This subdivision is anyting but a simple narrative of how Saul was knocked off his Equus caballus and converted. Our popular spiritual imaginativeness and art to the contrary notwithstanding. this subdivision and its analogues in 22:1-6 and 26:9-18 nowhere say that he was siting a Equus caballus. Now do these texts speaks of Saul’s transition as if he were the most deplorable evildoer antiquity sired. This subdivision is a “vocation” narrative. We will mine the rich vena of this career narrative on three degrees: ( 1 ) Saul as tormentor ; ( 2 ) Saul’s career ; ( 3 ) Luke’s purposes and the figure of Saul.
Saul as Persecutor
From what Luke says in Acts it is patent that Saul is non a private tormentor ; he represents official Judaism. This factor is present in all three histories of Sauls’call: 9:1-3. 22:4-5. 19 ; 26:9-11.
Saul would ne’er hold changed from amazing tormentor of the Lord’s adherents to tireless missional to the heathens unless the Lord had called him. In what have taken more clip than the three histories of Acts lead us to believe. Saul lets the Lord’s call to him drop into and under his tormentor tegument.
The narrative of Saul tormentor edifies Luke’s community: God does continue his church from persecution ; encouragement is offered to those who suffer persecution like that directed by and enfleshed in Saul.
Luke’s Intentions and the Figure of Paul
A questio may assist us peer into Luke’s treble purpose in this subdivision:Why does Luke hold three histories of Paul’s name? First. by giving cherished infinite to three histories of Paul’s call. Luke spotlights the significance of Paul as cardinal points in his narrative. In chapter 9 the call of the missional to the heathens par excellence—Paul—is introduced when the Spirit is on the threshold of traveling the misson to the heathens ( see 10:1-48 ) . In chapters 22 and 26 the call of Paul is introduced to demo that Paul and Christianity are non deserters from Judaism ; both Jews and Romans should take careful note that Christianity fulfills the promises God gave to Judaism. Second. Luke highlights the fact that the mission to the heathens was non due to human impulse ; God willed it in fulfilment of his promises. This fulfilment is embodied in the really individual of Paul. Finally. Luke’s purpose is to provide ammo for his communities. some of which have been founded by Paul and are under onslaught from Jews because of their religion. Luke tells them that through Paul. one time an observant Pharisee and unmerciful tormentor of the church. they stand in continuity with Judaism. Like Paul they are non deserters from Judaism. Like Paul. they have their eyes opened by God to see that Judaism is fulfilled in Jesus.
Damascus hovered witin sight. It was about noontime. or at least the other histories so inform us ( 22:6 ; 26:13 ) . A “light from heaven all of a sudden shone round about him. ” “More brilliant that the beams of the sun” is the description offered in 26:13. Even his comrades were affected by it. for “all fell to the ground” ( 26:14 ) . What sort of visible radiation was it? We know from the Gospels how the intercession of celestial powers is really often accompanied by a cryptic visible radiation. . this visible radiation is a symbol. a contemplation of that visible radiation which in linguistic communication of the Bible is like the cryptic glorification of God.
A voice addresses the adult male prone on the land: “Saul. Saul. why do you oppress me? ” These words are besides found in the parallel transitions ; and in verse 26:14 it is noted expressly that the voice made usage of the Hebrew lingua. We can pull this decision from the name of Saul. by which he was addressed. The self-revealing Lord radius in his female parent lingua. which was basically more familiar to Paul thank Greek. although he was Hellenic in beginning.
For it is Jesus who speaks in this manner. Jesus the Risen and Transfigured One. And we take fro granted that Saul saw the individual of Jesus. . it was accordingly a face-to-face brush which Saul experienced. one which was vouchsafe merely to him and non to his comrades. These comrades saw no 1. eventhough htey were surrounded by an incomprehensible visible radiation ( 26:13 ) .
“Who are you. Lord? ” Saul retorts. In all three narrations of the transition. a inquiry followed by another inquiry in reply to the first is the manner in which the conversation is carried out. We do non cognize for certain whether earlier Paul had personally made the aquaintance of Jesus.
But we know that after this incident. Paul now belongs to his kyrios. his Lord. for whom he was called. He besides had travelled to Damascus. armed with the warrants of the high priest. to convey back to Jerusalem the adherents of Jesus. is himself siezed by the superior power of God and returns. led by his comrades. as a captive of Christ. to the metropolis he had sought out in order to follow out the waies of the voice.
The enigma behind the action of grace is made ocular and in writing. As it was the transfigured Christ himself who had initiated the wrok of transition. so now he entrusts its completion to the church.
Ananias experriences daze at the intelligence of the undertaking which is b eing pushs upon him. By his expostulation. the work of grace—which had to be perfected harmonizing to God ; s decree—appears now in all its lucidity for the first clip. What appears unthinkable and impossible to human ground can be brought to go through by the freely granted love and the benign Providence of God. The apostle is chosen without virtue. Yet anyone who is caught up in the munificence of godly grace is called by and likewise enabled to prophesy the salvific will of God strictly and convincingly—as we learn from Paul’s letters.
What is so curious about God’s pick?
Salu will be “a chosen instrument. ” He was chosen no because of his endowments. but because of the concern of redemption. He must be an embassador for the “Lord. ” He must go a informant in the same manner as the others were and bear testimony as they did. And he was being readied for this by being commissioned as were the 12. His undertakings every bit were as theirs was that of proclaiming the Risen One.
He will endure for the interest of Christ. This is a alone jurisprudence of discipleship in Christ so contrary to swerve human esthesia. Christ himself underwent agonies of his passion.
There is all of Christianity in what the Risen Jesus said to Paul: “Go into the metropolis. and you will be told what to make. ” Up to this minute Paul had been making what he liked. what he thought best. what his will dictated. From this clip frontward. he would be told what to so. Tha Christian is a adult male who has ceased to make what he wants to make and who has begun to make what Christ wants him to make.
Verse 14 is a drumhead non merely of the life of Paul but besides of the Christian life. there are three points in it. ( 1 ) to cognize the will of God. It is the first purpose of the Christian to cognize God’s will and obey it. ( 2 ) To see the Just One. It is the purpose of the Christian to walk daily in the presence of the risen Lord. ( 3 ) To hear God’s voice. It was said of a great sermonizer that in his sermon he paused of all time and once more as if listening for a voice. The Christian is of all time listening for the voice of God above the voices of the universe to state him where to travel and what to make.
Does the narrative of Saul’s call tell us anything about our call to be Christians?
Karris. Robert. J. . Invitation to Acts: A Comentary on the Acts of the Apostles with Complete Text from the Jerusalem Bible. New York: Image Books. 1978.
Barcklay. William. The Acts of the Apostles Revised Edition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 1976.
Kurzinger. Josef. The Acts of the Apostles. volume 1. London: Nathan birnbaums and Oates. 1969.
Krodel. Gerhard. Proclamation Commentaries. Philadeplhia. Pensylvania: Fortress Press. 1981.
Paton. Jeff. The Conversion of Paul. Free Grace or Forced Grace?