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Wednesday, December 7 2016

Saul Before His Conversion

"As for Saul, he made havock of the Church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison"

The apostle Paul's explanation of his religious life as a Pharisee before his conversion, when he was known as Saul:

"3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." (Philippians 3:5-7 KJV; see also Philippians 3: Aim High and Philippians 4: Is Your Name In The Bible Of Life?)

Saul was a Jerusalem Pharisee. Although he is not identified by name in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, he was recorded, as we will read, in Acts, as being in Jerusalem at the time of the Messiah's Ministry there (see Why Was The South A Dangerous Place?).

Saul was among these Pharisees (see also What Did The Pharisees Teach Differently From The Sadducees?).

"15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem" (Matthew 15:1 KJV)

"12:14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him" (Matthew 12:14 KJV)

Pharisees

The first mention of Saul was when he was still in Jerusalem, participating in the martyrdom of Stephen (see The Stoning Of Stephen - Why Are Witnesses Called Martyrs?), one of the first deacons (see Why Were They Called Deacons?). The killing of Stephen was just the beginning for Saul, "As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison."

Damascus

"7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 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.

7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:57-60 KJV)

" 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death.

And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (Acts 8:1-4 KJV)

It was while Saul was on his way to a Christian hunt in Damascus (see Where Believers Were First Called Christians) that the LORD's time of converting him came. From then on, Saul was converted from a Christian persecutor and killer to one of the greatest Christians of all time (see Paul, The Apostle To The World).

"9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 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. 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

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. 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.

9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 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. 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias.

And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

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, 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.

9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

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. 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized." (Acts 9:1-18 KJV)

Fact Finder: What was different about Peter and Paul?
See What Was Different About Peter And Paul?


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This Day In History, December 7

43 BC: Marcus Tullius, known as Cicero, statesman and writer, remembered as Rome's greatest thinker and writer, had his head and right hand chopped off by Mark Antony's soldiers. Mark Antony and Cleopatra (see The Cleopatra Connection) were later defeated by Octavian, who, later known as Caesar Augustus, declared the census that caused the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars and Does Rome Have Christ's Birth Certificate?).

Cicero

983: German King Otto III ascended to the throne of the "Holy Roman Empire" (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation). Considering himself to be a Roman emperor, Otto crowned his cousin Bruno as Pope Gregory V (see Emperors and Popes).

1729: 3,000,000 acres of land in Ontario was surrendered by Native Americans of the Mississauga tribe (see also The First Chinese American War). The city of Mississauga, adjacent to Toronto, is named after the Mississauga people.

1815: Michel Ney, one of Napoleon's marshals, was executed by firing squad for alleged treason.

1817: British naval officer William Bligh died in London at age 63. He is best-known as the captain of the Bounty when its infamous mutiny occurred in 1789.

1916: Herbert Asquith resigned as British Prime Minister and was replaced by David Lloyd George, the war secretary, with a commitment to wage all-out war on Germany (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1931: Adolf Hitler's Nazis announced that they would ensure "Nordic dominance" in Germany by sterilizing "mongrel" races (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion; also The Character Assassins and The Terrorist Attack That Enabled Hitler To Become A Dictator).

1941: Japanese forces made a surprise attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2,334 U.S. servicemen were killed, 4 battleships and 188 planes were destroyed. The attack on Pearl Harbor was one of many near-simultaneous attacks carried out by the Japanese navy on British, Dutch, Australian and U.S. bases and colonies all across the Pacific.

Attack On Pearl Harbor

1941: Canada declared war on Japan. The Canadian action came only hours after the Japanese attack on U.S. and British bases and colonies in the Pacific. The declaration made Canada the first of the western allies to officially enter a state of war with Japan (Canada was already at war with Germany, having entered the Second World War with Britain at the start of the conflict in September 1939). The U.S., Britain and the other allied countries declared war the next day.

1945: The Microwave oven was patented.

1953: David Ben Gurion, who had been Prime Minister of Israel (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah) since its foundation in 1948, resigned to retire.

1965: Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lifted the excommunications on each other that caused the division of the Eastern and Western churches of Rome in 1054.

1970: West Germany and Poland signed a pact renouncing the use of force to settle disputes, recognizing the Oder-Neisse River as Poland's western frontier, and acknowledging the transfer to Poland of 40,000 square miles of former German territory.

1988: In Armenia, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale killed more than 25,000 people.

1993: The U.S. government said that it had concealed 204 nuclear blasts at its Nevada test site, more than one-fifth of total tests, to keep the Soviet Union in the dark about the U.S. arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (see also Who Would Throw A Nuclear Boomerang?).

Nuclear Bomb

2003: The Conservative Party of Canada came into existence after the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.


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