Saul approves of the killing of Stephen and is inspired to embark on a personal campaign of persecution against Jesus followers (Acts 7: 58—8:3). It is an inauspicious start for the man who would come to be known as the Apostle Paul.
As Saul’s actions gain notoriety, it is clear that his zeal for suppressing the Jesus movement is no secret from anyone, least of all God. God’s choice to call Saul into ministry is not accidental, and in fact, it’s in character. Throughout the Bible, God chooses unlikely—even morally ambiguous—people to serve and to lead God’s people.
This message is an excerpt from the Bible study, “Paul and the Power of Failure,” by Meghan Johnstone Aelabouni in the November 2016 issue of Gather magazine. Today we remember Francis Xavier, missionary to Asia, who died in 1552.