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Daily Devotional Acts 9:26–31

Saul had inspired much fear in the early church by pursuing and persecuting believers in Christ. When Christ met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–19), he found the true fear of the Lord and did a complete turn around. But when he arrived in Jerusalem, the original disciples remained afraid of him (v. 26). They didn’t trust him. Was this another trap? How could an outspoken enemy like Saul become a believing friend?

Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

ACTS 9:31

In faith, Barnabas took a risk and became Saul’s advocate with the apostles (v. 27). Barnabas probably felt a bit afraid, like Ananias when he was told to go and heal Saul (9:13–14). It would have been normal, even sensible, humanly speaking. By obeying God in faith, they put the fear of the Lord ahead of their own human fears.

The church’s former greatest enemy had become one of them (vv. 28–30)! The believers perhaps watched with amazement as Paul evangelized boldly in Jerusalem, debated successfully with the Hellenistic Jews, and aroused their enmity to the point where they even tried to kill him. The believers then sent him to Tarsus for his own safety.

Otherwise, with Saul the persecutor transformed into Paul the apostle, the church enjoyed a time of relative peace and growth. “Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers” (v. 31).

John taught, “There is no fear in love” and “Perfect love drives out fear.” He meant the fear of punishment. That fear is gone for us because Christ took the punishment for our sins (1 John 4:16–18). The apostles, Barnabas, Paul, and all the believers did not fear punishment or persecution. They did, though, fear the Lord and on this basis the church grew and was encouraged.

Go Deeper

As the apostles’ behavior toward Paul illustrates, it’s difficult to change fearful habits. How can we retrain our hearts away from human fears and toward holy fear, that is, the fear of the Lord?

Pray with Us:

Jesus, You saved us into a community. In You we have our family of faith, our brothers and sisters who walk this road of faith alongside us. We are grateful that we can journey together in courage, support, and godly fear of the Lord.

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