Saul is like a raging bull. Since we first met him, guarding the coats of the people executing Stephen, he has made every effort to crush the church. Now, with warrants of arrest from the high priest, he takes his anti-Christian campaign to Damascus. Damascus is about 150 miles from Jerusalem, and outside Jewish territory. The journey takes several days—even with Saul striding ahead in his haste. Suddenly he is blinded by a light from heaven—the light of the glory of Christ.
Thrown to the ground, Saul finds himself being questioned by a person he thought was dead. It is Jesus the Christ, whose followers he is persecuting. In a single life-turning moment, Saul realizes that Jesus is the Messiah, and that he lives and suffers with his church. This is the most famous conversion in history. The church’s fiercest enemy is about to become its most gifted and energetic champion. Saul the persecutor will become Paul the apostle. The event is so astonishing that Luke will tell the story three times in this book—once in his own words and twice in Paul’s.
Saul, who set out for Damascus as a proud inquisitor, is now led by the hand into the city. There God brings help and healing through Ananias—a Christian whom Saul would have thrown into prison. Now they are brothers in Christ. Ananias is the first to know of God’s call to Saul to be an apostle and missionary. He has the privilege of seeing Saul healed, filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized.