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Saul Becomes a Follower of the Lord

Saul kept on threatening to kill the Lord’s followers. He even went to the high priest and asked for letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus. He did this because he wanted to arrest and take to Jerusalem any man or woman who had accepted the Lord’s Way.[a] When Saul had almost reached Damascus, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice that said, “Saul! Saul! Why are you so cruel to me?”

“Who are you?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus,” the Lord answered. “I am the one you are so cruel to. Now get up and go into the city, where you will be told what to do.”

The men with Saul stood there speechless. They had heard the voice, but they had not seen anyone. Saul got up from the ground, and when he opened his eyes, he could not see a thing. Someone then led him by the hand to Damascus, and for three days he was blind and did not eat or drink.

10 A follower named Ananias lived in Damascus, and the Lord spoke to him in a vision. Ananias answered, “Lord, here I am.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the house of Judas on Straight Street. When you get there, you will find a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus. Saul is praying, 12 and he has seen a vision. He saw a man named Ananias coming to him and putting his hands on him, so that he could see again.”

13 Ananias replied, “Lord, a lot of people have told me about the terrible things this man has done to your followers in Jerusalem. 14 Now the chief priests have given him the power to come here and arrest anyone who worships in your name.”

15 The Lord said to Ananias, “Go! I have chosen him to tell foreigners, kings, and the people of Israel about me. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for worshiping in my name.”

17 Ananias left and went into the house where Saul was staying. Ananias placed his hands on him and said, “Saul, the Lord Jesus has sent me. He is the same one who appeared to you along the road. He wants you to be able to see and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

18 Suddenly something like fish scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see. He got up and was baptized. 19 Then he ate and felt much better.

Saul Preaches in Damascus

For several days Saul stayed with the Lord’s followers in Damascus. 20 Soon he went to the Jewish meeting places and started telling people that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 Everyone who heard Saul was amazed and said, “Isn’t this the man who caused so much trouble for those people in Jerusalem who worship in the name of Jesus? Didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them to the chief priests?”

22 Saul preached with such power that he completely confused the Jewish people in Damascus, as he tried to show them that Jesus is the Messiah.

23 Later some of them made plans to kill Saul, 24 but he found out about it. He learned that they were guarding the gates of the city day and night in order to kill him. 25 Then one night his followers let him down over the city wall in a large basket.

Saul in Jerusalem

26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the followers. But they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe he was a true follower. 27 Then Barnabas helped him by taking him to the apostles. He explained how Saul had seen the Lord and how the Lord had spoken to him. Barnabas also said that when Saul was in Damascus, he had spoken bravely in the name of Jesus.

28 Saul moved about freely with the followers in Jerusalem and told everyone about the Lord. 29 He was always arguing with the Jews who spoke Greek, and so they tried to kill him. 30 But the followers found out about this and took Saul to Caesarea. From there they sent him to the city of Tarsus.

31 The church in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria now had a time of peace and kept on worshiping the Lord. The church became stronger, as the Holy Spirit encouraged it and helped it grow.

Peter Heals Aeneas

32 While Peter was traveling from place to place, he visited the Lord’s followers who lived in the town of Lydda. 33 There he met a man named Aeneas, who for eight years had been sick in bed and could not move. 34 Peter said to Aeneas, “Jesus Christ has healed you! Get up and make up your bed.”[b] Right away he stood up.

35 Many people in the towns of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas and became followers of the Lord.

Peter Brings Dorcas Back to Life

36 In Joppa there was a follower named Tabitha. Her Greek name was Dorcas, which means “deer.” She was always doing good things for people and had given much to the poor. 37 But she got sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Joppa wasn’t far from Lydda, and the followers heard that Peter was there. They sent two men to say to him, “Please come with us as quickly as you can!” 39 Right away, Peter went with them.

The men took Peter upstairs into the room. Many widows were there crying. They showed him the coats and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was still alive.

40 After Peter had sent everyone out of the room, he knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to the body of Dorcas and said, “Tabitha, get up!” The woman opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet.

Peter called in the widows and the other followers and showed them that Dorcas had been raised from death. 42 Everyone in Joppa heard what had happened, and many of them put their faith in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed on for a while in Joppa in the house of a man named Simon, who made leather.

Peter and Cornelius

10 In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, who was the captain of a group of soldiers called “The Italian Unit.” Cornelius was a very religious man. He worshiped God, and so did everyone else who lived in his house. He had given a lot of money to the poor and was always praying to God.

One afternoon at about three o’clock,[c] Cornelius had a vision. He saw an angel from God coming to him and calling him by name. Cornelius was surprised and stared at the angel. Then he asked, “What is this all about?”

The angel answered, “God has heard your prayers and knows about your gifts to the poor. Now send some men to Joppa for a man named Simon Peter. He is visiting with Simon the leather maker, who lives in a house near the sea.” After saying this, the angel left.

Cornelius called in two of his servants and one of his soldiers who worshiped God. He explained everything to them and sent them off to Joppa.

The next day about noon these men were coming near Joppa. Peter went up on the roof[d] of the house to pray 10 and became very hungry. While the food was being prepared, he fell sound asleep and had a vision. 11 He saw heaven open, and something came down like a huge sheet held up by its four corners. 12 In it were all kinds of animals, snakes, and birds. 13 A voice said to him, “Peter, get up! Kill these and eat them.”

14 But Peter said, “Lord, I can’t do that! I’ve never eaten anything that is unclean and not fit to eat.”[e]

15 The voice spoke to him again, “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.”

16 This happened three times before the sheet was suddenly taken back to heaven.

17 Peter was still wondering what all of this meant, when the men sent by Cornelius came and stood at the gate. They had found their way to Simon’s house 18 and were asking if Simon Peter was staying there.

19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three[f] men are here looking for you. 20 Hurry down and go with them. Don’t worry, I sent them.”

21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I am the one you are looking for. Why have you come?”

22 They answered, “Captain Cornelius sent us. He is a good man who worships God and is liked by the Jewish people. One of God’s holy angels told Cornelius to send for you, so he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Peter invited them to spend the night.

The next morning, Peter and some of the Lord’s followers in Joppa left with the men who had come from Cornelius. 24 The next day they arrived in Caesarea where Cornelius was waiting for them. He had also invited his relatives and close friends.

25 When Peter arrived, Cornelius greeted him. Then he knelt at Peter’s feet and started worshiping him. 26 But Peter took hold of him and said, “Stand up! I am nothing more than a human.”

27 As Peter entered the house, he was still talking with Cornelius. Many people were there, 28 and Peter said to them, “You know that we Jews are not allowed to have anything to do with other people. But God has shown me that he doesn’t think anyone is unclean or unfit. 29 I agreed to come here, but I want to know why you sent for me.”

30 Cornelius answered:

Four days ago at about three o’clock in the afternoon I was praying at home. Suddenly a man in bright clothes stood in front of me. 31 He said, “Cornelius, God has heard your prayers, and he knows about your gifts to the poor. 32 Now send to Joppa for Simon Peter. He is visiting in the home of Simon the leather maker, who lives near the sea.”

33 I sent for you right away, and you have been good enough to come. All of us are here in the presence of the Lord God, so that we can hear what he has to say.

34 Peter then said:

Now I am certain that God treats all people alike. 35 God is pleased with everyone who worships him and does right, no matter what nation they come from. 36 This is the same message that God gave to the people of Israel, when he sent Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, to offer peace to them.

37 You surely know what happened[g] everywhere in Judea. It all began in Galilee after John had told everyone to be baptized. 38 God gave the Holy Spirit and power to Jesus from Nazareth. He was with Jesus, as he went around doing good and healing everyone who was under the power of the devil. 39 We all saw what Jesus did both in Israel and in the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus was put to death on a cross. 40 But three days later, God raised him to life and let him be seen. 41 Not everyone saw him. He was seen only by us, who ate and drank with him after he was raised from death. We were the ones God chose to tell others about him.

42 God told us to announce clearly to the people that Jesus is the one he has chosen to judge the living and the dead. 43 Every one of the prophets has said that all who have faith in Jesus will have their sins forgiven in his name.

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit took control of everyone who was listening. 45 Some Jewish followers of the Lord had come with Peter, and they were surprised that the Holy Spirit had been given to Gentiles. 46 Now they were hearing Gentiles speaking unknown languages and praising God.

Peter said, 47 “These Gentiles have been given the Holy Spirit, just as we have! I am certain that no one would dare stop us from baptizing them.” 48 Peter ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Footnotes

  1. 9.2 accepted the Lord’s Way: In the book of Acts, this means to become a follower of the Lord Jesus.
  2. 9.34 and make up your bed: Or “and fix something to eat.”
  3. 10.3 at about three o’clock: Probably while he was praying (see 3.1 and the note there).
  4. 10.9 roof: In Palestine the houses usually had a flat roof. Stairs on the outside led up to the roof, which was made of beams and boards covered with packed earth.
  5. 10.14 unclean and not fit to eat: The Law of Moses taught that some foods were not fit to eat.
  6. 10.19 Three: One manuscript has “two;” some manuscripts have “some.”
  7. 10.37 what happened: Or “the message that went.”

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