Clinton church of Christ

Saul’s Conversion

November 28, 2012

John Allan

The book of Acts contains three accounts of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (better known as Saul of Tarsus): Acts 9, Acts 22, and Acts 26. The latter two were accounts given by Paul himself as he defended his actions in front of Jews (Acts 22) and King Agrippa (Acts 26).

Through the years many have contended that Saul was saved (had his sins forgiven) when he saw that “great light from heaven” (Acts 22:6) that was “brighter than the sun” (Acts 26:13) and conversed with Jesus on the road to Damascus. The force of this position seems to be the presumption that his having a conversation with the Lord must mean that he was saved at that point.

When studying a Bible topic it is proper to gather all the available information on a topic and draw conclusions based on the evidence the Bible provides. Our question is this: “Was Saul of Tarsus saved on the road to Damascus concurrent with his conversation with the Lord?” By using the method we described a few sentences ago, the evidence gives a definitive answer to our question.

First, notice when you read all three accounts there is simply no clear indication that Saul’s conversation with the Lord meant that he was saved. You will not find wording to that effect and therefore we cannot make that assertion based on the evidence. The assertion that Saul was saved at that time is not based on a presumption, and that presumption cannot be validated by the biblical record.

If Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus, then when were his sins taken away? As we read the information the Bible makes available to us we are drawn to Acts 22:16. In that place Ananias, having just explained God’s plan for Saul, urges “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'”

The presumption that Saul was saved prior to this moment is indefensible in light of the plain words of the Bible. If Saul were already saved, there would have been no need for Ananias to instruct him “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

If we permit the Bible to be the authority on the matter we find that Saul’s sins were not taken away on the road to Damascus. Instead, he was instructed by Ananias that he was to be obedient to the gospel. This is perfectly consistent with the instructions Jesus gave the apostles in The Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16) and with the declaration made by Peter in Acts 2:38.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 11:15 am and is filed under Bible Reading Notes.

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