Probably no one has ever turned to the Lord Jesus more quickly than Saul of Tarsus did. After Saul was baptized, “he was with the disciples in Damascus for some days” (9:19). Verse 20 says, “And immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, that this One is the Son of God.” Here the word “immediately” is significant. It indicates that in a very short period of time his turn to the Lord was absolutely completed. Saul was a persecutor, but he turned to the Lord and became a vessel to contain Christ and minister Him to others. I believe that Luke inserted the word “immediately” with the purpose of showing that Saul’s turn took place very quickly.
In chapter nine Luke also gives us a short and simple record concerning Paul’s preaching. According to verse 20, Saul “proclaimed Jesus, that this One is the Son of God.” Then in verse 22 Luke goes on to say that “Saul was all the more empowered and confounded the Jews dwelling in Damascus, proving that this One is the Christ.” In these verses Luke twice uses the phrase “this One.” In verse 20 we see that this One is the Son of God, and in verse 22, that this One is the Christ.
The phrase “this One” is meaningful and rich in its implications. If we study Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus, we shall be able to understand why he used the term “this One.” This is the One whom he persecuted, the One whom the authorities in the Jewish religion opposed and condemned. This One is also the One in whom many believed and whom they followed. The reason Saul used the expression of “this One” as his emphasis was that his audience knew about Jesus and about what was taking place with Saul and the believers. Acts 9:21 indicates this: “And all those hearing him were amazed and said, Is not this man the one who ravaged those who call upon this name in Jerusalem, and he had come here for this, that he might bring them bound before the chief priests?” Because the people knew about this, Saul could simply speak of “this One.” The fact that Saul used this expression indicates that his audience knew about whom he was speaking. Therefore, when Saul began to speak about Jesus, he spoke concerning this One.
With the all-inclusive Christ there are two main aspects— the aspect of His Person and the aspect of His work. We see these two aspects in 9:20 and 22, where Saul speaks of the Son of God and the Christ. The Son of God denotes the Lord’s Person, and the Christ denotes His work.
As the Son of God, the Lord Jesus is the divine One, even the very God Himself. According to John 5, the Jews realized that to say that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God is to say that He is God. Concerning this, John 5:18 says, “For this therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” This indicates that for the Lord to be the Son of God means that He is God.
The expression “the Son of God” refers to the Person of the Lord Jesus. As the Son of God, the Lord Jesus is divine. However, all the opposers considered Him merely a human being. They did not realize that this Jesus is also divine, that He is the Son of God. He is the One with the unique divine source.
In the synagogues in Damascus Saul proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. His audience was made up of those who were knowledgeable concerning Jesus. They knew that Jesus was the Nazarene who was opposed by the authorities in the Jewish religion. Now Saul declared that this One is the Son of God. He seemed to be saying, “This One whom you regard merely as a man is the Son of God. Yes, He came out of a human source, and He is the Son of Man. Nevertheless, this One is the Son of God.” Concerning this, Saul gave a strong testimony.
The Jews were not happy to hear Saul proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. On the contrary, they could not tolerate hearing that Jesus has the unique divine source and that He is the Son of God. Therefore, they opposed Saul’s preaching. They regarded it as blasphemy to declare that a man is the Son of God. Because they regarded this as blasphemy, they opposed Saul and wanted to do away with him (9:24).
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