Normally we don’t think of Saul (Paul) being discipled, but that is exactly what happened. Even the greatest of the Lord’s servants had to go through a phase of being mentored by someone else. It is true that the gospel was given directly to him by “revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). Ananias, a disciple, discipled Saul immediately after his conversion (Acts 9:10-19).
In Acts 9, we notice that there were “disciples” in Damascus who immediately realized that Saul was in danger because “the Jews plotted to kill him” (9:23). He submitted himself to them ‘as a disciple.’ “Their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket” (9:24–25). We are seeing here a ‘two-way’ discipling work happening in Damascus. But there is more.
After escaping Damascus, Saul heads to Jerusalem. Saul was well known there as the ‘persecutor of the Way’ and “they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple” (9:26). Now, Barnabas enters the picture. He knew exactly what happened to Saul on the Damascus road and “how…he [Saul] had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus” (9:27).
In a real way, Barnabas discipled Saul and help him become accepted by the church in Jerusalem. Discipling is never about hierarchy, but how we help others to grow spiritually and become passionate about God’s purpose being worked out in and through us. A unique relationship developed between Barnabas and Saul forged by the Holy Spirit and sent out by Him at Antioch (13:2-3). Are you being discipled? Who are you discipling?
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