Acts 9:26 When (Saul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
First, I’m struck by v.26, how the disciples in Jerusalem (which I expect included some of the original apostles) were afraid of Saul because of his reputation as an enemy of Christians. The rest of the book of Acts records many miracles and discernments performed by the apostles. How could they not know Saul was a legit believer? IDK. Puzzling to me.
Secondly, I notice that what helps put the minds of the Jerusalem leaders at ease regarding Saul is advocacy from Barnabas. Barnabas served as a person of peace for Saul in this situation. Saul didn’t know any of the Jerusalem believers, but Barnabas did. His testimony related to Saul opened the door for Saul to be accepted. Then of course Saul’s powerful witness to the gospel confirmed what Barnabas said about him. He was a true believer.
Lastly, I’m drawn to the last verse. It says there was peace among the Christians in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. I wonder how long that peace lasted? V.31 also said that the church “increased in numbers”. Unity is a powerful thing for the church and everywhere else. When we work together as believers we are a great witness to a doubting world. Unfortunately unity is hard to come by. Our human nature is often to see differences rather than unity.
Heavenly Father, you took a relative handful of people and started a movement that now includes well over 1 billion Christians across the globe. Yet the truth is that we’re often at odds with one another rather than unified. Send your Holy Spirit to bring us closer to one another and to you. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.