Saul was an intense persecutor of the church. He was a devout Pharisee who was born in the city of Tarsus, in Cilicia about four hundred fifty miles north of Jerusalem. The place of his birth was at a seat of Greek learning and it also made him a Roman citizen.
Jewish boys were taught a trade by their fathers. In Saul’s early training, he learned the trade of tent making, which he followed during his adult years. He was brought up as a youth in Jerusalem as a student of the great teacher, Gamaliel.
After about seven years had passed since the church was established, Saul was making life difficult for the believers. He went to Jerusalem and received authority from the high priest to go to Damascus and bind disciples and bring them back to Jerusalem. Damascus was about one hundred forty miles north of Jerusalem.
When Saul came near Damascus, a strange thing happened to him. A bright light shone from heaven and a voice called out to him and said, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me?”
The men who were traveling with Saul heard the voice but didn’t understand or see anyone. During this encounter, Jesus told him to, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” He did not hesitate to obey the Lord’s command.
While Saul, being blinded by the light, was being led into Damascus, a disciple named Ananias had a vision. The Lord instructed him in this vision to go to a certain house where Saul of Tarsus was praying. Saul was also seeing Ananias in a vision restoring his sight.
At first, Ananias was afraid to meet with Saul because he had heard of the things that he had done in Jerusalem and that he was even going to bind those in Damascus who called on the Lord’s name. After being convinced of the importance of his mission, Ananias went to Saul and revealed the Lord’s plan for him.
Saul received his sight and immediately arose and was baptized and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Upon being told what he must do, Saul was baptized. Baptism was neither an option nor a choice, but a “must do.”