Immediately Saul starts preaching “Jesus is God” and the people are like “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name?” People – amazed. Authorities – ticked off! This guy was way too sharp. They need to take him out!
The Jews set up a trap at the gates – day and night watching for Saul so they can kill him, but he gets wind of it. The local believers sneak him over the wall by night and Saul escapes.
Next he is in Jerusalem – the home town of the church and the disciples are lined up to welcome him into the fold…uh not so much! The believers are afraid of him. They are not so sure he isn’t an infiltrator, a spy for the authorities so they are staying way, far away from Saul. He is dangerous!
Enter Barnabas – the encourager. Remember him from Acts 4? He’s the guy who sold a field and gave the money to the apostles so they could help those in need. Barnabas takes a closer look at Saul, does his homework and believes the evidence speaks for itself. I can see him with his arm around Saul’s shoulder walking him in to see the apostles.
(Saul had a rep worthy of scrutiny but most of the newcomers in my life are just – well, newcomers. I don’t know them and that makes me uncomfortable. My walls are up and that makes it hard for others to get close. Barnabas makes me consider how the guy on the outside might feel. Point taken Barnabas, point taken.)
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
Because of Barnabas, Saul was now in and back on track – preaching boldly in Jerusalem and having the support of the church there. Well, until his next run-in. Saul, at this point in his faith, is a rebel rouser for Jesus! And remember he is smart, educated and unafraid! So now he’s toe to toe with the Hellenists. Picture Greek speaking and Greek culture Jews who value thinking and reason and well, going toe to toe! Next thing you know they are out to get him.
The brothers to the rescue – they get Saul outta Jerusalem to Caesarea and off to Tarsus – that Saul’s home town. Looks like Saul might need some time to fine tune his zeal and rub off the sharp edges. He’s got the right message but his delivery needs a little work.
(In a recent dream I remember boldly telling a non-believer what I believed about Jesus in a way that slammed the door in their face. I immediately had that sinking feeling that my ministry to them was forever damaged. Of course this was a dream but the lesson was lasting. It’s a lesson Paul knew something about: For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them… I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Cor. 9:19-23. And in Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.)
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. (Interesting – God has used conflict and persecution to disperse the church and now, in a time of peace the church is being built up and growing.)
He gifts people and then teaches them to use their gifts.
Insiders or Outsiders – be a servant to all.
About the World?
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom. 12:18