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17. The persecutor converted, and persecuted: and the ministry of encouragement

Leader's page and Student's page best viewed left/right side together

Lesson 17 Leader’s notes: Acts 9:1-31

After his conversion Saul/Paul becomes a major exponent and theologian of the Christian faith. Let’s take a good look at his background and see what God had put into Saul’s life before He confronted him on the Damascus road, and before He gave him gave him a special job to do. God made him ready.

We will use biographical details from several accounts.

Teach the first seven lines of the page opposite, and then get the ladies to go through the following Bible references and find the answers to the questions I have asked. Go through their answers together, thinking especially about the last four references, 7:58, 8:1a, 8:3, 9:1-2.

Acts 22:25-29 Paul was a Roman citizen by birth –

From the Zondervan Study Bible: “Roman citizenship was a high honour and not granted to everyone. People could gain it by birth, emancipation (being freed) from slavery, for significant service to the Roman Empire, and sometimes by purchase (usually involving some bribery). Citizenship by birth was regarded as the most noble”.

We believe that God organised and protected our Scriptures the way they are - He used human writers’ minds and pens. Some minor details in the three of Saul’s conversion accounts differ. Remember the story exercise we did opposite page 26, and the differences in the resurrection morning accounts?

Divide the ladies into three groups: allocate each group one of Acts 9:3-9, 22:6-11, 26:12-18

Ask each group to note down about light:

who fell?

who heard the Voice?

what did the Voice say first?

what did Saul say first?

what else happened?

Share the groups’ findings.

In his commentary R C Sproul’s translation of Acts 26:14 is of God saying, “Saul, you stupid ox! You are no different from oxen that kick against the ox goads while you carry on your hostility toward Me”.

Student's page:

Lesson 17 The persecutor converted and persecuted; and the ministry of

encouragement Acts 9:1-31

God prepared Saul for the job He gave him.

What is there in your Christian life that God has put there? A background that helps you get alongside someone? An experience that gives you common ground with someone? Take a brief moment to think of, and may be share, ideas you can see.

Saul/Paul? - Saul was his Jewish name. The Greek version was Paul.

Saul was the up and coming, high flying boy, a rising star in Judaism.

No-one else had organised persecution like this. Saul did 100%.

What do we know about Saul?

21:39 Paul gives his religion, his home city and an advert for it. Check maps on and opposite page 4.

22:3 Where was he brought up?

22:3 Who was his student professor? compare 5:34.

22:3-5 In his sincere zeal for God, what did he try and do?

22:25-29 In the Empire Roman citizenship was highly prized.

26:5 To what Judaism group did Saul belong? Compare with the top of page 20.

7:58 What do you think Saul was thinking standing there watching?

8:1a It is one thing to give mental assent to a verdict – it is another to physically see a person stoned to death. 8:3 How did Saul set out ‘to destroy the church’ in Jerusalem?

9:1-2 Was his enthusiasm to destroy the church covering a wriggling doubt in his mind – that these Christians were actually right?

Saul meets Jesus Christ 9:3-9 22:6-11 26:12-18

Three accounts of one event, with some differences. Can you find them?

The ‘goads’ 26:14 - spikes put on the front of ox carts - so that when the stubborn ox refuses to move, it feels the flick of the whip, and consequently kicks out, the cart is protected, and the ox decides it is better to move than get the pain from the spikes! I would too! A goad may also be a hand held pricker. So we have the phrase ‘to goad someone or something into action.’

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Leader's page:

Ask two people to read Acts 9:10-16 Reader one, verse10

Reader two, verses 11 -12 Reader one, verses 13-14 Reader two, verses 15-16

Working in twos ask students to put Ananias’ response to God into their own words.

Ananias had a vision and said “Yes, Lord”. Then God told him the job He wanted done. Ananias shared his feelings about this job with God. God said again. “Go. I know what I’m doing”. God shared the purpose of Saul’s conversion – a ministry to the Gentiles, their kings and to the Jewish people.

Ananias is not mentioned in the Acts 26 account – the message he was given to give to Paul comes in the confrontation on the Damascus Road. A short form of the information?

Continue in twos

Encouragement is usually, and sadly, undervalued in our churches.

Work in twos again to look at the references opposite thinking about how the encouragement happened in these situations and how we may make it happen with us today.

Share the answers with the class. Perhaps discuss if questions arise.

Reactions - lead the whole group from the front. 9:19-22 How easy was it for the disciples in Damascus to have fellowship

with Saul? Why? What else did Saul do?

9:23-25 Death threats from some. Others helped escape to Jerusalem. 9:26 Disciples including the Apostles were afraid of him. 9:27–28 Barnabas encouraged Paul by introducing him to the believers and vouching for him. Supposing he had been wrong! 9:29-30 Paul debated – more death threats – the believers protected him – sending him off to his home city.

Summary 9:31 lead the whole group from the front. Bring out these points:

1. There were a plurality of churches present in Judea, Galilee and Samaria

2. Peace without persecution brought joy

3. Became stronger

4. Lived knowing they were always in God’s sight and He was watching over them 5. Open to, and therefore encouraged by, the ministry of the Holy Spirit

6. The local churches and the overall Christian Church grew numerically.

Please read Acts 9:32-11:18 for next time.

Student's page:

Read Acts 9:10-16

Can you put this conversation into what you would say if you were Ananias?

Try, and then share with others.

But then remember that Ananias obeyed God.

Acts 9:17-18 If that had been you, would you have been able to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street, ask for Paul, and greet him as “Brother Saul”? (Ignore the male/female divide here!). Remember what Saul had been doing.

That greeting with its acceptance must have been very, very important to Saul. Can you explain why?

Encouragement is usually, and sadly, undervalued in our churches.

Think about how you can encourage specific people in your fellowship.

The word ‘encourage’ means to ‘put courage into’, to support.

1. How does encouragement happen in the following Bible examples?

2. How can you help it happen in your fellowship?

Acts 14:21-23

Acts 15:30-33

Acts 20:1-3a

Romans 15:4-6

Philemon verse 7

Hebrews 10:24-25

1 Peter 5:12

Remember to answer both questions 1 and 2 above.

Acts 9:19-30 Reactions

Discover as many different reactions to the now converted Saul as you can. I found at least eight. We can all learn from all of them.

How would you react?

Acts 9:31 is a summary verse which tells us six things. What are they?

1. 2.

3. 4.

5. 6.

Pray these things for yourself and for your local church.

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