Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. For what types of jobs are you especially qualified? What would you say to a prospective employer who asked, “Why should we hire you?”
2. What qualifies someone to be a minister of the gospel? Imagine you were on a pulpit committee for your congregation, searching for a new minister. What qualifications would impress you? What qualities of a person would keep you from considering that candidate?
Read Acts 9:1-9.
1. Compare Acts 9:1-9 to Acts 22:3-8; 26:4-15; Galatians 1:13, 14; 1 Timothy 1:12-15. From these passages, try to create a list of positive and a list of negative characteristics of Saul (Paul).
2. Note where Saul’s persecution began (Acts 8:3) and where it went from there (9:1, 2). Locate both cities on a map. Note that Acts 26:11 implies that even more cities were involved. Looking at the map, tell what some of them might be. What does the area encompassed between Jerusalem and Damascus tell us about Paul’s religious zeal (Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:14)?
3. What immediate physical limitations would Saul’s blindness have caused? How do you think these physical limitations would have prepared Saul for the changes coming in his life? Note how blindness is often used in Scripture to describe a spiritual state (Isaiah 44:9; Matthew 23:17, 19, 24; John 9:39-41). Since Saul was undoubtedly aware of this metaphor, describe some of the thoughts he might have had during his three days of blindness.
Read Acts 9:10-20.
4. The believer in Damascus, Ananias (Hananiah), had a popular Hebrew name (Acts 5:1; 23:2; 1 Chronicles 25:23; Jeremiah 36:12; Daniel 1:6). How did God’s command to Ananias confirm the truth of the meaning of his name, “the Lord is gracious”?
5. The grace of God was more than grace to a persecutor, but part of a much larger plan of grace. Describe that plan (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; Galatians 2:7-9).
6. Compare Ananias’s statements and commands concerning Saul’s conversion (Acts 9:17-19; 22:16) to Peter’s command to the first believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:28-40). Although Saul’s conversion was unique in many ways, how was it like the conversion of every believer throughout the centuries?
7. Today’s text is bracketed by a radical before and after contrast (Acts 9:1, 20). What made this dramatic difference? How does Saul’s experience challenge us to rethink the qualities that qualify or disqualify someone for ministry?