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Topics: New Testament, Jesus, Christianity Pages: 8 (2475 words) Published: October 23, 2013
liberty university
The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus
BIBL 364 Research Paper

Christian Romano

Contents

I. Introduction………………………………………………………………………page 3 II. Saul the Pharisee………………………………………………………………….page 3
A. Heritage and Citizenship…………………………………………………….page 3
B. Education and Religious Training…………………………………………...page 4
C. Persecutor of “The Way”……………………………………………………page 5 III. The Encounter with Christ………………………………………………………page 6
A. The Light………………………………………………………………….…page 6
B. The Voice……………………………………………………………………page 6
C. Blindness…………………………………………………………………….page 8 IV. Paul the Apostle…………………………………………………………………page 9
A. The Chosen Vessel…………………………………………………………..page 9
B. The Preacher…………………………………………………………………page 9
C. The Hunter Becomes the Hunted……………………………………………page 10 V. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………..page 10 Bibliography…………………………………………………………………...…page 12

The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus
I. Introduction
The conversion to Christianity of Saul of Tarsus, commonly known as the Paul the apostle, is likely the one single event which had the greatest impact on the spread of the gospel and the growth of the early church throughout the Roman Empire. His zeal as a Pharisee and persecutor of the church before his conversion was translated into a passion for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ after encountering the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. More than any other individual, Paul was responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout the civilized world. He made three missionary journeys through much of the Mediterranean world, tirelessly preaching the gospel he had once sought to destroy.1 Many have listed him second only to Christ Himself as the most influential person in history. He authored at least thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Paul’s conversion is the perfect illustration of the rebirth of the believer. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The Book of Acts provides three accounts of Paul’s conversion, one by Luke (9:1-19) and two others in Paul’s own words (22:1-21; 26:1-23). II. Saul the Pharisee

A. Heritage and Citizenship
Very little is known about Paul’s life before he first appears in Scripture at the stoning of Stephen. All of the knowledge of his up-bringing is provided by Paul himself. He state that he was a Jew (Acts 22:3; 26:6) born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 21:39; 22:3), a free Roman city2 in the Greek-speaking Diaspora,3 in the first or second decade.4 Tarsus was a center of commerce as well as one of great learning, comparable to Athens or Alexandria as a “university city.”5 His parentage is unknown other than he was the son of a Pharisaic Jew. Hengel suggests that his father was a Palestinian Jew as well (Acts 23:6).6 Paul claimed Roman citizenship by birth (Acts 22:28). To be born a citizen, one’s parent must have been a citizen. It is unknown how the citizenship came into Paul’s family.7 Roman citizenship was hard to come by. Buckley notes that of an empire numbering well over one hundred million, only about five million were citizens. “While citizenship was extended to Italians generally, those outside Italy acquired it by virtue of some service to an emissary of the government or Caesar. That a Jew should have acquired Roman citizenship is the more remarkable.”8

B. Education and Religious Training
Paul states that he was “brought up in this city (Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3). Gamaliel was the most renowned rabbi of the day, the most distinguished student of Hillel and succeeded him as the head of the school which bore his name.9 Paul notes his academic success in Gal. 1:14, “And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my...

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