Wednesday: The Beginning of Paul’s Ministry

Acts 9:19-25 gives the impression that after his conversion, Paul remained in Damascus for a while before returning to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26). In Galatians 1:17, however, Paul adds that, before going to Jerusalem, he went to Arabia, where he apparently lived in seclusion for a certain period.

Escape from Damascus

Image © Classic Bible Art

“Here, in the solitude of the desert, Paul had ample opportunity for quiet study and meditation.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 125.

Read Acts 9:20-25. How does Luke describe Paul’s ministry in Damascus? How well did it go?

Paul’s original target when he left Jerusalem with letters from the high priest was the Jewish believers that had presumably sought refuge in the synagogues of Damascus (Acts 9:2). Now, after coming back from Arabia, he finally made it to the synagogues, not to arrest believers but to increase their number; not to slander Jesus as an impostor but to present Him as the Messiah of Israel. What must have gone on in the minds of those who, having heard of him only as one of their persecutors, now hear him witness about Jesus? What could they do but marvel at what Saul of Tarsus had become and at what he was doing for the church? (They probably had no idea of the influence this new convert would eventually have!)

Not able to contradict Paul, some of his opponents conspired together to take his life. Paul’s account of the episode (2 Cor. 11:32-33)suggests that his opponents denounced him to the local authorities in order to achieve their intent. However, with the believers’ help, Paul was able to escape in a basket, possibly through the window of a house built on the city wall.

Paul knew from the start that he would face challenges (Acts 9:16). Opposition, persecution, and suffering from various sources would be a constant in his ministry, but nothing would shake his faith or sense of duty, despite the hardships and trials that he faced practically at every step of his new life in Christ (2 Cor. 4:8-9).

Despite struggles and opposition, Paul didn’t give up. How can we learn to do the same when it comes to faith—that is, how to persevere amid discouragement and opposition?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons