After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown. The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. (Acts of the Apostles 9:23-31 NLT)
Wow! What a way to be received into ministry! There was no welcome party in Damascus for Saul. Nobody applauded his ministerial aspirations. He who had been the arch rival was now the strongest advocate. His conversion to Jesus as Messiah and his preaching of such was not well received by his former colleagues. They now wanted to kill him. Imagine your current family, friends, and religious acquaintances turning on you for your conversion to Christ. Saul was now a most wanted! His preaching and teaching about Jesus was infuriating his peers. Some were convinced and converted but many refused to hear the truth.
In spite of the opposition, Saul remains steadfast. Nothing will deter this man from proclaiming the truth. He is bent on everyone hearing the truth of Jesus Christ. His soul will not be satisfied until he has given his last breath for the cause of Christ. Would to God we had men like this in our time.
After being let down the wall in a basket by some fellow believers, he made his way back to Jerusalem. There, he was not welcomed by the church because they weren't convinced of his conversion. They were afraid of him. Imagine being in that predicament. He was hunted on one side, rejected on the other. Thankfully, Barnabas came to his defense. He stood up for Saul and shared his story with the other believers. Saul then went to stay with the Apostles. He went preaching with them and gained acceptance in the church by his preaching and teaching. However, he was met with the same hostility by the Greek speaking Jews. They, too, wanted to kill him. Let's not forget that Jesus told Ananias that Saul would suffer these things (see Acts 9:15-16).
The church then took him to Caesarea, a coastal city to send him by ship back to Tarsus, his hometown. Tarsus is in the area we now call Turkey (Asia Minor in biblical times).
Following that time, the church had a period of rest from persecution in that region.
Too often, we here in the states take for granted the freedom we have to share Jesus Christ. May we not be fair weather church attendees. Let us be true disciples of Jesus until death!
Rev. Curtis Norris