lesson
18

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Conversion of Saul (Paul)
Acts 9:1-22

warm up
1. Which best describes Saul before his conversion?
[  ] Wicked [  ] Angry [  ] Mean [  ] Determined [  ] Committed to a cause
2. Why do you think God selected such a man as Saul to be an apostle?
ise up
  

In this story we observe that Saul changed from being a persecutor of Christ to becoming a preacher of Christ. In verse 1 we read that he was "breathing out" (with every breath) threats and slaughter. Yet, in verse 20 we find his every breath was filled with the gospel of life. What could possibly have caused such a dramatic change in Saul other than the truth that he truly had a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus!

I. Persecution of Christ: Vs. 1-5
   1. With all the authority of the Jewish leadership supporting him, Saul of Tarsus became the lead man in the drive to put an end to this new faith that was spreading across the land. Evidently there was a large Jewish population in Damascus because they had more than one synagogue (Vs. 2.) How do we know from this text that Saul the persecutor had very little if any consideration for Christian women? Vs. 2. 

   2. According to Acts 26:13, what time of day was it when this light was seen by Saul and how bright was it? Who had Saul been persecuting as he persecuted Christians? Does Christ identify with his people? A "prick" or "ox goad" was a sharp stick. To kick against it was to inflict self injury. Not only was Saul of Tarsus going in the wrong direction religiously, but he was hurting himself in the process. 
   3. How deep do you think that Saul the persecutor's love for God was? Why do you think God would want to use a man like Saul? Study the following character traits and qualities of Saul and discuss how God could use each of them?
  

He was (1) well educated (Acts 22:3), (2) a Hebrew of Hebrews (knew the language Phil 3:5 ), (3) a Pharisee (devout and conservative), (4) zealous when it came to persecuting the church, (5) blameless according to the law of Moses, (6) exceedingly zealous in his religion (Gal. 1:14), (7) lived in good conscience before God (Acts 23:1); (8) a blasphemer, (9) persecutor, (10) injurious ( I Tim 12-13), (11) chief of sinners (I Tim 1:15).

   4. If God could forgive and then use an enemy of Christ like Saul, couldn't he forgive and use anyone? Read I Timothy 1:15-16. Was Saul (Paul) a "pattern" or example of how longsuffering God is toward sinners? Discuss the implications.

II. Presentation of Christ: Vs. 6-16
   1. According to Acts 26:16, Jesus stood before Saul on the road to Damascus. And later Saul (Paul) would write that he had seen Jesus (I Cor. 9:1.) You may remember that one of the qualifications of an apostle is that he must have "seen" the resurrected Christ. (Acts 1:22.) Saul was being qualified to become an apostle of Jesus. Paul later stated in I Cor. 15:5-8 that Jesus had been seen by a great number of people after his resurrection, and "last of all" he was seen of Paul. (Also compare Acts 9:17 where Ananias states that Jesus had "appeared" to Saul.)

   2. Saul was "astonished." (Vs. 6.) What a shock this must have been! Yet, a conscientious man will admit his mistakes. 
   3. Where did the Lord instruct Saul to go and for what reason? (Vs. 6.) What was wrong with Saul's eyes? According to verse 9, how long did Saul go without food or drink? Does this sound like a man who has just been saved or a man who is convicted in his conscience and grieved by his sins? What did the Ethiopian do after he was saved? Is there any joy or rejoicing seen in Saul at this time?
   4. Why was Ananias reluctant to go to see Saul? (Vs. 13-14.) Would you have been hesitant? Does Ananias show courage as well as obedience?

III. Preaching  of Christ: Vs. 17-22
   1 According to Acts 9:15-16, what three groups was Saul selected to carry the name of Christ to? Would he suffer great things? Share some of the ways you know that Saul (Paul) suffered in preaching Christ.
   2.
We learn from Galatians 1:16-18, that Saul went to Arabia preaching and then back to Damascus where he preached for three years before going back to Jerusalem and visiting with Peter and James.
   Note:
Ananias put his hands upon Paul for the purpose of his regaining his sight (Cf., Vs. 12, 17.) In addition to this miracle, which proved to Saul that this man was from the Lord, Ananias instructed Saul to be baptized to which he willingly complied. (Cf., Acts 22:16 read.) Since the gift of the Holy Spirit follows baptism according to Acts 2:38, it must have been after his baptism that Saul was "filled with the Holy Spirit." But notice that nothing is said about Ananias being the instrument through which the Holy Spirit was given to Saul. His laying on of hands was for the miracle of restoring sight but nothing is said about it being the means by which Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul was endowed evidently in much the way that the twelve were on Pentecost. Saul did not receive a partial indwelling of the Spirit but he was filled.

wrap up

   1.  Ananias was a "nobody" (just an ordinary Christian) who was given an opportunity to share with others. As far as we know he was never involved in the instruction of anyone else before or after this meeting with Saul. Even so, think of the good that Saul was able to do because of Ananias. Who was your Ananias? To whom have you been an Ananias to?

Assignment

  Please read Acts 9:23-31 for next week        copyright 2001