The conversion experience of Saul of Tarsus was as significant as it was shocking. Derek Thomas suggests that the spiritual transformation of Saul “ranks among the most significant events in world history.”1 Paul’s missionary journeys took the gospel beyond the regions of Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The letters of the Apostle Paul account for nearly a quarter of the New Testament. Only Luke wrote more than Paul.2The man who sparked a great persecution (Acts 8:1) against the Church had become her greatest promoter.
In his book, The Origin of Paul’s Religion, J. Gresham Machen wrote:
“The Christian movement…in A.D. 35…would have appeared to a superficial observer to be a Jewish sect. Thirty years later it was plainly a world religion. This establishment as a world religion, to almost as great an extent as any great historical movement can be ascribed to one man, was the work of Paul.”3
The conversion of Saul is worthy of our further attention. I want to encourage you to take some time to reflect upon and answer the following questions by yourself or with others. If you have a family, you might consider taking a different question each night at the dinner table or as a supplement to your family worship time.
- Review the details of Saul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). What details stand out to you?
- Consider some other conversion experiences recorded in the bible and summarize the details:
- Ruth 1:16-17
- Psalm 51
- Luke 23:32-46
- Tell the story of your own conversion. Try to include as many of the details that you can remember: where you were, who you were with, what you heard, anything you said and did.
- How does your own conversion experience overlap some of the details of the biblical experiences we’ve considered above?
- Whether or not your own conversion was a dramatic one, what are the key ingredients of true conversion? For deeper consideration read Kim Riddlebarger’s “Biblical Conversion and the Modern Church.”
- Thomas, Derek, Acts, REC, P&R 2011 ↩︎
- http://apologika.blogspot.com/2014/05/who-wrote-most-of-new-testament.html ↩︎
- Quoted in Thomas, Acts. ↩︎