Introduction: Have you noticed the pattern in the Bible that God
loves to work through weakness? Old Testament battles are won by
using fewer soldiers (Judges 7) or going into combat leading with the
choir (2 Chronicles 20). In 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 God plainly says
that He uses the foolish and weak things of the earth to defeat the
worldly wise and strong things of men. Why? God doesn’t want humans
to get confused about who is responsible for the victory. If you are
a Christian and you generally consider yourself to be weak and
foolish, this is good news. What about the rest of us who do not like
to think we are weak or foolish most of the time? This is the good
news about studying the life of the apostle Paul. He was smart and
sophisticated and God did great things through him. Let’s dive into
our study of Paul and find out more!

  1. Paul – The Early Days

    1. Read Acts 22:2-3. Where was Paul raised? (He says “in this
      city.” Acts 21:31 shows that this was Jerusalem.)

      1. Who was Paul’s main teacher? (Gamaliel.)

        1. What do we know about him? (He was “honored by
          all the people. Acts 5:34. He was a famous
          teacher. Paul essentially went to an “Ivy
          league” school.)

    2. Read Galatians 1:14. How did Paul compare to other Jews of
      his age? (He was a leading young rabbi.)

    3. Read Acts 22:4-5. Who did Paul know? (He not only knew the
      High Priest and the Council (the Sanhedrin), he was an
      authorized representative to eradicate the followers of

      1. How ambitious was Paul? (He says that he was zealous
        and killed Christians. You would not want him after

  2. Paul – The Chosen One

    1. Read Acts 22:6-8. Why would Paul (Saul) call the voice
      coming out of the light “Lord?” (Clearly, Paul thought
      this was supernatural. This was not a lightning strike or
      Paul getting dizzy and light-headed.)

    2. Read Acts 22:10. As you read this story, what makes you
      think it is the truth (other than the fact you find it in
      the Bible)? What makes you think that this actually
      happened to Paul?(Imagine you had the best education, you
      were one of the top men in your field in your generation,
      you knew all the power-brokers and you were their
      authorized representative. Would you just walk away from
      all that? Of course not. Paul believed that Jesus spoke to
      him and gave him a new assignment and direction in life.)

      1. What would be the modern American equivalent of this?
        (You graduated from Yale law school, joined the White
        House staff and advised the President. One day when
        you were on a mission for the President, something
        supernatural happened and you thought you should be a
        missionary to Iraq – something far outside your
        comfort (and safety) zone!)

    1. In the introduction, we talked about how God has a history
      of choosing the weak and foolish as His instrument for
      defeating the bad guys on earth. Why would He choose Paul?
      (The good news is that you do not have to be weak and
      foolish to do great things for God. (Although you might
      have to be knocked off your horse first.) The reason God
      chose Paul was because he was “zealous” for God. He was
      just misdirected.)

  1. Paul – the Mission

    1. Read Acts 22:17. Put yourself in God’s place for just a
      minute. If you were assigning mission work for Paul, would
      you not send him where he knew the territory, had great
      contacts and was thoroughly acquainted with the local
      religion? (God says He is doing what seems illogical on
      the surface because He knows the locals will not accept
      Paul’s testimony.)

      1. Read Acts 22:19. Did Paul debate this with God? (That
        is how I read Paul’s response: Paul says, “Wait a
        minute. These guys know me and know I was on their
        side. They will listen to me.)

    2. Read Acts 22:21. Does God debate the point with Paul? (No.
      He just says “Go!)

      1. What has happened to much of Paul’s worldly
        advantage? Is there a lesson in this for us? (Paul
        was a talented and educated man, but God left a lot
        of his “old connections” behind. He was heading into
        new territory. When God clearly says “Go” we should
        go even when we do not understand the logic.)

    3. Read Acts 22:22. As you look over the story Paul was
      telling in Acts 22:1-21, what point caused the Jews to
      decide that Paul was pond scum, and should be killed? (The
      “tipping point” seems to be when he says he was sent as a
      missionary to the Gentiles.)

      1. Why was that so maddening? (The part of Paul’s
        statement of prophecy that the Jews would not accept
        him is probably not making them mad. They were not
        accepting him. No dispute there. That means it must
        have been the idea that he would go to the Gentiles
        to share the knowledge of God.)

        1. If this so enraged the Jews, what does that tell
          us about Paul’s life-long thinking on the
          subject? (That he previously thought this was a
          bad idea.)

        2. What lesson can we find in this for our life and
          work for God? (God has given Paul a task he
          would not have chosen and is not suited to his
          career so far. This is not only a practical
          lesson for us, it further supports the truth of
          this story.)

        1. Did Paul stop sharing the gospel with the Jews?
          (Read Acts 13:43-47. Paul went “first” to the
          Jews. But, he understood his mission to be a
          “light to the Gentiles.”)

          1. Does this make sense? Why not put your
            mission focus first? (It made sense since
            Christianity was not an entirely new
            religion – far from it. Paul preached that
            Jesus was the anticipated Messiah. He was
            the fulfillment of the Old Testament
            prophecies and worship practices. Jews,
            more than anyone else, should most easily
            understand this. You would not have to
            start from “scratch” with a Jew.)

  1. Paul – the Human

    1. Read Acts 15:36-40. Will Bible heroes always agree?
      (Apparently not.)

      1. Is that okay?

      2. Who was wrong here? (Read 2 Timothy 4:11. In this and
        other texts we see that Mark works with Paul later in
        Paul’s life. Paul now calls Mark “helpful to me in my

        1. What lesson do we learn from this? (That great
          leaders of God can disagree and even be wrong!)

    2. Read Romans 7:14-17. Was Paul always pleased with his
      behavior? (No.)

    3. Read Romans 7:18-20. What separates Paul from the average
      bad person? (He desires to do good.)

    4. Read 1 John 3:7-9. John wants us to get this right. If
      Paul has a good attitude, but keeps on sinning is he “of
      the devil?”

    5. Read Romans 7:21-25. Is this the life of the Christian, to
      be wretched? (Paul speaks of the possibility of a

    6. Read Romans 8:1-4. How are the “righteous requirements of
      the law fully met in us [sinners]?” (Through the life and
      death of Jesus.)

    7. Read Romans 8:5-8. If Jesus lived the perfect life for us,
      does it matter what we do? Does it matter what we think?
      (Paul teaches us that if we set our minds on “what the
      Spirit desires” our actions will follow.)

    8. Consider your relationship with other church members.
      Which have you been most concerned about: what you did or
      what you thought? (We think it is our actions which are
      most important. But, the Bible teaches us that it is our
      mind that is most important.)

      1. If your mind is the most important, what steps
        should you take to “set” your mind “on what the
        Spirit desires?”

    9. Friend, Paul’s life shows that God can use talented people
      in addition to the less talented. But when God says, “Go!”
      we need to obey even if we do not see the logic of it.
      Whether or not God has given you a great mission like
      Paul’s, He has given you the mission of getting your heart
      and mind set in the right direction. Will you determine
      today to, like Paul, follow God’s lead?

  2. Next week: “All Things to All Men”: Paul Preaches to the World.