WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
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WITH THE HELP OF BARNABAS SAUL EARNS CREDIBILY
(GOD calls and inspires leaders to grow HIS Church)
After Saul’s conversion, he abided in Damascus preaching about CHRIST for a few more days, and all who heard him were amazed at his transformation of doctrine, and, his behavior (his sudden surrender to CHRIST). They could hardly believe that this was the same man who had once terrorized the “Adherents of the Way” (followers of CHRIST) every chance he got. As Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, the Jews in Damascus were no longer able to refute his proofs that JESUS truly was, and indeed is, the MESSIAH.
In the meantime, Saul’s old Jewish comrades, the Pharisees, began plotting to kill him for what they viewed as his betrayal to them. They were to lie in wait for him at the gates of the city, but Saul was alerted of their plot by a group of believers who sneaked him out of the city by lowering him down the wall one night in a large basket, and he was able to flee, making the 140-mile trip back to Jerusalem with no trouble (Vs.23-25).
Upon Saul’s arrival in Jerusalem a week later, he tried to meet with the believers there but they were afraid of him because of his history of persecuting those who followed CHRIST’ doctrine. They thought that maybe he was only pretending to be a believer so that he might draw them out to be jailed or even killed. However, Barnabas, a trusted ally in the new Church brought Saul to the apostles and vouched for him, telling of the good work that Saul had done in Damascus over a three-year period (Galatians 1:18), and how he had been truly converted by CHRIST JESUS on the Damascus Road.
The apostles accepted Saul among them on Barnabas’ word, and were willing to give him a chance to prove to them, his new-found loyalty to the Christian cause. In time, they all came to trust in him completely, and while in Jerusalem, Saul preached boldly in the name of JESUS. He even debated a group of Greek-speaking Jews, who, as a result of Saul’s powerful defense of the Gospel, were left helpless and speechless, and in their anger, they plotted to murder him (Vs.23-29).
When the believers heard about this plot they took Saul to Caesarea, and from there, sent him back to his hometown of Tarsus where he remained for about nine years teaching and preaching the Gospel there. At that time the Church was at peace throughout, and it grew by leaps and bounds in both strength (quality), and, in numbers. They walked both, in the fear of the LORD, and, in the comfort of the HOLY SPIRIT (Vs.30-31).
Thanks to Barnabas, a man of GOD who insisted on believing that there is some degree of good in every man (GOD’s nature), Saul was accepted into a leadership role at the Church in Jerusalem. Barnabas understood that only GOD can change a person for the better, wealth can’t do it, man can’t do it, the greatest secular education in the world can’t do it, only GOD can save us from destruction.
When Barnabas first heard that JESUS had caused this change in Saul, it was all that he needed to know. We can absolutely trust the change that GOD can make in a person through JESUS CHRIST, and, with the help of the HOLY SPIRIT. It is a GOD-like trait to be courageous enough to give a man a second chance at redemption. Through JESUS CHRIST, GOD is saying that HE will never allow our past to permanently separate us from HIMSELF.
Saul learned very early in his Christian walk that he would have to suffer many persecutions along the way, for he himself had at one time been a source of such persecutions. And he must have always wondered to himself why a person would gladly endure the kinds of treatment that he himself used to exact upon the believers of CHRIST. But in time he came to understand that, suffering persecution for CHRIST’ sake, should be considered the greatest compliment to a believer, because it lends a certain proof that the evil forces of satan knows that what we’re doing really matters in GOD’s plan for the world HE created.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website