Saul has set himself to find and eliminate these disciples of Christ, until Jesus appears to him on the road to Damascus. Saul is converted and becomes Paul and becomes a strong defender of Jesus Christ. And there are others along side, Ananias, Barnabas, and the power of God is being displayed in the wisdom and words of Paul and in the healing power through Peter.
Why Are You Persecuting Me?
After the murder of Stephen, it wasn’t enough for Saul to seek out the believers in Jerusalem as found in
Acts 8:3 “But Saul was attempting to destroy the church. Entering house after house, he dragged off both men and women and delivered them to prison.
He also in
Acts 9:1–2 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, both men and women, he could bring them tied up to Jerusalem.
This was some time after Jesus had ascended and may have been three years or so after the day of Pentecost. During this time the number of believers kept increasing in Jerusalem. Peter and the apostles were growing and in
Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all”.
and then in
Acts 5:12 “Now many signs and wonders were being performed among the people through the hands of the apostles”
Then we find Stephen, and Philip boldly giving testimony and the gospel is going forth at the hand of this next generation, these believers that came into the kingdom at the word of the apostles.
Now, Jesus appears to Saul in
Acts 9:5 So he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!
and Saul is converted and becomes another witness. But this is not the end, Ananias comes to Saul, now Paul, in Acts 9:10 and not much later Barnabas comes along side Paul in Acts 9:27. These are all new believers, new names, yet fully empowered as ministers of the message of Jesus Christ and God is confirming them also with signs following as they go.
Behold, Here I Am, Lord!
Jesus is the Son of God
Speaking Boldly in the Name of the Lord
Paul becomes a strong defender of the faith almost immediately after his conversion in Damascus. He is so strong in Acts 9:22, that the Jews plot to kill him so in Acts 9:25 “his disciples took him at night” and helped him escape. Paul goes back to Jerusalem, but he is not the same man. But because of his reputation, in
Acts 9:26 “when he arrived in Jerusalem, he was attempting to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple”.
But the Lord had Barnabas who in Acts 9:27 “took him and brought him to the apostles”. And Barnabas spoke on Paul’s behalf so Paul could have an audience with them. As Paul says later, “that is, to Peter and James; for “other of the apostles saw I none,” says he fourteen years after (Ga 1:18, 19)”.1
But while Paul was in Jerusalem he was “Debating with Hellenistic (Greek) Jews (and this) paradoxically places Saul in the same position as Stephen (6:9–14), and the opposition is life-threatening until the believers secure his escape”.2
And all of this leads to one clear outcome in
Acts 9:31 “Then the church throughout all of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being strengthened. And living in the fear of the Lord and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it was increasing in numbers”.
Even though there had been threats, no one was living in fear of their lives. They were living in fear of the Lord.
Immediately He Got Up
He Prayed, and, He Said
The time of persecution has passed in Jerusalem so Peter ventures out in
Acts 9:32 Now it happened that as Peter was traveling through all the places, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda.
And as it had in Jerusalem, the gift of healing (see 1 Corinthians 12:9) continues to operate in Peter wherever he goes. But then we read in
Acts 9:38 And because Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, when they heard that Peter was in Lydda, sent two men to him, urging, “Do not delay to come to us!”
This was because one of the disciple had died, in Acts 9:36 “a certain female disciple named Tabitha (which translated means “Dorcas”). So, in Acts 9:39 “Peter got up and accompanied them”. But this wasn’t simply healing, Dorcas had died. Peter had seen this before when Jesus prayed for the young girl in Luke 8:49-56. Peter sends the mourners out, and in Acts 9:40 “falling to his knees, he prayed”. It says in 1 Corinthians 12:29 “Not all are workers of miracles, are they?”, but here, Peter has the gift of special faith to bring her back from the dead.
- Acts 9:1-9 Why Are You Persecuting Me?
- Acts 9:26-31 Speaking Boldly in the Name of the Lord
- Acts 9:36-43 He Prayed, and, He Said
- Acts 9:1-43
- 1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 185). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- 2. Peterson, D. G. (2009). The Acts of the Apostles (p. 315). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.