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March 15, 2018

Obedient To the Heavenly Vision Acts (Recap)

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 5:08 PM

Lesson 45

Obedient to the Heavenly Vision

Acts

I cannot name the number of promises that I have made over the years that have not been fulfilled. There have been so many times when the leader of a conference or worship service have laid a challenge before the group I would get caught up in the moment and go forward with all good intentions of following through with improved actions or attitude. Thankfully there has been one promise I have not gone on. It is the call of Christ to follow Him. There is no way that everything I have done has been pleasing to Him, but I have placed my life in His hands and trust that all of His promises are true.

Christ has given the church a mandate. It is called to be obedient to His call to be a witness in this world in which we are sojourners. In many ways we have failed on the promises we have made. We say that we love Christ but find ourselves full of division and strife. We are called to show those around us Christ and yet we keep our Christianity locked up inside the four walls of the Church. How true it has been said of us that we are often times disobedient to commands of Christ. The book of Acts has shown us how the men and women lived out the good news in all the places to which they were sent.

This lesson will be a quick look back at the book of Acts in its entirety. It will be based on the words spoken by Paul in Acts 26:19 when he told King Agrippa, “I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision.”

Acts 1:1-11

Right after His resurrection the Logos of God, Jesus Christ spent forty days with the disciples preparing them for:

  • His departure
  • Their mission

We discovered from their responses to His teaching that they were not ready for the task that lay ahead. They were given the command to wait until they had been equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Having completed His earthly ministry of instructing the disciples, Jesus ascended into heaven. An angel appeared and gave them a promise that Jesus would return.

  1. Why were these final instructions so important to the disciples?
  2. What is the message that can be learned from these words from the Logos of God?
  3. How will we receive our instructions?
  4. In what ways is the mandate given to them still true?
  5. What is the important promise that we have from the words of the angel?

Acts 1:12-26

This was one of the most crucial times in the life of the disciples. In order for the disciples to become effective witnesses they had to reach a point when all were in agreement of the task ahead. Luke tells us with one mind they were “continually devoting themselves to prayer.” They understood perfectly that they would not be able to work together nor discern the purpose of God for their lives without concentrated prayer. Jesus had told them to wait and wait they did. In a small way they were being obedient to Christ.

  1. Why was the time in the upper room so crucial?
  2. What were the results of this time spent together?
  3. Why does the Church find it difficult to reaching the point of being of one accord?
  4. What lessons can we learn from the actions and attitude of the disciples?

Acts 2:1-13

Finally the day came for which they had been preparing. On the day of Pentecost, the feast of the first harvest, God’s Holy Spirit fell on the disciples in a dramatic way. As a result of the event, accompanied by a sound, devout men from many different lands who had come to the feast rushed to where the disciples were. Each heard the gospel in his own language. Some heard with gladness while others ridiculed the disciples, accusing them of being drunk.

  1. What did God do to assure the greatest exposure to the gospel?
  2. What is the symbolism of the Holy Spirit coming on the day of Pentecost?
  3. What have been times in your life when you sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way?
  4. What were the results from that experience?

Acts 2:14-36

Peter’s sermon covered a lot of ground. He began by telling all there that this was the day which they had been anticipating. He used Old Testament prophecies to indicate that this was the Day of the Lord promised in Joel when the Jews would once again be free and returned to their former stature. Secondly, he pointed out that Jesus whom the Jews leaders had killed had been raised by God and was the fulfillment of all the prophecies.

  1. Why was the Day of the Lord so important to the Jews?
  2. What new fact did Peter add to the mix?
  3. Why did Peter invoke the words of David into his sermon?

Acts 2:37-47

When the people heard the words of Peter they “were pierced to the heart.” They had one question for all of the apostles. “What shall we do?” There was but one answer. “Repent and be baptized in Jesus name for the forgiveness of sin. The response to those words was great. There was added to the church 3000 people. Luke tells us that they were continually devoting themselves to:

  • The teaching of the apostles.
  • Fellowship
  • Breaking of the bread
  • Prayer

They were proving themselves faithful to the decision that had been made to follow Jesus. Where this decision was to lead them they did not know. They just knew that they had a new life that was eternal. Because of their example many more were being added to the church daily.

  1. Why did Peter’s message strike such a chord in their lives?
  2. Why is it that we see so little response like that in the lives of people today?
  3. What important lessons can we learn from the lifestyle of these new followers of Christ?
  4. In which of these do we fall short?
  5. What are the results?

Acts 3:1-10

At this point the apostles continued to worship in the Temple. They did not consider themselves any less of a Jew because they were followers of Christ. With new authority Peter and John healed the beggar at to the Temple grounds. For the first time they saw this beggar in a new light. He was one who needed the healing of the inner man that only Jesus could bring. His response to his healing brought the crowd around them to see what had taken place.

  1. What did the presence of Peter and John at the Temple show about their feelings about the Jewish religion?
  2. Why was the healing of the beggar so important?
  3. What did the two apostles see in this man that caused them to stop and take the time to heal him?
  4. What can we learn from the actions of the apostles as we move about in our world?

Acts 3:11-26

Peter responded to the crowd’s reaction to the healing of the man but giving his second sermon. First he discounted that it was by their power that the healing had taken place. All the credit belonged to Jesus who they had mistreated and executed, even out of ignorance. It was through Him who God had raised from the dead that the miracle had taken place.

He continued by stating that the promised One had suffered just as the prophets proclaimed. Their only hope for forgiveness from the sins committed was to repent and return to relationship with God through Christ.

  1. Why did Peter use this opportunity to preach his second sermon?
  2. Why would it impact the hearts of the people there?
  3. Why is important for us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit on such occasions?
  4. What did this sermon show of Peter’s understanding of the working of God in history?
  5. Why is important for us to have the same understanding?

Acts 4:1-22

The inevitable took place. At some point there would be confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders. Up to this point the apostles had not invaded their territory, the Temple, with the gospel. Now they had not only healed a man but had preached Jesus who the leaders had killed. There are three key sentences in this chapter that give us the essence of the position of the apostles that would be opposition of the Jews.

  1. Referring to Jesus they said, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12

  1. The Jews thought that they were putting down the apostles by saying they, “began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
  2. Peter and John responded to the threats of the leaders by saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (4:19)

Since the leaders could not deny the miracle that had taken place they had but one option. They threatened them and let them go. The two had shown themselves obedient to the heavenly mandate.

  1. Why did the Jewish leaders believe it necessary to arrest the two men?
  2. By his responses what were the men trying to say to the leaders?
  3. In what ways is it obvious to the world that we have been with Jesus?
  4. In what ways have you stood up for your faith in spite of the threats that may have thrown at you?

Acts 4:23-32

The church saw the threats as a fulfillment of Psalm 2 which speaks of the world speaking against God’s anointed One. They asked only one thing after this episode. It was that God would, “Grant that Your bondservants may speak Your word with all confidence.” (Acts 4:29) That is the part that the apostles were to carry out. Those things like healings, signs wonders were by God’s power alone through his son Jesus.

God answer their prayers in a dramatic way. The presence of the Holy Spirit was felt in a very tangible way. As a result Luke says, “They began to speak the word with boldness.” (Acts 4:32)

  1. Why were the threats a fulfillment of Psalm 2?
  2. What was the responsibility of the apostles?
  3. Why did they speak of God carrying out healings, signs and wonders?
  4. Why should the prayer of the apostles being ours also?
  5. In what ways has the Holy Spirit manifested His presence in your life?

Acts 4:33-36

As the apostles continued to share the gospel in a powerful way, the church was providing for those that had need in a very tangible way. Barnabas was a prime example who did see his property as his own but sold it willingly so others might have their needs met.

  1. In what ways do the verses show the church in action?
  2. What caused the church to act in this way?
  3. How much of a factor was the preaching of the apostles in all of this activity?
  4. Why was Barnabas singled out as an example of obedience to the gospel?

Acts 5:1-11

Ananias and Sapphira present a sharp contrast to the picture painted of the church in the previous verses. They conspired together to not only withhold part of the selling price of some land they sold but to lie about the amount received. They proceeded to bring only part of the money to the church and were caught in their deception. As a consequence both of them received judgment from God and died.

The affect on the church was understandable. Great fear fell not only on the church but upon everyone who heard what had happened.

  1. In what ways was the behavior of Ananias and Sapphira different from that of Barnabas and the rest of the church?
  2. Why was their punishment so severe?
  3. What would bring about the great reverence and awe that is seen here in your life?

Acts 5:12-16

Luke summarizes the dynamics there were occurring after the death of Ananias and Sapphira. While the apostles were performing signs and wonders the people were responding in different ways. One group respected the church but was afraid to join. Many others were becoming followers. In fact the church had grown so large that Peter and the other apostles could no longer meet the physical needs of the church.

  1. Why were some afraid to become followers of Christ?
  2. What was it that caused many more to become believers?
  3. What good problem did the church experience at this point?
  4. Why was healing limited to the apostles at this point?

Acts 5:17-42

Once again the apostles were detained. This time it was not just Peter and John. That night an angel released them and told them to go back to preaching in the Temple. The next morning when they were found in the Temple they were brought before the Sanhedrin for second trial.

Peter and the others responded in somewhat the same way as before when challenged by the Jews. He said, “We must obey God rather than man.” (Acts 5:29) When the men heard the testimony of the apostles concerning Jesus they became angry and were about to kill them when Gamaliel spoke up. He basically said, “Be careful you do not want to fight against God.” The others listened to him threatened the apostles again, had them flogged and released.

  1. Why were the apostles obedient to the command of the angel when they knew it would lead to trouble?
  2. What statement indicated that the apostles were not intimidated by the Sanhedrin?
  3. Which of the Sanhedrin showed true wisdom?
  4. What would been the results if the apostles had been killed?

Acts 5:42

The response of the apostles was two-fold:

  • Praised God that they were considered worthy to suffer for Him.
  • Went right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

 

  1. Why did they disobey the Sanhedrin?
  2. What can we learn from their actions?
  3. When is alright to disobey the authorities?

Acts 6:1-6

The problem of distribution of food was dealt with by the selection of seven men to take care of the situation. From this passage we can see the development of the two positions that are found in the Bible. The apostles represent the teachers of the word and the seven are what is called the deacon or ministry team.

  1. Why could the distribution of the food become a major problem?
  2. What do you think of the way it was handled?
  3. In what way is this a good description of the way the church looks at ministry?

Acts 6:7

The spread of the word of God resulted in more disciples in Jerusalem. Even a great number of the priest were becoming believers.

  1. How much was this a result of the actions of the church?
  2. What did the priests see that drew them to Jesus?
  3. How do all of these things we have seen show the obedience of the church to the commands of Jesus?

Acts 6:8-15

God began to stir in the heart of Stephan. He began to perform signs that had only been done by the apostles. This caught the attention of a group of Jews who were members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen. Stephen defended his position by giving a summary of the history of the Jews culminating with a description of the disobedience and sinfulness of the nation. He even went as far as accusing them of the death of Christ. This led to his stoning. Saul was a witness to all this and gave his approval to his death.

  1. What does this say about God’s expectation of each of us to doing His work?
  2. Why were the men of Synagogue of the Freedmen so opposed to him?
  3. What does this say about the direction that the persecution of the church was now taking?
  4. How would you have defended your faith in the face of such accusations?

Acts 8:1-3

Saul began persecuting the church resulting in many of the believers fleeing from Jerusalem going into Judea and Samaria. The apostles however stayed in Jerusalem.

  1. Why did Saul believe it was his responsibility to persecute the church?
  2. In what ways did the persecution work to the advantage of the church?
  3. Why did the apostles remain in Jerusalem?

Acts 8:4-24

Phillip, one of the seven, began to share the gospel in Samaria. When the apostles heard what was going on they sent Peter and John down to see what was happening. During his time there Peter dealt with the hypocrisy of Simon.

  1. How was this part of God’s plan?
  2. Why did the church send Peter and John to see what was happening in the lives of the people?
  3. What was the problem Peter faced with the magician?

Acts 8:1-40

The gospel was about to reach beyond the borders of Judea and Samaria to a eunuch from Ethiopia. Phillip was sent to Gaza to meet this man. After a sharing of the good news the eunuch accepted Christ and was baptized.

  1. Why did it take someone like Phillip to witness to the eunuch?
  2. What did it take to bring him into a relationship with Christ?
  3. Why was it important for Phillip to be able to explain the Scripture to the conversion of the eunuch?
  4. How much time do you spend in trying to understand God’s word?

Acts 9:1-19

One of the most significant event in all of Christian history was about to take place. On the road to Damascus, Saul was confronted by Jesus and became His follower. During the next several days sitting in Damascus blinded by the light, Saul heard what God had planned for him. Into the picture came Ananias who was willing to go to Saul to complete what God had begun. At his urging Saul was baptized.

  1. What is the importance of the conversion of Saul?
  2. Why did God have planned for his life?
  3. What would have done if you had been in the position of Ananias?

Acts 9:20-30

After his conversion Saul began preaching in Damascus until a plot to kill him was discovered. Leaving there Luke tells us that he proceeded to Jerusalem where he tried to meet with the church. If it had not been for Barnabas he would he would have been totally ignored. Once he was accepted he began to argue with the Jews again there was an attempt to kill so he left for Tarsus.

Acts 9:31

With Saul no longer persecuting the church was at peace and continued to grow.

Acts 9:32-43

Peter’s began to expand his ministry going first to Lydda where he healed Aeneas. He then travelled on to Joppa where he brought Dorcas (Tabitha) back to life. He then stayed with a tanner named Simon. Other than his follow up work in Samaria this is the first mention of an apostle venturing outside of Jerusalem.

  1. Why did it take so long for the apostles to leave Jerusalem?
  2. Why was it important for him to be in those two cities?
  3. What was the significance of his sojourn with Simon?

Acts 10:1-8

In these verses Cornelius who is to play a role in Peter’s life is described as a godly, well respected Roman Centurion. This man was searching for answers to life.

Acts 10:9-17

God was preparing Peter for his meeting with Cornelius. A vision of unclean animals came before him with a command to eat some of them. Peter would even consider doing so because he was a Jew. He awoke not knowing what the vision meant.

Acts 10:18-23

The men from Cornelius came to Peter as instructed to get him to return with them to Caesarea. He did so with the full approval of God.

Acts 10:24-48

Peter willingness to go with the men led to the conversion of Cornelius and his whole household. As important as that was, Peter learned a great lesson the Jews had never understood. He discovered that God loved the Gentiles and they would be accepted into His kingdom in the same as the Jews. Both Jew and Gentile would have to become followers of Christ through His grace. Peter made a key statement which affects us even today. He said, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized

Acts 11:1-18

When Peter returned to Jerusalem he faced a hostile reception from the church who questioned why he had spent time with the Gentiles. When he explained how the Holy Spirit had come upon them the church began to praise God for the work He had done in the lives of the Gentiles.

Acts 11:19-26

Some of the men who had been scattered by the persecution came to Antioch and began a church. The church in Jerusalem heard of the work and sent Barnabas to evaluate what was taking place. Later as the church grew Barnabas set off to get Saul to help. The two of them along with others were there for a whole year teaching the disciples.

Acts 11:27-30

A prophet named Agabus came to Antioch and shared that there was a famine in all the world. It was determined that a gift would be sent to the brethren in Jerusalem. It was be taken by Saul and Barnabas.

Acts 12:1-17

For the first time the apostles were affected by the persecution of the church. James, the brother of John, was put to death by Herod. When he saw that his action pleased the Jews he had Peter arrested intending that he would also be put to death.

Peter was rescued by an angel. He then proceeded to the house of Mary to let the disciples know he was still alive.

Acts 12:18-19

Having allowed their prisoner escape the guards were executed. This was a common practice in that part of the world. Herod returned to Caesarea without having accomplished his goal.

Acts 12:20-23

Because Herod accepted the adulation of the people of Tyre and Sidon as if he were a god, God struck him dead.

Acts 12:24

In spite of all the persecution from the Jews the word of God continued to “grow and multiply”

Acts 12:25

Barnabas and Saul having competed the mission to Jerusalem returned to Antioch carrying with them John Mark

Acts 13 and 14

The church at Antioch commissioned Barnabas and Saul to go on a missionary trip into present day Turkey. They took with them John Mark who would leave them at Pamphylia and return to Jerusalem. Their usual pattern was to begin the work among the Jews. When the Jews rejected the word they would then they would share the gospel with the Gentiles. After they had spent a good deal of time in Turkey they returned to Antioch and reported all that God had done through them.

Acts 15:1-35

The timing of Paul’s return to Antioch could not have been better. Some men from Judah came down and stated that accepting Christ was not enough. They wanted the Gentiles to be circumcised just as all the Jews were. Paul and Barnabas disagreed and it was decided to take the take the matter to the leaders in Jerusalem. The outcome of the debate did not require the Gentiles to be circumcised. As would be expected the church at Antioch rejoiced over the decision.

Acts 15:36-41

After Paul and Barnabas had been in Antioch for a while it was determined that they would return to the churches they had started to see how they were doing. They went their separate ways because Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them and Paul was totally against the idea. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed off to Cyprus. Paul took Silas with him and went back into Asia Minor.

Acts 16:1-11

As Paul travelled through the cities of Derbe and Lystra he found Timothy who would become one of his disciples. Eventually he believed that God was leading him into Europe. Based on a vision he and his companions set sail for Macedonia.

Acts 16:12-40 Adventures in Philippi

Paul’s time in Philippi began with finding a group of women praying by the riverside. Out of that encounter came the first convert in Europe. When God touched her heart Lydia, a woman from Thyatira, and her whole family was baptized.

The second person who would impact Paul’s ministry was the slave girl who told fortunes. She followed Paul around until he finally cast the demon from her. As a result her owners had Paul and Silas flogged and thrown into jail.

There Paul met the jailer. After an earthquake the jailer came to Paul with a very important question. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Here a hardened Roman jailer responded to Paul’s words, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”     (Acts 16:31)

As a result the jailer and his family became followers of Christ and subsequently took care of Paul’s physical needs. Following his night in jail was released after calling the Roman leaders to him. He then left Philippi.

Acts 17- 18:17

The Second missionary trip continued with stops in Thessalonica, Corinth, Berea and Athens where he met with both success but also continued persecution. Most of the trouble came from the Jews who Paul constantly tried to reach. It was in Thessalonica that the charge was made against the missionary team. The accusers said, “These men who have upset the world have come here, also. (Acts 17:6) His primary success was with the Gentiles. In Athens he probably experienced very few people coming to the Lord.

Acts 18:18-22

Paul then set out to return to Antioch. Into the Paul’s life came Aquila and Priscilla. They were a couple who had been forced out of Rome. They would become valuable co-workers with him. He left them to carry on the work in Ephesus while he continued on his trip.

 

Acts 18:23

On Paul’s third and last missionary journey to he travelled through Galatia and Phrygia encouraging the saints along the way.

Acts 18:24-28

Apollos, from Alexandria, described as one mighty in the Scriptures arrived in Ephesus. He was mentored by Aquila and Priscilla and then he proceeded into Achaia where he refuted the teachings of the Jews.

Acts 19:1-41

After spending time in those areas Paul went to Ephesus where he spent about two years performing miracles and preaching the gospel. It was during his stay that he ran into trouble with Demetrius and other craftsmen who made statutes of the goddess Artemis. After a near riot the town clerk calmed down the crowd.

Acts 20:1-6

After this episode Paul and his companions left for Macedonia and Greece. Not much is said about this trip. It is possible that he had gone to the different cities to collect the gift that had been promised for the church in Jerusalem.

Acts 20:7- 12

While at Troas he spent all night teaching the disciples before embarking on the final leg of his journey to Antioch. During the night Eutychus, one of the young men, fell from the window and was killed. Paul went down and brought him back to life and then returned to his teaching.

Acts 20:13-16

As Paul left Troas he intended to go to Jerusalem in order to be there by the feast of Pentecost. He made a stopover at Miletus.

Acts 20:17-38

His intentions were to by-pass Ephesus. He did however call the leadership to him. When the men arrived he did two things. He rehearsed his ministry among the people of Ephesus. His final words to them were a warning that they were to be on guard against those who would try to undermine the church, especially those who would arise from within the body. After praying with them he left on his way to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:1-14

On his trip he stopped in Caesarea where he stayed at the home of Phillip. There he received a warning not to go Jerusalem. He could not be dissuaded from going so the journey continued.

Acts 15-25:12

What started out well soon disintegrated into a number of trials for Paul. His report to the church was full of hope and received praise. His problems began when he compromised to maintain the peace within the body. Soon he would be accused of bringing a Gentile into the Temple which led to his arrest.

Over the next chapters Paul defends himself before the mob that had seized him. This led to his trial before Felix. When he was replaced then Festus was the next person before whom he had to defend himself. When the trial seemed to be going nowhere Paul appeal to Caesar for resolution of the problem.

Acts 25:13-26:32

When Festus agreed for Paul to go to Caesar he ran into a problem. He had nothing which justified bringing the case to Caesar. When King Agrippa arrived for a visit it was decided that Paul would have a hearing before both men. When Paul was brought before them he once again gave his testimony adding the phrase which is the title that fits all that had been accomplished by the men and women in the book of Acts. He said, “I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision.” (Acts 26:19)

As Paul continued Festus accused him of have gone mad. Paul defended himself by speaking about the knowledge of the things of which he spoke. Agrippa responded because he thought Paul was trying to convince him to become a Christian. As far we know this never happened.

The outcome of the hearing was the decision to send Paul to Rome. This was done even though both men believed that Paul had done nothing deserving the death sentence that the Jews wanted.

Acts 27

The journey to Rome was interrupted by a terrible storm that put the life of Paul and others on the ship in danger. When they had survived this dangerous situation they spent three months on the island of Malta. While there Paul proved true to his calling as he ministered to the people of the island.

Acts 28

This chapter finds Paul in Rome where he once again tried to reach the Jews for Christ. Sadly he met with the same resistance. He did however spend his years there ministering to all who came to his house. Luke leaves us with Paul being faithful to the heavenly vision that he had received some Twenty some years earlier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rome At Last Acts 28

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 5:03 PM

Lesson 44

Rome at Last

Acts 28

I do not know about you, but I have found over the years that the anticipation of some events is more fun and fulfilling that the event itself. It seems that I build up such an expectation for what is going to occur that whenever it does take place it hardly ever turns exactly the way I thought it would be. It therefore disappoints me and being let down sets in. This probably occurs because, if I am truly honest, it is all about me.

There have been times when I have gone to a conference or some other training and came away with the thought I would have not done it that way. Even worse is to walk away and feel that I got nothing from the whole presentation, because the presenter really did not address the issues that were of interest to me. Here again it was all about me.

As I think about all that has occurred in our study of Acts I have, just as I prepare this last chapter, I have come to realize that none of this is about me. If I am willing to put aside my own agenda then God is able to speak through whomever he desires. I will learn so much more if I keep my heart and mind open to the moving of God in my life.

A good question for us to ask ourselves at this point is why the church has disappointed us in times in the past. What has taken place that we find the results of what we do not gratifying. We expect, and then it does not happen. We plan and those plans fall apart. We come to depend on others only to find them less than we expected them to be.

The question we must ask ourselves when these things happen may have two different answers. Should we continue to be faithful to our calling no matter what happens around us? Or are we more inclined to give up because we feel let down? Do we really expect the church to revolve around us?  Only when we act in accordance with a biblical perspective do we truly reflect a Christ-like attitude. We can look to Paul on this final leg of his journey to Rome to see the behavior and mindset we are to possess.

Acts 28:1-6a

God had brought Paul and the others safely through a storm unlike one he had ever faced. They landed on the island of Malta. The place indicated by the angel. There they found a friendly community. Paul had still not made it to Rome. He did not use that as an excuse to do nothing. As the others began to build a fire because of the rain and cold, he began to gather wood to place on it. Paul never saw any task that needed to be done as to too menial. It seemed that all of his effort had been for naught when a deadly viper attached itself to his hand. The people thought this incident was probably his punishment for having committed murder. He however shook the snake off into the fire and went on with his business with no ill effects from the bite.

  1. How would you expect Luke’s narrative to read at this point?
  2. What seems to be missing?
  3. What was the attitude of the natives?
  4. What part did this have to play in the fact that God had designated this island for them to land?
  5. What does his activity show us about Paul?
  6. What would his thoughts have been when he had been bitten by the snake?
  7. How did they differ from those of the natives?

Acts 28:6b

When Paul did not die their assessment of him changed completely. Now instead of calling him a murderer they began to view him as a god.

  1. Why did God save him from the deadly bite?
  2. Why did their view of him change?
  3. What causes us to change our opinion of people?
  4. Why would they think he was a god?

Acts 28:7-9

It was evident by the events that took place on Malta that God was in no way finished with Paul. Rome still lay ahead for him, but in the meantime there were needs to be met among the people of the island.

Publius, a large land owner entertained them. When Paul discovered that the father of Publius was ill he went in and prayed and laid hands on him. God healed the man of his fever and dysentery. As would be expected when the news got out of the healing all who had needs came to Paul for a cure.

  1. What evidence is do we have that God was not through with Paul?
  2. What did it mean to him to be able to heal the father of Publius?
  3. Why had God brought Paul to this island?
  4. Why is there no mention that he shared the gospel with them?
  5. What does this incident say about the kind of ministry we are to have?
  6. In what ways can we minister to total strangers?
  7. When is it not appropriate to use confrontational evangelism?
  8. What does this say about God’s mercy?

Acts 28:10-11

Because of Paul’s actions and the behavior of those with him they gained the respect of those on the island. In a more tangible way the natives outfitted them as they prepared to sail. They had been there for three months and then set out on another Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island. Luke describes the ship in some detail.

  1. Why is the way we behave very important to the way we impact people?
  2. In what ways can we earn the respect of those around us?
  3. What did the generosity of the people say about their feelings for Paul?
  4. Why did Luke include the details about the ship?

Acts 28:12-15

The last leg of the journey brought them to Syracuse on the southern tip of Sicily where they stayed for three days. Sailing from there they arrived in Rhegum, then on to Puteoli where they found some disciples. It is amazing that they were allowed to stay with them for seven days. From there they proceeded to Rome.

When disciples in that area heard that Paul had arrived they came from the Market Appius and Three Inns to meet him. Paul was very thankful to see them and was greatly encouraged.

  1. Why would the centurion allow Paul to spend seven days with the disciples of Puteoli?
  2. What would he have shared with them?
  3. Why would Paul need the encouragement of the disciples of the Market of Appius and Three Inns?
  4. What were the things for which Paul gave thanks?

Acts 28:16

When Paul arrived at Rome he was allowed to stay by himself. He only had one soldier staying with him.

  1. What did this say about Paul that they allowed him to stay by himself with only one soldier?
  2. What factors led to this scenario?
  3. What kind of regard would people have for us if we had gone through tough times?
  4. What would cause them to act that way towards us?

Acts 28:17-20

Paul wasted little time in calling for meeting with the leading Jews of the city. He had only been in Rome three days when he requested to see them. When they arrived he declared his innocence of any charges they may have heard about including those dealing specifically with his relations with his own people. He then recounted all that had taken place in Jerusalem and Caesarea that had led to his appeal to Caesar.

  1. Why did Paul feel it necessary to meet with the Jewish leaders there in Rome?
  2. Why did he begin with declaring his innocence of the charges that had been leveled against him?
  3. Why did he interject the events that had led to his arrival in Rome?
  4. In what ways was this the best approach for Paul to take?
  5. What did he hope to accomplish by meeting them early in his sojourn in Rome?
  6. How did this play a part in why God had brought him to Rome?

Acts 28:21

After all that had been taking place the answer given to Paul by the Jews may seem a bit surprising. They said they had heard nothing from the Jews in Jerusalem about this matter.

With that subject aside they shared with Paul a desire to hear about Christianity. One of the reasons was because of the criticism leveled against it.

  1. Why does it seem strange that the Jews in Rome had not heard anything about Paul’s situation other than what he had just told them?
  2. What does this indicate about the attitudes of the Jews in Jerusalem?
  3. Why did they dismiss this subject so quickly?
  4. What did really want to hear from Paul?
  5. In what ways was this to be a fulfillment of the reason Paul had been sent to Rome?
  6. What would Paul say about his situation at this point?

Acts 28:22-23

Because the Jews desired to hear about Christianity a scheduled day was set for them to come to the house where was staying. Remember he was still a prisoner so they had to meet with him there. Paul shared with them three different things about what the Jews called a sect. As he had done time and time again in many different places and circumstances, he:

  • Testified about the kingdom of God.
  • Testified concerning Jesus.
  • Used the Old Testament as proof of what was being taught.

We can only imagine the passion and intensity of that time which lasted from morning to evening. How different this was than the way that the Bible is taught in most churches today. Quite often to speak or teach more than 30-60 minutes makes people squirm and ready to leave.

  1. Why did the Jews have to come to Paul?
  2. In what ways was his approach no different than he had previously used?
  3. Why was his strategy so important?
  4. What was different than our approach to Bible Study today?
  5. Why have we lost the intensity and passion displayed in this session?

Acts 28:24-28

Sadly, as had happened so many times Paul witness had brought about division. Some found his words very persuasive while others did not accept his words and believe. Because of the divisive atmosphere all of them began to leave. Paul had some parting words for them which they would recognize from the book of Isaiah. (Isaiah 6:9-10) It basically says that no matter how much they heard or saw they still would not believe. He finished up saying that the gospel they refused to accept had been sent to the Gentiles who would listen to the message.

  1. After such a passionate presentation why was there still division among the Jews?
  2. How different was their attitude than what we face today?
  3. Why did Paul use the Scripture found in Isaiah 6:9-10
  4. Why did they not stay to hear more of what he had to say?
  5. Why did he end with the fact that the Gentiles would listen?

Acts 28:29-30

For the next two years Paul continued to entertain guests in his dwelling place. He continued to proclaim the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus unhindered.

  1. How did Paul spend the next two years of his life?
  2. What was the difference between his work then, than what he had done in his earlier years?
  3. What does mean when Luke tells us that he was able to teach with all openness and unhindered?
  4. How could Luke say the above since we know that Paul was still under house arrest?
  5. What does Paul’s example say to us about the way we are to approach the calling that God has given us?

Even with the ending of the Book of Acts we know that it was not the end of Paul’s work. God still had further plans for him. After the two years he was released and went into Spain. Later he would return to Rome. He was rearrested and finally beheaded on the Appian Way outside of Rome in about AD 66. While he was in Rome the second time he wrote at least 2 Timothy which spoke of his Imminent going home.

You-

  • Paul got Rome, but it was not as he expected. Think about your ministry as circumstances may change?
  • Look at Paul’s attitude when things did not work out as expected? See 2 Tim. 2:8-9
  • Look at the different ways that he impacted the people along the way.
  • What impact do you think that he had on the people in Rome? See Phil. 1:13-14
  • Pray that you will be able to adapt to change in a positive way that will only enhance the way you impact those around.

We-

Quite often we are given unexpected opportunities to touch the lives of people we meet. Things do not always go according to a plan. We should look at this as the plan of God for our lives. God is always working behind the scenes to bring about His purpose. We should be like Paul who continued to adapt to all the different circumstances in which he found himself along the journey from Caesarea to Rome. Wherever God puts us should be place that we say what can I do to make Christ known?

Additional Notes

C-Paul the prisoner became Paul the healer. The father of Publius was healed of dysentery and fever. Publius proved to be a gracious host to all of the occupants of the ship. When the people of Malta discovered that Publius’s father had been made well they began to bring others to Paul for healing. (Acts 28:7-9)

C-When it came time for Paul and the others to depart, the people of the island provided supplies for them. (Acts 28:10)

C-After spending three months on the island Paul and the others continued their voyage to Rome on another Alexandrian ship. Finally after a long delay Paul finally arrives at Rome. (Acts 28:11-14)

C-Some of the believers living in Rome came to the Market at Appius and Three Inns to meet Paul and his companions. He was encouraged when he saw the men who had come to meet him. (Acts 28:15)

GC-A follower of Christ gives encouragement to those who may be facing some adversity in their lives. (Acts 28:15)

 

Encouragement in the Darkest Hour Acts 27

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 4:48 PM

Lesson 43

Encouragement in the Darkest Hour

Acts 27

There have been a number of situations in my life when I needed someone to provide encouragement. I did not realize it then but those who offer the greatest encouragement are those who had true wisdom to grasp the situation and help me walk through some of those dark hours. One of those times involved my working relationship with an organization. They had determined that we would part company, but kept me on for over 6 months after I was terminated. Go figure. During those months when there seem to be no place for me to go I spent many days with my minister who prayed with me and encouraged me not to lose faith and not give up. Out of those times I came to realize that God was working behind the scenes making a place for me at the International Mission Board where I spent the next 26 years of my working career.

We all need the kind of people and maybe just that one person to come along side us when the going gets really rough. All we have to do is look around us at Church to see that they are everywhere. As we have face crisis after crisis there are those who are steady as a rock consistently guiding us through the shoals that could rip us apart. It always hurts when we see those we thought were the strongest walk away when times become very difficult.

I love the story of Valley Forge. During the Revolutionary War the American army arrived there to spend the winter. The conditions were terrible with little food to sustain them, no decent clothes to protect them. It would have been the perfect situation for everyone of them to desert. What kept them there, humanly speaking, was their dedication to the cause, the leadership of George Washington and the training of a German officer, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben who drilled them until they became the core of the army which eventually defeated Cornwallis at Yorktown.

In today’s lesson Paul and those with him found themselves in dire straits. We will see how he and the others dealt with the situation.

Acts 26:32-27:1-3

It is interesting that there is still no indication that Festus, King Agrippa and the others who had heard Paul speak had anything to write to Caesar. His appeal to Caesar was there only reason to send him to Rome.

Paul, along with some others, was turned over a Centurion named Julius. Their journey on the Adramyttian ship was broken up by a number of stops along the coast. Adramyttian was a gulf on the northeast corner of what is present day Turkey.

Luke indicates that there was one person other than Luke who went with Paul. He was a Thessalonian named Aristarchus.

One of the stops that the ship made was at Sidon. While the ship was docked the Centurion allowed Paul to visit his friends there so that they could provide some care for him.

  1. What was Festus’s reasoning for sending Paul to Rome?
  2. Why would Aristarchus, as well as Luke, continue to travel with him?
  3. What could be the consequences for them if they stayed with Paul all the way to Rome?
  4. What does it say about the relationship of the two men with Paul?
  5. What could they hope to do for him along the way?

Acts 27:4-8

On the next leg of the trip the crew sailed the ship along the coast line and north of Cyprus which afforded them protection from the wind. Arriving at Myra in Lycia the prisoners were transferred to an Alexandrian ship on its way to Italy. Evidently, the Adramyttian ship was headed for its home port and could not carry them to their final destination. As they left Myra they encountered some rough seas and strong winds but finally arrived at a place on the coast of Crete called Fair Havens.

Acts 27:9-13

Evidently they spent some time at Fair Havens and then it was determined that they should go on although the time for safe travel had passed. Paul tried to warn them of the possible consequences of travelling during such a dangerous time. He feared that there could even be loss of life. Here was a voice who was truly concerned for the welfare of all those who were aboard the ship. His was the voice of experience, who had been on a number of sea voyages and understood the weather of that part of the world?

The commander listened to the ship’s captain and decided that they would proceed with the trip. One reason alone dictated the decision. Fair Havens was not a suitable port at which they could spend the winter. They were hoping to reach Phoenix further west on the coast line which faced southwest which gave better protection. When a calmer wind came up they thought that they could then carry out their plan and began sailing along the coast.

  1. Why would the ship’s captain want to go on if it was not safe to travel at that time of year?
  2. What made Paul think that they might listen to him?
  3. Why were Paul’s words so important?
  4. What would have given Paul credibility in the eyes of the Centurion?
  5. Why would he listen to the captain and crew over the objections of Paul?
  6. What were the indications that made them think they had made the right decision?
  7. What are some things in your own life that seemed to be so right but turned out to be wrong?
  8. Why is important for us to listen to that voice of warning even if it comes from an unexpected source?

Acts 27:14

Trouble was on the horizon. The storm that came upon them is not unlike the ones that hit the northeast part of our country. The term that Luke used was Euroquilla. We would call it a Northeaster.

Acts 27:15-19

In these verses Luke describes the horrifying situation in which all on the vessel found themselves. They tied cables around the ship to keep it from breaking apart. Anchors were cast out in from of the ship so they could be pulled along through waters. As a last resort the cargo was jettisoned and then the tackle was thrown overboard.

  1. What situations in your life come to mind would be equivalent to the situation in which the people on this ship were experiencing?
  2. How did you handle what was happening?
  3. How efforts did the crew undertake to deal with the storm?
  4. What was missing from the actions?

Acts 27:20

After the men had tried everything they knew to do only to find themselves still helpless in the face of the storm, they gave up hope of surviving. Even Luke and Aristarchus were caught up in the despair they witnessed among the crew.

  1. What more could be done by the crew to save everyone aboard ship?
  2. Why did Luke despair of being rescued?
  3. What is normally our response when the situation becomes as desperate in which these men found themselves?
  4. In what ways are you the same as the crew and Paul’s travelling companions?

 

Acts 27:21

During the struggles the men faced in trying to stay alive, Paul is conspicuously absent from the narrative. Because of the words he was to now share with the men there can only be one answer. He had spent this time in a prayer. Everyone else had lost hope but Paul was calling on the God who controlled the storm. Part of that prayer may have been to remind God, and to keep up his own courage, that he had been promised that he would witness in Rome. At that point Paul once again made his appearance.

After man had tried everything to survive and had failed, Paul once again spoke. His words were meant to get the attention of everyone. He first admonished them for not listening to him in the first place and not embarking on this dangerous journey. He seemed to be saying to them all, “Bad decisions may lead to devastating consequences.” Having reminded them of his warning he then spoke words of encouragement. His message was clear and to the point. God had an angel to tell him that he would stand before Caesar. Not only that but that all of the people on the ship would be brought safely through the storm. Then he said the words that the men needed to hear. Luke writes, “Keep up your courage men.” This was easy to say. It was what followed that would have brought the real encouragement to them. In the midst of the terrible storm, Paul said, “I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.” He even told them that they had to “run aground on a certain island.”

  1. Why did Paul wait so long to speak?
  2. Why did he admonish them on their bad and dangerous decision?
  3. What lessons can we learn from his words?
  4. What were the words of real encouragement?
  5. How had they missed the point of what he had said earlier up to that point in time?
  6. Upon hearing the words what might be their expectations?
  7. How have you responded to words of encouragement in your darkness hour?
  8. Why was the mention of the destination so important?

Acts 27:27-29

God did not immediately calm the storm after Paul’s words. There still came a time of great concern as the crew began to realize that they possibly approaching land because the water became shallower. Their new fear was that they might run aground on rocks. They tried to slow the ships progress but lowering some anchors. Luke tells us that, “they wished for daylight.” At that point they would be able to better assess their situation.

  1. Why did God delay in His response to Paul’s encouraging words?
  2. What had to occur before they would be fulfilled?
  3. Why do we expect God to get us out our darkest hours immediately?
  4. Why does He sometime seem to be taking His own good time?
  5. Which is more important the working out of His purpose or our well being? Why?

Acts 27:29-32

Some sailors tried to desert the others. As has been seen before Paul began to step to the forefront of the crisis and with a calm authority began to assert himself. He was now in charge of the situation and in his hands everything was going to work itself out. Paul was emphatic in his words to the Centurion that everyone must remain on board in order for all to survive. Without the sailors there would be no one who knew how to guide the ship through the treacherous waters ahead. This time the Centurion listened at had the ropes cut so the life boats would drop away.

  1. What did this act show us about the character of these men?
  2. What characteristics do we see in Paul that has played out throughout this whole drama?
  3. Why was it important for everyone to stay together?
  4. What would have been the consequences of yet another self serving decision by the crew?
  5. Why did the centurion listen to Paul at this point?

Acts 27:33-38

Finally with the worst of the storm over, Paul encouraged the men to eat. There are at least two important factors underlying what he did.

  • Psychological – After being under such extreme stress. Paul was saying to them all would be saved. If they were going to die why bother to eat at all.
  • Physiological – They would need the strength to carry out the tasks of reaching land.

As an example he took some bread broke it, blessed it and ate. At that point the other 276 men on the ship followed his lead and began to eat. Once they had eaten their fill they dumped the rest of the cargo overboard.

  1. Why did Paul encourage the men to eat?
  2. What were the underlying reasons for Paul’s actions?
  3. Why did the men listen to Paul?
  4. What indicated they had confidence in what Paul had said and done?
  5. What lessons can be learned from his actions?

 

Acts 27:39-41

Finally land was observed. They crew determined to try to ground the ship on the beach. All did not go well as the ship hit a reef which began to break the ship apart.

  1. What can we say about this spotting of land at this point?
  2. In what ways do you see God at work?

Acts 27:42-44

The soldiers wanted to kill all of the prisoners so they would not escape. This would have included Paul. The centurion stopped them from carrying out the execution because he wanted to save Paul. All those on the ship were ordered to make it to the beach any way they could. All made it safely to the beach just as Paul had said.

  1. Why did the soldiers want to kill the prisoners?
  2. How was this desire short-sighted?
  3. What was wrong with this decision?
  4. Why did the centurion want to save Paul?
  5. What do we see in the whole process of God working from day one?

You-

  • Reflect on those times you consider the darkest hours of your life.
  • As you look back in what ways did you see God working?
  • Think about those who were the greatest encouragers.
  • What were the qualities that those who encouraged you possessed?
  • Look around to see those who may need encouragement from you?
  • Remember your best opportunity will come among those who have experienced the same things that you have.

We have been in the ship being tossed about for some time. This is a day when the new day has come and we have spotted the beach which will provide safety and a future. The opportunity for us to start anew is just waiting for us to take advantage of what God has already done and wants to do. Let us continue to look for ways that we can build each other up as we serve the God who has rescued each and every one of us. We should be encouraged that we have had among us those who have had the wisdom to keep us from becoming discouraged and giving up. Let us continue depend on God to help us accomplish what cannot be done humanly speaking. He has a special future for us to impact those around us.

Additional notes:

C-Paul was sent to Rome in the custody of a centurion named Julius. The ship on which Paul and Luke sailed was soon caught in a Northeaster. Finally the ship was shipwrecked off the coaster of Malta. All of the men on the ship were saved. (Acts 27:1-44)

GC-A Christian believes God will accomplish what He has said He will do.                         (Acts 27:25; Rom. 4:21)

RT-In the raging storms of life we can be assured that God is true to His word and will bring us through to safety or into heaven with Him. How different is Paul’s response than that of the disciples when they out, “We are perishing.” (Acts 27:25; Luke 7:24)

 

 

 

 

 

Who Is the Prisoner? Acts 25:23 – 26:32

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 4:04 PM

Lesson 42

Who is the Prisoner?

Acts 25:23 – 26:32

It may seem strange that I have titled this lesson, “Who is the Prisoner?” Each time I read this passage I picture a contrast between those who appear to be free but are imprisoned and the one who was in chains but free. What does it take for a person to truly be in trapped by his or her on decisions?   I can only answer for myself. As I look back on my life I sometimes wonder how different choices would have made a difference in my life. One thing that I struggle with constantly is procrastination. I am a putter off of tasks that need to be done. Quite often it only under a deadline do I finally get around to finishing a task. Of course this means that I do not do my best. I remember so clearly having term papers that literally finished up in the eleventh hour before they were to be turned in. This may seem like a small thing but it is systematic of other things that I do not have space to tell that have affected my life. These and many others have entrapped and held me prisoner. They have kept me from achieving all that I could have for God.

Every once in awhile there is the glimpse of the kind of freedom that is available in Christ. When I turn over certain aspects of my life He opens a window into what He desires for me. He has allowed me to do things that have been beyond my wildest dreams. The opportunity to write these lessons has been one of those times. Over the years as I read the Bible and wrote down my thoughts I never dreamed that one day I would ever being doing something like this. The Lord gets all the credit. First he gave me the passion for His word and then kept me at the task of studying and meditating on it all of these years. I cannot wait to see what He may do next.

Churches also get caught in traps and prisons that keep them from being healthy and thus growing. Each of us could probably add to the list but here are few that keep the church imprisoned.

  • Tradition that strangles the life from the body.
  • Apathy that allows members to drift through their church life.
  • Refusal to trust leadership as it tries to shepherd the church
  • Lack of desire to truly know what God has in store for the Church.
  • Lack of passion in studying God’s word.
  • Lack of passion in reaching a lost world for Christ.

As we can see these and many others hinder the work of God as we focus on ourselves. With these attitudes it is difficult for the Holy Spirit to break through and give direction and life to the church. We can use this lesson today to show that those of the world are trapped by their desire to have all the world has to offer.   How empty that is in comparison to what Paul had been given, peace and true freedom in Christ.

Acts 25:23

What a contrast is seen in this one verse. Luke writes that of the great pomp by which King Agrippa, Bernice, Festus and prominent people of the military and the city. Finally after they were all in their places Festus summoned for Paul to be brought in to the gathering. As is seen in a later verse he entered, probably under guard and in chains.

  1. What was the purpose of such a great display by those who were part of this meeting?
  2. Why was it necessary for so many to be there?
  3. How could it have been handled in a different way?
  4. How did Paul’s appearance differ from all of the others?
  5. Why are we so impressed by people important by worldly standards?

Acts 25:24-27

Festus begins by laying out before everyone, including Paul, the reason that he had called everyone together. He shared how the Jews had made many charges and asking for the death of Paul. As was mentioned previously, Festus was a just and fair man. Here again he displays those characteristics as he stated, that for all of the charges brought to him he found nothing in them that would worthy of putting Paul to death. He then presents his dilemma. He need all of them to help him write to the Emperor the reason for sending Paul, the prisoner, to him.

  1. Why did Festus call the meeting?
  2. Why was it important for Paul to be there?
  3. What does the actions of Festus show us about his character?
  4. How do our actions sometimes differ from the way Festus handled this situation?
  5. Why did Festus not buy into the accusations of the Jews?
  6. Why did he not just let Paul go free?

Acts 26:1

Before making a decision Agrippa wanted to hear what Paul had to say on his own behalf. Paul responded as he had before with a gesture to get the attention of everyone in the room. Then he began to give a defense.

  1. Why did Agrippa want to hear from Paul?
  2. What does it say about what he had heard from Festus?
  3. Why did Paul stretch out his hand?
  4. How would you handle such an opportunity to defend yourself?

Acts 26:2-3

In contrast with what had previously occurred Paul could sense that he was going to get a fair hearing in that setting. In fact his opening statement indicated this. He was pleased to be able to speak before King Agrippa because as Luke wrote, “You are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews.” Based on this fact he asked that those there be patient as he presented his defense. Not only was this true, as we have already noted, Festus was a just and well respected governor.

  1. Why did Paul believe he would get a fair hearing before all present?
  2. Why was it important to him that Agrippa understood the Jews?
  3. Why did Paul ask for patience as he made his presentation?
  4. Why does the church need those it considers knowledgeable and wise to make decisions for it?
  5. Why do we need patience in dealing with complex situations?

Acts 26:4-6

Building on the fact that Agrippa would understand what he was saying Paul began to give a quick bio of his life. His main point was that everything in his early life pointed to a career as a Pharisee. As he did in Philippians 4:6 he wanted to emphasize his total commitment to the keeping the law in the best tradition of the Pharisees.

  1. Why did Paul believe it was important to share his life’s story before those assembled?
  2. Why did he feel comfortable doing it?
  3. Why did he emphasize his dedication to the law?
  4. What does your testimony look like?
  5. Is there the same kind of commitment that we see in Paul?

Acts 26:7-8

Paul then transitions to explain the real reason he believes that the Jews have brought the charges against him. He begins by stating that it is because he believes in the hope of the promise that had been made the Jewish nation from their very beginning. They were looking for the very thing that Paul had found. He then asked the entire assembly the key question that he had addressed before when he met with the Pharisees and Sadducees. He said, “Why is considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?”

  1. Why did Paul seem to switch gears right in the middle of his testimony?
  2. In what way were the Jews and Paul looking for the same thing?
  3. Why did He not use the word Messiah or the name of Christ at this point?
  4. How did his question fit in with his defense?
  5. How would you answer his question if presented to you?

Acts 26:8-11

After the break he returns to his narrative. He explains the intensity with which he began to persecute all those who believed in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Following are the things he carried out against the church:

  • Locked up many of the saints
  • Cast his vote against those being put to death, for example Stephen.
  • Punished them in all of the synagogues.
  • Tried to force them to blaspheme.
  • Even began to pursue them to foreign cities.

Notice also his attitude toward them. In verse 9 he describes himself as hostile. Further he says of himself that he was, “furiously enraged” at them. The best description would be that he was out of control going around like a mad man or as might be said today a radical religious fundamentalist.

  1. Why was Paul so determine to destroy the followers of Christ?
  2. What would consider some of the worse of his actions?
  3. What do you think of the statement equating him to a radical religious fundamentalist?
  4. How could God hope to break through to such a person as Paul?
  5. How close to his conversion be to his question in verse 9?

Acts 26:12-15

Paul recounts the actual event surrounding his transformation. Unlike his testimony in Acts 22 he adds the words of Jesus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goad.” This was a practice used to train young oxen when they wear a yoke for the first time. Spikes were use to keep them from kicking. Jesus in essence was telling Paul that it was useless to continue to resist the call on his life. His opposition to Jesus would come to naught.

  1. In what ways is Paul’s testimony the same as has been previously presented in Acts 9 and 22?
  2. What does Paul now add?
  3. What was Jesus saying to him?
  4. In what ways do we resist the work that Jesus is trying to do in our own lives?
  5. Ultimately if we continue to rebel what action will Jesus take?
  6. In what ways is it best to do as Paul did and submit?

Acts 26:16-18

Paul continues to share new information that he had not presented before. Jesus immediately begins to give him instructions and spells out for him what will be his mission. He does not need to know everything that is going to take place for he would receive words from Jesus. The things Paul was going to do among both Jew and Gentile were:

  • To open their eyes.
  • To help them turn from the darkness to the light.
  • To turn them from the dominion of the devil to the kingdom of God.
  • That they would receive forgiveness of sins.
  • Finally to receive an inheritance alongside all the others who had already been sanctified.

 

  1. Why did Jesus immediately begin describe the mission He had for Paul even before he had been baptized?
  2. In what way did the things that Paul was to do describe his own needs?
  3. Which of these describe the steps you found yourself taking in coming to know Christ?
  4. In what way do you see this as the mission Christ has given you?

Acts 26:19

This is the key statement in Paul’s life. He had reached the point of decision. At this point in his life he received his freedom from the fury and rage that had led him to persecute Jesus. He had been set free from the law and traditions that had bound him.   Jesus had spelled out for him what is life if he followed Christ. It would mean leaving all that he had worked so hard to accomplish. From the way Paul made the statement before Agrippa there was no option. He believed with all of his heart that he had to be obedient to the call.

  1. What is wrapped up in Paul’s statement?
  2. What were Paul’s options?
  3. At what point in your life did you come to this point of decision?
  4. How close was your answer to the call of Christ like that of Paul?
  5. How could making this statement impact the ministry to which Christ has called you?

Acts 26:20

Paul then shares how he began to fulfill his new call by preaching in Damascus, the city where he had previously planned to take Christians as prisoner, and then in Jerusalem. He then worked to bring the Gentiles to the place of repentance so that they would turn to God.

  1. What do his actions tell us about Paul’s understanding of the words of Jesus?
  2. Why start preaching in Damascus?
  3. What does this say about the approach we should take in trying to reach the lost?
  4. What is to be our message to those who are lost?

Acts 26:21

It is interesting that Paul skips over much of the rest of the detail of his many years to service. With just a few words he speaks only of the seizure by the Jews and his appearance before King Agrippa and Festus. What he does once again is to proclaim why he is on trial. He only gave testimony of what the Prophets and Moses had prophesized about Jesus. The Scripture spoke of:

  • The suffering of Jesus.
  • His resurrection from the dead.
  • The fact that Jesus upon His resurrection was the first to share the good news of with both Jews and Gentiles.

 

  1. Why did Paul skip so much of what we consider important as we read the book of Acts?
  2. Why did Paul interject the prophets and Moses into his defense?
  3. Why does he once again explain why he was on trial?
  4. In what way did Jesus proclaim the good news to both Jews and Gentiles?
  5. What does the fact that he was brief in his comments say about the way we are to present our own testimony?

Acts 26:24

Festus interrupted Paul in the middle of his defense. He believed that Paul had lost his mind. Not only that but he thought that his learning had turned him into a mad man. Festus is a good example of the response that can be expected from one as humanistic as a Roman governor?

  1. What in Paul’s defense would warrant such an outburst from Festus?
  2. Why could Festus neither understand nor accept what Paul said?
  3. What can we expect from those wrapped up in the world’s system if we try to share either our testimony or what the Bible says?
  4. What one characteristic would you say might describe Festus at this point?

Acts 26:25

With all respect for the position of Festus, Paul made two valid points as he responded to Festus. Just because Paul had shared something beyond the understanding of the governor, it did not make him insane. He goes on to state that what it been said was the sober truth. As clearly as he could Paul had laid out in a very organized manner the events in his life that were vital to the understanding of why he was there before them. These were not the ranting of a mad man or one who or one who had lost control.

  1. How do you think Paul handled the outburst of Festus?
  2. What did Paul want to emphasize when he spoke of the sober truth?
  3. What evidence can we glean from what had gone on up to this point that Paul was neither “out of his mind” or been driven mad by his great learning?
  4. What example does Paul set for us in the way that we should deal with those who are critical of us?

Acts 26:26

Paul adds an additional piece of evidence to the truthfulness of his account. He addresses the king directly stating that he has all confidence that Agrippa was well aware of all that had been occurring in Israel during his reign.

Acts 26:27-28

The conversion is now turned around as Paul, moved from the role of prisoner and became the interrogator. Paul had responded to Festus as a one with authority and then asked King Agrippa a very pointed question. “Do you believe in the prophets?” It is almost a rhetorical question because he immediately affirms that the king does.

King Agrippa’s answer has puzzled commentators. There are a couple of different possibilities:

  • He may have felt that Paul was trying to back him into being on his side in the hearing. If he believed the prophet’s surely he would believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
  • He could not make such an important decision so quickly based on the little information he had heard from Paul.
  • Either way it was obvious that Agrippa was not going to become a Christian that day.

 

  1. In what way did Paul seem to become the one in control?
  2. In what position did his question to Agrippa put the king?
  3. Why would it have been difficult for the king to make a decision to follow Christ?

 

Acts 26:29

Paul did not let the people gathered there off the hook. There was a stark difference between Paul and all of the others. They were prisoners of Satan with no outward sign of their situation. He on the other hand may have been in chains but was free in Jesus Christ.   That is the reason he said his desire was that they, “might all become such as I am, except for these chains.”

  1. What was the difference between Paul and all the others at the hearing?
  2. In what ways were they more of a prisoner than he?
  3. What indicated he had a deep concern for the people?
  4. Why would care anything about those who wanted to keep him imprisoned?
  5. What is your response to those who are critical of you?
  6. What should our approach be to those who in authority over us?

Acts 26:30-32

The officials found themselves in a dilemma. They still did not have anything to write to Caesar. They concluded that there was no evidence to warrant a hearing in Rome. The only reason for sending Paul to Rome was because he had appealed to Caesar.

  1. Why did the officials find themselves in a quandary?
  2. What evidence did they find to condemn Paul?
  3. Why did they have to send him to Rome?

You

  • Consider this week those areas in your life that hinder you from accomplishing all that God has called you to do.
  • Pray that God will free you from those things that hold you in their power.
  • Look at the ways that you might respond as Paul did when he said, “I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Acts 26:19
  • Search your heart to see how you would answer those that might question you.
  • Work to face criticism in a Christ-like manner.

As a church we can learn some important lessons from these chapters. We must always be faithful to the vision God has given to us. This may take some rediscovery because sometimes we get off track. Hopefully, with our new leadership model we can discover those ministries that are important to help make the church healthy once again. Secondly, we must free ourselves from those things that might hinder us from accomplishing the vision. Each of us may have different ideas of what those issues might be but working together in prayer we can change the direction of the church.

Additional Notes:

RT-What a power scene is presented to us Festus decides to bring Paul before King Agrippa. They arrive with all of the pomp and circumstances that would be expected upon the arrival of a king. Paul however was brought into the auditorium in his prison clothes wearing chains. On the surface, who would you think was on trial? Appearances can be quite deceiving. In fact Paul as a prisoner was a free man while the king and governor and all others there were captive of their sinful life. Paul had the answers to life. All they had were questions. (Acts 25:23-26:32)

RT-Paul asked a simple question of Festus and King Agrippa that begins with “Why.” He said, “Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?” The answer to that question is twofold.

  1. They chose not to believe because of their desire to maintain their hopeless status quo lifestyle.
  2. More importantly it indicated that the lacked that God could accomplish what for man seemed impossible. Their concept of God was way too small.

Is there is a possibility that there is another answer that would be closely related to the first one? They would have no problem with a person being raised from the dead as long as it was not Jesus. Why would this affect their answer? They knew as we know that to believe that God raised Jesus that He would be calling them to a much too high a standard of living for them to accept Him as Savior and Lord of their lives. (Acts 26:8)

DM-As he recounted his conversion experience Paul said it was his idea to, “be hostile” to followers of the Way. (Acts 26:9)

RT-Jesus spoke to Paul, not in deep theological terms, but in the everyday language of the people. Christ wanted to leave no doubt in his mind that he was being called to serve the risen Lord. (Acts 26:14)

GC-The following attributes present the opportunities to identify with Christ.

  1. As witness we are to open eyes to truth
  2. To turn people from darkness to light
  3. To turn people from dominion of Satan to God
  4. To help others to understand how they can receive the forgiveness of sins
  5. That they may receive an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Jesus. (Acts 26:18)

GC-Like Paul we are to be faithful when called out to carry out God’s purpose for our lives. (Acts 26:19)

DM-Paul did not disobey what he had witnessed in the heavenly vision on the Damascus Road. He began to share that experience with everyone with whom he came in contact that they should, “repent and turn to God.” (Acts 26:20)

GC-When given the opportunity the believer is to call the unbeliever to

  1. Repent of his sins
  2. Turn to God with his whole being

(Acts 26:20)

RT-It was said of Paul, “Your great learning has made you mad.” As we listen to his answer we see where the true learning takes place. It can only occur as one sits at the feet of Jesus.

Those of Paul’s day could not accept this truth so they claimed he was insane, yet it was the knowledge that they had acquired that was leading them down the road to an everlasting destruction. (Acts 26:24)

GC-In every situation the follower of Christ is to speak the truth. (Acts 26:25)

DM-Agrippa was brought to point of decision but declined to become a follower of Christ. (Acts 26:28)

OC-Paul stood before governors and kings espousing the truth. Some afraid of him others called him mad. They kept him in chains but he was the only true man among them. (Acts 26:23-29)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What To Do With Paul Acts 25

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 3:56 PM

Lesson 41

What To Do With Paul?

Acts 25

I am sure that I have caused others to ask, “What are we going to do with you?” For people who do not want to fit into a box the world just does not know how to handle them. Ever since I was much younger I have been one who wants to know why something has to be done in a certain way. If I do not see the logic in the answer I keep asking until it becomes clear to me what is going on. I call this attitude one of Aggressive/Patience. This has sometimes gotten me into hot water. It also has put me at odds with others at times. For years at the International Mission Board I struggled with the concept of what a Purchasing Department should be like. In my mind the organization never did appreciate or utilize that office the way it should. Some of the ideas that I presented a number of years ago have come to fruition. Even though I am no longer there, I am glad that management finally saw some value in the things for which I fought for so many years.

Sometimes in the church we do not do a good job in dealing with people with whom we may not totally agree. No matter how many members are in a church, a few or many, church there many differences of opinion based on age, likes, dislikes, level of spiritual maturity etc. Quite often we have not done a good job of assimilating all of those various components into a body who live and work in one accord. I am afraid that there are times when we are unwilling to listen to those who ask the question, why are we doing it this way? Rather than looking at the possibilities that that question may present our answer all too often is we have always done it that way.

Paul and the early church presented a dilemma to a group who did not want to change. Rather than saying maybe this new group has something to say the Jewish leaders rejected the Church and set up the conflict that continues into today’s lesson.

Acts 25:1-3

Festus the new governor wasted no time in going up and meeting with the Jewish officials. Knowing the history of Jews he would want to build a working relationship with them. By doing so, he would hope that he could maintain peace. He had only been in the Caesarea about three days before making the 80 mile trip up to Jerusalem.

There is little known about Festus. He only remained governor for two years before passing away. What little is known would indicate that he was well respected and a just man.

Of course the Jews used this opportunity to bring charges against Paul. They sought to have him returned to Jerusalem where they could arrange to set up an ambush and have him killed.

  1. Why would the governor make the trip to Jerusalem?
  2. In what ways was their treatment of the new governor unfair?
  3. In what ways will we show fairness in working with the new leadership at Bethany Place?
  4. Why did the Jewish leaders bring up the charges against Paul with Festus?
  5. What were their plans if the governor had agreed to do what they requested?

Acts 25:4-5

Their request was not granted. Instead Festus offered them the opportunity to go with them back to Caesarea. There he would hear allow them a fair hearing. At that time Paul would most likely be given an opportunity to speak.

  1. Why did Festus deny their request?
  2. Why was the opportunity given them to go with him a wise decision?
  3. Why was it important for Festus to hear Paul’s side of the story?
  4. Why did the Jews not want this to happen?
  5. How is time sometimes the best ally before having to make a decision?

Acts 25:6-7

True to his word Festus returned to Caesarea after 8 to 10 days in Jerusalem. Upon arriving he called the official court, the tribunal, into session to allow both the Jews and Paul to state their case. Paul was brought before the tribunal and the Jews immediately began as Luke writes, “to bring many and serious charges against him.” He further writes that they had no proof of any of them.

  1. Why did Festus call into session a formal inquiry?
  2. Why did he make sure that Paul was present to hear the charges?
  3. What was the problem with what the Jews were saying?
  4. In what ways do we sometimes act the manner of the Jews?

Acts 25:8

From Paul’s response we are able to glean what the charges against him were. As William Barclay the Jews were accusing him of:

  • Heresy – Committing acts against the Law
  • Sacrilege – Committing offenses against the Temple
  • Sedition – Committing offenses against Caesar.

In his defense Paul indicated his innocence of all three charges.

  1. Which of these had the Jews accused him before?
  2. Which one was a new one?
  3. Why did the Jews take a different tact this time?
  4. What do you think of Paul’s defense? How effective was it?

Acts 25:9-11

Festus tried to reach a compromise between the two parties. On the one hand he did not want to offend the Jews after being a governor for a few days. On the other hand he wanted to make sure that justice was served. It appears that he believed the only way to settle the matter was to have a full blown trial in Jerusalem, which would more than satisfy the Jews and play into their hands. This would give them the opportunity to carry out their plot against Paul.

Paul understood the situation and knew that he could never receive a fair trial under those circumstances. His only recourse was to appeal to Caesar, which was his right as a Roman citizen. His last claim of innocence may have been more for the Jews than for Festus.   Paul was so sure that when given a fair trial that he would be proved not guilty. He was even willing to stake his life on it.

  1. Why did Festus suggest a trial in Jerusalem before the Sanhedrin and himself?
  2. What is the likelihood that this trial would have ever taken place?
  3. What had the Jews planned from the very beginning?
  4. Why did Paul appeal to Caesar?
  5. How much of a gamble was this for Paul?
  6. Which of the charges would be dropped in a Roman hearing at this point?

Acts 25: 12

In a way Paul’s request relieved the pressure off of Festus.   He met with his own council and decided that Paul would go before Caesar with his appeal. It also presented him with a dilemma which will be seen in the next section of verses.

  1. What did Festus gain by granting Paul’s request?
  2. In what position did this now put the Jews?
  3. In all likelihood who would be present at the trial in Rome?

Acts 25:13-21

King Agrippa who was king of Galilee and Peraea came to Caesarea along with his sister, Bernice to pay a courtesy call to Festus. Since Agrippa was in power at the discretion of the Roman government it was expedient for him to welcome the new governor. Knowing that he was familiar with the Jewish religion Festus began to recount the events concerning Paul. By his conversation it was clear that he had no real reason to send Paul to Rome except the fact that Paul had made the request. If anyone could help him understand the situation it would be someone like the king.

It was obvious that Paul had broken no Roman law because Festus even said that his accusers, “were bringing charges not of such crimes as I was expecting but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a dead man, Jesus whom Paul asserted to be alive.”

It was at that point that the decision was made for Paul to go to Rome. He had refused to return to Jerusalem even though the trial would be before the Roman governor.

  1. Why did King Agrippa travel to Caesarea to see Festus?
  2. Why did Festus begin sharing the situation he faced with the king?
  3. What about his conversation would indicate that Festus did truly believe that Paul needed to go to Rome?
  4. What does this conversation show about the character of Festus?

Acts 25:22

Agrippa shared with Festus that he too would like to hear what Paul had to say. Festus was in agreement with him meeting Paul face to face.

  1. Why would Agrippa want to hear what Paul had to say?
  2. What could that meeting add to what Festus had already shared?
  3. Why was Festus so willing to make arrangements for Agrippa to meet Paul?

You-

  • Be considerate of the feelings and ideas of others.
  • Pray that God will help you appreciate the diversity of people He has brought into the Church.
  • Search the Scriptures to see all the different types of personalities God used to carry out His purpose for the world.
  • Pray that you will be in a position to counteract any falsehoods you hear being presented.
  • Meditate and Study God’s word so that you will know the difference between truth and falsehood.
  • Know when in the course of events when you need to appeal to a higher authority for answers.

We in the Church are involved in an ongoing balancing act of living in the world but not being a part of it. Constantly we face issues that seem to be the truth. Our responsibility is to always view these in light of what the Scripture has to say. Even in the decisions made within the Church there is a way that seems right to man and may be good in the sight of the world but is not the best for the church.

There are those who like the Sanhedrin who will cloud the issues with half-truths or outright lies. If we are not careful we will find ourselves in the position of the commander, Felix and then Festus who do not know what should be the next course of action. Let us be like Paul who, although seen as a troublemaker, was steadfast in believing that he had done no wrong. He was so sure that he would be vindicated if only given a fair hearing.

Let us be willing to put our prejudices and agendas aside in order to listen to the opinions. There may be among us some who are constantly calling us to take a new direction. Unless we are open to hearing diverse ideas we may not realize that he or she could be sharing God’s purpose for our church in order to be only mission with Him.

Additional Notes:

C-After Festus became governor the Jews made one more attempt to have Paul condemned by bringing the same old accusations before Festus as they had with Felix. Not knowing all of the circumstances he agreed to give them a hearing once he went back to Caesarea. (Acts 25:1-5)

C-Upon his return to Caesarea Festus set up a hearing for Paul. During the trial the Jews presented their charges which could not be proven. A new twist entered into the drama when Festus asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem. He refused and made an appeal to Caesar. Festus had no choice but to grant Paul’s request. (Acts 25:6-12)

DM-Whenever a person with an ulterior motive like Herod, Pilate and in this case Festus seek to please a group such as the Jews someone else will suffer the consequences, Paul had to appeal to Caesar to keep from returning to Jerusalem. (Acts 25:9-12)

 

 

Challenging the Evidence Acts 24

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 3:51 PM

Lesson 40

Challenging the Evidence

Acts 24

I know that most of you have played the game of gossip where one person shares with the next person and so forth until the message reaches the last person. Usually what comes out at the end never resembles what the first person said. I have to admit that I have been guilty of this in real life. Sometimes it happens because I haven’t listened as closely as I should and only hear part of the conversation. There have been other times however I have gleaned only what I wanted to know. Then when it comes time to share with others what I know the end results do not resemble the facts at all. I have to be careful that I make sure that the story I present is true. One other danger that I face is to take great care when I teach God’s word that what is taught is according to the truth found therein.

We as church members can be guilty of this kind of gossip. Whenever we hear someone say something it is sometimes our tendency to spread the information without verifying the facts. All of us can remember instances when this may have occurred. The damage it can cause can be irreversible. It reaches a point that the victim of such gossip is guilty as presumed and not given an opportunity to defend himself. Paul continues to face this dilemma in today’s lesson.

Acts 24:1

Based on what the commander had told Felix, the Jews finally sent a delegation down to Caesarea who arrived after five days. It was composed of Annas, the high priest, some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus. One can only assume that because the inquiry had moved into the Roman justice system that the Jews felt they needed some legal representation. Of course this only muddied the waters because at this point this would mean that their lawyer would be three levels from the actual participants in the riot.

  1. Why would it take the delegation five days to get to Caesarea?
  2. Who were the representatives that came?
  3. Why did they bring a lawyer with them?
  4. Who was missing from this group?
  5. Why would any presentation of the facts be dubious at best?
  6. What happens in our lives and the life of the church the further each person is removed from the actual events?
  7. What is the real danger when this occurs?

 

Acts 24:2-4

When Paul was brought into the inquiry the Jewish lawyer seized the floor. He began by trying to flatter Felix. He shared how the Jewish people had benefited so much while Felix had been governor. After these opening remarks he was finally ready to present the accusations that the religious leaders want to make about Paul.

  1. Why did the lawyer seize the floor?
  2. What did he hope to gain by his opening remarks?
  3. How did what he said differ from the way that the Jews felt about all Romans?
  4. Why did Tertullus do what he said he did not want to do?
  5. What did his words have to do with the reasons they were there?
  6. In what ways do we delay dealing with issues that confront us?

Acts 24:5-6

It is interesting that he make accusations that had nothing to do with breaking the law. They all dealt with religious struggles that the Jews had with all people. Remember last week that Paul unearthed the division even with their own ranks. There was not one said by Tertullus that could justify why Paul had been placed under arrest by the Roman army. Look at the claims made against him. He was:

  • A pest
  • One who stirs up dissension among Jews everywhere
  • A ring leader among Christians
  • One who tried to desecrate the temple.

At this point his words become interesting. He said they, the Jews arrested him. Of course this was absolutely false. The mob was trying to kill him without trial without the presence, as far as the Scripture tells us of the religious leaders. According to what the lawyer said, “We wanted to judge him according to our own Law.” Luke has already shown what this justice would look like as done by these law abiding citizens.

  1. Which of the accusations made were true?
  2. Which of them would have justified Paul being brought before a Roman governor?
  3. Which parts of the statement by Tertullus were false or blatant twisting of the facts?
  4. In what ways can we sometimes distort the facts to accomplish our own agenda?
  5. What do the actions of the Jewish leaders and the employing of Tertullus say about the way the men practiced the Jewish religion?
  6. How do you think God feels about this kind of activity under the guise of religion?

Acts 24:7-8a

The lawyer now turned to accusing the commander of preventing the carrying out of justice by use of force. The commander then insisted that the accusers appear before Felix.

  1. Why did the lawyer claim that the commander had prevented the Jews from carrying out judgment as they saw it?
  2. What had the commander really accomplished?
  3. What had the commander accomplished by having the accusers appear before Felix?

Acts 24:8-9

The stage is now set for Paul to speak. Before he finishing however Tertullus tries to set Paul to condemn himself expecting him to admit that all of the accusations are true. The Jews also continued their attacks on him. As the far the Jews were concerned he was guilty before he had an opportunity to prove his innocence.

  1. Why did Tertullus make his final argument with the particular way he spoke?
  2. In what ways did this make it more difficult for Paul to defend himself?
  3. What did the Jews hope to accomplish with their antics?
  4. In what ways can we put people in similar positions?

Acts 24:10

Paul’s opening remarks were short and to the point. He thanked Felix for the opportunity to defend himself.

Acts 24:11-13

In contrast to the Jews and Tertullus Paul, when given a chance to speak, Paul laid out for Felix a clear and concise sequence of the events that had taken place in Jerusalem. Most of these facts would have been unknown to his accusers.

He broke his defense down into three thoughts. He first dealt with what had occurred in Jerusalem. With a complete knowledge of the events he knew that the accusations could not be proven by the Jews who were present.

  1. Why did Paul repeat the events that had occurred up to the time of his arrest?
  2. What knowledge did he have that the Jews knew nothing about?
  3. Why could the Jews not proved the accusations?

 

Acts 24:14-15

He then moved to the underlying reason that he was on trial. He agreed with the Jews concerning one of their claims. He served God as a member of the sect they called the Way. Using the opportunity he once again shared that both he and the Jews believed the Scriptures which spoke of the hope of the resurrection from the dead. Paul lastly spoke of the guiding principle of his life. This was the same one to which he held before and after his conversion. His desire was, “to do his best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God before men.”

  1. In what ways is this testimony than what we have seen before?
  2. What was the common thread?
  3. Why would the Jews there have trouble accepting what Paul was saying?
  4. What was Paul’s guiding principle for life?
  5. How would such a principle benefit us in our walk as followers of Christ?

Acts 24:16-18a

After giving his short testimony Paul returned to what had brought him to Jerusalem and what occurred during his most reason visit. He had come to bring the gifts made by the churches in Greece and Macedonia and to present offerings. Finally, not only had he provided a service to his people but his actions in the temple were done according to obedience to the law of purification. Taking all of the factors into view Paul was correct in declaring his innocence.

  1. Why did Paul repeat part of his testimony that he had given before?
  2. What were the reasons that he had returned to Jerusalem?
  3. What last piece of convincing evidence did he present to prove his innocence?

Acts 24:18-21

For his closing arguments Paul sets out to discredit the men who had come down to Caesarea as unqualified prosecutors. He begins by stating the only qualify individuals would have been the Asia Jews that made the charges against him. Of course they were nowhere to be found. Then he spoke of his statements before the Sanhedrin concerning the resurrection of the dead. They had found nothing wrong with that remark and were even divided among themselves as to his guilt.

  1. How was Paul able to discredit the Jews who had come to Caesarea?
  2. Who would have been the only ones who could have brought charges against him before Felix?
  3. Why did Paul believe that his appearance before the Sanhedrin had proven his innocence?

Acts 24:22-23

It came time for Felix to render his decision. Much to the consternation of the Jews he postponed judgment until the commander, Claudius Lysias, could come to Caesarea to give his version of the events. It is interesting that Luke tells us that Felix, “Having a more exact knowledge of the Way, put them off.” Evidently he had witnessed the behavior of the followers of Christ and was convinced that if Paul was one of the leaders of the sect that the accusations of the Jews were not true.

He however did detain Paul but gave him the freedom to receive friends. His detention would have pleased the Jews possibly giving them an opportunity to press their case forward. Felix would also have benefited because with Paul in custody there would be less of a possibility of more events like the one which had just occurred.

  1. Why did Felix issue a final judgment on Paul?
  2. In what way would this have upset the Jews?
  3. What part did the statement, “having a more exact knowledge of the way,” have in his decision?
  4. What would that knowledge imply?
  5. Who benefited from Paul detention?
  6. Why was this true?
  7. How does this response from a pagan say about the way we can impact the world as followers of Christ?

Acts 24:24-27

During the next two years of Paul’s life there appears to have been a great deal of interaction between Paul and Felix. The first indication is a discussion that they had about, “faith in Christ Jesus.” When the discussion turned to “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come,” Felix became frightened and ended the conversation by sending Paul away. Paul was talking about the high standards of the Christian to a man who was immoral and self-serving. Felix seduced Drusilla who was the wife of another man by magic and married her. He then took sides with the Greeks in a violent dispute they had with the Jews allowing his soldiers to kill several thousand Jews and ransacking the homes of some of the most wealthy Jews. No wonder he was scared at the words of Paul.

Another thing that he did according to Luke was to obtain money from Paul. This sounds a lot like a bribe. These meetings happened frequently over the two years as he conversed with Paul.

All of this ended when Felix was removed as governor for the above mentioned reasons. Rather than allowing him to go free he left Paul in prison as a favor to the Jews.

  1. Why would Felix want to carry on a conversation with Paul?
  2. Why was he frightened by the discussion of righteousness, self-control and judgment?
  3. How did Paul’s life compare with that of Felix?
  4. Which of the two men was the true prisoner? Explain
  5. Why did Felix seek to receive money from Paul?
  6. If Paul had succumbed to this temptation to take the easy way out what would it have done to his witness?

What would draw the lost to hear what you would have to say? C-When the Jews, minus those from Asia, went down to Felix they brought a lawyer to present their case against Paul. In spite of all the false accusations made, Paul was able to defend himself quite convincingly. Felix did not turn him over to the Jews but kept him in Caesarea purportedly until the commander, Lysias, could come down and share his side of the story. (Acts 24:1-2, 10)

You-

  1. Consider times when you have found yourself in a situation that may have required you to be in the position of:
  • Paul
  • Felix
  • Jews
  • Tertullus

How much have you been like each one of them?

  1. Take care that in any situation that you have all of the facts and not base what you do on information from a third party.
  2. Always being willing to stand up for the truth in every circumstance.

We may find ourselves in the position of Paul at some point. Fortunately most of us have not been accused of hurting the church by our actions. To make sure that this does not happen we are to be careful of participating in gossip or rumors about anyone. Paul was on trial because of a number statements that were not true. In order for us to always live together as a church family we must always allow those involved in a conflict to resolve it. Only when two many parties begin interfering do things get blown out of proportion. Let us believe the best about everyone and many of our problems will disappear. Christ does want to live in one accord.

GC-A Christian of godly character;

  1. Serves God
  2. Believes the written word (The entire Counsel of God)
  3. Hopes in God
  4. Believes in the resurrection

(Acts 24:14-15, 21; 26:6, 22-23)

GC-It is critical that a believer maintains a blameless conscience before God and man.     (Acts 24:16)

RT-Paul believe that the Law and the prophets clearly spelled out for him the assurance of the resurrection which he followed all of his heart. (Acts 24:14-16)

DM-Felix chose to reject the truth of Jesus Christ as spoken to him by Paul. His fear of the consequences of his decision was not strong enough to make him become a follower of Christ. (Acts 24:24-26)

RT-The turning point for Felix and Drusilla came when Paul spoke to them about faith in Christ Jesus. Felix became frightened and sent him away as Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. (Acts 24:24-25)

C-Being held as a prisoner for two years had to be difficult for one so use to the freedom to travel throughout the Roman Empire, witnessing everywhere he went. After two years of being in jail Felix was replaced by Festus. He, hoping to please the Jews, left Paul there. (Acts 24:27)

 

Additional Notes:

C-When the Jews, minus those from Asia, went down to Felix they brought a lawyer to present their case against Paul. In spite of all the false accusations made, Paul was able to defend himself quite convincingly. Felix did not turn him over to the Jews but kept him in Caesarea purportedly until the commander, Lysias, could come down and share his side of the story. (Acts 24:1-2, 10)

GC-A Christian of godly character;

  1. Serves God
  2. Believes the written word (The entire Counsel of God)
  3. Hopes in God
  4. Believes in the resurrection

(Acts 24:14-15, 21; 26:6, 22-23)

GC-It is critical that a believer maintains a blameless conscience before God and man.     (Acts 24:16)

RT-Paul believe that the Law and the prophets clearly spelled out for him the assurance of the resurrection which he followed all of his heart. (Acts 24:14-16)

DM-Felix chose to reject the truth of Jesus Christ as spoken to him by Paul. His fear of the consequences of his decision was not strong enough to make him become a follower of Christ. (Acts 24:24-26)

RT-The turning point for Felix and Drusilla came when Paul spoke to them about faith in Christ Jesus. Felix became frightened and sent him away as Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. (Acts 24:24-25)

C-Being held as a prisoner for two years had to be difficult for one so use to the freedom to travel throughout the Roman empire, witnessing everywhere he went. After two years of being in jail Felix was replaced by Festus. He, hoping to please the Jews, left Paul there. (Acts 24:27)

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Before the Religious Leaders Acts 22:30 – 23:35

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 3:47 PM

Lesson 39

Paul before the Religious Leaders

Acts 22:30-23:35

One of the things that I have learned over the years that I have been teaching is to try and understand your audience. If it is a group with which I meet on a consistent basis I have tried to get to know them by having fellowship times and listening to the needs that are present in their lives.

It is not always possible to have an opportunity to build relationships. One thing that will help in communicating is to have an affinity with people on the subject being shared either by teaching or speaking. Body language will often indicate whether the group is with you and taking actual part in what is being shared. Heads resting on chests is not a good sign. Heads nodding in agreement is what you hope to achieve.

I am still learning how to present material in such a way that I am not just presenting facts but speaking in such a way that what I am saying is having an impact on the lives of the listener. I read somewhere that teaching and learning come from the same root word. In other words if a person is not grasping what is being taught then teaching is not taking place.

Although some of us will never stand before a group of people, it is important to begin to know the people who attend the Bible Study and/or Worship Service. Each and every one of them and we have needs in our lives. It may be that a handshake will fulfill what a person needs on a given Sunday. There may be more deep seated needs that are going on. We have opportunities each and every Sunday to make people feel welcome. Look around and see what seems to be the atmosphere of the gathering. Does it seem that the Holy Spirit is truly moving in the times together? If so we can be assured that the message of God’s good news is reaching down into the hearts of people.

Paul in this morning’s lesson was alert to the climate in which he found himself. We need to do the same and to respond accordingly. This chapter will be a continuation of the different ways that Paul defends himself in different settings.

Acts 22:30

It was for the benefit of the Commander to find out why there had been such a violent reaction to the presence of Paul in the city. He could not allow such unrest to continue. Unless he could resolve the issue peaceably he would find himself in trouble with his superiors. In order to determine what had happened he brought all the parties in the conflict together.

Acts 23:1-2

It was obvious from Paul’s opening remarks that he would never get a fair hearing from the Sanhedrin. After addressing those assembled as the “council and brethren” he made the claim that he was innocent before God. This brought immediate reaction from Ananias the high priest who considered Paul’s statements arrogant and an affront to the leaders sitting there. He had someone slap Paul on the mouth to shut him up before he was able to give a defense. Paul was indeed equal with these men because he had once been a part of the religious establishment as a Pharisee. By having Paul slapped Ananias violated the law because an Israelite was not to be slapped across the face.

  1. Why was it impossible for Paul to get a fair hearing from the Sanhedrin?
  2. Why did Ananias have Paul slapped?
  3. In what way were Paul’s statements accurate? (See Philippians 3:4-6)
  4. How did Ananias deny Paul’s rights by his actions?

Acts 23:3-5

Ananias’ action made Paul angry. He pronounced God’s judgment on him and use the term “whitewashed wall” describe him. Remember Jesus used this same analogy in describing the religious leaders back in Matthew 23:27. It referred to the practice of whitewashing tombs so that a person would not become defiled by touching them. Jesus called those who did this as those who were hypocrites. Paul was basically saying your actions which are against the law are louder than the pious words you speak. Whether sarcastically or sincerely he responded to the one who mentioned that Ananias was high priest by indicating he did not know he was the high priest and he knew it was not right to speak against a leader of the people.

  1. Why did Paul get angry?
  2. What did he declare about Ananias?
  3. What justification did he have for his anger and his statements?
  4. What do you think of his response to the one who informed him that Ananias was high priest?
  5. What are instances in your life when you felt justified in speaking out as Paul did?
  6. In what ways can you recognize a person who is hypocritical?
  7. What is basis upon which you make that distinction?

Acts 23:6-9

Paul quickly determined that there were both Pharisees and Sadducees in attendance. Even after the previous incident he again addressed them as “Brethren.” This time however he included the declaration, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.” Then he said, “I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead.” These statements elicited the expected results from the group, since both parties would respond according to their beliefs. Those beliefs were for the Sadducees:

  • Belief in only the written law
  • Did not believe in angels and spirits
  • Belief in free will
  • Did not believe in any type of resurrection

It also could be said about them that they were the party in who collaborated with the Romans and were in power because of that relationship.

The Pharisees on the other hand believed in:

  • Strict adherence to both the written and oral law
  • Angels and spirits
  • Predestination
  • A resurrection of the dead.

This conflict of two different doctrines brought about a great dissension and division as some began to side with Paul while others maintained his guilt. With so much conflict taking place in their own ranks how it the world could they condemn Paul.

  1. How was Paul able to perceive that members of both religious parties were there?
  2. What different dynamics did his statement about being a Pharisee bring to the proceedings?
  3. Why would he interject this fact?
  4. What did Paul say and not say with his statement about the resurrection?
  5. What did the dissension that arose tell us about the Jewish religion?
  6. What can we glean from this incident?
  7. How does all of this compare with what has been seen of the church?

Acts 23:10

As he witnessed the bedlam that occurred, the commander went in and rescued Paul. He was afraid they might cause him physical harm. Although not mentioned here this whole episode certainly did not answer any of the concerns of the commander. Further, we can only imagine the effect it may have had on his view of religion and Judaism in particular.

  1. Why did the commander sense that he needed to rescue Paul?
  2. In what ways do you think that this whole episode might impact the commander and those under his command?
  3. How did the actions of the Jews reflect what can occur within the walls of the church today?
  4. In what ways can the church today be a poor witness for what we are suppose to believe?

Acts 23:11

After experiencing all that had occurred during those two days Paul was probably demoralized. He had to wonder if his work was through. To encourage him the Lord came to him and indicated that God was not through with him yet and that he would have the opportunity to witness of Christ’s cause in Rome.

  1. What would be your mindset if you had experienced all that Paul had in those two days?
  2. Why did Christ appear to him at that particular time?
  3. What were the important words that Paul needed to hear?
  4. In what ways have you received encouragement when you felt that you were no longer had anything to offer in the way of service?
  5. Why is it important that you sense that Christ is right beside you in difficult times?
  6. When is your work complete?

Acts 23:12-22

The timing could not have been better for the appearance of Christ. Paul had a long way to go before reaching Rome. His troubles in Jerusalem were not over by any means. The Jews had not given up on trying to kill Paul. A new plan was devised by forty Jews. They made a vow that they would not eat or drink until they had eliminated him. Their plan was to lie in wait as the leaders asked that Paul be brought before them for further examination. Fortunately Paul’s nephew heard the plan and reported it to Paul who called to a centurion to carry the lad to the commander. The commander then took the young man to one side and asked him what he had to report. After sharing what the Jews intended to do the commander told him not to tell anyone that he had come forth with the information.

  1. What was the next plan that the Jews put in place to eliminate Paul?
  2. Why did they continue to desire to have Paul killed?
  3. How did this reflect on the Jewish religion?
  4. What happened that thwarted the plan of the Jews?
  5. Why was the commander willing to believe the word of the young lad?
  6. What is our attitude at times when a young person shares what he or she has heard?

Acts 23:23-24

At this point the commander concluded that he could not get to the bottom of what was going on in such a volatile environment. He therefore made immediate plans to have Paul safely transported to Caesarea in the middle of the night.

  1. Why did the Commander conclude the best option was to send Paul to Caesarea?
  2. What did it say about the commander’s view of the whole situation?
  3. What had the Commander gained with all of his efforts to find out why the Jews hated Paul so much?
  4. In what circumstances is it good for us to take a step back and re-evaluate the circumstances in which we find ourselves?

Acts 23:25-30

The commander is now named by Luke. In his letter to Felix the governor he identifies himself as Caudius Lysias. It would be foolish on his part to send Paul to Caesarea without giving a clear explanation of the events that had taken place. The key to the whole letter was his efforts to find out the cause of the commotion. He had at least figured out that it was “over questions about their Law.” He also determined that he did not see the accusations against Paul “deserving of death or imprisonment.” The final part of the letter indicated that he would have the Jewish leaders go down to Caesarea to present their case.

  1. Why did the commander deem it necessary to send a letter to Felix with Paul?
  2. What did the content of the letter show about what he understood was going on?
  3. What was the main reason for sending Paul to Felix?
  4. In what ways was this a wise decision on his part?

Acts 23:31-34

In ways the delivery of Paul to Felix may seem anti-climatic. He was brought to Caesarea where he and the letter from Claudius Lysias were turned over to Felix. After reading the letter and discovering that Paul was from Cilicia he promised him a hearing once the Jews arrived. The purpose of these verses was to show that God’s promise to Paul was beginning to be fulfilled as he was now in the hands of the Roman authorities. This was the first step in his journey to Rome.

You-

  1. Think about how you have reacted to certain situations in the past. Have your actions and words been ones that would please God.
  2. Learn to understand and appreciate those around you who will have different personalities and ideas than you.
  3. Always think before speaking that your words will be suited to the situation.
  4. Grow in your knowledge of God through His word that you may live in one accord with others.

We do play a role in what others think about the church. At the end of the day the Commander in incident had no more idea of what the confusion was all about than when he rescued Paul the first time. When we as a church are conflicted about what we believe how can we expect the world to gravitate towards the church? A church divided can only not stand but certainly it cannot influence the world for Christ. What we have been studying for almost a year is the way the church of the first century grew and dealt with problems within its ranks.

May we in the coming days take the lessons learned and apply them to our own situation. May we get to know the people within the body that we can live in one accord.

Additional Notes:

C-The real reason Paul had been persecuted time and again and now was standing trial among his pears was for “for the hope and resurrection of the dead.” If we truly think about this it is the very message that needs to be heard throughout the world, however wherever it has been proclaimed the church has always been persecuted and ridiculed. He was speaking of true life but they chose death. (Acts 23:6)

C-Paul’s statement brought about a division among his accusers. Some believed in the resurrection, the Pharisees, while others, Sadducees, denied anything of a supernatural nature. When his life became endangered the Roman contingent had to rescue him because he was not caught in the middle of the uproar. (Acts 23:7-10)

S-The Lord appeared to Paul and indicated he would go to Rome as His witness. (Acts 23:11)

C-After a plot against his life was discovered Paul was moved very quickly under the cover of darkness to Caesarea where he was turned over to the Roman governor Felix. (Acts 23:12-33)

OC-Jerusalem was not a time of defeat for Paul but a provided a door opportunity to open for him to go to Rome, the capitol of the world at that time. (Acts 23:11)

RT-It is interesting that although Festus could find no reason to detain Paul, he decided to send him to Caesar anyway. He of course thought he was acting on his own, but he was just providing the means by which the words of the Lord would be fulfilled. Paul had already been told by the Lord that he was going to have the opportunity to preach in Rome. (Acts 23:11; 25:25, 27)

DM-The Jews planned to have Paul killed. (Acts 23:12-15, 21)

C-Paul was detained in Herod’s Praetorium until his accusers could come down from Jerusalem. At that point they would once again have an opportunity to present their case before not a Roman commander but Felix the governor of all of Judea. (Acts 23:25)

 

 

 

 

Paul’s Defense Acts 21:40 – 22:30

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 3:41 PM

Lesson 38

Paul’s Defense

Acts 21:40-22:30

It was not until I got involved in the FAITH ministry a number of years ago that I thought much about my testimony. I believed that I had lived such an ordinary life that no one would be interested in hearing it. The closest I ever came was to basically tell someone that I attended church and that I was saved. In the preparation for making a FAITH presentation I learned that my testimony was to be short and to the point. More important than its length was the fact that it was about me. God had done something in me because like everyone else I am a unique individual, therefore He worked in my heart in such a way that I would be changed.

The testimony I learned to share from FAITH was what was my life before Christ; what changed and how has my life been different since then.

I think I was and still am in ways like most of us in the church who have never been called on to testify to what Christ has done for us. One thing for sure I have never experienced an event such as the one Paul faced there in Jerusalem. I do know that my salvation has been the most important event in my life and I have to question why I do not share it more often.

We in the church are Christ’s testimony. Whether we like it or not the world looks at us to see if we truly reflect Christ. All of our actions are open for the world to see. Therefore the image we present to the world will either be Christ honoring serving in one accord or how society operates with division and strife. It is important that we know who we want to be and who we are serving so that image can be presented to the world.

Paul knew to whom he belonged. When the time came as we will see today he was ready to share what Christ had done in his life and the ministry to which he had been called.

Acts 21:39-40

At the end of last week’s lesson Paul sought permission to speak to the crowd that had just tried to kill him. He then motioned with his hand. Luke writes that a “great hush” fell over the crowd. Once order had been established Paul began to speak to them in Hebrew. By doing so he would quickly let the crowd that he was one of them.

  1. Why did Paul as permission to speak to the crowd?
  2. Why was he able to calm them with just the motion of his hand?
  3. What was the importance of speaking to them in Hebrew?

 

Acts 22:1-2

Paul began by clearly stating why he wanted to talk to the crowd. He wanted to present a defense to the people. Luke once again emphasized that Paul’s spoke in Hebrew. It was this fact that completely calmed the people that were there.

  1. What could Paul expect from making a defense to the crowd?
  2. What do you think that Paul hoped to gain by talking with them?
  3. Why did Luke once again share that Paul spoke in Hebrew?
  4. What benefit had already been obtained by Paul’s actions?

Acts 22:3-5

Paul began by establishing a connection with the Jews that stood listening to him. To him there were certain things that had been of the upmost importance in his life prior to the Damascus Road experience. He gives a resume that all of them could relate. It reads:

  • I am a Jew.
  • Born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Present day Turkey)
  • Educated under the renown Gamaliel
  • Zealous for God and His Law as the Jews there were.
  • Persecutor of the church not only in Judea but also sought to go into Damascus (Present day Syria)

If Paul’s life story ended here it could not be said of him that he had a testimony. This would have been only the life before Christ section.

  1. What was Paul hoping to accomplish by speaking to the Jews?
  2. Why did he share the biographical information written by Luke?
  3. What would be the most important piece of information that Paul shared?
  4. To what part of our testimony would what he shared here relate?
  5. What was your life like before you became a follower of Christ?

Acts 22:6-11

At this point he switches gears as he gives the first eye witness account of the events on the Road to Damascus. It was a moment so indelibly etched in his mind and heart that he would repeat it not only here before the crowd but later before Festus and King Agrippa. He had already had told them how he had been like them. Now he began sharing what brought about the dramatic change in his life which led to him being before them that day.

  1. What happened on the Road to Damascus?
  2. Why was Paul so receptive to the message of Jesus?
  3. What did he hope to accomplish by telling his story?
  4. What did it take for you to realize that you needed to give your life to Christ?

Acts 22:12-16

Ananias now enters the picture. He is described as one “devout by the standard of the Law”
with a good reputation among the Jews of that city. The instructions he gave to Paul in the name of the Lord are worth repeating because of the impact they had on his life.

  • Receive your sight
  • God has appointed you to:
  1. Know His will
  2. See the Righteous One
  3. Hear the words from His mouth
  4. Be a witness for Him to All men all that you have seen and heard.
  • Arise and be baptized to wash away your sins
  • Call upon the name of Jesus Christ

Although not mentioned here Paul was faithful to all of these instructions.

  1. Why did Paul feel it was necessary to provide biographical material of Ananias?
  2. What was his role in the testimony of Paul?
  3. Why did Paul believe it was necessary to spell out these particular facts about his conversion experience?
  4. To which part of our testimony do these facts relate?
  5. What might you share about your own personal experience at this point?

Acts 22:17-23

This incident was not mentioned in Luke’s account of Paul’s conversion and the events that followed. When God indicated to him in a vision that he must leave Jerusalem because he was in great danger Paul seemed to be taken by surprise. He seemed to indicate that his past actions against the church would lead the Jews to become followers of Christ. The plot of the Jews should have made it clear what they thought of his conversion. They saw him as a traitor to the faith.

God did not respond to his reasoning. As He had told Paul before his ministry was to be to the Gentiles. He now very explicitly commanded him to leave Jerusalem and go to where he would find Gentiles.

After all he had experience the reaction of the Jews should have been expected. Although they had listened up to this point the very mention of the word Gentile caused the riot to begin anew. Once again they called for his death.

This would be the last step in sharing of one’s testimony. What has happened in your life since you had the life changing experience? Paul shared what Christ had done in his life and the direction of his ministry that had been laid out before him? As is seen in this incident that even though one shares his complete testimony there will be those who totally reject what has been said. We have to remember that it is not us that they are rejecting but God?

  1. Why did God appear to Paul in a vision?
  2. Why would Paul be surprised at the command to leave Jerusalem?
  3. What did he expect to happen when he returned to the city after his conversion?
  4. What did he hope to gain by mentioning his part in the persecution of the church to God?
  5. In what ways did he almost seem to be questioning God?
  6. Why did the Jews respond so violently at the mention of the Gentiles?
  7. What is the last part of our testimony to be shared?
  8. What should be our thought if what we say is rejected?

Acts 22:24

It was only by the intervention of the soldiers that prevented the crowds from harming Paul. He was however not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. His defense did not end with the crowd but entered into a new phase. He now would face inquiry by the Roman army. In a way the Romans were no different than the mob from which Paul had been rescued. The Jews wanted to mete out their brand of justice because they thought he had desecrated the Temple. They based their actions on false information. Now the commander intended to use force/violence by having Paul scourged in hopes of determining the truth. At this point Paul would have to use a completely different strategy in explaining his situation to the commander.

In defense of the Commander he may not understood anything that Paul had said because it was all spoken in Hebrew. Even if he had known Hebrew the words spoken by Paul would have been meaningless to one who did not understand anything about the conflict between Jews and Christians. Beyond that he had to be focusing on maintaining the peace?

  1. How was Paul better off in the hands of the Roman soldiers?
  2. In what way was the commander the same as the Jewish mob?
  3. Why would the Commander not understand what Paul was saying to crowd?
  4. Why did the commander decide to use such extreme measures in getting the truth from Paul?
  5. In what way would his defense need to be different than when he was speaking to the Jews?
  6. In what ways do we sometimes act like the mob or the commander in making a decision?
  7. How do the circumstances in which we find ourselves dictate the way we might present our testimony?

Acts 22:25

Before the Romans had a chance to carry out the scouring Paul asked a very important question to the Centurion. He said, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?” He was pretty much saying that what you are about to do is illegal. In their attempt to rush to judgment and keep the peace they had stepped over the line of what was proper.

  1. Why were the Romans so anxious to get answers by scouring Paul?
  2. Why did Paul ask the question about the legality of the act?
  3. How often do we rush to judgment and are then willing to do anything to justify our actions?
  4. What are some examples can you give when this may have happened?
  5. What do such actions do to our credibility and testimony?

Acts 22:26-29

The Centurion immediately goes to the commander with the news concerning Paul’s citizenship. The following conversation takes place so the Commander can affirm the truth of Paul’s claim. It turns out that Paul was born a Roman citizen while the Commander had purchased his for a great deal of money. When the discovered that what Paul said he became afraid because he had violated the rights of a Roman citizen by putting him in chains and attempting to scourge him.

  1. Why did Paul use the strategy of claiming Roman citizenship at this time?
  2. What was stake in this whole incident?
  3. Why did the Centurion take Paul at his word?
  4. Why then the Commander question Paul concerning his citizenship?
  5. Why did the Commander become afraid?
  6. How could he have averted this whole situation?

 

Acts 22:30

The next day the Commander used a more reasonable tact to determine what had brought on the riot. He determined the best way to get to the truth was to bring the two parties together.

  1. What had happened overnight to the Commander?
  2. What kind of example did he set for us when there is conflict between individuals or the church as a whole?

Next week we will see what happens when Paul has an opportunity to face his accusers. It may turn out different than you might expect.

You-

  1. Make sure that you have a true relationship in Christ. Remember that if you do not belong to Jesus you have no testimony.
  2. This week write out your testimony using the three step approach mentioned in today’s lesson.   They are my life before Christ, the life changing experience that I had, and what has happened in my spiritual walk since then.
  3. Think about past opportunities you may have missed because you did not believe you had anything to share.
  4. Be prepared to adjust your words depending on the circumstance in which you find yourself.
  5. Think about how you would defend your faith in the face of stiff opposition.

We as no time in history are being called on to defend the gospel in a world that is not hostile to Christianity but in many ways have chosen to ignore it completely. As we have just studied Paul was ready to proclaim the gospel in whatever situation he found himself. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:19 that like it or not they would be placed into situations where they would have to rely on the Holy Spirit for the words to be spoken. Peter tells us to “always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with all gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15) Paul told Timothy “Be diligent to present yourself as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 3:15) He later admonishes him to “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

It is the ultimate responsibility of the church to do certain things:

  • Give everyone the opportunity to know Christ
  • To equip the saints to face the challenges of the world and do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12)
  • To equip them in ways to witness to the lost
  • To help each person to continue to grow in his or her faith.

If we do these things and do them well we will be a church fully equipped to defend the gospel in every way. The question which we as the church, the body of Christ, what is my part in making it happen? Surely we do want to have a strong testimony for Christ in our community.

Additional Notes:

C-To me it is amazing that the very man they were trying to kill a moment would be allowed by them to speak. They listened in Paul in silence as he shared his testimony. When however he began to share how God had called him to become a witness to the Gentiles the crowd once again became very hostile. (Acts 22:1-23)

GC-Followers are to be so spiritually attune that we will understand God’s will for our lives. (Acts 22:14)

GC-Unlike the apostles and even Paul the only way we will see Jesus Christ, the Righteous One is by immersing ourselves in God’s word. (Acts 22:14)

GC-Every Christian has a deep desire to see everyone come to Christ and have their sins washed away. (Acts 22:16)

DM-Paul describes how the Jews wanted to have him killed because he preached Jesus. (Acts 22:18)

S-As Paul gave testimony before the people he shared an incident after his conversion when Jesus appeared to him in a vision and told him to leave Jerusalem quickly.       (Acts 22:18)

S-Jesus told Paul to go and that he was being sent to the Gentiles. (Acts 22:21; 26:17)

DM-The Jews could not accept the fact that God cared for the Gentiles. In their way of thinking anyone carried out such a ministry as Paul emphatically expressed that God had called him to do should not be allowed to continue living. (Acts 22:21-22)

RT-The command that Paul received from Christ caused uproar among the Jews. They were no longer willing to listen to him after he made the statement, “Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” You would think that a people who were called to be a nation of priests would have responded differently. Had they not been called to evangelize the world? Yet are they not so much like us with our prejudices against those not like us? Their apathy as well as ours to seek the lost and hold on to our traditions has been the reason we as the church has been marginalized and become ineffective in society. (Acts 22:21-22)

C-As was his duty, the commander took Paul into custody and was going to have him scourged to determine why the people had responded to him as they had in anger. Before the beating occurred Paul let the commander know that he was a Roman citizen. Of course this changed the whole dynamic of how Paul was treated from that point on.     (Acts 22:24-29)

C-Paul was released to face his accusers. The very people who made the accusations were not even part of the hearing. It was made up primarily of Pharisees and Sadducees, which Paul soon ascertained and used to his advantage. (Acts 22:30)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of Compromise Acts 21

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 3:36 PM

Lesson 37

Cost of Compromise

Acts 21

One of the things that have bothered me over the years is the whole idea of compromise. With it comes a decision that does not leave any one as happy. The dictionary says it is, “a settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions.”

Several years ago I was involved in a situation in which I was called on to defend myself against those who wanted to get rid of me at work. Because I questioned, rather vehemently, a piece of accounting software that was being purchased that did not function as promised I was called on the carpet. In order to keep my job I had to promise not to say anything negatively about it anymore. Although I still believed it was not good for the organization I agreed.

One of the greatest dangers to the church is our willingness to buy into false doctrine be presented to us by those we have considered stalwarts of the faith. I have just read an article in Christianity Today in which two of the prolific writers of today have agreed with those who do not believe that Adam and Eve were not real individuals and that God used evolution to bring about the existence of man as we know him today. If we agree with such false arguments we find ourselves compromising with the world’s view of religion.

Something that, hits even closer to home is our whole process of making decisions within the church. The idea of majority rule is of the world. Nowhere in Scripture is that system validated. As we have seen from Acts chapter 1 the consistent theme has been for the church to govern itself in one accord.

Unless the church is willing to live by the Bible and accept it as the inerrant message from God we will never get beyond the point of trying to operate according to the world’s mandates. There are no shades of gray in His word on that which is absolutely right for the church. The church continues make decisions about its future based on emotions. We must not depend on what others say but what God says.

Paul in today’s lesson made one compromise that cost him his freedom and maybe even more as he would spend the next several years incarcerated by the Roman Government. Other than his letters being able to see those that came to him his wider ministry was over.

Acts 21:1-3

The first leg of Paul’s journey from Miletus carried him to Tyre in Syria by way of Cos and Patara on past Cyprus. At Tyre the ship was going to unload so Paul had a few days to spend there before proceeding with his trip.

Acts 21:4-6

He used the seven days he had to meet with the disciples of that city. Rather than just hearing what he had to say they had a message for him. They kept warning him through the Holy Spirit not to go to Jerusalem. For a man who has followed the leading of the Holy Spirit it seems strange that he would ignore the warnings.

At the end of his time with the church at Tyre the people gave him a send off. They went with him to the ship. His final act just as he had done with the Ephesian Elders was to pray with them. After the prayer he got on the ship to leave.

  1. What was the message that the people have for Paul?
  2. Why did he refuse to listen to their words?
  3. In what ways was it strange that he would seemingly ignore what they had to say?
  4. How do the words in Acts 20:22-24 give us a clue to what Paul was thinking?

Acts 21:7-9

Paul then made two more stops, one at Ptolemais and then at Caesarea. In Caesarea he stayed at the home of Phillip the evangelist. Luke tells us that Phillip had four single daughters who were also prophetess.

  1. Why was Phillip described as the evangelist?
  2. Why did Luke believe it was important to make note of the daughters?

Acts 21:10-11

Agabus arrived in Caesarea a message from the Holy Spirit concerning the events that would take place if Paul continued on into Jerusalem. He made his point by taking Paul’s belt and binding his own hands and feet. This was a picture of what the Jews were going to do with Paul. This gave emphasis to the words about Paul’s capture.

  1. Who was this Agabus?
  2. Where have we met him before?
  3. What his message in Acts 11?
  4. Why was he sent to Caesarea?
  5. What was his message to Paul and the others?

Acts 21:12

The reaction of all those who heard the prophecy, including Paul’s travelling companions and the local residents begged him not to journey on to Jerusalem. Of course it goes without saying that they were looking out for his welfare because of their great love for the man who had impacted their lives as he had.

  1. What was the reaction of the people when they heard the message?
  2. What does it say about the community of believers that the word got out to the local residents so quickly?
  3. Why did they respond as they did?
  4. What does their response say about their relationship to Paul?

Acts 21:13-14

As would be expected emotions were running high. With the announcement and reaction to it Paul was caught up in what was taking place. His response to the requests of those there reflected not so much a concern for himself but grief that that those who loved were hurting. After he said to them stop breaking my heart, he let them know that he was ready for whatever lay ahead be it changes or death as long as Christ was glorify through him.

 

  1. How did Paul view the situation differently than his friends?
  2. What do you think about his answer?
  3. Why was he so determined to go into a situation that presented nothing but direr consequences?
  4. How did his answer show a true concern for his companions?
  5. In what ways did his words speak of his faith?
  6. In your own life who would you be more like in a difficult situation, Paul or his companions?
  7. Why did you respond as you did?

Acts 21:15-16

Paul and his companions leave Caesarea for Jerusalem. There also some disciples from Caesarea that travelled with him. Mnason a disciple from Cyprus was going to provide lodging for them.

Acts 21:17-20a

After he arrived Paul was received gladly by the brethren. The next day he went to see the leadership of the church. This would have been primarily James and the Elders. It is interesting that the apostles were not specifically mentioned here. In all likelihood they had spread out into different parts of the world by this time.

As he had done before he shared all the things that God had been doing through him as he ministered to the Gentiles. His words were well received but there was a big “BUT” looming.

  1. What was the reaction to Paul’s arrival?
  2. Who composed the leadership of the church at Jerusalem at that time?
  3. Why were the apostles not mentioned?
  4. Why did Paul it was necessary to share with this group what had been taking place since he had been there the last time?
  5. How did the leadership receive his words?
  6. What was the big “But” that was looming on the horizon? (See next section)

Acts 21:20b-21

Here it comes the big “But.” Although the Church glorified God they immediately began speaking of the perception that the new Jewish believers who were zealous for the law had of Paul. They had been told that Paul was breaking the Mosaic law and was teaching against circumcision. In a way this was true because Paul like Jeremiah and others believed that it was the circumcision of the heart and not the flesh that made a person a true son of Abraham. That circumcision was based on faith and Paul was to write in the book of Romans. In another way Paul never said that a Jew should not be circumcised. This is seen in the fact that he circumcised Timothy.

  1. In what way did the response to Paul’s words seem disingenuous?
  2. What does this say about the leadership that they allowed for this misinformation to continue?
  3. What could they have done that would have quelled this problem?
  4. In what way is this an example of how half-truths can be spread in the church today?

Acts 21:22-24

As long as Paul stayed in Europe or Asia the church could continue on without a problem. He was there. The challenge now became of how they were going to handle the situation for surely everyone would find out very quickly the he was in the city. Their proposal brought Paul to a crossroad in his ministry. They were basically saying that by doing as we suggest you will prove that all the statements being made are false. He was to give support to those who were under a pledge according to the Nazirite laws.

This is the compromise he was being asked to make that changed the course of his life. Never again would he have the freedom to carry out his ministry unhindered. The church leaders sugarcoated it by saying that it would not affect the Gentiles. They could continue just they were. Paul relented and did just as the James and the others suggested.

  1. Why did the presence of Paul now present a problem for the church?
  2. What do you think about the proposal they made to Paul?
  3. Why did I call this the crossroads in Paul’s ministry?
  4. How did the Jews sugar coat their idea?
  5. Why did Paul give in?
  6. When we give in and compromise what can we expect as a consequence of that action?
  7. What is wrong with compromising? How close is this to the whole idea of church voting?
  8. Who were the winners and losers in this particular situation?

Acts 21:26

Paul not only supported these men but went so far as purifying himself as part of the ritual. This allowed him to go into the temple to bring about the completion of the days of purification and the sacrifices to be offering in line with it.

  1. What do you think of Paul’s actions?
  2. In what way would this strike at the heart of all he had been teaching for so many years?

Acts 21:27-29

The time of purification was almost complete when Jews from Asia saw Paul in the Temple. They grabbed hold of him and began to stir up the crowds making, once again, false accusations. They had become experts in knowing how to stir out the crowds. James was so right when he wrote that, “the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity.” (James 2:6) This time the Asian Jews claimed that Paul:

  • Had preached against the Jews, the law and the Temple.
  • Had brought a Gentile into the Temple. They assumed this had taken place because Trophimus, the Ephesian, had been seen with Paul going about the city.

They never stopped to think that Paul would not have been in the Temple if he was totally opposed to the Jews and their religion.

  1. Why was Paul in the Temple at the time he was spotted by the Jews from Asia?
  2. Why did they make the claims that they did against Paul?
  3. Why did it never seem to bother the men who were out to get Paul to break the very law they claimed that Paul spoke against by lying about him?
  4. Why would they assume that Paul would bring a Gentile into the Temple?
  5. In what part of the Temple were Gentiles allowed to go?
  6. In what way does the verse in James fit this situation?
  7. What instances in your own life have the words spoken brought injury to someone else?

Acts 21:30

The Jews had a history of violence and passion especially when it came to their religion. Here is seen this passion in action as the Jews who were in the city became very disturbed. They grabbed Paul, dragged out the Temple and slammed the door behind him with the all intention to kill him.

  1. Why did the Jews respond so violently?
  2. Why did they drag him from the Temple?
  3. Why were they so bent on killing Paul?

Acts 21:31-33a

Upon hearing that there was a disturbance in the city, the commander of the Roman Cohort took some soldiers down to see what was happening. When the people saw the soldiers coming they stopped beating Paul. It is interesting that Paul was the one put in chains and taken into custody. This was probably the only way to get control of the situation.

  1. Why would the commander be concerned about any disturbance in the city of Jerusalem?
  2. Why did the people stop beating Paul when the soldiers arrived?
  3. Why was it probably to Paul’s benefit that he was chained and taken into custody by the commander?

Acts 21:33b-36

When the commander tried to make inquiry into the reason for the almost riot condition he could not get a clear answer. This is not surprising. As has been seen before most of the people who were swept in the confusion had no idea what the protest was all about. Probably most of them could not even see Paul or what was being done to him. It is interesting that the Jews who instigated this whole episode were nowhere to be found. They had accomplished what they wanted and could now blend into the crowd. As will be seen later their reason for starting the riot would have not held water with the commander. Quite often it is a current of unrest that allows things to get out of hand.

Because of the confusion the commander decided to take Paul into the barracks to protect him, to stop the riot and maybe find out what part Paul had in the whole situation since he seemed to be at the center of it. The arrest did not satisfy the people because they followed the solders all the way to the barracks. They to actually carry Paul to keep him safe and the crowd kept shouting, “Away with him.”

  1. Why did the ones who had started this whole episode not step forward to explain why they had done what they did?
  2. What incidences in the church can you think of where this same type of thing has happened?
  3. How is that people can be swept into a situation and not even know the reason for it?
  4. What could the commander really expect to learn by his inquiry given the state of mind of the crowd?
  5. Why did the commander order for Paul to be brought into the barracks?
  6. Why do people jump to conclusion and are willing to reach the stage of destruction of a person’s life and or reputation?
  7. In your own life what incidents that you can remember would be like the situation in Jerusalem?

Acts 21:37-38

Finally Paul gets to speak. The commander’s initial words showed that even he was not exempt from jumping to conclusions. He was surprised that Paul was not the Egyptian who had caused problems.

Paul then gave a short bio telling the commander that “he was a Jew of Tarsus.” One important fact he left out at this point was that he was also a Roman citizen. His explanation of being a Jew was to get permission to speak to the crowd below. Perhaps they would listen to fellow Jew. What did the commander have to lose in granting Paul’s request.

  1. Why had the commander not listened to Paul before now?
  2. What conclusion had he already reached before Paul ever spoke?
  3. In what way does this explain the treatment of Paul up to this point?
  4. Why did Paul only mention that he was a Jew and not a Roman citizen or follower of the Way?
  5. Why did the commander grant him permission to speak?

Next week we will look at the words to this crowd. What affect would they have?

 

You-

  1. Take time this week to look up the difference between compromise and consensus and virtues and values. How will your understanding of them affect the way you live?
  2. Take time this week to reflect on those truths for which you would never compromise.
  3. Make a list of them to carry with you wherever you go. Review them often.
  4. Look at the issues taking place in the church and society to make sure that you hold to your beliefs no matter what false prophets might try to tell you.
  5. Once again it is imperative for you to spend time in God’s Word to know the truth that sets you free and to pray for the strength to be steadfast in your faith.

We now have because of recent events in the church to move beyond the concept of operating under a system of compromise to bring consensus to the church life. This will only come as we work together with the new leadership to be in one accord. From our lesson today we have begun to see how compromise in Paul’s life will affect the way he able to minister from this point on. In the next weeks we will see where that one decision will carry him.

Hopefully, with compromising behind us the church now has an opportunity to grow and become what God wants Bethany Place to be. The question now becomes what part will you play? Will you base your actions and words on the truths found in God’s Word and not your own agenda? We can move forward but only if there is a trust of each other, the leadership and a true desire to see the church grow. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Additional Notes:

C-On Paul’s return trip from Greece he finally arrived at Tyre where he spent several days with some disciples. They warned him not to go to Jerusalem. The next important stop in his journey was in the home of Philip, one of the seven, in Caesarea. Agabus, a prophet, who had come down from Judea prophesied that Paul would be arrested in the city. Although all who were with him pleaded with him not to go Paul was going to be dissuaded from making the pilgrimage there. They could not understand, nor could Paul at this time, that his arrest would be his means of going to Rome. (Acts 21:1-14)

DM-Because he had totally given his life to Christ, Paul was willing to die for his faith. (Acts 21:13-14)

GC-A believer must be willing to suffer and die for the name of the Lord Jesus.         (Acts 21:13)

C-Following through on his commitment, Paul and the others of his party went on to Jerusalem. There he met with James and the elders of the church.

RT-What you (Paul) have done is great but we have these malcontents over here who are not pleased about what they have heard about you. What they had heard that you are teaching Jews there is no need to be circumcised when they become a follower of Christ. What can you do to placate them? By doing what the leaders in the church at Jerusalem asked did Paul get the results they wanted? To quiet the critics Paul go himself arrested. DM-Compromising with the leaders in Jerusalem by performing an unnecessary ritual brought about Paul’s arrest and imprisonment. (Acts 21:21-33; 24:27)

C-While Paul was in the Temple completing his days of purification according to the Law Jews from Asia stirred up the people of Jerusalem making false claims against him. They accused him of bringing a Greek into the temple and that he preached in a way that was opposed to the Jews. (Acts 21:27-28)

C-Listening to these men the people seized Paul and dragged him from the temple. They were going to kill and would have accomplished this act. Fortunately, the Roman cohort came on the scene and rescued him from the mob. (Acts 21:30-36)

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey Winds Down Acts 20:1-36

Filed under: Acts — admin @ 3:27 PM

Lesson 36

The Journey Winds Down

Acts 20:1-36

The hardest part of a trip for me is having it come to an end. Each time I was there I felt a sense of urgency within my spirit knowing that my stay would only be very short. When I left Russia after my third time being in that country there was a certain sadness deep within me. As it turned out most of the workers with whom I had built a relationship were forced to leave the country. With their departure the opportunities to minister were closed.   As much I would have liked to return to see those friends I had made, I knew that the possibility of that happening was slim. I then retired from the IMB and medical situations occurred at home ending the possibility of a return.

I had to accept that God had closed one door but was going to open up new ones. It is always up to me whether I am going to dwell in the past or look forward to the new challenges opportunities that God has laid out before me. Paul talked about pressing forward in his letter to the Philippians. I have chosen to take this attitude.

The hardest part of the journey for any church is to realize that it cannot live in the past. Even though we might think about the accomplishments in its history we can not dwell there. When time has passed God closes that door forever. The church must build on the past so that it can face the challenges of tomorrow. The lesson today will deal with closing out his last missionary trip. In particular we will see the urgency that Paul felt as he shared with the elders of the church at Ephesus. Before that important session he had returned one more time to some of the churches he was instrumental in starting. Seeing how they had progressed gave him courage for the road ahead. Are we willing to look to those upon whose shoulders Bethany Place has been built and have the courage to face a new tomorrow? Is there a sense of urgency in what we do realizing that the time is short and the forces of evil are surrounding us from every side?

Acts 20:1

Once the uproar that Demetrius had started subsided Paul called the disciples together for one last word of encouragement before continuing his journey into Macedonia. He then left and began his circuitous route to Jerusalem by way of Macedonia and Greece.

  1. Why do we not see a sense of urgency on the part of Paul to leave Ephesus?
  2. Why did the Paul call the church together before taking leave of Ephesus?
  3. Looking at Acts 19:21-22 what affect did the riot have on Paul’s plans?
  4. Considering what had just taken place why was this an appropriate time for him to leave?

Acts 20:2-3

Luke does not give any specifics of what took place during the time in Macedonia. Paul then travelled south into Greece where he spent 3 months. Reading 2 Corinthians 8 we may find the reason for Paul to once again visit Macedonia and Greece. The churches of that region had taken up a gift to be taken to Jerusalem to assist the church there. Paul possibility was the one who actually collected the money. Other than that Luke gives no detail of the three months spent in Greece, except the plot by the Jews to kill him on the trip by sea. One commentator said it would have been very easy for Paul to have been thrown overboard and no one would have known it. This plot changed Paul’s agenda and rather than going to Syria he returned back through Macedonia.

  1. Why does Luke not give us any details concerning Paul’s time in Macedonia?
  2. What was the reason that Paul may have made this trip?
  3. Why did Luke again not give any detail of the trip?
  4. Why did he decide to travel by land rather than sea?

Acts 20:4-5

Luke listed a group of men who had been travelling with Paul during his time in Macedonia and Greece. Notice the diversity of people that Paul had gathered about him. In the mix were both Europeans and Asians. These men give a picture of the universal appeal of the gospel.

Once the plot was discovered Paul sent most of his travelling companions ahead to wait for him in Troas which was in Asia Minor. His own trip was delayed by the Jewish feast of the Unleavened Bread which followed Passover. Who was Paul’s travelling companion for the trip back across land and the subsequent sea voyage from Philippi to Troas? Upon arriving they spent a week there.

  1. What indication did Luke give of the universal appeal of the gospel?
  2. Why did Paul send the men ahead of him?
  3. What does this say to us about what the church should look like?
  4. What Jewish feast delayed his trip?

Acts 20:7-8

On the first day after his arrival Paul gathered the church together for dinner and celebration of the Lord’s Supper. He used this opportunity to talk with them. Although Paul did most to the talking, was probably more of a dialogue than a sermon. This conversation went on for several hours until midnight. The reason this meeting took place at night was the church could only gather after all of the work was done for the day.

  1. What took place at the gathering of the church in Troas?
  2. Why would this possibly been an interactive time?
  3. What was so important that the meeting went on as long as it did?

Acts 20:7-10

Because of length of the meeting, the candles flickering and the warmth of the room a young man named Eutychus became drowsy and fell from a third floor window to his death. Paul then went down and brought him back to life.

  1. What caused Eutychus to fall?
  2. Why did Paul, after the men had concluded that Eutychus was dead, state that there was still life in him?
  3. Why was it important for Eutychus to be brought back to life?

Acts 20:11-12

After Eutychus was restored to life the men went back to the meeting as if nothing had happened. They ate and celebrated the Lord’s Supper. Paul then went back to his message which continued until morning and then went on his way. Luke tells us that, they took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.

  1. Why did Paul take up where he had left off?
  2. What might be the thrust of his message from that point on until morning?
  3. How would the events of the evening make a difference in the way they now celebrated the love feast and the Lord’s Supper?
  4. What does this incident say to us about the way we approach worship?

Acts 20:13-16

One important decision was made by Paul on his journey from Troas to Miletus. He decided to by-pass Ephesus where he had spent so much time. His plan was to be in Jerusalem by Pentecost and any side trip would have delayed him. There were two reasons to be in Jerusalem at that time. For the Jew it was one of the times that all Jewish males were to be in Jerusalem. It was also a very important day for the Christians as well.

  1. Why did Paul decide to by-pass Ephesus?
  2. Why was it important to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost?

 

Acts 20:17-21

Even though Paul did not plan to spend time in any of the cities of Asia, he did send for the elders of Ephesus. When they arrived He recounted his work with them. He described his service as being done in all humility, tears and the face of the many trials that came upon him because of the plotting of the Jews. The three important aspects of what he consistently did in Ephesus were:

  • Declared those things that were profitable.
  • Taught publically and from house to house.
  • Testified to Jews and Greeks the message of repentance towards God.
  • Testified of faith in Jesus Christ.

 

  1. What did Paul’s desire to see the elders from Ephesus say about his relationship to the church.
  2. Why would a man of such prominence describe his serving as be done in all humility and tears.
  3. What example does his testimony set for the church today?
  4. Why did he share those specific things with the elders?
  5. By testifying of those things what did it say about his expectations of the elders as leaders in the church?

Acts 20:23-25

Paul then lays out for them what the Spirit has shared with him concerning the near future. One of the reasons that he was sharing about his service to them was that he did not expect to see them again. He had to look forward from this point on was bonds and affliction. As always he was ready to accept the challenges because his whole life was wrapped up in Christ and he did not belong to himself. He saw that he had one purpose in life. It was to testify of the grace of God?

  1. What could Paul expect that the future was going to hold for him?
  2. Why was he willing to face whatever challenges that lay before him?
  3. In what way is he an example of the way we should live our lives.
  4. Why did Paul share all of this with the elders at this point?
  5. What did Paul see as his main purpose in life?
  6. How did this affect the way he lived?

 

 

Acts 20:26-27

Paul made a bold statement. He said that he was “innocent of the blood of men.” No man can say this without what came next. Once again he reiterates that he had never backed down no matter what the circumstances from proclaiming the “whole purpose of God.” Ezekiel was called to be a watchman among the nation of Israel. (Ezekiel 3:17) Paul saw himself saw himself in the capacity to the people to whom God him to serve.

  1. Why was Paul able to declare he was innocent of the blood of man?
  2. Why was it important to him to continually share God’s word with others?
  3. What did he mean when he said “the whole purpose of God?
  4. How do we fulfill our responsibility of a watchman of God?
  5. In what ways do you prepare to be able to present the whole purpose of God?

Acts 20:28-31

In these verses Luke gets to the crux of why Paul had called the elders to him. Because he would not being seeing them again it was important for them to be prepared for lay ahead. The church at Ephesus was in a strategic city in the Roman Empire and was a strategic location to impact that part of the world. Luke had already written about the impact that was being made in Acts 19:10 where he said, all “that lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”

He begins by admonishing them to be on guard against the destructive forces that would that would rise from within the body and from the “savage wolves” that would work their way into the church. The task of the elders was to oversee and shepherd the church.

Paul spoke often of those coming from within the body who teach false doctrines that would mislead and draw the body away from the truth.

  1. What were some of the reasons that Paul had such a strong desire to meet with the elders?
  2. Why was the church so important in the expansion of God’s kingdom?
  3. What was Paul’s greatest fear?
  4. What did he see as the greatest responsibilities of the elders?
  5. For what reason would those inside the church desire to mislead others?
  6. How it that people who have heard the truth can be misled so easily?
  7. Who are those who are the greatest threat to the church today?
  8. How can the church keep destruction from happening?

 

Acts 20:31

Once again Paul uses himself as an example as one who was constantly on the alert. He had worked tirelessly night and day for three years admonishing each one of them “with tears.”

  1. Why did Paul feel it necessary to restate the obvious?
  2. How much time does it take out of our lives to on the alert against the enemy?
  3. How much of his life did he give to the Ephesians?
  4. In what ways do we fall short of Paul’s example?

Acts 20:32

Knowing that these would be his final words to them all he could do was to put them under God’s protection. His desire for them was that they continually be built through God’s word of grace and that they receive the inheritance which was theirs through salvation.

  1. Why did he need to tell them that they would now be under God’s protection?
  2. What does that mean?
  3. What were the two hopes did he have for them?
  4. Who would now have to bring about the building of God’s words in their lives?
  5. What does it mean to have an inheritance through salvation?

Acts 20:33-35

Paul then again returns to the description of his behavior and work among them. He

  • Did not covet anything they had.
  • Provided for his own needs.
  • Provided an example of how working hard allowed them to be generous to those in need.

 

  1. Why did Paul once again share how he had served among them?
  2. Which of the three statements are truly operative in the church today?

Acts 20:36-37

When Paul had finished speaking he had one final prayer with them. The elders began weeping because they would not see him again. They then embraced him and went with him to the ship.

  1. What would have been the content of Paul’s prayer?
  2. Why did the elders begin to weep?
  3. Why do we not have record of them praying for him?
  4. What is our natural tendency when we suffer a lost?
  5. What was the difference between the Paul and the elders at that time?

You-

  1. Develop a sense of urgency about your service for you never know when the opportunity to serve will pass.
  2. Prepare your hearts and minds so that you can be on guard against those who would desire to destroy your faith.
  3. Think of others even in your times of deepest hurt and God will be glorified.
  4. Pray constantly that your testimony will glorify God because you have been a good and faithful servant.

Paul’s message to us is very clear. We must face each day with a sense of urgency. In Ephesians he tells us to make, “the most of your time because the days are evil. Not only are we to approach life urgently but we must be spiritually prepared to face the evil of the day. As we saw in verses 20-21 we are to ready:

  • Declare those things that were profitable to living the Christian life.
  • Teach others in every venue in which we find ourselves
  • Testify to all people the message of repentance towards God.
  • Testify of faith in Jesus Christ.

Certainly if these things were important to Paul in his day they must be the same for us today as we see the world drifting further and further from the truth. The church can only survive if we take his mandate seriously.

Additional Notes:

GC-A Christian continually exhorts others to continue in the faith. (Acts 20:1-2)

C-After the episode with Demetrius Paul left Ephesus and went to Macedonia. He spent his time as he travelled encouraging the saints. He arrived in Greece stayed there three months. (Acts 20:1-3)

C-While in Greece there was a plot formed against him. Instead of going to Syria as he had planned he returned through Macedonia. Paul and Luke sailed from Philippi and went to Troas and stayed there seven days. (Acts 20:3-6)

C-In Troas the day before he was to leave Paul gave a lengthy talk lasting to midnight. During the evening Eutychus went to sleep and fell out of a window on the third floor and was killed. Paul then went to the young man and fell on him and he came back to life. Paul then continued his message to day break. (Acts 20:7-12)

C-Paul set his travel schedule to arrive in Jerusalem by the time of Pentecost. In order to do so he did not return to Ephesus but called the elders to him at Miletus. (Acts 20:13-17)

C-When the elders came to him Paul gave a recap of his work among them. He encouraged them and put them on guard against false teachers that would come into their midst. Finally he shared with them news that would break their hearts. They would never have the opportunity to see him again on earth. (Acts 20:17-38)

GC-A follower of Christ serves the Lord with all humility, tears and through every trial that may come into his life. (Acts 20:19)

GC-He spends time teaching those things that are helpful and worthy in the believers life. (Acts 20:20)

GC-A Christian leader is to testify of the need for repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)

RT-Faithfulness in the task at hand opens doors or window of opportunities. Paul entered the door as a witness in Rome by facing his Jerusalem. We all too often want to get Rome and bypass the road God has set before us. (Acts 20:23-24; 21:13-14; 23:20)

DM-The importance of life depends on the degree to which a person gives himself to Christ. His desire then is to finish the course God has set before him and complete his ministry. (Acts 20:24)

GC-A true believer accepts the fact in his life that he is to be faithful until the end of his whole life. As Paul said he is to finish the race set before him and to complete the task (ministry) that God has given him. (Acts 20:24)

GC-A believer gives testimony to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

OC-Paul was always steadfast in living out God’s purpose for his life. He was confident that he would continue in his ministry until God deemed his work to be finished. All that was done was with an attitude of its not about me but Christ. (Acts 20:24-27)

GC-The follower of Christ does not neglect any part of God’s word as he shares the whole counsel of God. By doing so every believer will come to understand the purpose God has for his life. (Acts 20:27)

OC-One way of staying faithful is always being alert and watchful knowing that the enemy is always lurking around to destroy. (Acts 20:28-31)

GC-Each of us is to be on guard against:

  1. Those would destroy the church
  2. Those who arise to speak perverse things
  3. Those who would draw disciple away after them. This would include false prophets and cults. (Acts 20:30)

RT-In Ezekiel God said that it was the watchman’s responsibility to give the cry of warning of impending doom. In the New Testament Paul became that watchman who gave the word. Therefore, he declared that he was innocent of the blood of those who refused to listen to the message of the Gospel. It would be the responsibility of those who followed in his footsteps to carry on the work. (Acts 20:26-28)

RT-Paul’s words to the Ephesians are somewhat like the closing remarks of Moses to the Israelites. (Acts 20:29-30)

TM-The blinding of Elymas was an object lesson that gave credence to the word from Paul. (Acts 13:11-12)

GC-Even a strong believer like Paul sensed that it was important to express to the Ephesians that it is not proper for any of us to covet that which belongs to another person. (Acts 20:33)

GC-Paul quoted a statement that he attributed to Jesus. He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This is to be our example. (Acts 20:35)

 

 

 

 

 

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