“A Chosen Vessel unto Me”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, Instructor’s Guide (Rel 211–12), (2000), 69–70


Paul’s call to service on the road to Damascus and his later faithfulness demonstrate how he and all mankind may become chosen vessels unto the Lord.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    Paul’s life was changed through his confrontation with the Lord on the road to Damascus.

  • B.

    Although Paul had been called to greatness from before the foundation of the world, he became a “chosen vessel” in mortality because he arose from the earth and walked in the way of the Lord.

  • C.

    Many have been called to greatness as was Paul; many have been foreordained; but only those who, like Paul, keep the commandments and remain faithful will receive the blessings.

Study Sources

New Testament Reading Assignment

Acts 9

Course Manual

Chapter 31, “A Chosen Vessel unto Me”

Standard Works

Acts 9:15. At the time these words were spoken, how could Paul be a chosen vessel unto God?

Alma 13:3-7. How significant is foreordination in the plan of God?

D&C 121:34-36. Does foreordination guarantee blessings in this life?

Acts 26:19. What made the great difference in Paul’s life?

2 Peter 1:4; D&C 82:10. What makes the difference as to whether the promises are fulfilled in anyone’s life?

2 Corinthians 11:23-28. How faithful was Paul throughout his life?

2 Timothy 4:6-8. Why, ultimately, was Paul a “chosen vessel”?

2 Nephi 31:19-21. On what basis do all become fully chosen?

Basic Library

Jesus the Christ, pp. 712-16. The appearance of the Savior to Paul.

Teachings, pp. 63-64. Paul as an example of a faithful servant of God.

A of F, pp. 189-94. Foreordination and preexistence.

M of F, pp. 4-6. Premortal life affects mortal life.

M of F, p. 121. The importance of enduring to the end.

Additional Sources

Howard W. Hunter in CR, Oct. 1964, pp. 106-10. “Down Damascus Road”—a look at the life of Paul.

David O. McKay, Ancient Apostles, pp. 115-30 and following. Paul’s early life and conversion.

Robert J. Matthews, Unto All Nations, pp. 11-14. An overview of the life and service of Paul.

Marion G. Romney in CR, Oct. 1965, pp. 20-23. Calling and election.

Marion G. Romney, “The Light of Christ,” Ensign, May 1977, pp. 43-45. A further discussion on calling and election.

Media Suggestions

Filmstrip (The Life of Paul, 3), Commitment to Christ (17:48)

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

A Summary of Saul’s Background and Early Life (An Overview)

Although we possess little information concerning Saul’s early background and training, what we do know is significant. The following are some of the things we know concerning Saul before he received his vision on the road to Damascus. (Note how he was uniquely prepared for the mission to which he would be called.)

  1. 1.

    Saul’s early life was spent in Tarsus, a Roman city in the province of Cilicia (Acts 21:39; 22:3).

  2. 2.

    He was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5, 6; Romans 11:1).

  3. 3.

    His family rigorously observed the Mosaic tradition (Philippians 3:5, 6).

  4. 4.

    His father, like himself, was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).

  5. 5.

    His education was primarily received in Jerusalem at the feet of the famed Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).

  6. 6.

    He was not only a Pharisee, but he was of the strict and zealous type (Galatians 1:13, 14; Philippians 3:5-7; Acts 22:3).

  7. 7.

    Saul may have belonged to the Sanhedrin, since he voted for the death of Stephen (Acts 26:10, 11)

  8. 8.

    If he was a member of the Sanhedrin, Saul would have been married, for that was a requirement for membership.

  9. 9.

    Saul spoke both Greek and Aramaic; the latter was the language of the Jews (Acts 21:37, 40; 22:1, 2).

  10. 10.

    Saul was born a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25-29; 16:37-39).

  11. 11.

    Saul was a tentmaker by occupation (Acts 18:3).

  12. 12.

    He had at least one sister, and she lived in Jerusalem (Acts 23:16).

  13. 13.

    Saul was always proud of his Jewish background and blood (Romans 11:1).

Tarsus, City of Saul’s Birth

It could be helpful to discuss and show the world Paul was familiar with.

map of world Paul was familiar with

Many Are Called, but Few Are Chosen (A Discussion)

The instructor could promote an interesting discussion by presenting to the class D&C 121:34, 35 and asking, Why, according to the Lord, do so few become chosen vessels unto God? (A study of D&C 121:35 could result in identifying some of the worldly obstacles to becoming chosen.) Some of the following “things of the world” might be listed: materialism (1 Timothy 6:10); slothfulness (Philippians 2:12); pride (1 Timothy 3:6); uncontrolled passions (1 Corinthians 9:27); ignorance (2 Timothy 2:15) and the like. Using Paul as an example, one could show how he handled these problems and ask how we are doing today in these areas. (Note the scriptures in parentheses!)