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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 9 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Had received meat. Food. The word meat has undergone a change since our translation was made. It then meant, as the original does, food of all kinds.

With the disciples. With Christians. Comp. Ac 2:42.

Certain days. How long is not known. It was long enough, however, to preach the gospel, Ac 9:22; 26:20. It might have been for some months, as he did not go to Jerusalem under three years from that time. He remained some time at Damascus, and then went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus, and then went to Jerusalem, Ga 1:17. This visit to Arabia Luke has omitted, but there is no contradiction. He does not affirm that he did not go to Arabia.

We have now passed through the account of one of the most remarkable conversions to Christianity that has ever occurred—that of the apostle Paul. This conversion has always been justly considered as a strong proof of the Christian religion. For,

(1.) this change could not have occurred by any event of fair prospects of honour. He was distinguished already as a Jew. He had had the best opportunities for education that the nation afforded. He had every prospect of rising to distinction and office.

(2.) It could not have been produced by any prospect of wealth or fame; by becoming a Christian. Christians were poor; and to be a Christian then was to be exposed to contempt, persecution, and death. Saul had no reason to suppose that he would escape the common lot of Christians.

(3.) He was as firmly opposed to Christianity before his conversion as possible. He had already distinguished himself for his hostility. Infidels often say that Christians are prejudiced in favour of their religion. But here was a man, at first, a bitter infidel and foe to Christianity. All the prejudices of his education, and his prospects, all his former views and feelings, were opposed to the gospel of Christ. He became, however, one of its most firm advocates and friends; and it is for infidels to account for this change. There must have been some cause, some motive for it; and is there anything more rational than the supposition, that Saul was convinced in a most striking and wonderful manner of the truth of Christianity?

(4.) His subsequent life showed that his change was sincere and real. He encountered danger and persecution to evince his attachment to Christ; he went from land to land, and exposed himself to every danger, and every mode of obloquy and scorn, always rejoicing that he was a Christian, and was permitted to suffer as a Christian; and has thus given the highest proofs of his sincerity. If these sufferings, and if the life of Paul were not evidences of sincerity, then it would be impossible to fix on any circumstances of a man's life that would furnish proof that he was not a deceiver.

(5.) If Paul was sincere—if this conversion was genuine—the Christian religion is true. Nothing else but a religion from heaven could produce this change. There is here, therefore, the independent testimony of a man who was once a persecutor; converted, not by the preaching of the apostles; changed in a wonderful manner; his whole life, views, and feelings revolutionized, and all his subsequent days evincing the sincerity of his feelings, and the reality of the change. He is just such a witness as infidels ought to be satisfied with; whose testimony cannot be impeached; who had no interested motives, and who was willing to stand forth anywhere, and avow his change of feeling and purpose. We adduce him as such a witness; and infidels are bound to dispose of his testimony, or to embrace the religion which he embraced.

(6.) The example of Saul does not stand alone. Hundreds and thousands of enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, have been changed, and each one becomes a living witness of the power and truth of the Christian religion. The scoffer becomes reverent; the profane man learns to speak the praise of God; the sullen, bitter foe of Christ becomes his friend, and lives and dies under the influence of his religion. Could better proof be asked that this religion is from God?

{+} "meat" "food" {b} "Damascus" ac 26:20; Ga 1:17

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