Now Saul, whose every breath was a threat of destruction for the disciples of the Lord,
went to the High Priest and begged from him letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, in order that if he found any believers there, either men or women, he might bring them in chains to Jerusalem.
But on the journey, as he was getting near Damascus, suddenly there flashed round him a light from Heaven;
and falling to the ground he heard a voice which said to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'
'Who art thou, Lord?' he asked. 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' was the reply.
'But rise and go to the city, and you will be told what you are to do.
Meanwhile the men who travelled with Saul were standing dumb with amazement, hearing a sound, but seeing no one.
Then he rose from the ground, but when he had opened his eyes, he could not see, and they led him by the arm and brought him to Damascus.
And for two days he remained without sight, and did not eat or drink anything.
Now in Damascus there was a disciple of the name of Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, saying, 'Ananias!' 'I am here, Lord,' he answered.
'Rise,' said the Lord, 'and go to Straight Street, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man called Saul, from Tarsus, for he is actually praying.
He has seen a man called Ananias come and lay his hands upon him so that he may recover his sight.'
'Lord,' answered Ananias, 'I have heard about that man from many, and I have heard of the great mischief he has done to Thy people in Jerusalem;
and here he is authorized by the High Priests to arrest all who call upon Thy name.'
'Go,' replied the Lord; 'he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name to the Gentiles and to kings and to the descendants of Israel.
For I will let him know the great sufferings which he must pass through for My sake.'
So Ananias went and entered the house; and, laying his two hands upon Saul, said, 'Saul, brother, the Lord--even Jesus who appeared to you on your journey--has sent me, that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.'
Instantly there dropped from his eyes what seemed to be scales, and he could see once more. Upon this he rose and received baptism;
after which he took food and regained his strength. Then he remained some little time with the disciples in Damascus.
And in the synagogues he began at once to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God;
and his hearers were all amazed, and began to ask one another, 'Is not this the man who in Jerusalem tried to exterminate those who called upon that Name, and came here on purpose to carry them off in chains to the High Priests?'
Saul, however, gained more and more influence, and as for the Jews living in Damascus, he bewildered them with his proofs that Jesus is the Christ.
At length the Jews plotted to kill Saul;
but information of their intention was given to him. They even watched the gates, day and night, in order to murder him;
but his disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall, lowering him in a hamper.
So he came to Jerusalem and made several attempts to associate with the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, being in doubt as to whether he himself was a disciple.
Barnabas, however, came to his assistance. He brought Saul to the Apostles, and related to them how, on his journey, he had seen the Lord, and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had fearlessly taught in the name of Jesus.
Henceforth Saul was one of them, going in and out of the city,
and speaking fearlessly in the name of the Lord. And he often talked with the Hellenists and had discussions with them.
But they kept trying to take his life. On learning this, the brethren brought him down to Caesarea, and then sent him by sea to Tarsus.
The Church, however, throughout the whole of Judaea, Galilee and Samaria, had peace and was spiritually built up; and grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord and receiving encouragement from the Holy Spirit.
Now Peter, as he went to town after town, came down also to God's people at Lud.
There he found a man of the name of Aeneas, who for eight years had kept his bed, through being paralysed.
Peter said to him, 'Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you. Rise and make your own bed.' He at once rose to his feet.
And all the people of Lud and Sharon saw him; and they turned to the Lord.
Among the disciples at Jaffa was a woman called Tabitha, or, as the name may be translated, 'Dorcas.' Her life was wholly devoted to the good and charitable actions which she was constantly doing.
But, as it happened, just at that time she was taken ill and died. After washing her body they laid it out in a room upstairs.
Lud, however, being near Jaffa, the disciples, who had heard that Peter was at Lud, sent two men to him with an urgent request that he would come across to them without delay.
So Peter rose and went with them. On his arrival they took him upstairs, and the widow women all came and stood by his side, weeping and showing him the underclothing and cloaks and garments of all kinds which Dorcas used to make while she was still with them.
Peter, however, putting every one out of the room, knelt down and prayed, and then turning to the body, he said, 'Tabitha, rise.' Dorcas at once opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, sat up.
Then, giving her his hand, he raised her to her feet and, calling to him God's people and the widows, he gave her back to them alive.
This incident became known throughout Jaffa, and many believed in the Lord;
and Peter remained for a considerable time at Jaffa, staying at the house of a man called Simon, a tanner.