Author Topic: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul  (Read 1075 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Wally

  • Moderator
  • Posts: 5403
  • Romans 8:35, 38, 39
Lesson 5 July 28-August 3







The Conversion of Paul






Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon






















So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40064
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2018, 10:25:32 PM »


Sabbath Afternoon


Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 26:9-11, Deut. 21:23, Acts 9:1-20, 1 Cor. 9:1, Gal. 1:1, Acts 9:20-30.

Memory Text: ”Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15, NIV).

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus (who became Paul) was one of the most remarkable events in the history of the apostolic church. The importance of Paul, however, goes way beyond conversion itself, for Paul is certainly not the only enemy of the church to have become a genuine Christian. The issue, instead, relates to what he ended up doing for the sake of the gospel. Paul had been an incorrigible opponent to the early believers, and the harm he could have done to the infant church was enormous. He had both determination and official support to destroy the church. Yet, he responded faithfully to God’s call on the road to Damascus and became the greatest of the apostles. “From among the most bitter and relentless persecutors of the church of Christ, arose the ablest defender and most successful herald of the gospel.”—Ellen G. White, Sketches from the Life of Paul, p. 9.

Paul’s previous actions in persecuting the early church would always bring him a deep sense of his own unworthiness, though he could say with a still deeper sense of gratitude that God’s grace to him had not been in vain. With Paul’s conversion, Christianity changed forever.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 4.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40064
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2018, 10:27:14 PM »
Sunday          July 29

Persecutor of the Church

Paul was a Hellenistic Jew. His birthplace was Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia (Acts 21:39). Notwithstanding, to a certain extent he deviated from the Hellenistic stereotype, for he was brought to Jerusalem, where he studied under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), the most influential Pharisaic teacher at the time. As a Pharisee, Paul was strictly orthodox, though his zeal bordered on fanaticism (Gal. 1:14). This is why he led Stephen to his death and became the key figure in the ensuing persecution.

Read Acts 26:9-11. How did Paul describe his actions against the church?

Paul says elsewhere that the gospel was a stumbling block to the Jews (1 Cor. 1:23). Besides the fact that Jesus did not fit the traditional Jewish expectation of a kingly Messiah, they could by no means accept the idea that the One who had died on a cross could be God’s Messiah, for the Scripture says that anyone who is hung is under God’s curse (Deut. 21:23). To the Jews, therefore, the crucifixion was in itself a grotesque contradiction, the clearest evidence that the church’s claims about Jesus were false.

Acts 9:1, 2 shows Saul of Tarsus in action against believers. Damascus was an important city about one hundred thirty-five miles north of Jerusalem, and it had a large Jewish population. The Jews living outside Judea were organized in a kind of network whose headquarters were in Jerusalem (the Sanhedrin), with the synagogues functioning as supporting centers for the local communities. There was constant communication between the Sanhedrin and such communities through letters normally carried by a shalia?, “one who is sent” (from the Hebrew shala?, “to send”). A shalia? was an official agent appointed by the Sanhedrin to perform several religious functions.
 hand
When Paul asked the high priest, the Sanhedrin’s president, for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, he became a shalia?, with authority to arrest any followers of Jesus and bring them to Jerusalem (compare with Acts 26:12). In Greek, the equivalent to shalia? is apostolos, from which the word apostle derives. Thus, before being an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul was an apostle of the Sanhedrin.

When was the last time you were zealous for (or against) something you later changed your mind about? What lessons should you have learned from that experience?

Being young in the faith, hands are not be laid on such, for they may be quite zealous, but without a firm foundation of understanding. Yet, many are pushed into the pulpit ahead of their time, if it ever were to come.


Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40064
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2018, 10:27:54 PM »
Monday          July 30

On the Damascus Road

Read Acts 9:3-9. What happened when Paul was approaching Damascus? What is the significance of Jesus’ words in Acts 9:5 (see also Acts 26:14)?

As Paul and his companions neared Damascus, the unexpected happened: about noon they experienced an intensely bright light from heaven and a voice speaking. This was not merely a vision in the prophetic sense but a divine manifestation, aimed somewhat exclusively at Paul. His companions saw the light; yet, only Paul was blinded; they heard the voice; yet, only Paul understood it. The light was the divine glory of the risen Jesus, who personally appeared to Paul at that moment (Acts 22:14). Elsewhere Paul insists that he had seen Jesus, which made him equal to the Twelve as a witness of His resurrection and apostolic authority (1 Cor. 9:1, 15:8 ).

The ensuing dialogue with Jesus struck Paul infinitely more than the light itself. Paul was absolutely convinced that, by attacking the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, he was doing God’s work in purifying Judaism from that dangerous and dreadful heresy. To his dismay, however, he learned not only that Jesus was alive but also that by inflicting suffering on His believers he was attacking Jesus Himself.

When speaking to Saul, Jesus used a proverbial saying supposedly of Greek origin that Paul certainly was familiar with: ”It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14, NKJV). The image is that of a yoke ox trying to move against the sharp stick used to guide it. When that happens, the animal only hurts itself even more.

This saying may point to a struggle in Paul’s mind—the Bible refers to this as the work of the Spirit (John 16:8-11)—that could go back to what happened with Stephen. “Saul had taken a prominent part in the trial and conviction of Stephen, and the striking evidences of God’s presence with the martyr had led Saul to doubt the righteousness of the cause he had espoused against the followers of Jesus. His mind was deeply stirred. In his perplexity he appealed to those in whose wisdom and judgment he had full confidence. The arguments of the priests and rulers finally convinced him that Stephen was a blasphemer, that the Christ whom the martyred disciple had preached was an impostor, and that those ministering in holy office must be right.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 112, 113.

Why is it wise to pay heed to your conscience?

The conscience knows right from wrong. When the Spirit pricks the mind and heart with truth, we ought to listen and follow. If we resist it becomes easier to resist the next time. Why reject the truth?

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40064
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2018, 10:28:56 PM »
Tuesday          July 31

Ananias’s Visit

When he realized he was talking to Jesus Himself, Saul asked the question that would give Jesus the opportunity He was looking for: ”What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10, NKJV). The question indicates contrition in view of his actions up to that moment, but more important, it expresses an unconditional willingness to let Jesus guide his life from then on. Taken to Damascus, Saul was to wait for further instructions.

In Acts 9:10-19, the Bible reveals how the Lord was working to prepare Saul of Tarsus for his new life as the apostle Paul. In a vision, Jesus gave Ananias the assignment to visit Saul and lay his hands on him for the restoration of his sight. Ananias, however, already knew who Saul was, as well as how many of the brethren had suffered and even lost their lives because of him. He was also well informed of the very reason why Saul was in Damascus, and so, surely, he did not want to become Saul’s first victim there. His hesitation was understandable.

Yet, what Ananias did not know was that Saul had just had a personal encounter with Jesus that changed his life forever. He did not know that, instead of still working for the Sanhedrin, Saul—to Ananias’s astonishment—had just been called by Jesus to work for Him, which means that Saul was no longer an apostle of the Sanhedrin but Jesus’ chosen instrument to take the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.

Read Galatians 1:1, 11, 12. What special claim does Paul make with regard to his apostolic ministry?

In Galatians, Paul insists that he received his message and his apostleship directly from Jesus Christ, not from any human source. This does not necessarily contradict the role performed by Ananias in his call. When visiting him, Ananias just confirmed the commission Saul had already received on the Damascus road from Jesus Himself.

In fact, the change in Saul’s life was so dramatic that no human cause can be assigned to it. Only divine intervention can explain how Jesus’ most obsessive opponent would suddenly embrace Him as Savior and Lord, leave everything—convictions, reputation, career—behind, and become His most devoted and prolific apostle.

It appears that this was "sudden conversion"? Did Saul leave all of his convictions? No, he did not, and it was not sudden converstion at all. It was a point in time when Saul made a full surrender, but it was by no means "all of a sudden." Saul had been restling with God for some time before he gave in. His conversion was the end of a long protracted process of wooing by the Holy Spirit that ended on the road to Damascus. Actually, meeting Jesus was an answer to his prayer, he had not long before prayed. "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Romans 7:24. Jesus did not delay an answer to his prayer, but revealed Himself to him right away. Why delay an answer? God does not delay an answer to that kind of prayer.  Jesus revealed that Saul had been having a hard time when resisting the pricks of the Holy Spirit (kicking against the pricks). Jesus said that it was hard for Saul to continue resisting the call. It was indeed a protracted process of pricking him with the truth of who he was, a sinner by nature, and a law breaker (murderer).


In what ways does Saul’s conversion illustrate the operation of God’s wonderful grace? What can you learn from his story concerning those in your life whom you doubt will ever come to true faith?

It is a wonderful revelation of the power of grace to change the character of even church leaders steeped in doctrinal error. Since we know Saul's conversion was the end of a long protracted process of wooing, did other humans play a part in revelaing God's grace to Saul? If so who might this have been?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40064
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2018, 10:29:14 PM »
Wednesday          August 1

The Beginning of Paul’s Ministry

Acts 9:19-25 gives the impression that after his conversion, Paul remained in Damascus for a while before returning to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26). In Galatians 1:17, however, Paul adds that, before going to Jerusalem, he went to Arabia, where he apparently lived in seclusion for a certain period. “Here, in the solitude of the desert, Paul had ample opportunity for quiet study and meditation.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 125.

Read Acts 9:20-25. How does Luke describe Paul’s ministry in Damascus? How well did it go?

Paul’s original target when he left Jerusalem with letters from the high priest was the Jewish believers that had presumably sought refuge in the synagogues of Damascus (Acts 9:2). Now, after coming back from Arabia, he finally made it to the synagogues, not to arrest believers but to increase their number; not to slander Jesus as an impostor but to present Him as the Messiah of Israel. What must have gone on in the minds of those who, having heard of him only as one of their persecutors, now hear him witness about Jesus? What could they do but marvel at what Saul of Tarsus had become and at what he was doing for the church? (They probably had no idea of the influence this new convert would eventually have!)

Not able to contradict Paul, some of his opponents conspired together to take his life. Paul’s account of the episode (2 Cor. 11:32, 33) suggests that his opponents denounced him to the local authorities in order to achieve their intent. However, with the believers’ help, Paul was able to escape in a basket, possibly through the window of a house built on the city wall.

Paul knew from the start that he would face challenges (Acts 9:16). Opposition, persecution, and suffering from various sources would be a constant in his ministry, but nothing would shake his faith or sense of duty, despite the hardships and trials that he faced practically at every step of his new life in Christ (2 Cor. 4:8, 9).

Despite struggles and opposition, Paul didn’t give up. How can we learn to do the same when it comes to faith—that is, how to persevere amid discouragement and opposition?

It is a matter of faith, of believing Jesus and loving Him with the whole heart, not part of it. Do we really know Him intimately? Do we trust Him with all we have and all we are? If so, He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. So, we have no reason to not persevere. Why does the promise appear to fail for so many who are tempted beyond what they can bear? What encouragement can you offer to those who do not persevere?

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40064
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2018, 10:30:23 PM »
Thursday        August 2

Return to Jerusalem

Having escaped from Damascus, Paul returned to Jerusalem for the first time since he had left as a persecutor. This happened three years after his conversion (Gal. 1:18). It was not an easy return, as he faced problems both inside and outside the church.

Read Acts 9:26-30. What happened to Paul when he arrived in Jerusalem?

In Jerusalem, Paul tried to join the apostles. Though by that time he had already been a Christian for three years, the news of his conversion sounded so incredible that the apostles, like Ananias before them, were rather skeptical. They feared it was just part of a carefully elaborated plot. It was Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus (Acts 4:36, 37), thus a Hellenist, who broke the apostles’ resistance and introduced Paul to them. They, too, must have marveled at what God had done to Paul; that is, once they realized that he was genuine.

Such resistance, however, would never entirely disappear, if not because of Paul’s past actions in persecuting the church, then at least because of the gospel he preached. As in the case of Stephen, the Judean believers, including the apostles, were quite slow to understand the universal scope of the Christian faith, a faith no longer based in the Old Testament ceremonial system, especially in the sacrificial system, which had lost its validity with Jesus’ death on the cross. Paul’s closest circle of relationship within the church in Judea would always be the Hellenistic believers: besides Barnabas himself, it included Philip, one of the Seven (Acts 21:8 ), and Mnason, also from Cyprus (Acts 21:16). Several years later, the Jerusalem church leaders would still accuse Paul of preaching basically the same doctrine Stephen had preached before (Acts 21:21).

During the fifteen days he stayed in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:18), Paul apparently decided to share the gospel with the same nonbelieving Jews whom he had incited against Stephen some time before. As with Stephen, however, his efforts met with strong opposition, posing a threat to his own life. In a vision, Jesus told him to leave Jerusalem for his own safety (Acts 22:17-21). With the help of the brethren, he went down to the city port of Caesarea and from there to his hometown in Cilicia, where he would stay for several years before starting his missionary journeys.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40064
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5--3rd Quarter 2018--The Conversion of Paul
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2018, 11:28:56 PM »

Friday          August 3


Further Study: “A general slain in battle is lost to his army, but his death gives no additional strength to the enemy. But when a man of prominence joins the opposing force, not only are his services lost, but those to whom he joins himself gain a decided advantage. Saul of Tarsus, on his way to Damascus, might easily have been struck dead by the Lord, and much strength would have been withdrawn from the persecuting power. But God in His providence not only spared Saul’s life, but converted him, thus transferring a champion from the side of the enemy to the side of Christ.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 124.

Amen!! God often turns Satan's work to good. We can be a channel to help Jesus in doing the same!


“Christ had commanded His disciples to go and teach all nations; but the previous teachings which they had received from the Jews made it difficult for them to fully comprehend the words of their Master, and therefore they were slow to act upon them. They called themselves the children of Abraham, and regarded themselves as the heirs of divine promise. It was not until several years after the Lord’s ascension that their minds were sufficiently expanded to clearly understand the intent of Christ’s words, that they were to labor for the conversion of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews.”—Ellen G. White, Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 38.

Israel is an example for those whom the end of the world has come upon (us). Is there a lesson here for us? Are our minds confused where it is hard to understand the gospel truth? Jesus calls His last day church "Laodicea." Why?


Discussion Questions:

    Dwell more on Jesus’ question to Paul on the Damascus road: “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4, NRSV). For Paul, this question was an indication that Jesus of Nazareth had indeed been resurrected from the dead. But, more than that, it was also an indication of the spiritual identification that exists between Jesus and His church (see also Matt. 25:34-45). The implication is obvious: any harm done to the church is harm done to Jesus Himself. In practical terms, what does this mean to us today?

Are there some in the church who are working against Christ and His true teachers of truth? Am I doing so? How can we know? Saul was unconverted when persecuting the church. Laodiceans are also unconverted.


    Witnessing for Jesus involves suffering for Jesus. It is not by chance that the Greek word for “witness” (martys) came to be associated with “martyrdom.” What does it mean to suffer for Jesus?

The greatest honor and the most weighty trust given to us is to partake in the sufferings of Christ. What happens to the character of those who love Jesus and suffer on account of their faith? Share a Bible verse that supports your answer.


    There’s an old Latin saying, Credo ut intelligam, which means, “I believe in order that I may understand.” How does this idea help us understand what happened to Saul of Tarsus? That is, before his conversion, before Paul became a believer in Jesus, he didn’t understand. Only after his experience was he able to comprehend. What lesson can we draw from this for the times when we may find ourselves frustrated with those who don’t believe in truths that seem so clear to us?

It is true that Spiritual things are spiritually understood. But, that does not mean we cannot know right from wrong and know that Jesus loves us and suffered for us. The key to conversion if knowing God. If we would spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ, we would be converted daily. Do you believe this? If not, prayerfully study 2 Cor. 3:18.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.