Anglican Morning Devotion (Conversion of St. Paul) for 25 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 19Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 20But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. 21For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 22Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:12-23; all scripture quoted is from the king James Version)
There has never been such a Light as that which dawned on the world at the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world, and we are His Light-Bearers with our marching orders to bear that Light to the far reaches of the globe. Our very best example, as Light Bearers of Christ, is exemplified in the person of St. Paul of Tarsus. Saul (later named, Paul, by the Lord) was born in what is today, Turkey, in the free city of Tarsus. He was raised in Jerusalem and was a citizen of Rome.
Were we to have served in judgment against Saul in his shameful life before meeting the Lord, we would have condemned him to the fires of Hell. Saul was a terror to the Church of Christ in his past life as a well-learned Pharisee. He was raised up a Pharisee of the highest order under prestigious Gamaliel. He was responsible for the putting to death, or incarceration, of many Christians. He led the Jewish rabble who stoned Stephen. What would WE say of such a one? We judge either by the spur of the moment or by past actions, but God judges for future purpose. God not only sees who we are at present, what we have been in the past, but also what we can become under His Holy purpose.
The teaching of Paul was used to plant the seeds of the Gospel throughout the know world of his day. In fact, Paul’s thirteen Epistles (almost half of the books of the New Testament, had a tremendous impact on the great Continental and English great Reformers.
Much of the Protestant Reformation was based on Paul’s teaching that people are saved by grace, not works: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:7-9) This truth gives us security and comfort in our salvation. We no longer try to adhere to a checklist of ‘rights and wrongs’ for our salvation. Our obedience to God is now driven by love that compels good works.
Paul was that burning light that bore the torch of Christ to many disparate lands of the known world. We read in Acts the self-description of Paul’s mission. At Antioch, Paul said: “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. 48And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 49And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” (Acts 13:47-49)
Owing to the envy and malice of the unbelieving Jews, Paul was arrested and demanded his rights as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar. He was arraigned before King Agrippa and Festus to whom he witnessed to his calling and apostleship in Christ. “And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. 32Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” (Acts 26:31-32)
Paul was later beheaded in Rome after many years of service, and writing, and expounding, of Scripture in his Epistles.