Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Galatians 2:9: "and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised." (NRSV)
In the verse quoted above, Paul tells the Galatians about his relationship to the early Christians. In Acts 9, the miraculous conversion of Saul illustrates the power that God can use to imprint grace into our hearts. Acts 9: 1 says that Saul (who was a Pharisee [Acts 23:6]) breathed threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. Saul also participated in the stoning of Stephen. When Stephen was brought before the council, his face shown like an angel, and the men on the council saw it (Acts 6:15). The result was that the council was angered, and stoned Stephen. Saul, and the council saw the grace of God poured into Stephen, but they did not recognize it. Without spending time with Christ, it is hard to recognize him.
Saul finally recognized the grace of God when he was confronted by Christ himself on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3). Paul then spent time with Christians learning about Christ (Acts 9:19). Later, when Paul meets with the Apostles in Jerusalem, they recognize the grace in him. Before Paul spent time with Christ, he was unable to recognize the grace of God in Stephen when it was right in front of his eyes. After his conversion, not only could Paul recognize the grace of God, but others could recognize the grace of God in Paul.