But showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles…
There is no trace of egotism, in the offensive sense of the word, in this simple sketch of the apostle's course. He is simply telling the truth concerning himself out of a pure heart. But in so doing he gives us the picture of -
I. A DEVOTED LIFE.
1. He began at the earliest possible time to carry out the Master's will - "showed first unto them of Damascus" (ver. 20).
2. He labored in the most difficult and dangerous sphere - "and at Jerusalem."
3. He went wherever the guiding finger pointed - "throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles."
4. He was not afraid of those who were high not disregardful of those who were low "witnessing both to small and great" (ver. 22).
5. He preached everywhere unpalatable but indispensable truth - " that they should repent... and do works meet for repentance" (ver. 20).
6. He was undeterred by any obstacles from continuing in his career - "I continue unto this day" (ver. 22). We are not all charged by our Master to do the kind of work for which Paul was his "chosen vessel;" but we are all called upon to devote our powers to his holy service, our lives to his praise and glory; and it behooves us, as it became him, to begin early, to accept whatever duty the Lord may lay upon us, to shrink from no service because it seems uninviting or perilous to be thorough in all we do for him, and to persist through good and evil report even to the end, until he shall take the weapon from out' hand.
II. THE PENALTY OF DEVOTEDNESS. "For these causes the Jews caught me," etc. (ver. 21). Paul's faithful and fearless devotedness to the wilt and the carnie of Jesus Christ led him into the utmost danger, and caused him the severest losses and trials. The less of consecration the less of persecution; the more of the one the more of the other. So, in some degree, now. "Yea, and all that wilt live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). All are not expected to face the same trials. The apostle had his own difficulties to surmount and dangers to front. The missionary has his; the minister has his; the reformer has his. The Christian man in everyday life has his own penalties of devotedness to pay. Enthusiastic zeal, perfect purity, unswerving truthfulness, incorruptible fidelity, - these qualities, and such as these, cannot be continually manifested without calling out and calling down the hostility, condemnation, and opposition of the world. If we take not up the cross thus and follow Christ, we are "not worthy of him."
III. Two SOURCES OF STRENGTH.
1. The help to be had of God: "having obtained help of God" (ver. 22). Christ appeared to him at Jerusalem, at Troas, at Corinth, and sustained him by special visitations. All along his path he had the upholding hand of the Almighty about him.
2. Consciousness of integrity. There was no ground for this hatred of him, this relentless persecution. He was not really the renegade his enemies took him for. His conduct could be fully justified by their own authorities; he had been saying "none other things than these," etc. (vers. 22, 23). He had a conscience void of offence toward man as well as toward God; he was as guiltless before his own countrymen as he was before Caesar. Here we have two sources of strength under those persecutions which are the inevitable outcome of our fidelity. Divine sustenance - the guidance of the heavenly Father, the watchful care of the Divine Savior, the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Consciousness of rectitude - the feeling that we are saying and doing "none other things" than the Word of God will justify, and than those who abuse and injure us would themselves approve if they would only judge us with open and impartial mind. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
WEB: but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.