Acts 9

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 5: Acts 9:19b-30

Summary of Acts 9:19b-30

Saul spent several days with disciples in Damascus. He began to preach about Jesus and all those who heard him were confused since Saul was known as a hater and persecutor of Christians.  So the Jews conspired to kill Saul but he slipped away in the dead of night.

When he did return to Jerusalem (after 3 years), he endeavored to join up with the disciples but they were afraid of him still.  It took Barnabas (an ordinary man) to take Saul and vouch for him, saying how he has preached so fearlessly in Jesus’s name, before he was accepted.  Saul spoke in Jerusalem for Jesus and with the Grecian Jews who again tried to kill him for his beliefs.  So he was sent off to Tarsus for his safety.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 5: Acts 9:19b-30

12a) After Saul’s conversion, he started preaching the word, angering the Jews (the non-believers) living in Damascus. They just didn’t believe a man so full of hatred could do an about-face. So after many days, they conspired to kill him.

b) The disciples were afraid of Saul, not believing that he was really a disciple. Barnabas took Saul to the disciples and vouched for him. Only then was Saul allowed to stay. Still the people wanted to kill him.

13) Part personal Question. My answer: They in essence his Paul. They too him to Caesarea and then sent him to Tarsus. We can protect fellow believers in the same way, sheltering them from people and other things when they need it the most. The Galatians passage BSF had us read in 2011 explains this further (Galatians 1:11-24).  Saul stayed with Peter for 15 days (Galatians 1:18).  He saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:19).  He fell into a trance while praying and the Lord warned him to leave Jerusalem immediately because his testimony would not be accepted (Acts 22:17-18).

14) To increase their faith and strengthen them.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 5: Acts 9:19b-30

Last go-around, we read this passage along with Galatians 1:11-24. The extra readings we did back then just gives us a fuller picture of what actually happened. Too bad most of these have been omitted thus far in an effort to save people time when studying God’s word.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 5: Acts 9:19b-30

Lessons From Saul’s Conversion

  • At its core, salvation is something God does in us. What we do is only a response to His work in us.
  • God finds some who, by all appearance, are not looking for Him at all. Seeing how God reached Saul encourages us to believe that God can reach the people in our life that we think are very far from Him. We often give up on some people and think they will never come to Jesus; but the example of Saul shows God can reach anyone.
  • God looks for people to cooperate in the conversion of others, even when they are not really necessary, except as a demonstration of the importance of the family of God.
  • It isn’t enough that we be broken before God, though that is necessary. God wants to only use brokenness as a prelude to filling.

At the Jewish synagogue, the custom was that any able Jewish man could speak from the Scriptures at synagogue meetings.

To be called the “son of” something meant in Jesus’ time that you were totally identified with that thing or person, and their identity was your identity. When Jesus called Himself the Son of God, and when others called Him that, it was understood as a clear claim to His deity.

In fact, on two occasions when Jesus called Himself the Son of God, He was accused of blasphemy, of calling Himself God (John 5:17-18Matthew 26:63-65). Everybody knew what Jesus meant in calling Himself Son of God, and everyone knew what Saul meant when he preached that Jesus is the Son of God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

When you are newly converted, you still understand the way people who don’t yet know Jesus think.

timeline acts 9

Saul, an expert in the Old Testament, could easily see how Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Hebrew Scriptures.

In Galatians 1:13-18, Paul explained more about what happened during these many days. He described how he went to Arabia for a period of time, and then returned to Damascus. After his return to Damascus, he went to Jerusalem. Paul spent a total of three years in Damascus and Arabia (Galatians 1:18); truly these were many days.

In 2 Corinthians 11:32-33, Paul refered to this incident and mentions it happened under Aretas the king. This means that this escape from Damascus happened between A.D. 37 and 39. So, taking into account the three years mentioned in Galatians 1:18, and that this incident happened at the end of those three years, we can surmise that Paul was converted sometime between A.D. 34 and 36.

“It was the beginning of many escapes for Paul, and sometimes he didn’t quite escape. Sometimes they caught him, imprisoned him, beat him. He did indeed have to suffer many things for Jesus’ sake.” (Boice)

Paul made a point of the limited nature of his time with the apostles in Jerusalem to show clearly that he did not receive his gospel from the other apostles. Though he was no doubt blessed and benefited from that time, he received his message by direct revelation from Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Somewhere between 8 and 12 years passed in the life of Saul before he again entered into prominent ministry, being sent out as a missionary from the church at Antioch.

map ancient tarsus paul's journey

Tarsus

Tarsus was one of the great cities of the ancient world, with an excellent harbor and a strategic placement at trade routes. It was especially known as an university city, being one of the three great educational cities of the Mediterranean world. “Strabo speaks of the Tarsian university as even surpassing, in some respects, those of Athens and Alexandria (Geography 14.5.13). It was especially important as a center of Stoic philosophy” (Williams)

The Book of Acts tells us nothing about the planting of churches in Galilee. We don’t know who started these churches, how they did it, or all the great works of God which took place in these young churches. This reminds us that Acts is only a partial history of God’s work during this period.

At the end of Acts 9:31, we reach an important historical crossroads in Acts and the events of the Roman Empire. In A.D. 37, Caiaphas was replaced as high priest, first by Jonathan, then by Theophilus. In the same year, Caligula succeeded Tiberius as Roman Emperor. Caligula was bitterly hostile against the Jews and was assassinated four years later.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 20, Day 2: Romans 11:33-36

Summary of passage:  This doxology that ends this section of Romans is the natural outpouring of Paul’s praise to God, whose wisdom and knowledge brought about his great plan for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles.

Questions:

3)  Paul is praising God due to His grace extended to the Jews who will be saved.  God has not forgotten them, His call upon them is irrevocable, and Israel as a whole will turn to God.

4)  God has offered his grace and mercy to the Gentiles because of the Israelites transgressions.  This will make Israel envious and in turn bring the elect among them to Christ.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Given me a job opportunity from home where I can improve our income significantly.

Conclusions:  This whole lesson is on Paul’s Doxology (a liturgical formula of praise to God).  I’ll be curious to see where BSF goes with this.  This lesson covers the “why” behind this praise.

End Notes:  Paul is reflecting upon God’s overarching plan for the ages and all of mankind.  Paul realizes and states here how God’s ways are beyond men and we have no hope of figuring out His plan for the future.  God’s wisdom and knowledge are beyond him.

The quotations from Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11 emphasize both God’s wisdom and sovereign conduct; no one can make God their debtor.

You’ll never be able to repay God for all He’s done for you.  His is a debt only Jesus can clear.

The plan is God’s.  Only He can accomplish this plan.  All for God’s glory, honor, and pleasure.

The fact that Paul can’t figure out God makes him glorify God all the more. When we understand some of the greatness of God, we worship Him all the more passionately.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 13, Day 4: Romans 8:12-14

Summary of passage:  Since believers have the Spirit of Christ indwelt, our responsibility is to live according to the Spirit.

Questions:

9)  To live according to the Spirit of Christ because we are sons of God and are now holy.

10a)  By living according to the Spirit and submitting to it.  Loving your neighbor.  Giving up all earthly sins such as sexual immorality, impurity, evil desires, greed, idolatry, anger, rage, malie, slander, lies, etc.  Instead, be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient.  Forgive each other.  Let peace reign in your hearts.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  We’re to let the Spirit reign and not the flesh.  I need help in loving others and self-control when I’m angry and self-control with my words.

Conclusions: Stretched the questions since only 2 verses.  In essence:  Live a Godly life as God’s children.  Period.

End Notes:  Paul reminds us the flesh leads to death.  We are often deceived in this because in the moment living according to the flesh feels good.

When you become a son of God, the Spirit leads.  The Spirit leads us into truth, love, faithfulness, holiness, repentance, usefulness, and Jesus-like.

God is the creator of all but not all are His children.  You must believe in Jesus as His Son and Savior.  When this happens, the hallmark is a life led by God’s Spirit.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 4: Romans 4:9-15

Summary of passage:  In essence, Paul says it does not matter if you are circumcised or when.  All that matters is you accept Christ.  Then and only then will you be credited as righteous by God.  The law does not matter; only faith.

Questions:

9)  Abraham was 99 when God gave him the sign of the covenant of circumcision.  He was 86 when he had Ishmael.  He had been in Canaan 10 years since he was declared righteous.  So it was 23 years between credited as righteous and circumcision.  Galatians tells us it was 430 years after this that the Law was given.  Paul argues that circumcision does not matter because Abraham was declared righteous BEFORE he was circumcised.  So fast-forward to first century AD and circumcision still is not required to be credited as righteous by God.

10a)  Most of the time people become complacent and fall into sin if that’s their excuse for sin.  God’s measure of righteousness is faith in Jesus Christ, which leads to becoming more like Jesus.  Obedience has value since we must be obedient to God and to His word.  Depends on the sign as well.  However, it’s when you only depend on the sign or obedience for your salvation that you’re in trouble.  Paul says ultimately none of that matters:  only Jesus matters.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m righteous (and this is a dumb question) because I accept Jesus as my Savior. We spent all of last week on how we are righteous through faith and now all of this week.  It’s simple:  if you accept Jesus died as your Savior through faith, you are credited as righteous.  If you don’t, then you’re not righteous.

End Notes:  In Chapter 4, Paul is trying to make a theological point:  all that matters is faith.  He starts with Abraham who lived hundreds of years before Moses and the coming of the Old Testament law.  Abraham pleased God how we do:  through faith.  The Old Testament law was never meant to bridge the gap between God and people. Only Jesus can do that.  The point of the law was to show people/us our need for a Savior (Christ) and redemption. The law showed us that need.

Paul’s point is because circumcision is not a requirement to be counted as righteous then the Gentiles can be counted as righteous as well.  He uses Abraham to prove this point because Abraham was counted as righteous with God in the Bible 14 years BEFORE he was circumcised.

For the Jews of the day, many of them were convinced you had to be circumcised before you could be counted as righteous.  This is whom Paul is addressing.  They also believed Jews only could call Abraham their father.  Again, Paul says no.  Abraham is the father of all those who believe.

All of God’s promises to Abraham were given before the Law.  Hence, they had to be based on faith.  The problem with the law is man is unable to keep it (hence, Jesus Christ, and a reason for God’s wrath).  And hence, faith only.

Transgressions (or an act that goes against a law) come down to trust and love and the heart.  You can sin without breaking a law or transgressing.  What matters to God is are we breaking trust and love with Him.