Saul in Damascus

Saul in Damascus of Syria

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Saul in Damascus
ACTS 9 BIBLE STUDY
Acts 9:10-18 Ananias

Acts 9:19-23 Saul in Damascus

Acts 9:24-31 Saul Escapes in a Basket
Acts 9:32-35 Lydda
ACTS 9:19-22  19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. 20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. 21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

How might the disciples have felt meeting and spending time with Saul?
While rejoicing and marveling at the grace and the power of God to convert, it probably also felt a bit surreal to fellowship with the man who until days earlier had been "breathing threats and murder against" (Acts 9:1) them.

Who might have felt even more surreal?
The Jews who gave Saul the floor at their synagogues, expecting to hear him condemn Christians, only to be "amazed" (Acts 9:21) and "confounded" (Acts 9:22) when the tables were turned on them.

When did Saul began to preach and what did he share?
"Immediately" (Acts 9:20) and he shared as much as he knew by then, that Jesus "is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20).

How soon after conversion should new Christians tell non-Christians about Jesus today?
If a cancer patient finds a cure to cancer, how long should he or she wait to tell other cancer patients about the cure?

What should new Christians tell non-Christians about Jesus?
No more and no less than what they know about Jesus, as exemplified by Saul, as well as the Samaritan woman.

ACTS 9:23  23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.

How many days were the "many days" after which "the Jews plotted to kill" (Acts 9:23) Saul?
Between about one to three years, based on Saul's words recorded in Galatians 1:13-18: "13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days." in the Hebrew context, "three years" could be as long as 36 months or as short as 367 days - the last day of the first year to the first day of the third year.

Where did Saul spend those "three years" (Galatians 1:18)?
If the "then" in Galatians 1:18 references Saul's return to Damascus, then he spent those three years in Damascus. But if it references his conversion, then at least some and probably most of those "three years" were spent in "Arabia" (Galatians 1:17), presumably to be trained and equipped by the Holy Spirit for the ministry that lay ahead. Most of those three years having been spent in Arabia is the more likely scenario.

Why?
It is highly unlikely that the Jews in Damascus would have put up with Saul's 'betrayal' of their cause and let him preach the Gospel under their noses for three years. Also, if Saul had preached the Gospel in Damascus for three years, the disciples in Jerusalem would have heard about it and would not have been "afraid of him" (Acts 9:26, next page) when he returned to Jerusalem.

Where is "Arabia" (Galatians 1:17)?
During Saul's era, "Arabia" referred to the kingdom of the Nabatean Arabs that stretched from Damascus to the Red Sea, covering parts of today's Syria, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia. It was much smaller than today's Saudi Arabia.

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