Go, Baptize a Terrorist? (Acts 9:1-18)
Nov 08, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (9:15-16; TNIV)
Next only to Jesus, Saul of Tarsus must be the most misunderstood character in the Bible. Acts 9 tells the story of his coming to Christ and its immediate aftermath. Initially, he was a highly trained, Pharisaic Jewish, budding young leader in Israel, determined to stamp out this heretical new movement that had adopted the ridiculous notion that a crucified Messianic pretender had been resurrected. Or so Saul would have thought. He was prepared to go as far afield from Jerusalem as Damascus in Syria to to be imprison and/or execute these Jewish apostates. How could God bless Israel if such apostasy were not swiftly and severely punished?
In today’s world Saul would be called a religious terrorist. The reason Christ had to appear to him in so dramatic a fashion may be because nothing less would have captured his attention. Ananias knew of his reputation and needed divine reassurance before housing, catechizing and baptizing him. God also knew that Saul’s early years in Tarsus (a center of Greek education and culture), his Roman citizenship, and his orthodox Jewish education under Gamaliel uniquely equipped him as a missionary to Gentiles and Jews alike, including their rulers. But, perhaps, akin to the suffering he inflicted on others, he would suffer enormous persecution for proclaiming his new faith as well.
Should we be any less bold as the apostle Paul, even while being as tactful as possible? Should we be any less surprised when we suffer because of it?