The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.
Conversions in Acts: What Do They All Have in Common?
Hearing? Faith? Repentance? Confession? Baptism? Which of these characteristics were found with each incident of conversion in the Acts of the Apostles?
Born Again: A Jewish Concept
To the first century Jew, “born again” was a term used for certain rites of passage in a man’s life. In Rabbinic Judaism, at least five different events were so labeled:
‘Except a man be born from above,¹ he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ It has been thought by commentators, that there is here an allusion to a Jewish mode of expression in regard to proselytes, who were viewed as ‘new-born.’ But in that case Nicodemus would have understood it, and answered differently — or, rather, not expressed his utter inability to understand it.
The Novelty of the Personal Relationship with Jesus
The phrases “personal relationship with Jesus” and “personal savior” are not only not found in the Bible, but are much more recent than that. Here is what Joel Miller discovered by performing an ngram to see how frequently the phrases appear in books:
Except Ye Be Converted...
What is the real signification of the word “conversion,” as used in the Scriptures? The word looms large—or used to loom large—in certain places of worship; among Salvationists, the Methodists, and those denominations which made a practice of holding “Revival services.” In fact, revival services were held for the express purpose of bringing about “conversions.” We have placed this last word between inverted commas, because it has been used in a technical sense by Salvationists, old-fashioned Methodists, many Evangelical Churchmen, and revivalists in general. Our meaning is this. It is quite possible for a man to be converted from Hinduism or Buddhism to Orthodox Christianity, from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism, and yet not be “converted” in the sense meant by a revivalist when he employs the word. A man may be a full member of the Methodist denomination, he may have been “christened” and “confirmed,” and thus be a full member of an Evangelical Church, and yet be “unconverted” in the technical sense.
A New Creature
The Old Testament tells of Saul of Benjamin, that immediately after his anointing by Samuel, but prior to his proclamation to Israel, he was sent on his way by the prophet with the following significant words. “Thou shalt meet a company of prophets. . .and they shall prophesy. And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thon shalt prophesy with them, and thon shall be turned into another man.’”¹ And so it came to pass that, at least for a period, Saul became a changed man. The New Testament tells of another Saul, a citizen of Tarsus and a persecutor of the Christians, who on the Damascus Road was overwhelmed by a great light at mid-day—and that light was the Light of the World. And although his physical sight was blinded for a season, the eyes of his spiritual discernment were considerably opened, and he, too, became “another man.” Which was the real Saul of Benjamin? Which was the real Saul of Tarsus? After most startling experiences, they each became “a new creature.”
At that Passover when Jesus cleansed the temple he also worked a number of miracles. John calls them “signs”. These made a great impression, so that “many believed in (into) his name”. This phrase normally indicates thorough-going conversion to acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. Yet, strangely enough, “Jesus did not trust himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25). This triple emphasis on a guarded attitude towards the people reads strangely, coming as it does immediately after the first mention of many believing in his name. No clear-cut explanation of this difficulty has been advanced.