Saul Becomes a Believer
1Meanwhile, Saul continued to oppose the Lord's followers. He said they would be put to death. He went to the high priest. 2He asked the priest for letters to the synagogues in Damascus. He wanted to find men and women who belonged to the Way of Jesus. The letters would allow him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
3On his journey, Saul approached Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground. He heard a voice speak to him. "Saul! Saul!" the voice said. "Why are you opposing me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus," he replied. "I am the one you are opposing. 6Now get up and go into the city. There you will be told what you must do."
7The men traveling with Saul stood there. They weren't able to speak. They had heard the sound. But they didn't see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground. He opened his eyes, but he couldn't see. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind. He didn't eat or drink anything.
10In Damascus there was a believer named Ananias. The Lord called out to him in a vision. "Ananias!" he said.
"Yes, Lord," he answered.
11The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street. Ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias. The man has come and placed his hands on him. Now he will be able to see again."
13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I've heard many reports about this man. They say he has done great harm to God's people in Jerusalem. 14Now he has come here to arrest all those who worship you. The chief priests have given him authority to do this."
15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! I have chosen this man to work for me. He will carry my name to those who aren't Jews and to their kings. He will bring my name to the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for me."
17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. He placed his hands on Saul. "Brother Saul," he said, "you saw the Lord Jesus. He appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He has sent me so that you will be able to see again. You will be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18Right away something like scales fell from Saul's eyes. And he could see again. He got up and was baptized. 19After eating some food, he got his strength back.
Saul spent several days with the believers in Damascus.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem
20At once he began to preach in the synagogues. He taught that Jesus is the Son of God. 21All who heard him were amazed. They asked, "Isn't he the man who caused great trouble in Jerusalem for those who worship Jesus? Hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" 22But Saul grew more and more powerful. The Jews living in Damascus couldn't believe what was happening. Saul proved to them that Jesus is the Christ.
23After many days, the Jews had a meeting. They planned to kill Saul. 24But he learned about their plan. Day and night they watched the city gates closely in order to kill him. 25But his followers helped him escape by night. They lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
26When Saul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the believers. But they were all afraid of him. They didn't believe he was really one of Jesus' followers. 27But Barnabas took him to the apostles. He told them about Saul's journey. He said that Saul had seen the Lord. He told how the Lord had spoken to Saul. Barnabas also said that Saul had preached without fear in Jesus' name in Damascus.
28So Saul stayed with the believers. He moved about freely in Jerusalem. He spoke boldly in the Lord's name. 29He talked and argued with Jews who followed Greek practices. But they tried to kill him. 30The other believers heard about this. They took Saul down to Caesarea. From there they sent him off to Tarsus.
31Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. The Holy Spirit gave the church strength and boldness. So they grew in numbers. And they worshiped the Lord.
Peter Goes to Lydda and Joppa
32As Peter traveled around the country, he went to visit God's people in Lydda. 33There he found a disabled man named Aeneas. For eight years the man had spent most of his time in bed. 34"Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up! Take care of your mat!" So Aeneas got up right away. 35Everyone who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him. They turned to the Lord.
36In Joppa there was a believer named Tabitha. Her name in the Greek language was Dorcas. She was always doing good and helping poor people.
37About that time she became sick and died. Her body was washed and placed in a room upstairs. 38Lydda was near Joppa. The believers heard that Peter was in Lydda. So they sent two men to him. They begged him, "Please come at once!"
39Peter went with them. When he arrived, he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him crying. They showed him the robes and other clothes Dorcas had made while she was still alive.
40Peter sent them all out of the room. Then he got down on his knees and prayed. He turned toward the dead woman. He said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up. 41He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows. He brought her to them. They saw that she was alive. 42This became known all over Joppa. Many people believed in the Lord. 43Peter stayed in Joppa for some time. He stayed with Simon, a man who worked with leather.