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Saul - Persecutor To Apostle
The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus Painting by Caravaggio
Saul's Encounter With Christ On The Road To Damascus
Saul, the zealous young Jewish rabbi, who had been trained in the Jewish Torah (Law of Moses) by Gamaliel, the leading Jewish scholar of the day, was on his way to Damascus to hunt down the renegade followers of this Jesus of Nazareth they claimed was the Messiah, when he was confronted by a vision of the risen and exalted Christ in Person. You can read his own account of what happened in ACTS 22:1-15; ACTS 26:9-25; GALATIANS 1:11-24.
Initial Scepticism About Saul's Conversion
To begin with the apostles and other believers could not believe their ears when they heard the report that Saul, the arch persecutor of Christians, had been converted and was now preaching the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. But eventually, it became clear that God really had called Paul to be his ambassador to the Gentiles, while Peter and the others continued to preach mainly to the Jews who would listen.
But with the spread of the gospel there also came persecution, just as Jesus had warned the disciples before his death JOHN 15:20-21
"Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you."
Paul's Arrest & Execution In Rome
Paul himself was arrested in Rome and put under house arrest for several years before being released. Eventually Paul and Peter were both executed in 62 or 63 AD as part of the persecution of Christians that broke out in the reign of the emperor Nero.