“And immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”
The word synagogues is not a Hebrew word, it is the Greek word “sunagoges,” which means a place of assembly. As the Jews began to scatter throughout the world and found that it was difficult to have access to their temple they met in groups (synagogues) to conduct their services. So, Saul of Tarsus goes to the synagogues to proclaim the Gospel.
The word for preaching means to communicate good news, to announce good news. He began to proclaim or preach Jesus. Wherever we find the word “Jesus” it refers to the humanity of Jesus Christ. Son of God refers to His deity, and it is obvious that Paul’s first messages dealt with the uniqueness of the Person of Jesus Christ. This is the key that unlocks doctrine; doctrine in turn is the key that unlocks more information with regard to Jesus Christ.
“All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” They were utterly astounded for two reasons. Saul of Tarsus had a world-wide reputation. He was not only a ruler in his own land but in addition to this he was famous for his persecution of Christians. Now they hear this one who has been so vigorous in the earliest persecutions of Christians and who now is declaring that he himself is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ is the unique Person of the universe. For Saul he became just as vigorous for Christ as he had been for anti-Christianity and opposition to God. For the Jews this was a constant source of amazement.
But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. The strength by which Saul of Tarsus became great was the fact that Ananias taught him doctrine, and doctrine became his strength. As he learned basic doctrine he then built on doctrine, and he kept doing it all of his life. For this reason he had great impact on his world. He was a prepared man in the field of speaking because he had a message to communicate from God. He confused those who had rejected Christ. He proved/demonstrated to them that Jesus Christ is truly the Christ. The fact that he demonstrated to them that Jesus was the Messiah did not mean that they all accepted Christ as Savior. But he was able to demonstrate this to them through Bible doctrine.
Between verses 22 & 23 Paul went to Arabia. Ananias could take him so far—basic doctrine. Once that was completed he had a short ministry in Damascus during which time he confounded the Jews with his message. They were all amazed whether they responded by faith or not. At this point, when he seemed to be gathering so much momentum he stopped and left for Arabia. He stopped to learn more Bible doctrine. He realized that if his ministry was going to continue in its effectiveness he must know a great deal more than he knew at that time. (Galatians 1:17-18)
Verses 23-25 records the return of Saul of Tarsus to Damascus and the continuation of the ministry which was interrupted for three years of study. The first thing we notice is a change. The Jews had now organized themselves in the three years (those who were unbelievers) and would resist Paul. His power and ability to communicate doctrine was great and the Jews therefore “took counsel to kill him.” What did Judaism teach and advocate at the time that Saul of Tarsus came back to Damascus? Many of these Jews were not even believers in God. Many of them did believe in God but the main thing now with the Jews, due to their rejection of Bible doctrine and the message which Saul of Tarsus taught concerning the fact that Jesus is the Son of God they are no longer amazed by him, they just want to kill him. Now they are filled with religion, ritual without reality. Negative volition created a vacuum into which religion had established itself. So when Saul came back with the same message, they now say no to him in a very violate way. But they say more than no. Religion is always an evil when it is opposed, and their desire is now to kill, to eliminate, to remove from the scene. Religion expresses itself by seeking to kill the opposition. Saul of Tarsus was religious before he was saved and he proved the point before he became a believer as he sought to kill the opposition – Christianity.
So, not only did Saul not get into their synagogues any longer, but it was no longer safe for him to go through a gate in or out of the city. “An opening in the wall” refers to little holes in the wall from which they sometimes fired arrows, threw spears, and other things, and which was simply a defense system on the walls; “in a basket” is not a basket at all. It was an invention for transporting someone from one ship to another in the ancient world. It was a rope hoist, not a basket. There is a principle here. Paul who had the highest gift anyone ever had in a local church—apostleship—was dependent upon believers who had inferior gifts, and here is the concept of teamwork again.
Verses 26-29, Saul’s first trip to Jerusalem. When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. He had been saved for at least four years and during that time had not been near Jerusalem. As he approached the city he was looking forward to meeting those believers whom he originally tried to kill. He anticipated having fellowship with them. So on one side we had the Jerusalem church, legalistic and afraid of Saul of Tarsus. Legalism always produces fear. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles. But on the other side we had Barnabas, a grace believer, who made the difference. Barnabas broke the ice and made it possible for Saul to be accepted.
Saul then picked up the ministry of Stephen and disputed against the Hellenistic Jews. And other believers immediately got him out of there when the Jews tried to kill him. In Acts 22:17-21 is a more detailed reason as to why he left Jerusalem. So Tarsus now becomes his headquarters, and from here he has a great ministry, as taught in Galatians 1:21.
Verse 31 – the result of Saul’s conversion. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. The churches had rest and had a time of development. They enjoyed peace, were edified and continuing in the fear (awe) of the Lord means they were using the Faith-Rest Technique, the Edification Complex, occupation with Christ and they had the comfort of the Holy Spirit. This means they had divine power, and the production of divine good. All of these things added up to an expansion of the Church. This expansion was based upon the spiritual growth of believers.
The principle of Faith-Rest is from God, who is perfect. Therefore, the Faith-Rest Technique is perfect. No human deed or work can be added to a perfect provision from God. The believer must cease from human good and enter into a rest where he does no work. The Holy Spirit does the work. The requirement, therefore, for the believer is faith, not human works. Faith is the absence of any human merit, which means, that in and of itself, faith has no value or worth. The value or worth is in the object of our faith. The object of faith for the believer should always be God and His Word.
Faith-Rest is knowing, believing and applying the promises, the principles and the doctrines of the Word of God. (Isaiah 33:6) There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible for the believer. These promises do us no good unless we mix them with faith and apply them to our situation. (Hebrews 4:2) Claiming these promises eliminates mental attitude sins such as fear, worry and anxiety, which cut off Divine Viewpoint Thinking. Faith-Rest will restore Divine Viewpoint Thinking and stabilize the believer in times of pressure and adversity. Faith-Rest results in a relaxed mental attitude. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Mechanics means that you have made a resolve - a decision as to future action. This means that you have predetermined in your mind what course of action you will take when a problem arises. The Faith-Rest Technique is a versatile technique for overcoming any difficult situation, any problem or any disaster. By faith the believer applies doctrine logically while resting in the promises of God. By reaching a doctrinal rationale the believer is re-explaining to himself the basic concepts of doctrine that pertain to his relationship with God. This will be necessary in a crisis because emotion will normally take over and suppress proper thinking. You must take deliberate steps to reestablish the control of the Holy Spirit in your soul.
Here is how the Faith-Rest Technique works: 1) a believer claims a promise. A promise is a guarantee from God that expresses His essence (sovereignty, righteousness, justice, love, eternal life, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability and veracity). 2) The believer applies doctrinal rationale. The application of Bible doctrine requires the believer to recall certain doctrines that have been stored in his soul. 3) The believer reaches a doctrinal conclusion. This means that the believer is able to take control of the situation based on Bible doctrine.
Spiritual maturity does not happen overnight. It takes a lifetime of persistent and consistent study to learn Bible doctrine. God’s Word likens spiritual growth to building a house. Often expressed as edification, the concept in Greek is to build or to build up. For the Christian, this occurs in his soul as he exposes himself to accurate Bible teaching and applies the truth that he learns. As with any building, we must be careful to first lay the right foundation before we build on it. The Scripture is clear that the only foundation for the believer is Jesus Christ Himself. We know that the Word of God is the mind of Christ. Therefore, the foundation is the written Word (Christ is the living Word). The written Word of God is meant to be understood and utilized as a blueprint for building your spiritual building (the Christian Way of Life).
The Greek word for edification is “oikodome” and literally means the act of building or erecting a structure. (Ephesians 4:11-29) Like any structure, our “building” in the soul must have a firm foundation and properly constructed “floors.” Our foundation is Jesus Christ and the “floors” are categories of Bible doctrine. Once the foundation is in place, then the believer can begin to build upon it with full confidence that it will stand. The foundation is received at salvation, but the floors must be built over a period of time, as Bible doctrine is learned, believed and properly applied. (Ephesians 4:12,16,29; Colossians 2:7; I Timothy 1:4; James 1:4)
The basis for any system from God is always grace. The word grace itself makes it clear that God’s system for building the spiritual building is void of any human merit, human works, human ability or human viewpoint thinking. The reason that God planned it this way is to eliminate human viewpoint thinking and human production as the means for building anything spiritual. Instead, He provided a non-meritorious system for both perception and execution of the Christian Way of Life: FAITH. We learn how to erect this building in our souls by faith and it takes faith to put into practice. This method is the only one that can bring honor and glory to God. (Hebrews 11:6)
The spiritual building is built using the stored Bible doctrine in the mind of the believer. Consistent study and accurate application over a period of time is the method for developing our complex. This building is literally Christ being formed in the soul of the believer. Positionally, Christ is “in” every believer, but He is not “formed” in every believer. Jesus Christ had this spiritual building formed in His soul. He had all the characteristics of spiritual maturity: 1) He was full of grace and truth 2) He had a relaxed mental attitude 3) He was free from mental attitude sins 4) He had capacity for love and 5) He had divine inner happiness. Christ erected the spiritual building in His soul as a demonstration to all believers that it is possible for us to do the same through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 4:19; John 1:14)