The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White, , at sacred-texts.com
Shortly after Paul's conversion he visited Jerusalem, and preached Jesus, and the wonder of his grace. He related his miraculous conversion, which enraged the priests, and rulers, and they sought to take his life. But that his life might be saved, Jesus appeared to him again in a vision while he was praying, saying unto him, Get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. Paul earnestly plead with Jesus, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. Paul thought the Jews in Jerusalem could not resist his testimony; that they would consider that the great change in him could only be wrought by the power of God. But Jesus said unto him, Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
In Paul's absence from Jerusalem, he wrote many letters to different places, relating his experience, and bearing a powerful testimony. But some strove to destroy the influence of those letters. They had to admit that his letters were weighty and powerful; but declared that his bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible.
I saw that Paul was a man of great learning, and his wisdom and manners charmed his hearers. Learned men were pleased with his knowledge, and many of them believed on Jesus. When before kings and large assemblies, he would pour forth such eloquence as would bear down all before him. This greatly enraged the priests and elders. Paul could readily enter into deep reasoning, and soar up, and carry the people with him, in the most exalted trains of thought, and bring to view the deep riches of the grace of God, and portray before them the amazing love of Christ. Then with simplicity he would come down to the understanding of the common people, and in a most powerful manner relate his experience, which called forth from them ardent desires to be the disciples of Christ.
The Lord revealed to Paul that he must again go up to Jerusalem; that he would there be bound and suffer for his name. And although he was a prisoner for a great length of time, yet the Lord was carrying forward his special work through him. Paul's bonds were to be the means of spreading the knowledge of Christ, and thus glorifying God. As he was sent from city to city for his trial, the testimony concerning Jesus, and the interesting incidents of his conversion were related before kings and governors, that they should not be left without testimony concerning Jesus. Thousands believed on him and rejoiced in his name. I saw that God's special purpose was fulfilled in the journey of Paul upon the water, that the ship's crew might witness the power of God through Paul, and that the heathen also might hear the name of Jesus, and many be converted through his teaching, and by witnessing the miracles he wrought. Kings and governors were charmed by his reasoning, and as, with zeal and the power of the Holy Spirit, he preached Jesus, and related the interesting events of his experience, conviction fastened upon them that Jesus was the Son of God; and while some wondered with amazement as they listened to Paul, one cried out, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Yet they thought that at some future time they would consider what they had heard. Satan took advantage of the delay, and as they neglected that opportunity when their hearts were softened, it was forever. Their hearts became hardened.
I was shown the work of Satan in first blinding the eyes of the Jews so that they would not receive Jesus as their Saviour; and next in leading them, through envy because of his mighty works, to desire his life. Satan entered one of Jesus' own followers, and led him on to betray him into their hands, and they crucified the Lord of life and glory. After Jesus arose from the dead, the Jews added sin to sin as they sought to hide the fact of the resurrection, by hiring for money the Roman guard to testify to a falsehood. But the resurrection of Jesus was made doubly sure by the resurrection of a multitude of witnesses who arose with him. Jesus appeared to his disciples, and to above five hundred at once, while those whom he brought up with him appeared unto many declaring that Jesus had risen.
Satan had caused the Jews to rebel against God, by refusing to receive his Son, and in staining their hands with most precious blood in crucifying him. No matter how powerful the evidence given of Jesus' being the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world; they had murdered him, and could not receive any evidence in his favor. Their only hope and consolation, like Satan's after his fall, was in trying to prevail against the Son of God. They continued their rebellion by persecuting the disciples of Christ, and putting them to death. Nothing fell so harshly on their ears as the name of Jesus whom they had crucified; and they were determined not to listen to any evidence in his favor. As in the case of Stephen, as the Holy Spirit through him declared the mighty evidence of his being the Son of God, they stopped their ears lest they should be convinced. And while Stephen was wrapped up in God's glory, they stoned him to death. Satan had the murderers of Jesus fast in his grasp. By wicked works they had yielded themselves his willing subjects, and through them he was at work to trouble and annoy the believers of Christ. He worked through the Jews to stir up the Gentiles against the name of Jesus, and against those who followed him, and believed on his name. But God sent his angels to strengthen the disciples for their work, that they might testify of the things they had seen and heard, and at last in their steadfastness, seal their testimony with their blood.
Satan rejoiced that the Jews were safe in his snare. They still continued their useless forms, their sacrifices and ordinances. As Jesus hung upon the cross, and cried, It is finished, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, to signify that God would no longer meet with the priests in the temple, to accept their sacrifices and ordinances; and also to show that the partition wall was broken down between the Jews and the Gentiles. Jesus had made an offering of himself for both, and if saved at all, both must believe in Jesus as the only offering for sin, and the Saviour of the world.
While Jesus hung upon the cross, as the soldier pierced his side with a spear, there came out blood and water, in two distinct streams, one of blood, the other of clear water. The blood was to wash away the sins of those who should believe in his name. The water represents that living water which is obtained from Jesus to give life to the believer.
See Matthew 27:51; John 19:34; Acts chap. 24 & 26