Paul Reaches and Teaches
The Conversion of St. Paul (Acts 9: 1 -22) is the most dramatic story of change we have in the New Testament.
Saul had never met Jesus, but he had received a letter of permission from the Jewish authorities (perhaps the Sanhedrin) in Jerusalem to arrest and imprison newly converted Christians in Damascus (in modern Syria - map of Palestine.)
On his way to Damascus, Paul was overcome by a bright light, blinded, and heard the voice of Jesus (who had been crucified and was now risen from the dead), asking Saul why he was harassing him.
Saul had held the cloaks of the men who stoned Stephen to death.
Saul changed his way of living, changed his name to Paul, and became the greatest missionary we have ever seen in the Christian church, traveling throughout most of the known world at that time.
We know that he was Jewish in religion and Roman in citizenship. He appeared before Herod Agrippa II to request his right to be tried as a Roman citizen.
Paul was harassed, imprisoned, banished, shipwrecked and tried in Roman courts, but he continued to preach and teach. He kept in touch with congregations he founded and visited by letters, many of which are collected in the New Testament.
These letters (the old name for them is epistles) give us much advice for modern day Christian living. It was the letter to the Romans that spoke to the heart of Martin Luther, leading to major changes that we call the Reformation, which we still follow in the way we live and worship even today.
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