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Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem July 5, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,

Here are my thoughts on Acts 9:19b-31.

Summary: In this passage, Saul began to proclaim the Gospel message in the synagogues in Damascus. Those who heard his preaching could not reconcile it with the reputation that he had acquired in Jerusalem. The Jews in Damascus made futile attempts to refute his arguments that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. They planned to kill him – yet God delivered him from their hands via a daring nighttime escape along the city walls.

He then went to Jerusalem – where the believers greeted him with skepticism, as they were well aware of his reputation as a persecutor of Christians. Yet Barnabas vouched for his genuine transformation in Damascus; thus, they accepted him as a genuine believer. In contrast, the Grecian Jews in Jerusalem attempted to kill him; thus, the believers sent him to Tarsus. The church in Judea, Galilee and Samaria became more holy.

Thoughts: Here, we see that the Jews in Damascus and Jerusalem attempted to kill Saul in response to his preaching. Calvin offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 23:

These zealots take the liberty to do whatever they want to, once Satan has urged them on to persecute the truth. They are not afraid to put people to death on the pretext of being zealous, though they know this is evil.

In verse 22, we see that the Jews could not refute the arguments that Saul made in defense of the Gospel message. In light of this, were their consciences clear when they tried to kill him? Perhaps Calvin is correct, and Satan was actually working through the Jews in this instance. Satan could have caused the Jews to:

  • behave irrationally – even though Saul used their cherished Old Testament to present ironclad proofs of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth
  • believe that their murderous schemes concerning Saul constituted genuine worship of God.

While this is difficult to comprehend, Satan is extremely crafty, and one should not discount his influence over feeble human brains.

In verse 31, we see that the church in Judea, Galilee and Samaria became more holy after Saul was sent to Tarsus. It is apparent from this book that an essential aspect of holiness entailed believers placing a high value on the needs of others – especially their relatively poor brethren. In fact, it often appeared that relatively wealthy believers would sacrifice their interests for the sake of others. This is a challenging point, especially since I tend to focus on my own interests. Moreover, I have great difficulty caring for believers who seem to neglect my interests; my tendency toward quid pro quo then causes me to neglect their interests. If I truly lived “in the fear of the Lord,” then I would sacrifice my pride for the sake of their interests – regardless of their attitude towards me. While this is extremely difficult, I do sense that God is calling me to wrestle with the fact that He is a gracious God in His dealings with unworthy believers.



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