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The Conversion Of Saul (Paul). AG Sunday School Teachers

Memory Verse: 1 Timothy 1:15 – This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief (KJV).

Central Truth:
Anyone who repents and believes in Christ will be saved.



Saul’s journey begins with strict adherence to the Jewish law. As he continued, he heard about Jesus, considered Him a threat to the proper exercise of Jewish religion; he committed himself to stamping out the mention of Jesus’ name. Saul’s journey came to a stop as he travelled to Damascus to persecute believers. Suddenly, from heaven, the direction of his life’s journey would be forever changed.


A. Searching, Arresting, Imprisoning –
Acts 7:58; 8:3; 9:1-2; 22:4, 19-20
B. Opposing The Name Of Jesus –
Acts 26:9-11.

A. A Persecutor Made Helpless – Acts 9:3-9
B. Helped By Ananias – Acts 9:10-18.

A. Before And After – Acts 9:19-25
B. Meeting The Church At Jerusalem – Acts 9:26-31.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
1. Explain the story of Saul’s conversion from enemy to apostle of Jesus Christ.

2. Rejoice in the power of God to save even the hardest of sinners.

3. Trust God to work through them to reach many for Christ.

The Holy Scriptures
Acts 9:1-2
[1]And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
[2]And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Acts 22:4
[4]And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

Acts 26:11
[11]And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

Acts 9:3-6,17-18,20,26
[3]And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
[4]And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
[5]And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
[6]And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
[17]And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
[18]And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
[20]And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
[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.

Commentary and Application


A. Searching, Arresting, Imprisoning– Acts 7:58; 8:3; 9:1-2; 22:4,19-20
Many readers have divided the Book of Acts into the story of two main characters. The apostle Peter and his ministry dominate chapters 1 through 12; the apostle Paul, chapters 13 through 28. However, the first mention of Paul, here called Saul, occurs before he became a Christian. In Acts 7:58, Saul was a young man guarding the clothes of those who stoned Stephen-outer garments they had taken off for freedom of movement as they performed this wicked act (see Acts 22:20).

Saul immediately became the central figure in the persecution of the Church, systematically seeking out believers in each house and synagogue (Acts 8:3; 22:19). While taking a more active role in the Church than they had in Judaism, believing women also became targets for bitter persecution (Acts 9:2: 22:4). Luke wrote “men and women” repeatedly, highlighting Saul’s cruelty regardless of gender.


Acts 9:1 further describes Saul’s cruelty, as he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (KJV). His cruelty did not end with seeking out, arresting, and imprisoning believers. He also beat them, and sought to bring them back to Jerusalem, where they could be tried by the Sanhedrin and sentenced to death (verse 2; 26:10).

For the first time, in Acts 9:2, the experience of knowing and following Christ is referred to as “the Way” (NLT). Jesus referred to himself in John 14:6 as “the way, the truth, and the life. Calling Christians those of “the Way”‘ may have originated in the saying of Christ, or perhaps in His teaching that eternal life can be entered only by those who follow the “narrow” way (Matthew 7:14).

Questions for Application

Why was Paul so obsessed with capturing and persecuting believers?

How can you respond in love-and in truth-to those who claim there is more than one way to salvation?

 Opposing the Name of Jesus–Acts 26:9-11*
In Acts 26, Saul explained his lifelong commitment to God to King Herod Agrippa. Accused by the Jews of words and actions against the Law and temple, Paul pointed to his history of strict observance of the Law and faith in the future resurrection of the dead (verses 4-8).

The centre of Saul’s controversy with his fellow Jews was the identity and authority of Jesus Christ. Saul explained that his earlier
understanding of God’s requirements had led him to oppose the name of Jesus (verse 9). From
the beginning of the Church, salvation had been preached in His name alone (see 4:12), bringing heated opposition from Jews who did not accept this message. Saul, among that number, imprisoned Christian believers in Jerusalem (26:10).

Paul also testified that he cast his vote against believers. We have no clear evidence that Saul was a member of the Jewish ruling body the Sanhedrin, so his vote may have been in a trial that was held in the synagogue prior to a trial by the Sanhedrin.

In his violence against believers. Saul attempted to make them “blaspheme” (verse 11, KJV). Cursing God’s name was punishable by death (see Leviticus 24:10- 16). However, this verse may indicate that Saul was attempting to get Christians “to curse Jesus, their Messiah” (see Acts 26:11, NLT).

Saul’s obsession with those who followed Christ caused him to travel even to foreign cities in his pursuit of them. On one such journey his life would be changed forever.

Questions for Application

Can a person be sincere in attempting to serve God, yet be wrong about what pleases Him?

In what ways does faith in Christ separate those who have accepted Him from those who have not?

Họw do you suppose Saul (Paul) looked back on his actions after his conversion?


2. Apprehended by Christ

A. A Persecutor Made Helpless– Acts 9:3-9
With written authorisation from the high priest, Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest followers of Christ; but the Christ he opposed arrested him first. Acts 9:3 states that “a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him” (NLT). God’s sudden, surprising light in Saul’s life would have a permanent impact much like His sudden sound did on the Church on the Day of Pentecost (see 2:2). Saul fell to the ground at the supernatural visitation (9:4; see also Daniel 8:17).

A voice from heaven called Saul by name, and asked, “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4, NLT). In keeping with Jewish tradition, Saul likely thought the voice was divine; still, he asked, “Who are you, lord?” (verse 5, NLT). After all that Saul had believed and done, he heard, “l am Jesus, the one you are persecuting” (verse 5, NLT). Christ’s body is the Church. Later, Saul would write extensively about what it meant for the Church as a whole, and for each individual believer, to be identified this way (1 Corinthians 12:27). For now, Saul was discovering the truth that any action against any follower of Christ is an action against Christ

Jesus’ appearance to Saul was not primarily a reprimand it was a calling. He ordered Saul to continue to Damascus for further orders (Acts 9:6). His companions, not having seen Jesus, did not know what had happened to Saul (verse 7). What they did know was that this relentless persecutor of the Church was now blind, and needed to be led by the hand into the city (verses 8-9).

Questions for Application
List several reasons why it was important that Saul was accompanied by others on his way to Damascus.

How should the relationship between Christ and His body encourage you as you face opposition for being a Christian?

B. Helped by Ananias– Acts 9:10-18
In Luke’s writings–Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts–prayer is often seen in conjunction with visions (see also Luke 1:8-11,22; Acts 10:9-16). Saul was likely reflecting on his experiences on the Damascus Road as he prayed, and asking for forgiveness and guidance.

In response, he received a vision of someone named Ananias helping
restore his physical sight (verses 11-12).

Mentioned only here and in Saul’s later testimony, Ananias was a disciple of Jesus living in Damascus (verse 10; 22:11-16). Ananias also had a vision, in which Jesus gave him specific directions about visiting and healing Saul (9:9-12).

Even so, Ananias at first argued with Christ; Saul had done great harm to the church in Jerusalem and was authorised to arrest Christian believers, including those in Damascus (verses 13-14).

The Lord responded in a way entirely unexpected by Ananias. The chief persecutor of Christians would become His “chosen instrument” to carry the gospel both to Gentiles and Jews (verse 15, NLT). Further, this honoured status would not make him immune to persecution; Jesus affirmed that Saul would suffer greatly for His name (verse 16).

Ananias obeved the divine direction and found the house of Judas on Straight Street. Leaving no doubt, he announced that the Lord Jesus had sent him to bring about Saul’s healing, and to help him receive the Holy Spirit (verse 17). The laying on of hands for physical healing and for receiving the Holy Spirit occurs repeatedly in the New Testament (e.g. Luke 4:40; Acts 19:6).

Saul was immediately healed, and baptised in water (verse 18). The details of his Spirit baptism are not recorded here; but Paul later testifies to the Corinthians, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you” (1 Corinthians 14:18, NLT), indicating he had been Spirit-baptised.

Questions for Application
How can believers maintain openness to God’s supernatural guidance, including visions?

Why is it important to test supernatural experiences by the written Word of God?

Ananias was an ordinary believer who is mentioned only twice in Acts. How can this encourage those who believe they are too “ordinary” to be used by God?

3. Transformed by Christ
A. Before and After—Acts 9:19-25
Saul was blinded in his encounter with Jesus Christ. He also stopped eating and drinking (Acts 9:9). He may have lost all desire for nourishment, or voluntarily begun a period of fasting to seek God to understand what had happened to him (see Daniel 10:12-14). After his healing and encouragement from Ananias, Saul ate again and was strengthened (Acts 9:19).


Immediately he began to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God (verses 20-22). Jesus made the same claim at His trial. His accusers charged Him with blasphemy, punishable by death (Matthew 26:62-67).]


Saul’s listeners were astonished. They had fully expected him to carry out his mission of arresting disciples and taking them back to the chief priests in Jerusalem (Acts 9:21). However, in the same way that onlookers witnessed great physical miracles of healing and judgement in the Book of Acts, they were witnessing the spiritual miracle of Saul’s transformation from opponent of the faith to one who argued conclusively that Jesus is the Messiah (verse 22).


Saul’s powerful preaching brought opposition from those who did not believe; they banded together to kill him (verses 23-24). However, other believers rescued him by lowering him in a basket to the ground outside the city wall (verse 25).


Questions for Application

How can fasting-voluntarily abstaining from food-help us focus on God?

How is Jesus’ identity as the Messiah-the One anointed by God central to the gospel?

Why is it important for nonbelievers to see both miracles of physical healing, and miracles of lives turned entirely around?

B. Meeting the Church at Jerusalem–Acts 9:26-31

After three years, Saul went to Jerusalem to try to join himself in fellowship to some of the earliest Christian converts (Acts 9:26; see Galatians 1:18). His last appearance there was marked by violent persecution of the Church; not surprisingly, they feared he was masquerading as a disciple to bring them harm.


Saul, however, found a friend in Barnabas, a Levite from the island of Cyprus. Also called Joses or Joseph, the apostles called him “Barnabas,” meaning “Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36, NLT).


Having heard what Saul had experienced in his conversion, and how he had testified of Christ in Damascus, Barnabas took Saul to the apostles and shared this report (9:27).


This gave Saul opportunity to preach at Jerusalem as he had at Damascus (verses 28-29). This brought him into conflict with Hellenistic Jews (Jews who had adopted Greek language and culture). Again, his life was threatened; and believers in Jerusalem sent him to Tarsus, his birthplace (verse 30).


Luke concluded this section of the Book of Acts with a broad Summary statement about the state of the Church, now spread “throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria (verse 31, NLT). A lull in persecution resulted in a time of peace; believers grew spiritually: and the entire Church grew numerically with the help of the Holy Spirit.


Questions for Application
List the ways you can be an encourager of others who believe in Christ.

Barnabas was a bridge-builder between Saul and the earlier apostles. How can his action of introduction serve as a model for us today?


Call to Discipleship

The Bible states many times that nothing is impossible for God. One proof that He provides is the dramatic turnaround in the life of Saul (Paul). Christians can be encouraged to believe God for great things as they reflect on the story of Saul, and on the many other marvellous works God did in and through the Early Church. Are there individuals who reject the gospel, regardless of how it is presented?


Are there cities where it has been difficult to establish a church? Are there entire countries where sinfulness is praised as something good? God is able to change these situations for His glory, as we pray, put our trust in Him, and commit ourselves to working with Him.



Ministry in Action

ldentify people you know who need God’s power to save, heal, and transform.

Commit yourself to daily prayer for God to move in their lives and in yours. Make yourself available to God to be part of the answer to your prayers.


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