Jesus meets with Saul
1All this time, Saul was still speaking strongly against the disciples of the Lord Jesus. He wanted to kill all the believers. So he went to see the most important priest in Jerusalem. 2Saul asked him, ‘Please will you write some letters for me? Then I can give one of these letters to the leader of each Jewish group in Damascus. That will give me authority to take hold of any believers that I find there.’
Saul wanted to find anyone who agreed with the Way of the Lord Jesus. Then he would tie them and bring them back to Jerusalem, whether they were men or they were women. #9:2 Damascus was an important city and it was about 242 kilometres (150 miles) from Jerusalem. It was in Syria and many Jews lived there. Damascus was one of the ten towns that the Romans did not rule. These ten towns had their own rulers. #9:2 Saul needed letters from the most important priest. Then he would have authority. He could catch any believers that he found. People called the early Christians ‘Those who followed the Way of the Lord’. 3He travelled towards Damascus. He was very near the city when a bright light suddenly appeared. The light came from the sky, and it shone all round him. 4Saul fell down on the ground. He heard a voice which said to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you fight against me?’
5Saul asked, ‘Lord, who are you?’ He said, ‘I am Jesus. And you are fighting against me. 6Now I say to you, get up and go into the city. Someone there will tell you what you must do.’
7The men who were travelling with Saul stood still. They could not say anything. They could hear that someone was speaking. But they could not see anyone. 8Saul stood up from the ground. He opened his eyes, but he could not see anything. So, the men who were with Saul held his hand. They led him into Damascus. 9For three days, Saul could not see anything. During that time, he did not eat any food or drink anything.
10There was a believer who lived in Damascus. His name was Ananias. God gave him a message in a special dream. The Lord Jesus said to him, ‘Ananias!’ Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I am here.’
11Jesus said to Ananias, ‘Prepare yourself and go to Straight Street. A man called Judas lives on that street. Go to his house. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus who is called Saul. He is praying to God. 12He has had a message from God in a special dream. In his dream, he saw a man who is called Ananias come to him. He saw you put your hands on him so that he could see again.’
13Ananias replied, ‘Lord, many people have told me about this man. He has done very bad things to your own people, the believers in Jerusalem. 14Now he has come here to Damascus, and he has brought letters with him from the leaders of the priests. They have given him authority, so that he will take hold of everyone who believes in you. He will tie them and put them in prison.’
15But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go now to Saul! I have chosen him to work for me. He will go to those who are not Jews and to their rulers. He will tell them about me. He will also tell the people of Israel about me. 16I myself will tell him about the many troubles that he will have. He will have much pain on my behalf.’
17So Ananias went to Judas's house and he went inside. He put his hands on Saul and he said to him, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus himself has sent me here to you. It was Jesus that you saw on the road when you were coming here to Damascus. He has sent me to you so that you will be able to see again. God will also fill you with his Holy Spirit.’ #9:17 Brother is a name that a Christian may call another Christian.
18When Ananias said that, immediately something like bits of fish skin fell from Saul's eyes. Then Saul could see again. So he stood up and Ananias baptised him. 19Then Saul ate some food and he became strong again.
Saul teaches people about Jesus
Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20He immediately went to the Jewish meeting places and he taught people about Jesus. He told them that Jesus is the Son of God. 21All the people who heard what Saul said were very surprised. They said to each other, ‘This is the same man who caused much pain to the believers in Jerusalem. We are sure it is him! Now he has come here to Damascus to take hold of the believers and take them away to Jerusalem. He wants to make them stand in front of the leaders of the priests.’
22But Saul became even more powerful when he taught the people. He showed very clearly that Jesus is God's Messiah. So the Jews who lived there in Damascus could not answer him.
23After many days, the Jews met together. They decided that they would kill Saul. 24But someone told Saul about this. The Jews carefully watched the gates of the city all day and all night. They wanted to catch Saul and to kill him. 25But one night, Saul's friends helped him to leave the city secretly. They put him in a basket, and they put him through a hole in the city wall. Then they let the basket go slowly down to the ground outside the city. #9:25 Paul's friends tied a rope to the basket and they held the rope. Then they let the basket go down to the ground.
Saul returns to Jerusalem
26Saul returned to Jerusalem. He wanted to join the group of believers there. But they were all afraid of him. They did not believe that he had really become a disciple of Jesus. 27But one of the believers who was called Barnabas helped Saul. He took Saul to talk to meet the apostles. Barnabas then explained to the apostles what had happened to Saul. Barnabas said to them, ‘Saul saw the Lord when he was on his way to Damascus. The Lord spoke to him there. Then, while Saul was in Damascus, he bravely told people the message about Jesus.’
28After that, Saul stayed with the apostles. He went round everywhere in Jerusalem and he bravely taught people the message about the Lord Jesus. 29Saul also talked with the Jews who spoke the Greek language. He argued with them about Jesus. As a result, they wanted to kill him. #9:29 Greek means the language that people spoke in Greece. Or it means someone who comes from that country. Saul could speak the Greek language. Most people in that part of the world spoke Greek.
30The other believers heard about this. So they took Saul away to Caesarea. From there, they sent him to Tarsus.
31By this time there were believers everywhere in Judea, Galilee and Samaria. For some time they had no troubles. The Holy Spirit helped them to become strong. So, more people became believers, and they obeyed God in everything that they did.
Peter travels to Lydda and Joppa #9:32 Joppa was a town 45 kilometres (28 miles) from Jerusalem. At that time, it was an important sea port in Judea. Joppa was about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Lydda.
32Peter often travelled to many different places. One day he travelled to Lydda, and he went to see the believers there. 33In Lydda, he met a man called Aeneas. Aeneas could not move his arms and legs. He lay on his mat all the time. He had not moved from there for 8 years.
34Peter said to Aeneas, ‘Jesus Christ now makes you well again! So stand up and put away your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas stood up. 35Many people who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas. They saw that he was now well and they believed in the Lord Jesus.
36There was a woman called Tabitha who lived in Joppa. She was a believer. In the Greek language, her name was Dorcas, which means ‘deer’. She was always doing good things to help people. She gave poor people the things that they needed. #9:36 Tabitha was her name in the Aramaic language. Most Jews spoke the Aramaic language. They might also speak the Hebrew language. Greek is the language that people spoke in Greece, but a lot of people in other countries also spoke it. A deer is an animal that eats grass. It is like a goat. It can run very fast.
37Dorcas became very ill and then she died. Women washed her body and they put it in a room upstairs. 38Joppa was not very far from Lydda. The believers in Joppa heard that Peter was in Lydda. So they sent two men to go and to tell him, ‘Please hurry and come to Joppa.’
39Peter then returned to Joppa with the two men. When he arrived at Dorcas's house, some women took him upstairs. Many widows were there and they were crying. They all stood there, close to Peter. They showed him the shirts and coats that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
40Peter sent all these women out of the room. He went down on his knees and he prayed to God. Then he turned his head towards the dead woman and he said, ‘Tabitha, stand up!’ She opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up. 41Peter held her hand and he helped her to stand up. Then he told the widows and all the believers to come into the room. He showed them that Dorcas was alive again.
42People everywhere in Joppa heard what had happened. As a result, many more people believed in the Lord Jesus. 43Peter stayed in Joppa for many days. He stayed with a man called Simon, who was a tanner. #9:43 A tanner is a man who works with animal skins. He makes leather from the skins. And people make things from the leather.