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Saul's Conversion

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Marvel (4-5)Year 1Unit 5 (Marvel at God’s New Beginnings)Session 1

Saul's Conversion

Jesus chose Saul to become a missionary to all people.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Feel amazed at Jesus' power to change people.
  • Sense the need for missionaries like Saul today.
  • Pray regularly for a specific missionary or missionaries.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

This isn't the first time we've felt the force of Saul's fierce personality in Acts. Recall that he was standing by with approval at the stoning of Stephen, and soon after he set out to "destroy the church" (8:1-3). It wasn't that Saul was a psychopath but that he was a Pharisee, so devoted to God's law that he saw this upstart group as a threat to the Jewish people.

From Acts and his own epistles we learn that Saul was a devout man trained by the greatest rabbis of his day, deeply knowledgeable of the Scriptures and utterly devoted to God as he understood him. Furthermore, he was a cosmopolitan man, a Roman citizen, fluent in Greek and Latin as well as his own Hebrew tongue. He could be either the church's worst enemy or best missionary---and by God's grace, he was both.

Saul didn't wait for someone to give him orders; he asked for letters from the high priest giving his authority to arrest Christians in the synagogue in Damascus. As they neared the city, a bright light flashed. Falling to the ground, he heard a voice: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."

This was not merely a pronouncement but a personal conversation. That means two things. First, this was not an angel visitation or a trance; it was a personal appearance by the Lord. Second, Jesus informs Saul that in persecuting the church he is persecuting Jesus himself. Jesus so identifies with the church, which Saul (later called Paul) would come to call the "body of Christ," that anything done to the church is done to Jesus personally.

That's it. There are no other orders, except that he should go into the city to find out what to do next. The only trouble was that Saul was temporarily blinded. Making his way into the city with the help of his companions (we never learn what happens to them), he ends up in a house, blind and so scared---or moved---that he neither eats nor drinks.

It's the Lord who makes the arrangements, calling on a man named Ananias, who, understandably hesitant, makes his way over to lay healing hands on Saul and give him his marching orders from the Lord. Saul is God's "chosen instrument" to proclaim God's name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel" (9:15; also see 22:14-16); in the process he would suffer many things. Ananias baptized Saul, and within days Saul was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

No wonder when we hear about someone whose life is completely turned around we call it a "Damascus road experience." It's obvious by the way Paul's conversion story is told in Acts (9; 22; 26) that he considered this the most important moment of his life. But that does not mean we should think of Paul's experience as a model for all conversions. Saul's story is told precisely because it was so extraordinary. God laid claim to this enemy of the church and made him its key evangelist and theologian. It's a measure of Saul's stubborn determination that such extraordinary measures were required to turn him from enemy to friend.

  • How do you imagine Saul looked and acted?

  • How did Ananias receive the news and his orders?

  • Why did Saul not eat or drink anything for three days?

  • You might want to think through with your group ways in which Saul was ideal for the job as the church’s premier missionary and theologian.

  • Be careful to note that conversion happens in many ways, not necessarily as dramatically as it did with Saul. This would be a great time for you to tell about your own conversion story.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • music smart
  • self smart
  • word smart
  • ​​people smart

Before beginning your session today, select a blank space on the wall of your meeting area. Write “Praise Reports” on a sheet of newsprint or posterboard and “Prayer Requests” on another sheet. Tape or use poster putty to attach both sheets to the wall beside one another, about two feet apart.

Also prepare a sheet of newsprint or posterboard with the words “Big Change” and set it on your table along with some markers.

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