Memory Verse: “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Acts 9:4.
Daily Bible Readings: Acts 9:1-31; Acts 7:58-8:4; Acts 22:1-23; Acts 26; Philippians 3; Galatians 1:1-24
Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1-31
This lesson focuses on the story of Saul’s conversion. This story is shared by Luke in three locations (Acts 9, 22, 26). This account of Paul’s conversion marks a turning point in the history of the early church. Paul will begin to be the center in Luke’s account of the history of the church. We have seen the Gospel spread to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Now we see the seeds planted to begin the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles and to the “uttermost parts of the earth.”
Think about Paul’s persecution of the believers in Jerusalem. God was making use of Paul, even while he was in rebellion, to propel the believers outward into the world! Stephen and other men and women died in Jerusalem as a result of the persecution of their faith. They did not die in vain. Their deaths gave a reason for believers to leave Jerusalem and spread the Gospel to other regions. God is ultimately in control regardless of the actions of sinful men, and in spite of their actions.
When Paul tried to go outside Jerusalem to persecute His people, he was stopped. God had a special purpose for Paul. He had been specially trained to be a witness. And so, when Paul took that road to Damascus he was not just stopped from persecuting God’s people, but he came face to face with his Messiah. In obedience to that command he became a witness of what he had seen and heard on that road. Immediately, he began preaching the Gospel.
Acts 9:1-31. The Conversion of Saul
- Locate Damascus on a Bible map. How far is Damascus from Jerusalem? In what Roman province is it located? What do you think Saul’s concern was with Christianity reaching and flourishing in Damascus?
- We see the phrase “the Way” used to describe Christians in Acts 9:2. From where do you think this name could have come? Could it be a reference to Jesus’ use of the phrase in John 14:6?
- Think about your conversion. While your conversion may not have been as dramatic as Paul’s, compare the direction of your life before and after your conversion. Are you prepared to tell others about what Christ did for you? Acts 9:3-9; Ephesians 4:17-24; Titus 3:3; 1 Peter 3:15.
- Describe the vision that Ananias received from the Lord in Acts 9:10-16. Did Ananias know Saul? What was Ananias’ fear in seeking out Saul? How does the Lord Jesus calm his concern?
- How do you reach out to newcomers to the faith or outsiders who visit your church?
- Why was the phrase “wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” used by Ananias in Acts 22:16? See also Acts 9:17-18.
- Some church denominations use Acts 22:16 to say that Baptism is necessary to wash away sins. Does the act of baptism wash away sins? Romans 2:28-29; Ephesians 2:8-9.
- What Messianic prophecies might Saul have used to testify that Jesus was the Christ? Acts 9:19-22. Come up with five prophecies from the Old Testament.
- How many years had passed before Saul went back to Jerusalem in Acts 9:26-30? Why did he return? Galatians 1:18-24. Note: it is said by some that the visit written about in Galatians was the one described in Acts 11:30.
- Is the church progressing towards the goal given to the Apostles by Jesus in Acts 1:8? Acts 9:31
Question for thought:
Why do verses in the Bible tie the symbol of baptism so closely to the washing away of sins? Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12.