In the beginning Saul appears to be one of the chief organizers of persecution against the Ekklesia, seeking them out relentlessly. This was because of his zeal for the traditions of his sect. Saul was zealous for his sect, having been deceived into thinking that those traditions were the truth of God.
Many today are doing the same thing, equating their ungodly traditions with godliness and persecuting the zealous for God, having been deluded into thinking they are doing God a service
Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
These acts of persecution only spread the Word further, and Saul in ignorance was actually acting against himself rather than harming the Ekklesia by his persecutions. Later Saul would be asked by Christ: Why insist on kicking thorns in sandals, doing damage to yourself by fighting that which is of God?
I ask the Ekklesia: Why do you fight against and resist the Word of God, to cling to your false traditions? The traditions of men are not the Word of God; therefore OPEN the BOOK and study with an open mind to seek out the truth that God has promised to increase in these last days (Dan 12).
9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Saul was shocked and astonished to see Jesus Christ whom he was persecuting, revealed as a light brighter than the sun. He immediately realized his error and submitted to Christ.
Even so, many persecutors of the zealous for God in our time will find themselves in the great tribulation. Many will be shocked awake and they will see their error and quickly repent like Saul did. Then they will embrace their Lord with all their hearts in true wholehearted repentance to live by every Word of God.
There is tremendous HOPE for today’s unresponsive Laodiceans!
Many of the called of God the Father who insist on their own ways today, WILL learn their lessons and many WILL yet become Paul’s during the tribulation.
9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
It is fascinating that the men with Paul saw nothing, yet Paul both saw a tremendous bright light and also heard the speech.
9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Saul’s eyes were opened in the spiritual sense; yet physically he was blinded.
9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man [he was blinded]: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
Saul waited fasting in Damascus
9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
A brother named Ananias, not an elder or apostle but a humble brother, was visited by Jesus Christ and told to go to Saul and heal his eyes and teach him about this way. A similar vision was given to Saul. This proves that from time to time as needed, God does indeed give visions to show repentant called out men what they could not otherwise know.
9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
Ananias questions Christ based on the facts as he knew them
9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
Christ then tells him to proceed, and Ananias goes to Saul
Brethren, there are many who will respond and turn to sound doctrine and our Lord, now at this time. Yet there are also very many Laodicean’s today who are zealous for their own traditions and neglecting the practical application of the Word of God; who will wake up in great trials and will suffer many things, yet they will find a great zeal for our God and his Word as did Saul.
The Master Builder is doing a marvelous work for he has set out to save ALL the Ekklesia; NOT just the present isolated pillars of God’s way!
9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Thick scales were formed on Paul’s eyes by the bright light of Christ and these fell off when Ananias laid hands on Saul.
9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
Saul then broke his fast and remained in Damascus learning of this way from the disciples there for some time
9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
Then Saul began to teach in the Damascus synagogues the very thing that he had rejected and persecuted the Ekklesia for! The true Gospel of Salvation was preached in power by one who had persecuted it!
9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
This astonished the people, and Saul was able to speak and witness, proving the truth from the scriptures; and convincing many.
Even so many repentant Laodicean’s will do the same in the tribulation; doing a powerful Pauline work of personal witness for the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ and every Word of God the Father!
Like Saul, they are now deceived to cleave to false traditions: Later when they are humbled in great tribulation, many will admit their error and will turn in true humble contrition to their LORD and take a stand for Holiness!
9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
The leaders of the synagogue sought to kill Saul, but some of the faithful discovered the plot and warned Saul.
9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
The disciples helped Saul to escape
9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
Sometime later Saul went to Jerusalem to be with the apostles.
Saul does NOT say that he spent three years in Arabia; he says that after an unrevealed time in Arabia he returned to Damascus and spent three years in Damascus.
Galatians 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Saul then goes to Jerusalem to see James and Peter.
1:18 Then after three years [in Damascus] I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
Barnabas introduces Saul to the apostles
9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Saul preaches Christ at Jerusalem boldly for fifteen days
9:28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
Saul also disputed with the Hellenized Pharisees who came to Jerusalem; refuting their Hellenized reasoning’s about the scripture.
9:29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
Saul was then sent to Tarsus by way of the port of Caesarea
9:30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
After Paul left Jerusalem there was peace for the Ekklesia in Judea for a time
9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
Peter evangelizes in Judea
9:32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 9:33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. 9:34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
Notice how this repeatedly worked
First a miracle usually of healing which caught the attention of people; then the preaching and the repentance of the people which often brought persecution from the religious leaders who did not want to repent and were jealous of losing their constituencies.
9:35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
Tabitha is restored to life by God at the hand of Peter at Joppa [immediately south of modern Tel Aviv].
9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
9:37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 9:38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
9:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
9:42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
These men did not try and build some corporate church by their own strength. No, they were of little strength and relied on the lead and power of God’s Spirit.
I wonder what would happen if we dedicated ourselves to love our Lord enough to do what he teaches and commands; if we humbled ourselves to turn away from false traditions and embrace our Beloved One with a passionate love and zeal like the first century apostles.
Do you think that maybe the heart of God the Father would be turned back to us, as our hearts are turned to HIM?
Do you think that we would become rich in the true spiritual things of God and life eternal if we sought out those spiritual things, instead of seeking after physical wealth and advantage?
9:43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
God teaches Peter that the way of Salvation is open to the Gentiles.
God the Father chose to call Cornelius because of his faith and fear of God! The fear and love of God, is the willingness to live by every Word of God.
God gave this revelation to the apostles in Judea in tandem with the same revelation to Paul. God chose Peter for this revelation because Peter was a person of note who was well known to be zealous for the Law of God
Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour [3 pm] of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
Cornelius OBEYED the message!
10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
The vision given to Peter
10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour [12 noon]: 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
Peter resisted the vision thinking it false and contrary to the Word of God
10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10:16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Yet, Peter thought on what this vision could mean
10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 10:18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
Peter went out to meet those sent to him by God and asked them their business
10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
The situation was explained to Peter and he went to Caesarea the next day
10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. 10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
Cornelius in faith that his own vision was true, had called all his family and friends together to meet the man of God.
10:24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
Cornelius bowed before Peter which Peter immediately rejected and corrected: Unlike so many elders in the Ekklesia today who delight in the adulation of men.
While perhaps using different methods than bowing; like seeking high titles or kissing rings and seeking the adulation of the people, many sinfully exalt men today.
10:25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 10:26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 10:27 And as he talked with him [the initial greeting], he went in, and found many that were come together.
Peter explains that it was considered unlawful by TRADITION, that a Jew could enter the home of a non Jew for fear of contracting some uncleanness; even if the Gentile was converted. Peter then shows that he finally understood what the vision meant. Then Peter entered this man’s house and asked them why they had sent for him.
10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 10:29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
Cornelius then tells the story to Peter.
10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 10:31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 10:32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.
Cornelius IMMEDIATELY OBEYED as soon as he had understood! Peter also IMMEDIATELY OBEYED as soon as he understood!
Let me point out that Peter’s summoning to Caesarea had nothing to do with keeping any commandments; except to honour one’s heavenly Father and OBEY all things desired by God the Father. Our commitment to obey God goes far beyond the law and includes obedience to EVERYTHING that God the Father might want us to do!
10:33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
Peter then responds with an acknowledgement that salvation is clearly come to the Gentiles also. Even though this was clearly demonstrated earlier by the Ethiopian, and the preaching in Samaria, Peter must have still had his doubts.
10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Did Peter then preach some vague thing about the kingdom of God? NO he preached Jesus Christ and all that Christ himself taught, which is to live by every Word of God the Father!
10:36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 10:37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 10:40 Him God raised up the third day [the weekly Sabbath], and shewed him openly; 10:41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
The apostles and disciples are commanded to preach godliness to the world!
10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
God then gave those folks in Caesarea his Spirit directly to dwell within them as a further and final proof to Peter of the will of God that the Gentiles could also be called into spiritual Israel. This was needed for Peter’s sake, for Peter was in doubt and often gave way to certain Judaizers on this subject.
10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
The Jewish disciples who were with Peter were astonished at this object lesson meant to teach them that the Gentiles are also called into the New Covenant of spiritual Israel!
10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The evidences of the Holy Spirit on these Gentiles were identical to the evidences of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost!
10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
These Gentiles were then baptized and Peter remained with them teaching them for a time.
10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.