who belongs to Christ is a new person.The past is forgotten, and everything is new.2 Corinthians 5:17
·We meet God through Jesus.
changes people who accept him.
·God finds people in a variety of ways.
Students will learn the sequence of events in the story
of Saul’s conversion and the
characters involved in the story by playing two games—Guess-tures and Sorry!
The Coach leads the opening routine: snack,
fellowship, Prayer Wall activity, and Prayer Chain.Name tags are available.
Workshop Lesson Procedure:
1.The Coach reviews the
timeline and the previous week’s workshop activity.Introduce the Guide who leads the Workshop
the purpose of this workshop. This
workshop begins a series of units on the life and teaching of Saul who was
also (and more commonly) known as Paul.Saul is the Hebrew form of his name; Paul is the Greek form.Both are the same name, just in the two
different languages Saul spoke.These
lessons are a big change from the series of lessons taught before
Christmas.Before Christmas, the
students had been learning stories from the Old Testament: stories about
King David, kings of Judah
and events leading up to the Babylonian exile.Now we are switching to the New
Testament and stories about the early church.These stories were written down by a man
named Luke in the book of Acts.These
lessons will fit on the timeline under “God empowers a church.”
Scripture/Bible Story (Guide takes
over from here): (5-10 minutes)
We have asked if a Kirk member could join the class at
this point, dressed and acting as Saul.We do not have a firm commitment yet, but we
are hoping someone will volunteer to provide a first person account using some
of the background information on Saul
at the end of this lesson.If this plan
does not work out, we will let you know.
After the guest
appearance by Saul, tell the students
they are going to learn the story of how Saul
changed by playing two games: “Guess-tures” and “Sorry!”
Application: (30-35 minutes)
Pass out Bibles and ask the class to follow along as the
guide reads Acts 9:1-20 (CEV).Instruct
students to listen carefully because all the words in the game come from this
scripture passage.Students can also
take turns reading if the guide prefers not to read to the class.
Activity #1: Guess-tures
Object of the game: the team to
score the most points by guessing the acted-out words.
Divide into 2 teams. It doesn’t
matter if one team has an extra player. In turn, each player acts out up to 4
words while his or her teammates try to guess them.
The card-holder is a timer for your
Guess-tures cards. In turn, each player comes up and selects 1, 2, 3, or 4
cards. The player decides which word on each card to play by putting the card
in the timer with the word to be acted face up. Make sure the guessing players
cannot see the words on the cards. Place easy words to the left and harder
words to the right. If a player selects fewer than 4 cards, leave the left
space(s) empty. This allows more time to act out the cards in the timer.
Demonstrate how the timer works and
how the cards will fall through as time runs out. Wind it up. Close the timer
and the seconds will start. Act out the words and as soon as someone shouts out
the correct word, quickly grab that card from the timer. Then go on to act out
the next card. If the timer swallows a card, go on to the next one!
When the timer stops ticking, the
turn is over. Add up the point values of only the words your team guessed and you were able to grab before the
timer swallowed them. Set these cards aside.
Forms of the word are acceptable.
E.g. guard for guarding, and pray for praying is OK
At the end of everyone’s turn, add
up the scores and give a cheer for the winning team.
If time permits: Take the cards and
quickly go through them with the youth identifying how they fit into the Saul
Activity #2: Sorry!
In groups of four, have the
children play Sorry! according to the standard rules of the game, with the
Before a player can move a
pawn “Home,” he or she must have drawn all 13 segments of the story of Saul’s
conversion and placed them in the proper order.The Sorry! card deck contains four complete sets of cards that tell the
story of Saul’s conversion.Not all segments are numbered the same.The card deck also contains many
“red-herring” cards that contain verses from Acts that are not part of the
story of Saul’s conversion.To obtain a
complete set of story cards and place them in proper order, students must know
the story well.
Note to Guide: See “Acts
9:1-20 in proper order” and “Red-herring cards,” attached to the end of this
lesson, for cheat sheets.
students to tidy up.
closure to the activity. Use the
following review questions to wrap up the class:
is a Pharisee (religious leader who believed everyone must follow the
written and oral laws)
did Saul and many of the Pharisees think about Jesus’ followers? (they
disagreed with them, they wanted to stop them)
did Saul do to Jesus’ followers and the early Christians? (arrested
them, jailed them, killed them)
was Saul traveling to Damascus?
(to arrest the Christians there and bring them back to Jerusalem)
did Saul do after his conversion experience? (fasted, prayed)
did God speak to about Saul in Damascus?
was Ananias worried about doing what God asked? (Saul persecuted people
did Ananias do? (obeyed God, went to Saul, touched his eyes, told him
God was going to use him)
do you think some of the Christians felt about having Saul with them now?
(worried, didn’t trust him, afraid)
did Saul have two names? (He had a Jewish name - Saul and a Roman name
- Paul because he was a Roman citizen)
do you think Saul felt knowing that he had persecuted Christians before?
wrote 13 of the New Testament books of the Bible -- they are letters to
new churches. He became known as one of the greatest missionaries. What do
you think about God using someone like Saul/Paul to accomplish his
did God use to help Paul change? (Ananias, Jesus, other Christians)
think God might use you to help someone else change? How?
God ever used someone to help you change? In what way?
can you tell whether the change is something God wants? (if the change
makes you a better person, it is probably something God would want - if it
is destructive or wrong it’s not)
Coach conducts the closing prayer time.
the door and turn off the lights.
Guide preparation in advance:
questions on “Guess-tures” call Catherine Devins (851-3368).For questions on “Sorry!” call Susan Mazzara
out the “country room” before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where
everything is located.
up the room however you think the children can best play the games (table and
chairs or spreading out on the floor).
the background information on Saul.
Using card stock, prepare
2”X3”cards for each word pair indicating the point value and the word. 1 point
and 3 point words go together on the same card, 2 point and 4 point words go
together. Write the word and point value on the card. Turn the card upside down
and write the other word and point value. You will also need a Guess-tures
Son of God
Copy the Sorry! cards (in the
file SorryCards.doc) onto card stock and cut them apart.The document contains one set of cards.You will need one set for each Sorry! board
game you use.These cards replace the
standard Sorry! cards.
Familiarize yourself with the
rules for Sorry!
game boards and one set of homemade Sorry! cards for each board.
cards and timer
Quest Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study notes by LoriHouck.
Challenge Curriculum Writers Bible Study notes by SusanMazzara.
Information on Saul” is from JaymieDerden,
State Street UMC, Bristol, VA, G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Dream Team, 2002.
Acts 9:1-20 in proper order
1.Saul kept on threatening to kill the Lord's followers.
He even went to the high priest and asked for letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus.
did this because he wanted to arrest and take to Jerusalem any man or woman who had accepted
the Lord's Way.
Saul had almost reached Damascus, a bright light
from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a
voice that said, "Saul! Saul! Why are you so cruel to me?"
are you?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus," the Lord answered. "I am the one
you are so cruel to. Now get up and go into the city, where you will be told
what to do."
men with Saul stood there speechless.
They had heard the voice, but they had not seen anyone.
6.Saul got up from the ground, and when he opened his
eyes, he could not see a thing. Someone then led him by the hand to Damascus, and for three
days he was blind and did not eat or drink.
follower named Ananias lived in Damascus, and the Lord spoke to him in a
vision. Ananias answered, "Lord, here I
Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the house of Judas on Straight Street.
When you get there, you will find a man named Saul
from the city of Tarsus.
Saul is praying, and he has seen a
vision. He saw a man named Ananias coming to him and
putting his hands on him, so that he could see again."
9.Ananias replied, "Lord, a lot of people have told me about
the terrible things this man has done to your followers in Jerusalem. Now the chief priests have given
him the power to come here and arrest anyone who worships in your name."
10.The Lord said to Ananias,
"Go! I have chosen him to tell foreigners, kings, and the people of Israel
about me. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for worshiping
in my name."
11.Ananias left and went into the house where
Saul was staying. Ananias
placed his hands on him and said, "Saul,
the Lord Jesus
has sent me. He is the same one who appeared to you along the road. He wants
you to be able to see and to be filled with the Holy Spirit."
12.Suddenly something like fish scales
fell from Saul's eyes, and he could
see. He got up and was baptized. Then he ate and felt much better.
For several days Saul stayed with the Lord's followers in Damascus.Soon he went to the Jewish meeting
places and started telling people that Jesus
is the Son of God.
At that time
the church in Jerusalem
suffered terribly. All of the Lord's followers, except the apostles, were
scattered everywhere in Judea and Samaria.Acts 8:2
Saul started making a lot of trouble for the church. He went
from house to house, arresting men and women and putting them in jail.Acts 8:3
While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Holy
Spirit said to him, "Three men are here looking for you. 20Hurry
down and go with them. Don't worry, I sent them."Acts
Now I am
certain that God treats all people alike. God is pleased with everyone who
worships him and does right, no matter what nation they come from.Acts 10:34-35
Peter said, "These Gentiles have been given the Holy
Spirit, just as we have! I am certain that no one would dare stop us from
And after Barnabas and Saul
had done the work they were sent to do, they went back to Jerusalem with John,
whose other name was Mark.Acts
were worshiping the Lord and going without eating, the Holy Spirit told them,
"Appoint Barnabas and Saul to do
the work for which I have chosen them."Acts 13:1-2
Then Saul, better known as Paul,
was filled with the Holy Spirit.Acts
service, many Jews and a lot of Gentiles who worshiped God went with them. Paul and Barnabas begged
them all to remain faithful to God, who had been so kind to them.Acts 13:42-43
kept quiet and listened as Barnabas and Paul told how God had given them the power to work a
lot of miracles and wonders for the Gentiles.Acts
Background Information on Saul
Paul (Saul) was born around the year 3 A.D. in Tarsus,
the capital city of the province of Cilicia, in southern Asia Minor (in modern-day Turkey).
Tarsus was a bustling, commercial center on a
well-traveled trade route between the Mediterranean Sea and the highlands of Asia Minor. Tarsus
was a city brimming with Greek culture, philosophy, education and trade. When Jerusalem fell to Babylonia around 586 B.C., the Temple was destroyed and
the Jews were exiled. During the Diaspora (when the Jews were dispersed or
scattered away from Jerusalem)
these families settled throughout the Mediterranean area. Separated from the
center of their religious culture, the Temple in
Jewish families began the practice of creating synagogues where families could
maintain some of their religious traditions, coming together to read and study
scriptures and worship. Synagogues became the center of Jewish spiritual life.
Nearly every synagogue also had a school associated with it. Jesus visited the
synagogues in various towns as did later apostles. The established synagogues
later became the starting place for the growth of the Christian church.
Once the political climate changed to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem, many families chose to remain in their new
locations, even as they looked toward Jerusalem
as their religious home. Paul’s family was one of these families. His parents
traced their lineage back to Benjamin, youngest son of Jacob and Rachel. When
Paul was born his parents gave him the Hebrew name, Saul, after the first Old
Testament king. They also followed the practice of many Jewish families living
in the Gentile world at that time and gave him the Latin name Paul. This also
reflected the family’s Roman citizenship. No one knows for sure how this
citizenship status was given to Saul’s Jewish family. Relatively few Jewish
families were given the privilege of Roman citizenship, which often required
compromise with pagan culture and being educated in the Greek gymnasion.
Evidently Saul’s father was wealthy enough and had enough status to enjoy Roman
citizenship, while remaining a strict Jewish Pharisee. Thus Paul was immersed
in three cultures: Greek, Roman, and Jewish which uniquely positioned him for
his future ministry as the great Christian apostle.
In the time of Paul, Rome
was beginning its four hundred year rule over the Mediterranean area. Rome was definitely the
dominant political power, but previous rulers left their cultural mark. Greek
culture, the result of Alexander the Great’s conquests, had an especially
powerful influence. The Roman Empire was
comprised of a combination of Greek culture and Roman law. Greek was the common
language of the cities throughout the Mediterranean,
although villagers spoke their own local languages and dialects. One of the
advantages of Roman rule was the ease and safety of travel it provided. Roman
soldiers established a military presence that limited piracy and bandits. The
Roman road system provided a means for safe and fast travel never before
possible. Pilgrims, traders, government officials, runaway slaves, prisoners,
letter carriers and countless others traveled the Roman roads making life much
more cosmopolitan than ever before.
Saul was born into a devout Jewish family. Under Roman rule, Jewish families
were allowed to maintain their customs under the protection of Roman law.
Conflicts often arose and the Jewish people chafed under this foreign rule,
looking toward the day when God would re-establish his true kingdom in Jerusalem. They were
allowed to organize and gather in their own synagogues for worship according to
their customs and experienced a certain degree of freedom, but they were not
Roman citizens and were subject to Roman taxation and a Roman governor.
Saul began his education in the synagogue of Tarsus. Tarsus
was renowned as an intellectual center, ranking after Athens
Roman education was open only to children of the upper classes and was not
free. Primary schools provided instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Secondary schools taught rhetoric and philosophy. Rhetoric, in particular, was
held in high esteem. Upper class sons were expected to be able to give
speeches, be able to defend themselves in court and to persuade others to their
point of view. It is not known whether Saul attended a school such as this, but
certainly he was surrounded by a culture that exalted such skills. We also know
that Saul himself was quite adept in these skills and incorporated them in many
of his letters and missionary journeys later.
As was the custom for religious Jewish families, Saul
read and studied the scriptures regularly . He was probably familiar with the
Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint. He would have
learned to speak, read and write in Greek. Saul’s
studies led him to a deep devotion to Jewish law, an understanding of the
Hebrew scriptures and a passionate desire to serve and please God. Rabbis of
the time also encouraged their students to learn a trade. Saul was taught the
trade of tent-making, perhaps like his father. (Tarsus was famous for its manufacture of sail
cloth.) Once Saul’s basic education in the synagogue was completed, he was sent
to Jerusalem to
study under the renowned rabbi, Gamaliel. Gamaliel urged caution and tolerance
in the treatment of the apostles of Jesus, saying, “If this plan or this
undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able
to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God.” (Acts 5:34-39) Saul
however, did not share his teacher’s view. Rather he was zealous and forcefully
opposed to the new “cult” that in his mind posed a serious threat to the Jewish
faith he knew.
Saul was a Pharisee. The word Pharisee may have two meanings. One is explainer,
one who explains the meaning and purpose of scripture. The other is separators,
those who separate themselves from evil or impure things. Pharisees were strict
religious leaders in the synagogue who believed that all that was necessary for
humans to enter into a redemptive relationship with God was obedience to the
law. They believed that once everyone followed the law perfectly, the kingdom of God would come. Obedience to God was
accomplished by following the written law as given to Moses. By the time of
Jesus, though, the law had been through considerable interpretation. The
Pharisees believed that the law needed interpretation in order to be practical
for everyday life. These interpretations became the oral law which described
the rituals and traditions that had become part of Jewish life. The Pharisees,
in attempting to follow God’s laws multiplied the precepts and instructions
until they were so numerous and trifling that the law itself was often
obscured. The “traditions” gradually accumulated until they became burdensome.
Following this huge system of ritual and law often led to a proud
self-righteousness which Jesus criticized often.
Saul is described as a short man, balding with crooked legs and a hook nose.
Saul describes himself as “zealous . . . for the traditions of my fathers”
(Galatians 1:14; “an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe
of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1); “... a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a
Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the
law blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6); and “a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees” (Acts
23:6) Saul was a bright, intelligent scholar with a keen memory. His letters
contain over two hundred scriptural references. Saul also became a tentmaker by
trade. Saul was rigorously loyal to his Jewish faith and fanatical in his
determination to stamp out this heresy called Christianity which he believed
was an affront to the ancient true faith.
Saul was most likely in Jerusalem
during the final period of Jesus’ life, but there is nothing in the Bible to
indicate that Saul ever saw or heard of Jesus during his ministry. Evidently as
Jesus’ followers became emboldened and grew in numbers, Saul became
increasingly alarmed. Saul did not
believe that Jesus was the Messiah
because Jesus often denounced the
Pharisees and seemed to object to many of their rules. Because the rules were
so important to the Pharisees, this created terrible conflict. Many of the
Pharisees felt Jesus was the true enemy of Israel as were his followers, and
that they should all be put to death as Jesus had been. Saul offered his
services to persecute the followers of Jesus. Saul’s persecution was so
merciless and fierce that all the Christians feared his name.
Saul’s first targets for persecution were the Christians in Jerusalem, including a man named Stephen. We
first read of Saul in the Bible in Acts 7:58 at the stoning of Stephen. Stephen
had been arrested and brought to trial on charges of profaning the Temple and the law.
Stephen’s stirring speech proclaimed his belief that Jesus had brought a new
order and an end to the old order. Perhaps Paul
was present at this hearing, and as a Pharisee, committed to the defense of the
law, Paul would have supported the
execution of Stephen. We read that the
Pharisees who participated in the stoning of Stephen left their cloaks at the
feet of Saul for safekeeping.
Hoping to escape persecution, Jesus’ followers began to leave Jerusalem. God used even this terrible
persecution to bring about good. Everywhere the early Christians went, they
spread the word about Jesus, increasing the number of believers rather than
Saul requested and received authority from the high priests to travel to Damascus (about a week’s
journey - 140 miles from Jerusalem)
to rout out the Christians there and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. It was during this
journey to Damascus,
when Saul had his life-changing encounter with the risen Christ. This was about
five years after the crucifixion of Jesus when Saul was about 30 years old. As Paul
and his companions neared Damascus,
Saul was surrounded by a blinding light from heaven and a voice calling, “Saul,
Saul, why do you persecute me?” He immediately was struck blind and fell to the
ground, asking, “Who are you , Lord?” The voice answered, “I am Jesus, whom you
are persecuting.” (Acts 9:4-5) Imagine his state! Everything he had lived for
and fought for, gone in an instant! Saul’s vision was so profound that it could
not be denied. Saul knew with absolute assurance that the God he had been
serving was one he had radically misunderstood. Saul, blind and helpless,
continued on to Damascus, led by his companions, where he spent three days in
unaccustomed darkness, praying and fasting (without food or water), and no
doubt doing profound soul-searching.
Meanwhile, God spoke to another Jewish Christian, Ananias, telling him to go to
the house on Straight Street
and speak to Saul, placing his hands on his eyes to restore his sight. Ananias,
was understandably reluctant -- after all, he was one of the Christians Saul
was no doubt intending to arrest! But God was insistent, “I have chosen this
man to work for me” (Acts )
and Ananias was obedient, and showing great courage and faith he went in to see
Saul, even calling him “brother.” Saul’s
blindness was healed, he was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Immediately Saul began to proclaim his new faith in Jesus.
Saul’s faith journey was different from that of other apostles who had known
Jesus and been his disciples. Saul was confronted by the risen Jesus and the
crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus played a large role in his understanding
of his new faith. Saul’s life was totally changed and completely turned around
by this encounter with the Messiah. Few details are known about the next ten
years of Saul’s life. Undoubtedly this was a time of much reflection for Saul.
As a highly trained Jew, he was forced to rethink much of his understandings of
the faith and come to grips with such questions as how the Law, tradition,
God’s grace and love all fit into the message of the cross for not just the
Jews, but Gentiles as well. Saul understood at last that God had fulfilled all
the promises of old in Jesus Christ. In some of Paul’s later letters we read
that he himself was persecuted, whipped, stoned, imprisoned, etc. so it seems
likely that Saul was preaching during this time. Saul went on to write thirteen
of the New Testament letters and to travel throughout the Mediterranean
on three separate missionary journeys establishing churches throughout the
region. As Saul increasingly went into the Gentile world, he began to be called
by his Roman name, Paul by which we know him today.
The focus for this rotation will be the dramatic change and turnaround in
Saul’s life on the road to Damascus.
We all have things in our lives which we would like to change. God wants all of
us to recognize our need for Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness in our lives.
Sometimes this conversion can be a sudden, dramatic event as it was for Saul.
Sometimes it can be a slow, growing awareness of the presence of the Holy
Spirit in our lives. The type of conversion is not the important thing.
Recognizing God’s presence and deciding to live according to God’s will is what
is important. Following God’s will requires that we remain willing to change
with God’s help. The story of Saul’s amazing conversion gives us hope for our
own transformation. If God can change the heart of someone like Saul, God can
change anyone! For “with God nothing is impossible.” Saul’s conversion is remarkable
for its dramatic impact and profound results. Paul is known today as the
greatest missionary and the first Christian theologian. His letters provided
instruction to the budding churches of the time and still give guidance and
leadership today. All this from one of the greatest persecutors of Christians!
Truly God can and will use anyone to accomplish His purposes! Truly we are “new
creations” in Christ Jesus.
Sources: Paul, His Message about God in Christ,
Jerald H. Jackson, Graded Press, 1987; Paul: His Life, Douglas E. Wingeler,
Graded Press, 1987; Paul: His World, J. Michael Miller, Graded Press, 1987;
Smith’s Bible Dictionary, William Smith, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996; Who’s
Who in the Bible, Reader’s Digest Association, 1994; Turnabout Paul VBS,
Cokesbury, 1995; Who’s Who in the Bible, Joan Comay and Ronald Brownrigg,
Random House, 1980.