Acts 9:23-31 Saul Finds His Place With Believers
In our last study we saw the right hand man of the Sanhedrin Council change sides. Saul the tormentor of the church is now Saul the proclaimer of Christ. Again we get another glimpse at what the term 'sovereign grace' means. The Lord can do what He wants, when He wants, and with whom He wants. This is why the Bible says that His ways are past finding out.
As we continue in these studies, I am using the term Christian Jews, or Christians in a generic sense. That name was not given to the Jewish believers until a little latter. Early believer's worship of Jesus was known as 'the Way,' or as 'the sect of Nazarenes.' They remained very much Jewish.
You might find it interesting that there is a prophecy in the former testament that says God's people would be given a different name. I'll explain this more when we get to the study where believers take on the name Christian.
Saul is doing well in among the brethren in Damascus. But Jerusalem is going to be another story.
Let's continue on with our studies.
This is Acts 022 - Acts 9:23-31 Saul Finds His Place With Believers.
Vss23-25: "When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket."
.... "Many days had elapsed." Acts leaves some spaces in its telling of early church history. Saul's conversion took place about three years after Pentecost. It is commonly held that Saul was in Damascus for three years. So we are considering events that are taking place six years after Pentecost.
.... "The Jews plotted together to do away with him." Here also we see the nature of a group of Jews who will later follow Paul in his missionary travels to try and disrupt his work. It is this kind of people who will become 'thorns' in his flesh.
.... "They were also watching the gates day and night." The Jewish nonbelievers were unable to withstand Saul's wisdom. Their astonishment began to turn into anger, and the natural course of anger is to remove the cause. (Of course they did the same with Jesus.) It appears the synagogue leaders had recourse with the governing authorities. The apostle later writes that the governor of the city had soldiers posted at the gates to seize him.
.... "His disciples took him by night and let him down." Saul's testimony in the synagogues was the cause of a great many conversions of the Jews. These converts would immediately look to Saul as their teacher. It was likely that the the house Saul was in was on the city wall. (This would be similar to Rahab helping the spies of Israel escape.)
Vs26: "When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.."
.... Can you imagine the consternation among the Jerusalem believers? The man responsible for many deaths and imprisonments, was now trying to associate with the believers. No one could believe that Saul was a disciple. And even though Saul had been gone from Jerusalem, three years, the memory if his persecutions was very fresh in their minds.
.... Also notice that Saul did not attempt to approach the Sanhedrin Council. Obviously the word had gotten back to Jerusalem of his conversion. But now that he was a man of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit would direct his comings and goings. The time of his confrontations with the Sanhedrin was yet to come.
Vs27: "But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus."
.... Barnabas means 'son of rest.' Barnabas took the initiative to seek Saul out to hear what he had so share. Being fully convinced that Saul was a true follower of Jesus, Barnabas personally brings him to meet Peter and James. He did not meet the other apostles at this time.
.... Thank God for believers like Barnabas. These kinds of believers have a special gifting for restorations, and for bringing peace to troubled situations.
Note: Barnabas was the uncle of John Mark, the writer of the gospel of Mark. Barnabas and Saul (Paul) became very close friends. It is also likely that Saul stayed at the home of the sister of Barnabas while in Jerusalem. He would have met Mark during this time. (According to early church writers, Mark wrote his gospel at the dictation of Peter.)
Vs28: "And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord."
.... The fear of Saul had vanished among believers. He continued with the apostles and moved about as he wished. The persecutions in Jerusalem had settled a bit, but Saul is going to stir things up a bit.
Vs29: "And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death."
.... Saul is doing his preaching in the same synagogues as did Stephen. What a glorious testimony. The man of whom the Hellenist Jews had put their cloaks at his feet so they could stone Stephen, has now picked up the martyr's torch and is proclaiming Jesus to Stephen's stoners. Once again we see the power of the 'sword' of the Spirit. The gospel of Jesus needs no defense. It is well able to take care of itself.
Vs30: "But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus."
.... The brethren are concerned for Saul's safety. Tarsus is where Saul is from. Would not be wonderful if we had more fill-in here. Makes you wonder what kind of reception Paul got from his parents and family. Whether they turned to Jesus is not know. Paul says very little about his family.
.... We are soon to turn away from Saul for awhile. His fruitful service will increase later on. For now the Lord will have him continue to grow in knowledge and understanding. It is the same with us. Sometimes we are anxious to get things going, but our time is not yet. When the moment comes we will have our work set before us.
Vs31: "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase."
.... The rest is a rest from persecution. The Church needed this time for regrouping, refreshing, and refurbishing.
.... Notice it speaks of the 'church' throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria. There is the only one church, but many flocks. The early believers met in homes, but often continued attending the synagogues. Later on Jewish believers were forced from the synagogues.
Since we are at a natural stopping point we can conclude this study for now. Saul will not be heard from for awhile. The apostle Peter is going to take the forefront. Our next study will pick up with Peter.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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