GET ACQUAINTED: What is your favorite wild game meat? How do you like it fixed?
SCRIPTURE: (Acts 9:1-22 )
Open your time together with prayer.
NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
OBSERVATION: “Saul.” The Apostle Paul was originally named Saul, after the first king of Israel. He was born a Jew, studied in Jerusalem under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3 ), and became a Pharisee (Acts 23:6 ). He was also a Roman citizen, a right he inherited from his father (Acts 22:8 ). Acts 9:1-19 recorded the external facts of his conversion (see also Acts 22:1-22 ; 26:9-20; Philippians 3:1-14 records the internal spiritual conversion).
He was the most prominent apostle in the early church due to his effectiveness in starting so many churches. Paul was from Tarsus of Cilicia and was born into a well-to-do home. Paul, as a rabbi, was required to learn a trade and so labored in the low-paying, menial task of tentmaking.
Two facts demonstrate the social status of his family:
(1) His Roman citizenship (Acts 22:28 ).
(2) His opportunity to study in Jerusalem under the foremost teacher, Gamaliel (Acts 22:3 ).
Paul’s primary attribute was not his education but his zeal, which was as much a part of his life before his conversion as afterwards. Paul was the first to martyr the Christians (Acts 7:48 ) and to wreak havoc in the Jerusalem church (Acts 8:1 , 3-4), pursuing them even as far as Antioch. At that time God graciously saved him and commissioned him (Galatians 1:13-17 ).
Paul became the Apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9 ; Romans 11:13 ), and immediately preached in Damascus, Jerusalem, Tarsus, and throughout Syria and Cilicia (Galatians 1:21-23 ). About 10 years later while serving in Antioch, Paul was sent to Cyprus and Galatia in what is called his first missionary journey (Acts 13 and 14).
He later evangelized Greece (Acts 16-18 ) and then Asia Minor (called Asia in Acts 19 ). When he returned to Jerusalem, he was arrested and imprisoned: two years in Caesarea (Acts 23-26 ), and two years in Rome (Acts 28 ). During his missionary journeys, he wrote (Galatians; 1 and 2 Thessalonians; 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans).
While in Rome, he wrote the so-called Prison Epistles (letters): (Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon). The book of Acts and 2 Timothy (along with the statements of church history) imply that Paul was released from prison, preached in Spain and the Aegean Sea area (wrote 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), was rearrested, and was finally martyred by Nero.
Paul was neither physically impressive nor a public speaker (2 Corinthians 10:10 ; Galatians 4:13-15 ), but his unquenchable zeal and love, plus his powerful pen, have endeared him not only to Christians of the first century but also to those of the last 20 centuries.
The persecution described in Acts 7 and 8 continued for some time since “Saul” would not allow it to cease. Even after the Christians were scattered from Jerusalem and Judea, Paul traveled 150 miles to Damascus to harass them.
You see Saul (Paul), at this time, felt that he was doing God a favor by persecuting the Christians. He was a Pharisee, and he believed Jesus to be an imposter. Saul was not only going out and rounding up men and women followers of Jesus – “the Way” and putting them in jail, but he was doing it joyfully.
In fact, he would even go and get papers on his own to arrest these Christians. He was eager to arrest them and punish them. This breathing out, (Acts 9:1 )
just meant that Saul’s spirit was in doing this punishment.
-Excerpted from biblestudies.org
- Who did Saul go to, to get orders to capture and imprison the Christians?
- What town did Saul go toward? What do you know about this town? How far was it from Jerusalem?
- Was there any difference between men and women, if he caught them? How about children?
- What happened to Saul as he neared Damascus? What evidence(s) do you see in him of it?
- What does everyone have in common with Saul before we are saved?
Personal Application and Commitment: Never write anyone off as being beyond the love of Christ. Who do you know that you may have written off? How is God asking you to change your attitude and what exactly is He asking you to do?