Tag Archives: Saul


Acts 11:19-30

It had been 13 years since Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and 10 years since his failed attempt to return to Jerusalem. His hope had likely been to make amends with those he had hurt and convince his friends that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah (Acts 22:17-21). That was when the disciples ‘took’ Saul and ‘sent’ him back to his hometown of Tarsus (Acts 9:30).

Now, 13 years later, Barnabas needs help with the exploding Gentile church in Antioch and we find him knocking on Saul’s door in Tarsus, asking him if he can come help (Acts 11:25-26). They would spend a year together. So, after 14 years since meeting Jesus Barnabas and Saul make their way back to Jerusalem bearing gifts from Antioch to help steel them for the predicted famine that would come.

This trip to Jerusalem has Saul being mentored in Barnabas’s shadow as Luke notes that the two of them, uneventfully, return to Antioch (Acts 12:25). At some point in their first missionary journey, however, Luke makes a couple of changes that are significant. First, he acknowledges Saul’s Greek name, Paul (Acts 13:9), and he now lists these two evangelists as “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:14).


It is easy to think that Saul’s maturing in Christ happened shortly after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. But, a lot needed to happen for Saul to be ready to take the gospel to the world. Those 15 years represent a lot of hard work to help Saul become the evangelist, Paul. Time well spent when we consider his impact upon churches all over the world ever since then,



Choosing is very different from being chosen. When we choose from many options we are being empowered. We can say ‘yes’ to some things while saying ‘no’ to others. For example, at a church pot luck, I can choose what I wish to put onto my plate. I also choose what I do not wish to have on my plate. As I get older I realize that choosing to put a little of everything on my plate needs to be modified. I now make different choices because I have the power to do so…if I choose (once again) to exercise it.

Being chosen, however, is different. When applying for a job, I hope that I will be the chosen one from among many other candidates. When it comes to jobs that I do not wish to do, my hope is that someone else will be chosen.

In choosing, I am empowered to choose. In being chosen, I hope to have the option of deciding whether or not I wish to respond; but, sometimes, it means submitting to the one who has chosen me.


Reflecting back upon his being chosen by the Lord, the apostle Paul recognized that God had set him apart before he was even born (Galatians 1:1, 15-16, NIV). The Lord made it clear to Paul, however, that accepting God’s call would mean choosing a life of suffering (Acts 9:16).

This means that it is of value to consider Saul’s upbringing in Tarsus and Jerusalem from his earliest years (cf., Acts 26:4-5; 22:3) until he received his irresistible calling from the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31). So strongly influenced by his studies in Judaism according to the Pharisaical tutelage of Gamaliel himself that re-orienting the “Christ in me” (Galatians 1:15-16) to the way of the cross would take three years in Arabia, ten years in the region of his hometown of Tarsus and a year under the wing of Barnabas to anchor itself in the destiny that God had planned for him (Galatians 1:17-2:2).


We have all been chosen by God (Ephesians 1:3-14). The question for each of us is whether or not we choose to accept His calling. For those of us who do choose to follow His lead, Paul’s life helps us do as Jesus instructed us: to count the cost (Luke 14:25-35).

Today’s sermon brings together parts of Saul/Paul’s story as found in these primary Scriptures: Acts 9:1-31; Acts 22:1-21; Acts 26:1-23; Galatians 1:11-2:10; Philippians 3:4-7.

Sunday, March 10, 2019