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A Murderer Meets Jesus: Saul Becomes Paul The Apostle
The Conversion of Saul Painting by Caravaggio
A Religious Zealot Out To Kill Christians Meets Jesus
A Jewish religious fanatic named Saul (later renamed Paul from the Greek word paulos=little, because he was probably quite small and plump!) was riding hell-for-leather to Damascus to arrest Christians and put them in jail, prior to their being stoned to death for blasphemy against the God of the Jews. He was a religious zealot - a fundamentalist in 21st century parlance - who thought he was doing God's will by killing Christians. He was extremely well educated in the things of God, having been trained at first hand by Rabbi Gamaliel. He was also extremely religious and concerned to keep the tiniest jot and tittle of the Law of Moses. In short, he was a true blue Jew.
Saul's problem was he didn't have a personal relationship with this God he claimed to serve, and so did not realise that God had other ideas for this highly educated religious zealot.
Paul's Testimony Of His Conversion ACTS 9:1-31; GALATIANS 1:11-2:21
Years later Paul retold the story of his encounter with the Living God in a letter he wrote to Christians in Galatia (a Roman province in modern Turkey). In it he summarises his situation before and after his encounter.
Q1 What happened to cause Saul to become a Christian?
Who took the initiative?
Q2 Why do you think God dealt with him in the way he did?
Picture of St Paul from a third century AD
fresco in the catacombs, Rome