1: Paul – Apostle to the Gentiles – Discussion Starters

The Gospel in Galatians.  According to the introduction to this 12-week series on the apostle Paul, the teaching threatening the early church was the false teaching that we are saved by faith and works. Wait a minute. Don’t our works have a key role to play in our salvation? What about the statement by the apostle James, who says, “faith without works is dead”? (James 2:17) How did some of our early Christian ancestors interpret this statement? What are your thoughts about faith versus works in the Christian life?

  1. Plans for Saul. What key beliefs of early followers of Jesus first led Paul to devote his energies to getting rid of these teachings? Why was Saul so filled with hatred toward these early Christians, especially those who saw Jesus as the Messiah? How do you derive a rich spiritual blessings from the writings of a man who first devoted his energies to the persecution and destruction of all followers of Christ? 
  2. Persecutor of Christians. Why was the simple care of the coats of those who stoned Stephen seen as an act of persecution? Why did Stephen take such a strong stand in his speech about the importance of Jesus over and above the Jewish law and temple services? Couldn’t he have softened his presentation? How did Stephen’s position affect Saul and what did he do about it? What and where was the next phase of persecution early Christians suffered?
  3. Saul’s conversion. Like many of us, Saul was a true believer, not an atheist in any sense, but a believer in God. It was God’s truth he was defending, and in his vicious defense he was like a wild beast in pursuit of its prey or a fierce soldier in a battle to the finish. What did Saul deserve to receive for his behavior? Instead of that, what struck Saul and changed him forever? 
  4. Saul in Damascus. From spiritual to physical blindness, how was it that Saul began to “see” in Damascus what he had missed up to then? How do you imagine that Ananias felt when Saul, a despicable character with a search-and-destroy reputation, is described to him in vision as “a chosen vessel” of the Lord? Why do you think God chose to use a vision to convince Ananias to meet with Saul who was transformed and now Paul? 
  5. The gospel goes to the gentiles. The lesson guide points out that we don’t really know what Paul did for the next several years, but based on his character and sense of determination, what do you imagine Paul doing–or saying–during this time immediately following his breathtaking conversion? Antioch became the church headquarters for what mission and operations in the early church? 
  6. Conflict in the early church. Now that Jesus has come and is risen and ascended to heaven, all should settle down in peace and tranquility, right? Instead, what trouble was brewing? Why? What did the Jewish believers find that was troubling in Paul’s teaching? Your lesson author states that their concern made “some” sense? Discuss. 
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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons