Saul on Road to Damascus

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

Summary of Acts 9:1-19a:

Saul was persecuting the Lord’s disciples and all others who belonged to the Way, trying to imprison them or kill them.  As Saul neared Damascus, a light from haven flashed around him and he heard a voice (Jesus), asking why does he persecute him?  Jesus tells Saul to go to the city and he will be told what to do.

The others with him did not see anyone.  They lead Saul to Damascus because Saul had been blinded by the light.  In Damascus, the Lord called a disciple named Ananias to go to Saul and lay hands on him so that Saul may see again.

Ananias tells the Lord that Saul is a bad man (as if God didn’t know) and he might be arrested if he goes.  The Lord explains his purpose for Saul to Ananias, saying Saul is His chosen instrument to carry his name before the Gentiles.

So Ananias complies, healing Saul and filling him with the Holy Spirit.  Saul was baptized and regained his strength.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

9) Saul was persecuting the Lord’s disciples and all others who belonged to the Way. There are different types of persecution, including social persecution and emotional. You can be ostracized when you don’t conform.

10) Personal Question. My answer: It’s okay to question the Lord, but you still go and do it anyways.

11) Part personal Question. My answer: Saul was completely transformed and probably in shock since he didn’t eat or drink for 3 days, now about to become one the greatest disciples for Christ. Jesus has made all the difference in allowing me to do what I do, how I do it, and blessing me with a great life.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

Last go-around, we read this along with Acts 22:1-16; 26:9-19

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 9:1-19a

The Conversion of Saul — One of the Most Important Passages in the Entire Bible

We last saw Saul in Acts 8:3, where it says that he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Here he continued and expanded this work to the city of Damascus (about 130 miles or 210 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem; a six-day journey altogether).

Saul hated the disciples of the Lord. He wasn’t seeking Jesus when Jesus sought him. We might say that Saul was decided against Jesus when Jesus decided for Saul.

Saul did his persecuting work under the direct approval of the highest religious authorities. He asked and received letters from the high priest authorizing his mission.

The high priest was Caiaphas. In December 1990 an ossuary (something like a burial urn; essentially a bone box) was discovered in Jerusalem. The ossuary was inscribed with the name of this Caiaphas and positively dated to this period. Inside were discovered some of the remains of a 60-year-old man, whom many researchers believe was this same Caiaphas. If true, these are the first physical remains (such as bones or ashes) of a specific person mentioned in the New Testament.

The Way

Here, Christianity is referred to as the Way. This seems to be the earliest name for the Christian movement, and a fitting one – used five times in Acts.

  • The name the Way means that Christianity is more than a belief or a set of opinions or doctrines. Following Jesus is a way of living as well as believing.
  • It is significant to see that there was a Christian community large enough in Damascus for Saul to be concerned about. Christianity – the Way – was spreading everywhere.
  • map of road to damascus paul

God on the Road to Damascus

God does not normally confront sinners with a heavenly light and an audible voice from heaven. Yet Paul said that this light was brighter than the sun (Acts 26:13).

Saul, Saul: When God repeats a name twice, it is to display deep emotion, but not necessarily anger (as in the Martha, Martha of Luke 10:41 and the Jerusalem, Jerusalem of Matthew 23:37).

As the heavenly light overwhelmed him, Saul was confronted by the true nature of his crime: He persecuted God, not man.

  • Saul thought that he was serving God in viciously attacking Christians, but he discovered that he was fighting God.
  • This has been sadly true through history. Often those who are convinced they are doing God a favor do much of the worst persecution and torture ever practiced.

In all probability, Saul heard Jesus teach in Jerusalem; and as a likely member of the Sanhedrin, Saul sat in judgment of Jesus in the trial before His crucifixion.

“Unless Saul was hallucinating, the appearance of Jesus proved that Jesus was alive and that Jesus was God.” (Boice)

Two Most Important Questions to Ask God

  1. Who are You, Lord? We must ask this question with a humble heart, and ask it to God. Jesus showed us exactly who God is, and He can answer this question. Paul spent the rest of his life wanting to know more completely the answer to this question (Philippians 3:10).
  2. What do You want me to do? Few dare to really ask God this question, but when we ask it, we must ask it with submission and determined obedience.

In Acts 9, we are only given the briefest account of what happened during this time. Paul says more about this experience in Acts 22:3-11Acts 26:12-181 Corinthians 9:1 and 15:8. Barnabas said more about Saul’s experience in Acts 9:27 and from what Ananias said about Saul’s experience in Acts 9:17.

Jesus only told Saul what to do right at that moment.

  • God often directs us one step at a time instead of laying out the details of the grand plan all at once.
  • So many of us want to plan out our entire lives. but that is not how God operates.

In the three days of blindness and deprivation, Saul was dying to himself. It would only be after the three days of dying that he would receive resurrection life from Jesus.

unknown road we all must travel atozmomm.com

Ananias and God

Ananias was an ordinary man – not an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, an evangelist, an elder, or a deacon. Yet God used him because he was an ordinary man.

God spoke to Ananias in a completely different way than He spoke to Saul. Saul had a bold, almost violent confrontation from God, but Ananias heard the voice of God sweetly in a vision, where God called and Ananias obediently responded. God speaks to us differently too, just as we need to hear Him.

God considered Saul His chosen vessel long before there appeared anything worthy in Saul to choose. God knew what He could make of Saul, even when Saul or Ananias didn’t know.

So often we underestimate ourselves when God doesn’t.

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BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 13:14b-41

Summary of passage:  Barnabas and Saul are in Pisidian Antioch (Turkey, yesterday’s map HERE) at the synogogue. Paul is invited to speak.  He tells the people God has prospered them in Egypt, led them out of Egypt and gave them Canaan to live on, and sent them judges.  He sent King Saul and King David.  From David God sent Jesus who preached repentance and baptism.

The prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled:  no one recognized Jesus as the Savior, the executed him with no evidence of a crime, and God raised him from the dead and traveled amongst them for many days.  God has fulfilled His promise to His people through Jesus.

Through Jesus we (the people) are forgiven and justified.  And be warned if you do not accept Jesus, you shall perish as the prophets have predicted.

Questions:

9a)  First division:  16-25  Second division:  26-37  Third division:  38-41

b)  God chose men of Israel and the Gentiles who worshipped God.  He prospered His people in Egypt and led them out of that country.  He cared for them for 40 years in the desert and overthrew 7 nations in Canaan so He could establish His people there.  He gave them judges and when the people asked for a king God gave them Saul and then David. (verses 17-22)

God endured their conduct while in the desert (verse 18). The people asked for a king (verse 21).

God chose David so Jesus could come from his line.  John the Baptist tried to prepare the people for Jesus by preaching repentance and baptism. (verse 23-4)

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By giving me a Christian mom who took me to church.  Giving me a Christian husband.  Leading me to my church where I was baptized as a young adult.  Leading me to BSF and other bible studies where I can learn and grow in God’s word so I can teach others and raise my children knowing and seeking Him.

11)  The prophecies were fulfilled to the letter with Jesus’ coming.  No one recognized Jesus as the Savior.  He was unjustly condemned and sentenced to death.  He was risen from the tomb once killed and continued to abide here on Earth and seen by many as witnesses.  Jesus fulfilled God’s promises.

12a)  Forgiveness of our sins (verse 38) through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses (basically saying OT is nulled and void and now NT–Jesus–rids us of the OT ways and ushers in new ways).  Verse 39

b)  Believing in Jesus (verse 39)

c)  According to Webster’s believe means “to have a firm religious faith; to accept trustfully and on faith; to have a firm conviction as to the reality or goodness of something.”

In this instance, if you accept Jesus as your Savior, trust He is real and everlasting, hold a firm conviction of His reality, and hold faithfully to this knowledge in your heart, then you believe in Him.

d)  If we wonder about Jesus, if we are complacent and do not believe, we will perish.  For Jesus is coming (the something God will do we won’t believe).  Paul is quoting from the Old Testament here (Habakkuk 1:5) before Jesus has come.

e)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, to scoff is “to show contempt by derisive acts or language; to treat with derision; mock”.  People mock Christians, saying their beliefs are antiquated and question whether there is a God or not who would allow such horrible doings on this planet.

In my limited worldly experience of human behavior, I would say a lot of these people who scoff are masking a jealously or a fear.  They are jealous of those who profess faith or are afraid of what turning their heart over to Jesus would mean for them.  They might have to give something up or quit doing something in their lifestyle–a vice if you will.

Paul calls all these people out with dire consequences.

Conclusions:  I think Question 12 nailed it.  I think many today are “dreamers” and do more thinking than they do acting.  If we wait too long to accept Jesus, we might miss the boat and die, ending up on the wrong boat for eternity.  In this generation there is a tendency to “play it safe” and not take risks, a tendency to sit on the sidelines and let someone else make all the decisions.

Here Paul warns if that is you, you will perish.  Period.  End of story.  Too late.

So decide and make it quick.  For one day you might not wake up.

End Tip:  I must have changed my divisions 10 times while doing this lesson.  So I decided to skip that question and answer the rest and fill in the divisions based off of BSF’s questions.  So these are my guesses based off of what I believe BSF is looking for.

End Note on Justification:  I believe this is the first time the thought and idea of justification is expressed since Jesus’ death.  We talked about this last year in Isaiah but I needed to look it up again so I thought I’d review it here.  Most of this is summarized from my Bible Dictionary (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney) found under justification.

When Jesus died, he absolved all of man from sin.  If man believes in Jesus through faith then man is declared righteous in God’s eyes.  Being righteous means we have a right relationship with God (basically we can once again stand in His presence because sin had always separated us from the perfectness of God.  Here sin is washed away, we are righteous, we are right in God’s eyes, so we can be with Him again).

Paul’s last words are trying to convey the key point:  if you don’t have faith, you won’t be justified nor saved and you will perish.  One must have faith to have justification.  The sinner (us) must accept the work of Christ and his death on the cross.