ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord.
He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus
that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.
As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”
And he asked,
“Who are you, Lord?”
The voice replied,
“I am Jesus whom you persecute.
Now get up and go into the city;
there you will be told what you are to do.”
The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless:
they had heard the sound, but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground and,
opening his eyes, he could not see.
They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days.
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
to whom the Lord called in a vision,
“Here I am, Lord!”
Then the Lord said to him,
“Go at once to Straight Street and ask,
at the house of Judas,
for a man of Tarsus named Saul.
You will find him praying,
for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”
I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem,
and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
This man is my chosen instrument to bring my name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well.
I myself will show him how much he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias left and went to the house.
He laid his hands upon Saul and said,
“Saul, my brother,
the Lord Jesus,
who appeared to you on your way here,
has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.”
Immediately, something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see;
he is got up and was baptised.
Then he took food and was strengthened.
For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus,
and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.
All who heard were astonished and said,
“Is this not the one who cast out in Jerusalem all those calling upon this Name?
Did he not come here to bring them bound before the chief priests?”
But Saul grew more and more powerful,
and he confounded the Jews living in Damascus when he proved that Jesus was the Messiah.
After a fairly long time, the Jews conspired together to kill him.
But Saul became aware of their plan:
Day and night they kept watch at the city gate in order to kill him.
So his disciples took him one night and let him down from the top of the wall, lowering him in a basket.
When Saul came to Jerusalem,
he tried to join the disciples there,
but they were afraid of him because they could not believe that he was a disciple.
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.
He recounted to them how Saul had seen the Lord on his way and the words the Lord had spoken to him.
He told them also how Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
Then Saul began to live with them.
He moved about freely in Jerusalem and preached openly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke to the Hellenists and argued with them, but they wanted to kill him.
When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Meanwhile, the Church had peace.
It was building up throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria with eyes turned to the Lord and filled with comfort from the Holy Spirit.
As Peter travelled around, he went to visit the saints who lived in Lydda.
There he found a man named Aeneas who was paralysed and had been bedridden for eight years.
Peter said to him,
“Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!”
And the man got up at once.
All the people living in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
There was a disciple in Joppa named Tabitha,and which means Dorcas or Gazelle.
She was always doing good works and helping the poor.
At that time she fell sick and died.
After having washed her body, they laid her in the upstairs room.
As Lydda is near Joppa,
the disciples, on hearing that Peter was there,
sent two men to him with the request,
“Please come to us without delay.”
So Peter went with them.
On his arrival they took him upstairs to the room.
All the widows crowded around him in tears,
showing him the clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Peter made them all leave the room and then he knelt down and prayed.
Turning to the dead body he said,
“Tabitha, stand up.”
She opened her eyes, looked at Peter and sat up.
Peter gave her his hand and helped her up.
Then he called in the saints and widows and presented her to them alive.
This became known throughout all of Joppa and many people believed in the Lord because of it.
As for Peter, he remained for some time in Joppa at the house of Simon, a tanner of leather.