Lesson 16

Just a reminder: This is the last class of our Acts study. It has been a pleasure and a great personal blessing working through this wonderful book with you all…….Kathy

 

Conclusion 

Paul is now leaving Caesarea. He has been in prison, remember, in Caesarea for two long years. He has seen both Felix come and go, and now Governor Festus, and more recently we’ve seen him give his defense, or his apologia, before King Agrippa and his sister Bernice. And at the end of the twenty-sixth chapter, King Agrippa had come to this conclusion: that this man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

 

Act 27:1-6

The use of the term “we” here shows that the author of this book, Luke, was with Paul. He had been his traveling companion, and though he had not been accused, yet it was resolved that he should still accompany him. Whether he went at his own expense, or whether he was sent at the expense of the Roman government, does not appear.

Continue reading “Lesson 16”

Lesson 15

Acts 24:27-25:12

Since Paul’s trial in Caesarea two years earlier, some of the faces have changed. Ananias, the high priest whom Paul had offended, has been replaced.  Felix has been replaced by Festus. Tertullus, the lawyer hired by the leaders of the Sanhedrin to prosecute Paul before Felix, is now out of the picture.

Felix was a veteran as governor of Judea, who ruled with an iron fist. But his methods greatly angered the Jews. Festus is not nearly as well known as Felix, but all indications are that he was a novice and not really equipped to handle Paul’s case. Felix was experienced and very familiar with Judaism (Acts 24:11). After all, his wife was a Jewess (Acts 24:24). In addition, Felix was familiar with Christianity (“the Way,” see Acts 24:22). Festus was probably lacking in all these areas. History does not have a great deal to tell us about Festus.

So Festus invites the men, the Jewish men, down to Caesarea for the trial. They rehearse the same old charges. There are no witnesses, and they cannot prove a single charge that is being made against the Apostle Paul. Continue reading “Lesson 15”

Lesson 13

We pick up with Paul in Ephesus after a 3 year stay, where he had a conflict with local artisans. He wrote about it in his first letter to the Corinthians. (1 Cor. 16:1-2).

Acts 20:1-6

This is the first reference (the first formal reference, at least) to the Lord’s Day in The Acts of The Apostles, and you get the impression that when Paul comes (and it is to Philippi that he eventually will come) and he’s there with Luke, you get the impression that they’re engaging in a certain activity that they’ve been engaging in for some time on the Lord’s Day.

he hears of a plot, a plot to kill him…a Jewish plot to kill him. And he heads back up to Macedonia, heads back towards the districts of Thessalonica and Berea, and eventually to Philippi, and eventually across the Aegean again to Troas.
Luke tells us that he didn’t travel alone. It was a wise policy, of course, not to travel alone. There’s a whole slew of people, there’s a group here of ten people that we know of in this party. One is Timothy, from Lystra; Aristarchus and Secundus come from Thessalonica in Macedonia; Tychicus comes from Asia; Sopater comes from Berea; Trophimus, from Ephesus; Gaius comes from Derbe; Titus and Luke come from Antioch. We’re not quite clear where Luke has been; all we can say is that when he gets to Philippi, Luke is there, because all of a sudden, you notice, we’re back to we again. And they were gathered together to break bread. Already, do you see, the church in Troas…of which we know almost nothing…but this little church, this little community that has gathered together in Troas on the first day of the week, on Sunday, they’re gathering together. And they’re gathering together for the purposes of breaking bread and, as we see here, of listening to preaching, of listening to the word of God being expounded. There’s no mention here of singing. We do have reference here to two things: preaching and the Lord’s Supper. Continue reading “Lesson 13”

Acts Lesson 12

Ministry in Corinth

We left Paul in Athens last week. We expected Timothy and Silas to join him. Actually, they did, but Luke doesn’t mention it in the account in The Acts of The Apostles, but Paul tells us in a letter to the church at Thessalonica that he will write from the city of Corinth. And he tells us that both Timothy and Silas came down from Berea to Athens, but he immediately sent them back, sending Timothy back to Thessalonica, and probably Silas. In chapters 18 and 19, Luke describes Paul’s visits to Corinth and Ephesus. They follow a similar pattern to what we have seen, namely the evangelization of the Jews, their opposition to the gospel, his deliberate turn to the gentiles and the vindication for his decision. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 12”

Acts Lesson 11

 

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

In the last chapter, we saw a brewing controversy develop between two of the pillars of the church. Paul and Barnabas had a falling out. It became so divisive that they split and each went his own way. The most notable feature of Paul’s 2nd missionary journey was that the gospel was planted on European soil. There was no line of demarcation between Asia and Europe at that time, since everything belonged to the Roman Empire. In the first journey they concentrated on Cyprus and Galatia, in the second they would reach Macedonia and Achaia, northern and southern Greece, and Asia by visiting Ephesus. In each case the capital city was part of their itinerary, Thessalonica being Macedonia’s capital, Corinth being Achaia’s and Ephesus being Asia. Paul would later write letters to these churches. In this lesson we will see visits to Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea.

Acts 16:1-5

As Paul and Silas, and perhaps a few others, leave Antioch heading north to the region of Syria and Cilicia, and then (by land this time) westward to the region of Galatia where they had been on their first missionary journey — places like Lystra and Derbe, and then Pisidian Antioch and Iconium  the last time Paul was in Lystra. The last time he was in Lystra, they had clubbed him almost to death and left him at the side of the road as though he were dead. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 11”

Acts Lesson 10

We pick up in Chapter 14 of Acts as we see Paul’s first missionary journey result in the planting of new churches and the Gentiles becoming a big factor in the growth of Christianity.  The kingdom of God never advances but that it experiences trials and tribulations at every step, at every point along the way. Paul and Barnabas have been driven out (at the end of chapter 13) of Pisidian Antioch, and now they move in an easterly direction towards the great city of Iconium, in the Phrygian region.

 

And a summary of what took place in the city of Iconium is given to us in verses 2 and 3: “Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles.” Trouble comes in the city of Iconium.

Read Act 14:1-7.

In Iconium they first of all go to the synagogue. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 10”

Acts Lesson 8

Reminder: We are on break until January. 

Acts 11:1-18

Trouble is brewing in Jerusalem. If you will remember, Peter was in Joppa at the house of Simon the tanner and he had a vision-like experience that had animals and creatures, and God taught him that he was to longer call anything clean or unclean. The Jewish distinction of separating from the world is gone. Peter spends time with Cornelius and his gentile household, and a great blessing comes upon these Gentiles. We will see this as a beginning of the the church opening up to all the earth. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 8”

Acts Lesson 7

In this lesson we see some very important events. The efforts of Phillip, the conversion of Saul and the events around the gentile Cornelius and the apostle Peter will herald a change in direction of the spread of the gospel. We will see God’s plan unfolding for the gospel reaching to the ends of the earth and to all people, not just the Jews! Do not miss how radical this would be. 

Acts 8:1-4

The book of Acts is often a study in contrasts.  We have been seeing a contrast between the inner struggles of the church versus the outward struggles of the church.  This chapter continues some of those contrasts. The last chapter closes with the martyrdom of Stephen. The church has already been under some persecution, but until now there had been a boundary line beyond which the Jewish authorities had not been willing to cross. Things were very bad. Stephen had been executed. Others were being arrested and imprisoned. But we see that the persecution drove the Christians to disperse, and in doing so they were reaching others with the message of the Messiah. Another example of God using evil to bring about good!

Acts 8:5-8

This chapter gives us a transition. It is a pivotal point in the history of the Church. Up to this time, the knowledge of God had been primarily focused in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the single beacon of light which was to draw all the nations to herself. This is what happened at Pentecost. Jews from all the nations gathered together to meet the Lord. But this will now all change. Instead of the world coming to the church, now the church will go to the world.

Philip is a Greek name. It was a fairly common name among the Greeks and had been ever since the days of Philip the father of Alexander the Great. This is not the same Philip who was one of the apostles. This is a different Philip. He was first introduced to us when the first deacons were chosen. He was named immediately after Stephen (Acts 6:5). Continue reading “Acts Lesson 7”

Acts Lesson 6

Up to this point, our focus in the book of Acts has been upon the Twelve and upon Peter and John. But now there is a change. With the appointment of the first seven deacons in Acts 6:1-6, there are new leading figures within the church.

Acts 6:8-11

Stephen’s ministry to the Hellenistic (Greek) widows put him into contact with many of the Greek-speaking Jews. While there were many who believed the gospel, there were many others who did not and who viewed this new sect of Christians with suspicion. The debates between the two parties grew heated and the Jews began to cast accusations at the church and specifically at Stephen.

These antagonists came from the Synagogue of the Freedmen, literally, the Synagogue of the Libertarians. This was evidently a synagogue which had been started for Greek-speaking Jews who had once been Roman slaves but who had now been released and allowed to return to Palestine to live.  (Here is a brief article about the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament).

These men spoke the same common language as Stephen. And yet, there was a great and bitter disagreement. Stephen was accused of blasphemy and this soon led to civil proceedings. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 6”

Acts Lesson 5

Reminder: We will be off on Wednesday the 27th for the Reformation Festival.

We picked up at Acts 4:36-37 at the first mention of a man who would become a familiar figure in the early church. His Hebrew name was Joseph, a cousin of John Mark, and a Levite. We know him as Barnabas. The next chapter, begins with the word “but”. We see in Acts 5:1-2 there is a contrast with the preceding passage. The contrast is between Ananias and Sapphira over against Barnabas. In Acts 5:3-11, Peter confronts Ananias with his sin. Notice what Peter says is the motivating force behind the sin of Ananias. He is called “Satan.” The scene of three hours earlier is repeated. Peter asks her about the gift they had given. He is giving her the opportunity to repent. But she does not. She repeats the lie that her husband had told earlier. And suddenly she falls to the floor. Why did God kill these two people? It is because God takes His church and the vows made within His church very seriously, even if we don’t. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 5”