Oak Grove Baptist Church in Fincherville

Striving to become the church of choice for this generation.

“Called to Preach”

Weekly Adult Sunday School Lesson (KJV)  

Adult Sunday School Lesson Summary for August 20, 2017


  • Lesson Text: Acts 9:10-20
  • Background Scripture: Acts 9:1-31
  • Devotional Reading: 1 Timothy 4:6-16

 

Acts 9:10-20 (KJV)
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

 

TODAY’S LESSON AIMS
Learning Fact: To describe the interactions of Ananias with God and Saul (Paul).
Biblical Principle: To show how God expects us at times to be His hands and feet. 
Daily Application: To overcome our fears and serve where God has called us.

 

HOW TO SAY IT
Ananias  An-uh-nye-us.


INTRODUCTION
Physicist Becomes a Preacher
  John Polkinghorne was one of the greatest British physicists of the twentieth century. He finished a doctorate at Cambridge University at age 25 and was invited to return to Cambridge to teach when he was 27. He participated in formulating the theory of the quark, a particle that is one of the building blocks of matter. He was one of the most brilliant men of his age. Yet after 25 years of this spectacular career in science, Polkinghorne left it all to train for the priesthood in the Church of England. He was ordained and eventually returned to Cambridge University in 1986 to serve as chaplain for Trinity Hall, one of the colleges of the university. The physicist became a preacher.
  This week’s lesson is about an even more dramatic career change.

 

LESSON BACKGROUND
Time: A.D. 32
Place: Damascus

Background: Saul
  Saul, a Jew from Tarsus, had been trained as a rabbi by the best teachers in Jerusalem (compare Acts 22:3). His education in the law would have been the ancient equivalent of a doctoral degree today. When the Jewish leadership began to persecute Christians, Saul was their point man. We first see this in his leadership role in this regard in the stoning of Stephen (7:58).
  Saul went on to terrorize the church by conducting house-to-house searches for Christians (Acts 8:3; 22:4). His persecuting zeal reached a fever pitch when he took the initiative to ask the high priest for authority to extend the persecution to Damascus, about 150 miles to the north of Jerusalem. His plan was to find Christians in the Jewish population there and bring them back to Jerusalem by force (9:1, 2). His encounter with the risen Christ is the immediate backdrop for this lesson (9:3-9). Saul’s ambitions and zeal had not gone unnoticed by the Lord of the church!


Background: Damascus
  The site of the current lesson is the city of Damascus. In the Old Testament, this city is identified with the kingdom of Syria (or Aram), the sometime ally but often foe of ancient Israel (see 1 Kings 15:18). Some claim that Damascus is the oldest continually inhabited site in the world. Indeed, the Bible notes its existence in the time of Abraham (see Genesis 15:2), and archaeological data extends back even further.
  Damascus was important in the first century A.D. as a trading hub for caravan routes. It was a multiethnic city with a substantial Jewish population. These facts highlight the perceived need to extend persecution against Jewish Christians there. Threats to the “purity” of synagogues in Damascus could not be tolerated.
  Saul’s mission to this city changed, however, before he arrived there. As the lesson opens, Saul is in his third day of blindness as a result of his encounter with Christ.

 

Disturbing Vision: Acts 9:10-16
1. Who was Ananias and how did the Lord call him into service? (Acts 9:10)
  We gain a bit more information about this certain disciple ... named Ananias by consulting Acts 22:12, where Paul (formerly the Saul of the current lesson) describes Ananias as “a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there.” We take care, of course, not to confuse him with two others by the same name in Acts 5:1 and 24:1.
  Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, uses the word disciple dozens of times in his two works. In his Gospel, a disciple is a dedicated student of Jesus the teacher. In Acts, a disciple is a committed follower of the risen Lord. In that regard, Ananias may be much like many Christians today: serving the Lord faithfully in relative anonymity. How surprised Ananias must be, then, to experience a vision in which the Lord communicates with him personally!
What Do You Think?
How can you show appreciation for the behind-the-scenes, nearly anonymous people who have influenced you for Christ?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

  • Sunday school teachers from your early years
  • Someone who showed you unusual kindness
  • Someone who provided wise counsel during a difficult period

2. What were the instructions the Lord gave Ananias? (Acts 9:11, 12)

  The divine communication with Ananias bears similarities to and differences from the divine communication with Cornelius in Acts 10:1-6. Both visions name the individual being addressed, name the person to be sought, and provide location of the latter.
The street which is called Straight is a major east-west thoroughfare in Damascus. It is some 50 feet wide, with impressive gates at each end. It would be equivalent to the Broadway or High Street of some cities today, and a house on such a boulevard would be prestigious.
  The Bible records no other facts about the particular Judas mentioned here. It is very unlikely that he is a Christian, but rather is one of the Jews in the city who expects to receive Saul and support his assignment from the high priest. Ananias, as a Christian of Jewish background, likely knows of the house of Judas since the location of the man’s house on an important street is likely an indicator of his prominence and wealth. Judas is not an uncommon name at the time; therefore, giving his address clarifies his identity.
  The Lord reveals to Ananias that a parallel vision has taken place. Saul is proceeding as instructed (Acts 9:6), and we notice irony in the fact that the blind Saul is privileged to have seen in a vision the pending arrival of Ananias for the purpose of restoring Saul’s eyesight.
  The irony should not distract us from the crucial issue of Saul’s blindness. This trauma surely prompts deep soul searching on his part! The vital nature of his experience on the road to Damascus is seen in that its facts are recorded in three places in the book of Acts: chapters 9, 22, and 26. The crucial nature of what is taking place surely is not lost on Saul, even at this early point. Saul’s vision of Ananias undoubtedly gives hope. But on another level, it also deepens the mystery for the time being.
  Before moving on, we should note that the fact that Ananias is designated by name in Saul’s vision is important for at least a couple of reasons. First, the arrival of a man with that very name will be evidence for the divine source of the vision. Second, Saul will be able to inform the owner of the house of the pending arrival of Ananias so that the visitor will not be denied entrance.


3. Why did Ananias not want anything to do with Saul? (Acts 9:13, 14)
  Ananias has some understandable reservations about Saul. First, Saul’s reputation has preceded him, since Ananias knows that this man has already done much evil to the believers back in Jerusalem. The nature of this evil is outlined by the perpetrator himself years later: “Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, ... and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme” (Acts 26:10, 11). 
  Ananias is saying that he knows that Saul has been a persecutor of the church. Implied in this is knowledge of Saul’s complicity in the death of Stephen (see Acts 7:58). This too the repentant perpetrator admits to in due time (see 22:20).
  Second, Ananias also knows that Saul intends to do in Damascus what he has done in Jerusalem. The authority from the chief priests under which Saul operates does not result in an undercover endeavor. Rather, Saul’s intentions seem to be a matter of common knowledge (compare Acts 9:1, 2; 22:5; 26:12). The concern of Ananias is understandable, given this man’s track record.


4. What plans about Saul’s future did God reveal to Ananias? (Acts 9:15, 16)
  The Lord does not allow fear to alter the assignment. Instead, Ananias is privileged to be made aware of the broad contours of the plan. And as history reveals, Saul (as Paul) does indeed end up presenting Christ to the Gentiles (example: Acts 18:6-11), and kings (example: 26:1-29), and the children of Israel (example: 17:1-3). The zeal with which Saul serves the high priest (see Philippians 3:6) is being redirected for the Lord’s service.
Surely this prophetic word is an eye-opener for Ananias. Preaching Christ to the Israelites is understandable according to Jesus’ own model (Matthew 15:24; etc.), but by Saul of all people! Further, there is apparently no expectation of extending the gospel to Gentiles at this point in time (compare Acts 11:18, 19). The idea of witnessing to political rulers seems far-fetched if Daniel 2 is not called to mind.
  The man who has caused more suffering among Christians than any other will join their ranks as one who endures persecution (compare 2 Corinthians 11:23-28). No more letters from high priests, but a commission from the Lord of the church (also Acts 22:10; 26:15-18). No more well-funded expeditions to arrest believers, but shoestring-budgeted missions to cities to make believers (see 1 Corinthians 9:7-12). No more threats of murder for Jews who have become Christian, but plots against his own life (see Acts 9:23-25; 23:12-22).
  Acts 9:15 is a good summary of Paul’s life and ministry.  It was all of grace, for he did not choose God; it was God who chose him (1 Tim. 1:14).  He was God’s vessel (2 Tim. 2:20-21), and God would work in and through him to accomplish His purposes (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:12-13).
What Do You Think?
In what ways have you seen Christians put aside fears and follow the will of God?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

  • In dealing with a family issue
  • In dealing with an abusive coworker
  • In dealing with a financial crisis
  • In dealing with a crisis in the church

Dramatic Visit: Acts 9:17-20
5. What happened when Ananias met Saul? (Acts 9:17)
  As Ananias encounters Saul, we should remember that Saul cannot see him. There is no indication that the two have ever met, so Ananias’s voice is not familiar to Saul. We have to remember that Saul’s world is turned upside down. He has been waiting sightless for three days without eating or drinking anything (Acts 9:9).
  No idle chitchat is recorded as Ananias seems to get immediately to the point of the visit. His willingness to touch Saul while addressing him as Brother seems to indicate that Ananias’s fear has been at least partially allayed. We do not have to be completely without fear in order to obey. Fear grows when we sit and stew about what might happen. Fear is overcome by faith as faith is put into action.
  The Lord, even Jesus is the focus of Ananias’s pronouncement to Saul. It is Jesus who has granted the parallel visions of Ananias and Saul. This supernatural knowledge confirms again for Saul that the Lord is active in all of this. The fact that the risen Jesus has sent Ananias to restore Saul’s eyesight as predicted establishes that the man has not been abandoned.
  But Ananias has also been sent for Saul to be filled with the Holy Ghost, something not recorded to have been made known to that man (see v. 12, above).


6. What happened after Ananias put his hands on Saul? (Acts 9:10:18-20)
  As Saul’s blindness had been imposed instantaneously, so now is restoration of his sight. The word for what drops from his eyes is translated scales, indicating something like the scales of a fish. This does not mean that Saul has grown a fish-like skin over his eyes. The sense is of something that can be peeled off like the scales of a fish. It is as if a layer of skin that has covered his eyes is miraculously peeled away by the hand of God and falls to Saul’s lap. This may indicate that Saul’s eyesight was not damaged in and of itself, but has been blocked in a physical way as a result of his encounter with Christ on the Damascus road.
  With this disabling condition removed, Saul wastes no time in receiving baptism. This likely is administered by Ananias, perhaps in the nearby Brada River. Saul is ready to go! The weakness that results from a three-day fast is quickly reversed by a meal. But we notice that the thing of greater spiritual significance (baptism) comes first.
  The Jews of Damascus had expected Saul to come from Jerusalem and condemn those of their fellow Israelites who had embraced Christ. Instead, Saul begins to advocate the Christian message, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. So begins Saul’s career as a preacher.

 

POINTS TO PONDER

  • Personal encounters with Christ can change the plans and direction of our lives (Acts 9:10-12).
  • We should not allow fear to alter the assignments God has given us (vs. 13, 14).
  • God can direct the greatest opposition into a zeal for His service (vs. 15, 16).
  • Fear is overcome by faith as faith is put into action (vs. 17, 18).
  • The foundation of gospel preaching today should remain as it was in Paul’s ministry – Jesus is the Son of God (vs. 19, 20).

 

CONCLUSION
Faith and Obedience in Two Men
The dramatic events of Acts 9 record how extreme God’s action had to be for Saul to turn his attention to God’s call. Saul was so obsessed with climbing the ladder of favor within the Jewish leadership (Galatians 1:14) that he did not recognize the legitimacy of the Christian message. He was spiritually blind to the fact that he was persecuting Jesus Christ, the risen Son of God.
Saul, as Paul, went on to become the great apostle to the Gentiles. Christians of non-Jewish background owe him a great debt of gratitude, for he fought a somewhat lonely battle to gain an equal place in the church for people of all backgrounds. Even so, let us not forget the key role of the nearly anonymous Ananias, who was called by God to overcome his fears and minister to the church’s greatest enemy at just the right time.
The voice of Ananias was part of the call of God for the one who came to be known as the apostle Paul. Nearly 30 years later, Paul mentioned this man by name (Acts 22:12). He never forgot this man of faith, a faith that overcame fear.
Acts 9 is not intended as a pattern for how God brings people to faith, and the role of Paul as apostle was unique. Even so, God expects us at times to be His hands and feet, as was Ananias. May we overcome our fears as we answer that call!

PRAYER
  Heavenly Father, tune our spiritual eyes and ears to perceive the tasks You have for us. Grant us humility with courage as we embrace those tasks. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
  God’s call is insistent and persistent.

ANTICIPATING THE NEXT LESSON 
  Next week's lesson is “Called to Be Inclusive” and explains how the Christian faith is intended to be universal, and the gospel is to be proclaimed to everyone, everywhere.  Study Acts 10. 
LESSON SUMMARIZED BY               
Renee Little 
Jesus Is All Ministries 
www.jesusisall.com

 

WORKS CITED 

Bible App for iPhone and iPad, Version 5.0.3, LifeChurch.tv, 2017.

Holman Bible Dictionary, Holman Bible Publishers. 

Life Application Bible—New Revised Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 

Scofield, C.I., ed.  The New Scofield Study Bible—King James Version. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Summary and commentary derived from Standard Lesson Commentary Copyright 2017 by permission of Standard Publishing. 

The KJV Parallel Bible Commentary, by Nelson Books.

The Pulpit Commentary, Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Hrsg.), Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Cook

 

Jesus Is All Ministries Staff

Willie Ferrell
Renee Little
Horace Hayes
Felicia Pinkney
Email: [email protected]

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OGBC Highlights

 

  • The Hormel Food Ham Hock Cook off August 17-20, 2010 was a huged sucess. Thanks, to everyone who pariscipated in this event.
  • Our annual Women's Day Celebration on August 15, 2010 was a huged sucess. Sis Pamela Benjamin was outstanding. Thanks to the women of Oak Grove for a wonderful program.
  • Come and go with us to Villa Rica, Ga. Friday night August 20, 2010, 7:30 PM. Oak Grove will be closing out Revival at Bethsadia Baptist Church Pastured by Reverend Kenneth Bryant.

 

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