The Holy Spirit, the Church,
and the Gospel
~ Recruiting from the Enemy ~
Chapter 8 and some other stuff too
We will be learning about Paul today, who makes his first entry into Acts. Then next week we will head back to Peter one last time as his ministry comes to an end. So Paul. He was an evangelist; a missionary of the Gospel of Christ. He was quite the man. Paul seems to have some great qualities for this special task, and so we are told that he was chosen by God. So we will learn a bit about Paul and his conversion from a Jew to a Christian.
Where We Come From Matters
Whether we admit it or not, our upbringing forms who we are;
for the better or worse. Think for a moment about where you come from. What strengths and benefits has it given you? What weaknesses or challenges has it given you?
Paul is no different. His upbringing matters. It made him who he is.
Read Acts 21:37—22:5
What about Paul? Or should we still call him Saul… ?
In this reading from chapter 21, Paul's tells us a bit about himself. We have information about Paul sprinkled throughout Acts and the Epistles. This things matter. It tells us what drives his passion. Here are some things we know about him.
Read Acts 7:58—8:3, 9:1-2
Jerusalem Wasn’t Enough for Saul
- Saul of Tarsus
- Likely born a bit after Jesus
- Roman citizen; spoke Greek
- Paul was a devout Jew
- Said to be a Pharisee; cared a lot about Jewish law
- Worked with his hands; tent maker
- Likely not from a wealthy family
- Educated in Jerusalem; may have had family that lived in Jerusalem
Being that Saul was from Tarsus, Saul seems to have had connections to Damascus. Saul had chased all the people of The Way out of Jerusalem. Initially Christians were known as people of the Way. He now requests to make his way to Damascus to arrest and bring those of The Way back to Jerusalem.
Read Acts 9:3-9
Struck with Fear and Worse! Blindness!
This conversion was a pretty incredible conversion, making for one of the most dramatic conversion stories in the New Testament. Paul arrested and killed people of The Way. He was a passionate sort of man. Struck by the fear of the Lord, he pretty well does a 180 and becomes zealous for proclaiming the name of Jesus.
There are three accounts of his conversion. This one here in chapter 9, Paul’s self-defense before a Jewish mob in chapter 22, and again as a formal testimony before Agrippa in chapter 26.
Read Acts 9:10-19
His Eyes are Opened in More Ways Than One
God works through Ananias to bring Paul into the fold. God chooses Paul and says that Paul must suffer for the sake of my name. In what ways would you say Paul suffers for the name of Jesus?
Recruiting from the Enemy
There is some uncertainty about Paul at first. They knew about the persecution that he had brought against the Way. They had reason to be skeptical. The Jews were initially confounded by what was going as well. As a Greek Jew, his connections, and his education allow for him to be a strong apostle to bringing the message of Christ.
“Paul spearheaded the campaign to grant Gentiles full acceptance without subjecting them to Jewish law. He had himself been liberated from bondage to confining laws, and he insisted on a life based on God’s free forgiveness.”
Read Acts 9:23-31
Well…Well…Well…The Persecutor Becomes the Persecuted
The Way were skeptical, but they have now accepted Paul into the fold. Paul begins proclaiming the name of Christ with great fervor, and even has some disciples of his own. But now he is in harm’s way; quickly fleeing for his safety and life.
We will be skipping over most of chapter 10 next week, so if you'd like to give a read over it, enjoy! Next week we will close things up with Peter in chapter 11 and 12.
Peace and hope to you all! Pr. Jeremy