828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Christian Formation for Apr. 14 - Acts 9:1-20; The Conversion of Saul and Saul Preaches in Damascus

April 14, 2013 – 3 Easter
Acts 9:1-20
The Conversion of Saul
Saul Preaches in Damascus
Background: The Acts of the Apostles is a unique book in the New Testament. This book is the companion to the Gospel of Luke and provides much of the history of the early church. Acts presents much of the theology of the Apostles and Disciples in the first century as the Christian Cult was gaining stature. This section describes the spread of the faith outside Jerusalem.
Theme: Saul has been authorized to hunt down and bring the Christians back to Jerusalem for trial. Paul’s persecution is beginning to extend beyond the bounds of Israel and is reaching into Gentile lands; highlighting the growing displeasure of the Christian cult by the Jewish religious leaders. The story also exposes the reverse-discrimination between the Christian cult and the Jewish leadership.
Questions to Ponder:
* Please read all of Acts 9:1-20. Briefly describe the setting for this passage.
* Where are Damascus Syria and Tarsus Cilicia? What is the significance of these two cities?
* What authority do you think the Synagogue in Jerusalem would have in Damascus? How might their power reach across borders to authorize extradition of Christians back to the Jewish religious tribunal?
* How might you compare the two prominent Sauls in Scripture; Saul in Samuel and Saul in the New Testament?
* In light of last week’s statement by Gamaliel about letting the cult succeed or fail on its own, how might this passage be disconnected with that advice?
* Why might God call Saul by name twice before his initial accusation? Why might Ananias only be called one time by God/Jesus in verse 10?
* Why do you think the outcome of the two visions, Saul’s and Ananias’, are different? Saul is blinded and Ananias is “merely” spurred to do something (that he doesn’t want to do)?
* Why do you think the men with Saul were not blinded by their interaction with Jesus? Why might they have only heard a voice but not seen the light of Christ on the road like Saul?
* In verse 12, God tells Ananias that he must lay hands on Saul to allow Saul’s to regain his sight. Do you think there was something special in Ananias’ touch? If not what is significant about Ananias touching Saul in light of the restoration of sight (maybe even on both accounts – Saul and Ananias)?
* How do you think Saul really was God’s chosen instrument to carry God’s message of redemption in Jesus to the world? How believable do you think that statement would be to the Christians who had been dispersed throughout the region in fear?
* What is the message of hope for Saul, Ananias, the Jews and the Christian cult now spreading beyond Israel?
* Do you think conversions all happen like Saul’s did or are there other ways people become more aware of God calling them to service?
* How do we share this message of renewal through conversion in our society?

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