Discussion Questions to Follow
Written about Saul/Paul
Those who stoned Stephen laid aside their robes at his feet (Acts 7:58)
He was in hearty agreement with putting him to death (Acts 8:1)
He ravaged the church, entering house after house, and dragged off men and women and put them in prison (Acts 8:3)
He breathed threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1)
What Paul said about himself
I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. (Galatians 1:13)
I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons (Acts 22:4)
I wanted to bring any I found belonging to the Way, both men & women, bound as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished (Acts 22:5)
I used to imprison and beat those who believed (Acts 22:19)
I was a persecutor of the church (Philippians 3:4)
I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor (1 Timothy 1:13)
9 “So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And this is just what
I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. 12 While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, to bring those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished. (Acts 26:9-12; 22:5)
13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do. (Acts 26:13-16a; 9:6)
For this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan
to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ (Acts 26:16b-18)
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
17 It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, 18 and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. 20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’ 21 And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” (Acts 22:17-21)
28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. (Acts 9:28-29)
6 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. (Acts 16:6-8)
God hasn’t mapped everything out ahead of time. In fact, it seems very little of the future is ever defined for us.
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. 5 On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. 6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. (2 Corinthians 12:2-6)
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was
given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this
I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power
of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? 30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:23-30)
… And who is adequate for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:16)
4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)
8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
20 it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21)
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12)
- Do you believe that Jesus has the right to tell you what to do in all areas of your life? Do you think you live like that is true?
- Do you think there have been times when Jesus has redirected your life from what you were doing or planning to do? This is not addressing things that are wrong, rebellious or evil in themselves.
- How do you respond to Jesus words to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”?
How do you think that can be true? Do you think you are “well content” with weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions, difficulties for Christ’s sake? (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
- Is your life lived for Christ’s sake? How could you improve in this area? Are you willing to?