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Bobby Stafford Saul Begins To Preach Christ
Acts 9:20-31, Lesson 24
      

The Book of Acts

Saul Begins to Preach Christ

Introduction:

Saul sees Christ on the road to Damascus; Ananias tells him what he needs to do to be saved; and he is baptized to wash away his sins.  What does Saul do next?

Text:  Acts 9:20-31

Body:

I.  In Damascus and Arabia  Acts 9: 20-25  “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.  Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’  But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.  Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.  But their plot became known to Saul.  And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.  Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket. NKJV

·  The synagogues were places of religious instruction.  Right after his conversion, Saul went to the synagogues, not to arrest followers of Christ as he had done in the past, but to proclaim Jesus as the Christ.

·  The Jews were stunned at what they are hearing.  They had heard of Saul’s intentions to capture followers of Christ.  They were very confused.

·  Saul confounded and baffled the Jews by proving that Jesus was the Christ.  No doubt he used the Old Testament prophecies showing these were fulfilled by Christ.  (Luke 24:27)  “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  (Acts 18:28)  “for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” NKJV

·  Saul did not stay very long in Damascus but left and travelled south and east to Arabia.

(Galatians 1:15-17)  “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.  I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.” NKJV  He returned to Damascus where the Jews plotted to kill him.  (Acts 9:23)  “Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.” NKJV  They could not stop or defeat his arguments, so they planned to defeat him by death.  Some of the disciples helped him escape.  (II Corinthians 11:32-33)  “In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.”  NKJV  Aretas was an Arab king.  So the Jews and Arabs worked together! 

II.  At Jerusalem  Acts 9:26-30  And When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.  And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.  So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.  And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.  When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.” NKJV

·  No doubt Saul felt strong emotions as he approached Jerusalem.  When Saul reached Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples as he had in Damascus.  The Christians did not believe he was now a disciple.  They still thought he was a persecutor of the church.  So Barnabas intervened for Saul telling them about Saul’s conversion.  (Galatians 1:18-19)  “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.  But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.” NKJV  Can you imagine Paul and Peter’s conversation? 

·  After being accepted by the disciples, he accompanied them wherever they went.  He preached boldly and debated with the Hellenistic Jews.  Debating and arguing are important and necessary activities for the disciple of Christ.  (Jude 3)  “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”  (Philippians 1:27)  “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” NKJV  They couldn’t stand his debating with them and came to hate him so much that they tried to kill him!  The disciples sent him to Tarsus by way of Caesarea.  (Acts 22:17-21)  “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’  So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You.  And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’  Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ” NKJV 

III.  In Syria and Cilicia  Acts 9:31  Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified.  And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” NKJV 

·  Saul returned to his birthplace, Tarsus.  While there, he preached throughout Syria and Cilicia.  (Galatians 1:21-24)  “Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.  But they were hearing only, ‘He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.’  And they glorified God in me.” NKJV  He spent more than five years based in this area. 

·  After a period of persecution, the church enjoyed a time of peace.  Christians were built up in their faith resulting in them walking in the fear of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  To fear God includes keeping His commandments.  (I Peter 1:17)  “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;”  (Deuteronomy 6:1-3)  “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you – a land flowing with milk and honey.’ ” NKJV  With edification, comes the comfort of becoming the person God wants us to be.

Conclusion:

As we see in Saul’s early life, God wants all who He has saved to serve Him in whatever situations they find themselves. 

Bobby Stafford 
November 8, 2015 
Acts:  Lesson 24  Acts 9:20-31

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