Saul Encounters Jesus
1During those days, Saul, full of angry threats and rage, wanted to murder the disciples of the Lord Jesus. So he went to ask the high priest 2and requested a letter of authorization he could take to the Jewish leaders in Damascus, requesting their cooperation in finding and arresting any who were followers of the Way. Saul wanted to capture all of the believers he found, both men and women, and drag them as prisoners back to Jerusalem. 3So he obtained the authorization and left for Damascus.
Just outside the city, a brilliant light flashing from heaven suddenly exploded all around him. 4Falling to the ground, he heard a booming voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
5-7The men accompanying Saul were stunned and speechless, for they heard a heavenly voice but could see no one.
Saul replied, “Who are you, Lord?”
“I am Jesus, the Victorious, the one you are persecuting. Now, get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you are to do.”
8Saul stood to his feet, and even though his eyes were open he could see nothing—he was blind. So the men had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. 9For three days he didn’t eat or drink and couldn’t see a thing.
10Living in Damascus was a believer named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling his name. “Ananias.”
“Yes, Lord,” Ananias answered.
11-12The Lord said, “Go at once to the street called Abundance and look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. You will find him at Judah’s house. While he was praying, he saw in a supernatural vision a man named Ananias coming to lay hands upon him to restore his sight.”
13“But Lord,” Ananias replied, “many have told me about his terrible persecution of those in Jerusalem who are devoted to you. 14In fact, the high priest has authorized him to seize and imprison all those in Damascus who call on your name.”
15The Lord Yahweh answered him, “Arise and go! I have chosen this man to be my special messenger. He will be brought before kings, before many nations, and before the Jewish people to give them the revelation of who I am. 16And I will show him how much he is destined to suffer because of his passion for me.”
17Ananias left and found the house where Saul was staying. He went inside and laid hands on him, saying, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me to pray for you so that you might see again and be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.”
18All at once, the crusty substance that was over Saul’s eyes disappeared and he could see perfectly. Immediately, he got up and was baptized. 19After eating a meal, his strength returned.
20Within the hour he was in the synagogues, preaching about Jesus and proclaiming, “Jesus is the Son of God!” 21Those who heard him were astonished, saying among themselves, “Isn’t this the Saul who furiously persecuted those in Jerusalem who called on the name of Jesus? Didn’t he come here with permission from the high priest to drag them off and take them as prisoners?”
22Saul’s power increased greatly as he became more and more proficient in proving that Jesus was the anointed Messiah. Saul remained there for several days with the disciples, even though it agitated the Jews of Damascus.
Saul Escapes from Damascus
23As time passed, the Jews plotted together to kill Saul, 24but it was revealed to him what they were about to do. They closely guarded the gates of the city and tracked his every movement so they could kill him. 25But during the night, some of Saul’s converts helped him escape by lowering him down through an opening in the wall, hiding him in a woven basket.
Saul Returns to Jerusalem
26When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to introduce himself to the fellowship of the believers, but everyone was afraid of him because they doubted he was a true disciple. 27Barnabas came to his defense and brought him before the apostles. Saul shared with them his supernatural experience of seeing the Lord, who spoke with him on the road to Damascus. Barnabas also told them how boldly Saul preached throughout the city in Jesus’ mighty name.
28Then they accepted him as a brother and he remained with them, joining them wherever they went in Jerusalem, boldly preaching in the power and authority of Jesus. 29He openly debated with some of the Jews who had adopted the Greek culture, yet they were secretly plotting to murder him. 30When the believers discovered their scheme, they smuggled him out of the city and took him to Caesarea and then sent him on to Tarsus.
31After this, the church all over Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced a season of peace. The congregations grew larger and larger, with the believers being empowered and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. They worshiped God in wonder and awe, and walked in the fear of the Lord.
Peter Heals Aeneas
32As Peter was ministering from place to place, he visited God’s devoted ones in the village of Lydda. 33He met a man there named Aeneas who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. 34Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed One instantly and divinely heals you. Now, get up and make your bed.”
35All at once he stood to his feet. And when all the people of Lydda and Sharon saw him, they became believers in the Lord.
Peter Raises the Dead
36Now, there was a follower of Jesus who lived in Joppa. Her Aramaic name, Tabitha, means “gazelle.” She lived her life doing kind things for others and serving the poor. 37But then she became very ill and died. After the disciples prepared her body for burial, they laid her in an upstairs room.
38When the believers heard that Peter was nearby in Lydda, they sent two men with an urgent message for him to come without delay. 39So Peter went with them back to Joppa, and upon arriving they led him to the upper room.
There were many widows standing next to Peter, weeping. One after another showed him the tunics and other garments that Tabitha had made to bless others. 40Peter made them all leave the room. Then he knelt down and prayed. Turning to the dead body, he said, “Tabitha, rise up!”
At once she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers and all the widows to come and see that she was alive!
42The news spread all over the city of Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Peter remained in Joppa for several more days as a guest at the house of Simon the tanner.