Biblical Commentary        
The Conversion
of Saul/Paul
Acts 22:1-30
As Paul was being led into the garrison, he asked to speak to the chief captain, who was
surprised that he could speak Greek. He thought Paul was the Egyptian who had led 4,000
men in revolt shortly before.

Paul informed him he was a Jew, a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia, a Roman citizen. He requested
to speak to the people.

When the chief captain granted Paul permission to address the people, he stood on the steps
of the garrison and motioned for the people to become silent. When they quieted down, he
addressed them in Hebrew (the Jewish language}.

Addressing them as men, brothers and fathers, he asks them to listen to his defense.

They seemed as surprised that he spoke in Hebrew, as the chief captain was that he spoke in

Paul defines himself as one who is really a Jew, One who was born in the Cilician city of
Tarsus, but instructed at the feet of the great rabbi Gamaliel in the city of Jerusalem. Taught the
complete law of the fathers, Moses and the customs, with a great zeal for both the law and the
customs, just as they had.

In fact, "this way" (i.e., Christianity) was persecuted by Paul. He placed Christians, both men
and women, in chains and placed them in prison for their faith. As the high priest knows, and
so do all the council of the elders, he even received documents giving him authority to go to
Damascus to imprison Christians there and bring to Jerusalem for punishment.

However, during his journey to Damascus, about noon, a great light from heaven blinded him,
and when he fell to the ground he heard a voice crying, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?

Paul answered, who are you?

The answer was, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute."

The men with Paul saw the light and were scared, but they did not understand anything that
was said.

Paul responded, "What shall I do. Lord?"

He was told to go into Damascus. In Damascus, he would be told everything that he was
supposed to do.

Being blinded by the light, he was led into Damascus by those who were with him.

Ananias, a godly and righteous man according to the law, who was well thought of by the
Jews, who lived in Damascus, came to see Paul. He gave Paul his sight within an hour of
coming to him.

Ananias further told Paul, God had chosen him to know his will, to see Jesus and hear his
voice, so that he could, be a witness to all men of what he had seen and heard.

Now, Paul was instructed by Ananius, why do you wait? "Arise and be baptized (i.e., immersed)
and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord." He was to be immersed in
water, and have his sins washed away (by the blood of Jesus) as he called upon the authority
of the Lord.

Paul continues, that when he finally returned to Jerusalem, while he prayed in the temple, he
was told by the Lord to "get out of Jerusalem" because they would not listen to him.

Paul's reply to the voice was, they knew him. They knew he had imprisoned the believers in
"this way," they knew he consented to the martyrdom of Stephen, holding the clothes of those
who stoned him.

The voice of the Lord replied, Get out of Jerusalem, because I am sending you to the Gentiles.

At this point the crowd had heard all that it could stand, and began to cry out for Paul's death
saying he was not worthy to live.

Lessons to Be Learned...

1. Lives can lie changed, and changed drastically by the gospel.

We have all heard "a tiger can't change " his stripes," or "a leopard can't change his spots."
However, men can change their lives by the gospel. Saul the persecutor who became the
apostle Paul is a prime example. 'Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old
things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) If the
imprisonment, persecution and murder of Christians can be forgiven Saul, then any sin we
may have committed may be forgiven and our lives changed.

2. No where In the Bible is anyone told what to do by either an angel, or a vision, or by some
private revelation what they were to do to be saved.

They were always told through some man.  Sinners are always instructed by means of
mediate revelation, not immediate revelation. Whether it was Cornelius, or Saul, they were told
what to do - not by some still voice in the night, or vision, or dream - but by the preaching of the
gospel by some man.  As Paul states, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the
excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Corinthians 4:7) Thus, it is the power
of the gospel (Romans 1:16) that makes the difference.    Claims for a direct operation of the  
Holy Spirit  run contrary to this  rule of scripture.

Ananias tells Paul what to do (22:16).  Peter tells Cornelius what to do (10:36-48).   Claims at
direct revelation for such information are without scriptural precedent.

3. Baptism washes away sin.

Paul was told to "arise, and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of
the Lord." This passage parallels Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1 Peter

4. "Calling upon the name of the Lord" Is appealing to his authority, and following his will.  

Here, It is arising, being baptized and washing away sin.

This same phrase is used in the following passages: Genesis 4:26; 12:08; 13:04; 21:33;
26:25. It is used to speak of worship and appealling to God. In each instance it indicates more
than prayer. When Peter quoted Joel "that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall
be saved," he told those who asked "what must we do?" to "repent, and be baptized...". 1 Peter
3:21 shows that baptism is an appeal to God. "Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
(Matthew 7:21).

5. It is non-sensical to speak of Saul/Paul being saved, yet still having to wash away his

Saul/Paul was not saved until he was baptized and had his sins washed away. His seeing the
resurrected Lord, his faith, his repentence, his prayer (he prayed and fasted for three days and
nights) ~ none of these removed his sins, or saved him, until he was baptized and washed
away his sins. One cannot be saved without washing away his sins, and cannot have his sins
washed away without being saved. Both are accomplished by the blood of Christ at baptism
(Ephesians 5:26; Revelation 1:5; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14).

6. The men with Paul heard a voice, but did not hear what the voice  said.

There  is  no contradiction here or anywhere else in the scriptures.

In Acts 9:7 reference is made to the men "hearing a voice" but in Acts 22:9 it says "they heard
not the voice of him that spake to me." Some have, in their sophistry, attempted to say there is
a contradiction here. However, have you ever heard someone say something and ask them to
repeat it saying, "I didn't hear what you said"? They heard, but did not understand. It is that
simple. All seeming contradictions of scripture are similarly explained.

7. The gospel is for all men.

If Saul of Tarsus is a fit subject for the gospel, anyone is. Here is a man who persecuted the
church. Here is a man who not only stood by as a man of God was murdered, but gave his
approval. Here is a man whom Jesus said persecuted him. Can you think of any sin which
would be darker, or worse? Sometimes men think that they are beyond redemption because of
the sins which they have committed. The gospel is good news for the sinner: salvation is
offered upon the basis of the gift of God, the sacrifice and blood of Jesus upon the cross. All
sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ: it is up to you to accept the pardon. "Know you not that
the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers . of themselves with mankind, nor
thieves, nor covetous.nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of
God. And SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
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