Paul: From Persecutor to one of the Persecuted
Thesis: To look at a life that exemplifies what it means to be truly converted in order to help us
learn how to live such a life.
(1) Paul is known as one of the greatest characters in the Bible.
(2) He called upon others to imitate his life in the areas in which he was imitating the life of Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 11.1).
(3) Let us note 4 areas in his life that we should all imitate:
I. His Change:
A. His Past Life –
1. 1st encounter is Acts 7.58 – The crowd laid their robes at his feet while they stoned Stephen
2. Paul agreed with their actions and he himself went out imprisoning Christians (Acts 8.1-3).
3. He was highly educated –
a. Studied at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22.3)
b. Philippians 3:4-6 –
“Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
B. He met Jesus (Acts 9, 22, 26); therefore:
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3.7-8)
C. What about us … What are we willing to sacrifice for Jesus?
1. Our families?
2. Our jobs?
3. Our past?
II. His Concern:
A. His practice was to teach Jesus first and foremost to all people.
1. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 –
“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
2. Acts 20:27 –
“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”
3. 1 Corinthians 9:16 –
“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for
woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”
B. What is our priority?
III. His Commitment:
2 Corinthians 11:22-33 –
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? 30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, 33 and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.
IV. His Confidence:
A. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
B. Us? 1 John 5.13
(1) Have we traveled down our road to Damascus?
(2) If so, then are we still persevering?