We all are familiar with the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus. He met the Lord Jesus in a vision and was blinded for three days until Ananias came to him, healed him, and took him to see the other disciples.
After Paul arrived in Jerusalem, He began to preach boldly in the name of Jesus. Here is the account of this, starting in verse 28 of chapter 9:
So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
I am always amused and encouraged by this passage. For one thing, I love that Paul’s obvious passion, which was evident during his days as a Pharisee, has now been redeemed for the glory of Christ. Isn’t it wonderful that God can take someone who once was so violently opposed to Him and transform them so dramatically that they literally do a 180 in their thinking and actions?
Secondly, I bolded the word “so” for a reason. And this is why I am amused by this passage.
The flow of thought reveals just how influential Paul had become in a very short time. He was preaching boldly among the church and began some intense debates (arguments) with the Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews). Things got so heated that the disciples ended up sending Paul away before he got himself killed. And after Paul left, there was peace and fruitfulness in the church.
Do you see it?
Paul left So there was peace. In other words, once the guy who was passionately stirring up trouble in the name of Jesus left, everything became peaceful and fruitful. Paul’s earliest Christian experiences were fraught with trouble because he couldn’t keep from arguing the truth of Christ. Thankfully, God matured him without diminishing his passions. So the Paul that we know is one who boldly proclaims the gospel, but does not get caught up in petty disputes or unnecessary arguments.
He stands as a model of how we should seek to engage with the lost. Not with arguments and disputes, but with the message of Jesus, boldly proclaimed and applied. If our message is not accepted, Paul would have it be because of the message itself, not our own offensiveness. Many will hear the good news and reject it because it is foolish to them, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1, but let it never be that people are turned off to Christ because of us. Let us seek to be an offense to no one, that by our lives and our words, many would come to see the loveliness of Jesus.