St. Edmund's Church,
Introducing the Book: New Testament
- Paul's Story and his Writings
Paul travelled thousands of miles around the Mediterranean countries without the help of trains and boats and planes. Do you like travel or would you rather stay at home? Have you ever been on any sort of missionary journey or pilgrimage? Share some traveller's tales.
Acts 9, 13 - 28
Letters to churches
Letters to individuals
(The Pastoral Epistles)
Saul or Paul?
The book of Acts uses "Saul", the Jewish form of Paul's name, up to 13:9 and then proceeds to use the more familiar Greek form "Paul" thereafter.
Is there any significance in this?
- Paul's entry into the New Testament story can only be described as dramatic.
- Acts 7:56 - 8:4 describes the death of Stephen and Paul's part in it.
- Was Paul guilty of the death of Stephen?
- What was the effect of the persecution?
- Acts 9:1-20 tells the story of Paul's conversion on the Damascus road.
- Is there anywhere in Scripture a more complete change in 20 verses? What factors brought it about?
- If the Ananias in chapter 5 is one of the villains of the Acts then the one here is one of the heroes. Can you think of other Bible characters who are famous for one significant action.
- Does everyone have to have a dramatic conversion experience like Paul?
- The second part of Acts tells the story of Paul's three missionary journeys.
- Acts 13:1-4 tells how Paul was commissioned.
- How were decisions reached in the early church?
- Are there any lessons for us today from this?
- There is a well-known story in Acts 16: 12 -33 which is typical of the things that happened to Paul.
- What were the various different ways in which Paul demonstrated and proclaimed his faith?
- In 2 Corinthians 6:4 - 10 Paul summarises all the hardships that he went through in his Christian service.
- What is different about sufferings that we might undergo as part of our Christian life and service from any other of life's "hard knocks?
- Does this help us to put suffering into perspective?
- It is simply impossible to summarise all the teaching that is contained in Paul's letters, but there are some themes he returns to time and again.
- Salvation by grace through faith
Read Romans 5:1 - 11
- Paul uses here some of his favourite words: justification, faith, grace, hope and reconciliation. Share together your understanding of them.
- If this talk of "rejoicing in suffering" or "God's love poured out into our hearts" seems an unreachable ideal for you, you may want to share your misgivings with the group.
- Living together in God's new community
Archbishop Rowan that Community is God's "Big Idea" which runs through the whole Bible.
Read Romans 12:1 - 21
- What sorts of community can you think of from the Bible?
- What are the attitudes which are most important?
- What are the actions which are most important?
- Christ's return
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 18
- Extract from these verses some of the things that will happen at the end. What is the most important for you?
- These verses were intended as a consolation to the bereaved. Do you think they are?
- What effect should our knowledge that the Lord will return have on our daily life?
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
and be found in him ..
You may wish to sing the song
(All I once held dear) which is based on Paul's statement of his priorities and then think about your priorities. Then give thanks for the amazing fact that you are found in Christ.