Saul's Conversion

A message from
Governing Elder Vince Taylor

Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-31 (NIV)


Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-31 (NIV)

Acts 8

1 And Saul approved of their killing him.

The Church Persecuted and Scattered

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

Acts 9

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him , "Saul, Saul", why do you persecute me?

5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" he replied. 6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground , but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So when they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called him in a vision, "Ananias!"

11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."

13 "Lord, Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from chief priests to arrest who call on your name."

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

Worship Focus

Digging Deeper

THIS WEEK'S Bible study


Empowered: Saul's Conversion

Available on Monday!

Key Bible Verses

  • Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-31


Saul had a miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus. He heard a direct word from Jesus. Jesus took away his physical sight, and Saul was made blind. His fellow travelers, who were not physically blinded, had to lead Saul into the city.

Ironically, Saul was blind spiritually before he was made physically blind by Jesus. It took another believer, Ananias, to come to Saul and proclaim, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me to pray for you so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17-19)

When Saul got to Jerusalem, another fearless believer, Barnabas, came alongside him as he sought acceptance by the other apostles and disciples in Jerusalem.  

We see how Saul needed strong believers to fearlessly share the Gospel with him and vouch for him. The community of believers was able to help Saul put together all the pieces of what was miraculously happening to him. Their support and encouragement helped Saul become a powerful influence and proclaimer of the Gospel at the beginning of his life as a believer and servant of Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:20-22)

Because of faithful men like Ananias and Barnabas, a great leader, Saul, was launched on his journey of serving King Jesus. Acts 9:31 shares that “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in number.” God also calls us to be faithful encouragers of one another, even in difficult times, so that His Gospel can be proclaimed, leaders can be nurtured and developed, and many come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.


Saul was on his way to Damascus to seek out and arrest followers of Jesus, because he feared that those believers who left Jerusalem due to persecution would infect other Jewish communities with their faith in Jesus. 

Saul’s Dark Side 

  • Saul was violent and condoned the murder of Stephen.
  • He breathed threats to murder the Lord’s disciples.
  • Saul was an unmerciful, relentless oppressor of those who believed in Jesus.

Jesus Stopped Saul in His Tracks

  • Jesus targeted Saul on the Damascus road. Only Saul saw Jesus and not the others on the journey with Saul.
  • Jesus declared to Saul, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” 
  • Jesus blinded Saul to stop him on his path of destruction.
  • Jesus gave Saul instructions on what to do next.  
  • Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road changed everything!

Others Stepped in to Minister to Saul

  • Ananias was the instrument God used for Saul's physical and spiritual conversion (restoration of physical sight and spiritual filling of the Holy Spirit).
  • Barnabas was a witness to the other disciples in Jerusalem about Saul's experience and conversion.  
  • Other believers helped Saul escape when he was being persecuted. (Acts 9:25; 9:30)

After Saul’s Conversion He was Bold in His Witness to King Jesus

  • Saul went to the synagogues in Damascus and began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. (Acts 9:20)
  • Saul proclaimed Jesus in Jerusalem and to the Greek-speaking Jews who then wanted to kill him. (Acts 9:28-29)

Peace and Strengthening of the Believers

  • After Saul’s conversion in Damascus and experience in Jerusalem, the disciples took Saul to Caesarea and sent him to Tarsus.
  • Then the church in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened.
  • Believers lived in the fear of the Lord and were encouraged by the Holy Spirit.
  • The believers increased in numbers.

Life Application

During this week, be aware of people God has placed around you who are spiritually blind and do not know about Jesus. How might God be calling you to share your faith with them? What would you share with them about the Gospel, so they can become believers and be filled with the Holy Spirit?   

If you would like to learn how to share your faith with others in an easy and relational way, Dan Hardaway is leading a one-session class on this topic. The class, Sharing Your Hope with Others, will take place this  Thursday, March 16, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., in Room 4206-07. Register here.

Small Group Discussion Questions

  • Recall a situation when you passionately thought you were right, but then you had to change your position?
  • What was Saul’s response to the Lord’s disciples to begin with, and how did his situation and position change after he encountered Jesus?  
  • How did Ananias initially respond to God when he was told to go to Saul?
  • How did Ananias and Barnabas minister to Saul, and why were their actions considered remarkable and critical to the spread of the Gospel?

Daily Devotional Bible Passages

  • Monday- Conversion and Calling- 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 3:4-9; Romans 11:13
  • Tuesday - Surrender- 1 Corinthians 9:19; Philippians 3:7-8; Galatians 2:20
  • Wednesday- Faithfulness-1 Corinthians; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Timothy 5:24
  • Thursday - Suffering- 2 Corinthians 11:23-30; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Philippians 4:11-13
  • Friday - Spreading the Gospel- Romans 10:14-15; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 2:19-20


Lord, we have many people around us who are hostile to the Gospel. They are bitter and angry and, for various reasons, they hate religion. Help us to care for them and have the right words to share so that they might see your great love. Let us be your representative in their lives so the scales on their eyes fall off and they can see Jesus, our wonderful Savior. 

Additional Resources

Sign up for the Northland Newsletter.

Participate in the class, "Sharing Your Hope with Others." 

About This Sermon Series


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» March 18-19
EMPOWERED | Ministry in the City |
Senior Pastor Josh Laxton

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EMPOWERED |Title To Come |
Senior Pastor Josh Laxton

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» March 18-19
EMPOWERED | Ministry in the City |
Senior Pastor Josh Laxton

» March 25-26
EMPOWERED |Title To Come |
Senior Pastor Josh Laxton

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