"CONVERSIONS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS"
Saul Of Tarsus (9:1-19; 22:6-16; 26:12-18)INTRODUCTION
1. From the conversion of "The Ethiopian Eunuch", we now turn our
attention to what is perhaps the most famous of conversions in the
a. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus, chief persecutor of the early
church - Ac 8:1,3; 9:1-2
b. Who became Paul the apostle (Ac 13:9), a recipient himself of
much persecution for the cause of Christ - cf. 2 Co 11:23-28
-- Whose conversion stands as a powerful testimony to the
resurrection of Jesus Christ
2. There are actually three records of his conversion in The Book of
a. Ac 9:1-19 - where Luke describes it as it happened
b. Ac 22:6-16 - where Paul recounts his conversion before a large
c. Ac 26:12-18 - where Paul defends himself before King Agrippa
3. From the example of the conversion of "Saul of Tarsus"...
a. We find not only a powerful testimony to the resurrection of
b. But also more evidence concerning the nature of conversions as
they are revealed in The Book of Acts
4. For example...
a. When was Saul (Paul) saved?
1) Was it on the road to Damascus, when the Lord appeared to him?
2) Or was it in Damascus, at some point after he arrived there?
b. How was Saul (Paul) saved?
1) Through saying a sinner's prayer?
2) Or by being baptized?
[Such questions can be answered by a careful consideration of Biblical
evidence. Let's begin with a review of the evidence provided by all
three accounts of Saul's conversion...]
I. A HARMONY OF THE CONVERSION OF SAULA. SAUL WAS ON HIS WAY TO DAMASCUS...
1. To persecute more Christians - Ac 9:1-2; 22:4-5; 26:9-11
2. When a light shone around him from heaven - Ac 9:3; 22:6;
3. When a voice began to speak to him in Hebrew...
a. Identifying itself as the voice of Jesus - Ac 9:4-5;
b. Jesus then tells Saul...
1) Why He has appeared to him - Ac 26:16-18
2) To go on to Damascus, where...
a) He will be told "what you must do" - Ac 9:6
b) He will be told "all things which are appointed for
you to do" - Ac 22:10B. SAUL ARRIVES IN DAMASCUS...
1. Led by the hand, having been blinded by the light - Ac 9:8;
2. For three days, he neither eats nor drinks - Ac 9:9C. THE LORD SENDS ANANIAS TO SAUL...
1. The Lord appears to Ananias in a vision, and tells him to go
to Saul - Ac 9:10-16
2. Ananias goes to Saul, and...
a. Has his sight restored - Ac 9:17-18a; 22:12-13
b. Is told why the Lord appeared to him and how he will be a
witness of what he has seen - Ac 22:14-15
c. Is told to be baptized and wash away his sins, calling upon
the name of the Lord - Ac 22:16; cf. 9:18bD. HIS CONVERSION COMPLETE, SAUL BEGINS HIS WORK...
1. Preaching immediately in Damascus - Ac 9:20
2. And later in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the Gentiles - Ac 26:
[As mentioned previously, the conversion of Saul is a powerful
testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What other reasonable
explanation can be given for the drastic change from "chief persecutor"
of the Christian faith to "chief proclamator" of the Christian faith?
But the conversion of Saul is also valuable for the insights we can
glean into the process of conversion. With that in mind, allow me to
II. SOME OBSERVATIONSA. CONCERNING "WHEN" SAUL WAS SAVED...
1. It is often stated that Saul was saved on the road to Damascus
a. When the Lord appeared to him
b. That his conversion took place at that moment
2. Saul was not saved until after he arrived in Damascus
a. Note that while on the road, the Lord said it would be in
Damascus where he would be told "what you must do" - Ac 9:6
b. In Damascus, Ananias told him to "wash away your sins"
- Ac 22:16
1) At that point, Saul was still in his sins!
2) I.e., he was still not saved!
-- While in one sense he was indeed "converted" on the road (his
view of Jesus certainly changed), conversion in the sense of
salvation did not occur until after he arrived in Damascus
B. CONCERNING "HOW" SAUL WAS SAVED...
1. From the statement of Ananias in Ac 22:16 (to wash away his
sins), we learn that:
a. Saul was not saved by virtue of the vision on the road
b. Saul was not saved by virtue of the prayers and fasting he
had offered for three days - cf. Ac 9:9,11
2. Saul was saved when his sins were "washed away" - Ac 22:16
a. Which occurred after spending three days in Damascus
b. Which occurred when he was baptized to wash away his sins!
-- This concurs with what Peter said about the purpose of
baptism in Ac 2:38C. CONCERNING BAPTISM AND CALLING UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD...
1. After quoting Joel who wrote of calling upon the name of the
Lord to be saved (Ac 2:21), Peter told his crowd to be
baptized - Ac 2:38
2. Now Ananias commands Saul to be baptized, "calling upon the
name of the Lord" - Ac 22:16
3. As Peter wrote, baptism saves us, and is an appeal for a clear
conscience - 1 Pe 3:21
4. In baptism, then...
a. We are "calling upon the name of the Lord"
b. We are appealing to God by the authority of His Son Jesus
to forgive our sins
5. While we can certainly pray as we are being baptized, baptism
itself is a prayer (an appeal) to God for a clear conscience!
1. From the conversion of Saul we learn that one is not saved by...
a. Visions of the Lord (who could have a vision more impressive than
b. Saying the sinner's prayer (Saul had been praying and fasting for
2. In keeping with what we have seen already, one is saved when...
a. They are baptized for the remission of their sins - Ac 2:38
b. They are baptized to have their sins "washed away" - Ac 22:16
3. Of course, we learn from Paul's discourse in Romans 6 that the
simple rite of baptism is efficacious because in baptism...
a. We are baptized into Christ's death - Ro 6:3-4
b. We are united with Christ in the likeness of His death - Ro 6:5
c. We are crucified with Christ, and our body of sin is done away
- Ro 6:6
d. We die to sin, and are therefore freed from sin - Ro 6:7
-- Of course, such baptism is conditioned upon faith and God's
working - Ac 8:36-37; Co 2:12
4. In his commentary on Ro 6:3, Martin Luther wrote:
"Baptism has been instituted that it should lead us to the
blessings (of this death) and through such death to eternal
life. Therefore IT IS NECESSARY that we should be baptized
into Jesus Christ and His death." (Commentary On Romans,
Kregel Publications, p. 101)
And so we say, as did Ananias, to anyone who has yet to be baptized for
the remission of their sins...
"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash
away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."