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                    "A HARMONY OF THE LIFE OF PAUL"

               Paul's Early Years Of Service (36-45 A.D.)

INTRODUCTION

1. When people think of the life of Paul, they are likely mindful of...
   a. His persecution of the church prior to his conversion
   b. His vision of the Lord on the road to Damascus
   c. His three missionary journeys recorded in the book of Acts
   
2. A period of his life that may not be as well-known is the ten years 
   immediately following his conversion...   
   a. His conversion likely took place around 36 A.D.
   b. His first missionary journey began 45 A.D.
   -- What was Paul doing between his conversion and the time when the 
      Spirit called him to begin his missionary journeys?
      
3. Knowing the zeal of Paul, it was not an idle time of his life...
   a. It was a time of preparation
   b. Combined with activity that would later serve him well
   
[In this study we shall survey the first ten years of Paul's life as a
new Christian...]

I. THREE YEARS IN DAMASCUS AND ARABIA (36-39 A.D.)

   A. INITIAL PREACHING IN DAMASCUS...
      1. Immediately after his conversion, Paul begins preaching - Ac 
         9:17-20
      2. To the amazement of those who heard him - Ac 9:21-22

   B. TIME IN ARABIA...
      1. Paul did not stay in Damascus long after his conversion - cf.
         Ga 1:15-17
      2. He went to Arabia, the desert area east and south of Damascus
         a. How long he stayed is uncertain, though it is thought to 
            have been the greater part of three years - cf. Ga 1:18
         b. What he did is unknown, though some think it was a time of
            personal reflection, and revelations from the Lord - cf. Ga
            1:11-12
            
   C. RETURN AND ESCAPE FROM DAMASCUS...
      1. He returned from Arabia to Damascus - Ga 1:17
      2. Some time later an attempt was made to kill him, which he 
         escaped - Ac 9:23-25
      3. Years later he recounted his narrow escape - 2Co 11:32-33

[Damascus was the first place Paul preached (Ac 26:19-20), and the
first place he experienced persecution.  It would not be the last place
for either experience!  Leaving Damascus, Paul makes his...]

II. FIRST VISIT TO JERUSALEM (39 A.D.)

   A. SKEPTICAL RECEPTION BY THE CHURCH...
      1. At first, the church is afraid to receive him - Ac 9:26
      2. Barnabas (cf. Ac 4:36-37) introduces him to the apostles - Ac 
         9:27; Ga 1:18-19
         a. He saw Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days
         b. He also saw James the Lord's brother
         
   B. PREACHING IN JERUSALEM...
      1. He was given free access to the church - Ac 9:28
      2. He proclaimed boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus - Ac 9:29
      3. He disputed with the Hellenists (Grecian Jews) - Ac 9:29
      
   C. ATTEMPT ON HIS LIFE...
      1. The Hellenists attempt to kill him - Ac 9:29
      2. Paul is warned by the Lord in a vision - cf. Ac 22:17-21
      3. The brethren send him to Tarsus by way of Caesarea - Ac 9:30

[It is evident that Paul has now become a dangerous enemy to his former
friends.  His testimony concerning the Lord and his own conversion is
difficult to answer, and the opposition is willing to do anything to
silence him!  At this point Paul returns home (Tarsus) and spends...]
         
III. FIVE YEARS IN SYRIA AND CILICIA (39-43 A.D.)

   A. RETURN TO TARSUS...
      1. The place of his birth - Ac 22:3
      2. Now the center of preaching in the surrounding regions of 
         Syria and Cilica - Ga 1:21
      3. Elsewhere, brethren hear of his preaching - Ga 1:22-24
      4. Little else is known of this period of Paul's life, though it
         may have been a time when:
         a. Churches in the area were established - Ac 15:23,41
         b. Paul suffered persecution not recorded in Acts - 2Co 11:
            24-26 
         c. He had the vision of Paradise - 2Co 12:1-4
      -- This period lasted about four to five years
      
   B. DEPARTURE FROM TARSUS...
      1. Occasioned by the arrival of Barnabas - Ac 11:25
         a. Who introduced him to the Jerusalem church earlier
         b. Who traveled with him on his first missionary journey later
      2. Who had come from Antioch of Syria, the site of a new and 
         growing church - Ac 11:19-24

[As far as we can tell, Paul had worked alone up to this time.  But
with Barnabas Paul begins a series of labors in which he was always
accompanied by fellow-workers.  Barnabas and Paul shared their first
work during...]

IV. A YEAR IN ANTIOCH (44 A.D.)

   A. WORK IN ANTIOCH...
      1. It had already grown due to the labors of others, including 
         Barnabas - Ac 11:19-24
      2. Barnabas and Paul taught a great many people that year - Ac 
         11:26
      3. It was where disciples of Christ were first called Christians
         - Ac 11:26
      
   B. NEWS FROM JERUSALEM...
      1. Prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch - Ac 11:27
      2. A prophet named Agabus foretold of a great famine - Ac 11:28
      3. The disciples in Antioch determine to send relief to their 
         brethren in Judea - Ac 11:29
      4. They send it by the hands of Barnabas and Paul - Ac 11:30

[This benevolent mission of Paul added a new dimension to his work, one
that would accompany him later on his missionary journeys.  It must
have also been a time of anticipation for Paul, for after six years
this was now his...]
      
V. SECOND VISIT TO JERUSALEM (45 A.D.)

   A. DELIVERY OF RELIEF...
      1. For the brethren of Judea - Ac 11:29
      2. To the elders by Barnabas and Paul - Ac 11:30
   
   B. RETURN WITH JOHN MARK...
      1. Having fulfilled their ministry of benevolence - Ac 12:25
      2. Joined now by John Mark - Ac 12:25
         a. Son of Mary, in whose home many had prayed for Peter 
            - Ac 12:12
         b. Cousin (nephew?) of Barnabas - Col 4:10
         c. Traveling companion on Paul's first missionary journey 
            - Ac 13:5
         d. His earlier departure on that journey would become a sore 
            point between Paul and Barnabas - Ac 13:13; 15:37-39
         e. He later became useful to Paul - 2Ti 4:11; Php 24
         f. He was later with Peter (1Pe 5:13), and authored the 
            gospel of Mark 

CONCLUSION

1. At this point Paul returns to Antioch of Syria...
   a. From which the Spirit will send him on his first missionary 
      journey - Ac 13:1-4
   b. From which Paul will begin all three of his journeys
   
2. In "Paul's Early Years Of Service" (36-45 A.D.), a pattern is 
   established...
   a. Preaching the gospel, followed by persecution
   b. Establishing churches, followed by edification
   c. All the while, concerned about needy Christians in other places

The value of these early years of Paul's service is seen in how they
prepared him for the work the Holy Spirit later had in mind for him.  

In our zeal to be of great service to the Lord, don't discount the need
for time spent in preparation and preliminary acts of service.  How we
serve in small things will determine our usefulness in greater things:

   He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much;
   and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

                                                      - Lk 16:10

In our next study, we will survey Paul's first missionary journey...
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