Chaplain R.T. Byrum tells the incredible story of the Apostle Paul, first introduced as Saul of Tarsus. He was known as the persecutor of the Christian church. He approved of and witnessed the stoning death of Stephen, a Christian who was condemned for his powerful charges against the Sandhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court of 71 men who ruled over Jewish life and religion.
How, one wonders, could Saul have stood there as a witness and not be moved by Stephen’s final plea before dying when he asked God’s forgiveness on those who unjustly put him to death. Saul was zealous for his Jewish faith, which did not allow for compromise. It is this zeal that led Saul down the path of religious extremism that imposed brutal violence and relentless persecution of the early church.
Then something incredible happened that changed not only his character and his beliefs, but even his name. While on the road to Emmaus Paul was instantly converted to a man who God chose to send among non-Jewish gentiles to raise up the Christian church. The remarkable story of Paul repeats itself every day as sinful, broken people all over the world are transformed by God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ.