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Before They Were Missionaries: Part II-Paul (by Shawn Bateman)

In the previous post in this series (see here) we looked at the story of Barnabas.  In Acts 13 we find Paul and Barnabas sent out as missionaries, but is that where their story began?  Paul had a story before Acts 13, as did Barnabas.  This is what life looked like for the great Apostle to the Gentiles before his mission work in Acts 13.

  • Proclaiming the Good News: Paul is converted in Acts chapter 9. He stays with the disciples for a few days and verse 20 says that “straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues.”  Paul immediately begins to proclaim Christ to others.  This is sometime before Acts 13; actually it is several years before Paul and Barnabas go out.  We should not send to the mission field men who are not already actively proclaiming the Gospel.  If they won’t witness here they won’t witness there.  If they are lazy and won’t participate in soul winning and visitation here, don’t expect a change in location to endow them with courage and a work ethic.  Before Paul images-3proclaimed the Gospel at Salamis in Acts 13 he had been preaching in the synagogues of Damascus in chapter 9.
  • Preparation in Arabia: Shortly after his conversion Paul spent time in Arabia.  He mentions this in Galatians 1:17, 18.  Though he did not write much about it, he wrote enough to know that this was an important time in his life.  During this time, according to Galatians, Paul would learn the great doctrines of the Gospel.  F. B. Meyer says this about Paul’s Arabian journey: “We all need to go to Arabia to learn lessons like these.  The Lord Himself was a led up into the  wilderness.  And, in one form or another, every soul which has done a great work in the world has been passed through similar periods of solitude.”    John Butler said, “Preachers…need to get away from people and other distractions and then get earnestly into the Word of God…Don’t cross Arabia off your schedule.  Paul would have been very handicapped without it.”  We all need a time of preparation.  Oliver B. Green used to say “A call to preach is a call to prepare.”  Let’s not be to quick to join the fray until we have spent adequate time preparing and training.  Soldiers do not leave for the battlefield straight from the recruitment office.
 

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