Saul asked, Who are you, Lord? The Lord said: I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Saul in fear and trembling, asked: What will you have me do? The Lord said: Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." (Acts 9:4-6). Soldiers that were with Paul were struck with amazement by the miraculous light, for they had stood silent and blinded, hearing the voice speaking to Saul but unable to see it’s source.
Doing as the Lord had told him, Saul arose and although his eyes were open he could see nothing, for his bodily eyes were blinded and his spiritual eyes were now being opened. He remained physically blind while in Damascus for three days, seeing nothing. In his deep repentance he ate nothings but continued in prayer that the Lord would reveal what was His will.
"In Damascus was an apostle named Ananias, and the Lord appeared to him in a vision ordering him to seek out Saul, living in a house with a man named Judas, and enlighten the eyes of his body by touching them, and those of his soul by baptism. Ananias said: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to your saints At Jerusalem, and he is here having much authority to seize and arrest all that call upon your name. The Lord replied: Go your way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name befo9re the nations and before rulers and kings and the children of Israel, and I will show him how many things he will suffer for my sake" (Acts 9:13-16).
Ananias set out to do all that the Lord had commended, and he found Saul and laid his hands upon him, instantly it was as though great scales fell from his eyes and he recovered his sight, and rising up was baptized , and was filled with Holy Spirit, He immediate began to preach the Lord Jesus Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Those who heard him were astonished at the change in attitude of the former persecutor of the Church.
Saul, however, filled with holy zeal, increased even stronger in faith caused many among the Jews in Damascus to believe through his proofs that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised. The Jews than rose up in great anger, conspiring to murder him, and set up a watch over the city gates, lest he escape them. Ananias, when he found out about the murderous Jewish plot, took him at night and let him down in a basket through a window of a house built into the city wall.
Paul, set out, not for Jerusalem but for Arabia. “I conferred not with flesh and blood; neither did I go up to Jerusalem to them who were Apostles before me, but I went to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter” (Gal.1:16-18).