God’s Acts of Providence (40)

Becoming the Apostle Paul (7)

Back to Jerusalem

Acts 9:26-31

9 26And 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.

It takes longer for those directly touched by Saul’s hatred to believe that he has really become a follower of Christ.  And, even if he has, how stable is the conversion they could well have asked.

We must keep in mind the terrible vulnerability of this small sect seeking to survive in the hostile world.  Yes, they trusted in God to protect them, but they also likely believed that His protection did not free then to act foolishly.

27But 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. 28So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem,

Here we meet the lovely Barnabas.  He was not a genius like Saul.  He wrote no Scripture[1].  But his greatness, his gentleness of spirit played a major role in the expansion of Christ’s Church.  It begins here, with Barnabas risking his own standing to bring Saul into fellowship.

Barnabas always saw and brought out the best in those around him.  He became a missionary companion to the Apostle Paul.  Though he is credited with working out no great doctrines of the faith, he must still stand as one of the founding fathers.  For at the center of Christ’s Gospel there is a living love that bids people draw near to its renewing power.  That is the flame that Barnabas carried throughout the Roman Empire.

As we know, in Christ we all have our own special gifts.  For Barnabas it was the ability to invite and encourage that emerged from a most sympathetic, warm heart.

29preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists[2]; but they were seeking to kill him. 30And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesare’a, and sent him off to Tarsus.

They sent Saul home.  Surely his family would not accept him.  Saul had given up everything of his previous life to follow Christ.  Thousands, millions still do today.

31So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Sama’ria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.

Christ’s Church had withstood every assault.  Its enemies gave up for the time being.  The only fear that they still knew was “fear of the Lord.”  But this is a wonderful, uplifting fear (i.e., reverence and awe), though it includes the understanding that to offend God is a terrible thing.  Even so, we are best served when we truly fear to offend God, for this teaches us to live in ways that are best for our fellows and for ourselves.

[1] Though some attribute the Letter to the Hebrews to him.

[2] Grecian Jews


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