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
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.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Saul, instead of arresting Christians, preached Jesus was the son of God. He did not give his personal testimony. He had a pretty dramatic testimony. Instead, he preached Jesus. Neither should we give our personal testimony. We too should preach Jesus.
Paul shook off the gross errors he held. That is, a Messianic kingdom on earth.
The Jews expected a Redeemer from God. This Redeemer would restore all things. Paul taught Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer.
Saul began fulfilling his calling without hesitation. Saul went straight into the lion’s den. He preached in the Synagogue. Saul amazed everyone. Saul amazed them with his teaching and he was the one doing the teaching. Saul’s zeal against the Gospel turned to zeal for the Gospel. This shows the power of God. When God redeems us, He makes us new. Saul was, without a doubt, a new person.
Luke tells us Saul increased in strength. Luke is not referring to Saul’s physical strength. Luke referenced Saul ability to persuade. He refers to the strength of his reasoning. Those who opposed Saul found it more and more difficult to argue against Saul’s reasoning. The scriptures were clear. By the scripture, Saul proved Jesus was the Christ.
Saul did not argue from his experience. His experience proved nothing. It was only anecdotal. Saul argued from the scripture. He went to the law and the prophets.
The English translation says Saul “confounded the Jews.” This could also be “caused consternation.” In other words, not only did they not know how to respond. The fact they could not argue against the law or the prophets angered them.
They were like so many. “I know what I believe. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”
“When many days had passed” Luke lets us know that Saul had some time to learn from the disciples in Damascus. And he had time to preach in the synagogue. Saul’s arrangements grew stronger. The Jews’ response became more feeble.
How do men respond to learning they cannot support their position? Do they turn to the truth? No! They respond with anger. They turn to violence. We see it time and time again. It does not matter if the argument is political or theological. It is common for men to respond to losing an argument. They yell, scream or strike the other person.
The Jews lost the argument. Instead of searching the scriptures, they turned to violence. It was easier to remove the threat than to study scripture.
Let us learn from their sin. When we present the gospel, it is not our job to convince anyone to repent. We cannot do that. That is something only God can do. God only uses us as a means. But conversion is not our responsibility. We can walk away knowing whatever happens is in God’s hands. Throughout history, the church has forgotten this lesson. God is the one who is sovereign. Not the church and not us.
Saul, the persecutor, had become the persecuted. Fitting the pattern from Stephen, some Jews plotted to kill God’s messenger. They waited for Saul day and night at the city gates. They trapped Saul in the city. He had to leave sometime. When he did they would have him.
Having learned his life was in danger, Paul’s disciples let him down the wall in a basket at night.
The opening in the wall is not specifically mentioned in the Greek. But the parallel account in 2 Corinthians 11:33 mentions a “window” or “opening.” English translations often mention the opening here. This is to avoid an apparent contradiction for the English reader between Act 9:23 and 2 Corinthians 11:33. In reality, the account here is more general. It omits the detail about the window or opening.
The purpose of the wall was to protect the city. It was unlawful to violate the walls. They were to keep the city safe. It prevented murders and robberies from entering and leaving the city. It protected the city from treason. So the question is, did they violate the law to punch a hole in the wall? No.
We are not forbidden to thwart the snares God’s enemies set for us.
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