Today is Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Our journey through Acts brings Paul to Jerusalem RADICALLY changed. We learn from Scripture that Paul grew up in Jerusalem under one of the most respected teachers in the law. What happened? Many want to know, but many think he is causing trouble with his unbelievable position that Jesus actually met with him personally and spoke to him...and claimed that He, Jesus, is/was/and always will be LORD...the YAHWEH of the Jews. Paul risks everything to share his powerful testimony of how Jesus got his attention, showed his power, justice, and mercy, and transformed him. - Kim
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ How often do you or I tell our story in the presence of friends and believers? How willing are we to share it in a familiar place, like our hometown, in our family, or in our workplace? How willing are we to risk our life, reputation...everything in order to share Jesus with others?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus) because of your courageous witness?
Dear Jesus, thank you for meeting me right where I am. Thank you that I, like Paul, don’t have to have it all right before You will initiate a right relationship. Help me see You working in my life. Help me rejoice in trial and in prosperity. Help me pray unceasingly. Help me give thanks. Help me remember that You are enough. Help me have the courage to intentionally point others to You, no matter the cost.
DISCOVER [Acts 21:37-22:29]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”
_ Paul is being led to the barracks because some Jews saw Paul at the temple and accused him of stirring up trouble. How does he approach the commander, his captor in verse 37?
_ Who did the commander assume Paul was? Vs 38
_ Why might Paul have had confidence to approach the commander in spite of being his prisoner? Vs 39
40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
22 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
_ Why might Paul be sharing his resume with this hostile crowd? Vs 3
_ He recounts specific incidences in vs 4 - why might he have chosen those specific stories to share?
_ Why was Paul going to Damascus? Vs 5
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and 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 know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
_ Summarize Paul’s testimony in your own words. Discuss the incredulity of Paul’s story. Why would he share his intense personal interaction with Jesus with this hostile audience?
_ Imagine the crowd when Paul recounts his question to Jesus in verse 8. Jesus gave a clear answer to Paul and all who were in the audience that day. How are you personally impacted by this question and answer exchange?
_ Why might Saul’s specific words in vs 21 cause trouble in this audience in Jerusalem?
22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.
_ How did the Jews respond to Paul’s powerful testimony? Vs 22
_ How did the Romans respond? Vs 24
_ How did you personally respond?
_ Why did the Roman tribune withdraw from Paul in verse 29?
_ As a believer, how does your heavenly citizenship affect your response to circumstances and those who are persecuting you?
+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience? (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there an area of your life that you are being invited to be a stronger witness? If so, where and what is your next step this week? Where might you find your courage even though there is a cost?
_ Are there any area's Jesus is inviting you to patiently wait (vs. 4) trusting in what God has promised? If so, what area?
_ Is there a place that you are lacking power or strength or courage? Is Jesus calling you to remember His power and grace and calling you to share it with others?
+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?