Where Was Saul when He Was Saved?

By Royce Frederick

One of the most vicious enemies of Jesus was Saul of Tarsus. He severely persecuted the church in Jerusalem, scattering the followers of Jesus to other regions (Acts 8:1-4). He then determined to exterminate the religion of Jesus in other cities. He “...went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2). Synagogues are Jewish places of worship.

But the message which Saul actually delivered to the synagogues in Damascus was very different from the message he had planned: “...he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). Saul later became known as Paul, the dedicated apostle who led many Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) to salvation in Jesus Christ.

Where was Saul when he was saved? The Bible tells us about an unusual event which happened to Saul on the road when he was going to Damascus to persecute the followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who had risen from death and gone to heaven, appeared to Saul in a bright light. Saul fell to the ground and heard Jesus speak. Afterwards, Saul stood up, opened his eyes, and discovered he was blind. His companions led him by the hand into Damascus, where for three days, he did no seeing, eating, or drinking — but apparently much thinking (Acts 9:3-9).

Many people teach that Saul was saved from sin during that event on the road. One preacher declared that Saul was saved as he was falling off his horse, before he hit the ground. Actually, the Bible does not tell us that Saul was on a horse at all.

But the Bible does tell us exactly when Saul was saved from his sins. In Damascus, Jesus sent a disciple named Ananias to visit Saul at a house. He told Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). This verse shows us that Saul had not already been saved during the event on the road to Damascus. He still had his sins when Ananias spoke to him three days later in Damascus. Saul was ready and obeyed the gospel by being baptized (Acts 9:18). When he was baptized, his sins were washed away by the blood of Christ. He was saved by the grace of God when he was baptized.

Jesus does not continue appearing to people as He did to Saul. But the Lord planned for Saul’s experience to bless us all. Through Saul (Paul), God teaches us many wonderful things, including the fact that a person is saved from sin at baptism (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12). He wrote to the Christians in Galatia, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).

Saul was not saved by “faith only.” He was saved by “faith when — when he was baptized into Christ at Damascus.