Chapter Nine — Part Four: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 10/17/2021Foundation Scriptures:
1. Proving Christ.
a. Acts 9:22 AMPC — But Saul increased all the more in strength, and continued to confound and put to confusion the Jews who lived in Damascus by comparing and examining evidence and proving that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah).
b. Paul confounded the Jews with his evidence.
c. Confounded (Greek—sygcheō) — to confound or bewilder; confuse; be in an uproar; stir up; to pour together, commingle; to perplex (the mind); to disturb the mind of one; to throw (an assembly) into disorder; to stir up to tumult or outbreak.
d. The preaching of the Gospel always provokes a response—people either get mad or glad!
e. The preaching of the Gospel convicts of sin and challenges and exposes religious tradition.
f. This word “confounded” is the same word used on the day of Pentecost, when the multitude was confounded because they heard the disciples speaking in other tongues, in their languages (Acts 2:6).
g. Paul was supernaturally equipped and anointed to expound and to defend the Truth.
h. The Jews were confused and confounded because, even though they did not agree, they had no answer for the Truth that Paul preached.
i. Paul became bolder in his preaching and ministry.
j. He continued to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
k. Proving — (Greek—symbibazō) — to knit together; to prove; to (assuredly) gather; compact; to drive together, i.e. unite (in association or affection); (mentally) to infer, show; to cause to coalesce; to join together (Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:2,19); put together; to unite or knit together: in affection; to put together in one’s mind; to compare, conclude (Acts 16:10); consider; to cause a person to unite with one in a conclusion or come to the same opinion; demonstrate; to teach, instruct (1 Cor. 2:16).
l. For those who receive it, the Truth has the effect of uniting, or bringing together.
m. Division comes when certain people refuse to receive or believe the Truth.
2. Paul’s Time in Damascus.
a. Paul describes his early ministry in Damascus.
b. Galatians 1:11-17 NKJV — But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. 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.
c. Apparently, Paul made a ministry trip into Arabia, returning to Damascus, before he went up to Jerusalem.
d. Once he was called to the ministry by Jesus Christ, personally, he did not ask anyone else’s opinion or permission.
e. Many people have opinions about what you or I should be doing for God, but it’s very important for us to hear from the Lord, alone, and to explicitly obey Him in all things.
3. Plots and Threats.
a. Acts 9:23a NKJV — Now after many days were past…
b. Many days, according to Paul, was a space of approximately three years.
c. Galatians 1:18a NKJV — Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter…
d. Acts 9:23b-24a AMPC — …the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But [the knowledge of] their plot was made known to Saul.
e. The Lord makes us a promise, that He will reveal to us the plots, plans, and maneuvers of our enemy; so that we have an opportunity for defense or escape.
f. Psalm 92:11 AMPC — My eye looks upon those who lie in wait for me; my ears hear the evildoers that rise up against me.
g. Acts 9:24b-25 AMPC — They were guarding the [city’s] gates day and night to kill him, 25 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through the [city’s] wall, lowering him in a basket or hamper.
h. Paul describes (in 2 Cor. 11:22-33) his countless tests, trials, persecutions, dangers, and sufferings, that he endured for the sake of the Gospel—including escaping down the wall in the basket.
i. 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 NKJV — In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.
a. Acts 9:26 AMPC — And when he had arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to associate himself with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe he really was a disciple.
b. Initially, the disciples were afraid of him because of his history and reputation.
c. Acts 9:27 AMPC — However, Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles, and he explained to them how along the way he had seen the Lord, Who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached freely and confidently and courageously in the name of Jesus.
d. Thankfully, the apostles (Peter and James) trusted the testimony of Barnabas, concerning Paul’s bold preaching of the Gospel, and they received him.
e. Galatians 1:18-19 NKJV — Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
f. Perhaps the other apostles were out somewhere preaching the Gospel.
g. At this point, it appears he was fully received as one of them, by the Christian community in Jerusalem.
h. Acts 9:28 AMPC — So he went in and out [as one] among them at Jerusalem.