Right Message Wrong Approach: Acts 9:28-31
“28) And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29) And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30) But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. 31) So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.” Acts‬ ‭9‬:‭28‬-‭31‬
As predicted at the time of his salvation, Saul became a lightening rod for opposition and persecution. He was very vocal about his faith and very persuasive in his defense of the gospel. Those who dared argue with him were quickly won over to Christ or put to shame. He was both a biblical scholar and expert debater.
Early on in his Christian walk, he was openly argumentative in his approach. As he grew in his faith and dependency on the Holy Spirit, he undoubtedly depended less on his intellectual reasoning abilities and more on the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 makes this case. He learned the importance of love and letting the Holy Spirit persuade people. The book of 1 Corinthians is also home to the famous love chapter. (1 Corinthians 13) By the time he wrote to the Corinthians, his approach to ministry and the gospel was very different.
It might be that his abrasive approach early on was partially responsible for the hostile reactions against him. When he was ushered away to Tarsus, a time of peace settled over all Judea, Samaria and Galilee. There may be a correlation between the two.
I have met numerous Christians who are good scholars and debaters, but they have terrible people skills. They come across as arrogant and offensive. It is impossible to force or argue people into the faith.
Saul soon learned the value of speaking the truth in love. He learned the value of prayer and letting the Holy Spirit wrestle with people.
I have discovered that more people are offended by judgmental and arrogant Christians than by Jesus Christ and the gospel. Saul soon learned the value of causing no offense to the gospel. Some Christians suffer because of their approach rather than being reproached because of the gospel. It never hurts to treat people with respect and dignity. It was a lesson gradually learned by Saul.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global