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Fixing His Eyes: What Paul Saw

I have really appreciated “Fixing Her Eyes”, and Jen’s call for us all –sisters and brothers– to fix, focus, and look upon Jesus Christ as we serve together for God’s glory.

There are many nuances to “fixing” our eyes. What are we fixing our eyes on, and who is doing the fixing?

In this article, I consider some of what Paul saw, and the change, or fix, brought about in his vision by the power of Jesus Christ, as Saul became Paul: apostle, leader, and colleague of women.

The stoning of Stephen

Luke’s account of the first martyrdom of Christianity tells us that “…Saul was there, giving full assent to the stoning of Stephen.” He was guarding the coats, yes, and far enough away to avoid the splatters of blood as heavy rocks smashed in Stephen’s skull, and ruptured his intestines. This violent image was one that would have stayed in, and played upon Saul’s mind.

But Saul would have heard the speech Stephen had given. He was right there with his teachers, for he was an up-and-coming Pharisee. Saul was full of zeal to uphold the ancient traditions, and intent on guarding the letter of the Old Testament Law. He wanted to crush this new “Jesus” religion.

Saul heard Stephen describe his heavenly vision and the final cries as Stephen lifted up his eyes and saw Jesus standing in majesty at the throne of God. This truly would have been a vision that Paul never forgot.


Saul was on the road to Damascus with letters from the Jewish leaders authorising him to dispatch any followers of the Way, men and women, just as Stephen had been “done away” with. Paul gives slightly different versions of his experience that day (Acts 9, 22, and 26; in two of these, he saw Jesus and was rendered blind).

We don’t know the words that were spoken that day, but the immediate result was that Saul could no longer see. This actual blindness symbolises his spiritual blindness. Before seeing Jesus, Saul imagined that the was looking the right way. Saul really saw Jesus that day, and fixed his eyes upon Him, so becoming blind by the glory that no human could truly understand.


For three days, Saul was unable to physically see. He was in the dark, and now unsure of why he had come to Damascus. When the wrong way that Saul had been following was exposed as dark and evil, Saul was challenged by weakness and dependence. Can we detect some symbolism here, of Jonah’s time to reflect on God’s power and desire for obedience three days in the belly of the great fish? Jesus himself was in the tomb three days and nights, as He surrendered to the will of God and then rose to new life.

Concentrating on the idea of being in the dark, we see that Saul had time to reflect on both Stephen’s speech, and Jesus’ words to him. What if, during this time, Saul ‘connected the dots’ of what Stephen had said, beginning with Abraham and concluding that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the Messiah, God’s own Son and the Saviour for the world?

The Gentiles

After being taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ more fully, Paul (as he became known) returned to Jesus’ followers to share with them the vision for reaching the Gentiles. Paul saw, as he heard from the believers, that Jesus’ final command was to teach and baptise from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the ends of the earth, so that all nations would know God’s salvation.

With his own eyes, Paul saw the Church expanding and growing as he preached the message of Jesus. Various New Testament accounts tell us how Gentile women and men, transformed by the glorious Gospel, began to minister and grow the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church