continued from last week
Paul was not able to stay in Damascus for long. The men who had first come with him were sent back immediately from Jerusalem with others to arrest him. It would not be the last time he had to escape Damascus. So he left the city for Bostra, to the southeast in the Nabataean kingdom.
He couldn't go back to Jerusalem. He couldn't stay in Damascus. He decided to leave the Roman Empire for a time and go to Arabia.
He would spend some months in Bostra. He revived the leather working skills of his childhood and made connections with the synagogue in the city. Then when he was no longer welcome there, he headed south to Petra, where he did the same thing. He witnessed to the resurrection and lordship of Christ in the synagogue, while supporting himself with his hands.
As he would find throughout his life, his preaching brought great controversy. King Aretas himself got involved when he heard that a Jew was preaching that some Jewish king was soon going to take over his kingdom. Paul was preaching that God was going to restore Israel to Christ when he returned and that Jesus would rule the whole world.
From that point on, Aretas was after Paul. First Paul returned to Bostra, then back to Damascus. Those were the days between Roman emperors, when Aretas actually took Damascus from Herod Antipas. Most considered it God's judgment on Herod for killing John the Baptist. As Aretas was about to take the city, they lowered Paul down the wall of Damascus in a basket, and he escaped yet again.
This was three years after he had come to faith. Paul figured it was finally safe enough for him to go to Jerusalem, so he secretly made his way south...