The Jews from Asia stirred up the crowd to lay hands on Paul. The crowd seized Paul, dragged him out of the temple, and even tried to kill him. The commander, not knowing what had caused the commotion, came and took Paul from the crowd for questioning. While he was being led away, Paul asked to speak to the people. Then, before the Jewish mob, Paul seized this opportunity to testify his conversion and to defend his ministry.
Did You Know...?
1. Tarsus of Cilicia (22:3): Cilicia was a Roman province in modern-day Turkey. Jewish settlers who moved there were granted Roman citizenship, while allowed to retain their culture. Tarsus was a prominent city in Cilicia that became famous for its love of higher learning.
2. Gamaliel (22:3): A respected Pharisee and scribe (cf. 5:34).
3. Ananias (22:12): A Christian in Damascus. The Lord had appeared to him in a vision to go to Paul (cf. 9:10-17).
- Paul before his conversion (22:1-5)
- Paul confronted by Jesus (22:6-10)
- Paul after his conversion (22:11-21)
List the passages in the Bible that recount Paul’s conversion. Compare the details in the descriptions.Hide Answer
Acts 9:1-30; 22:1-21; 26:2-23; Gal 1:13-24 Except for the Acts 9:1-13 (which was probably transcribed from Paul’s testimony), all of these passages are Paul’s first-person perspective of his conversion.
Why is Paul’s conversion recorded so many times in the Bible? (Think in terms of what it meant to Paul).Hide Answer
Paul was converted directly by the voice of God. He was a living testimony of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. One can imagine that every time Paul spoke to a new crowd, he was compelled to testify his conversion. For the rest of his life, he did not forget how Jesus Christ had saved him. (cf. 1Cor 15:9-10; 1Tim 1:13-16).
Think back to the times when you shared the gospel with someone. What are the testimonies and/or biblical teachings that you repeat every time? How do your favorite messages help you preach the gospel?
Compare and contrast Paul’s beliefs and outlook on life before and after his conversion experience.Hide Answer
Paul had been zealous for the law. He believed that he was acting on God’s behalf when he persecuted the Christians (cf. 22:3-4). After he was converted, he applied the same zeal to preach Jesus Christ (cf. 2Cor 11:2), so much so that people thought him mad (cf. Acts 26:24; 1Cor 4:10).
What were you like before you believed in Jesus Christ?
What was your “great light from heaven” (22:6)? How did you meet Jesus Christ?
How is your life as a Christian different from your life before?
On Chart B, list the commands given to Paul by the Lord Jesus and by Ananias, and the reasons that were given for these commands.Hide Answer
Command: “Arise and go into Damascus” (22:10).
Reason: “There you will be told things which are appointed for you to do” (22:10).
Command: “Receive your sight” (22:13).
Reason: “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know his will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of his mouth. For you will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (22:14-15).
What do Jesus’ commands and reasons in Chart B teach you about your Christian duties?Hide Answer
Only Jesus knows our future and the people we will meet. From the beginning of Paul’s conversion, Jesus had laid out a “road map” for him: to preach to the Gentiles. Sometimes God sends us where we long to go (like Paul going to Rome [cf. Acts 23:11; Rom 1:11-13]). Sometimes He sends us somewhere we have not planned to go (cf. Acts 8:29; 16:6-8; 2Cor 1:15-16, 23). Our duty is to obey the Holy Spirit, trusting that He will send us to where we are needed the most.
Paul made a point to mention his esteemed background (3). In what ways can you sometimes use your “pedigree” to persuade a non-believer to believe in Jesus Christ?Hide Answer
Paul knew his audience, and knew the best way to make them listen. Our background might help us establish a common ground with the person we are talking to. We can gradually lead the conversation to Jesus Christ and His true gospel, as Paul did.
When Paul was still persecuting the Christians, he was in effect disregarding his own teacher Gamaliel’s advice for moderation in opposing the gospel of Jesus (cf. 5:35-40; 22:4). What does this tell you about Paul’s character?Hide Answer
Paul was zealous in doing what he believed was right. He thought he was acting on God’s behalf, having received authority from the high priest (cf. 22:5). He was so determined that no one could slow him down or change his mind. No one, that is, except God.
How might your passion for something cause you to ignore good advice and do the wrong thing?
What two questions did Paul ask Jesus Christ?Hide Answer
“Who are you, Lord?” (22:8); “What shall I do, Lord?” (22:10)
What is Jesus’ response when you ask Him, “Who are you, Lord?” and “What shall I do, Lord?”
On Chart C, list examples of biblical characters who responded positively to God’s calling, how God first called them, how they responded, and what God promised them (cf. Gen 12:1-7; 1 Sam 3:3-11; Isa 6:8-13; Mk 1:17-18).Hide Answer
The One Called: Abraham
The Calling: “Get out of your country … to a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1).
The Response: “So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him” (Gen 12:4).
The Promise: “To your descendants I will give this land” (Gen 12:7).
The One Called: Samuel
The Calling: “Samuel!” (1 Sam 3:4, 6, 8, 10)
The Response: “Here I am” (1 Sam 3:4); “Speak, for your servant hears” (1 Sam 3:10)
The Promise: “I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle” (1Sam 3:11).
The One Called: Isaiah
The Calling: “Whom shall I send?” (Isa 6:8)
The Response: “Here am I. Send me” (Isa 6:8).
The Promise: “So the holy seed shall be its stump” (Isa 6:13).
The One Called: Peter and Andrew
The Calling: “Follow me” (Mk 1:17).
The Response: “They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Mk 1:18)
The Promise: “I will make you become fishers of men” (Mk 1:17).
Share a testimony of how you did not hesitate to work for God. What did He command you to do? What did He promise you? How has He rewarded you?
Who is like Ananias to you? In other words, through whom has God spoken His will to you?
What can we learn from verse 16 about the purpose and effect of baptism?Hide Answer
Through baptism, we call on the name of the Lord, and our sins are washed away (see also Acts 2:38).
What was the point of Paul’s response to the Lord in verses 19 and 20?Hide Answer
Paul thought that his conversion from a former persecutor to a preacher of Jesus Christ was such a strong testimony that it would convince the Jews to believe in the Lord. But just as the Lord had predicted, the Jews in Jerusalem refused to accept his testimony.