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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Third Sunday After Epiphany/
Conversion Of St. Paul
Series C

Option #1: "God's Before and After Picture--
The Life of St. Paul"
Acts 9:1-22
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

1) From legalist to evangelist: vv1-6; legalist: Matt 6:5, 15:7-9; 23:13ff; Mark 7:6-8; Lk 13:14ff; evangelist: Eph 2:8-10; Romans 5 & 8, etc.

2) From chief persecutor (9:1-2) to chief proclaimer: v15, 17-18; 9:20-22; Galatians 1:13-24

3) From law enforcer (take prisoners) to liberator from the Law: vv20-22; Rom 3:28, 7:6, 8:1-39; Gal 2; Php 3:7-9

John F. MacArthur, Jr., Fervency in Speaking

Immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, "Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. Acts (9:20–22) Those transformed by the saving grace of God cannot stop speaking about it (Acts 4:20), and Saul was no exception. After a few days of fellowship with the saints, he immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues. To the shocked Christians, surprised by his conversion, can be added the shocked Jews, who were expecting him to take Christians prisoner, not preach Jesus Christ in their synagogues. From the beginning he felt that courageous compulsion that later caused him to exclaim, "Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel" (1 Cor 9:16).

In the very synagogues to which he had come with warrants for the arrest of Christians, Saul now began to proclaim Jesus. The content of that preaching was that Jesus is the Son of God, a title for our Lord that speaks of His deity (cf John 10:31-36). (For a discussion of the issue of the sonship of Jesus Christ, see Hebrews, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1983], 26ff)

The shock and consternation Saul’s preaching produced is inconceivable for us. The most zealous defender of Judaism now became the most zealous evangelist for Christianity. Not surprisingly, all those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, "Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?" They could not comprehend the drastic change in Saul.

Far from wilting under the pressure of confusion turning into hostility, Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. Like Stephen before him, he met the Jews in open debate about the deity and messiahship of Jesus. Saving faith "comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom 10:17).

That Saul was confounding the Jews in this dialogue should surprise no one. He had the finest education first-century Judaism could offer, and they could not hope to match his knowledge of the Scripture. Once he understood who Jesus was, he had the key that unlocked the whole Old Testament. He was then able to use his vast knowledge of those Scriptures and his Spirit-controlled brilliance, as well as the truth of Jesus’ miracles, words, death, and resurrection, to prove that this Jesus was indeed the long-awaited Messiah.

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Children’s Message
Acts 9:1-22
Visual aids: the logo of each Super Bowl team, easily downloaded from the Web, and the Super Bowl logo as well
I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that there is a big football game coming up next Sunday. Do you know where the teams are coming from? (Answers: from New England and Carolina.) The people from New England will have hats and coats with this logo on them; the people from Carolina will have emblems that look like this. (Show each)
Now what would you think if this man from Carolina and this woman from New England sometime this coming week decided to cheer for the other side? What would their family think? What would their friends think? If you can imagine that, then you have a small picture of the great change that took place in Paul the Apostle. He used to be known as Saul, the persecutor of Christians. The word "persecutor" means that he would hunt Christians and put them into jail and some of them would be killed.
That was before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. That changed everything, including Saul, the world, your life, and my life as well. Even Saul’s name changed to Paul. Here’s a Bible verse that I want you to remember:

(Acts 9:20) At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. (Acts 9:21) All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?"

It would be very hard to explain how a Patriots fan could cheer for Carolina at the Super Bowl, but that’s nothing compared to what happened to Saul who became Paul. He once threw Christians into jail for believing in Jesus; then he became the greatest leader of the Christian church of his time. Jesus changed him and he changes you and me too. He forgives our sins and then turns us around, changing us from servants of Satan to His servants.
Paul would gladly join in with the song that John Newton wrote many years later: "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once as lost, but now I’m found; I was blind, but now I see!"

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Option #2: "A Divine Makeover"
Acts 9:15-16
Rev. Kelly Bedard., B.A., M.Div.

The Point: Saul is an ultimate example of God's patience and grace
The Problem: enmity and hostility towards God, qualms and reluctance of believers towards unbelievers
The Promise: God ultimately has His way with us--the way of forgiveness, life and salvation!
Outline inspired by and adapted from William Schumacher
1. ekloge {ek-log-ay'}, v15: the act of picking out, choosing; of the act of God's free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons; the decree made from choice by which he determined to bless certain persons through Christ by grace alone; a thing or person chosen; of persons: God's elect. (Strong's)
2. skeuos {skyoo'-os}, v15: a vessel; an implement; in the plural; household utensils, domestic gear; the tackle and armament of vessels, used specifically of sails and ropes; metaphorically, a man of quality, a chosen instrument; in a bad sense, an assistant in accomplishing an evil deed; "vessel" was a common Greek metaphor for "body" since Greeks thought of souls living temporarily in bodies. (Strong's)
3. pascho {pas'-kho}, v16: to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo; in a good sense, to be well off, in good case; in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight; of a sick person. (Strong's)
4. "There but for the grace of God go I..." 
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