Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. The whole church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria now enjoyed a period of peace. It became established and as it went forward in reverence for the Lord and in the strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit, continued to grow in numbers. (Acts 9:28-31)
Paul could’ve been a Hellenistic Jew. There were many in his hometown of Tarsus. In an eleven-year military crusade beginning in 334 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, taking control of land from Greece to India. Alexander studied under Aristotle, so Greek culture spread throughout the area. According to Wikipedia, when Alexander moved across Tarsus with his army in 333 B.C., Tarsus had already been influenced by the Greek language and culture.
Saul loved God. Before he met Jesus on the Road to Damascus, his passion was to promote Judaism and keep Jewish law. He wasn’t caught up in Greek culture and materialism like the Hellenistic Jews. He felt guilty that he encouraged the Hellenistic Jews to stone Stephen, and when he returned to Jerusalem, he immediately continued Stephen’s work of preaching to them that Jesus was the Messiah. Saul and Stephen had similar visions of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, and if the disciples hadn’t removed him from Jerusalem, Saul likely would’ve experienced the same death as Stephen.
For Saul to become Apostle Paul, God needed him to be less bold and more gentle and patient because the Holy Spirit works best in us when there’s peace. God arranged the circumstances for Saul to return to his hometown of Tarsus. God leaves us at home until we become more gentle and patient. When we practice those two behaviors, God will send us out into the field to help others.
Dearest Father in Heaven, I praise you for changing me. Help me become gentler and more patient, so others will know I’m yours. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.