Acts - Lesson 8
- The student can recite the conversion of Saul in some detail.
- The student can describe the contrast in Saul before and after his conversion.
- The student can explain from Scripture the process of conversion as shown in Saul's change from persecutor to proclaimer of Christ.
- The student can describe the role of Barnabas in Saul's early Christian life.
- Have Written Review 7 ready to distribute.
- Have Notes/Review sheets ready to distribute.
- Have Bibles and pens for all.
The conversion of the primary persecutor of the Christians to the primary preacher of Christ is one of the most significant events in the history of the church and provides an excellent example of how this conversion takes place.
Lesson Plan for Conducting Class
- Check roll, welcome visitors, make necessary announcements.
- Review the last class by giving answers to the Written Review.
- Prayer and songs as desired: Amazing Grace (connect to Paul's conversion), Jesus is Lord, He Paid a Debt, Victory in Jesus.
- The Persecution Q: If you were editing the Christian Chronicle of about 36 AD, about the time of Acts 8:1-4, what would be some of the headlines? (Saul Becomes Chief Persecutor of the Church, Christian Homes Invaded by Jerusalem Persecutors, Christians Scattered but Still Share Jesus, Persecution to Spread to Damascus.)
- The Conversion
- Saul is clearly leading the persecution. He has taken Christians from their homes and had a part in putting them to death. Q: Why is Saul so opposed to Christianity? (He believed it was a false religion that was opposing the true religion of Judaism.) Q: What new venture does he receive permission to undertake? (Permission to persecute in Damascus.) Q: How far away was this and how long a trip? (About 150 miles; about a week.) (Ask some in the class to be open to Acts 9, some to Acts 22:6ff, and some to Acts 26:12ff. The story of Saul's conversion is told three times in Acts—once when it happens in the story and twice as Saul recounts it while preaching. Since additional details are in the other chapters, we'll look at all of these together. As you ask the class to piece together the story, some details will come from each of the accounts.)
- Q: When something unusual begins to happen to Saul, where was the group and what time was it? (Near Damascus, about noon) Q: What happens suddenly? (A light from heaven flashes around him and those with him. All fall to the ground.) Q: What does Paul see in the light? (Jesus—22:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:8.) Q: Why is it important to note that Saul saw the risen Christ? (Otherwise he does not qualify to be an apostle.) Q: What does Saul hear a voice saying to him and in what language? (In Aramaic, "Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads”—26:14. Some think the "goads” were doubts already forming in Saul's mind about what he was doing. Maybe Stephen's sermon and death were still on his mind. Maybe he sometimes recalled the advice of Gamaliel that if this movement was from God, they couldn't stop it. Maybe the reference, however, is to the light and voice.). Q: What did those with him hear? (9:7—they heard a sound, but (22:9) did not understand what the voice was saying.) Q: How does Saul respond? (Who are you, Lord?) Q: How does the voice reply: (I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.) Q: How does Saul now respond and what does this response imply? (What do you want me to do? It implies that Saul now believes that Jesus has risen from the dead and is willing to do what Jesus tells him to do. Saul is now a believer.) Q: What does Jesus tell Saul to do? (Go into the city and he will be told what to do.) Q: What has happened to Saul as result of his seeing the brightness of the resurrected Jesus? (He is blinded.)
- Q: What are the next things Saul does? (Goes into the city, fasts, prays.) Q: What do we learn from these actions? (He shows his faith in Jesus by going into the city, as he was told. He has repented because he does not do the persecution he came to do but shows contrition—fasting and praying.)
- Q: To whom in Damascus does Jesus speak and what does he tell him to do? Q: How does Jesus overcome the reluctance from Ananias? (He is a chosen vessel. Saul was free to make his own decisions, but if he agrees, God has a special work for him.)
- Q: What does Ananias first do? (Lays hands on Saul and says, "Brother Saul, receive your sight.”) Q: Then what does Ananias tell Saul to do? (22:16—Be baptized and wash away your sins.” Saul agrees and is baptized.)
- Let's compare this conversion to what people did on Pentecost. Acts 2 records that the people asked what to do and this was an indication of their acceptance of Peter's message that Jesus was the Christ. When the believers asked what to do, Peter told them to repent and be baptized for remission of sins. Q: How similar is this experience? (Saul saw the risen Lord and believed. He asked what to do. He fasts and prays to show repentance. Then he is told, "Be baptized and was away your sins.” Q: At what point in this process were Saul's sins taken away? Q: Will people always come to faith by some spectacular event? (No the people on Pentecost didn't. They came to faith through the evidence presented. Did either of these have the promise of their sins to be taken away prior to baptism? (No.) Read Galatians 3:27. Q: At what point does one enter Christ and become clothed with Christ? (Baptism.) Read Romans 6:4. Q: At what point does one reach the saving blood of Christ and is raised to a new life? (At baptism.)
- After conversion.
- Q: How does Saul show the genuineness of his conversion? (He begins to preach publicly and to prove that Jesus is the Christ in the very place he had come to persecute.
- Q: What did Saul have to give up to become a Christian? (Pride, job, family, friends, standing among his people, security.)
- Q: How do the Jews propose to deal with Saul? (Kill him.)
- Q: How does he escape and where does he go?
- Q: How do the Christians in Jerusalem respond to him?
- Q: Who stands with him?
- Q: What do the Jews in Jerusalem want to do to Paul? Q: What do the brethren do to protect him?
- Q: With Saul no longer persecuting, what happens? (9:31).
- Q: What characteristics does Saul show that we should follow?
- Q: What did Saul give up to become a Christian?” (Standing with Jews, maybe his job as a teacher of the Law, certainly friends, maybe family, probably opportunity for income, pride.)
- Q: If we follow the example of this conversion, what will we tell people to do to be saved?
- Prepare for the Written Review next week.
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