The Apostle Paul: Initial Fellowship, Increasing Hostility.

28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus” (Acts 9:28–30)

“What was the root of Paul’s deep love for the churches? It grew out of his profound understanding of God’s love for him. Paul was so deeply aware of Christ’s love for him that in a sense he was forced to live for Christ and to love as Christ loved. He loved the Corinthians and the Galatians because Christ loved him. So we see again that character grows out of one’s theology. Because Paul’s theology was firmly rooted in the love of Christ, his character reflected it, and he could love others as Christ loved him.” – Jerry Bridges

We do not witness any bitterness by Saul when the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem initially rejected him due to their fear of him. Following Barnabas’ validation of Saul’s sincere conversion to Christ, the future apostle to the Gentiles went in and out among the disciples and apostles in Jerusalem.

We must also take note that Saul was not just looking for Christian fellowship, as important as that was and is for the church. He also began preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. In other words, Saul continued to preach the Gospel in Jerusalem, as he had in Damascus.

It was during this time that Saul began disputing with the Hellenists. Hellenists were Jews who adopted certain aspects of Greek culture. These were the opponents who disputed with Stephen in Acts 6 -7. It was when they executed Stephen that we first learned of a young man named Saul of Tarsus. Saul’s former colleagues against Christianity became his fierce foes. As they succeeded in killing Stephen for his preaching of the Gospel, so they intended to kill Saul for the same reason.

However, when Saul’s brothers in Christ learned of this plot by the Hellenists, they brought him to Caesarea and sent him off, presumably by ship, to Tarsus. It was at this time that Saul disappeared from public ministry for several years. Exactly what he was doing during this time we will examine in the days to come.

It is certain that Saul/Paul loved his fellow believers in Christ, and they him. It is equally certain that he had many enemies who sought to silence the Gospel by silencing him. However, neither Saul, nor the Gospel, could, or can, be silenced: then or now.

Soli deo Gloria!

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