He assayed to join himself to the disciples - Επειρατο κολλασθαι, He endeavored to get closely united to them, to be in religious fellowship with them.
Believed not that he was a disciple - They did not suppose it possible that such a person could be converted to the faith of Christ. The full power of Divine grace, in the conversion of the soul, was not yet completely known.
Was come to Jerusalem - He did not go to Jerusalem immediately after he escaped from Damascus. He first went into Arabia, where he spent a considerable part, or the whole of three years. For the reasons why he went there, and why this fact is omitted by Luke in the Acts, see the notes on Galatians 1:18.
He assayed - He attempted; he endeavored.
To join himself - To become connected with them as a fellow-Christian.
But they were all afraid of him - Their fear, or suspicion, was excited probably on these grounds:
(1) They remembered his former violence against Christians. They had an instinctive shrinking from him, and suspicion of the man that had been so violent a persecutor.
(2) he had been absent three years. If they had not heard of him during that time, they would naturally retain much of their old feelings toward him. If they had, they might suspect the man who had not returned to Jerusalem; who had not before sought the society of other Christians; and who had spent that time in a distant country, and among strangers. It would seem remarkable that he had not at once returned to Jerusalem and connected himself with the apostles. But the sacred writer does not justify the fears of the apostles. He simply records the fact of their apprehension. It is not unnatural, however, to have doubts respecting an open and virulent enemy of the gospel who suddenly professes a change in favor of it. The human mind does not easily cast off suspicion of some unworthy motive, and open itself at once to entire confidence. When great and notorious sinners profess to be converted - people who have been violent, artful, or malignant - it is natural to ask whether they have not some unworthy motive still in their professed change. Confidence is a plant of slow growth, and starts up, not by a sudden profession, but is the result of a course of life which is worthy of affection and of trust.
A disciple - A sincere Christian.
After Paul's conversion, he visited Jerusalem and there preached Jesus and the wonders of His grace. He related his miraculous conversion, which so enraged the priests and rulers that they sought to take his life. But that he might be saved, Jesus again appeared to him in a vision while he was praying, and said unto him, “Get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning Me.” Paul answered, “Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on Thee: and when the blood of Thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” Paul thought that the Jews in Jerusalem could not resist his testimony; that they would consider that the great change in him could be wrought only by the power of God. But the reply was more decided than before: “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” EW 206.1
During Paul's absence from Jerusalem, he wrote many letters to different places, relating his experience and bearing a powerful testimony. But some strove to destroy the influence of those letters. They were forced to admit that his letters were weighty and powerful, but they declared that his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible. EW 206.2Read in context »
As the chief priests and rulers witnessed the effect of the relation of Paul's experience, they were moved with hatred against him. They saw that he boldly preached Jesus and wrought miracles in His name, that multitudes listened to him and turned from their traditions and looked upon the Jewish leaders as the murderers of the Son of God. Their anger was kindled, and they assembled to consult as to what was best to be done to put down the excitement. They agreed that the only safe course was to put Paul to death. But God knew of their intention, and angels were commissioned to guard him, that he might live to fulfill his mission. EW 202.1
Led by Satan, the unbelieving Jews watched the gates of Damascus day and night, that as Paul should pass out, they might immediately kill him. But Paul had been informed that the Jews were seeking his life, and the disciples let him down over the wall in a basket by night. At this failure to carry out their purposes, the Jews were ashamed and indignant, and Satan's object was defeated. EW 202.2Read in context »
Paul now returned to Damascus and preached boldly in the name of Jesus. The Jews could not withstand the wisdom of his arguments, and they therefore counseled together to silence his voice by force—the only argument left to a sinking cause. They decided to assassinate him. The apostle was made acquainted with their purpose. The gates of the city were vigilantly guarded, day and night, to cut off his escape. The anxiety of the disciples drew them to God in prayer; there was little sleeping among them, as they were busy in devising ways and means for the escape of the chosen apostle. Finally they conceived a plan by which he was let down from a window and lowered over the wall in a basket at night. In this humiliating manner Paul made his escape from Damascus. SR 276.1Read in context »