The rollercoaster journey of Acts continues and we now see Saul for the first time since Acts 8.3. Whilst we have been learning of God’s work through Philip,
“…Saul, still breathing out threats to murder the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, either men or women, he could bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem”.
(Acts 9.1-2, NET)
Interestingly, in 1990 an ossuary (bone box) was found in Jerusalem and inscribed with the name ‘Caiaphas’. It was dated to this period and many believe it is the same Caiaphas of the book of Acts, the high priest mentioned here. If so, then this would be the first person specifically named in the New Testament whose physical remains have been found ¹.
So, whilst God is working wonderful things through Philip, Saul was still breathing out threats to the church and even goes on a roughly one hundred and thirty mile journey to Damascus to find people who belonged to the Way.
The earliest name for what we would call Christianity was the Way. This is such a fitting description of the Christian life, isn’t it? The Christian life is more than a religious box to tick, more than a list of do’s and don’ts, more than a rigid framework in which we try to live. At the core, Christianity is a way of life. Christianity is accepting the truth about the world, about yourself, about God, and living out these truths.
Saul was enraged because he thought Christianity was wrong in what it taught. It did not compute with what Saul believed but as David Guzik wrote:
“…Christianity is more than a belief or a set of opinions or doctrines.
Following Jesus is a way of living as well as believing“.
(Enduring Word, emphasis added)