Paul the Apostle to the Gentile
It started with Saul’s approval in the stoning of Stephen that marked ‘’the beginning of great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem’’ (Acts 8:1). It is Saul’s zeal to fulfill his agenda of persecuting the early Christians which were heavily influenced by his commitment to his belief as a strict ‘’Shammaite Pharisee’’ (Wright, p. 26). His dedication to persecute the church justifies his action ‘’even beyond the borders of the Holy Land itself’’ (Wright, p. 26).On his way to Damascus to carry his mission, ‘’a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice…’’ (Acts 9: 3-4). He was blinded by the light, as the word of Wright, ‘’Saul of Tarsus … lay blinded and perhaps bruised on the road to Damascus’’ (Wright, p. 36). Stories and testimonies of the apostles seeing the resurrected Jesus as has been mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:5, flew like wildfire. And, Saul himself witness in his very eyes that Jesus was alive, that Jesus resurrected from the dead since Saul himself knew that he was crucified and eventually died on the cross for quite a number of days.This experience marks the beginning of his conversion. Saul now is facing a new challenge. The strict Shammaite Pharisee who carried the mission of obliterating the church is now the vanguard of the faith and is willing to give his life for what he believes. It was his encounter with the resurrected Jesus that changed everything. ‘’The resurrection demarcated Jesus as the true Messiah, the true bearer of Israel’s God-sent destiny’’ (Wright, p. 37). Saul has awakened and now profess ‘’…once I found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckoned as loss’’ (Phil. 3:7).Saul’s experience in his way to Damascus perhaps the most dramatic if not an abrupt event or story of conversion. Nonetheless, his experience changed the very core of his being and changes his perspective.