Teacher Notes

Bible Stories for Adults

The Conversion of Saul

Acts 9:1-38

Welcome and Announcements
    Next Week - Paul's First Missionary Journey (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-14:28)
    Bible Words to Remember:
      If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Opening Prayer

Clothes at the Feet (Acts 7:55-8:1a)
    When is the first we hear of Saul? = Young man - thought to be in his 20s
      Acts 7:55-58 = He stood and watched the Jews stone Stephen
    Was Saul just a bystander to Stephen's stoning or was he involved in any way?
      Acts 7:59-8:1a = He had at least seen the Sanhedrin trial to approve of Stephen's death
    What had caused Stephen to get into so much trouble with the Jewish leaders?
      Acts 6:9-10, 12 = He won debate in a synagogue for Jews of Cyrene, Alex, Cilicia, Asia
    Could Saul have been one of the debaters that opposed Stephen?
      Acts 21:39 = Yes, he was from Cilicia and may have attended that synagogue

    Did Saul give casual approval to this Christian persecution or did he become an advocate?
      Acts 8:3 = He became a vicious leader - verb describes an animal devouring its prey
    Why would Saul do this?
      Acts 26:9-10 = He was convinced he must do everything possible to stop this heresy
    Why would he go to such extremes as arresting & persecuting both men & women?
      Numbers 25:1-5 = God's punishment for worshipping other gods was death

A Pharisee Named Saul (Acts 26:4-5)
    What do we know about Saul's upbringing?
      Acts 22:3 = He was trained by famous rabbi Gamaliel
    What do we know about Gamaliel?
      Acts 5:27-29, 33-34 = He was a Pharisee member of the Sanhedrin, honored by all
    Was Gamaliel as staunchly opposed to this group of Jesus followers as Saul?
      Acts 5:35-40 = No, in fact he was concerned that doing so could oppose God

    Why would Saul be so zealous against Christians while his teacher was so careful?
      Acts 26:4-5 = He had been raised his whole life as a strict Pharisee
    Why would he have been raised his entire life as a Pharisee?
      Acts 23:6 = His father was a Pharisee
    But Gamaliel was a Pharisee. Why was Paul so strongly against the Christians?
      Galatians 1:13-14 = He was intense and extremely zealous about everything he did
    Was Paul this way due to rawness of youth or was he honestly trying to please God?
      Philippians 3:3-6 = He tried to please God, as obedient to the law as a man can be

The Scattered Church (Acts 8)
    What happened to this fledgling group when they were scattered by the persecution?
      Acts 8:1b, 4 = They took the gospel out with them, no longer just in Jerusalem
    How well did the gospel spread even though the apostles stayed in Jerusalem?
      Acts 8:5, 12 = The Spirit works through all Christians, not just the apostles
    Were the apostles at all involved in this outward expansion?
      Acts 8:14, 17, 25 = They supported others' ministries & did mission work themselves
    Was this expansion just happening in Samaria?
      Acts 8:26, 34-35, 38, 40 = Philip also witnessed in desert to an Ethiopian, baptized
    Anywhere else? = Certainly many others not recorded
      Acts 9:32, 35, 42 = Peter witnessed & made believers in Lydda, Joppa & Sharon area
      Acts 10:24, 44, 48 = Peter witnessed & baptized Gentiles in Caesarea

Marching Orders (Acts 9:1-2)
    Did the persecutors realize that many Christians had moved out of town? = 170 miles, 8-9 days
      Acts 9:1-2 = Yes, Saul made a special trip to round up disciples in Damascus
    Why is the church called The Way instead of Christian?
      Acts 11:26c = The name Christian came at least 13 years later in Antioch
    If Christians called themselves The Way, what did the Jews call them?
      Acts 24:5, 14 = The sect of the Nazarenes
    Did the Sanhedrin agree with Saul's request for letters to the Damascus synagogues?
      Acts 22:4-5 = Yes, they gave him the letters and he went hunting
    Was this trip to Damascus Saul's first (and only) hunting trip outside of Jerusalem?
      Acts 26:11-12 = No, he had worked in Jerusalem and in other foreign cities
    Damascus - The oldest still-inhabited city on the world, already ancient in Abraham's days
      Now Capital of Syria, Then Capital of Nabatean Arabs, always a choice target for armies
        An oasis between Mt. Hermon and Syrian desert, 2000 ft elevation, nice climate
      Divided in half by Straight Street which runs east-west; still a major thoroughfare
        A mile-log colonnaded street, center road for traffic, wide sidewalks for market
      Had a large Jewish population with 30-40 synagogues

I Saw the Light (Acts 9:3-5)
    What happened as he got close to the city of Damascus?
      Acts 9:3 = A light from heaven flashed around him
    How bright was this light?
      Acts 26:13 = Looked brighter then the sun, even at high noon
    What did Saul do when he saw this light? = Asked "Who are you, sir?" - Lord was like sir
      Acts 9:4-5 = He fell to the ground, heard a voice call his name twice to get attention
    Why did Jesus say that Saul was persecuting Him?
      Luke 10:16 = He who rejects you rejects Me
    How did Paul come to understand this in an even deeper way?
      Ephesians 5:29-30 = Church is Christ's body, persecuting the church persecutes Jesus
    How did Jesus emphasize that Saul was opposing God? = Useless resistance, ox only hurts itself
      Acts 26:14-15 = Kicking against the goads was a Greek proverb about fighting a god

Sudden Surrender (Acts 9:6-9)
    Did Saul answer Jesus' question?
      Acts 9:6 = No, Jesus wanted Saul to think about it, not answer
    Did Jesus say anything else to Saul other than to go to Damascus and wait for instructions?
      Acts 26:16-18 = He told Saul he was chosen to bring the good news to others
    What did Saul's traveling companions think about what had happened?
      Acts 9:7-8 (22:9) = They heard the sound but didn't understand it or see anything
    What did Saul do in Damascus and how was it like a death of his old self?
      Acts 9:9 = He waited 3 days without food or drink - a man was fully dead after 3 days

God Works Both Ends (Acts 9:10-19)
    How did God work both ends of His plan for Saul as He did with Peter and Cornelius?
      Acts 9:10-12 = He gave visions to Ananias and Saul about each other
    What did Ananias think about his special calling by God to induct the greatest missionary ever?
      Acts 9:13-14 = He was afraid to go to Saul because of his persecution
    How did God explain to Ananias that he had to go? = Summary verse of Paul's ministry
      Acts 9:15-16 = He explained Saul's special purpose to take the gospel to the Gentiles

    Did Ananias give 4 other reasons for not going like Moses did?
      Acts 9:17 = No, he went obediently and told Saul why he came
    Did he say anything else that Luke doesn't record here?
      Acts 22:12-16 = He told Saul what God had planned for him, invited him to be baptized
    What did Saul think about this Christian coming to him like this?
      Acts 9:18-19 = He became a Christian himself when he was given sight
    What sight was Saul really given and what scales really fell from is eyes?
      2 Corinthians 4:4 = He was able to see the light of the gospel, not blinded by unbelief

Days in Damascus (Acts 9:20-25)
    What did Saul do over the several days he spent with the disciples in Damascus?
      Acts 9:20-22 = He visited all the synagogues preaching that Jesus was the Messiah
    Having been a Pharisee and a persecution leader, was Saul effective in bringing Jews to Christ?
      Acts 9:23 = No, but he was effective in upsetting them enough to want to kill him
    What happened? = City walls contained homes, could ride a chariot along the top (Jericho)
      Acts 9:24-25 = He escaped at night through a window of a house in the city wall
    Was this threat against his life kept secret from the authorities?
      2 Corinthians 11:32-33 = No, the governor had a warrant out for his arrest

Arabian Nights (Galatians 1:15-18)
    Had Saul stayed in Damascus for the entire time mentioned in Acts 9:20-25?
      Galatians 1:15-17 = No, he spent alot of time in the surrounding Arabian country
    How long are the many days that Acts 9:23 tells us he spent around Damascus?
      Galatians 1:18 = 3 years, then went to Jerusalem for 15 days

A Couple of Weeks in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-31)
    What congratulations did Saul receive after three years of witnessing around Damascus?
      Acts 9:26 = They were all afraid of him, just as Ananias had been
    Who stepped in on Saul's behalf?
      Acts 9:27-28 (4:36-37) = Joseph Barnabas (Son of Encouragement)
    Why didn't Saul stay longer than 15 days in Jerusalem?
      Acts 9:29-30 = Jews wanted to kill him, so he went to Caesarea, then Tarsus
    Was Saul just too nervous from his Damascus experience and gave up on Jerusalem too early?
      Acts 22:17-21 = No, he left at the Lord's command to go preach to the Gentiles

    Did Saul get to meet all of the apostles during his two week stay?
      Galatians 1:19-20 = No, only Peter and Jesus' brother, James
    Why does Paul point out he only saw these two for 15 days three years after his conversion?
      Galatians 1:11-12 = He got gospel from Jesus independent of apostles, not made-up
    Did this independent gospel threaten the church?
      Acts 9:31 = No, it was all the same gospel, and Godís gospel, so the church thrived

Antioch (Acts 11:19-30)
    What did Saul likely do when he got home to Tarsus?
      Galatians 1:21-24 = Witnessed in Syria & Cilicia, possibly Galatia & Cappadocia
    After the stories of Peter spreading the gospel outward to Gentiles, what growth does Luke give?
      Acts 11:19-21 = Unnamed Christians going to Antioch and making disciples of Greeks
    Antioch - 3rd largest city in Roman empire (after Rome & Alexandria), over 500,000 population
      Called "Antioch-on-the-Orontes" since on Orontes River and there were other Antiochs
      300 miles north of Jerusalem, 20 miles east of Mediterranean Sea, 80 miles from Tarsus

    What did the mother church in Jerusalem do when they heard of the believers in Antioch?
      Acts 11:22-24 = They sent Barnabas to pastor the church
    What did Barnabas do when he saw that he needed help in this large city?
      Acts 11:25-26 = He found Saul in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch
    Why does this verse say their ministry only lasted a year?
      Acts 11:27-30 = Barnabas and Saul went to Jerusalem with gifts for a famine
    How long had Saul witnessed around Tarsus and Antioch?
      Galatians 2:1 = 14 years

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1998 by Kurt Rosenhagen

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