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Scripture

Saturday Study

Paul (12-5-20)

1. Saul before Paul

Before Paul was renamed Paul, he was born as Saul. Saul was born in Tarsus in Cilicia (modern day Turkey). He was of Hebrew ancestry and Benjamite lineage. His parents were Pharisees (whom we studied about last week), who adhered strictly to the Law of Moses. In his young teens, Saul was sent to Palestine to learn from a rabbi named Gamaliel, under whom Saul mastered Jewish history, the Psalms, and the works of the prophets. Saul became zealous for his faith, and this faith did not allow for compromise. It is this zeal that led Saul down the path of religious extremism. Saul eventually turned his focus to a ruthless pursuit of Christians, as he believed he was eradicating them in the name of God. Arguably, there is no one more frightening or more vicious than a religious terrorist, especially when he believes that he is doing the will of the Lord by killing innocent people. This is exactly what Saul of Tarsus was: a religious terrorist. Acts 8:3 states, “He began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women to put them in prison.”

Saul was like many whom we might look at today and say, “They are just too far out there. There is no hope for them.” As Christians, we can even become jaded and give up hope in praying for these kinds of people or even develop feelings of hatred towards them. The good news is our God will have whom He wants. God saves both the prodigals, who are irreligious and consumed with the secular world’s ways, and the zealots, who are super religious and consumed with self-righteous methods and self-salvation. It is good for us to remember that our gospel testimony needs to be to those who are lost on both ends of the spectrum. The parable of the prodigal son is a good example of this. Both the younger brother (irreligious) and the elder brother (religious) were lost in their own way and needed to see the gospel of the Father’s grace for salvation. Both of these extremes exist in our culture today, and both need the gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. Paul’s Conversion

God had great redemption for Saul. In Acts 9:1-22, we see that Paul met the “resurrected Jesus” on the road to Damascus. He hears the words, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He says, “Who are you Lord?” Jesus answers directly and clearly: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (vv. 4-5). Wow. What a moment. God saved Saul and gave him faith in and submission to Jesus Christ. From this moment on, Saul’s life was turned upside down. As a result of this miraculous transformation, Saul became known as Paul (Acts 13:9).

As a result, Paul devoted his life to Jesus’ glory and becomes one of, if not the most, influential pastors of the early church! He planted churches and wrote most of the New Testament. Most theologians are in agreement that he wrote Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus. These 13 “letters” (books) make up what are known today as the “Pauline Epistles.”

3. Where is Paul’s Authority From?

In Galatians 1, Paul introduces himself this way: “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me.”

Paul is sent (the word apostle means “one who is sent”) by Jesus Christ Himself, who converted Paul’s life on the road to Damascus. Not only is his authority given by God Himself, but it is confirmed by the body of believers (his brothers) who are with him. So, we see here, Paul’s authority is by God and confirmed in godly people. Trust me, if Paul was not sent of God, there is no way the early Christian Church would have backed a guy who devoted his life until that point to having Christians arrested or killed.

In his opening words of the book of Romans, Paul says this of himself:

Romans 1:1-6 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

First, Paul refers to himself as a “slave of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word for servant here is actually slave. Paul counted it his greatest joy to be a slave for Jesus. Why? Because he understood the slavery from which he was freed and for whom he now serves.

All of us are formerly slaves to sin. We were spiritually dead and in bondage to nothing but sin and deserving of nothing but eternal damnation apart from the glory of God. To be saved is to be set free from the bondage of sin, but we are never free in the sense that our flesh longs for total control. In Christ, we become slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:16-18). We are slaves to Jesus. He is our Lord; He is our Master.

We are free from the eternal bondage of our former slavery to sin and our sentence of death. But we are never free, meaning apart from rule. God created man to be under rule. It is the sin of man to ever think that we are free from any kind of rule or authority. We are ruled by sin or we are ruled by God. The difference is it is life to be a servant of God. It is joy to be a slave of God. There is no higher or greater role we could ever play. Like Paul, do you value the fact that in Christ you are a slave to Christ? Is your life His? Is your purpose to do His will for His glory?

The other thing we see here in Romans 1 is the scope of Paul’s ministry. He says he is doing all this “for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5). The great commission of Jesus commands His people to go make disciples of all nations. Paul saw that the nations were his scope of ministry. How could one man get the gospel to all nations? He couldn’t, but he could train up disciples who then went and made disciples who could.

This is a picture of the glorious birth and work of the early church. Paul was a critical leader and teacher used by God to spread the gospel and to plant churches. Do we see and value our mission the same way as Paul, or are our daily focus and priorities all too set on our little lives and self-made kingdoms? May we repent of making this life about ourselves and give far more of our time and energy to being discipled so that we can truly go and make disciples unto the nations!

4. Paul’s Suffering

One of the biggest highlights of Paul’s ministry and focuses of his teachings was the reality that as Christians in this time and place, we will suffer for the name of our Lord. Paul didn’t run from this; instead, he embraced it as the reality of the eternally important call on our lives that God has given us.

Take a moment and read the following passages again and be reminded of what Paul went through in his life and ministry for our Lord: 2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 4:8-12; 6:4-10; 11:23-29; 12:7-10.

Wow. We thought we had a hard time. It is so important that we learn from Paul in this area. He went through so much and yet remained joyful and on mission, despite his struggles and sufferings. He knew who his God was. He understood his mission and purpose for this life. He let his theology shape his thinking and attitude in all that he went through. Here is just a taste:

  • I rejoice in my sufferings (Col. 1:24)
  • Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:18)
  • Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:20)
  • Rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor (Acts 5:41)
  • But we rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3)

Sometimes it is easy for this to be agreed with in the good times and forgotten in the bad. So how do we keep the joy of the Lord despite our sufferings like Paul did?

Let’s look at Romans 8:31-39.

In this passage Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

This is saying since God paid the infinite price of His Son by sending Jesus through the ultimate suffering on your behalf—if He did that, will He not then surely follow through in providing everything you need? Then it goes on to say this in verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” These are gnarly forms of suffering, right? But he goes on to say in verse 37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” So you’ve got persecution and murder of Christians. And then he says in all these sufferings we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us!

This is how we are able to find joy in our suffering.

A conqueror has his enemies lying subdued at his feet, right? So, your sufferings are conquered; they are defeated—distress, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, persecution—there they are, conquered at your feet.

Now “more than conquerors” means these things are not just in chains at my feet; they are serving me. My tribulation, my distress, my persecution, my famine, my nakedness, my danger, the swords against me—as painful and tearful as they are—they are serving me in Christ. God is working them all together for my good. The good is the key. The good is the foundation of our joy.

The good that God works in and through our suffering is the foundation of my joy. I trust in God who is over all things. I trust Him completely. This is how we walk in joy even when we can’t see through the fog or the pain, or when we’re barely staying afloat. The joy is not the circumstance. Hear me: The circumstances of our suffering are full of tears. In Christ, we can have joy in our suffering. This doesn’t mean that when we are in the thick of it that there are not tears! There are plenty of tears. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 53:3 that Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:10 that he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

God wants us to be joyful. But He doesn’t do it with circumstance; He does it with Himself. He does it with the gospel. And we must trust that He does it in and through the circumstances. This is what Paul understood, and I pray you do, too.

Oh, I could go on for days with all we can take way from Paul. Like how to live the sacrificial life in the here and now. How to be satisfied in plenty or little. But for the sake of time, I will just leave you with one of my favorite Paul quotes from Galatians and pray you see what I do in the power of these words and what they mean for those of us walking in Christ:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Categories
Scripture

Paul

Philippians 1

Greeting

1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants1 of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers2 and deacons:3

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,4 both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The Advance of the Gospel

12 I want you to know, brothers,5 that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard6 and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word7 without fear.

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

To Live Is Christ

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy8 of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Footnotes

[1] 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface

[2] 1:1 Or bishops; Greek episkopoi

[3] 1:1 Or servants, or ministers; Greek diakonoi

[4] 1:7 Or you all have fellowship with me in grace

[5] 1:12 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters; also verse 14

[6] 1:13 Greek in the whole praetorium

[7] 1:14 Some manuscripts add of God

[8] 1:27 Greek Only behave as citizens worthy

(ESV)

Categories
Scripture

Paul

1 Corinthians 15:1-25

The Resurrection of Christ

15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers,1 of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope2 in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

Footnotes

[1] 15:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 31, 50, 58

[2] 15:19 Or we have hoped

(ESV)

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Scripture

Paul

Acts 22

22:1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”

And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language,1 they became even more quiet. And he said:

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel2 according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 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.

“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand3 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.’

Paul and the Roman Tribune

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,4 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.

Paul Before the Council

30 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

Footnotes

[1] 22:2 Or the Hebrew dialect (probably Aramaic)

[2] 22:3 Or city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated

[3] 22:9 Or hear with understanding

[4] 22:25 Or when they had tied him up with leather strips

(ESV)

Categories
Scripture

Paul

Acts 9

The Conversion of Saul

9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

Saul Escapes from Damascus

23 When many days had passed, the Jews1 plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall,2 lowering him in a basket.

Saul in Jerusalem

26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists.3 But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

The Healing of Aeneas

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

Dorcas Restored to Life

36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.4 She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics5 and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.

Footnotes

[1] 9:23 The Greek word Ioudaioi refers specifically here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, who opposed the Christian faith in that time

[2] 9:25 Greek through the wall

[3] 9:29 That is, Greek-speaking Jews

[4] 9:36 The Aramaic name Tabitha and the Greek name Dorcas both mean gazelle

[5] 9:39 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

(ESV)