Intro. Saul has arrived in Damascus, but he is a transformed man from the Saul that had left Jerusalem, breathing out murderous thoughts against the church. He has had a dramatic conversion experience along the way. As the result of the brilliant light that surrounded him, he had been blinded and spent three days in this condition. During this time, he had a vision of a man named Ananias who would come to him and lay hands on him that he might receive his sight. In the meantime, the Lord has been speaking to this man, Ananias, in a vision to go and find this man, Saul, and pray for him to receive his sight. After some argument, the Lord convinces Ananias that Saul is a true convert and was praying.
I. WHAT THE LORD SAID CONCERNING SAUL.
A. That he was a chosen vessel unto the Lord.
1. Jesus said this to His disciples. "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained that you should bring forth fruit and that your fruit might remain."
2. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said that we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the earth.
3. He wrote to the Galatians how that he was separated from His mother's womb, and called by His grace.
B. He was chosen to bare the name of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
1. Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles.
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it makes no difference to me: God accepts no man's person:) for they who seemed [to be somewhat] in conference added nothing to me:
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as [the gospel] of the circumcision [was] unto Peter;
(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
a. To the Ephesians he wrote:
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
2. He was also to bare the name of Jesus to kings.
a. We have the account of Paul giving his defense before King Agrippa.
b. We know that he also appeared before Caesar Nero.
3. And the children of Israel.
a. This was Paul's first and earnest desire. He felt that he could convince them that Jesus was the Messiah.
b. He had an argument with the Lord over this issue.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
c. To the Romans he wrote that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it was the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
d. He expressed his great love for his brethren the Jews.
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
4. The Lord said that He was going to show Saul the great things He would suffer for the Lord's sake.
a. Paul wrote to the Romans:
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
b. To the Corinthians he gave a list of the things he suffered for the sake of Christ.
Are they Hebrews? so [am] I. Are they Israelites? so [am] I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so [am] I.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
[In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
c. He spoke of fighting with the beasts at Ephesus.
II. THE COMING OF ANANIAS TO SAUL.
A. And Ananias went his way and entered into the house.
1. Convinced not that this is the Lord truly directing him, he goes to the street called Straight, and inquires at the house of Judas for Saul.
a. To the present day there is a street running through the heart of Damascus called Straight.
2. He put his hands on Saul. Remember Saul was blind at this time. He suddenly feels a hand on him.
3. The voice of a stranger calls him "brother Saul."
a. There is a brotherhood of believers in Christ, and often times our spiritual bonds are closer than our physical bonds.
b. I am not too keen on calling each other "brother" as is the practice in some churches. With my natural brother whose name is Paul, I never call him brother Paul. That is just a relationship that we both acknowledge and accept.
c. I am not necessarily opposed to that practice either. I referred to my aunts and uncles as Uncle Bill, and Uncle Bob, and Aunt Lois. But that was a little more distant. I think that the more intimate a relationship is, the less that titles are needed.
4. Ananias tells him that the Lord, even Jesus who had met him on his way as he was coming there, had sent him that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
5. In Chapter 22 as Paul is relating the story to the Jewish crowd, adds that Ananias was a devout Jew and he gives a few other details of this encounter.
Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive your sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
And he said, The God of our fathers has chosen you, that you should know his will, and see that Just One, and should hear the voice of his mouth.
For you shall be his witness unto all men of what you have seen and heard.
And now why do you tarry? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
a. It is interesting that Ananias gave him a personal word of prophecy beginning with verse 14.
b. Then a word of exhortation, verse 16.
III. IMMEDIATELY THERE FELL FROM HIS EYES SOMETHING LIKE SCALES AND HE AROSE AND WAS BAPTIZED.
A. He experienced the miracle of the healing from his blindness. It is as though there had been scales over his eyes that are now gone.
B. I believe that it is safe to assume that he at that time was also filled with the Holy Spirit.
C. He rose up and was baptized.
1. This is baptism in water, which is a symbol of death to the old life and the beginning of the new life.
2. Paul here is renouncing Judaism as the way of salvation, and recognizing that Jesus is the way.
3. This is the experience that Paul is referring to as he said to the Philippians, "Those things that were gain to me, I counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ."
4. It is a clean break with the past, and the beginning of his new relationship with Jesus Christ. He chooses no longer to be clothed in his own righteousness which was by keeping the Law, but now rather chooses to be clothed in the righteousness which is by the faith of Jesus Christ.
D. When he had received meat, he was strengthened.
a. Up to this point he was fasting and in prayer.
b. He then remains with them there for a few days.
E. This emergence of Ananias on the scene is interesting to me. He is not an Apostle or deacon, but just a disciple. Yet God uses him to minister to the one who would stand out in the history of the church as one of the prime leaders.
F. Now between verses 19 and 20, we have a time gap of perhaps two to three years as Paul leaves to go to Arabia. He will tell about this in his letter to the Galatians which we will study in our next lesson.