Sunday School Lesson: Paul Testifies in Jerusalem

This lesson continues the study of the Book of Acts.  This lesson was prepared for older students and teaches them that the Holy Spirit enables believers to boldly share their testimony.  This is only a guide with suggestions how to teach.  We have included suggestions for activities to go along with this lesson. Please adapt the lesson to the needs of your students. Click here to see all the lessons in this curriculum series.

Bible Story: Paul Testifies in Jerusalem
Scripture: Acts 21:37-22:29
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, different resources to show students how they can share the Good News (tracts, wordless book, their own testimony, Using the Bible etc), Review sticks from Lesson:  Paul is arrested in Jerusalem, copies of an outline of a t-shirt for students to create a t-shirt that would testify about Jesus, markers, crayons, or colored pencils, flannel graphs/or pictures of Paul’s conversion.

If you are adapting this lesson for younger children, you might browse our selection of Sunday School coloring pages.

Learning Goal: Students will learn that the Holy Spirit gives them the power to share Jesus with others.

Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension by answering review questions.

Learning Activity #1: As students are waiting for others to arrive have them create a t-shirt that would share the Good News about Jesus.  Print out some ideas of Bible verses, symbols etc for students who need help coming up with an idea of their own.

Learning Activity #2: Have students who are believers write out their testimony (a resource to help students to know how to share).  Students who are willing to share their testimony will be given an opportunity to share how they were saved.  This activity helps the students in a safe place become more comfortable sharing their testimony and it is also an opportunity for unbelieving students to hear the Good News from their own peers.

Test: Review Questions

Memory Verse: Acts 22:15 “You will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.”

Teaching the Memory Verse: Recite the verse together as a class.  Then personalize it by filling in the places (you) with the students’ names.

Bible Lesson:  Paul Testifies in Jerusalem

Review last week’s lesson about Paul’s trip to Jerusalem and his arrest (use craft stick/bag activity from that lesson).

Let’s open our Bibles to Acts 21:37.  Last week we left off with Paul being carried up the stairs by soldiers because the crowd had become so violent.  In the background the crowd is chanting ‘Away with him!’  The soldiers carried Paul safely to the top of the steps and were about to take him to the barracks as they were ordered by their commander in charge of the situation.  Paul turns to the commander and speaks in the Greek language.  As the commander hears Paul speak to him in this language he was surprised.  Because of the riot taking place he thought that Paul was an Egyptian who had started a rebellion.  (Acts 21:38)

Acts 21:39 Paul told the commander who he was and asked him if he could please speak to the crowd.

The Holy Spirit enabled Paul to have a clear mind in the middle of such chaos.  The Holy Spirit gave Paul wisdom to know he had an opportunity to share the Good News with this angry crowd.

Many times we hear church leaders and teachers say the phrases ‘we need to testify to others about Jesus’, ‘we should share our testimony with others’, and ‘you should be a witness for Jesus’.

The word testimony means to witness and the word testify means to bear witness.  For a believer what do you think it means to share your testimony or to be a witness for Jesus?  (Allow responses)  Believers testify to others what Jesus has done for them.  When a believer shares how they were saved they are sharing their testimony (it is their account of how they came to believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose again).  Today we will see how the Holy Spirit gives Paul boldness to share his testimony in a difficult situation.

Acts 21:40-22:2 The commander agreed to let Paul speak to the crowd.  Paul turned to the crowd and made a motion to them and when they all became quiet he spoke to them using the Aramaic language.  This is the language that Jews speak.  When they heard Paul speaking to them in their very own language they all became very quiet.

As believers we have a ‘church’ language or Christian-ese that we speak.  (Think of some phrases that the students are familiar with but an unbeliever might not know what they mean)  ‘Church’ language is natural for anyone who has gone to church and spent time in the Bible.  When believers talk with people who have not been in church and are not familiar with the Bible it’s important to use language that the people can understand.

Acts 22:3-5 Paul relates with the Jews and shares his Jewish training.  He understands their anger because he once persecuted anyone who taught Jesus was the Messiah.  He tells of how he got permission from the high priest and the council to go to Damascus and arrest anyone who was teaching that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 22:6-16 Paul shares his testimony of how he met Jesus on the way to Damascus.  (Use flannel graphs/pictures to briefly review his experience)

God sent a believer to Paul to help him receive his sight again.  Let’s read Acts 22:14-16 to hear what Ananias told Paul.

Acts 22:17-21 After Paul believed in Jesus he wanted to share with the Jews in Jerusalem about how Jesus is the Messiah that God had promised to send.  While in Jerusalem God gave Paul a vision.  Let’s read Acts 22:18 and see what the Lord told Paul.    Paul felt that the Jews in Jerusalem would listen to him because that there was proof that he had persecuted believers and even gave approval for the death of Stephen.  However the Lord knew that the Jews would not believe Paul’s testimony and He told him to leave Jerusalem immediately.

God has a purpose for each follower of Jesus.  He has work for each believer to do.  Let’s flip back to Acts 9:15 and see what God said Paul’s work would be now that he was a believer.

Paul was obedient to do what God told him to do.  He wanted to share the Good News with his own people the Jews.  Unfortunately, the Lord knew that many Jews would reject Paul and the Good News about Jesus.    Paul tells them that the Lord said to him, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’

Acts 22:22-29 The crowd had listened attentively to Paul’s testimony until he spoke these words about the Gentiles.  This angered the crowd and they became rowdy again.  Read verses 22-23.  (Have students act out the scene of this angry crowd)

The commander who was still standing with Paul saw the crowd out of control again and he ordered his soldiers to take Paul and beat him to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.

The Holy Spirit helped Paul to be calm and patient in a difficult situation.  As he was led away to be whipped by the soldiers he didn’t fight or argue.  (Jesus is our example:  1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”)

(Have a student act out Paul being stretched out to be flogged and a centurion standing by) As Paul was stretched out to be whipped, Paul calmly asks the centurion, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t been found guilty for committing a crime?”

The Holy Spirit used Paul’s words to stop the soldiers from beating him to report Paul’s words to the commander.  When the commander learned that Paul was a Roman citizen he did not allow him to be beaten.

The story of Paul’s arrest continues in our next lesson.  As we have heard Paul boldly share his testimony in difficult situations we can trust the Holy Spirit to enable us if we are believers to have wisdom and boldness to share our testimony with others.

Close in prayer.

Review Questions:

After the review questions spend some time with resources of how to share the Good News.  Have students who have agreed to share their testimony to speak with the class.

  1. What language did Paul speak to the commander?  (Greek)
  2. What did he ask the commander?  (If he could speak to the crowd)
  3. What language did Paul speak to the crowd?  (Aramaic)
  4. What did Paul share with the crowd?  (His testimony of how he became a believer in Jesus)
  5. What did Paul say that made the crowd go crazy again?  (God told him to go and share the Good News with the Gentiles)
  6. How was Paul protected from being beaten?  (He told the centurion he was a Roman citizen and they could not be beaten unless they had been found guilty of a crime)
  7. True or False:  If you share the Good News with others and they don’t believe in Him, you have not done a good job sharing the message.  (False-a believer is only responsible to be obedient to share the Gospel and it is the one who hears responsibility to believe or not)

Personal Question (not to be answered out loud):

If you are a believer have you ever shared your testimony?  If not, will you pray that the Holy Spirit will give you courage to share your testimony with someone?