“As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me.
And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’Acts 22:6-8 RSV
This record of Paul’s conversion corresponds beautifully with all Luke had already recorded of it in Acts 9:1ff. The subtle variations in the two accounts show Paul’s diplomacy on this occasion, wherein he tried by every possible human consideration to enlist the favor of those whom he addressed.
In Acts 9:15 the same announcement is made to Ananias; but, in this address to the Jews, Paul kept that out of view for the moment, reserving it until after the vision in the temple is mentioned.
Note also that whereas Ananias is spoken of as a “Christian” in Acts 9:10, here he is called “a strict and pious Jew.”
To be sure, he was BOTH; but Paul chose the designation that would be more readily approved by his audience.
Here are four vital questions:
1. Why persecutest thou me?
2. Who art thou, Lord?
3. What shall I do, Lord?
4. Why tarriest thou?
(1) Persecution of the truth is futile and only aids the persecuted cause by:
(a) arousing sympathy always felt for the “under dog,”
(b) by intensifying the zeal of the persecuted party, and
(c) by scattering and multiplying the centers of dissemination of the persecuted truth.
(2) This is the most important question a mortal might ask.
It is who Jesus is, was, and ever is which hails him as God in the hearts of men and demands their allegiance, loyalty, and obedience.
(3) What shall I do, Lord?
Paul here had a conversation with the Lord, plainly asking him what to do to be saved; but Jesus did not bypass the great commission, nor deny the sufficiency of the word as proclaimed by gospel preachers; he sent Paul to Ananias.
(4) Why tarriest thou? Why should any man tarry, or delay his baptism into Christ?
Some delay because they think they are too young, others because they fancy they are too old, some because they suffer from the delusion that they do not need to obey; some suppose they are good enough already; others fear they are too wicked to be saved; still others suppose there’s plenty of time yet, simply procrastinate, or wait for some mysterious power from above to move them.
“I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest” It is impossible that any man could have invented such a reply.
This is unlike men.
It’s common to welcome people from areas throughout the world, as I’ve personally seen during the years with my father, a minister of a Church of Christ; and without variation, when people were asked, “Where are you from?” the answer was always that of a well-known city or state.
Take this example:
“Where are you from?”
“I come from Houston.”
“Wonderful. What part of the city do you live in?”
“Well, actually, we live in Goose Creek (near Houston).”
Implicit in the Lord’s reply is the fact that whatever is done to the church our Lord established is also done to himself.