These are my notes from Sunday School today. I’m teaching a young ladies Sunday School class again. I’m so excited. I just am so called to this it felt so good to be sitting down with them again to study. Below are the notes I promised them. I’m testing publishing these directly from Microsoft Word and thus far I don’t like the formatting. We’ll see how this looks and I may change it for later.
If you have questions about the notes, let me know. These are my Raw notes, but some great information gleaned from the passages. Interestingly, this lesson was on Saul’s conversion but it ended up being more about God speaking as we talked about it!
Notes on Studying your Bible
“They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” 1 Timothy 1:7
“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good Work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
1 Saul agreed with putting him to death.
On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. (A) 2 But devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply over him. 3 Saul, (B) however, was ravaging the church, and he would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison. (C)
“51″You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.””
- Stephen claimed Jesus was superior to the laws and the temple – (look back at previous verses.)
- This was a “threat” to the future of Judaism and the way things had “always been.”
- Who was God to come in and change things?
55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56″Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55-56 (New International Version)
Important to remember that our “view” of Christ is personal. It is between us and God and we are accountable to him. It was a personal experience between God and Stephen and no one else saw it and he was misunderstood.
- Stephen was a Hellenistic Jew – they followed Greek culture although not greek by race. He was “full of God’s grace and power” (Acts 6:8) and was one of the original deacons.
- If you look at why the original deacons were created, it was to make sure that everyone was served, not only the Jews but the Greeks also.
- He was one of the first to speak “equal rights” for the Gentiles – which is what made him so revolutionary.
- It was illegal to mourn publicly over the death of a condemned criminal but some men did it anyway.
- All believers left Jerusalem EXCEPT 12 disciples, we’re not sure why.
- Some think b/c the primary persecution was directed against the Hellenistic Jews per se.
- Remember, sometimes the worst things can cause the best things to happen. Think of it the worst day in history brought about the best day in History (Jesus Christ dying on the Christ.) God is in the business of using what the enemy means for harm to do good!
- Greek word here used to describe Paul was “young man” which specifically meant a male from 22-28. A Jewish male could not pronounce judgment until age 30.
- Paul set out to destroy the church.
Acts 9:1-9 – The Damascus Road
1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples (A) of the Lord, went to the high priest (B)
2 and requested letters (C) from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, (D) either men or women, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As (E) he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4 Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one. (F)
8 Then Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. 9 He was unable to see for three days, and did not eat or drink.
- Studied under Gamaliel the famous Jewish Rabbi.
- A Roman citizen (from Tarsus). He knew the Greek language as well as Hebrew so he really knew the scriptures.
- He could pronounce Judgment, so this means he was at least 30 – this means 2-8 years had passed from the previous scripture about Stephen.
- v. 1 Saul was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” – He was an angry young man.
- Trip from Jerusalem to Damascus – 150 miles would take a week on donkeys
- Traveling in the heat of the Noon sun (Acts 22:6) – He was very zealous – you just didn’t do that! He ignored the rules of common sense. Most traveled in the morning or early evening. He was like the Blitzkrieg – he was going to get there before “spies” could get to Damascus to warn the believers. They wouldn’t be ready!
“And the Lord replied: ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of things you have seen, [b]
and of things in which I will appear to you. (B)
17 I will rescue you from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, (C)
18 to open their eyes (D) that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. (E)
28Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.
Who was the voice for? The others. God communicates to each of us directly through his Word, other Christians and sometimes in this way. Do not expect it to correlate with other humans, however, it will always match up with God’s word!
10 Now in Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Here I am, Lord!” he said. (A)
11 “Get up and go to the street called Straight,” the Lord said to him, “to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus (B) named Saul, since he is praying there. 12 In a vision [a]
he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so he may regain his sight.” (C)
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. (D)
14 And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name.” (E)
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument (F) to carry My name before Gentiles, (G) kings, and the sons of Israel. (H)
16 I will certainly show him how much he must suffer for My name!” (I)
17 So Ananias left and entered the house. Then he placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (J)
- God spoke to Saul – to wait. God told him Ananias would come see him in a vision. God appeared to Ananias.
- When Ananias went to Saul, it would be like us going to the house of a terrorist who has sworn to kill us. He was a dead man. I CHOSE THIS MAN!
V. 16 – He said Paul was chosen to suffer. What would he suffer.
4 But in everything, as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves:
by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardship, by pressures,
5 by beatings, by imprisonments, (A) by riots, by labors,
by sleepless nights, by times of hunger,
2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Paul’s Preaching Begins
Saul Proclaiming the Messiah
21 But all who heard him were astounded and said, “Isn’t this the man who, in Jerusalem, was destroying those who called on this name, and then came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?” (C)
23 After many days had passed, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. So they were watching the gates day and night intending to kill him, (D)
25 but his disciples took him by night and lowered him in a large basket through [an opening in] the wall. Acts 9:19-25 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Saul began building up the church he sought to destroy. Why did he gain power? He had to restudy the scriptures in light of what he knew about Jesus Christ. What would have happened if he just came to know Christ and then never read his Bible again? Would he have been able to present the case?
- Why was Paul persecuted? Same reasons as Stephen – His personal view and his testimony of Christ!!!
- If someone was to persecute Christians in this town, would they have enough to condemn you?