H O M E P A G E
Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, a Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
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A. Every time I read this Bible story, I stand amazed at the great grace of God.
1. I see the Lord take this man Saul, save him by grace, and transform him into the great Apostle to the Gentiles.
2. And I realize that there is hope for people like you and me to be used of the Lord.
B. The truth is, Saul was a very unlikely candidate for the service of the Lord.
1. Here was a man who was feared and hated by Christians and one who did everything in his power to destroy the name of the Lord Jesus.
2. Yet, God reached down in grace and took this man from where he was and used him to change the world.
3. God used him in such a great manner that Paul's ministry is still reaping fruit today.
4. Just the fact that we are talking about Paul’s life and the impact he had on the world is a testimony to WHY God used him than and is using him now.
C. We may feel that there is no possible way that the Lord could use us like He did Paul, or that God could even use us at all.
1. I suppose that we all feel inferior and unworthy to be used of the Lord in His work.
2. But I am here today to tell you that Jesus Christ can and will use us if we will make ourselves available.
I. BAFFLED BY SAUL. (Acts 9:19b-21)
A. Saul was a faithful preacher of Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:19b-20)
(Acts 9:19b-20) Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
1. As a new Christian, Saul witnessed for Jesus Christ.
Saul of Tarsus begins to witness immediately. Why? Because he is filled with the Holy Spirit. He began to preach “Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
2. As a new Christian, Saul preached the right message.
You must know who Christ is before you can believe what He did. He died to pay the penalty for your sins. It is because He is the Son of God that He could die for your sins.
I couldn’t die for your sins; you couldn’t die for mine. No human being can die a redemptive death for another human being. Only Jesus Christ could do this, because He is the Son of God.
So Saul began to preach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That is the first thing you must know.
B. Saul agenda had changed since he had accepted Christ. (Acts 9:21)
(Acts 9:21) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
1. Saul had become a defender of the Christian faith.
The people in Damascus were amazed that Saul was preaching, because Saul had come to kill Christians, not defend their faith. Saul’s fame as a persecutor of Christians was well known to the Jews in Damascus.
2. Saul had unnerved the leaders of the synagogues.
The leaders of the synagogues were probably notified of his coming and instructed by the high priest to welcome this zealous defender of Judaism. They seem to have been unnerved at first, not only by the fact that Saul had become a Christian, but by the strength of his faith and of his argument from Scripture that Jesus was indeed the promised Savior of Israel, the Messiah.
II. AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. (Acts 9:22-25)
A. Saul proved to be a very effective witness for Christ. (Acts 9:22)
(Acts 9:22) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
The “very Christ” means the very Messiah. Saul confounded the Jews by preaching this. Saul of Tarsus is number one in several departments. He is number one in suffering; he is number one as a missionary. I think he is also number one in his I.Q. -- he was a brilliant man. He was able to confound those who attempted to tackle him intellectually.
B. Saul became the target for Jewish assassins. (Acts 9:23-25)
(Acts 9:23-25) And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
1. Saul had become an enemy to Judaism.
When the Jews couldn’t win by argument, they resorted to another tactic, which was to eliminate the enemy.
2. Saul had to secretly make an escape.
I’m sure it must have been quite a thrilling experience to have been let down over the wall in a basket. Yet we never read anywhere in the New Testament that Paul toured the Roman Empire giving a lecture on the subject, “Over the Wall in a Basket.” That ought to be a lesson for a great many folk who deal in sensationalism today. Here is a man who has had a most remarkable experience, but he has something more important to present.
Note: We must never let our experience get in the way of presenting Christ. We must never let our person get in the way of the Person of Christ. Sometimes I hear the very pious prayer, “Hide the preacher behind the cross.”
No, friend, that is not what he needs. Rather, we should pray, “Help the preacher to present Christ in such a way that the Holy Spirit of God can take the things of Christ and show them to us. Help him to present Christ!” This was Paul’s method.
III. MEETING THE APOSTLES. (Acts 9:26-31)
A. Everyone was avoiding Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 9:26)
(Acts 9:26) And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
They thought this was a deception on the part of Saul of Tarsus, that he was worming his way in. They were experiencing persecution, and they probably had heard of Simon the sorcerer and the tactics he used in Samaria.
B. Then one man stood with Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 9:27)
(Acts 9:27) But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Good old Barnabas, whose very name means the “son of consolation and comfort”! He comes over and puts his arm around Saul. What a blessing he was to him! How we still need people who will put their arms around some new Christian and will help that new Christian along. Barnabas becomes the sponsor of Saul.
C. Saul was then accepted by the church in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:28)
(Acts 9:28) And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
Paul is accepted into the assembly at Jerusalem and joins forces with the Jerusalem church.
D. Some Greek Hebrews plotted to kill Saul because of his faith. (Acts 9:29)
(Acts 9:29) And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
These are not Greeks; they are Israelites who have a Greek background. They had been brought up outside Israel somewhere in the Greek world. The witness of Saul was so powerful that they concluded the only way to get rid of his effectiveness was to eliminate him, to kill him.
E. Fellow Christian believers helped Saul to safely leave Jerusalem. (Acts 9:30)
(Acts 9:30) Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
Paul goes to his hometown. He probably went back home to tell his father and mother, brothers and sisters, and other relatives about Christ. We know nothing about them. Paul never talks about his family -- with one exception. In Romans 16 he mentions some people who are related to him.
Note: The salvation of Saul of Tarsus was a turning point in the church’s history, and the Lord used several people to touch his life. You and I remember Paul and are prone to forget the “others” who helped him get started.
There was the witness of Stephen that was significant (Acts 22:20) as were the testimonies and prayers of people Saul persecuted (Matthew 5:44). Ananias baptized him and encouraged him, and the Christian believers at Damascus saved his life. When the church in Jerusalem was afraid to welcome Saul into their fellowship, Barnabas (“son of encouragement”) built the bridge. Barnabas later recruited Saul to serve in the Antioch church (Acts 11:25–26) and Barnabas traveled with Paul in evangelistic ministry among the Gentiles (Acts 13:1–3).
You and I may not be called to do a prominent work like Saul was doing, but you and I can do the job the Lord has called us to do and be an encouragement to others. We do not know the names of the brave men and women who smuggled Saul out of Damascus (Acts 9:25), but holding the ropes was a crucial job!
F. In spite of persecution the number of believers multiplied. (Acts 9:31)
(Acts 9:31) Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
The church continued to grow. The gospel went into Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. It soon started to go to the ends of the earth. This is exactly what Jesus Christ desired.
And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. – Acts 9:20
While a friend and I walked along the path of the former Berlin Wall, he told me, “This is one of those ‘never say never’ places in my life.” He explained that during the years when the Wall divided the city, he had made a dozen trips through Checkpoint Charlie to encourage members of the church living under continuing surveillance and opposition in East Germany. More than once, he had been detained, questioned, and harassed by the border guards.
In 1988, he took his teenage children to West Berlin and told them, “Take a good look at this wall, because someday when you bring your children here, this wall will still be standing.” A year later it was gone.
When Saul of Tarsus began to attack the followers of Jesus, no one could have imagined that he would ever become a disciple of Christ. “Never. Not a chance.” Yet Acts 9:1-9 records the story of Saul’s blinding encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Within a few days of that life-changing event, Saul was preaching in the synagogues of Damascus that Jesus was the Son of God, to the astonishment of all who heard him (Acts 9:20-21).
When it comes to God’s work in the most difficult people we know, we should never say “never.” – David McCasland, Our Daily Bread, May 29, 2010
God’s power cannot be confined
To what you think is possible;
So when it comes to changing lives—
Imagine the impossible. -- Sper
CONCLUSION: Saul the persecutor became Paul the preacher through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commands. When confronted by Christ, Saul of Tarsus became a follower of Christ. Later Saul’s name was changed to “Paul” -- the Apostle Paul!
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Never say never when it comes to what God can do.”
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REFERENCES: References used in the Bible study are the King James Bible (KJV), Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
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