The Conversion of Paul in Acts
The Three Versions
The Martyrdom of Stephen at Paul's Hands
See the preceding events in Acts 6:1-8:4
7:54 When they heard these things, (Stephen's threats against the Temple)
they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen.
7:55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven
and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
7:56 "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God"
7:57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.
7:58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him;
and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet
of a young man named Saul.
7:59 While they were stoning Stephen,
he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
7:60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice,
"Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
When he had said this, he died.
8:1 And Saul approved of their killing him.
Persecution of the Followers of Jesus with Paul's Participation
a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem,
and all except the apostles were scattered
throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria.
8:2 Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him.
8:3 But Saul was ravaging the church
by entering house after house;
dragging off both men and women,
he committed them to prison.
8:4 Now those who were scattered went from place to place,
proclaiming the word.
Paul is an Agent under Authority from the High
he is on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians.
On the Road to Damascus,
Paul has his "Conversion Experience"
9:1 Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest 9:2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus,
so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women,
he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
9:3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus,
suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
9:5 He asked, "Who are you, Lord?"
The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
9:6 But get up and enter the city,
and you will be told what you are to do."
9:7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless
because they heard the voice but saw no one. (see below 22:9)
9:8 Saul got up from the ground,
and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
9:9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Saul Gets his Traveling Orders from "The Lord" via Ananias
9:10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias.
The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias."
He answered, "Here I am, Lord."
9:11 The Lord said to him,
"Get up and go to the street called Straight,
and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul.
At this moment he is praying,
9:12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in
and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."
9:13 But Ananias answered,
"Lord, I have heard from many about this man,
how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem;
9:14 and here he has authority from the chief priests
to bind all who invoke your name."
9:15 But the Lord said to him,
"Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen
to bring my name before Gentiles and kings
and before the people of Israel;
9:16 I myself will show him
how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."
9:17 So Ananias went and entered the house.
He laid his hands on Saul and said,
"Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,
who appeared to you on your way here,
has sent me so that you may regain your sight
and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
9:18 And immediately
something like scales fell from his eyes,
and his sight was restored.
Then he got up and was baptized,
9:19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Paul is Under Arrest,
He asks Permission of a Roman Tribune to address a Jewish Crowd
21:37 Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks,
he said to the tribune, "May I say something to you?"
The tribune replied, "Do you know Greek?
21:38 Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt
and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?"
21:39 Paul replied, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia,
a citizen of an important city;
I beg you, let me speak to the people."
Paul Tells his "Conversion" Story
21:40 When he had given him permission,
Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence;
and when there was a great hush,
he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
22:1 "Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense that I now make before you."
22:2 When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew,
they became even more quiet.
Then he said: 22:3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel,
educated strictly according to our ancestral law,
being zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
22:4 I persecuted this Way up to the point of death
by binding both men and women and putting them in prison,
22:5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me.
From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus,
and I went there in order to bind those who were there
and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.
22:6 While I was on my way and approaching Damascus,
about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me.
22:7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
22:8 I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?'
Then he said to me,
'I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.'
22:9 Now those who were with me saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
(See above 9:3ff., below 26:14ff.)
22:10 I asked, 'What am I to do, Lord?'
The Lord said to me, 'Get up and go to Damascus;
there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.'
22:11 Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light,
those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus.
22:12 "A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law
and well spoken of by all the Jews living there,
22:13 came to me; and standing beside me, he said,
'Brother Saul, regain your sight!'
In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him.
Paul Gets his Traveling Orders from
(see above 9:10ff., below 26:16ff.)
22:14 Then he (Ananias) said,
'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice;
22:15 for you will be his witness to all the world
of what you have seen and heard.
22:16 And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized,
and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.'
Paul Goes to Jerusalem and is in the Temple Praying
He Goes into a "Trance" and Gets More Traveling Orders from Jesus
22:17 "After I had returned to Jerusalem
and while I was praying in the temple,
I fell into a trance 22:18 and saw Jesus saying to me,
'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly,
because they will not accept your testimony about me.'
22:19 And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue
I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you.
22:20 And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed,
I myself was standing by, approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him.'
22:21 Then he said to me,
'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
***Compare Paul's "Trance" here to his statements in 2 Corinthians 12:1-9
about being tormented by an "Angel of Satan."
Paul Defends his Actions before the Jewish King Agrippa
26:1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself."
Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:
26:2 "I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa,
I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews,
26:3 because you are especially familiar
with all the customs and controversies of the Jews;
therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently.
26:4 All the Jews know my way of life from my youth,
a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem.
26:5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify,
that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee.
26:6 And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope
in the promise made by God to our ancestors,
26:7 a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain,
as they earnestly worship day and night.
It is for this hope, your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews!
26:8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Paul tells his "Conversion" Story to Agrippa
26:9 "Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things
against the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
26:10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem;
with authority received from the chief priests,
I not only locked up many of the saints in prison,
but I also cast my vote against them
when they were being condemned to death.
26:11 By punishing them often in all the synagogues
I tried to force them to blaspheme;
and since I was so furiously enraged at them,
I pursued them even to foreign cities.
26:12 With this in mind,
I was traveling to Damascus
with the authority and commission of the chief priests,
26:13 when at midday along the road, your Excellency,
I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun,
shining around me and my companions.
26:14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice
saying to me in the Hebrew language,
'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
It hurts you to kick against the goads.'
26:15 I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?
'The Lord answered, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
(See above 9:3ff. and 22:6ff.)
Paul Gets his Traveling Orders from Jesus
at the Moment of his "Conversion"
as opposed to days later from Ananias
(see above 9:10ff., 22:14ff.)
26:16 But get up and stand on your feet;
for I have appeared to you for this purpose,
to appoint you to serve and testify
to the things in which you have seen me
and to those in which I will appear to you.
26:17 I will rescue you from your people
and from the Gentiles--to whom I am sending you
26:18 to open their eyes
so that they may turn from darkness to light
and from the power of Satan to God,
so that they may receive forgiveness of sins
and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
A Question to Consider:
Is Luke overly glorifying Paul by casting him
as a personality important enough to be a major concern to:
the genuine Apostles of Jesus,
the Priests of the Temple,
the entire Jewish nation,
the Roman authorities,
even King Agrippa?