Saul The Persecutor Becomes Paul The Apostle
The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus
Painting by Caravaggio
Saul's Meets Jesus 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 theyclaimed was the Messiah, when he was confronted by a vision of the risen and exalted Christ in Person.
You can also read Luke's account in ACTS 9:1-19.
Initial Doubts About Saul's Conversion
When old Ananias in Damascus was visited by Jesus in a vision and told that Saul, the persecutor of Christians, was coming to see him the old man was understandably doubtful.
"Are you sure, LORD? This guy has been persecuting Christians and hauling them off to jail?"
But Jesus assures Ananias that God has chosen Saul to be his messenger to the Gentiles of salvation through faith in Jesus' death and resurrection for sinners.
Like Ananias, the other believers could not believe that Saul, the 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.
Saul The Persecutor Becomes Paul The Martyr
With the spread of the gospel there also came persecution, just as Jesus had warned the disciples before his death:"Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you." (JOHN 15:20-21)
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.