Story Six

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 5
SAUL, the young man who had taken part in the slaying of Stḗ phen, and who had scattered abroad the believers in Christ, was still the bitter enemy of the gospel. He heard that some of those who had fled away from Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm had gone to Dā̇-măś cus, a city outside of the Jewish land, far in the north, and that there they were still at work teaching Christ. Sa̤ul made up his mind to destroy this new church in Dā̇-măś cus, as he thought he had destroyed the church in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm. So he went to the high-priest, and said: "Let me have a letter to the chief of the Jews̝ in Dā̇-măs-́cus. I have heard that there are some followers of Jesus of Năź a-rĕth in that city; and I will go with some men, and will take these people, and bind them, and bring them in chains to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm." The high-priest gave to Saul the letters that he asked for, and Sa̤ul found a band of men to go with him to Dā̇-măś cus. It was a journey of about ten days, riding on horses or mules. While Saul was on his way to Dā̇-măś cus he had time to think about Christ and his gospel. He saw again in his mind Stḗ phen's shining face, and heard his words, he thought of the sweet and patient way in which the followers of Jesus had met their sufferings and their wrongs at his hand. Deep in Sa̤ul's heart there arose a feeling which he could not put down, that the gospel of Christ was true, and that it was wicked for him to fight against it. Yet he still went on, firm in his purpose to destroy the Church of Christ.
At last he came near to Dā̇-măś cus. Suddenly, at full noon, a light flashed from heaven, brighter far than the sun. For the time the light blinded Sa̤ul's eyes, and it came so suddenly upon him that like a bolt of lightning it struck him down, and he fell upon the ground. In the midst of the light Saul saw One whom he had never seen before. And a strange voice came to him, saying, "Sa̤ul, Sa̤ul, why are you fighting against me?”
And Sa̤ul answered the voice, "Who art thou, Lord?" Then the answer came, "I am Jesus, whom you are trying to destroy!”
Then, trembling with surprise and alarm, Sa̤ul said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
And the Lord said to Sa̤ul, "Rise up, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
Those who were with Sa̤ul wondered, for they has seen a light, and had heard a sound; but had beheld no face, and had heard no words; for the vision of Christ had come to Sa̤ul alone. They raised him up from the ground, and found that his eyes had been made blind by the brightness of the light. They led him by the hand into the city, and took him to the house of a man named Judas. There Sa̤ul stayed for three days in the deepest suffering of mind and body. He could see nothing, and he neither ate nor drank. But in the darkness he was praying to God and to Christ with all his heart.
In the city of Dā̇-măś cus there was a follower of Christ named Ăn-a-nī́ as, a good man, held in respect by all who knew him. To this Ăn-a-nī́ as the Lord spoke, calling him by name, "Ăn-a-nī́ as.”
And Ăn-a-nī́ as answered, "Here I am, O Lord.”
And the Lord said to Ăn-a-nī́ as, "Rise, and go into the street named Straight, and find the house of Jū́ das; and in that house ask for a man named Sa̤ul from Täŕ sus. This man Saul is praying; and in a vision he has seen a man named Ăń a-nī-as coming into his room, and laying his hands on him, to give him his sight.”
This command from the Lord was a surprise to Ăn-a-nī́ as. He answered the Lord, "Lord, I have heard from many people about this man Saul; what great evil he has done to all thy people in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm; and here he has an order from the high-priest to bind and to carry away all who call upon thy name! Shall I go and visit such a man as he?”
But the Lord said to Ăn-a-nī́ as, "Go thy way; for I have chosen this man to bear my name before the people of all nations, and kings and the children of Ĭś̝ ra-el. And I will show him how many things he must suffer for my sake.”
Then Ăn-a-nī́ as went, as the Lord had bidden him. He found the house, and he came to Saul. He laid his hands on the head of Sa̤ul, and he said, "Brother Sa̤ul, the Lord Jesus, who met you in the way as you were coming, has sent me, that you may have your sight, and that the Holy Spirit may come upon you. Now, wait no longer, but rise up, and be baptized, and call upon the name of Jesus, who will wash away your sins.”
Then there fell from the eyes of Sa̤ul what seemed like scales, and at once his sight came to him. Sa̤ul was baptized as one who believed in Christ, and food was given him, and he became strong in body and in soul. Sa̤ul had gone forth to bind the disciples of Christ in Dā̇-măś cus; but now he came among them, no more as an enemy, but as a brother. And he went into the synagogues where the Jews̝ worshipped in Dā̇́ măs-cus, and began to preach Jesus to them, declaring that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. And all that heard him were amazed, and they said to each other, "Is not this the same man who in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm wrought ruin among them who believed in this name? And did he not come to this place, intending to bind the believers in Jesus, and bring them before the chief priests?”
And Sa̤ul grew stronger and stronger in his spirit and in his words. None of the Jews̝ in Dā̇-măś cus could answer him, as he showed that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Christ. But he did not stay long in Dā̇-măś cus. After a time he left the city, and went away to a quiet place in the desert of Ā̇-rā́ bĭ-ȧ, where he stayed for a year or longer, thinking upon the gospel and learning from the Lord.
And again Saul came to Dā̇-măś cus, and again he preached Christ and salvation through his name, not only for Jews̝, but for Gĕń tīles̝, all people besides the Jews̝. This made the Jews̝ in Dā̇-măś cus very angry. They formed a plan to kill Sa̤ul, and they watched the gates day and night, hoping to seize him as he went out. But Sa̤ul's friends, the disciples of Jesus, brought him by night to a house on the wall, and let him down in a basket to the ground, so that he escaped from his enemies and went away in safety.
Sa̤ul now journeyed back to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm. He had left it three years before, a bitter enemy of Christ; he came to it again a follower of Christ. But when Sa̤ul sought to join the believers in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, they were all afraid of him; for they could not believe that one whom they had known as the fierce destroyer of the church was now a friend to Jesus. Then Bäŕ na-băs, the man who had given all his land to the church, believed in Sa̤ul when he heard his story, and brought him to Pḗ te͂r, and told how he had seen the Lord in the way, and how boldly he had preached in Dā̇-măś cus in the name of Jḗ sus.
Then Pḗ te͂r took the hand of Sa̤ul, and received him as a disciple of Christ. For a few weeks Sa̤ul stayed in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm; and he preached in the synagogues of the Jews̝, as Stḗ phen had preached before, that Jesus is the Savior not only of Jews̝ but also of Gentiles ("Gĕ́ tīles̝" was the name that Jews gave to people of every other nation except their own).
When Sa̤ul preached that Gĕ́ tīles̝ might be saved in Jesus Christ, it made the Jews̝ angry, just as it had made Sa̤ul himself angry in other days to hear Stḗ phen preach this same gospel. They would not listen to Sa̤ul, and they sought to kill him, as they had killed Stḗ phen. One day Sa̤ul was praying in the Temple, and the Lord came to him once again, and Sa̤ul saw Jesus and heard his voice saying, "Make haste, and go quickly out of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, for the people here will not believe your words about me.”
Then Sa̤ul said to the Lord, "Lord, they know that I put into prison and beat in the synagogues those who believed on thee. And when thy servant Stḗ phen was slain I was standing by and was keeping the garments of those who stoned him.”
And the Lord said to Sa̤ul, "Go from this place; for I will send thee far away to preach to the Gĕń tīles.”
Then Sa̤ul knew that his work was not to preach the gospel to the Jews̝, but to the Gentile, the people of other nations. The disciples in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm helped him to get away from his enemies in the city, and led him down to a place called Cæs-a-rḗ ȧ, on the seashore. There Sa̤ul found a ship sailing to Täŕ sus, a city in Ā́ s̝iȧ, Mī́ nor. Täŕ sus was Sa̤ul's birthplace and his early home. He went again to this place, and in that city he stayed for a few years, safe from the Jew. He was a tent-maker, and he worked at his trade while preaching the gospel in Täŕ sus. And we may be sure that Saul would not be silent about the good news of the gospel. He preached in Täŕ sus and in all the places near it.
Now that Sa̤ul the enemy had become Sa̤ul the friend of the gospel, all the churches in Jū-dé ȧ, and Sā̇-mā́ rĭ-ȧ, and Găĺ ĭ-lee, had rest and peace. The followers of Christ could preach without fear; and the number of those who believed grew rapidly, for the Lord was with them.
All through the land, from Găĺ ĭ-lee down to the desert on the south, there were meetings of those who believed in Jesus as the Savior, and the apostles Peter and John went among them to teach them the way of life.
Lesson 38. The Voice that Spoke to Saul.
(Tell Story 6 in Part Seventh.)
1. To what place did Saul go, that he might break up the church there? To Damascus.
2. What took place when Saul was near Damascus? A light shone from heaven.
3. Who spoke to Saul from out of the light? The Lord Jesus Christ.
4. What did the bright light do to Saul? It made him blind.
5. Who brought sight to Saul in Damascus? A follower of Christ named Ananias.
6. What else did Ananias do to Saul? He taught him how to be saved.
7. What did Saul do at once when he became a believer in Christ? He began preaching Christ.
8. What did the Jews of Damascus try to do when they found that Saul was preaching Christ? They tried to kill him.
9. How did Saul get away from the city of Damascus? In a basket.
10. Where did Saul go from Damascus? To Jerusalem.
11. Where did he afterward go? To his home in Tarsus.