During this time, Saul began preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Messiah promised by God (253). People who knew Saul’s past hatred of Christians were amazed when they heard these messages!
After his ministry had continued for some time, jealous Jews plotted to kill Saul; they kept watch day and night, looking for their chance. But when their plot was revealed to Saul, believing brothers helped him escape Damascus at night, letting him down over the city wall in a large basket!
(According to his testimony in a letter written several years later to his friends in Galatia, a region of Turkey, Saul spent some time in Arabia after leaving Damascus. Perhaps he was re-thinking the books of Moses, in light of his encounter with Jesus. Eventually, Saul returned to Damascus before going to Jerusalem for the first time as a Christian.)
When Saul finally got to Jerusalem, he tried to join the Christians there. But they were all afraid of him & didn’t believe that he had really become a Christian. Barnabas stepped in & brought Saul before the 12 witnesses. Barnabas told them how Jesus had arrested Saul on the road to Damascus. Barnabas also reported that Saul had preached the gospel boldly at Damascus.
Saul was then welcomed into fellowship with the believers at Jerusalem. While there, he continued to speak boldly in the name of Jesus. But Saul was opposed by Jews who followed certain Greek cultural traditions; they thought Saul was now the pagan, because he didn’t understand God exactly as they did.
Eventually, these Greek Jews actually plotted to kill Saul. When the believers uncovered that plot, they took Paul away to the port city of Caesarea, and from there they sent him safely home to Tarsus.
For a time after that, the churches throughout all Israel (Judea, Galilee and Samaria) had peace, and the members of the body grew closer & closer to God. They honored God in their daily lives, and they were comforted by the Holy Spirit. As a result, the churches continued to grow.
(253) Acts 9:20-31