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[Lesson 8] Acts 9:1-9:31

An Unlikely Convert
Acts 9:1-9:31

Have you ever felt unworthy of God’s love? Have you ever felt that your past hindered you from ever being used by God in a significant way? This passage clearly shows us that no one is beyond the loving arms of God. Neither can anyone’s past render them useless to God if they will turn their lives over to Him. Seek God’s counsel before you begin your study. Ask him how he wants to use this chapter in your life.

An Unlikely Convert
Acts 9:1-9:31

Have you ever felt unworthy of God’s love? Have you ever felt that your past hindered you from ever being used by God in a significant way? This passage clearly shows us that no one is beyond the loving arms of God. Neither can anyone’s past render them useless to God if they will turn their lives over to Him. Seek God’s counsel before you begin your study. Ask him how he wants to use this chapter in your life.

Luke leaves the evangelist Philip in Caesarea where we learn he is still living with four daughters 25 years later (21:8). Now Luke turns his attention back to the young Pharisee Saul, whom we left on a murderous house-to-house rampage in Jerusalem. We are about to witness one of the most significant events in the New Testament: Saul's conversion. This account is so important that it is recorded three times in Acts:

    1) 9:1-30 Luke's account of the event

    2) 22:2-21 Paul’s defense before a Jewish mob

    3) 26.2-18 Paul's defense before Agrippa

These accounts supplement one another in minor points. We will refer to all three passages in our study. But first, we need to study Saul's background.

    1. What can you learn about Saul from these autobiographical passages?

      Galatians 1:13, 14

      Philippians 3:4b-6

      Acts 22:3, 4

      Acts 26:4, 5, 9-11

Now read Acts 9:1-19

    2. A. Why did Saul want to go to Damascus? By what term was Christianity now identified? (9:1, 2)

    B. (Digging Deeper) Locate Damascus on a map. How far did Paul travel?

    (Note: Damascus was the hub of a caravan network of trade from Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia and Arabia. If Christianity flourished in Damascus, it would soon spread to these far-away places.)

    2. C. What dramatic way did the Lord get Saul's attention? What time of day was it? (9:3, 22:6)

    D. What did the voice ask him and whose voice was it? (9:4, 5) What fact about Jesus was Saul forced to acknowledge? (1:3) How did this qualify him for apostleship? (1:22)

    E. How did the Lord identify Himself with His church in 9:4 and 5?

    F. In Acts 26:14, Paul includes an additional statement. What is it and what do you think it means?

    3. A. What did the risen Lord instruct Saul to do? (9:6) Again more details are recorded in Paul's defense to Agrippa. Read 26:16-18. What is Paul going to be and do in the future? How will the Lord help him?

    B. Why did Saul's companions have to lead him "by the hand" into Damascus? (9:8) Compare the way Saul entered the city with the way he had planned to enter.

    C. Have you ever been helpless? Do you know someone who has? How does it feel? Please share.

    D. Upon his arrival at the home of Judas, Saul fasted for three days "in the dark." (9:9) In your opinion, why? What do you think may have been on his mind?

    E. What else was Saul doing? (9:11)

    F. Can you remember a time when you were adamant about an issue or idea only to learn you were completely misguided? If so, share with the group how you felt and what you learned.

    4. A. Who did the Lord commission to minister to Saul? What was he to do? (9: 10, 11)

    B. What was Ananias' objection? (9:13, 14) Would you have been suspicious? Can you recall a time when you doubted the sincerity of someone's conversion? If so, why?

    C. How did the Lord soothe Ananias' fears? (9:15)

    D. (Digging Deeper) Verse 16 is a prophetic verse. List some of Saul's sufferings from II Corinthians 11:23-33. Why is it important that new Christians understand that they may be required to suffer?

    5. A. How did Ananias address Saul as he entered the house? How did Ananias minister to Saul? (9:17-19)

    B. Why do you think the Lord chose to blind Saul on the Damascus road and then restore his sight three days later? What kind of sight did Saul need?

Read Acts 9:20-31

    6. A. What immediate changes do you see in Saul? How soon did he begin to use to gifts God had given him? (9:20, 22)

    B. Ironically, who is persecuting Saul? (9:23, 24) How did he escape? (9:25) Envision the scene. Compare the way he entered Damascus with the way he left.

    C. Why wasn't Saul immediately accepted when he arrived back in Jerusalem? (9:26) Suppose someone you loved had been seized, imprisoned or even executed by Saul. How readily would you have welcomed him into the fellowship of believers?

    D. Who bridged the gap? (9:27) How was he again living up to his name? (4:36)

    E. After a time of preaching and debating in Jerusalem, Saul irritated his opponents again. Where was he sent and what happened there? (9:28-30)

    7. Saul stayed in Antioch for about ten years. How did the church fare in Saul's absence? (9:31)

    8. (Digging Deeper) Luke did not include Paul’s travels between the time he escaped Damascus and arrived in Jerusalem 3 years later. For a more detailed account, see Galatians 1:11-2:10. What additional insight can you glean from these verses?

    9. Saul experienced radical change as a result of his conversion. Is this typical? If you are a Christian, how have you changed since you first believed?

    10. What does this passage teach us about forgiveness, our pasts and God’s power?

    11. Stephen, Ananias and Barnabas all played important roles in Paul’s conversion and ministry. How did each one minister to him? How could you be a Stephen, Ananias or a Barnabas in someone’s life today? Give specific examples.

    12. Is there someone in your life who is also an “unlikely convert”? What does this account teach you?

    13. (Summit) Compare and contrast the three accounts of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-30, 22:2-21, and 26:2-18.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39 (NET Bible)

Related Topics: Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit), Curriculum