greater contrast can be drawn than that between Paul and Nero. Nero was the
Roman emperor, seated on a throne. His name was known throughout the empire.
Paul was an obscure Jew, totally unimpressive in his physical appearance-he
says so himself in his letters. In a distant corner of the
The interesting thing is that now, two thousand years later, we name our sons Paul, and our dogs Nero.
On his numerous missionary journeys, the apostle Paul showed a greater accomplishment in distances traveled than any known general of the Roman army, official of the Roman Empire, or trader of his time.—Encyclopedia Britannica Macropaedia 1974 edition
“ I KNOW’S OF PAUL.
Ⅰ. “ I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth on good thing” ( Rom.7:18).
Ⅱ. “ I know nothing by (against) myself” ( 1. Cor.4:4).
Ⅲ. “ I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1. Cor,13:12).
Ⅳ. “ I know” of all things working for good (Phil.1:19).
Ⅴ. “ I know that I shall continue with you all” (Phil.1:25).
Ⅵ. “ I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound” (Phil.4:12).
Ⅶ. “ I know whom I have believed” (11. Tim.1:12).
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
"THE CONVERSION OF SAUL"
1. Fundamental to the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus
Christ from the dead...
a. If Christ was not raised, our faith is in vain - cf. 1 Co 15:14,17
b. If Christ was not raised, the apostles were liars - cf. 1 Co 15:15
2. One evidence for the resurrection is the transformation that took
place in the lives of those who knew Jesus...
a. Even a Orthodox Jewish scholar admitted as much
b. "If the disciples were totally disappointed and on the verge of
desperate flight because of the very real reason of the
crucifixion, it took another very real reason in order to
transform them from a band of disheartened and dejected Jews into
the most self-confident missionary society in world history."
- Pinchas Lapide, former Chairman of the Applied Linguistics
Israel's (TIME, May 7, 1979) Bar-Iland University
c. He concluded that a bodily resurrection could possibly have been
3. An amazing transformation that took place was that in the conversion
of Saul of
a. A devout Pharisee, persecutor of Christians
b. Who became Paul the apostle, persecuted by his Jewish brethren
[In this lesson we shall consider why Saul's conversion serves as strong
evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Let's begin by reading Ga 1:
13-14, and noticing...]
I. SAUL'S FORMER MANNER OF LIFE
A. HE PERSECUTED THE CHURCH...
- Ac 8:1-3 Jerusalem
2. And beyond - Ac 9:1-2
-- Something he believed he ought to do - Ac 26:9-11
B. HE WAS ADVANCING IN JUDAISM...
1. As a scholar, trained at the feet of Gamaliel - Ac 22:3; cf.
2. In social standing, advancing beyond many of his contemporaries
a. Holding positions of religious power - cf. Ac 26:12
b. Which likely included access to financial power
-- On the "fast tract" of success among his peers!
C. HE WAS ZEALOUS FOR HIS TRADITIONS...
1. Proud to be a Hebrew - Ph 3:4-5
2. Proud to be a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee - cf. Ac 23:6
a. A conservative sect of the Jews
b. Noted for their opposition to Jesus during His ministry
- e.g., Mt 12:14
-- With such a religious background, he was naturally prejudiced
- Ac 26:9
[Yet this prejudiced, prominent Pharisee, fierce in his opposition to
Jesus and His church, became one of the most influential Christians of
all time. How did this happen? Let's examine several...]
II. EXPLANATIONS FOR SAUL'S CONVERSION
A. PERHAPS THERE WAS AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE...
1. Could it have been wealth?
a. He had that with the Jews
b. He left it for the poverty of following Christ - cf. 1 Co 4:
11-12; Ac 20:33-34
2. Could it have been fame?
a. He had that with the Jews
b. Consider what he experienced as a Christian - cf. 1 Co 4:10,
1) Regarded as foolish and weak, even by other Christians
2) Viewed as the filth of the world by those in the world
3. Could it have been power?
a. He had this with the Jews
b. Compare this with what he suffered as a Christian - cf. 2 Co
-- Indeed, no ulterior motive can be found to explain Saul's
B. PERHAPS HE WAS DECEIVED...
1. Then who deceived him?
a. Friends would not, for he was their champion against the
b. Christians could not, because of his persecution against
1) Putting them into prison, chasing them into other towns
- Ac 8:3; 9:1-2
2) Even after his conversion, many feared him - cf. Ac 9:26
2. His testimony does not allow for the possibility of deception
a. He claimed to receive his gospel from Jesus, not man - Ga 1:
b. He claimed to see Jesus raised from the dead - 1 Co 15:8
-- The empirical nature of his testimony precludes the possibility
C. PERHAPS HE WAS MAD...
1. Such was the conclusion of Festus, the governor - Ac 26:24
2. Others have tried to explain his conversion in psychological
a. That his intense persecution of Christians gave him a
b. That combined with the heat on the road to
, he Damascus
became delirious and only thought he saw Jesus!
3. Yet consider the testimony of Saul (Paul)
a. He had a clear conscience regarding persecuting the
Christians - Ac 23:1
1) It was something he thought he should do - Ac 26:9
2) He did it out of ignorance, for which he knew he received
mercy - 1 Ti 1:13
b. He said he saw Jesus more than once
1) Not just on the road to
2) But on other occasions as well - Ac 18:9-10; 22:17-21;
23:11; 2 Co 12:8-9
-- Read his epistles, do they seem like letters written by a mad
D. THE ONLY PLAUSIBLE EXPLANATION: HE SAW JESUS...!
1. This is the explanation given by Paul (Saul) himself
a. Before the
mob - Ac 22:1-16 Jerusalem
b. Before King Agrippa and Festus the governor - cf. Ac 26:
2. It is the only explanation that explains his conversion
a. Why he was willing to forego wealth, fame, and power
b. Why he was willing to suffer poverty, shame, and persecution
-- As he said "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision..."
- Ac 26:19
1. The conversion of Saul is best explained by...
a. His testimony that it was the resurrected Jesus who appeared to
b. Not once, but continuously throughout the rest of his life
-- Serving as one of the greatest evidences for the resurrection of
2. What is the significance of the resurrection of Jesus?
a. For the unbeliever, it verifies...
1) The fact of His deity - cf. Ro 1:4
2) The fact of final judgment - cf. Ac 17:30-31
b. For the believer, it verifies...
1) The adequacy of our justification (Jesus' blood does cover our
sins) - cf. Ro 4:25
2) The hope for our own resurrection - cf. 1 Co 15:20-22
Through such evidence as the conversion of Saul, God has born witness to
the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Have you responded to this
evidence with the obedience of faith?