Saul’s transformation is complete when he “immediately proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues”. The transformation amazes people who knew that he had come to bind the followers of Jesus – not to join them.
Saul increased in strength and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. As Saul had plotted the death of followers of the Way, so now others pot his death. Those he came to bind now assist him in escaping from Damascus lowered in a basket from the wall.
In Jerusalem, the disciples are slow to recognize the extraordinary change Jesus can bring into a person’s life. It is only Barnabas’ testimony to Saul’s having seen Jesus and spoken with him as well as Saul’s bold proclamation in Damascus that convinces them to accept him.
In Jerusalem Saul now disputes with the Hellenists. Among these Hellenists are men from Cilicia, like Saul. These are the same men that Saul had been side to side with when disputing with Stephen. Once friends they now regard one another as opponents. The men with whom Saul worked to kill Stephen now seek to kill him. Again, Saul is rescued by the disciples whom not long ago he would have bound in chains. Saul is sent by them to Tarsus – and so this bold servant of the Lord who will take the gospel to the nations is retired to obscurity – at least until the Lord will send for him.
This section of Acts began with the Church in Jerusalem being persecuted and scattered in relation to Stephen’s death. Now with the conversion of Saul, the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.