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.
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.
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).
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
- 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).
- 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 22:3-11, Acts 26:12-18, 1 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.
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.