The Enemy is Changed
Book of Acts Chapter 9
In the Bible, Paul is first known by the Greek equivalent of his Hebrew name which is Saul. Paul is best known by his Latin Roman name Paul.
Paul went from being the most hated persecutor of the Church to being the great Christian and Apostle to the Church that belongs to Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul was the most dominate missionary to the Gentiles.
To the Church Paul was a murderer and he was certainly a murderer.
It was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who came to Paul and brought salvation to him.
It is only the Lord Jesus Christ who can save anyone.
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
It was the Lord Jesus Christ that cleansed Paul from his sin of persecuting and murdering the Church.
We can be sure Paul had other sin.
Paul hated the Church and wanted to destroy the Church.
When we persecute the Church, we are actually persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ for He is the Head of the Church!
*Act 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Act 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Paul burned with a flaming fury against the Church and all Christians.
It is Christians that make the Church. The Church is not a building!
Paul was consumed with fierce anger and that fierce anger was against Christ Jesus and His disciples.
Paul hunted down and slaughtered all the believers he could find, and we can be sure the world helped him.
The followers of Jesus Christ were called “the way” before the term Christianity was used.
Act 19:9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of “that way” before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
Act 19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about “that way”.
Act 22:4 And I persecuted “this way” unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
Act 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after “the way” which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
Act 24:22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of “that way”, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ were not pictured as a religion and Christianity is not a religion!
The teachings of the Lord were not pictured as rules and regulations for they are simply the truth of God.
The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ were seen as “the way of life’ according to our Heavenly Father.
Not just that but also the “course of life”, “the means of life”, “a condition of life”, and “an experience of life”.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who showed us “the way” of salvation!
Act 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us “the way” of salvation.
It was the Lord Jesus Christ who showed us the “way of the Lord”.
Act 18:25 This man was instructed in “the way” of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who has shown us how to have peace in our lives!
Luk 1:79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into “the way” of peace.
Rom 3:17 And “the way” of peace have they not known:
It was the Lord Jesus Christ who has shown us “the truth” of God’s creation.
2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom “the way of truth” shall be evil spoken of.
This is what Paul was doing. He was speaking evil of the way of truth!
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who has shown us “the way of righteousness”.
2Pe 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
Paul was about to see “the way” himself and what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
*Act 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
What is the truth of our Savior? God can save anybody, anywhere, at any time!
Saul was going to Damascus to slaughter Christians and wipe out Christianity.
Right in the middle of doing this evil, Paul was saved.
A light appeared suddenly, out of nowhere and unexpectedly. A light brighter than the noon day Sun!
Act 22:6 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.
Act 26:13 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.
Paul saw the Lord standing in the middle of this light.
1Co 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
This light was the Glory of the Lord!
1Ti 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
1Ti 6:16 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.
Just the power of this Light struck Paul down to the ground.
Act 26:14 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.
The truth is, the Glory of God must shine in our hearts before we can be saved.
2Co 4:6 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.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Glory of God!
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of Heaven!
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God Himself!
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior to all those who believe, there is no other Savior.
Isa 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Paul is converted from Judaism to Christianity.
By the way, to be a Christian is to do the best we can to be like the Lord Jesus Christ and we can only do this by being filled with God Holy Spirit!
*Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Paul had realized he had seen the Lord and now realized that He was hearing the Lord speak.
Paul was not alone but he was the only one who heard the Lord speak all the others heard was a mighty sound, but they could not distinguish the words spoken by Jesus.
What was Paul’s sin?
Paul was opposing and persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ!
Joh_16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Paul was treading on dangerous ground and every soul upon this earth will get to meet our Savior.
Opposing Christ Jesus is serious, so serious it dooms a person to hell unless there is repentance.
This day was Paul’s chance to miss hell and Paul had to make the right choice.
This may have been Paul’s last day on earth had he remained rebellious.
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Mat 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Paul knew these things happening around him were coming from Heaven.
When Paul asked “who art thou Lord”, he knew it was the Lord of Heaven and earth who was speaking to him.
Paul knew this person was the Lord of Heaven, but he did not know the Lord as his Savior but they are One and the Same.
It takes a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.
Until you meet Jesus and recognize His glory, you will never understand this.
When a person really sees he has been rebelling against the Lord of Glory, the Savior, he will come under conviction.
Paul understood that what he was doing was opposing God who he had great faith in.
In Judaism it is Jehovah who is worshipped and Jehovah and the Lord Jesus are the same Deity.
Paul began to understand that he was lost, separated from Jehovah God and doomed to Hell.
Heb 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Heb 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
It is hard to kick against your own conscience.
“To kick against the pricks” is a picture of a stubborn ox being goaded with a long stick that was sharp on its end.
It was hard for the ox to kick against the goad for he would only feel more pain.
Paul was questioning himself over the truth.
Paul was fighting himself over the truth.
Paul was struggling within himself with the truth of the Scriptures which he knew very well.
When the Light of the Gospel finally breaks through our sinful darkness, we will begin to know the truth.
Everyone who chooses to go against the Lord Jesus has chosen a hard way of life!
They will never know if they have chosen right, and it will affect everything they try to accomplish.
This something each Christian understands!
Psa 51:2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Psa 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psa 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
There was only one thing Paul could do, he had to obey the Lord.
*Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Paul had to surrender to the truth that he was the greatest of all sinners.
Gal_1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Paul was hardly able to bear up under the weight of his sin!
We all get this way when we realize we are just dirty rotten sinners.
These things became part of Paul’s testimony.
Paul became a shattered man, and it would take some time in prayer and meditation to clear his mind so he could learn the truth.
Paul needed the companionship of another believer who had been through similar things.
Paul had been converted and a radical change was taking place within him.
It would take proof of his conversion for the Christian community to receive him.
There were some who witnessed this event that happened to Paul.
*Act 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
There were some witnesses, but they did not know what was really happening.
In typology, we would say they were a type of the world we live in.
The world listens to false science and lies and reject the truth so the world cannot know the truth.
The world is aware of the miracle of conversion, but the world refuses to open their eyes to the truth but cling to the lies of false science.
We have to open our hearts to see the Light of the Lord Jesus.
We have to silence ourselves and our thoughts to hear the voice of God.
We have to make ourselves available to confront the Lord.
We have to be prepared to surrender if we call upon the Lord.
Act 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Act 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
2Co 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2Co 4:4 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.
2Co 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Paul could only do as the Lord instructed him. It is called obedience!
*Act 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
Act 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Paul was blind and he did not know if it was temporary or forever.
Paul was helpless and had to be led by others.
Paul could do nothing else but to think about what had happened to him.
Paul became ashamed for what he had been doing.
Paul needed some help from a Christian!
Paul thought his purpose was to eliminate Christianity, but Paul now had no purpose in his life.
Paul wondered why the Lord Jesus had chosen him.
Paul wondered what the Lord Jesus wanted with him, and he wondered what the Lord Jesus was going to tell him to do.
Paul was unable to eat or drink for three days and Paul became exhausted with no strength at all.
We must understand that once the Lord Jesus has forgiven us, He no more remembers our sin and it is best we forget that old sin.
God sent Paul a brother in Christ named Ananias.
*Act 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Act 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
What Paul needed most was the need to experience the help and ministry of a fellow Christian.
As Christians we all know we are only sinners saved by the “Grace” of God!
Paul needed to see the faith of a brother in Christ.
Paul needed to know that he was also a brother in Christ.
Paul needed to feel the power of God and a glorious healing.
Paul needed to feel the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many ask, just when was Paul saved?
Was Paul saved on the Damascus Road or when he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Paul knew that awesome Light was from Heaven.
Paul knew that voice he heard was from Heaven.
Paul knew who ever was speaking to him was of Heaven.
Paul called this Heavenly being “Lord”.
Paul was surrendering to the Lord when Paul asked Him “What will you have me do”?
Paul did not have a personal relationship, but he knew it was the Lord God of Heaven.
Paul called Him Lord a second time.
Paul realized his only help was to obey the Lord God of Heaven as he surrendered to the Lord.
Paul prayed and the Lord Jesus heard him.
Act 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, “he prayeth”,
Act 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
It is evident that Paul surrendered to the Lord Jesus on the Damascus Road.
Does not sound a whole lot different from many of us who prayed the sinners pray and many pray and never give themselves to the Lord Jesus.
We now have Paul’s history of how he served the Lord in the New Testament.
Paul could now eat because he was settled in his faith.
*Act 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
Paul was a changed man because he had been “Born Again”!
We see that a Church had been established in Damascus and now Paul was identified with other believers.
Paul was a true believer; his old man had surely died!
Paul became a follower of “The Way”.
Paul became a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
*Act 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
Paul preached Christ, the Messiah.
Paul no longer preached religion, or tradition, or ceremony or ritual.
There is a great significant difference between the two!
Paul also did not preach his firsthand experiences, his visions, his praying.
Paul preached Christ. It takes a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ to know the truth!
2Co 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Col 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily
Paul preached Christ the Son of God:
Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
The people were amazed at the change in Paul. We could say Paul made a 180 degree turn rom his old life.
*Act 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
Paul stood as a testimony to the change that comes about when the Holy Spirit moves in and we are “Born Again”.
The people in the synagogues and in the public were amazed at what they saw in the new Paul.
They were expecting all the things they had heard about in Jerusalem to take place.
They had known about the mission of Paul and how he treated men and women Christians.
Paul now identified as a Christian himself.
Paul would later declare to the Romans that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
And to the Christians at Corinth:
1Co 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
Paul became steadfast and faithful to the cause of Christ and his old friends became his enemies.
*Act 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
Act 9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
Paul continued to grow in his faith and his zeal was now for the truth of Jehovah who is the Messiah who came to our world to save us.
Paul grew Spiritually. We can have no strength that can compare to “Spiritual Strength”.
The Bible we have today is rich in the work of the Holy Spirit.
We should never forget the Holy Spirit is one third of the Triune God.
The Holy Spirit is not the influence of God, the Holy Spirit is God with His own work in our lives to accomplish and the power of the Holy Spirit showed mightily in the Apostle Paul.
The more Paul grew in the Lord the more he was able to confuse those who opposed the “Gospel.”
Paul could take the Scriptures and prove that the Lord Jesus was the true Messiah!
Paul grew in strength because his “faith” grew greatly every day.
Paul had been studying the Old Testament since he was a child, but he now knew the truth of the Messiah.
What is the truth of the Bible?
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
So the same ones who had encouraged Paul to persecute Christians now plotted to kill Paul.
God was not about to allow this to happen.
*Act 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
Act 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
We would wonder why they would hate Paul with such a vengeance.
They then considered Paul to be a traitor to Judaism.
When Paul escaped, this is probably the time when Paul went to spend some time with the Lord.
Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Where did Paul get his message?
Paul says not from man.
Paul did not immediately go back to Jerusalem to learn from the Apostles.
Paul went to Arabia where he stayed about three years. The same amount of time the other Apostles spent with Jesus.
It is after this he returned to Damascus.
Many times we just need to get alone with God and just talk to Him.
He is always ready to hear from us!
It is probably on his return to Damascus that verse twenty-three kicks in and this passage we are on now.
There are different theories about Paul’s time in Arabia.
The point being Paul spent some quality time with the Lord Jesus and became a much more mature Christian and it was time for the Lord to use Paul in a mighty way.
Even after returning from Arabia it was still 12 years before Paul went to the missionary field.
Paul fled from assassination all the remaining days of his life.
Paul was run out of Jerusalem and did not get to go home very much.
Paul went to his childhood home in Tarsus until he was called to the mission field.
The message of the “Gospel” convicted and threatened the followers of Judaism, and it still does today.
Christianity is not a growth from Judaism but in fact all those in Judaism will have to convert to Christianity which will take place after the “Rapture of the Church.
The Apostle Paul is an example for us all of the change that takes place after we are saved and the work that we need to be doing as disciples.
Paul was not some fanatic no more than a Christian is today, witnessing for our Lord and Savior.
God will always make a way to escape when we are true witnesses for the Lord.
God will deliver us from difficulty when we true witnesses.
God will carry us through to His presence when death comes.
2Ti 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
You see this is the truth of the Scriptures!