Rolling into Acts 9, all we know of this Saul/Paul character is that he hates the church. These pesky little-Messiahs are running amok in Judea, spreading cultic theology. Paul heartily murdered such people (8:1; 9:1) and to his delight, Jerusalem allowed him to raid Damascus for the scum.
Then, Acts 9:3-19 happened.
Immediately after regaining strength, Paul began to proclaim Jesus (vv.19-20). The first two cities Paul ministered in (Damascus, Jerusalem) attempted to put him to death (v. 24, 29). To escape persecution, the Apostles sent Paul to Tarsus, his hometown.
Paul made for Damascus to persecute Christ, only to leave Damascus persecuted for Him. Paul left Jerusalem to persecute Christ, only to leave again persecuted for Him.
Paul’s conversion hums an Augustinian tune. Augustine was given to lust as a young man. It is said that, after his conversion, his former-lover cried from a window above, “Augustine, it is I!” Yet he replied, “Yes, but it is not I!” I imagine Paul running into old friends at the Jerusalem temple, shortly after leaving Damascus – “Paul! It is I!”
“Yes,” the former-church-hunter would say, “but it is not I!” I wonder if I could say such a thing to those who know of my unregenerate recklessness.