Acts 9:23-31 (web)

Escape from Damascus

9:23 When many days were fulfilled, the Jews conspired together to kill him
9:24 but their plot became known to Saul. 
They watched the gates both day and night that they might kill him, 
9:25 but his disciples took him by night, and let him down through the wall, lowering him in a basket. 

Paul Preaches in Jerusalem

9:26 When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples; 
but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 
9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, 
and declared to them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him,
and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 
9:28 He was with them entering into{TR and NU add "and going out"} Jerusalem, 
9:29 preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
He spoke and disputed against the Grecian Jews, but they were seeking to kill him
9:30 When the brothers knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him off to Tarsus. 
9:31 So the assemblies throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up. 
They were multiplied, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. 
 

Comments

Both in Damascus and in Jerusalem the Jews tried to kill Saul. Yet it seems as if they had not been as offended by other Christians, like Peter. Saul had to leave Damascus, but not the other Christians. And Saul had to leave Jerusalem, but not the other Christians. Was there no one preaching with the boldness of Saul? But perhaps also we have to consider how unbelieving Jews though of Saul in comparison to the others. For none of the other apostles had the credentials that Saul had. While they could brush off the others, Saul had been one of them. He had been a Pharisee of great zeal, even persecuting the church to the death. He had been instructed by Gamaliel, who is well known even today in Jewish circles. He had been given authority to destroy the church. His testimony of conversion is most convincing and therefore a threat to the unbelieving Jews. 

It is understandable to a degree the reluctance of the disciples to accept Saul, in light of his past. However to leave it at that without further investigation is certainly not right. Loving other Christians does not mean we should be gullible in our relationships. But we should allow our xenophobic paranoia of others to dominate our judgments. It seemed only Barnabus decided to become more informed on the matter.  This is the second time Barnabus is spoken of. Prior to this he had generously donate property to the church. I could imagine God looking on and saying to Himself, "That's the kind of man I need. I'll think I'll send him with Paul on his missionary journeys." 

Saul debated with the Hellenists - greekish Jews - for he was from Cilicia. He essential took Stephen's place in preaching to the Hellenists. And just as with Stephen, he was threatened with death. He was sent to the coast to sail to his home in Tarsus to the north.

Then the churches had rest

Apparently none of the Jews were as zealous in persecuting Christians as Saul had been. For once he was gone the churches had rest. But was that necessarily a good thing? Even as a Christian when Saul preached he stirred up trouble. As unbeliever he was despised as a persecutor. And as a believer he was seemingly despised as a trouble maker. I wonder if the Jerusalem church was just glad to get rid of him. For other than  Barnabus, we find no initiative being taken on the part of the other disciples to contact him after this.



The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Nov 02,2011