Opening Prayer
Thank you, Father, for all you have done in my life; show me today what I can do for you.

Read ACTS 9:19b–31

19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah. 23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

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  1. Acts 9:29 That is, Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


May we be brought to complete unity, that the world may discover the love of God.1

Think Further

We have seen the difficulty experienced by a devout follower of Jesus in Damascus when coming to terms with the professed conversion of a person known to have been a violent opponent of the faith. Now back in Jerusalem, Saul faced the same problem, but on a much bigger scale. The disciples ‘were all afraid of him’ (v. 26), unsure about the genuineness of his faith. Now it is Barnabas who plays a similar role to that of Ananias, becoming the friend and advocate of the new convert. Notice that Barnabas introduces Saul to the apostles and speaks to them on his behalf. This meeting involved the encounter between two different types of disciples. The apostles had been with Jesus and were eyewitnesses to his life, death, and resurrection. They were the guardians and communicators of the core tradition about the life and teaching of the earthly Jesus, which meant that their role was foundational for the church. Saul had come to Christ by a different route and depended upon the apostolic traditions. Yet, as Barnabas tells the apostles, he really had ‘seen the Lord’ (v. 27) and become a faithful witness. Too often in Christian history, tradition and experience have become divorced from one another, but we learn here that both are necessary. The apostles knew the facts and rightly insisted on preserving the tradition, but without fresh experience those facts would harden and calcify. Saul had known a life-transforming experience of Jesus, but needed to relate this to the apostolic tradition. The lesson for world Christianity in the twenty-first century is clear: traditional churches bear witness to cherished truths, while new movements discover the living Christ where he has not previously been known; tradition and experience belong together and need each other.


Which end of the tradition-experience dichotomy are you? What do you need to add?

Closing prayer

Jesus, as I seek to exhibit more and more of the fruit of the Spirit, help me to be more like Barnabas, ready to welcome and advocate for those needing acceptance.

Last Updated on June 13, 2024 by kingstar

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