Sunday: Acts 9:25, 26
vs25-26: At this point we will try to put the events that took place during this season of Sauls life into a chronological order. By drawing on statements made elsewhere we discover that between verses 25 and 26 Luke chose to skip over three years of Sauls history. Saul did indeed return to Jerusalem after escaping from Damascus but that first brief visit was not the same as the visit which is described in verses 26-30. Those verses describe events which took place three years later. He mentions his first visit in Acts 22:17-21. It seems he arrived there alone and was facing a very dangerous environment. It would have been necessary for him to avoid being seen by the high priest or members of the Sanhedrin for a report of his activities in Damascus had surely reached them by that time.
Monday: Acts 9:25, 26
vs25-26 (continued): And the church was still terrified of him. Here was the man who had led the persecution against them and may have been directly responsible for the death of a family member or friend. When retelling these events years later Paul said that he went to the temple to pray and as he was praying, I fell into a trance (slain in the Spirit?) and I saw Him saying to me, Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me. And I said, Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believe in you
And He said to me, Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles (Ac 22:18-21). This was not the Lord calling him to evangelize non-Jews, it was an urgent warning to flee to a foreign nation for asylum.
Tuesday: Acts 9:25, 26
vs25-26 (continued): We learn from his letter to the Galatians he fled to Arabia (Gal 1:17). Traditionally, it has been assumed he went there for a time of reflection and prayer, and undoubtedly those activities took place, but the Lords purpose in sending him out of Jerusalem was for his safety. He was protecting Sauls life. At that time the term Arabia included not only the deserts of the Arabian peninsula but also the areas east and south of Israel. The Negev (southern deserts of Israel), the regions to the east (ancient Bashan, Gilead, Moab, Edom and Midian), and even much of the Sinai peninsula had come under the control of an Arab people called the Nabateane (Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, New York 1959, p194).
Wednesday: Acts 9:25, 26
vs25-26 (continued): To escape Jerusalem its likely Saul fled south. He would have passed through the Negev, across the Arabah and into the region that had once been Edom or Midian. Centuries earlier Elijah must have taken the same route to escape Jezebel (1Ki 19:1-18). We have no way of knowing whether Saul, like Elijah, traveled all the way to Mt. Sinai, but it is interesting that in the same letter in which he said he went to Arabia, he notes that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia (Gal 4:25). In Galatians he also tells us that after an unspecified amount of time in Arabia he returned to Damascus (Gal 1:17). An ancient highway (the Kings Highway) which is still in use today, runs north from the tip of the Red Sea (Gulf of Arabah) and passes through Damascus. Its likely this was the road he took.
Thursday: Acts 9:25, 26
vs25-26 (continued): Paul says he returned to Jerusalem three years later (Gal 1:18). We dont know how much of that time was spent in Arabia and how much was spent in Damascus, but he was in Damascus long enough to create a crisis. Once again he had to escape the city by being lowered down in a basket through a window in the wall (2Co 11:32, 33). This time he had to escape the anger of the Nabateans (Arabians). The Nabateans controlled Damascus for a few years during the reign of King Aretas IV (9 BC-AD 40) and the chief officer in charge of the city (ethnarch) posted a guard in order to capture Saul, but he escaped using the same method he had used before.
Friday: Acts 9:26, 27
v26: Now we return to Lukes narrative in Acts 9. Three years after escaping from Jerusalem Saul has returned to the city once again, only this time he came with one specific purpose in mind. He wanted to meet Peter (Gal 1:18), but when he arrived, the believers were still afraid of him and refused to associate with him. Undoubtedly, they assumed he wanted to infiltrate their community as a spy and would then betray them. v27: For some reason, Barnabas, whom Luke introduce earlier (Ac 4:36), trusted Saul and aggressively stepped in as his sponsor. Barnabas may have had friends in Damascus who gave him firsthand accounts of Sauls ministry there, or God may have given him a revelation concerning Saul, but whatever the cause, Luke says he
took hold of him and led him to the disciples
Saturday: Acts 9:27, 28
v27 (continued): He brought him to a gathering where Peter, and possibly James, were present (Gal 1:18-20) and personally introduced him. He described in detail how Saul had met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and told them that Jesus had spoken to him. Then he described how Saul had boldly preached in that city. v28: Considering all that he had done to them, its amazing the church welcomed him into its fellowship. Not only were they risking their lives, but many would find themselves face-to-face with the man who had cruelly abused their loved ones. Forgiving him would require the deepest level of obedience. In order to describe their acceptance of Saul Luke simply says,
he was with them going in and going out in Jerusalem speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. This means they invited Saul to join them in their daily public ministry. He became one of the preachers, fearlessly proclaiming Christ, in a city where he had been a rising religious leader and a vicious persecutor of the church. One can only imagine the tension and controversy that instantly surrounded him every time he stood to speak.