Saul (later called Paul) had met Jesus Christ and been converted. Instead of persecuting believers, he became a fully convinced follower of Jesus. He stopped persecuting the church and started to preach that Jesus is the Messiah (the Greek word is 'Christ'). Although religious people in Damascus initially tolerated Saul, eventually he proved too much of a threat to them. So they planned to kill him. Keeping the gates under surveillance day and night, they planned to ambush Saul when he left the city. There was no way out. But Saul heard about the plot and, under cover of darkness, his supporters lowered him from a window in the city wall and he escaped.
It may have been three years before Saul arrived in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:18). But the believers were suspicious of Saul, as those in Damascus had been (Acts 9:20-21). However, Barnabas, who had a ministry of encouragement, believed Saul's story: it had spiritual authenticity, as did Saul's obvious faith in Jesus. He took Saul to meet Peter and James (Galatians 1:19). That led to the church accepting Saul as a brother, and allowed him to develop his ministry gifts.
Saul's Christ-given ministry was to preach Christ, turning people from the power of Satan to God so that they might receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life (Acts 26:16-18). However, he soon ran into trouble again. Jews from Gentile-dominated countries initially wanted to hear Saul and debate with him. But when they found they could not defeat his conclusion that Jesus is God's-Anointed-Saviour-for-everybody - they tried to kill Saul. So the church put an escape plan into action, sending Saul to the coast and then by ship to his home town of Tarsus (now in southern Turkey).
Believing in Jesus is not just a private and personal matter. To believe in Jesus is also to become His witness (Acts 22:15). Faith and public confession cannot be separated in true Christian faith (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus is not only the Saviour of people who have some Christian family root, but He is God's Saviour for everybody (1 John 2:2). Everybody should be able to hear how to receive Him (www.crosscheck.org.uk). But there may well be trouble. Persecution is part of belonging to Jesus (John 15:20-21). But the challenging of our faith will challenge others to put their faith in Jesus too.
© Dr Paul Adams