Friday, May 25, 2012

Acts 9

The Conversion of Saul

Saul was "breathing threats and murder" against the disciples of Jesus. He was going to travel to Damascus and he asked the high priest for a letter so that if he came across any disciples along the way he might bind them and bring them with him. When he was close to his destination a light from heaven flashed around him and the lord asked why Saul was persecuting him. Saul is told to go to the city to receive further instructions. Saul was blinded for 3 days by the exchange and was led into the city, he didn't eat or drink for those 3 days.

Then God told the disciple Ananias to go heal Saul's blindness. He asked God if he should really do this, for Saul has been very bad to the disciples. God said that Saul is a chosen instrument and he should go heal him. So Ananias goes to Saul, heals his blindness and he is filled with the holy spirit.

What is the purpose of blinding Saul? One possibility is that God is showing his power. Look how easy it is for me to blind you and then heal you back to normal. So what is the message? Work for me or face the consequences. These are the tactics of a bully or a tyrant.
Alternatively, simply being full of the holy spirit made him follow God, in which case him being blinded seems totally unnecessary. 
So which is it?

Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues

Saul hung out with the disciples for days and went to the synagogues and proclaimed that Jesus is the son of God. People were amazed because of his previous works. Saul increased in strength and proved that Jesus was the Christ.

The last statement, that this proves that Jesus is the Christ, that is just a poor definition of proof. Just because someone changes their mind one something doesn't mean the new position is correct. There is always the possibility that they have been fooled. Granted, it is compelling. The idea that someone who used to believe X very strongly now believes the opposite is very interesting. But what matters is their reason for changing, the change itself is not proof.

Saul Escapes from Damascus

The Jews were trying to kill Saul, but he heard of their plans and was able to get away.

I guess it makes sense that they were mad at Saul, if one of your big name guys switched sides you'd probably be pissed too. Killing him seems a bit extreme but that seems to be normal for the time I guess.

Saul in Jerusalem

When Saul got to Jerusalem he tried to hang out with the other disciples, but they were afraid of him because of his former actions. But one of the disciples who was with him in Damascus vouched for him and things went ok.

The Healing of Aeneas

Peter went to Lydda and found a man who had been paralyzed and bedridden for 8 years. He said that Jesus healed him and he should get up and the guy immediately did. Everyone who say this turned to the lord immediately.

Dorcas Restored to Life

Dorcas was a very good person but she became ill and died. So the people of her town went to the disciples in a neighboring town and asked for help. Peter came back with them and brought Dorcas back to life.


  1. It is funny to recall Saul's conversation. It is not uncommon for Christians to say that god in the NT was not nearly as suspect as in the OT. I would say purposefully blinding someone just to show you can is "suspect" at best.

    The rest of the story is pretty silly as well. As you point out, there is nothing that Saul/Paul did that ever proved that Jesus was the son of god. Heck--there is no proof that e was ever even blinded...I mean that is pretty easy to fake...

  2. I agree about the NT/OT God. I think most people who say that haven't really read the bible, but they are instead just repeating something that sounds good for them. It is possible that the OT God is worse than the NT God, I haven't read the OT yet, but the NT God is clearly not really a great character either.

  3. You guys bring up a good point. If I hadn't heard of the OT and only read the NT, I would have a hard time believing that God could be worse. I think he's a pretty bloodthirsty God in the OT.


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