Paul’s Conversion and Call

Davi P. Silva
June 6, 2017
Made Blind That He Might See: the Divine Commission of Paul.

Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

 

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And he said, “Who art Thou, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” And he trembling and astonished said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” And the Lord said unto him, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

 

And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Behold, I am here, Lord.” And the Lord said unto him, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name.” But the Lord said unto him, “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake.” 

 

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized," Acts 9:1-18.

 

“What a humiliation it was [for] Paul to know that all the time he was using his powers against the truth, thinking he was doing God's service, he was persecuting Christ. When the Saviour revealed Himself to Paul in the bright beams of His glory, he was filled with abhorrence for his work and for himself. The power of Christ's glory might have destroyed him, but Paul was a prisoner of hope. He was made physically blind by the glory of the presence of Him whom he had blasphemed, but it was that he might have spiritual sight, that he might be awakened from the lethargy that had stupefied and deadened his perceptions. His conscience, aroused, now worked with self-accusing energy. The zeal of his work, his earnest resistance of the light shining upon him through God's messengers, now brought condemnation upon his soul, and he was filled with bitter remorse. He no longer saw himself as righteous, but condemned by the law in thought, in spirit, and in deeds. He saw himself a sinner, utterly lost, without the Saviour he had been persecuting. In the days and nights of his blindness, he had time for reflection, and he cast himself all helpless and hopeless upon Christ, the only one who could pardon him and clothe him with righteousness.” —The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1058.

 

Divine Commission

“The solemn charge that had been given Paul on the occasion of his interview with Ananias, rested with increasing weight upon his heart. When, in response to the word, ‘Brother Saul, receive thy sight,’ Paul had for the first time looked upon the face of this devout man, Ananias under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said to him: ‘The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ Acts 22:13-16. 

 

“These words were in harmony with the words of Jesus Himself, who, when He arrested Saul on the journey to Damascus, declared: ‘I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.’ Acts 26:16-18.” —The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 126, 127.

 

“At the gate of Damascus, the vision of the Crucified One changed the whole current of his life. The persecutor became a disciple, the teacher a learner. The days of darkness spent in solitude at Damascus were as years in his experience. The Old Testament Scriptures stored in his memory were his study, and Christ his teacher. To him also nature's solitudes became a school.” —Education, p. 65.

 

“Paul was baptized by Ananias in the river of Damascus. He was then strengthened by food and immediately began to preach Jesus to the believers in the city, the very ones whom he had set out from Jerusalem with the purpose of destroying. He also taught in the synagogues that Jesus who had been put to death was indeed the Son of God. His arguments from prophecy were so conclusive, and his efforts were so attended by the power of God, that the opposing Jews were confounded and unable to answer him. Paul’s rabbinical and Pharisaic education was now to be used to good account in preaching the gospel and in sustaining the cause he had once used every effort to destroy.

 

“The Jews were thoroughly surprised and confounded by the conversion of Paul. They were aware of his position at Jerusalem, and knew what was his principal errand to Damascus, and that he was armed with a commission from the high priest that authorized him to take the believers in Jesus and to send them as prisoners to Jerusalem; yet now they beheld him preaching the gospel of Jesus, strengthening those who were already its disciples and continually making new converts to the faith he had once so zealously opposed. Paul demonstrated to all who heard him that his change of faith was neither from impulse nor fanaticism, but was brought about by overwhelming evidence.

 

“As he labored in the synagogues his faith grew stronger; his zeal in maintaining that Jesus was the Son of God increased in the face of the fierce opposition of the Jews. He could not remain long in Damascus, for after the Jews had recovered from their surprise at his wonderful conversion and subsequent labors, they turned resolutely from the overwhelming evidence thus brought to bear in favor of the doctrine of Christ. Their astonishment at the conversion of Paul was changed into an intense hatred of him like unto that which they had manifested against Jesus.” —The Story of Redemption, pp. 273, 274.

 

“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead). And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:1-3.

 

“‘Grace be to you.’ We owe everything to God's free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ. Not because we first loved Him did God love us; but ‘while we were yet sinners,’ Christ died for us. . . . Although by our disobedience we have merited God’s displeasure and condemnation, yet He has not forsaken us, leaving us to grapple with the power of the enemy. Heavenly angels fight our battles for us, and cooperating with them, we may be victorious over the powers of evil.

 

“We should never have learned the meaning of this word ‘grace’ had we not fallen. God loves the sinless angels, who do His service and are obedient to all His commands, but He does not give them grace. These heavenly beings know naught of grace; they have never needed it, for they have never sinned. Grace is an attribute of God shown to undeserving human beings. We ourselves did not seek after it, but it was sent out in search of us. God rejoices to bestow this grace upon all who hunger for it, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our need is the qualification which gives us the assurance that we shall receive this gift.

 

“God’s supply of grace is waiting the demand of every sin-sick soul. It will heal every spiritual disease. By it, hearts may be cleansed from all defilement. It is the gospel remedy for everyone who believes.

 

“We may make daily progress in the upward path to holiness and yet we find still greater heights to be reached; but every stretch of the spiritual muscles, every taxation of heart and brain, brings to light the abundance of the supply of grace essential for us as we advance.

 

“The more we contemplate these riches, the more we will come into possession of them, and the more we shall reveal the merits of Christ’s sacrifice, the protection of His righteousness, His inexpressible love, the fullness of His wisdom, and His power to present us before the Father without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. —In Heavenly Places, p. 34.

 

“[Jesus Christ] gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Galatian 1:4.

 

“Thus the Galatians were taught the fundamental truths concerning ‘God the Father’ and ‘our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.’ ‘By the hearing of faith’ they received the Spirit of God and became ‘the children of God by faith in Christ.’ Galatians 1:3, 4; 3:2, 26.” —The Acts of the Apostles, p. 208.

 

“Paul and his fellow workers proclaimed the doctrine of righteousness by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ. They presented Christ as the one who, seeing the helpless condition of the fallen race, came to redeem men and women by living a life of obedience to God’s law and by paying the penalty of disobedience. And in the light of the cross many who had never before known of the true God, began to comprehend the greatness of the Father's love.” —Ibid., p. 207.   

 

“Christ took upon Himself humanity, and laid down His life a sacrifice, that man, by becoming a partaker of the divine nature, might have eternal life. Not only was Christ the Sacrifice but He was also the Priest who offered the sacrifice. ‘The bread that I will give,’ said He, ‘is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’ (John 6:51). He was innocent of all guilt. He gave Himself in exchange for the people who had sold themselves to Satan by transgression of God’s law—His life for the life of the human family, who thereby became His purchased possession.” —Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 141. 

 

“By giving His life for the life of the world, Christ bridged the gulf that sin had made, joining this sin-cursed earth to the universe of heaven as a province. God chose this world to be the theater of His mighty works of grace. While the sentence of condemnation was suspended over it because of the rebellion of its inhabitants, while the clouds of wrath were accumulating because of the transgression of the law of God, a mysterious voice was heard in heaven, ‘Lo, I come. . . to do thy will, O God’ (Psalm 40:7, 8).

 

"Our substitute and surety came from heaven declaring that He had brought with Him the vast and inestimable donation of eternal life. Pardon is offered to all who will return their allegiance to the law of God. But there are those who refuse to accept a ‘thus saith the Lord.’ They will not reverence and respect His law. They make rigorous human enactments in opposition to a ‘thus saith the Lord,’ and by precept and example lead men, women, and children into sin. They exalt human enactments above the divine law. But the condemnation and wrath of God are suspended over the disobedient. The clouds of God's justice are gathering. The material of destruction has been piled up for ages; and still apostasy, rebellion, and disloyalty against God is continually increasing. The remnant people of God, who keep His commandments, will understand the word spoken by Daniel, ‘Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand’ (Daniel 12:10).”  —This Day With God, p. 84.


This article is part of a series of articles studying the Gospel in Galatians. Find the other articles in the related content below.