Saul was part of the official offensive to deal with this new Christian religion before it spread any further. He'd already proved his worth in Jerusalem. In his own words, he had "laid waste to the (Christian) church, arresting the followers of Jesus, having them thrown into prison, and trying to get them to blaspheme" (which carried the penalty of death by stoning in Jewish law). He had already officiated at the execution by stoning of Stephen, one of Jesus' followers in Jerusalem, and now his commission was to destroy the growing Christian community in Damascus. No doubt as he rode along the highway he was thinking of the strategies he would use to get the followers of this Jesus arrested and brought back to Jerusalem for trial and execution.
The Leader's Moment of Truth
Suddenly, as they were getting close to Damascus, Saul was stunned by a blinding light from the sky that flashed around him. Knocked from his horse and lying sightless on the road, Saul heard a voice: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Filled with awe, he asked, "Who are you, Lord?" "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting," the voice replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." Saul's men, who had seen the light but did not comprehend the voice, led him to Damascus and placed him, still blind, in lodgings there. For three days Saul ate and drank nothing, and his blindness continued.
There was in Damascus a Christian disciple of Jesus called Ananias. He had a vision in which the Lord told him: "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
But Ananias balked and began to argue. "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
The Lord replied, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." So Ananias did as he was bid, and restored Saul's sight. Then Saul was baptized by Ananias, adopting his Roman name of Paul. He became a “servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1) and in that servanthood discovered “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Story from Acts 9:1-19.
Saint Paul's Achievement
And so began over 30 years of service for Saint Paul, bringing Christianity to the Gentiles and expatriate Jews in cities around the Mediterranean, and subsequently, through the letters he wrote to the churches he founded there, to millions of people around the world.
It was not a comfortable life. Before long he bore the marks of Roman and Hebrew punishment on his body. He suffered character assassination from enemies and the "prophets" of rival religions trying to hijack his churches, he travelled gruelling distances, was shipwrecked three times, stoned once and left for dead, and flogged within an inch of his life on three occasions. (2 Corinthians 11: 24-27) Finally, he was executed in Rome during Nero's reign, probably on the same day that Saint Peter was crucified there.
As a Roman citizen by birth, he met a Roman's death by beheading.   And shortly before his execution he was able to write, "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy, 4 : 6-7).
Note:   Reading Paul's letters calls for a real understanding of his times. and events taking place in his churches. Many of his letters address specific issues. In some cases these are legal issues surrounding the bringing of Gentiles in to what was essentially a Jewish religion. In some cases, they relate to problems being experienced by the churches. In Corinth especially, there were problems associated with the wealth and cosmopolitan nature of the city, and it was here that Paul's character came under serious attack from would-be leaders trying to slander him and take over his congregation.