There is a common belief among Christians today that Saul was saved on the road to Damascus. The conversion account of Saul, later known as Paul the apostle, is well documented in Scripture. In fact, there are three accounts of his conversion that are candidates to consider if Saul was saved on the road to Damascus. All three are found in Acts. The first is Luke’s narrative in Acts 91. The other two accounts are retellings by Paul himself – one in Acts 222 and the other in Acts 263. Putting these three accounts together, we have an excellent opportunity to consider the sum of God’s word for truth (Psalms 119:160).

How Scripture answers "Was Saul saved on the road to Damascus?"

Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus, he was only told by Jesus1,2,3 to go there for further instructions1,2 after asking, “What shall I do?”2. At that point, he was still in his sin5. After arriving in Damascus, he was there for three days praying and without sight1,2…but still not told what to do…and still not saved – though he had been set apart for God’s calling4.

When Ananias arrived, he laid his hands on Saul and told him he had been sent so that he could receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit1. It was at that moment that he gained his sight…but he’s still not saved. Finally, Ananias tells him not to delay2, but to immediately “be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”2 Saul was then baptized1,2, even before taking food1. It was at this point, having his sins washed away, that Saul was saved.

Saul is traveling to Damascus1,2,3 under the authority of the chief priests in order to arrest Christians1,2. While on the road, he sees a vision of the risen Jesus1,2,3 and is blinded1,2 by it. Jesus tells him that He’s appearing “to appoint you as a servant and witness”3. His companions also hear1, but don’t understand the voice2. After hearing this, Saul asks Jesus, “What shall I do, Lord?”2 Jesus tells him to continue on to the city where someone will give him instructions1,2. So, he is led into the city1,2 and is there for three days without his sight, praying1 and apparently fasting1.

Meanwhile, Ananias, a disciple in Damascus1,2, also sees a vision telling him where to find Saul1. He’s told that Saul is praying and that he has seen a vision of Ananias laying his hands on him so that he might regain his sight1. Ananias is not excited about going1, so in order to assuage his apprehension Ananias is also told a little about what Saul will do for the kingdom1.

When Ananias finds Saul1,2, he lays his hands on him1 and explains he’s been sent so that he can regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit1. It’s just then that Saul regains his sight1. Ananias then tells Saul not to wait, but to “rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”2 He then is baptized1,2 and eats food to be strengthened1 (apparently, he was also fasting those three days).

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.

Saul (e.g. Paul) is on his way to Damascus when he encounters Jesus in a vision.  Jesus asks him why he is persecuting him and tells him to enter the city where he will be told what to do.

Saul is a zealous, Jewish Pharisee and a leader in the persecution of this relatively new faith in Jesus the Christ.  After arriving in Damascus, he meets Ananias, who also had a vision from Jesus to meet Saul (vss 10-11).  Ananias is the one that tells Saul what he must do (vss 17-19).

Also told by Paul before the Jewish crowd (22:3-16) and again by Paul before Agrippa (26:12-18).

So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.

Ananias departed [to Damascus] and entered the house [where Saul was waiting]. He laid his hands on him and told him that it was the same Jesus that appeared to him on the road who sent him in order that he might regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. At that point, things resembling scales fell from Saul’s eyes and his sight was restored. He then rose and was baptized and ate and was strengthened.

Saul is a zealous, Jewish Pharisee and a leader of the persecution of this relatively new faith in Jesus the Christ.  Saul is blinded by the vision and is sought out in Damascus by a disciple, Ananias (who also had a vision from Jesus with instructions – vss 10-16).
Scripture-block application to this question

Luke’s third-person account of Saul’s conversion. While on the road to Damascus, Saul is told by Jesus in a vision to go to Damascus where he would be “told what you are to do”. Once there, Ananias arrives, tells Saul that it was Jesus who also instructed him to come in order that he might regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. When Ananias laid his hands on Saul his sight was restored. Then he was baptized and ate food.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Luke’s entire account covers verses 1-19, only a portion of which is captured here in scripture-blocks.

And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.

Don’t delay, rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Paul is testifying to the Jews about his personal salvation while he was alone three days with Ananias.

Also told by Luke (9:1-19) and again by Paul (26:12-18).

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Don’t delay, rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Paul is testifying to the Jews about his personal salvation while he was alone three days with Ananias.

Also told by Luke (9:1-19) and again by Paul (26:12-18).

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul’s first-person account before a Jewish crowd. Saul asks Jesus what he should do and he’s told to go to Damascus where he would be told what to do. Subsequently, it is in Damascus where Ananias tells Saul/Paul to immediately be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins (e.g. “calling on his name”).

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Paul’s entire account covers verses 3-16, only a portion of which is captured here in scripture-blocks.

In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.

Connected with this, I traveled to Damascus by the authority of the chief priests. At noon, O King, I saw a light brighter than the sun coming from heaven that shone around me and my companions.

Paul has been arrested (21:33) upon his return to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey.  He is giving his defense to King Agrippa and recounting his conversion story before appealing to Caesar as a Roman citizen and being taken to Rome.

Also told by Luke (9:1-19) and the first time by Paul before the Jewish crowd (22:3-16).

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul’s second personal account, this time before King Agrippa (verses 12-18). This account details more of what Jesus told him when he was blinded on the road. It says nothing of what happened in Damascus so it isn’t terribly relevant for this question specifically.

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

He [God] had already set me apart from the beginning and called me by His grace. But when He revealed His Son to me [Paul] in order to preach Him to the Gentiles, I did not consult with anyone – including the apostles in Jerusalem who came before me – but rather went to Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia – churches that he had established not too long ago on his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14).  He is astonished by their quick turning from the gospel due to, in particular, “Judaizing teachers” that required Gentiles to be circumcised (affectively, accepting Judaism) before becoming, or in order to become, a Christian.

This was a significant issue throughout first-century Christianity and almost immediately becomes a problem after Paul’s first journey to Galatia (Acts 15).  Apparently, there was a “stigma” cast on Christians that had not been Jews first – or not part of the “circumcision party” (2:12), and even Peter is somewhat affected by this teaching (2:11-14).

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul was set apart from the beginning (literally) and called by God to salvation.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

I [Paul] thank Jesus Christ our Lord who has given me strength and judged me faithful to be appointed to His service, in spite of the fact that I was a blasphemer, persecutor [of His church], and an insolent opponent.  Nevertheless, I was granted mercy since I acted ignorantly in unbelief, the His grace overflowed on my behalf together with the faith and love that are found in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s instructions to the young preacher Timothy, ending chapter 1 with two named individuals who were engaged in false teaching and as a result made a “shipwreck of their faith” and have been “handed over to Satan to learn…”.
Scripture-block application to this question

Paul was in sin before being shown mercy by God and believing in Jesus, the Christ.

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