What is this?
These Sabbath School lesson outlines aid Sabbath School teachers & members in their weekly study
& preparation for Sabbath School classes.
Join the Discussion
Use the form at the bottom of the page to share with other readers your thoughts about this lesson.
Sabbath School Lessons on Missionaries in the Bible
Read the Quarterly Online
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
What about Ellen White?
to learn why I generally do not cite Ellen G. White in the lessons.
Looking for old Sabbath School lessons?
Sabbath School lesson study outlines from previous quarters are saved in the Sabbath School lesson archive
Got questions or comments?
Go to our contact form
and drop us a note.
SabbathSchoolLessons.com operates like grace: it is free, but not without cost.
We're counting on your ongoing financial support to help us continue providing these
lessons to Sabbath School teachers and members around the world. You may cancel your monthly contribution at any time.
Get these Sabbath School lessons by e-mail! Subscribe to the Bible Study of the Week mailing list:
Subscribe in a reader
Lesson 1: For Such a Time As This: The Apostle Paul *
Introduction: Have you noticed the pattern in the Bible that God
loves to work through weakness? Old Testament battles are won by
using fewer soldiers (Judges 7) or going into combat leading with the
choir (2 Chronicles 20). In 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 God plainly says
that He uses the foolish and weak things of the earth to defeat the
worldly wise and strong things of men. Why? God doesn't want humans
to get confused about who is responsible for the victory. If you are
a Christian and you generally consider yourself to be weak and
foolish, this is good news. What about the rest of us who do not like
to think we are weak or foolish most of the time? This is the good
news about studying the life of the apostle Paul. He was smart and
sophisticated and God did great things through him. Let's dive into
our study of Paul and find out more!
- Paul - The Early Days
- Read Acts 22:2-3. Where was Paul raised? (He says "in this
city." Acts 21:31 shows that this was Jerusalem.)
- Who was Paul's main teacher? (Gamaliel.)
- What do we know about him? (He was "honored by
all the people. Acts 5:34. He was a famous
teacher. Paul essentially went to an "Ivy
- Read Galatians 1:14. How did Paul compare to other Jews of
his age? (He was a leading young rabbi.)
- Read Acts 22:4-5. Who did Paul know? (He not only knew the
High Priest and the Council (the Sanhedrin), he was an
authorized representative to eradicate the followers of
- How ambitious was Paul? (He says that he was zealous
and killed Christians. You would not want him after
- Paul - The Chosen One
- Read Acts 22:6-8. Why would Paul (Saul) call the voice
coming out of the light "Lord?" (Clearly, Paul thought
this was supernatural. This was not a lightning strike or
Paul getting dizzy and light-headed.)
- Read Acts 22:10. As you read this story, what makes you
think it is the truth (other than the fact you find it in
the Bible)? What makes you think that this actually
happened to Paul?(Imagine you had the best education, you
were one of the top men in your field in your generation,
you knew all the power-brokers and you were their
authorized representative. Would you just walk away from
all that? Of course not. Paul believed that Jesus spoke to
him and gave him a new assignment and direction in life.)
- What would be the modern American equivalent of this?
(You graduated from Yale law school, joined the White
House staff and advised the President. One day when
you were on a mission for the President, something
supernatural happened and you thought you should be a
missionary to Iraq - something far outside your
comfort (and safety) zone!)
- In the introduction, we talked about how God has a history
of choosing the weak and foolish as His instrument for
defeating the bad guys on earth. Why would He choose Paul?
(The good news is that you do not have to be weak and
foolish to do great things for God. (Although you might
have to be knocked off your horse first.) The reason God
chose Paul was because he was "zealous" for God. He was
- Paul - the Mission
- Read Acts 22:17. Put yourself in God's place for just a
minute. If you were assigning mission work for Paul, would
you not send him where he knew the territory, had great
contacts and was thoroughly acquainted with the local
religion? (God says He is doing what seems illogical on
the surface because He knows the locals will not accept
- Read Acts 22:19. Did Paul debate this with God? (That
is how I read Paul's response: Paul says, "Wait a
minute. These guys know me and know I was on their
side. They will listen to me.)
- Read Acts 22:21. Does God debate the point with Paul? (No.
He just says "Go!)
- What has happened to much of Paul's worldly
advantage? Is there a lesson in this for us? (Paul
was a talented and educated man, but God left a lot
of his "old connections" behind. He was heading into
new territory. When God clearly says "Go" we should
go even when we do not understand the logic.)
- Read Acts 22:22. As you look over the story Paul was
telling in Acts 22:1-21, what point caused the Jews to
decide that Paul was pond scum, and should be killed? (The
"tipping point" seems to be when he says he was sent as a
missionary to the Gentiles.)
- Why was that so maddening? (The part of Paul's
statement of prophecy that the Jews would not accept
him is probably not making them mad. They were not
accepting him. No dispute there. That means it must
have been the idea that he would go to the Gentiles
to share the knowledge of God.)
- If this so enraged the Jews, what does that tell
us about Paul's life-long thinking on the
subject? (That he previously thought this was a
- What lesson can we find in this for our life and
work for God? (God has given Paul a task he
would not have chosen and is not suited to his
career so far. This is not only a practical
lesson for us, it further supports the truth of
- Did Paul stop sharing the gospel with the Jews?
(Read Acts 13:43-47. Paul went "first" to the
Jews. But, he understood his mission to be a
"light to the Gentiles.")
- Does this make sense? Why not put your
mission focus first? (It made sense since
Christianity was not an entirely new
religion - far from it. Paul preached that
Jesus was the anticipated Messiah. He was
the fulfillment of the Old Testament
prophecies and worship practices. Jews,
more than anyone else, should most easily
understand this. You would not have to
start from "scratch" with a Jew.)
- Paul - the Human
- Read Acts 15:36-40. Will Bible heroes always agree?
- Is that okay?
- Who was wrong here? (Read 2 Timothy 4:11. In this and
other texts we see that Mark works with Paul later in
Paul's life. Paul now calls Mark "helpful to me in my
- What lesson do we learn from this? (That great
leaders of God can disagree and even be wrong!)
- Read Romans 7:14-17. Was Paul always pleased with his
- Read Romans 7:18-20. What separates Paul from the average
bad person? (He desires to do good.)
- Read 1 John 3:7-9. John wants us to get this right. If
Paul has a good attitude, but keeps on sinning is he "of
- Read Romans 7:21-25. Is this the life of the Christian, to
be wretched? (Paul speaks of the possibility of a
- Read Romans 8:1-4. How are the "righteous requirements of
the law fully met in us [sinners]?" (Through the life and
death of Jesus.)
- Read Romans 8:5-8. If Jesus lived the perfect life for us,
does it matter what we do? Does it matter what we think?
(Paul teaches us that if we set our minds on "what the
Spirit desires" our actions will follow.)
- Consider your relationship with other church members.
Which have you been most concerned about: what you did or
what you thought? (We think it is our actions which are
most important. But, the Bible teaches us that it is our
mind that is most important.)
- If your mind is the most important, what steps
should you take to "set" your mind "on what the
- Friend, Paul's life shows that God can use talented people
in addition to the less talented. But when God says, "Go!"
we need to obey even if we do not see the logic of it.
Whether or not God has given you a great mission like
Paul's, He has given you the mission of getting your heart
and mind set in the right direction. Will you determine
today to, like Paul, follow God's lead?
- Next week: "All Things to All Men": Paul Preaches to the World.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.