The story now goes back to Peter for a while. We last read about him being sent with John to assist in Philip’s work in Samaria. From there he had returned to Jerusalem. Now he is going “through all parts of the country” himself. At Lydda he heals a crippled man, which leads to the people in that area turning to the Lord.
It says Aeneas was “bed ridden and paralyzed” for eight years! It must have been a miserable existence. Who did Peter say healed Aeneas?
Now in Jerusalem, Saul continues his bold preaching. Another attempt is made to kill him and the disciples decide to send him away to Tarsus, his hometown. He appears again in the history of Acts in chapter 11.
Verse 31 observes that there was then a time of peace and spiritual growth for the church.
What has happened recently that might have contributed to this time of peace for the church?
What other thoughts do you have about what we have read recently?
God had told Ananias “I will show him (Saul) how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (9:16) and today we see his persecutions begin immediately. A plot was formed by the Jews in Damascus to put Saul to death but he escapes over the city wall in a basket at night.
The disciples at Jerusalem were reluctant to accept him and did not believe he was a true follower of Jesus. Barnabas stands up for him and he tells the apostles what had happened to him on the road to Damascus.
Why do you think these Jews wanted to kill Paul?
What does it say about Barnabas that he was willing to stand up for Saul?
Ananias goes to Saul as instructed, lays his hands on him, and his sight is restored and he is baptized. Saul immediately begins preaching Jesus. The disciples in Damascus are amazed at his transformation.
What two things does Paul preach about Jesus? (See 20 and 22).
Saul was blinded by the vision of Jesus he received and he was taken into the city of Damascus. In today’s reading God tells a disciple named Ananias to go and preach to Saul. Ananias, having heard of how Saul persecuted the church, objects at first, but God tells him to go!
God told Ananias that Saul was His “chosen vessel”. Why would God choose Saul instead of selecting someone who had been faithful to Jesus all their life?
Jesus appears miraculously to Saul while he was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians. Instantly Saul knew it was the Lord (Who art Thou, Lord?) but imagine how Saul felt when he heard the words “I am Jesus who you are persecuting”! He goes into the city to wait for further instructions.
This was a tremendous gift that God gave to Saul! One wonders if he would have ever become a believer if Jesus had not appeared to him in this dramatic fashion! Why do you think God chose to appear to Saul and change the course of his life?
Acts 9:1,2 Meanwhile back in Jerusalem, we see Saul is intensely persecuting the church. He is not content to harass only the disciples in Jerusalem but gets authority to go to Damascus and arrest any Christians there. Imagine living in a time when the authorities could knock on your door and arrest you for being a follower of Jesus. How would our lives be different under such circumstances?
As Philip preached Jesus to the Eunuch he became convicted of his need to be immersed. As they came upon some water he asked if he could and Philip baptized him. He then “went on his way rejoicing!”
We have seen how the gospel was carried away from Jerusalem beginning in Acts 8 and then how Philip preached first in Samaria. Verse 40 mentions more cities Philip visits after his encounter with the Eunuch. Based on this encounter where else will the gospel now be taken?
Note how the first Christians are fulfilling the commission Jesus gave before ascending to heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19-20).
We saw yesterday that the Eunuch was reading from Isaiah. Today we see it was Isaiah 53, the passage that says “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter”. We know this to be a prophecy of Jesus death on the cross but the Eunuch did not know who it was talking about. Philip explained how the prophecy was about Jesus.
Isn’t it amazing that the Eunuch just happened to be reading this particular chapter of Isaiah? Examine the particular verses quoted in Acts. (I am sure Philip’s teaching was not limited to these). What do you see in the scripture which he read?
An angel instructs Philip to leave Samaria and go to a remote desert location. Philip soon learns why God sent him there when he is instructed by the Spirit to join a chariot. In the chariot was a man from Ethiopia, a governmental official, returning home from Jerusalem. He had been to Jerusalem to worship and was reading Isaiah as he rode along on his journey.
What did the new Christians in Samaria have to guide them now that their preacher had left?
What do you see so far in the character of the Eunuch that shows he might have the heart to become a part of the Christian movement?