“And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:21)
“Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road also represented his calling to serve as a missionary to the nations. The Lord made it clear when Paul was converted that he was “a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul’s role as a missionary is captured by the words Jesus spoke to him on the Damascus Road according to Acts 26:18: “…to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Paul was God’s chosen instrument to bring God’s saving message to the ends of the earth.” – Thomas R. Schreiner
In the midst of the flourishing activity which Luke reports in Acts 11:19-26 is this statement found in Acts 11:21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” What does Luke mean by this statement?
The word “hand” (χεὶρ; cheir) refers to power and control. It means to be in control of something by the ability which the individual inherently possesses. Hand is a metaphorical reference to the power which solely belongs to the Lord. We see this in the phrase, “And the hand of the Lord was with them.” The power and ability of God, which was with the disciples of Jesus in the early church, originated from and belonged solely to the Lord. The Lord alone was responsible for the work being done through the spread of the Gospel.
The result was that Luke recorded “a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” In the context, the objects of God’s power and ability to convert a soul from spiritual death to spiritual life were the Hellenists. What was true regarding the Hellenists at their conversion was not only true in Saul’s conversion but also in Saul’s sanctification.
It was at this time that Saul lived in Tarsus (Acts 9:30; 11:25). What was he doing during this undetermined amount of time? We cannot be sure. It’s probable that as he did in both Damascus and Jerusalem, he was preaching the Gospel to the residents of Tarsus. Perhaps he was reasoning in the synagogue there on the Sabbath. Perhaps also he was supporting himself financially by plying his tent making trade (Acts 18:1-4).
Regardless of what Saul was doing, we can be assured that the hand of the Lord was with him. Barnabas would soon find Saul and bring him to Antioch where the two of them would minister for a year among the believers.
Whatever our life circumstances may be, the power and ability of the Lord is always with us. He never leaves or forsakes His children (Hebrews 13:5). We ever remain His witness for the Gospel (Acts 1:8).
Soli deo Gloria!