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
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.
Understanding And Applying the Text
In Galatians 1:18 Paul gives us a little bit more information. There were three years between Saul leaving Damascus arriving at Jerusalem. There is no mention of what happened during those years.
When Saul came to the disciples in Jerusalem, they did not trust him. And this was for good reason. Saul had been the chief persecutor of the church. But sending Paul in undercover? That would have been a poor choice.
This was a hard season for Saul. The Jews wanted to kill him The disciples did not trust him. He had to feel all alone. Anyone could have mocked him. First, he was all in one direction then he was all in the opposite direction. Saul was a man without a home.
According to Galatians 1:18, 19, Only Peter and James, the Lord’s brother, met with Paul at Jerusalem. The others may have been too afraid to meet with him.
Luke does not blame the other disciples for their fear. They were afraid for good reason. We are not to condemn fear unless it causes us to walk away from our duty.
Barnabas took Saul to Peter and James. He explained they ought to trust Saul. He explained Saul’s conversion and how Saul had preached in Damascus. Saul, who has been an enemy to the truth, was proving he had changed.
Luke tells us Saul went in and out with the apostles. This is a Hebrew idiom. It implies complete freedom of movement. Saul preached Jesus in Jerusalem.
Saul preached and debated with the Hellenist. Hellenist were Greek-speaking Jews. But being a Hellenist meant more than speaking greek. It involved a degree of adoption of Greek culture as well.
These men came to Jerusalem to worship. Saul disputed with strangers and aliens. Luke does not mention the priest or scribes. They would never have allowed Saul to come near them. And it was wise to keep his distance from them too. They wanted to kill him. Jerusalem was a city where he was well known. His conversion was well known.
The reaction in Jerusalem was the same as in Damascus. When they could not overcome Saul’s reasoning they reacted with violence.
Hypocrisy and superstition react will cruelty and violence when overcome with the truth. Hypocrites are always ready to shed blood before they know the matter. Superstition is bloody, through blind fury. The Jews could not refute the truth. So they sought to kill the one speaking the truth.
As in Damascus, the disciples learned of the plot. So they took Saul to Caesarea. Caesarea was on the coast of Palestine south of Mount Carmel. It was not Caesarea Philippi. Then they sent Saul to Tarsus. Tarsus was Saul’s home town.
Saul murdered and imprisoned many for calling on the name of the Lord. Now Saul that Saul was calling on the name of the Lord he was running for his life.
Luke says, “had peace and was being built up.” This is a borrowed type of speech which signifies establishment and increase.
After Saul’s departure, the church experienced a season of peace. Saul was the initiator of the persecution before his conversation. After his conversion, his very presence provoke the fury of wicked men. When Saul left wicked men did not know where to direct their anger.
This was not a lasting peace. But the Lord granted His church a short breathing space. The church walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
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