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ACTS 9:1-19

"THE APOSTLE PAUL, HIS CONVERSION TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST "

 

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

LESSON 1:

One of the greatest Christians to ever live was undoubtedly the Apostle Paul!

Such a life demands study!

For example, how did Paul come to know the Lord Jesus Christ?

Is there an accurate recording of his conversion experience, when he was saved by the Grace of God?

Of course there is!

But prior to analyzing Luke's writing on the subject, let's see something Paul said.

Let it be a "given" that Paul wrote 1st Timothy.  "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord." 1st Timothy 1:1-2 provide ample proof!

One word in the following Text bears special notice. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." 1st Timothy 1:15-17

With the topic obviously being the salvation of sinners, Paul calls his conversion experience a "pattern." This noun is "hupotuposis" and means an example, a type, a paradigm. The word prototype almost defines the term.

Here's "hupotuposis" in 2nd Timothy 1:13. It will appear underlined and capitalized for emphasis. "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."

Paul's salvation is the "model," the very "form" that immensely pleases the Holy Spirit of God!

The heart of "hupotuposis" is "tupto," a verb meaning to hit by repeated blows ... until a malleable substance is shaped into the very mold the craftsman intends!

There are things about Paul's salvation event that are so fundamental ... each newborn Believer will have encountered them.

Perhaps to some degree this can be said about every soul God saves. Each "sinner-soon-to-be-saint" must fall under Holy Ghost conviction! Each must be "drawn" of God, made hungry and thirsty for Jesus! Each must exercise saving Faith in the Blood of the Lamb!

I began to think how exciting it would be to carefully view Paul's salvation, its inception anyway!

We would surely uncover these essential elements the Holy Spirit uses to birth a soul into the Family of God!

And, Lord willing, tomorrow we shall begin scrutinizing, with reverence and awe, Paul's trip to Damascus!

No one knows but the Lord, some soul could be saved as the Word of God and the Spirit of God combine ... for the glorious cause of Christ!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:

The accounts of Paul's conversion to Jesus, his being saved by the Grace of God, are many and varied.

Luke alone, just in the Book of Acts, tells us about it three times!

In Acts 9 the beloved physician-historian relates the event, step by step.

In Acts 22 Paul himself tells it, just after being arrested in the Temple at Jerusalem.

And again in Acts 26 Paul testifies before King Agrippa, naturally including the account! After all, Psalm 107:2 does teach us: "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy."

These three "testimonies" are augmented by several personal references to his salvation experience made by Paul in his Epistles. Although brief and sketchy, apparently directed more at a single purpose than overall witness, each of these is enlightening!

Now hear me. When God says something once, in His Word of course, it's vitally important! But when God tells then re-tells something again and again, we had better take note for sure! Such is the case with Paul's salvation event!

We saw yesterday that the Apostle himself considered it a "pattern" for others, a "prototype" of the Spirit's working with sinners, getting them saved by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The first thing that presents itself in the longer Texts, Acts 9 and 22 and 26, is the "time" element.

Here's our data. Reprinted from all three Acts Passages. "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven." Acts 9:3

"And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me." Acts 22:6

"At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me." Acts 26:13

The event occurred "about noon" in Acts 22 and "at midday" in Acts 26, two ways of saying the same thing. The noun "noon" in Greek blends "mesos," meaning the "middle," and "hemera," meaning "day" or "time." Then "midday" translates the same word, but not in blended form. Here's an interesting fact, in Acts 8:26 "mesembria" is again used, but there meaning "toward the south" in our King James Text! But the point is this, both times this expression is used in the Bible, salvation experiences are being depicted, Paul's and the Ethiopian Eunuch's!

The "high" point of any life is the day that individual gets saved! That's the middle of his day! Really that's when he or she begins living!

Back to our verses, not only did Paul get saved at noon, his salvation occurred "suddenly!"

This word, "exaiphnes," is strange. It combines "ek" and "a" and "phaino." Definition: "not out of the light!" Better yet, "unexpectedly!" Without foresight on an individual's part!

Paul saw the Light when he was lest expecting light!

And, while we all believe in Holy Ghost conviction, many a salvation event is just that, unexpected!

Countless sinners have gone to Church for many a varied reason ... only while there to hear the Word, fall under conviction and be gloriously saved!

Suddenly!

I do realize that the conviction period can often last a while, but the "moment" of salvation is instant! The miracle of the New Birth does not take a week or two!

Paul's salvation was so sudden and unexpected that he once, in Philippians 3:12-14, likens his conversion to being "arrested!" Being "apprehended!" See for yourself: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Amen!

Of course it's wise to keep in mind one possibility. While Paul was saved "suddenly," he too may have been under Holy Spirit conviction for some time! I personally think Paul had been "bothered" since the death of Stephen! "Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Acts 7:57-59 may relate the day God began to pursue Paul relentlessly! Paul likely never "got over" the way Stephen died, so victoriously! Seeing Jesus!

Dear reader, our guest on these Pages today, have you ever been "under conviction?"

Are you saved?

Have you been born again?

Do you remember the day you were "arrested" by the Spirit of God?

Suddenly?

If so, that was the "noonday" experience of your life on earth!

For sure!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:

One of the most outstanding things about Paul's salvation experience was that Light!

Surely it was indeed the very Glory of God!

It is beautifully described several times in Scripture too.

Luke mentions it this way: "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven." Acts 9:3

Paul further adds: "And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me." Then, "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me." And this was a blinding light! "And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus." Acts 22 tells us all this.

A third Text says: "At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me." Acts 26:13

Obviously this Light was a fundamental element in Paul's conversion, one he never forgot!

Upon careful investigation I discovered that Paul said a lot more about light than I realized, after he was saved that is!

In one of his very first statements after being born again Paul says: "That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles." Acts 26:23

How about this one? "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." Romans 13:12

Still Paul, "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." 1st Corinthians 4:5

Watch the impact of the light again. "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 2nd Corinthians 4:4

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2nd Corinthians 6:14

This is classic Paul, with his "light" emphasis: "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

Then, "But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Ephesians 5:13-14

Did Paul ever get over his "Light" experience? "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." 1st Thessalonians 5:5

And one day, talking about Jesus, Paul reminisces: "The only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." 1st Timothy 6:16

Sounds just like Paul, "Light through the Gospel" he writes. "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." 2nd Timothy 1:10

Light and the salvation of Paul!

But how does this bright light have any bearing on our salvation, folks?

If Paul's experience is really an example or pattern for us, where does the light fit?

In describing how any sinner gets saved, Paul in 2nd Corinthians 4:6 wrote: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Here he just compared the first day of Creation, when God said, "Let there be light," to the moment of our salvation!

Indeed the very second we believed ... light flooded our souls!

The Light of the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ!

No light ... no salvation!

Of course our "light" is not the blinding visible brightness Paul encountered. Instead God sent to you and me the enlightening Holy Spirit! His light within us has made many a dark situation bright! His illumination, while not as publicly visible, is certainly every bit as real!

Let Isaiah express it: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee." Isaiah 60:1

Amen!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:

If Paul's conversion experience is a pattern for us all, as 1st Timothy 1:16 seems to suggest, then each verse of Acts 9 and 22 and 26 must be studied carefully.

Those are the chapters that record Paul meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road.

Immediately after the Bright Light came from Heaven, Luke says of Paul: "He fell to the earth." Acts 9:4

Paul himself told it this way in Acts 22:7, "I fell unto the ground."

And then again in Acts 26:14, "We were all fallen to the earth." Presumably this means everyone in the traveling party, the entire terrorist group. For that's about what they were, going to Damascus to mistreat and arrest and imprison the Christians there!

We are not told precisely how they were traveling. They may have been walking. Jesus seems to have walked everywhere He went, except that one short little trip on the lowly little colt in Matthew 21.

Then again Paul and his company, journeying as emissaries of the High Priest and Elders, might have been riding horses.

Either way, when the Light fell from Heaven, so did Paul!

He hit the ground!

Pictorially that's it, the bottom rung of the ladder!

Paul was humbled before the Lord Jesus Christ!

In all three Bible renditions of the story, Paul was on the ground before he heard any Sound, any Voice at all!

Humbled, before saved!

Different preachers place the exact moment of Paul's conversion at various places along this timeline, from the first of the bright Light right up to the visit of Ananias. Whenever it happened, Paul was made "lowly" before that moment transpired!

Maybe Psalm 10:17 will help us here: "LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear." Or James 4:6, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

On the ground physically, but by then Paul was "lowly" on the spiritual level too! And, "Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly." So says David in Psalm 138:6.

By the time the Philippian jailer heard these words, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," he had been brought to the ground, made humble by the grace of God! See Acts 16. Via an earthquake, of course!

And while not literally prostrate, that repenting sinner in Luke 18:13 lowered his eyes, refusing to even look into Heaven, and cried: "God be merciful to me a sinner."

Friend, were you humble when you asked the Lord to save you?

Or did you brazenly approach Him, demanding salvation?

I think not!

It takes Holy Spirit conviction to bring a man or woman to the point of salvation.

And that trait was not absent in Paul's salvation, not at all!

He was on the ground when he cried for mercy!

And, either outwardly or inwardly, you were too!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:

The day of his salvation, Paul heard a Voice.

He heard it vocally, however.

Out loud!

The day I got saved I heard a voice too, the Same Voice!

However, with this difference, I heard the voice silently and inwardly, as the Holy Spirit of God spoke to my heart!

"And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him ...." Acts 9:4 gives us Luke's description.

"And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me ...." Acts 22:7 records Paul's own words.

"And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue ...." Acts 26:14 adds even more peresonal detail.

And apparently Paul never lost the impact of that Voice!

In all three of these references the verb "heard" is an aorist indicative active of "akouo." It means to hear in the sense of "giving heed" to someone. The Aorist form suggests what we might call past tense. Paul did not outwardly hear this voice on a regular basis.

But also note that the participle "saying," which follows "heard" in all the above cases, is in the present tense.

The outward "hearing" happened historically that single time. What that voice "said" kept on speaking to Paul the rest of his life!

God's Word is that way!

Also the "participles" that follow the main verb, saying or "lego" twice and "speaking" or "laleo" once, suggest the words heard were significant for two reasons. Their content is implied by "lego" and the manner in which they were delivered is implied by "laleo." What Jesus says and how He says it are both significant indeed!

And this is a "pattern," Preacher?

A "prototype" of salvation?

Paul seems to say so in 1st Timothy 1:16.

Unbelievers, when they are saved or born-again, still hear the voice of the Lord!

Spiritually so.

Let me emphasize that. Not out loud do we hear Him nowadays.

But like this: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Jesus said this in John 5:24. Do notice the "hearing."

I think we hear His voice when He does this too: "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." John 6:44

But Preacher, what's His Voice saying?

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

How glad we should be to have heard those words!

If you've never heard that Voice, that convicting yet loving plea of the Holy Spirit of God, you are not yet saved!

Jesus again: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." John 10:27-28

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:

Like some of our school exercises long ago, tell me what's "common" about the following verses:

"And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I." Genesis 22:11

"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things." Luke 10:41

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." Luke 22:31

"And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth." 1st Samuel 3:10

And the answer is?

The calling of someone's name, doubly so!

He, the Lord, knows our names!

Now here's the capstone of such repetitions.

It is the triple telling of the double calling of Saul's name, the day he got saved!

"And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Acts 9:4

"And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Acts 22:7

"And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." Acts 26:14

Even before Saul of Tarsus got saved, the Lord knew his name too, on the Damascus Road!

The Lord even knew Saul that day, clothes at his feet, when Stephen was stoned!

He knew Saul the day he graduated from Gamaliel's school.

He knew Saul the day he first went to Synagogue back in Tarsus, as a lad.

He even knew the day of Saul's birth, his first birth!

We are studying how Saul, whom we now know as Paul, got saved. Specifically how Paul's salvation event is a "pattern" or "example" of how all sinners get saved.

Not in the outward, visible, dramatic, literal sense, but in the spiritual sense. So I suspect.

Here's today's application.

When you and I were saved, the Lord knew our names too!

He called mine!

Again, not out loud, but in my heart!

He sure did!

He knows your name too, Believer friend!

Jesus said all this: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." Then, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

Amen!

He knows!

He knows and He loves and He invites ...

Even to this extent: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34

Today, take comfort in this great fact!

He knows your name!

"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." 2nd Timothy 2:19

Maybe the question for us now is this. Do we adequately know His Name? "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Psalm 9:10

And Daniel 11:32 tells us, "But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits."

Right!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

Each time a sinner is saved, there must be a realization that he or she is just that, a sinner!

This is really not anything that can be accomplished by man's ability alone.

The Lord Himself must reveal such a truth.

In the case of Saul of Tarsus, this is how it happened.

"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" These are the very words the Lord used according to Luke in Acts 9:4.

But then how did Saul know he was speaking to Jesus?

The next verse, "And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest."

Likely to that point ... Saul, soon to be called Paul, had no idea that he had been sinning against God!

The verb for "persecute" is spelled "dioko" and means "to chase, to put to flight," obviously in this context for the purpose of harming someone. This is the word's common meaning in the New Testament, 31 of 44 times.

"Dioko" here is an indicative mood, present tense, active voice verb, action being depicted that is on-going or durative or habitual. Paul practiced such sin!

Also later, when in Damascus and being visited by Ananias, these words were spoken to the future Apostle: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16

Now while none of us believes in baptismal regeneration, the doctrine that water baptism is essential in order to go to Heaven, the above verse is important. It is not teaching that heresy anyway.

Acts 22:16 is being quoted to show that "sins" were an issue in Paul's salvation, necessarily so!

Paul wrote these words, under Holy Spirit Inspiration too. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one" Romans 3:23

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ...." Romans 5:12

Also: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Ephesians 2:1

Friend, reader here today, have you ever realized that you are a sinner?

This fact really must be revealed to you by the Lord Himself, through His Holy Spirit.

The Spirit Who ... "reproves the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment," Jesus' very words in John 16:8.

To be found ... one usually needs to know that he is lost!

That's why Jesus told us the story of the Publican or Tax-Collector and the religious Pharisee! One would not acknowledge any sin whatsoever! But the other ... "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."

Jesus quickly added: "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Luke 18:13-14

It's true!

God saves sinners!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:

The salvation of a lost soul is not merely an emotional event.

It involves one's mind and will too.

In fact Paul says in Romans 10:10 that it's the heart that believeth unto salvation!

But while being saved is not just an emotional event ... it does involve one's emotions!

For example, when Saul of Tarsus was saved Luke writes: "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Acts 9:6

The verbs trembling and astonished are both participles. They describe Paul's demeanor as he was confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ that day on the road to Damascus!

"Tremo" means "to be afraid," obviously with accompanying physical evidence of such feelings. It is derived from "treo," to dread or to be terrified!

Saul or Paul was realizing, maybe for the first time ever, that Jesus is the Saviour and that Hell is a reality and that Truth is indeed different than he had ever imagined!

He quivered as events transpired!

And "astonished" translates "thambeo," to be amazed! It's from "tapho," to be dumbfounded, at least temporarily! Dazed by the Glory of the Lord!

Emotions!

But Paul's reaction was not merely emotional, immediately his mind engaged and questions followed!

"Who art thou, Lord?" I believe this to be evidence that Saul has already been saved! I know "Lord" can be a term of respect, but in this context deity is in view, the Glory of the resurrected Lord! When one is struck to the earth by the brightest Light ever seen by man, he is not thinking "manners," he's thinking "God is here!" Besides, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost," according to 1st Corinthians 12:3.

And in Acts 9:6, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Faith produces action! The verb "do," in Greek "poieo" as an aorist infinitive, suggests action that is now completed, but was repeated often during Paul's lifetime. A lifestyle of obedience to the Lord is an strong indication of real soul salvation!

Now let's shift from Paul ... to you and me!

Were you emotionally impacted in any way ... when you were saved?

Probably so!

I remember, though a child, first fear ... then peace!

As a sinner ... terrified!

Once a Believer, born-again and Blood-washed ... joy and love and assurance!

Not just emotions ... but still the most wonderful feeling I had ever known, until that moment anyway! (I've had some pretty good feelings since then too! Like right now as I glorify the Lord at this keyboard at 3:00 AM on a Monday morning!)

And our being confronted by Jesus, the day He saved us, also likely spawned some questions!

We became interested in HIM!

"Who are Thou, Lord?"

"Tell me more about Thee!"

"I want to learn of Thee!"

And as with Paul, there follows; "Lord, what can I do for Thee?"

I hesitate to use the word "signs," but certainly "evidences" of salvation!

Indeed, Paul is a prototype or a pattern ... showing us how God saves sinners!

This Text is not saying that everything that happened to Paul will happen to each repenting sinner. It is saying that Paul genuinely got saved and that the general principles at work in his redemption also apply to us!

I did not see a literal bright Light when I got saved, but the Light of the glorious Lord Jesus did burst forth in my heart! And It's been there ever since!

Again I ask, are you saved?

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9:

It was the shock of a lifetime!

Saul, now known to us as Paul the great Apostle, had spend his life fighting this so-called "saviour" from Galilee.

"Jesus," as He was called, "Jesus of Nazareth," was an impostor in Paul's eyes. In the eyes of every good Jew too!

So Saul believed until one day the shock occurred!

He was traveling to Damascus to locate, arrest and imprison more followers of this Jesus person.

Then ... "suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus ...." Acts 9:3-5

Did you read that?

"I am Jesus!"

Here it is in Paul's own words: "And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth ...." Acts 22:8

Again, "as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king Agrippa, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue .... And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus." Acts 26:12-15

Talk about a turnaround!

An about-face!

A true time of repentance!

The Jesus Saul had denied so vehemently, attacking His followers mercilessly, is Lord of all the earth!

He is God!

He is Messiah, after all!

These paltry "Christians" are right!

Saul has been wrong!

Paul later, in Galatians 1:23, quotes some of those Believers: "He which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed." Amazing!

In all three accounts, Acts 9 and 22 and 26, our Lord tells Paul: "I am Jesus!"

"I, the Lord, am Jesus!"

The Greek in each case identically reads: "Ego eimi Iesous."

What Truth!

What grammar too!

What a shock!

First of all that short sentence contains a word that did not have to be present. It is linguistically unnecessary!

"Ego," the personal pronoun meaning "I," is already built into the verb!

"Eimi" is the present tense first person singular form of the verb "to be" in the indicative mood!

"Eimi" just must be translated "I am!"

But the Holy Spirit adds the pronoun "ego" for emphasis!

"Ego" is the first word in this short independent clause too, "Ego eimi Iesous." That gives it even more prominence!

Jesus is saying to Saul, the One you have hated and denied and sought to destroy, is the Lord God Almighty!

Saul, Jesus reveals, "I sit in Heaven! I abide in Glory! I am God! I rule this earth! I am now your Lord!

"Ego eimi Iesus!"

The verb "eimi," as a present tense "being" word, means that Jesus IS ... right now! He is!

He exists!

He lives!

He rules!

He is the Great "I am" of Old Testament days!

In the Garden of Eden He was the "I AM!"

In the fiery furnace of Daniel 3 He was again "I AM!"

On the Cross, "I AM" died, but arose from the grave three days later!

Today, thousands of years later, He's still "I AM!"

And a billion years from now, He will be "I AM!"

Saul, "Ego eimi Iesus!"

And the Name, "Jesus," beautifully means Deliverer, or Saviour, One Who rescues! Translated, Jesus literally says "Jehovah is salvation!"

Glory to His Name!

Jesus indeed gave Paul a shock that day!

One he never "got over" all his life!

Come to think of it, he still hasn't!

Friend, has Jesus confronted you with His saving Grace?

Your experience with Him might not have been as loud or dramatic, but was it personal and faith-filled and life-changing and Holy Spirit induced?

Paul considered himself to have literally been "apprehended" of the Lord that day!

I was too ... the day He saved me!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:

I was reading somewhere yesterday and the author used this expression, "anti-church!"

He said we were living in an anti-church age, referring to Christians, mind you!

We're being told about the massive build-up of "living room churches" in America today, all rejecting the idea of a congregated public gathering of Believers!

Well, that was just NOT Paul's experience at all, not when he got saved!

Read with me. Here the Lord first addresses Saul of Tarsus: "And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou PERSECUTEST." Acts 9:5

More fully yet, Paul describes in his own words: "And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why PERSECUTEST thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou PERSECUTEST." Acts 22:7-8

Then again, "And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why PERSECUTEST thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou PRESECUTEST." Acts 26:14-15

In each case Jesus mentioned to Saul/Paul the fact that the Pharisee had been persecuting the Saviour!

That verb, "dioko," literally means "to run after, to chase, to pursue," obviously here with mischief in mind!

"Persecutest," in all three instances above, is a present tense, indicative mood, active voice verb! Paul had been harming the Lord Jesus Christ!

But, how?

Paul did not know Jesus, not well anyhow!

He may have met the Lord briefly, "wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more," but he did not befriend Him at all! This is from 2nd Corinthians 5:16.

Then, how and when did Paul "persecute" Jesus?

He did so ... in the way he mistreated the church!

Paul's words here, speaking of himself: "Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious ...." 1st Timothy 1:13

Again, "Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities." Acts 26:10-11

Paul, what you did to My Church, you did to Me!

That's what our Lord is saying!

Once Saul, Paul, realized this, that these followers of Jesus were in fact born-again Blood-washed members of Christ's Body ... he understood!

What was done to hurt the body ... also hurt the Head!

From that moment forward ... Paul was never "anti-church" again!

And I believe this. If a person is truly saved, he or she too will have a love for God's Church!

God's people, God's House, the saints of the Lord!

Looks like Paul wrote things like this even: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

The great Apostle "cared" for the Churches diligently! After his great list of personal difficulties and trials and dangers ... Paul adds "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." 2nd Corinthians 11:28

Paul is dangerously close here to telling us that he daily "worries" about the welfare of the churches. That noun "care" is "merimna" and means "anxiety!"

Sounds pretty "pro-church" to me!

No wonder he wrote to the churches in Rome and Corinth and Galatia and Ephesus and Philippi and Colossee and Thessalonica too! Plus three little letters to Pastors of Churches!

He loved God's people, congregated and worshipping and witnessing for Jesus' sake!

Paul literally died for the Saviour he had come to love, spending his post-conversion life serving God in the Churches!

Amen!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11, CONCLUSION:

Much can be learned from a verse Paul penned in 1st Timothy 1:15. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."

The Holy Spirit here has told us yet again WHY Jesus came to earth, God indwelling a human body.

Jesus Himself had already said this, prior to Paul's confession I mean. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10

In our King James Bibles, the term "faithful saying" appears four times, right here then again in 1st Timothy 4:9 and 2nd Timothy 2:11 and Titus 3:8. ! In the Greek Text, five times, add 1st Timothy 3:1. The term is "pistos logos." The last one cited, 1st Timothy 3:1, reads "true saying" in English, but it's still "pistos logos" in Greek.

One of you Preachers ought to preach a series on "The Faithful Sayings" of Scripture, as the Lord leads you I mean.

This expression, "faithful saying," adds even further credence to an already inspired and infallible Bible! It hints at something like this: "never untrue!" Without exception! To be emphasized!

"Acceptation" is spelled "apodoche" and combines "apo" (meaning "from") and "dechomai" (meaning "to receive") ... to receive fully, to intake with gladness, to sincerely welcome!

The clause "came into the world" encapsulates the incarnation and Virgin Birth of Jesus ... in four words actually!

God in flesh!

God on earth!

The verb "to save" translates "sozo," a basic verb. This key word has several connotations in its etymological history. It's a military term, meaning "to defeat" the enemy and "to save" the land from tragedy! At the Cross the devil was stripped!

"Sozo" also is a forensic word. The sheriff or judge might use it often. It means "to deliver" or just "to set free" a prisoner; from his chains, his bonds, his jail cell! Jesus did that for us old sin-bound humans, via His shed Blood on Calvary! Set free!

"Sozo" is a medical word also! It means "to make well!" We all, incurably sick with iniquities and rebellion, met Doctor Jesus, Who possessed the precious "Balm of Gilead," the preseciption that spares us from certain eternal torment in hell forever! Jesus made us well! I today am pronounced free from the leprosy of sin, forgiven!

Then "sozo" is too a counselor's word. When two people are antagonistic one toward another, ripped apart by strife and hatred, a peacemaker might intervene. God, thrice holy as He is, was offended at our unimaginably sinful states. James tells us that we were "at enmity" with God! But Jesus came, died on the Cross, made Peace possible ... then reconciled us to God! Atonement is the word! Peace is the result!

Glory to God!

Jesus came "to save" sinners!

The noun "sinners" is "hamartolos" and means those who have "missed the mark" or "fallen short" of God's Best! To have missed the prize, the gift of eternal life! To have erred from the Path!

But Paul, here in 1st Timothy 1:15 goes even further! He personalizes the plight of the lost! "Sinners, of whom I am chief," confesses the great Apostle! The noun "chief" is "protos," meaning foremost, first in line, in front of ... usually in reference to time, place, order or even importance! Remember now, the Holy Spirit gave Paul these words to write.

Paul's testimony!

He is indeed a "pattern" for us all, ordained so of God!

And he, the pattern, always exalts Jesus!

"And Jesus is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence." Paul in Colossians 1:18

 

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

THANK GOD FOR SOUL SALVATION!

 

 

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