Viral videos were before Paul’s day. Stories traveled.
Imagine the shock when people heard he went from persecuting Christ-followers to becoming one! Imagine Ananias, the one who was told where to find praying Saul and what Saul’s role would be, being told he’s been part of Saul’s vision. Here was his response. “But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.’” (Acts 9:13-14 ESV)
Saul had a rough reputation without the internet to help spread it. God had plans to use Saul, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’” (Acts 9:15-16 ESV)
The very man who had been breathing out murderous threats against Christians (followers of the Way), God said is a chosen instrument of His to carry His name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
He went, laid hands on Saul, and Saul was able to see again. In Acts we hear about this many times, and throughout the New Testament. Paul, also called Saul, testifies publicly to what God has done. When we receive God's grace, we share it. Ananias did. Paul did.
Acts 9 – the conversion of Saul
Acts 22 – Paul tells of his conversion when he is arrested at the temple
Acts 26 – Paul tells of his conversion to King Agrippa
“They only were hearing it said, ‘He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they glorified God because of me.” Galatians 1:23-24 ESV
Ephesians 3 begins this way:
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.” Ephesians 3:1-3 ESV
Paul’s story and news of his calling had spread, “assuming that you have heard,” but he reminds the believers at Ephesus still.
“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is[a] that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Ephesians 3:4-6 ESV
Our world may try to put up divisions, but our God sent Jesus to tear them down.
We believers are no longer separated from God because our sins are forgiven through Christ Jesus! We are no longer separated from one another because Jesus made us one in Himself! The words of Scripture are rich with love and grace.
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 ESV
This is the gospel: We were separated from God by our sin. God, in His mercy, sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for our sin. Christ Jesus lived a sinless life here on earth. He voluntarily received the judgement we deserved. He died. He was buried. The third day He rose from the grave. He offers new life to all who believe.
“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[b] God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” Ephesians 3:7-13 ESV
A commentator puts it this way, “There is grace to the Gentiles that apostles of the gospel were sent to them, and grace to Paul that he should be their apostle; the two thoughts are intertwined in the use of the word grace in this section.”
We are in desperate need of God’s grace. He gives it abundantly.
Paul wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. That’s a little over 48%! 100% of the glory goes to God. He is rich in grace and mercy. He mysteriously chose to love us, right where we were. He graciously gave His Son, Christ Jesus.
Thank You for the reminders that You are in control and that you can bring complete change. Thank you for the testimony of Paul. I’m so glad to be called Your child. I don’t deserve it. Thank you for this family that you have brought me into. Thank you for making us one in Christ Jesus. In His Name, Amen.
Questions to Ponder
How have you seen God’s grace most clearly?
We share news, videos, and gifs readily. Who can you share the testimony of Saul with today?
How has receiving God's grace caused you to scatter it?
 Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 98). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
More Ephesians Devotionals
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