Previous Persecutor Begins Preaching Ministry

On January 9, 1985, a pastor in Bulgaria named Christo Kuleczef, was arrested and put in jail. His crime was preaching in his church. He immediately began to share Christ while he was in prison. He had a trial. It was a mockery of justice, and he was sentenced to eight months. He … More

Persecution

Soon after Paul’s conversion and his arrival in Damascus, he stayed with the Lord’s followers and began to preach in the synagogues (vv. 19-20). They found it difficult to believe that the man who had been the chief persecutor of Christians was now preaching the faith that he had set out to destroy. Most Bible scholars agree that Paul’s visit to Arabia (Galatians 1:17) took place between verses 21 and 22. It would seem that he spent time alone with the Lord in a desert area. Perhaps it was during this time that he experienced “perils of robbers” and “perils in the wilderness” (II Cor. 11:26). It seems evident that he just needed time to come to grips with his new found faith.

This passage is a vivid example of how much a few words in the Biblical narrative may imply (vv. 23-25). When Paul returned to Damascus and began to witness the Jews wanted to silence him. In fact they plotted against his life; and if the disciples had not helped him escape by letting him over the city wall in a basket, they would have probably killed him. When Paul came to Jerusalem the believers were afraid of him (v. 26). Probably they thought that his new attitude was only a trick so he could arrest them. But Barnabas vouched for him, and he remained there 15 days, witnessing wherever he went (v. 27). Luke says that after some time in Damascus these things happened. The period described in that passing phrase was no less than three years (Galatians 1:18). For three years Paul worked and preached in Damascus, and the Jews were so determined to kill him that they even set a guard on the gates lest he should escape them. A plot was discovered to kill Paul, and so he escaped to Tarsus, where it is thought he stayed for the next ten years (vv 28-31).

Application

Sometimes Christians are discouraged because they are not being used as other Christians are. What I need to do is let the Lord keep the books. When it is His time, He will use me if I am ready.

Acts 9:19b-31 (English Standard Version)

And taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

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