and he spoke and disputed against the hellenists. but they were seeking to kill him. and when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to caesarea and sent him off to tarsus.
[acts 9:29-30]
paul and the hellenists
earlier in acts, the christian hellenists (hellenists being greek-speaking jews) were grumbling because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution in the church. likely a big part of the reason for that was the language barrier—the apostles primarily spoke aramaic, making effective communication difficult; this also probably created some separation between believers speaking the two languages. years have passed between acts chapter 4 and 9, but none of the apostles likely had greek language or cultural knowledge anywhere close to that of paul, making the hellenists an obvious point of focus for him.
it is not long before they are trying to kill him. why—we do not know, other than this: following Christ obediently leads to persecution.
where have you been persecuted for witnessing to the truth of the gospel? where have you been reluctant to witness to the truth out of fear of the consequences?
Lord, give us boldness to bear witness to the truth in a self-sacrificial way. teach us to accept that persecution is an integral part of our call as sons and daughters. you are our only comfort; help us in our unbelief!
~ stephen hall