Sunday School Lesson, Sunday, August 20, 2017 Called to Proclaim Christ
To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator
Places: On the road between Jerusalem and Damascus; Damascus
Golden Text: “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
Lesson Outline: I. The Role of Ananias – Acts 9:10-4; II. The Commission of Saul – Acts 9:15-20
Ananias was a believer in the Lord Jesus, and he lived in the city which Saul was sent by the Jewish authorities to persecute the believers. Saul had been sent to apprehend Christians there and bring them to Jerusalem to be judged by those authorities, Ananias was in the center of the action. He was one of those targeted by Saul for arrest, but he was chosen by God to confront Saul with the message from the Lord. The call was not impossibly difficult or complicated all he had to do was go, find Saul, and talk to him even though he was targeted to be arrested. The Lord’s words assured Ananias that Saul was now was a follower of Jesus and had been specially chosen by the Lord for an important task.
Lesson Outline: The Role of Ananias – Acts 9:10-4
Acts 9:10 – And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. Ananias was not an apostle but a layman who was ready and available to be used by God. Ananias was also a law-keeping Jew who had a good reputation among the Jews in Damascus. He was not one of the persecuted believers who had recently fled from Jerusalem, he was a resident of Damascus. Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians in Damascus when he had an encounter with the Lord that changed his life, but Ananias was not aware of it neither was he aware that the Lord was going to send him to speak with Saul. Ananias’s reply to the Lord’s calling was ” I am here, Lord”.
Acts 9:11 – And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth. The Lord instructed Ananias to get up and go to the street called Straight, in ancient Damascus the street called Straight went from one end of the city to the other. It was so named because it contrasted with many narrow, winding streets in Damascus. Most likely Ananias had never met Saul since the Lord was giving him specific instructions for him to seek the Saul who was from Tarsus, also there could have been many other Saul’s in that vicinity. The Lord informed Ananias that Saul was praying and he should enquire of the house of Judas to find him.
Acts 9:12 – And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. The Lord informed Ananias that Saul was praying and had seen a vision of Ananias come in and place his hands on him in order to restore his sight. God arranged both men know what they were to expect.
Acts 9:13 – Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem. The many reports Ananias had heard must have come from the believers who had fled from Jerusalem to escape Saul’s wrath. They testified of how much harm Saul had done to the Lord’s saints in Jerusalem which began with the stoning of Stephen and Saul gave a hearty approval of their actions. He then led an attack on Jerusalem Christians, imprisoning both men and women.
Acts 9:14 – And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. Ananias was informing the Lord what he had heard as well as being aware that Saul had received authority from the chief priest to persecute those who believed in the Lord. Saul alliance with the chief priest is unknown since Saul was a Pharisee and they were of the Sadducean’s, normally the two sects were at odds with each other since they differed widely in theology and politics. They had found common ground in their opposition to Jesus and the church. The Sadducees detested the teaching of resurrection and that Jesus had risen from the dead mean while the legalistic Pharisees could not accept God’s grace. Although they differ in theology they both came to an agreement to get rid of the Christians.
Lesson Outline: II. The Commission of Saul – Acts 9:15-20
Acts 9:15 – But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. The Lord’s command was not to be turned aside, “Just get going”, I have a bigger thing to do with him than you realize. He is my chosen vessel to minister to the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. The Lord said He intended to show Saul the suffering he would endure for Jesus’ sake. The former persecutor would be persecuted.
Acts 9:16 – For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. Saul was chosen to take Christ’ name before kings. He would eventually stand before a number of earthly rulers, Roman governors Sergius Paulus, Felix, Festus Gallio and others such as King Herod Agrippa II and the Roman Emperor Nero. The Lord told Ananias that Saul’s future ministry would be costly. Jesus Himself would reveal to Saul what he would have to suffer for the sake of His name.
Acts 9:17 – 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. Ananias talked no more to the Lord about what he had heard, he just obediently went to his mission to find Saul and pray for him. He greeted Saul as “Brother’, indicating he was one of them, he was a fellow believer. The past was forgiven. Ananias informed Saul that the same Jesus who had appeared to him on the road to Damascus had instructed him to lay hands on him so that he could receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Acts 9:18 – And immediately there fell from his eyes as it has been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Saul welcomed the salutation; and may have wondered whether those he formerly had persecuted would accept him as a true believer. As Ananias prayed for Saul, he immediately received his sight, he was baptized publicly identifying with the church and acknowledging his inner change.
Acts 9:19 – And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. Paul hadn’t eaten in several days, he was praying and fasting for his sight. After he was prayed for he ate and was strengthened. Saul stayed with the disciples in Damascus several days.
Acts 9:20 – And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. Saul’s transformation became even more evident when he immediately began preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. His saving encounter with Jesus had changed his mind about Him completely. As he preached the believers saw and heard the transformation Jesus had done on Saul. There is no way one can come in contact with the Lord and does not change.