Lesson 74

The Apostle Paul

"I have chosen him [Paul] to be the means of bringing my Name
before the Gentiles . . . as well as before the sons of Israel."
Acts 9:15 (Moffatt Translation)

As the early church grew, deacons were selected to share the work of caring for the needs of the brethren (Acts 6:1-6).

Stephen, a deacon, "full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people" (Acts 6:8). He was stoned to death for his beliefs. A man named Saul was present at the stoning, holding the cloaks of the assailants. Stephen was the first to die as a Christian martyr.

Saul thought he was helping the Lord’s cause by consenting to the stoning and putting away many others in prison because they loved Jesus and were faithful to tell others about him.

Saul was very sincere and zealous about what he was doing—he believed it was God’s will. When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, he explained where Saul was wrong and what a privilege he would have by following God’s true teachings. Because Saul’s heart was right, he was converted to Christianity and spent the rest of his life serving God. His zeal and faith were so great he was chosen to be the twelfth apostle! He had more visions and revelations than the others and wrote many letters to the churches which became books of the New Testament. These fourteen letters are called epistles.

On his first missionary journey, Saul’s name was changed to Paul. He was the apostle to the Gentiles, going into many countries preaching the gospel. Never does he (or any of the others) teach of a fiery hell or torment for anybody. He emphasized that Jesus must come a second time, and then reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. He taught the resurrection of the just and the unjust, and many other doctrines.

The power of the truth in Paul’s life was great and we are richer in learning and faith because of the abundance of his writings.

Paul made many missionary journeys. He suffered greatly because of his fearless and courageous preaching, writings, and travels. He laid down his life every day in the service of God—having been stoned, beaten, starved, frozen, shipwrecked, almost drowned, and finally beheaded.

Even though Paul had never met Jesus in the flesh, his conversion was complete and his life one of self-sacrifice! What an example he was to all the followers of Jesus Christ throughout the Gospel Age.

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