Conversion of Saul according to Luke

Jesus was not a well-known figure during his alleged lifetime. In fact, there’s no evidence he existed and most likely he did not as the evidence suggests he was an update on Zoroastrian sun worship influenced by the Buddhism brought back by Alexander the Great.

John the Baptist, however, seems to have been real, as well as Jesus’ alleged brother James, and those two were probably the true founders of the Christian faith. It was James and his immediate followers who created the epic ministry. The New Testament is merely a small slice of writings concerning the early Christian movement, and certainly not the oldest source, which would be the Dead Sea Scrolls, which never mention Jesus, only “the chrism” and a “teacher of righteousness.”

Most of the New Testament was written by Paul and Luke, neither of whom ever met a living Jesus. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles and it’s nothing like the rest of the New Testament or Gnostic Gospels. But it is the main source of mythology on Paul, and paints him as the true heir to the Jesus movement. It also employs angels and moments of theatrical magic, suggesting the author may have been a talented playwright, and what you are actually digesting is a wag-the-dog-movie. Imagine if you heard the disembodied voice of the Great One, (something guaranteed to be either a prank or a false delusion in real life). In this story this happens to two people, and their reactions are hilarious if you just think about it because they both react as if this sort of thing happens every day.

Saul was terrorizing followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, threatening to kill them. He went to the high priest and requested letters to the synagogues in Damascus. Saul wanted authority to hunt down Jesus believers in Damascus. If he found any, men or women, he’d drag them back to Jerusalem.

Saul went to Damascus. But when he got close, an extremely bright light from heaven suddenly shined around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

Saul said, “Who are you, Lord?”

The voice answered, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Get up now and go into the city. Someone there will tell you what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul just stood there, unable to speak. They heard the voice, but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes, but he could not see. So the men with him held his hand and led him into Damascus. For three days, Saul could not see and he did not eat nor drink.

There was a follower of Jesus in Damascus named Ananias. In a vision the Lord said to him, “Ananias!”

Ananias answered, “Here I am, Lord.”

The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight Street. Find the house of Judas and ask for a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus. He is there now, praying. He has seen a vision in which a man named Ananias came and laid his hands on him so that he could see again.”

But Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this guy and he is doing bad things and terrorizing people. Now he has come here to Damascus to terrorize. The leading priests have given him the power to arrest anyone who trusts in you.”

But the Lord Jesus said to Ananias, “Go! I have chosen Saul for an important work. I want him to tell other nations, their rulers, and the people of Israel about me. I will show him all that he must suffer for me.”

So Ananias left and went to the house of Judas. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus sent me. He is the one you saw on the road when you came here. He sent me so that you can see again and also be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Immediately, something that looked like fish scales fell off Saul’s eyes. He was able to see! Then he got up and was baptized. After he ate, he began to feel strong again.

Saul stayed with the followers of Jesus in Damascus for a few days. Soon he began to go to the synagogues and tell people about Jesus. He told the people, “Jesus is the Son of God!”

All the people who heard Saul were amazed. They said, “This is the same man who was in Jerusalem trying to destroy the people who trust in Jesus! And that’s why he has come here—to arrest the followers of Jesus and take them back to the leading priests.”

But Saul became more and more powerful in proving that Jesus is the Messiah. His proofs were so strong that the Jews who lived in Damascus could not argue with him.

After many days, some Jews made plans to kill Saul. They were watching the city gates day and night. They wanted to kill Saul, but he learned about their plan. One night some followers that Saul had taught helped him leave the city. They put him in a basket and lowered it down through a hole in the city wall.

Then Saul went to Jerusalem. He tried to join the group of followers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe that he was really a follower of Jesus. But Barnabas accepted Saul and took him to the apostles. He told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. Then he told them how boldly Saul had spoken for the Lord in Damascus.

And so Saul stayed with the followers and went all around Jerusalem speaking boldly for the Lord. He often had arguments with the Greek-speaking Jews, who began making plans to kill him. When the believers learned about this, they took Saul to Caesarea, and from there they sent him to the city of Tarsus.

The church in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had a time of peace. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, these groups of believers became stronger in faith and showed their respect for the Lord by the way they lived. So the church everywhere grew in numbers.

Cool Hand Luke

Just as Constantine had his publicist in Eusebuius, the Apostle Paul had his in Luke. They obviously had a very close relationship and I’m guessing Luke was a much younger man, and he acted as Paul’s personal physician. Paul seems to have suffered from “a thorn in the flesh,” that may have required daily attention and these two were inseparable.

Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, and together they comprise about a third of the New Testament, while the texts attributed to Paul make up the bulk of the rest, so these two close associates represent the twin towers of the New Testament. But Luke also painted the first icons, and pioneered a blending of the Egyptian and Greek painting styles into one. Not only did he write the most dramatic parts of the New Testament (in Greek), but he created the first images of the saints. Paul may have been the brains behind the ministry, but Luke was the one carrying water and chopping wood.

Luke was born in the empire’s third largest city, Antioch in South-Central Turkey, near the mouth of the Orontes River, but he settled in the coastal town of Ephesus. He wrote in fluent, educated Greek with a flair for the dramatic, and was obviously influenced by The Aeneid, the original Bible for the Roman Empire, an epic poem by Virgil that traced the history of Rome as emanating from the ruins of Troy, and celebrated its imperial rise to grandeur up to Augustus Ceasar. The poem established the divine right-to-rule for Rome’s royal families, so it was a useful piece of mind control. The story mixed fact and fiction, with gods and goddesses jumping into the fray at will. It set the standard for creating an empire-justifying mythology, and took its cues from the success of Homer’s Iliad.

Similarly, Luke manifested a similar operation by drawing a direct line from Zechariah to Jesus to Paul, and anointing Paul as the true leader of the Christian ministry, with a divine right to lead the movement. It was a puff piece studded with lies and exaggerations undoubtedly fed by Paul in order to enhance Paul’s reputation and solidify his dominance over Christianity. And the story had angels and demons jumping into the narrative at will, like the Olympic gods in the Aeneid, but nothing like the other Gospels, especially the Gnostic Ones rejected by the Council of Nicaea, which concentrate on an examination of the origin of life, and do not have supernatural beings directing traffic on earth.

So if you pay attention to Luke’s story and realize his influences, then the appearance of these angels becomes a device deployed to conceal Paul’s hidden connections to Rome, the force really rescuing Paul in his hours of need. When you flip this switch, those fantastic stories take on new dimensions, and begin to resemble the UFO stories being circulated around the history of religion today, stories that may be planted to hold back the realization that an anointing oil manifested medical miracles in the time of Jesus, an oil written out of the New Testament, but one that is certainly experiencing a rebirth in our time.