The Power of the Gospel (9:1-43)

Bible Passage: Acts 9

In this chapter we see one of the biggest turning points in the history of the church. Saul, who had been an increasingly prominent persecutor of the church was apprehended by Jesus. We see the story of his repentance, conversion and commissioning to ministry, and it set alongside other stories of the impact and growth of the gospel. As well as showing the power of the gospel at work, these stories show the way God works through his obedient people.

A Trophy of Grace (1-19): The chapter begins with Saul on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus, but he was stopped when Jesus appeared to him. Jesus in out to save even those who have set themselves as his enemies, and there is nobody who is so far away that the love and power of Jesus cannot reach them. An instrumental figure in Saul’s narrative is Ananias. He was an ordinary believer who had not been mentioned in the story up to this point, and God asked him to go to a man who was known as a persecutor of the church. This was a big ask for Ananias and took a lot of bravery to obey. God worked through what he did and set in place a chain reaction of events that led to the gospel spreading through the Mediterranean and much of the New Testament being written.

Saul’s Early Ministry (20-31): Immediately following the conversion of Saul is the accounts of his first missionary endeavours. Straight away he went to the Synagogues of Damascus to proclaim Jesus. This challenges the idea that mission or ministry is only for those who have been following Jesus for a long time. It is something that we can do straight away and wherever we are. When Saul goes to Jerusalem and finds scepticism, Barnabas is willing to vouch for him and this highlights a characteristic of Barnabas that comes up several times in Acts that should serve as a model for all believers – he believes in people and as willing to think the best of them

Healing and Raising (32-43): The scene shifts from Saul to Peter and we see God continuing to work miracles through Peter. We see Aeneas healed and Dorcas raised from the dead. The spread of the gospel is not only word but in power, and signs and wonders are part of what Jesus has sent his followers to do. This is challenging, particularly in Western context, and should stir our faith to see such things in increasing measure.

Potential Applications:

  • This is a great opportunity to share the unconditional love of Jesus for those far off and offer the opportunity to respond in repentance and faith.
  • Through this passage we see God working though different followers of Jesus who are obedient to his promptings and active in evangelism. You could challenge people to ask who God is telling them to share the gospel with and to be ready to respond to the opportunities before them.
  • In this passage we see signs and wonders accompanying the gospel. You could spend some time praying for healing for those who are sick.