Introduction: There is an old saying that we need to put our self in
the place of another person before we can truly understand that
person’s situation. When I was a young man, I spent my summers
building homes and apartments with my brother. One morning on the
long ride to work, my brother’s car broke down and he decided that
we should just walk and see if someone would give us a ride. We
were not dressed very well, and we were carrying tools. It was not
an inviting picture for someone considering giving us a ride.
Normally when I was driving, I did not pick up those trying to get a
ride – that would be dangerous! But now, I was desperately hoping
that someone would show sympathy to us! To better understand the
letter to the Galatians, we are going to try to put ourselves in the
place of its author, Paul. (For those who do not know, “Saul” later
was called “Paul.” I’ll just call him “Paul” in this lesson.) Let’s
plunge into our Bible study and see what the Bible has to teach us
about his life. Let’s see what it would be like to be Paul!

  1. Paul: The Background

    1. Read Acts 21:26-28. Paul is arrested on what charges?
      (That he is violating the Jewish law and teaching against
      the Jewish people.)

    2. Let’s skip down a few verses and read Paul’s defense.
      Read Acts 22:2-3. What kind of credentials are these?
      (Paul says he is Jewish, not an enemy of the Jews. He
      was raised in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish culture.)

      1. As to the charges that Paul is against the law, he
        says that he was taught by Gamaliel. Who is
        Gamaliel? (Adam Clarke’s commentary tells us that
        Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel (one of the most
        famous Jewish teachers in history), he was the
        president of the Sanhedrin council, and the 35th
        receiver of the traditions. Fausset’s adds that
        Gamaliel was celebrated as “the glory of the law,”
        and the first designated Rabban “our master.”)

        1. In today’s terms, what is Paul saying? (That he
          was taught by the world’s foremost authority on
          the law. He is better acquainted with the law
          than those making the charges against him.)

    3. Read Acts 22:4-5. How is this relevant to the charges
      against Paul? (You suggest that I am willing to violate
      the law? I’ve been killing people who opposed the law!)

    4. How would you summarize Paul’s defense up to this point?
      (He is better educated on the law than his accusers, and
      he is more zealous for the law than his accusers. He is
      not refuting the charges, he is just saying, “Who are you
      to accuse me?”)

    5. You have heard Paul. Put yourself in his place. What kind
      of attitude would you expect he would have? What kind of
      attitude is reflected in his defense so far? (He would
      feel superior. And, he is superior in terms of his

    6. Read Acts 22:6-10. Let’s talk about this. Paul lays out
      his extraordinary credentials, and then says “God chose
      me.” Why did God choose him?

      1. Read Judges 7:2-3, 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 and 1
        Corinthians 1:26-29. The Bible has a recurring theme
        about God working through human weakness. Being
        smart and well-educated is a problem because those
        kind of people tend to claim the glory due to God.
        Has God changed His approach?

      2. Another problem with intelligence, education and
        power is that we tend to rely on it instead of God.
        In light of all of this, why would God chose a guy
        (Paul) with a superior attitude? (I’m not sure. But,
        this is good news for smart, well-educated people.
        God not only used Paul in a major way, but he also
        used Daniel and Moses. God uses talented, well-educated people and He uses those who lack these
        talents. Praise God that all of us have an
        opportunity to serve Him.)

  2. Paul: The Instruction

    1. Look again at the first sentence of Acts 22:10. If you
      had Paul’s educational background, his zeal for the law
      of God, and his charter of authority from the Sanhedrin
      to wipe out the Christians, would you be asking this
      question? (Your whole life is turned upside down! You
      thought that you were obeying God. You thought Jesus was
      a fraud. Now you find out that Jesus is God! You would
      truly not know what to do.)

      1. What kind of answer does God give? (First, follow
        simple directions, then I will give you more.)

    2. Read Acts 22:12 and Acts 9:10-15. What kind of person is
      Ananias? (Trusting! But, he wants to be sure God knows
      all the facts about this fellow who has been killing the
      Christians! Notice that Paul calls Ananias “a devout
      observer of the law.” That gave him something in common
      with Paul. Plus, this fellow had the respect of his
      Jewish neighbors.)

    3. Read Acts 22:13. What does this action tell Paul? (This
      fellow can perform miracles. He can undue what God did!
      Therefore he must have been trusted with the power of
      God. I would immediately have an attitude of great trust
      and gratitude towards him.)

      1. We find more detail about this event in Acts 9.
        Let’s read Acts 9:17-19. Notice that Ananias refers
        to both the working of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in
        this event. What does this suggest?

      2. Paul was blinded by the light. Why should “scales”
        fall from his eyes? (Details like this give
        credibility – something physical changed that you
        could see. It seems unlikely scales formed as the
        result of a bright light, but God wanted to show a
        physical change.)

    4. Read Acts 22:14. Let’s break this down. I thought Paul
      was one of the foremost experts on the law – having been
      taught by Gamaliel. What does the language “chosen you to
      know His will” suggest? (That Paul needs more education.
      Perhaps different education.)

      1. Who is the “Righteous One?” (This must mean Jesus.
        See Psalms 16:10.)

        1. If it means Jesus, how is this possible? (This
          gives us an interesting insight. Paul is
          promised that Jesus will personally teach him.
          Since Acts 1:3 records that Jesus taught the
          other apostles after His resurrection, this
          makes sense.)

        2. Read Galatians 1:11-12 and Galatians 1:15-17.
          What consistent claim is Paul making about his
          instruction in the gospel? (That he received it
          directly from Jesus!)

    5. Read Acts 22:15-16. To whom is Paul to witness? (All

      1. How would this impact his former understanding of
        life? (His focus was on teaching Jews and promoting
        the understanding of the law. Now he has a mission
        far beyond his own people.)

      2. Why does Paul have to be baptized? (This is an
        acknowledgment that his past life promoting what he
        thought was the Kingdom of God, was instead sinful.)

        1. How difficult is it for a person with much
          intelligence, great education and a superior
          attitude, to make a 180 degree turn? (This had
          to be very difficult.)

    6. Read Acts 22:17-20. Is Paul willingly accepting God’s
      direction? (No! God tells Paul to leave because he will
      not be able to persuade these people. Paul says, “Why
      not! These people know I was the most zealous advocate of
      their views! Surely, they will take me seriously!)

    7. Read Acts 22:21. What is God’s direction for Paul’s life?
      (To teach the Gentiles.)

      1. Why do you think Paul records his argument against
        God’s direction? What is he telling his listeners
        and us? (He is emphasizing the God part of his work.
        He is giving credit to God. Paul says I had the best
        education, I was smart, motivated and hard-working.
        I had the backing of my nation’s religious leaders.
        But, God turned all of that around. He changed
        everything and gave me a mission I did not choose.)

        1. Put yourself in Paul’s place. How would that

    8. Read Acts 22:22. Was Paul telling a popular story? (No!)

      1. Do you think that Paul would have anticipated this?
        (Yes. This gives credibility to what he said. People
        lie to avoid trouble. People who are saying things
        that get them into trouble are most likely telling
        the truth. Lawyers call it a “declaration against

    9. If you were Paul, looking back over your life, what would
      you think about the way God had led you?

      1. Was it a waste of time for Paul to be instructed by
        Gamaliel? (No. It was important that Paul was a
        great student, that he had the best teacher, and
        that he was filled with drive. All he needed was to
        better understand God’s will for his life.)

    10. Friend, what about you? Do you strive for excellence in
      all that you do? Has God given you gifts that you use to
      advance His Kingdom? Are you open to being led by the
      Holy Spirit in ways you did not anticipate?

  3. Next week: Paul’s Authority and Gospel.