Saul was the great agent in the first persecution of the Church of God was well educated in the learning of the times, and one of the most strict of the sect of the Pharisees. He was born in the Roman city Tarsus, and enjoyed the privilege of a free citizen of Rome, which gave him high influence among the Jews, and increased his power to injure the followers of Jesus. He pursued the Christians with the fury of a bigot and the rage of a madman. He paid no regard to age or sex; tearing the husband from the wife, and the mother from her children, and breathing vengeance and blood wherever he came.
But at last it pleased God, A. D. 35, to put a stop to his violence and wickedness. And wonderful was the change of his heart. Having dispersed the Christians from Jerusalem, he was on a journey to renew his persecutions in Damascus, when a sudden light from heaven smote him to the ground, and he heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?” The haughty Saul trembled, his conscience smote him, his soul was humbled, and his feelings melted for the cause he had heretofore hated and persecuted.
Saul became now, after this miraculous conversion, one of the strongest pillars of the Christian Church. He preached the gospel in public, laboring with pious zeal as if to make up for the guilt and crimes of his former life.
Thousands were converted by his preaching, and he endured the persecutions of the unbelieving, remembering when he too was a leader among them.
He was stoned at Lystra, A. D. 46, and left for dead,—but suddenly revived as the disciples were attending upon his body. Having thus escaped the fate of Stephen, he travelled on from city to city, openly proclaiming the Gospel.
At length after a long life spent in fearless devotion to the cause of the crucified Savior, he was taken up in Rome, thrown into prison, and in a few months after, condemned to suffer martyrdom by beheading, A. D. 68.