Act 9:1-2 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Today's readings include this one about Saul, or Paul, prior to his conversion to Christianity. Talk about a change! This guy goes from persecuting Christians to joining them after a few minutes' chat with Jesus. Makes me think about what a few minutes of my time in prayer can do, but that's a different subject!
He'd first made his appearance in Acts 7:58 when the church's first martyr, Stephen, is stoned to death. The people stoning him lay their clothes at Saul's feet.
Act 7:58-59 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
He speaks of it himself later:
Act 22:20 And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by and approving, and keeping the garments of those who killed him.'
After this, Saul took up going after the Christians.
Act 8:1-3 And Saul was consenting to his death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
This only served to advance the cause though, as spreading about opened up new doors and audiences. Later, when Saul decides to track down some of the Christians in Chapter 9, he encounters Jesus and all of his zeal goes to the service of our Lord. Most of the letters we have in the New Testament are from Paul.
Though we don't know for sure how he died, tradition holds he was martyred by beheading in Rome sometime in the mid-60's.