Acts 9:1-31 – The Call of Saul


Acts 9:1-31


On his way to Damascus to seek out those who believe that Jesus is God’s Messiah and to stop the spread of “the Way,” Saul of Tarsus is blinded by a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Jesus sends him to Damascus, where he sees again and takes up his call of evangelization in Jesus’ name.


A turning point in Acts comes when Saul of Tarsus (the narrator shifts to Saul’s other name, Paul, in Acts 13:9) is called to serve God by proclaiming Jesus as Messiah. The story includes a programmatic statement that describes the course of Saul/Paul’s work in the second half of Acts. In 9:15-16, the Lord says to a man named Ananias (not the same Ananias of Acts 5:1-11) about Saul, “He is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

Saul requires considerable assistance for his calling to come to fruition. Blinded by the brilliance of the light through which Jesus appears and speaks, Saul is led by his assistants to the home of Judas (not Judas Iscariot) on Straight Street in Damascus. There he is instructed and baptized by a brave Christian, Ananias. In Jerusalem, Barnabas encourages the skeptical community to support Paul’s transformation and call to preach the gospel of Christ (9:26‒27)..

Saul is off and running. His travels will be complicated and dangerous. He never denies the importance of the Jerusalem “mother church,” even as he preaches far afield among Gentiles across the northeastern Mediterranean area. Paul’s call does not take him outside of Jewish life but leads him to extend the joys of covenant participation through Christ to all the families of the earth. Finally, Paul proclaims the gospel before high officials in several speeches connected to his trials (Acts 222426). He lives out his claim that his Christ-centered mission “was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).