A young zealous Pharisee named Saul (later Paul), who as a youth was trained by famed Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem, witnesses the death of the first Christian martyr named Stephen. Eagerly seeking to stamp out what is perceived as a renegade but growing sect of Judaism, Saul receives official authority from the High Priest to hunt down and arrest any believers in Jesus found in Damascus' synagogues. Once arrested, Saul plans to take these 'troublemakers' to Jerusalem where they will stand trial and be punished.
Damascus is a very ancient city mentioned early in the Bible (Genesis 14:15, 15:2) and was considered the capital city of Syria (1Kings 20:34). King David not only conquered the Syrians but also had the city occupied and the people pay him tribute money (2Samuel 8:5 - 6).
Later in its history, Damascus was conquered by the Assyrian Empire and its people taken as captives (2Kings 16:9). At the time of the New Testament the city was walled (2Corinthians 11:33).
As Saul travels to Damascus to carry out his plan to 'clean up' their synagogues, something completely unexpected happens that will change not only his life but the lives of billions in the future.
But it came to pass while he was journeying, as he drew near to Damascus, that suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him . . . Then Saul (Paul) arose from the ground; but when he opened his eyes, he saw no one (Acts 9:3, 8).
A blinded Saul is led to Damascus by his traveling friends. After three days of fasting and repenting of his many sins, Saul is healed of his blindness by a believer in Christ named Ananias. He goes under the waters of baptism and receives God's spirit. He very quickly begins to explain and defend the very Gospel message he so vehemently sought to stamp out!
Saul will soon go by the name of Paul (Acts 13:9). He will be ordained an apostle with another person named Barnabas (Acts 13:1 - 3) and become the most influential person in the New Testament short of Jesus himself.