Essay: Dramatic Change in the Character of Paul

Pages: 4 (1480 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy for $19.77

¶ … Saul of Tarsus embarked on his journey to Damascus, he had already gained fame as a devout Jew, member of the Pharisees, and leader of a group of Jews that wanted to wipe out the Christians. In fact, it was he who was one of those responsible for the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, in Jerusalem. Saul was not only a Christian "hater," but actively traveled from city to city arresting Christians. And it was during a journey to Damascus when he was struck down by a vision and rendered blind. Like many who experience life changing moments, Saul experienced suffering, or Pathos, which gained sympathy with his critics and aided in his later missionary work. The Book of Acts 9:15-22 was the very moment that God set into motion a plan for Saul to regain his sight and to begin preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. (Oxford Study Bible, Acts 9.15-22) These passages also described the reaction to the newly Christened "Paul" by both the other Christians and his former Jewish allies. At first many did not believe his conversion was genuine and that he was part of some elaborate trick to destroy the Christians, but his steadfastness and clear defense of Jesus as the Messiah, as well as his own conversion, convinced many that he truly had been redeemed.

Aiding Paul in his conversion was a Christian who resided in Damascus named Ananias, who was contacted by God and sent on a mission to find Saul. When Ananias brought up the fact that Saul was a persecutor of Christians persecutor, God told him, "You must go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the nations and their kings, and before the people of Israel. I myself will show him all that he must go through for my name's sake." (Acts 9:15-16) This indicated that God not only had a specific mission for Paul, to preach to the gentiles, but that it would also be a difficult and dangerous mission. Ananias searched for Saul in Damascus and located him in a house in Damascus. "So Ananias went and, on entering the house, laid his hands on him and said, 'Saul my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may recover your sight and be filed with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 9.17) First of all Ananias called Saul "my brother," which was an indication that he had accepted the Lord's command to take Saul into the Christian flock despite all the hateful things that Paul had done. He also revealed that he knew that Jesus appeared to Saul on the way to Damascus, something that only someone who had been directly contacted by the Lord would know. Perhaps this was a way to indicate to Saul that he has not fallen in with enemies intent on doing him harm.

Ananias then told Saul that he was sent to him so that he may recover his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is important to mention that Saul had to first regain his sight before he could be filled with the Holy Spirit because if Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit and then regained his sight, then it would be the Holy Spirit who gave the gift of sight. One did not receive miracles in exchange for belief in Christ, the miracles that were performed demonstrated the power and majesty of Christ. Saul must first experience a miracle so that he could then see the power of Christ. Not only was Saul's blindness a physical ailment, but also a symbolic one. Paul's conversion was a symbol to others that they also needed to see the world in a new way in order to join the community of Christians.

After Ananias had laid his hands on Saul and spoke the words, "Immediately it was as if scales had fallen from his eyes, and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten his strength returned." (Acts 9.18-19) The term "scales" was interesting as it may have referred to the scales of a fish, semi-translucent, which would have indicated that Saul's blindness was not a total "blackness," but perhaps seriously clouded instead. Immediately after Paul had regained his sight he was baptized, and as this happened even before he had… [END OF PREVIEW]

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