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The death of St. Stephen was followed by a severe persecution (i) of the Church at Jerusalem, and Paul became distinguished among its enemies by his activity and violence (k). Not contented with displaying his hatred to the Gospel in Judæa, he obtained authority from the high priest to go to Damascus, and to bring back with him bound, any Christians whom he might find in that city. As he was upon his journey thither, his miraculous conversion took place, the cir- 35. cumstances of which are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (1), and are frequently alluded to by himself in his Epistles (m).
II. Soon after St. Paul was baptized at Damascus, he went into Arabia (n); but we are
not (i) This persecution is supposed to have lasted about four years, from the year 34 to 38.
(k) Acts, c. 8. v. 3.
(m) Gal. C. 1. V. 13. 1 Cor. c. 15. v.9. 1 Tim. c. 1. V. 12 and 13.
(n) This journey into Arabia is not noticed in the Acts. It is mentioned by St. Paul himself, Gal. c. 1. v. 17. It seems equally doubtful, whether he preached at Damascus before he went into Arabia, and whether hç preached while he was in Arabia, as Scripture is silent upon both points. St. Luke says, Acts, c.9. V. 20, that he “ straightway preached Christ,” but he may possibly
not informed how long he remained there. Ile returned to Damascus, and being supernaturally qualified to be a preacher of the Gospel, he iinmediately entered upon his ministry in that city. The boldness and success, with which he enforced the truths of Christianity so irritated the unbelieving Jews, that they resolved to put him to death (0); but, this
design being known, the disciples conveyed him 38. privately out of Damascus, and he went to
The Christians of Jerusalem, remembering Paul's former hostility to the Gospel, and having no authentic account of any change in his sentiments or conduct, at first refused to receive him; but being assured by Barnabas (p) of Paul's real conversion, and of his exertions at
mean, after he returned from Arabia ; and some have thought, that it was ordered by Divine Providence, that there should be an interval of retirement and quiet between Paul's violent persecution of Christians and his zealous . propagation of the Gospel. Nec hoc, says, St. Jerome, seguitiæ apostoli deputandum, si frustra in Arabia fuerit ; sed quod aliqua dispensatio et Dei præceptum fuerit, ut taceret. : In Gal. c. 1. v, 17, ; (0) Acts, c. 9. v. 23. ' '. .., : (P) Acts, c. 2. v. 27. It does not appear in what manner Barnabas was himself informed of Paul's conversion.
Damascus, they acknowledged him as a disciple,
Hitherto the preaching of St. Paul, as well as of the other Apostles and Teachers, had been confined to the Jews ; but the conversion of Cor- 40.nelius, the first Gentile convert, having convinced all the Apostles, that “ to the Gentiles also God had granted repentance unto life,” Paul was soon after conducted by Barnabas from Tarsus, which had probably been the principal place of his residence since he left Jerusalem, and they
42. both began to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles
at Antioch (t). Their preaching was attended with great success. The first Gentile church was now establisbed at Antioch; and in that city, and at this time, the disciples were first called Christians (u). When these two Apostles had been thus employed about a year, a prophet called Agabus predicted an approaching famine, which would affect the whole land of Judæa. Upon the prospect of this calamity, the Christians of Antioch made a contribution for their brethren in Judæa, and sent the money to the elders at Jerusalem, by Paul and Barnabas (w). This famine happened soon after, in the fourth or fifth year of the emperor Claudius. It is supposed that St. Paul had the vision, mentioned in the Acts (.r), while he was now at Jerusalem this second time after his conversion.
Paul and Barnabas, having executed their commission, returned to Antioch, and soon after their arrival in that city they were separated, by the express direction of the Holy Ghost, from the
other (t) Acts, c. 11. v. 25.
(u) Acts, c. 11. v. 26. Before this tiine they had been called Nazarenes and Galilæans. A particular sect of Christians were afterwards called Nazarenes
(w) Acts, c. 11. v. 28, &c.
other Christian teachers and prophets, for the purpose of carrying the glad tidings of the Gospel to the Gentiles of various countries (y).Thus divinely appointed to this important office, 45. they set out from Antioch, and preached the Gospel successively at Salamis and Paphos, two cities of the Isle of Cyprus, at Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, and at Iconium, Ly. stra, and Derbe, three cities of Lycaonia. They returned to Antioch in Syria, nearly by the same 47. route.
This first apostolical journey of St. Paul, in which he was accompanied and assisted by Barnabas, is supposed to have occupied about two years; and in the course of it many, both Jews and Gentiles, were converted to the Gospel. The sermon which Paul preached at Antioch in Pişidia, the conversion of Sergius Paulus, the two miracles which Paul performed at Paphos and at Lystra, the persecutions which he and Barnabas suffered at different places from the unbelieving Jews, and other circumstances of the journey, are recorded in the Acts (2).
III. Paul and Barnabas continued at Antioch
(4) Acts, c. 13. V. I.
(%) Acts, c. 13 and 14.