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Lesson Prep

Story Summary

This story picks up after Stephen was stoned. Saul (see note below on "Saul vs Paul") was continuing to persecute the church. He even went to the High Priest and had him send letters to the synagogues in Damascus warning them that any followers of Christ (or "the Way" as it was referred to here) would be bound and brought to Jerusalem for trial. Saul was presumably on his way to Damascus to make good on his threats when something dramatic happened...

Saul is Blinded 

As Saul was traveling, suddenly a bright light shone around him. A voice called out to him by name! "Saul, Saul, why are you opposing me?" Saul knew this was supernatural - not an ordinary light and voice. So he called out and asked, "Who are you, Lord?". It was Jesus! “I am Jesus,” he replied. “I am the one you are opposing. Now get up and go into the city. There you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5-6)

There were men traveling with Saul and they heard this too, but they didn't see anything. And then Saul got up from the ground, opened his eyes, but he couldn't see anything! He was blind for 3 days and couldn't even muster the strength to eat anything. The first part of God's plan to get Saul's attention was complete. Now, he enlisted the help of someone else to finish the job.

Saul meets Ananias

God spoke to man named Ananias (who lived in Damascus) and told him to go to where Saul was staying, the home of a man named Judas on Straight Street. God told Ananias that he had already given Saul a vision of a man with his name coming to lay his hands on him so he could see again. Initially Ananias was scared. Don't forget about the letter Saul had sent to Damascus ahead of his trip there!

But God reassured him that Saul had been changed by his experience on the road to Damascus. So Ananias obeyed and went to the house where Saul was staying. Ananias laid his eyes on Saul and confirmed to him that the man he saw on the road there was in fact Jesus.

Just then something like scales fell off Saul's eyes and he could see again! He was baptized, began eating again, and regained his strength.

Saul has Changed!

Immediately, Saul began meeting with the believers in Damascus and preaching in the very synagogues he threatened to kill Christians in. Finally, Saul's great passion and intellect was being used for Jesus instead of against him. Many of the believers still feared him, though. Surely someone like Saul couldn't just change that suddenly, could he?

The Jews that were living in Damascus were not happy about this at all! They began to think about ways they could kill Saul. Saul found out about it and the Christians in Damascus helped him escape the city in a basket they lowered through a hole in the wall. Paul went back to Jerusalem, but the Christians there were afraid of him too! But a man named Barnabus helped the believers in Jerusalem accept what happened to Saul. He told them all about Saul's journey to Damascus and his experience there. So Saul stayed in Jerusalem and boldly spoke about Jesus and told his story. The Jews in Jerusalem didn't like him anymore than the Jews in Damascus, though. So the Christians in Jerusalem had to help Saul escape there too and he ended up back in his home of Tarsus for a while. 

In later lessons, we will learn about this man Saul (also called Paul) and his huge impact on expanding the early church throughout the Middle East and into Europe.

**Note: Saul vs. Paul

Saul is also referred to as Paul in the New Testament. Some mistakenly assume that Saul's name was changed at the point of conversion to Paul. While this is a very common occurrence in the Old Testament when God calls someone out for a special work (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel), we have no indication that this is what happened here. The early mentions of the man in Acts are almost exclusively "Saul", while the later mentions and all the later books are exclusively "Paul". But the only clue we have of a transition comes in Acts 13:9: "Saul, who was also called Paul"...

Saul is a Hebrew name. Paul is a Greek name. Perhaps since Paul's ministry focused on the Gentiles (and Peter's focused on the Jews), he decided to use his Greek name instead of his Hebrew name. Or maybe he really did go through a name change and he himself chose to mark his conversion by changing how he was named. Or perhaps God did indeed tell him to change his name, but it was just not recorded anywhere in scripture.

Regardless, we should teach our students that Saul in the New Testament is the same person as Paul. We should primarily call him Paul, since that is how is referred to most commonly.

What You Will Need

Resource Sheet

Paul's Conversion Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Paul has he was blinded on the road to Damascus

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

What is the brightest thing you can think of?

Today, we're going to learn about a man in the New Testament that saw a very bright light that changed him forever!

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

If you think your children can handle it, have them close their eyes as you teach them the story. Ask them to imagine what it must have been like for Saul those 3 days when he couldn't see anything. Also, imagine what it must be like to be someone blind from birth?

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Acts 9:1-19

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • What did Saul say in his letters to the synagogues in Damascus? (any Christians there would be captured and taken to Jerusalem)
  • Where did Jesus appear to Saul? (on his way to Damascus)
  • What did Saul see? (a very bright light)
  • What did Saul hear? (a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you opposing me"?)
  • What did Saul's companions see? (they didn't see the bright light, but heard the voice)
  • What happeend to Saul after Jesus spoke to him? (he couldn't see anymore)
  • Where did Jesus send Saul? (into Damascus)
  • Who did Jesus send to speak to Saul? (Ananias)
  • What happened to Saul after Ananias laid his hands on him? (something like scales fell off his eyes and he could see again)
  • What did Paul do after he could see again? (he met with the other believers and preached in the synagogues)
  • What did the other Jews in Damascus try and do to him? (they tried to kill him)
  • How did Paul escape? (other believers helped him escape in a basket lowered through a hole in the city walls)
  • Where did Paul go next? (Jerusalem, where he had to flee again because the Jews there wanted to kill him)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • In this story, we learn that after Saul became a believer, he was baptized, began meeting with other believers, and was telling everyone he knew about Jesus.
  • What about you? Are you a believer in Christ? Have you been baptized? Do you meet with other Christians? Do you tell others about Jesus?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Reinforcement Activities

Glow in the Dark Paint Road to Damascus

Scripture On his journey, Saul approached Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

Supplies glow in the dark paint, crayons, paper

  • Draw a picture of Saul on the road to Damascus.
  • Use glow in the dark paint to show the light that came down from heaven and shone around him.

Paul's Conversion with Legos

Scripture Acts 9:1-31

Supplies legos

  • Provide legos for each student or divide them into groups.
  • Ask the students to create a scene from the Bible story using Legos.
  • Each student/group can do the same part of the story or be given different parts of the story to create a representation.

Blindness

Scripture Saul got up from the ground. He opened his eyes, but he couldn’t see. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind. He didn’t eat or drink anything. Acts 9:8-9

Supplies objects familiar to the students

  • Blindfold the students or have them close their eyes.
  • Hand them an object and ask them to identlfy the object.
  • They can use their sense of hearing and touch to identify the object.
  • Provide some objects that will be easily identifiable and others that would be a bit more difficult.

Flashlight Tag

Scripture On his journey, Saul approached Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. Acts 9:3

Supplies flashlight, large dark room

  • Choose one person to be "It."
  • "It" gets to use the flashlight and must sit in one place.
  • Turn out the lights and have the students move around the room, trying to stay out of the beam of the flashlight.
  • If you are caught in the flashlight beam, you are out.

Transformation Activity

Heads up! This activity can be used as an intro to the lesson.

Scripture “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I’ve heard many reports about this man. They say he has done great harm to God’s people in Jerusalem. Now he has come here to arrest all those who worship you. The chief priests have given him authority to do this.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! I have chosen this man to work or me. He will carry my name to those who aren’t Jews and to their kings. He will bring my name to the people of Israel. ACts 9:13-15

Supplies transformer toys, butterfly books (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) or origami paper and instructions

  • Provide transformer toys for the students to explore.
  • Read a book on a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly.
  • Have students try making simple origami shapes.
  • Paul transformed in our story today.
  • Listen to the story and figure out what transformation Paul had.
  • Ask students to identify the transformation in Paul.

Lowered in a Basket Craft

Scripture But his followers helped him escape by night. They lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. Acts 9:25

Supplies pencil or stick, string, egg cartons

  • Cut egg cartons into separate pieces.
  • Poke a hole in each side of the egg baskets.
  • Tie string to the holes.
  • Wrap string around pencil or stick.
  • Turning the stick will allow the basket to be raised or lowered.

Dried Glue Scales

Scripture Right away something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes. And he could see again. He got up and was baptized. Acts 9:18

Supplies glue

  • Squeeze a small amount of glue onto the back of each student's hands.
  • Make it thick enough that it will be able to remain on piece after dry.
  • Allow the glue to dry.
  • Have the students peel the glue off of their hands.
  • Saul had scales over hs eyes that were preventing him from seeing.
  • Imagine the glue scales being over your eyes.
  • Would it make it difficult to see?
  • Why do you think God put scales over Saul's eyes so he was unable to see?

Light Activity

Heads up! This wold be a good intro to the Bible Story

Scripture On his journey, Saul approached Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. Acts 9:3

Supplies sources of light

  • Discuss different sources of light.
  • Let students experiment with light:
  • Shadows on a sunny day
  • Flashlight tag
  • Flashlight finger puppets
  • Flash from a camera
  • Glow sticks
  • Flame of a candle
  • Lightbulb