Barnabas helps Saul (Acts 9:27)

“But Barnabas

Took Saul

And brought him

To the apostles.

He described

For them,

How on the road

Saul had seen the Lord,

Who had spoken

To him.

Saul had spoken boldly

In the name of Jesus

At Damascus.”

Βαρνάβας δὲ ἐπιλαβόμενος αὐτὸν ἤγαγεν πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστόλους, καὶ διηγήσατο αὐτοῖς πῶς ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ εἶδεν τὸν Κύριον καὶ ὅτι ἐλάλησεν αὐτῷ, καὶ πῶς ἐν Δαμασκῷ ἐπαρρησιάσατο ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ.

The author of Acts indicated that Barnabas (Βαρνάβας) took Saul (δὲ ἐπιλαβόμενος αὐτὸν) and brought (ἤγαγεν) him to the apostles (πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστόλους).  He described for them (καὶ διηγήσατο αὐτοῖς), how on the road (πῶς ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ) Saul had seen the Lord (εἶδεν τὸν Κύριον), who had spoken to him (καὶ ὅτι ἐλάλησεν αὐτῷ).  He had spoken boldly (ἐπαρρησιάσατο) in the name of Jesus (ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ) at Damascus (καὶ πῶς ἐν Δαμασκῷ).  Barnabas stepped in and vouched for Saul.  He told the other disciples and the apostles about Saul’s vision on the way to Damascus and how he had spoken out bravely about Jesus in Damascus.  Barnabas was mentioned earlier in Acts, chapter 4:36-37.  He was a Levite (Λευείτης), a native of Cyprus by birth (Κύπριος τῷ γένει), Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ), to whom the apostles (ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων) gave the name or called him Barnabas (δὲ ὁ ἐπικληθεὶς Βαρνάβας), that translates or means (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον), “Son of encouragement (Υἱὸς παρακλήσεως).”  Barnabas had sold (πωλήσας) a field (ἀγροῦ) that he owned (πάρχοντος αὐτῷ).  He then brought (ἤνεγκεν) the money (τὸ χρῆμα) and laid it (καὶ ἔθηκεν) at the apostles’ feet (πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τῶν ἀποστόλων).  Thus, his behavior would be contrasted with the behavior of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who only turned in part of the sale of their property.  Barnabas would also become a fellow missionary with Saul later in Acts, chapters 12-15.  However, Barnabas and Saul would have a sharp disagreement in chapter 15:39.  Saul might have been a hard man to get along with.  Thus, the encouraging Barnabas convinced his fellow early Christians in Jerusalem to accept Saul, despite his past activities.  Would you accept someone who had tried to kill your fellow believers?

Saul returns to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26)

“When Saul

Came to Jerusalem,

He attempted

To join the disciples.

They were all afraid

Of him.

They did not believe

That he was a disciple.”

Παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἐπείραζεν κολλᾶσθαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς· καὶ πάντες ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτόν, μὴ πιστεύοντες ὅτι ἐστὶν μαθητής.

The author of Acts indicated that when Saul went to Jerusalem (Παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ), he attempted (ἐπείραζεν) to join (κολλᾶσθαι) the disciples (τοῖς μαθηταῖς) of Jesus.  However, they were all afraid of him (καὶ πάντες ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτόν).  They did not believe (μὴ πιστεύοντες) that he was a true disciple (ὅτι ἐστὶν μαθητής).  Obviously, the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem had seen Saul and his earlier activities against them, as in chapter 8:1 and 9:1-2.  This is slightly different than what Saul said in Galatians, chapter 1:18, where he said that he only visited with Peter and James in Jerusalem.  Thus, there was some tension between the newly converted Saul and the original early Christian community in Jerusalem because of his past activities.  They were distrustful of Saul.  Do you distrust some people because of their past activities?

Saul escapes (Acts 9:25)

“His fellow disciples

Took Saul

By night.

They let him

Through an opening

In the wall.

They lowered him

In a basket.”

λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτὸν χαλάσαντες ἐν σπυρίδι.

The author of Acts indicated that his fellow disciples (δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ) took (λαβόντες δὲ) Saul by night (νυκτὸς).  They let him down (καθῆκαν αὐτὸν) through an opening in the wall (διὰ τοῦ τείχους).  They lowered him (χαλάσαντες) in a basket (ἐν σπυρίδι).  According to 2 Corinthians, chapter 11:33, Saul said that he was let down in a basket through a window in the wall.  Thus, he escaped the hands of King Aretas, who would have had the power and authority to seize Saul.  The disciples of Jesus who were with Saul now helped him to escape through a hole or window in the wall, by putting him in a basket that they lowered.  Thus, Saul escaped from Damascus, where his life was threatened.  Have you ever escaped a tricky situation?

Saul finds out (Acts 9:24)

“Their plot became known

To Saul.

They were watching

The gates

Day

And night

To kill him.”

ἐγνώσθη δὲ τῷ Σαύλῳ ἡ ἐπιβουλὴ αὐτῶν. παρετηροῦντο δὲ καὶ τὰς πύλας ἡμέρας τε καὶ νυκτὸς ὅπως αὐτὸν ἀνέλωσιν·

The author of Acts indicated that their plot (ἡ ἐπιβουλὴ αὐτῶν) became known to Saul (ἐγνώσθη δὲ τῷ Σαύλῳ).  They were watching (παρετηροῦντο) the gates (καὶ τὰς πύλας) day and night (ἡμέρας τε καὶ νυκτὸς), to kill him (ὅπως αὐτὸν ἀνέλωσιν).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word ἐπιβουλὴ, that means to plan against or to plot.  Either some Jews in Damascus or the army of the Nabateans around Damascus were constantly guarding the gates to the city, where people came in and out, since they planned to kill Saul.  How did Saul find out?  Was this plot so obvious?  Has anyone ever plotted against you?

They plot to kill Saul (Acts 9:23)

“After some time

Had passed,

The Jews plotted

To kill Saul.”

Ὡς δὲ ἐπληροῦντο ἡμέραι ἱκαναί, συνεβουλεύσαντο οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἀνελεῖν αὐτόν·

The author of Acts indicated that after some time had passed (Ὡς δὲ ἐπληροῦντο ἡμέραι ἱκαναί), the Jews (οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι) plotted (συνεβουλεύσαντο) to kill Saul (ἀνελεῖν αὐτόν).  How long was this some time?  According to Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 1:17-18, Saul said that he did not confer with other humans or go to Jerusalem.  Instead he went to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus.  After three years, he went to Jerusalem and stayed with Peter in Jerusalem for fifteen days.  Most commentators speak of this Arabia as the Nabataean kingdom that is southeast of Damascus.  At some point, the various Jewish groups turned on Saul.  In 2 Corinthians, chapter 11:32, Saul said that the governor under King Aretas IV (9 BCE-40 CE) guarded the city of Damascus to seize Saul, rather than the Jews, since King Aretas ruled Damascus at the time of the conversion of Saul.  King Aretas’ daughter was married to, and divorced from, Herod Antipas.  Thus, he would have been involved in Israelite and Jewish politics.  Saul stayed in Damascus for some time, perhaps up to three years.  The Jews in Damascus probably got the king on their side to get rid of Saul, since they would have no power or authority otherwise.  Have you ever tried to get rid of someone?

The Jews in Damascus were confused (Acts 9:22)

“Saul became

Increasingly more powerful.

He confounded the Jews

Who lived in Damascus

By proving that Jesus

Was the Christ,

The Messiah.”

Σαῦλος δὲ μᾶλλον ἐνεδυναμοῦτο καὶ συνέχυννεν Ἰουδαίους τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐν Δαμασκῷ, συμβιβάζων ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Χριστός.

The author of Acts indicated that Saul (Σαῦλος) became increasingly more powerful (δὲ μᾶλλον ἐνεδυναμοῦτο).  He confounded (καὶ συνέχυννεν) the Jews (Ἰουδαίους τοὺς) who lived (κατοικοῦντας) in Damascus (ἐν Δαμασκῷ) by proving (συμβιβάζων) that Jesus was the Christ (ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Χριστός), the Messiah.  Saul was changing the expectations of the Jewish community in Damascus.  He kept talking about Jesus, the Christ, as the expected Messiah.  The Damascus Jewish people thought that he was opposed to this new Jewish Jesus movement, not in favor of it.  Do you know someone who changed their opinion or beliefs?

They were amazed (Acts 9:21)

“All who heard Saul

Were amazed.

They said.

‘Is not this the man

Who made havoc

Among those

Who invoked this name

In Jerusalem?

Has he not come here

For the purpose

Of bringing them bound

Before the chief priests?’”

ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες οἱ ἀκούοντες καὶ ἔλεγον Οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ πορθήσας εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους τὸ ὄνομα τοῦτο, καὶ ὧδε εἰς τοῦτο ἐληλύθει, ἵνα δεδεμένους αὐτοὺς ἀγάγῃ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς;

The author of Acts indicated that all who heard (δὲ πάντες οἱ ἀκούοντες) Saul were amazed (ἐξίσταντο).  They asked (καὶ ἔλεγον) if this was not the same man (Οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν) who had made havoc (ὁ πορθήσας) among those in Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ) who invoked (ἐπικαλουμένους) the name of Jesus (τὸ ὄνομα τοῦτο)?  Had he not come there (καὶ ὧδε εἰς τοῦτο ἐληλύθει) for the purpose (ἵνα) of bringing them (αὐτοὺς ἀγάγῃ) bound (δεδεμένους) before the chief priests (ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς)?  Once again, there is a reference to the original mission of Saul to gather up and bring the followers of Jesus to justice in Jerusalem, as indicated earlier in this chapter, 9:1-2.  The Jews in Damascus wondered if this was the same person.  He was supposed to be against the followers of Jesus, but now he seemed like he was a follower of Jesus himself.  Have you ever made a drastic change in your life?