Introduction: Do you know people who are so hostile to the
gospel that you think they will never change? Perhaps you are
wrong. This week we study a person who hated the gospel so
much that he made it his mission to imprison or kill
Christians. Yet, God turned him completely around. We should
never doubt the power of God! Let’s dig into our study of the
Bible and learn more!

  1. Destroyer

    1. Read Acts 26:1-5. Paul is now on trial here. How
      does he describe his early life? (He was in the
      strictest Jewish sect, he lived as a Pharisee.)

    2. Read Acts 26:6-8. Isn’t it obvious that a story
      about raising the dead to life is questionable on
      its face?

      1. Why does Paul say it should not be “incredible?”
        (Paul may be saying that if he could be changed
        from the strictest sect of the Pharisees to
        being on trial for believing in Jesus, then
        raising the dead is not that incredible. Perhaps
        he means that pagans could believe that gods can
        raise humans to life.)

    3. Read Acts 26:9-11. Were the actions Paul took
      against the Christians lawful? (He says he did them
      under authority. His reference to his “vote” sounds
      like some sort of democratic group decision.)

    4. Read Acts 7:54-58. Recall when we studied the
      stoning of Stephen, did we think this was done
      lawfully? (The account sounds like the actions of an
      uncontrolled mob. “Saul” is later called “Paul.”)

    5. Read Acts 9:1-2. Is Saul acting under legal
      authority here?

      1. Why would religious leaders in Jerusalem have
        legal jurisdiction in foreign cities like
        Damascus? (The commentaries that I read say that
        the Romans gave the High Priest and the
        Sanhedrin jurisdiction over Jews in foreign
        cities. Thus, this was legal.)

  1. Conversion

    1. Read Acts 9:3-5. Why would Saul call the voice
      “Lord?” (There is some debate over whether this
      should be better translated “Who are you sir?” Saul
      thought this was some exalted power.)

      1. Tell me what you think went through Saul’s mind
        when he is told this exalted speaker is Jesus?

    2. Read Acts 22:10 for an additional detail left out of
      chapter 9. What does this additional detail tell us
      about Saul’s state of mind at the moment?

    3. Read Acts 9:6-9. Why didn’t Saul eat or drink
      anything for three days? (This reflects the shock to
      his system. Not only is he now blind, but he finds
      that he has been opposing God, not doing God’s

      1. I frequently hear calls for believers to get
        back to the “pillars of faith,” “the roots,” and
        the “foundations.” What would Paul say about
        calls like that? (We need to be sure that the
        “foundations” and “pillars” are properly
        constructed. The fact that we formerly believed
        something does not make it right. We need to be
        sure all our beliefs are firmly grounded on the

  2. Ananias

    1. Read Acts 9:10-12. What task is Ananias given? Is it
      very precise?

      1. Would you want to know what Saul is praying

    2. Read Acts 9:13-14. Is Ananias concerned that God has
      not been reading the news? Is he concerned that his
      knowledge about the local situation is more complete
      than God’s knowledge?

    3. Read Acts 9:15. What do you like best about God’s
      response? (The great God of heaven does not say, “Of
      course, I know that!” Instead, He reveals to Ananias
      His plans for Saul. What a gracious God!)

      1. This text is remarkable for several reasons. Do
        you think that God has a specific plan for

      2. If not, why did He have a specific plan for

      3. If God has a specific plan for everyone, why do
        so many people seem to be unaware of God’s plan
        for their life?

      4. Why did God so directly intervene into Saul’s
        life, but no so directly intervene in the lives
        of others? (I think the answer to these
        questions turns on Saul’s early decision to be
        completely devoted to the work of God. He did
        not understand God’s work, he did not understand
        that he was actually resisting God’s work, but
        he was completely devoted. If you are completely
        devoted to advancing the work of God, then God
        will let you know what He has in mind for you.)

    4. Read Acts 9:16. Why is this part of the message to
      Ananias? (Ananias is concerned about all of the
      suffering that Saul has caused. He is concerned that
      Saul will make him suffer. God assures Ananias by
      telling him that just the opposite is about to start

      1. When God revealed to Saul that he would suffer
        for the gospel, what do you think was Saul’s
        response? (I assume Saul felt terribly guilty at
        this point, and that made it easier to accept
        his future because he could see the “justice” in
        it. Others would have a wrong view of his work,
        just as he had a wrong view of the gospel in the

    5. Read Acts 9:17. Ananias trusts God! Why do you think
      that Ananias spoke of the in-filling of the Holy
      Spirit? If you look back at Acts 9:12, Jesus only
      gave a vision of restoring Saul’s sight? (To have
      true “sight,” you need the Holy Spirit. I think
      Saul’s blindness turned to sight symbolizes Saul’s
      journey to being filled with the Holy Spirit.)

    6. Read Acts 9:18-19. Why is Paul eating again? (He
      understands his mission. He has resolved the crisis
      in his life.)

  3. The Mission

    1. Read Acts 9:20. Does Saul waste any time on his new

    2. Read Acts 9:21-22. Why do you think Saul “grew more
      and more powerful?”

    3. Read Acts 9:23-25. What remedy do the Jews have in
      mind for Saul? (Once again, we see that they are not
      satisfied with debate, they want to kill the
      opposition. This is always an important indicator of
      who has the better argument. Failed arguments turn
      to violence.)

    4. Read Acts 9:26, Galatians 1:11-12, and Galatians
      1:15-19. Saul’s time line in Acts 9 omits a
      reference to his three years in Arabia before he
      went to Jerusalem. Based on Saul’s statements about
      a direct revelation from Jesus, to what do you think
      he is referring? (It seems hard to identify God’s
      direct intervention on the road to Damascus as the
      “revelation from Jesus Christ,” since we have
      Ananias “consulting” with Saul then, and that time
      period was brief. Saul may mean that Jesus revealed
      Himself in Arabia.)

      1. Why would this matter? What is wrong with being
        taught by one of the apostles? (This distinction
        is important to me because I would likely have a
        different view of righteousness by faith if we
        eliminated Paul’s writings from the New
        Testament. The Holy Spirit has an easier time
        teaching me about grace when I’m reading Paul!)

    5. Read Acts 9:28-30. Once again, Saul’s life is in
      danger. Do you see the hand of God in this? (Just as
      God used Saul’s persecution to spread the gospel
      outside Jerusalem, so He used the persecution of
      Saul to direct his message to the gentiles.)

      1. Has something that you considered to be a bad
        thing, turned out to be a good thing in your

    6. Read Acts 9:31. How does all of this turmoil work
      out? (A time of peace comes to the Church.)

    7. Friend, if you are praying for the conversion of an
      enemy of God, do not despair! Saul’s conversion
      shows us that there is hope for the most ardent
      opponent. Saul’s conversion shows us that God takes
      bad things and makes them good. Why not determine
      to trust God no matter the circumstances?

  4. Next week: The Ministry of Peter.