This chapter is based on Acts 9:1-18.
Saul of Tarsus, a Roman citizen by birth, was a Jew by descent and had been educated by eminent rabbis. He was “a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:5, 6. High hopes were cherished concerning him as an able and zealous defender of the ancient faith. His elevation to the Sanhedrin council placed him in a position of power.
Saul had taken part in the conviction of Stephen, and the striking evidence of God’s presence with the martyr had led him to doubt the cause he had espoused against the followers of Jesus. But the arguments of the priests finally convinced him that Stephen was a blasphemer, that Christ was an impostor, and that those in holy office must be right.
Saul’s education and prejudice, his respect for his teachers, and his pride braced him to rebel against the voice of conscience. And having decided that the priests and scribes were right, he became bitter in his opposition to the disciples of Jesus. His activity in causing holy men and women to be condemned to imprisonment and even to death brought gloom to the newly organized church and caused many to seek safety in flight.
Those who were driven from Jerusalem “went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4. In Damascus the new faith gained many converts.