LESSON 8 24/1/2016
PAUL, THE PERSECUTED APOSTLE
Suggested Hymns: GHB 240; 311
Devotional Reading: 2 Tim. 2:1-13
Topic for Adults: Faith in the face of trial
Topic for Youths: You cannot but be tried
Topic for Intermediates: Be Courageous
Scripture Lesson: 1 Cor 4:1- 2; 9-13; 2 Cor. 6:3-10; Jam. 1: 2-4
Memory Verse: “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved”. (Matt. 10:22) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
We Have Victory Through Christ
1 Cor. 15:54-58
We are advised today that we should always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord (v. 58). Nonetheless, faith in God doesn’t exempt us from life trials. It sustains us in them and we grow stronger as a result of them. Most trials have one thing in common; they make us say, if only we could understand why this has happened. The Bible answers this question in two scriptures: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalm 34:19); and also 1 Pet. 1:6-7 give assurance of victory. Victory over sin, victory over death (v. 57). Therefore, we are to stand firm, let nothing move us as our labour (persecution) in the Lord is not in vain. Hold on!
Point of Emphasis: Faith in God does not exempt you from life trials.
Prayer Point: Lord, Jesus, help me that my labour in you will not be in vain.
Let’s face it: Our faith sometimes causes us problems. In fact, it has always been that way. Read (Acts 16:16-24). While we might not risk imprisonment or beating, when we follow Jesus we do risk accusations of proselytising or of being too spiritually narrow. Our stand of faith might even result in ridicule and discrimination. However, standing for our faith, we might even invite our enemies into relationship with Jesus.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
PART 1: PAUL, THE PERSECUTED ONE (1 COR 4:1- 2, 9-13)
Some names in history we identify immediately, and PAUL is one of them. His name was originally Saul (Acts 7:58). He was from the tribe of Benjamin (Phil 3:5). In this epistle, Paul speaks much of his suffering. At his conversion, the Lord had said, “I will show him how many things he must suffer for my Name’s sake (Acts 9:16). The suffering began immediately and continued in unbroken succession for over thirty years. They plotted to kill him in Damascus (Acts 9:24). And in Jerusalem (Acts 9: 29) and was driven out of Antioch (Acts 13:50). They attempted to stone him in Iconium Lystra (Acts 14:5). They stoned stone him and left him to die in Lystra (Acts 14:19). In Philippi, they beat him with rods, and put him in stocks (Acts 16:23). In Thessalonica, the Jews tried to mob him (Acts 17:5). They drove him out of Berea (Acts 7:13,14). In Ephesus, they almost killed him (Acts 19:29); 2 Cor. 1:8,9. In Jerusalem again, they would have made a quick end of him, except for the Roman soldiers (Acts 22). Then he was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years, and two more in Rome.
And besides all this, there were unrecorded beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, and unceasing deprivation of every kinds (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Then finally he was taken to Rome to be executed as a criminal (2 Tim. 2: 9).
He must have had amazing endurance, for he sang as he suffered (Acts 16: 25). Paul had the marvelous grace of God and by the Lord’s help, he must have felt himself unkillable until his work was done. As Paul put it. “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil 1: 12).
As it can be seen from the treatment, suffering by means of persecutions and imprisonment was a way of life of Paul. Are we ready to suffer for the cause of Christ or will deny him? Let us ponder on this in this our materialistic society.
PART 2: PAUL: DEVOTION, DEDICATION AND DETERMINATION (2 COR. 6:3-10)
There is much more to the suffering that Paul went through that is not recorded in specific detail. He went through physical and psychological persecutions. Despite all this, he did not lose heart. He was determined. Paul expressed gratitude for the fact that he has been comforted in his afflictions. He penned that though the outward man perishes, the inward man is constantly renewed; the earthly afflictions are light and of brief duration in comparison with the eternal glory awaiting the Christians.
Paul’s idea was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt to that person until he did come to them. It is worth mentioning that the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord.
Out of his devotion and dedication, Paul mentioned in some details the work and trials of himself and other ambassadors of Christ. He penned, their sufferings truly prove that they are fellow workers with God; And they did not wish to give anyone a ground for finding fault, but they had toiled in the face of severe hardships.
Paul’s amazing devotion to service, dedication for calling and determination for the spread of the gospel is borne out of the following:
- Courage (Acts 18:9)
iii. Uncompromising faith (Gal 2:11)
- Forgiveness and
It is worth noting that if your faith and Christian life is genuine, you will be tested, but be of good cheer, you will overcome. Shalom!
PART 3: PAUL: GREAT BENEFITS OBTAINED (JAM. 1: 2-4)
It is simply not enough to learn the specific events that transpired in the life of the ´great´ Apostle Paul. One must ask the questions; How does all these apply to me´?. One will see in Paul that he emphasised both doctrine and practice. Sound doctrine must lead to sound Christian activity, and sound activity must be rooted in sound doctrine. By implication, Paul´s life produced a lot of benefits and lessons to be learnt as a Christian.
The end result of persecutions and imprisonment of Paul produced the following:
- A man who believed in the power of prayer.
- He grew spiritually.
- He was a man of conscience (Rom. 14:23)
- A man of wisdom. He demonstrated this on countless occasions he met with oppositions. Wisdom helped him to faithfully endure the oppositions for church and the gospel’s sake. Paul gave divine counsel to Titus (Tit. 2:3-5).
- He was a man who stressed the importance of being concerned about our influence on them (1 Cor. 9:19-23)
- A man who was concerned with stewardship of the money and body. (I Cor. 6:19 -20; 1 Tim. 6:17-19; Eph. 5:16)
- He set for the defence of the faith (Phil. 1:7-17; Rev. 20:4)
- He believed in and preached the reality of the kingdom of God. (Col. 1:13; 1 Cor. 12:27)
- He was a man of sacrifice and self-control
- Paul was that man who did not blame his sufferings on the gospel. He demonstrated that love by preaching it faithfully (Rom. 1:16)
The suffering aspects of Paul´s life as an apostle of Christ was for a divine purpose. The facts of his life teach us important lessons. It presents to us an example of a person who is worthy for all to emulate, so far as, he has followed the life and precepts of Christ. Paul´s admonitions to all Christians is “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith…, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13)
- Mention some of the persecutions that Paul went through.
- What will happen to a man who compromises his faith?
- Why is Paul´s suffering regarded as a divine purpose?
- Mention those benefits that can be produced out of a man that is persecuted.
- Outline those virtues that helped Paul in his devotion and determination for the gospel.