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Discussion notes on the book of Acts
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION 1 Outline1 1. Preparation for Witness (1:1–2:13) 1. Jesus prepares the disciples (1:1–5) 2. Jesus ascends (1:6–11) 3. Matthias replaces Judas (1:12–26) 4. The Spirit descends at Pentecost (2:1–13) 2. The Witness in Jerusalem (2:14–5:42) 1. Peter preaches at Pentecost (2:14–41) 2. The Christian community shares a life in common (2:42–47) 3. Peter heals a lame man (3:1–10) 4. Peter preaches in the temple square (3:11–26) 5. Peter and John witness before the Jewish council (4:1–22) 6. The Christian community prays for boldness in witness (4:23–31) 7. The community shares together (4:32–5:16) 8. The apostles appear before the council (5:17–42) 3. The Witness beyond Jerusalem (6:1–12:25) 1. Seven chosen to serve the Hellenist widows (6:1–7) 2. Stephen bears the ultimate witness (6:8–8:3) 1. The arrest of Stephen (6:8–15) 2. Stephen’s address before the Sanhedrin (7:1–53) 3. The martyrdom of Stephen (7:54–8:3) 3. Philip witnesses beyond Jerusalem (8:4–40) 1. Witness to the Samaritans (8:4–25) 2. Witness to an Ethiopian eunuch (8:26–40) 4. The conversion of Saul (9:1–31) 1. Saul’s encounter with Christ (9:1–9) 2. Saul’s encounter with Ananias (9:10–19a) 3. Saul’s witness in Damascus and Jerusalem (9:19b–31) 5. Peter preaches in the coastal towns (9:32–11:18) 1. Healing of Aeneas and Dorcas (9:32–43) 2. Conversion of Cornelius (10:1–48) 3. Peter’s testimony in Jerusalem (11:1–18) 6. The Antioch church witnesses to Gentiles (11:19–26) 7. The offering for Jerusalem (11:27–30) 8. The Jerusalem church is persecuted (12:1–25) 1. The death of James (12:1–5) 2. Peter’s deliverance from prison (12:6–19) 3. The death of Herod Agrippa I (12:20–25) 4. The Witness in Cyprus and Southern Galatia (13:1–14:28) 1. The Antioch church commissions Paul and Barnabas (13:1–3) 2. Paul and Barnabas witness on Cyprus (13:4–12) 3. Paul preaches in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch (13:13–41) 4. Paul turns to the Gentiles (13:42–52) 5. Paul and Barnabas are rejected at Iconium (14:1–7) 6. The two missionaries witness in Lystra (14:8–23) 7. Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch (14:24–28) 1 “Introduction to Acts”. ESV Bible Online. Crossway. Web. http://www.esvbible.org/resources/esv-study- bible/introduction-to-acts/ 2 5. The Jerusalem Council (15:1–35) 1. The circumcision party criticizes the Gentile mission (15:1–5) 2. Peter defends Paul (15:6–11) 3. James proposes a solution (15:12–21) 4. A letter is sent to Antioch (15:22–35) 6. The Witness in Greece (15:36–18:22) 1. Paul and Barnabas differ over Mark (15:36–41) 2. Timothy joins Paul and is circumcised (16:1–5) 3. Paul is called to Macedonia (16:6–10) 4. Paul witnesses in Philippi (16:11–40) 1. Conversion of Lydia (16:11–15) 2. Imprisonment of Paul and Silas (16:16–24) 3. Conversion of the jailer (16:25–34) 4. Release of Paul and Silas (16:35–40) 5. Paul witnesses in Thessalonica (17:1–9) 6. Paul witnesses in Berea (17:10–15) 7. Paul witnesses in Athens (17:16–34) 1. Witness in the marketplace (17:16–21) 2. Witness before the Areopagus (17:22–34) 8. Paul witnesses in Corinth (18:1–22) 7. The Witness in Ephesus (18:23–21:16) 1. Priscilla and Aquila instruct Apollos (18:23–28) 2. Paul encounters disciples of John (19:1–10) 3. Paul encounters false religion at Ephesus (19:11–22) 4. Paul experiences violent opposition at Ephesus (19:23–41) 5. Paul completes his ministry in Greece (20:1–6) 6. Paul travels to Miletus (20:7–16) 7. Paul addresses the Ephesian elders at Miletus (20:17–35) 8. Paul journeys to Jerusalem (20:36–21:16) 8. The Arrest in Jerusalem (21:17–23:35) 1. Paul participates in a Nazirite ceremony (21:17–26) 2. An angry mob attacks Paul (21:27–39) 3. Paul addresses the Jewish crowd (21:40–22:21) 4. Paul reveals his Roman citizenship (22:22–29) 5. Paul appears before the Sanhedrin (22:30–23:11) 6. Zealous Jews plot against Paul (23:12–22) 7. Paul is delivered to the governor Felix (23:23–35) 9. The Witness in Caesarea (24:1–26:32) 1. Paul appears before Felix (24:1–27) 2. Paul appeals to Caesar (25:1–12) 3. Festus presents the case to King Agrippa II (25:13–22) 4. Paul witnesses to Agrippa II (25:23–26:32) 10. The Witness in Rome (27:1–28:31) 1. Paul journeys to Rome by sea (27:1–44) 2. Paul witnesses on Malta (28:1–10) 3. Paul arrives in Rome (28:11–16) 4. Paul witnesses to the Jews in Rome (28:17–31) The writer of Acts also wrote the Gospel of Luke, believed to be Luke the physician (Col 4:14). Traditionally, both books are attributed to Luke (Col 4:14, 2Ti 4:11, Phm 24). Debate places the date which the book was written anytime within A.D 62-80. The theme of Acts is that believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ among both Jews and Gentiles, and in doing so establish the Church. 3 1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. 15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’ 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us— one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Applications 1:1-26: The disciples meditating. How do you usually make tough decisions? Share one instance! Passion is the line between desire and consumption; How often do you “wait” upon the Lord? How often do you think you should? How do you usually do so? If a prayer of yours were to be answered, will your world change, or will the whole world change? Commented [DC1]: 1:1-2-45 – The Pentecost. “First book” is the Gospel of Luke, wherein Theophilus was also addressed. What is the purpose of the book (ref Luk 1:1-4)? Provide an orderly account, give credibility to what the Gentiles were taught (Luke “followed all things closely”, and written Scripture provided more transferability than the memory of oral proclamation), and deal with what Jesus continued (opposed to “began”) “to do and teach” the world spiritually. “day… taken up” corresponds to Luk 24:51. “Baptized with the Holy Spirit” was mentioned in Luk 24:49, accounted in 2:1-13. 1:6-11 elaborates Luk 24:50-3. Commented [DC2]: What “restoration” did the disciples have in mind? What does this show about their understanding? What was Jesus’ response? When will the restoration come? Military and political restoration (refer Isa 49:6-7). They still did not fully understand Christ’s salvation. Calls them to trust in the Father’s sovereignty, corrects them that it will not be a physical but spiritual restoration, and that they are part of it. When Christ descends again. Commented [DC3]: Jewish tradition: maximum distance one could travel on the Sabbath day without it constituting work. Why were the disciples praying? How long did they pray for? What was the significance of the Pentecost? They are “[waiting] for the promise of the Father”, preparing for the Holy Spirit. Refer Lev 23: Passover – Christ’s death, Unleavened Bread – burial, Firstfruits – resurrection, Ascension – 40 days after resurrection (1:3), Pentecost – 50 days after Firstfruits. 50 - 40 = 10 days. Pentecost celebrated to the second harvest, paralleling this new covenant (opposed to the first Mosaic covenant). Commented [DC4]: Was the Holy Spirit active before the “Pentecost” event? In what way? Compare with Mat 27:3-8; is there a contradiction in the events? Why did Peter quote Psalms? What was he suggesting? Yes; the Spirit worked through the prophets to inspire Scripture. No; the priests bought the field with Judas’ money, a body would burst open after decay, suggesting that Judas was hung for an extended period. Psa 69:25-6 – judgement upon enemies of the Messiah who was the sacrifice. Psa 109:6-8 – “wicked man” refers to Pilate, “accuser” refers to satan. The scripture that prophesied of Judas was fulfilled; likewise, they should find a replacement. Commented [DC5]: What qualification did an Apostle have? Why did the Church cast lots? Should this be practiced today to choose leaders? Ordained by Christ to have directly witnessed (Luk 6:13), and on a mission (Luk 9:1-2). [ἀπόστολος] literally means “sent” (ref 1:8). An apostle is strictly chosen by Christ. No; church leaders are chosen by people (eg. 6:3-6, 14:23, 15:22…). 4 2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ Commented [DC6]: Fulfilment of 1:5, 8. How is the Holy Spirit described? “Mighty rushing wind” – power (1Ki 19:11-2), “as of fire” – Holy, God’s glory (Exo 3:2-5, Exo 24:17) Commented [DC7]: Where were the disciples? List of nations covers most of the 1st century known world (Roman and Parthain empires). Proselyte – Gentile that converted into a Jew (Exo 12:48). What was the response of the crowd? What was the response of the Holy Spirit? Jerusalem, near the temple; inferred from the audience who were “devout” and were from “every nation” coming to worship (Deu 12:10-4). Confusion, disbelief, amazement. Peter proclaimed the Gospel through the Spirit “Spirit gave them utterance” (v4). Commented [DC8]: Third hour – 9 am. With respect to his audience, why did Peter use OT references in his sermon (v14-36)? He is bringing up scriptural proof for his “devout” (v5) Jewish audience. Commented [DC9]: What happened on “Pentecost”? How did Peter justify what was happening? What did the inaugurate (refer Joel 2:28-32)? What does the “day of the Lord” (v20) refer to (see Mat 24:29-31)? What was the effect of using this reference? The Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people. Peter used scripture to show it was prophesied. It marked the beginning of the period before the day of the Lord. Christ’s return. Show that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was prophesied, salvation is no longer exclusive to Jews (“all flesh”), give hope that God has (2:17-8) and will (2:19-21) keep his promises, but warn that judgement will come to those who do not call upon Jesus’ name. Commented [DC10]: Why was the significance of addressing the crowd as “Men of Israel”? Was it God or men that caused Jesus’ death? Are those “men” still accountable for Jesus’ death (Luk 23:13-5, 23-4)? Summarise Peter’s scripture reference (Ps 16:8-11). Israel as a nation no longer existed (2Ki 17:18); Paul is referring to keepers of the old covenant. It was God’s sovereign will that Christ died, men had no authority but were merely the conduit. Yes, they are described as “lawless” (confer 1:18). God will always be with David, never abandoning him to death, but will give life and gladness. 5 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Applications 2:1-47: Peter’s sermon. What is your response to the Gospel hearing it again? Are you growing like how the apostles did? Picture of the early church. How was the early church different from how we do church today? What do you think we should be doing as a church? Commented [DC11]: Peter’s reasoning. Did the psalm refer to David (v29)? Who then was David referring to in the psalm (2:30)? Why does Peter conclude that Jesus is the Christ (2:31-2)? What is the interaction between the Trinity (2:33)? No; David died. One of David’s descendants. He is the only descendent to have resurrected, which was publically witnessed; therefore, Jesus is the exalted Christ. Christ submits himself (right hand) to the Father, and granted by the Father, Christ pours out the Spirit that works in man. Commented [DC12]: Messianic promise of Ps 110:1 (confer Mat 22:42-5): David called the Messiah “Lord” despite being his descendent. With respect to Peter’s argument that Jesus is Christ, what was the function of this reference? What was the main point of the sermon (2:36)? It was Jesus (ref 1:9), not David that ascended into heaven to the right hand of God; hence Jesus, while his descendent, is much greater than David like he prophesied. Jesus is the Christ, according to God’s will (was prophesied). Commented [DC13]: Baptism – outward expression of inward faith. What elements made Peter’s sermon effective? Signs and wonders (speaking in tongues), preaching (not just behaviour), reference to scripture, logical argument, providing testimony and encouragement (bore witness… exhort them) Commented [DC14]: What stood out in the early church? They engaged in teaching, fellowship, and prayer, with a strong sense of community (breaking of bread, 2:46). Signs and wonders were done by the apostles. They shared material possessions, helping the needy (missionary), and had “favour with all the people”. 6 3 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. 17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” 4 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is Commented [DC15]: 3:1-4:31 – Peter and John witness to the Jewish Council. 3pm: Healing of the lame man was allegorical to receiving Christ. One of the “wonders and signs” (2:43). Why did Peter and John want eye contact? What did the man expect to receive? What did he receive instead? Why was it significant that the man “entered the temple”? What did this symbolise about Jesus’ saving work? The Apostles were being intentional, showing genuine concern for the man. He expected to receive a monetary donation that would ease his problem. He received the solution to his problem. He previously was disallowed by Jewish law (Lev 21:18). Like the man, believers may “draw near” to God, not just Jews. Commented [DC16]: Peter preached at Solomon’s portico (colonnaded area along the eastern wall of the temple grounds). Who did Peter give credit to? With respect to the Jewish audience, why did he mention YHWH first? Why did Peter recount Jesus’ trial? Full credit, even faith, is “through Jesus” (v16: name – everything that is true about). The Jews (“men of Israel”) also worship “the God of Abraham …etc.” so Peter convincing them that Christ is the same God and is in his service. Many temple leaders and worshippers were guilty of the unfair trial (Luke 23:13-25). Commented [DC17]: What was Peter asking the audience to repent from (3:19)? Why did Peter refer to the “holy prophets” (3:21)? What was his point from the references? What are the parallels between God’s salvation and the healing of the lame man? Repent (turn back) from rejecting Jesus and listen to what he said, else face judgement (3:23). He was proving that Jesus is the Christ that God through his prophets spoke of. Moses – Deu 18:15, 19 (danger of rejecting Christ), Abraham – Gen 22:18 (spiritual blessing through Christ). Christ came to bless the wicked, who without Christ will be judged (remain lame), to solve an existent problem (lame); not through a physical restoration like what was expected (alms), but a permanent spiritual restoration (healing). Commented [DC18]: Sanhedrin (greek for council) = Sadducees (majority) + Pharisees (minority). Sadducees – priests and aristocrats who emphasised on priestly obligations, strictly following the Pentateuch. They did not believe in the resurrection. Pharisees – common people who applied priestly laws to daily life, following both the Pentateuch and oral laws. They believed in Christ’s resurrection. (Act 23:6-8) Commented [DC19]: They were in the same setting as that of Jesus’ death trial (Luk 22:66-71). How did the Peter respond? He fearlessly preached through the Holy Spirit. 7 standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. 23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Applications 3:1-4:27: Lame man. What do you expect from God on a daily basis? God gives abundantly more than what can be imagined, not necessarily what is immediately wanted. Apostles’ trial. How open are you with your faith? Do the people around you associate you as a follower of Christ? Disciples’ prayer. When should a believer be disobedient to earthly authority? What are some things that you have not yielded to God’s control? Commented [DC20]: Ref Ps 118:22 – Christ is the only foundation of salvation, that was rejected by the Jews who thought they were the exclusive “builders” of salvation (confer Isa 28:16). Commented [DC21]: Why were the priests astonished and how did they recognise the Apostles? Were the priests convinced of the Apostles’ teachings? Compare the Apostles with the priests. What were each other afraid of? The Apostles were bold, and were wise though they were common men. No; they desperately sought a way to hinder/punish them. The Apostles who were “common men” only fear God (3:19 – rhetoric that targets the priests’ hypocrisy: “Priests of God, decide whether we should listen to your invisible lies that you want us to believe, or listen to the evident truth of God whom you claim to serve”). The priests who supposedly serve God, fear men (3:16-7, 21-22 – the priests fear that their hypocrisy will be revealed to the public). Commented [DC22]: What did the disciples pray for? What did the earthquake symbolise? Did the Apostles heed the threats of the priests? God’s sovereignty, boldness to preach, signs and wonders in Jesus’ name. Earthquake – divine acknowledgement of prayer. No; they prayed for the Word to spread even further! Commented [DC23]: Ps 2:1-2 – Persecution against Jesus and those who follow. Commented [DC24]: Why were the disciples fearless in the face of persecution? They know that evil is within God’s sovereign control; although those who commit sin are still responsible (3:14-9). 8 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. 5 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Applications 4:32-5:11: Sacrificial sharing. In what way are you helping (not necessarily monetary) the church community this week? How much of a sacrifice is it to you? Ananias and Sapphira. Have you made a mistakes in ministry before? Share an instance and what you learnt! Commented [DC25]: 4:32-5:11 – Community sharing. 4:34 echoes the law’s ideal of helping the needy (Deu 15:4- 11). What was the general community like? Was the sharing of possessions mandatory? What did it mean for a believer to share belongings for God’s community? Generous, with a wide social outreach and responsibility. No; Barnabas would not have been commended as a model if it was not voluntary; his generous actions encouraged others (Barnabas would later partner with Paul and play a key role in God’s ministry). Surrendering control over personal belongings to God’s community is an acknowledgement that such resources are God’s blessing and an act of faith that He will provide (Deu 15:4). Commented [DC26]: What did Ananias do wrong? “Satan filled [Ananias’] heart” to sin, but was Ananias still responsible? What was Peter implying in 5:4? In what way was the couple “test[ing]” (5:9) God? He lied about giving the full amount of money from the property (the sin was not keeping part of it), possibly to garner public praise like Barnabas (likely similar to 5:8). Yes; Ananias allowed Satan to influence him (5:3). Community sharing is voluntary; it is better not to give than to sin while giving. It is the believer’s freedom to decide how much to give. They tested God’s omniscience by lying, insulting Him by giving less than they declared. It is not known if they received eternal judgement. Commented [DC27]: A possible reason why the Spirit’s involvement in the early church was much more remarkable compared to today is that the early church was smaller and more vulnerable. How was God guiding the church (4:32- 5:11)? What was the irony of Satan’s influence on Ananias? The Holy Spirit was involved (5:3) in strengthening and widening the community (4:32-7), and removed any threats to its unity (5:1-11). Satan’s influence caused the “whole church” to understand God better, inspiring reverence (5:5, 11 – “great fear”) toward God. 9 12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. 17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. Applications 5:12-42: 3 types of witnesses (multitudes – believed; Sadducees – opposed; Gamaliel – neutral). How do you see God as part of your daily routine? Council’s hypocrisy. What are some things that you do to please man? How can you use them to please God instead (The moment you think you are qualified to serve is the moment that you are least qualified to)? Apostles’ defiance. Do you scrutinise what other people teach you about God? Would you oppose them if they err? Commented [DC28]: 5:12-42 – The Apostles before the Jewish council. “None of the rest [of the church] dared to join [the apostles]” (5:12-3); what does this show about the apostles? They had a unique authority and power in the church. Commented [DC29]: Why did the council arrest the apostles? “Daybreak” (5:21) – Jewish day started at 6am, when the temple would be crowded for morning sacrifice. What did the council’s actions achieve? They had selfish “jealousy” (5:17) for their power and influence, not for God’s kingdom. Ironically, instead of stopping the Apostles, they staged a miracle in public that justified the Apostles’ teaching (5:25). Divine humour – the Sadducees did not believe in angels (Act 23:8). Commented [DC30]: What were the motives of the Apostles compared to the council? The Apostles were working for God’s kingdom, healing people both spiritually and physically (5:14, 16, 20). The council “were afraid… [of] the people” (5:26) because they were only concerned about their own public influence. The council, who were God’s “official” religious authority, were hypocritically using that same authority to arrest the Apostles doing God’s work. Commented [DC31]: Peter and John were charged not to teach the first time that they were arrested (4:18). What was the Apostles’ response? The Apostles neither defended themselves nor pleaded for mercy, but accused the council of obeying “men” instead of God (5:29), and for the unjust (refer Deu 21:22-3) murder of Jesus (Luk 23:13-25 – the “chief priests and the rulers” were heavily involved with Jesus’ trial). The Apostles defiantly declared that authority has been given to Christ and “those who obey him”, no longer the Jewish council (direct rebellion against authority). Commented [DC32]: “Gamaliel” was an influential figure in the council and the teacher of Saul (Act 22:3). What was Gamaliel’s opinion? Did he believe the Apostles? What was the fallacy of his logic? Why were the Apostles beaten (refer Deu 25:1-3). What did the punishment achieve? Neutral, allow time to show if God is for the Apostles. No; he wanted evidence. ‘The church is of God if they do not fail’: the possibility of the church failing will always exist as long as they do not fail, thus the argument will never prove the claim true. By the Law, only “the guilty… deserves to be beaten”, but the Apostles had done nothing; the council wanted to enforce their authority. The council ironically encouraged the Apostles to teach more frequently (compare 5:12 – “regularly” to 5:42 – “every day… did not cease”). 10 6 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. 7 And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. 5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. 6 And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. 7 ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. 9 “And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 11 Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. 13 And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh. 14 And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. 15 And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, 16 and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. Commented [DC33]: 6:1-8:3 –Stephen bears witness (Greek “martys”). Hellenists: Dispersed Jews that speak Greek. Hebrews: Palestinian Jews that speak Hebrew. The apostles were witnessing in the temple (5:12-3) and as the church grew (5:14, 6:7), they had to delegate the job of serving people (which they were initially doing, 4:35) to others. The 7 that were chosen were likely Greek-speaking Jews to minister to the “Hellenists” (6:1) and the synagogues (6:9 – “freedmen”: Jews that were previously enslaved. “Cyrenians…. Alexandrians”: North Africa. “Cilia and Asia”: Modern Turkey.) Commented [DC34]: What did Stephen do that was not in his ‘job scope’? Stephen’s face was “like the face of an angel” (6:15) after speaking with the “Spirit” (6:10), similar to how Moses’ face shone after speaking with God (Ex. 34:29). What does this show about Stephen’s rejection? He performed miracles and preached the word (6:8, 10). Jesus destroying the “temple” (John 2:19-21) refers to his body. The council was about to reject Stephen, just as how the congregation rejected Moses (7:41). Commented [DC35]: Stephen’s speech is the longest in Acts, and it inaugurated the Gospel’s spreading out of Judea. Addressing the “false witnesses”, Stephen’s message makes 2 main points: God is not restricted to geographical location, and God is with the rejected one who will deliver those who rejected. What was the emphasis of the council’s accusations? 1. Destruction of the Temple and 2. Law of Moses (6:14). Commented [DC36]: How did Stephen’s speech on Abraham address his accusations? What was the significance of the Temple? What was the significance of Abraham being portrayed as passive? How did it show that God is not limited to geographical location (such as the Temple)? Is there a contradiction with Gen 12:4 (God called Abraham in Haran and not before that)? The Temple is the fulfilment of God’s promise. God was the one at work. Abraham was called out from a foreign country and had “no inheritance” in the promised land, but God had already worked out a plan for his descendants. Stephen is making a point that Abraham’s movement from the idolatrous “land of the Chaldeans” was God’s mandate, albeit not explicitly expressed, that God was working at the furthest point from Israel. Commented [DC37]: What was the point that Stephen is making on Joseph? God is with the rejected one, who will deliver those who rejected. Joseph actually bought the tomb (Gen 33:19); Stephen may be using Abraham to refer to all his descendants. 11 17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt 18 until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. 19 He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. 20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God's sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father's house, 21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. 23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’ 35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: “‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 43 You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’ 44 “Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. 45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. Commented [DC38]: What about God can be seen here? God made His people prosper even in Egypt, away from the promise land. Commented [DC39]: How did Moses’ story embody the 2 points that Stephen was making? How strong was God’s presence at Mount Sinai? Moses, who was exiled, would later deliver the Israelites (7:35), and he encountered God (7:30) in the “wilderness of Mount Sinai”. God’s presence was Holy. Commented [DC40]: What was the Israel’s reaction to Moses after they were delivered? How was this relevant to Stephen’s speech? Why does Stephen bring up what Moses said (7:37) about a “prophet like [him]”? Referenced Amo 5:25-7 – after occupation of the promised land; why does Stephen quote these verses? They continued to reject Moses (God’s chosen leader), which is the same as rejecting God as they turned to the “calf” (7:41). The council still continued to reject Christ after he had died and resurrected. Stephen is trying to show that Jesus is that prophet, who God has chosen and was rejected like Moses. Even after entering the promised land, the Israelites continued to reject God and worshipped Canaanite Gods. Commented [DC41]: How did Stephen use the Tabernacle to advance his point that God is not limited to the Judaea Temple? The Tabernacle was instructed to be built by God, and was brought in from the wilderness into the promised land. God’s dwelling place was ambulatory until David’s time. 12 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, 49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? 50 Did not my hand make all these things?’ 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” 54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 8 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Applications 6:1-8:3: Ministering to the Hellenists. Charity was started by the Church. What meaning does charity have now that God has been removed from the focus? Witness of Stephen. Stephen’s martyrdom initiated the gospel’s spreading out of Judaea. Share one thing that you are doing that does not seem to have any visible result! Stephen’s speech. What does God’s presence look like to you? Persecution of the Church. Do we face persecution today? Share if you have faced persecution before! Commented [DC42]: Referenced Isa 66:1-2. What does the reference show about God? Why did Stephen quote Isaiah regarding the Tabernacle and Temple? What is a “temple”? His omnipresence. God is certainly not restricted to the Temple. God’s presence was moving with the Tabernacle, but in reality God was neither restricted by the Tabernacle, much less the Temple. A temple is a place where God dwells on earth; (was Mount Sinai, Tabernacle, and Solomon’s Temple). Now it is in believers (1Co 6:19) where the Holy Spirit dwells. Commented [DC43]: How did Stephen address the accusation about him blaspheming the law (6:13)? He accused the council of resisting God, like the patriarchs (7:25, 39), and that they are the ones not keeping the law by persecuting God’s prophets. Commented [DC44]: Stephen’s prayers were similar to Jesus’ (Luk 23:34, 46 – “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”); what is the significance? Stephen had the same fate as the prophets before him which he had just described; his death had a profound impact on Saul shown when he alluded to it in 22:20. 13 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city. 9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. 14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” 25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” Commented [DC45]: 8:1-8 – The Gospel leaves Judaea (for the first time, likely due to Stephen’s sermon on God’s mobility) 8:4-25 – Simon the Heretic What did the persecution of the Church achieve? Spreading of the gospel outside Judaea Commented [DC46]: What was the difference between Simon’s magic and Philip’s miracles? How did Simon view Philip’s miracles? Where was his attention? Simon’s magic drew attention to himself (8:10) while Philip’s miracles drew attention to God’s word (8:6). Simon’s magic could only “amaz[e]” people (8:11) while Philip’s signs brought “joy” (8:8). Simon was “amazed” (8:13) by Philip’s miracles in the same way how the people were “amazed” (8:9) by his magic. His attention was on the miracles rather than on God. Commented [DC47]: The receiving of the Holy Spirit was physically manifested, possibly like that of the Pentecost (2:3). What did Simon do wrong? Did Simon truly believe in the gospel? Could the apostles give Simon the power even if they wanted to? Why? Why did he want the power? Was Simon repentant? Why? What is the effect of Baptism? He wanted to earn God’s gift (8:20). Likely not: he “saw” that the Spirit came from the apostles (8:18) instead of God, and he was excluded from the church (8:21). No; only God has the power to give the Holy Spirit, even the apostles had to “pray” for others to receive it (8:15). He wanted to add it to his magic for personal gain (8:19 – Simon wants to become the source of the Holy Spirit). No; he was supposed to pray himself (8:22) but instead asked Peter to do so, as he still viewed the apostles as the ones with power rather than God himself. Baptism is an outward expression, it has no spiritual influence (Simon was baptised despite his “heart… not right before God”, 8:21). Commented [DC48]: 8:26-40 – A Eunuch understands Isaiah What was the spiritual profile of the Eunuch? What about the character of the eunuch? He worshipped YHWH (8:27), but as a foreigner and eunuch was barred from entering the inner sanctum of the temple (Deu 23:1). He was a devout worshipper (Ethiopia-Jerusalem = 4182 km) and humble, inviting Philip, an ordinary Israelite to accompany and even teach him despite his high social status. Commented [DC49]: From Isa 53:7-8, what is the scripture referring to? How suitable was this passage for Philip’s message? The death of Christ – the exact message that Philip was going to share. This episode fulfilled the prophesy of Isa 56:3-5, a few chapters ahead from what was being read. 14 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. Applications 8:4-40: Simon the magician. There is nothing you can possibly do to make God love you more nor make Him love you less; why do some people try to earn their place in heaven? What kind of heart should we have when receiving from God? God is the real authority behind everything; what are some things that you have yet to surrender to God? Meeting Philip. Humility is not thinking about yourself, it is thinking about others; why is humility important with our walk with Christ? Eunuch’s baptism. Do you see God as limited? Why? 2 2 “The Setting of Acts.” ESV Bible Online. Crossway. JPEG file. http://static.esvmedia.org/media/esv-study- bible/images/big/map-44-01.jpg Commented [DC50]: What does the parallel “opened his mouth” (8:35) with “he opens not his mouth” (8:32) show? Christ did not open his mouth, so that others could, addressing the prophet’s question “Who can describe his generation?” (8:33). Philip was coincidentally the living answer to the Scripture he was teaching. Commented [DC51]: In what ways has God worked in this episode? Comparing Simon with the eunuch, what were the similarities and differences in their characters and experience with God? Indirect instruction from an angel (8:26), direct instruction from the Spirit (8:29), power and relevance of Scripture (8:32-33), through Philip’s words (8:35), possibly through coincidence of chancing upon water (8:36), miracles (8:39). Both were baptised and witnessed miracles. Simon acted out of self-interest, and received a limited understanding of God (8:24 – only worked through the apostles). The eunuch was humbly seeking God, and experienced God working through extraordinary means. 15 9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. 23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. 26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Commented [DC52]: Acts 9:1-31 – Saul’s rescue. Damascus was northeast of Galilee. Paul was granted the highest religious authority to persecute Jesus’ disciples (Lev 16:2 – only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies). What was the irony? The high priest was the representative for God, but working against Him. Commented [DC53]: Who was Paul persecuting? Why then did Jesus say that Paul was “persecuting [him]”? What was the irony in this scene? Why does Jesus only identify Himself as the one being persecuted (twice)? How did Saul’s encounter with Jesus affect him? What did his physical ailments represent? How was Jesus teaching him? Why were the “men” who were with Saul mentioned? Paul was persecuting Jesus’ disciples. Jesus sees people who believe in him (9:2 – the Way) as a part of Him, identifying with their suffering on a personal level. It is ironic that Jesus claims to be the persecuted whilst His holy presence alone caused Saul to fear Him. It was a sarcastic rhetoric emphasising foolishness in “persecuting” an all-powerful God. It affected him emotionally (9:4 – “falling to the ground”), intellectually (9:4 – rhetorical question) and physically (9:9 – blind and starved). It was a physical manifestation of Saul’s Spiritual state – blind and starved. Jesus allowed him to experience for himself the way God saw him Spiritually (9:1). They witnessed the event; it was not made up. Commented [DC54]: Compare Ananias’ and Saul’s responses. Compared to Saul, how did Jesus interact with Ananias? How did Jesus give Saul further direction? Why? What does this show about the way God communicates? What did Saul’s physical state represent? Ananias was obedient, while Saul was forced to obey (restore his sight). They both lacked faith (9:1, 9:13). Jesus reasoned with Ananias, but let Saul experience for himself. Ananias was sent as an example for Saul to “show him how much he must suffer… name” (9:16). Ananias’ obedience could have possibly led to his own death (if Saul was still the same as before); an obedience that Saul would emulate extensively as a missionary (9:20-24 – first instance). God always communicates in the best possible manner; it is up to the person to respond. He could see and was strong Spiritually. Commented [DC55]: Why did the disciples help save Saul? Why was what Barnabas did encouraging (4:36)? Why was it important in God’s plan that Barnabas accepted Saul? Why was there “peace”? They knew that God had a greater purpose for him (9:15). He embodied the grace that Jesus had shown Saul. From Saul’s perspective, he would have viewed the Judaea disciples as hypocritical, rejecting Saul despite their God commissioning him. Saul could possibly have been killed by the Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) had he no assistance from the brothers (Acts 21:39 – Tarsus was Paul’s hometown). Paul was no longer persecuting believers (shows how much Jewish influence Paul had). 16 32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. 36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner. Applications 9:1-43: Authority of the high priest. Under what circumstances should we or should we not follow worldly authority? Jesus identifies with his disciples. If Jesus personally feels all our emotions like pain, suffering, and joy, why is it that there are times when we feel ‘far’ from God? Jesus “persecuted”. If God is for us, why is it that we do not have confidence to trust in Him all the time? Saul’s blindness. Our outward character and behaviour sometimes reflect our Spiritual condition; think about what God could possibly be showing you this week. Ananias’ call. God calls each of his disciples differently; what are ways which you have received God’s direction? Saul’s acceptance. As we are all recipients of God’s grace, it encourages when we embody who God is; how do you treat other brothers and sisters in Christ (Forgiveness is releasing control, realising that you were being controlled)? Peter’s ministry. Do you give God a chance to work? What can you do this week to be more Christ-like? 3 3 “Peter’s Early Ministry.” ESV Bible Online. Crossway. JPEG file. http://static.esvmedia.org/media/esv-study- bible/images/big/map-44-05.jpg Commented [DC56]: 9:32-10:48 – Peter’s early missions. Lydda and Joppa were northwest of Jerusalem toward the coast. Tabitha/Dorcas means gazelle. In both cases, how did Peter perform the miracles? How was the miracle with the paralytic similar to Mat 9:6-8? How was the miracle with the dead girl similar to Mar 5:39-42? How did Peter allow God to work? He relies on God (9:33 – “Jesus Christ heals you”, 9:40 – “knelt down and prayed”). Jesus told the paralytic to “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”, and the witnesses “glorified God”. Jesus was far from the girl and had to be informed (Mar 5:23), Jesus ushered the crowd away, and the phrase “Talitha cumi” was very similar to Peter’s “Tabitha, kum”. The accounts are very similar to Jesus’ miracles. He humbled himself, gave the authority to God, and followed what Christ did. Commented [DC57]: Simon would have been perpetually unclean touching the dead carcasses of animals (Lev 11:39), which meant that Peter was unclean as well (Num 19:22). 17 10 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. 17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” 30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” 34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He Commented [DC58]: 10:1-11:18 – Conversion of the Gentile. What was Cornelius’ social status? What was his Spiritual status? He was a centurion, a commander of 100 soldiers; prominent and wealthy. Despite a gentile, he “feared God” and loved others (“gave alms generously”), knowing that he cannot draw near to YHWH. Commented [DC59]: What was significant about the animals? What is God achieving through the vision? They were deemed unclean by the Mosaic Law (Lev 11:2-47). God was showing Peter that he shall not distinguish between the old unclean practices, that they will not hinder the Gentiles’ fellowship. Commented [DC60]: What was Peter’s character like? Why? He was humble: having understood the vision, Peter knew that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. He was obedient to God: going “without objection”. Commented [DC61]: Why did Peter highlight Jesus’ ministry? Cornelius’ life was similar: Jesus “went about doing good”, and “God was with him”, while Cornelius gave “alms” to the poor relied on God through “prayer”. 18 went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. 11 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” Applications 10:1-11:18: Peter’s revelation. How rigid is your idea of God? Is God contained by how you think of Him? How do you discern right knowledge about God and wrong? Are you prepared for God to demolish and expand your idea of Him? Cornelius’ devoutness. How regularly do you pray and help others in need? How often do you think you should? Why do we need to do these regularly? Cornelius’ baptism. How has your life been changed by the Holy Spirit? Commented [DC62]: The Holy Spirit’s presence was distinctly visible. Why was it significant that the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles? They had not followed any of the Mosaic Law, yet were in the Holy Spirit’s favour, similar to (“speaking in tongues”) how the “circumcised” received the Spirit on the Pentecost (2:4). Commented [DC63]: Why is there heavy repetition in this episode? Emphasise the importance that “to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” 19 19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. 27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. 12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. 6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place. Commented [DC64]: 11:19-30 – The Antioch Church. The episode picks up from 8:1, 4 when the Jerusalem church was scattered. Did the scattered believers know of God’s command and Peter’s fellowship with the Gentiles (11:18)? The “men of Cyprus and Cyrene” were Diaspora Jews (scattered during the exile), while “Hellenists” were Greek- speaking Gentiles. What was surprising about the actions of the men of Cyprus and Cyrene? Why was Barnabas sent to Antioch? Did he reject the church? What was his response? What is interesting about the timing? What was the significance of the name “Christians”? No; the believers who were scattered were initially “speaking the word to no one except Jews”. They preached to the Gentiles, which was against the Law (10:28), neither receiving knowledge or instruction as Peter. He was sent to help/see/validate the new church. No; he “saw the grace of God” because the church consisted mostly of Gentiles. The Gentile church was formed independently, but close to the period when the Jerusalem church started welcoming Gentiles (11:18), affirming that “the hand of the Lord was with them”. The church identified with Christ, no longer Jew, Gentile, or proselyte labels. Commented [DC65]: Transition in leadership from the apostles to elders as the church grew (refer 4:35-7, 6:1-6). What was the significance of the timing of the Antioch church’s formation? It was in time for the famine; that the new church could supply aid to the main church. Commented [DC66]: 12:1-24 – Peter’s rescue. Why did Herod persecute the church? Why did he place Peter in prison instead of immediate execution? What is the significance of the timing? What was the possibility of Peter escaping by human means (12:7-10)? Doing so “pleased the Jews”, so his influence may increase. It was during the “days of Unleavened Bread” (Lev 23:6-8) thus Herod could not execute Peter, because he wanted to please the Jews and had to wait. God’s timing protected Peter even before the church prayed for him. Very low; there were guards, gates, and Peter was bound. Commented [DC67]: How were the disciples praying? What was Rhoda’s role in the story? What was the disciple’s reaction? Why? What was God teaching them? James here was Jesus’ brother; why was he specifically mentioned? They were praying continuously, till the “very night” before the execution. Report the news of Peter’s escape to the disciples with the evidence omitted, set up by a humorous, ostensibly insignificant episode (12:14). Disbelief and complete rejection, later rowdy astonishment that Peter could not easily tell them to be quiet. They were praying without the faith that God would rescue Peter. God can answer prayer, no matter how difficult it may seem. He was a prominent leader of the Jerusalem church, with Peter now ministering to the Gentiles (10:9-16) to “another place”. The church’s involvement concludes with this, while the narrative makes an excurses to the fate of Herod. 20 18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there. 20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. 24 But the word of God increased and multiplied. Applications 11:19-12:24: Barnabas exhorts the Antioch church. How do you view fellow brothers and sister in Christ? Why do differences matter if we are all under Christ? God’s timing. Were there times when you thought that God should have done something earlier or later? Why? Disciples praying. Why should we pray if God is always in control? What kind of expectation should we have when we pray? Herod’s downfall. Why is pride dangerous for believers? 4 4 “Paul’s First Missionary Journey.” ESV Bible Online. Crossway. JPEG file. http://static.esvmedia.org/media/esv-study- bible/images/big/map-44-07.jpg Commented [DC68]: Roman practice: soldiers who lost their prisoners were subject to the same penalty due to the prisoners. What can be seen of Herod’s character? Cruel; put the sentries to death even though there was no evidence of the sentries’ fault (12:6-11 – chains were not broken, sentries were present, city gate was not opened humanly). He also did not care about Jewish culture (observed the days of Unleavened Bread only to appease the Jews), that he would adopt Roman practice for power instead of the Mosaic Law (Deu 19:15). Caesarea – administrative capital. Commented [DC69]: How powerful was Herod (Herod Agrippa I, Roman ruler over Judea, grandson of Herod the Great)? By what measure? What can be seen of Herod’s character? Compare this with Peter’s parallel response in 10:26; what is ironic? What was significant of Herod being “eaten by worms”? He was extremely powerful; able to put anyone to death and at the same time hold nations at his mercy. Prideful, narcissistic; he would accentuate his power in front of all the people, who acknowledged that he was like “a god” to them. Peter, who showed the power of God (9:32-43), did not view himself higher than any. Herod, who was just a man with power, elevated himself to “a god”. Herod thought he could oppose God, but Peter escaped Herod’s “god” power with God’s power. Grotesque death emphasised that Herod was after all just a man (Gen 3:19). 21 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark. 13 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. 13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ 26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now Commented [DC70]: 12:25-13:12 – Paul and Barnabas commissioned. Their “service” refers to the famine relief from Antioch to Judea (11:29-30). “Herod the tetrarch” refers to Herod of Antipas, Roman ruler over Galilee during Jesus’ ministry (Luk 3:1, 23:8, Act 4:27) and the uncle of Herod Agrippa I (12:1-24). This point marked the start of Paul’s first missionary journey. What was the “laying of hands” symbolic of? It was symbolic of being sent by the Holy Spirit. Commented [DC71]: Cyprus was Barnabas’ home (4:36), Salamis the closest port. “Proconsul” referred to the highest- ranking officer in a Roman senatorial province. What was the social and spiritual profiles of Bar-Jesus (“Elymas” means magician)? Why did he oppose the apostles? Why did the proconsul believe in God? What did Bar-Jesus’ blindness show about the Holy Spirit and how did it affect him? “Paul” was Saul’s Greek alias, more commonly used than his Hebrew name as Greek was the lingua franca. Why was Paul’s Greek alias only mentioned here? Bar-Jesus had much influence as a magician (8:9-11) and in the proconsul’s company. He was a self-proclaimed Jewish prophet, misleading people, including the proconsul, about God. His intentions were unclear, but he possibly wanted to avoid losing favour with the proconsul. The proconsul perceived the apostles’ gospel to be the “teaching of the Lord”, not because of the miracle. Bar-Jesus’ “god” was triumphed by the Holy Spirit; proving that he certainly was a false prophet. His spiritual state manifested physically as one who was “blind” and needed “people to lead him” (9:9 – blind like Paul on the road to Damascus). Parallel the purposes of the two men: “Elymas the magician opposed… the faith” and misled people, while “Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit”, preached to the Gentiles. This event marked the beginning of his missionary journeys commissioned by the Spirit. Commented [DC72]: 13:13-14:23 – Paul at Antioch in Galatia (within present day Turkey). Paul’s sermon can be divided into: pre-Christ history (13:17-25), Christ as God’s ultimate provision (13:26-37), and an invitation (13:38-41). To whom do the verbs (actions) in Paul’s narrative ascribe to in 13:17-25? What does this show? Why did Paul narrate OT history? Why did Paul bring up John the Baptist (Luk 3:16)? All the verbs relate to God; Israel exists only because of God’s work, not man’s. Outline God’s continuous provision for his people (Deu 7:6, Exo 1:12, 6:6, Deu 7:1, Jos 14:1, Jdg 2:16, 1Sa 10:1, 15:26-8, 16:13, 13:14, Mat 1:1), connect with the Jews with their proud history. After 400 years of silence, the Jews recognised that John was God’s prophet, who affirmed Christ as Saviour. Commented [DC73]: What are the similarities between Paul’s message (13:26-37) and Peter’s at Pentecost (2:22- 32)? Similarities: It was God’s sovereign will that Christ died, men had no authority merely acting according to it (2:23, 13:27, 29). David was not but prophesied of the Christ (2:29-31, 13:36-7). Christ’s resurrection was witnessed (2:32, 13:31). Both quote Psa 16:10, about Jesus’ not “see[ing] corruption”. 22 his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ 34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: 41 “‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’” 42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Applications 12:25-13:52: The proconsul believes. God does not need defending; do you find yourself needing evidence to prove that God exists? Why is the gospel alone powerful enough? Jew’s jealousy of God’s grace. Are you jealous when somebody else receives something that you could have? What kind of perspective should we take (Rom 12:15-6)? If we are undeserving of God’s grace, why should claim ownership of things He does or does not give? Commented [DC74]: What are the differences between Paul’s and Peter’s (2:22-32) messages? What was the purpose with respect to the audience? Why did Paul quote scripture, Psa 2:7, Isa 55:3, and Psa 16:10? Differences: Christ was mentioned to be innocent (Luk 23:13-5, 23-4), to prove that the Jewish council was wrong despite Jerusalem supposedly being God’s dwelling place for worship (Deu 12:10-4). To show that Christ’s deity was prophesied to the Jews. Commented [DC75]: Why did Paul present both the forgiveness of sin (Rom 8:1-4) and warning? Hab 1:3-6 shows God’s response to Habakkuk’s lament, that He would let the evil “Chaldeans” (Babylonians) punish His people for their sin (Neh 9:29-31). Why was Hab 1:5 significant for the Jews? What is surprising about Paul’s warning? They are mutually exclusive. God will still enact judgement on His people, particularly the Jews, if they fall into sin, and will raise others (Chaldeans – judgement, Gentiles – building the church) for His purpose. It was prophetic of what was to happen in a week’s time. Commented [DC76]: What is the irony in the Jews/proselytes actions? What is the purpose of the time skip of 1 week (13:44)? Why did Paul preach to the Jews first in the synagogue (also 13:5)? They enthusiastically desired Paul to preach on the next Sabbath, to continue in “the grace of God”, but detested the actual day, despising “the grace of God” (11:23 – Barnabas to the Antioch church) toward the Gentiles. The time skip juxtaposes in the narrative the hypocrisy of the Jews; though not recorded, Paul and Barnabas likely went about preaching during that time, which is why “almost the whole city [was] gathered”. The Jews were God’s chosen people (13:17-25) and through them salvation came to the Gentiles. Hence it “was necessary” that the Jews had priority (Rom 1:16). Commented [DC77]: From Isa 49:6, who is the “servant” and what is Paul implying? Why did the disciples “sh[ake] off the dust from their feet”? Christ, “the Holy One of Israel” (Isa 49:7). The disciples continue the saving work of Christ, because salvation reaches not only the Jews but the Gentiles as prophesied (Isa 49:6). “Israel” is also the “servant” (Isa 49:3), “redeem[ed]” by the “Holy One” (Isa 49:7). This implies that the Jews (note: Paul and Barnabas were Jewish) should likewise be conduits for the work of Christ (49:6); another reason why “it was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to [the Jews]”. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the Jews in this synagogue. It was symbolic of future judgement (Hab 1:5) against those who do not receive the gospel (Luk 9:5), as the Jews interfered with the disciples’ work. 23 14 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4 But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel. 8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. 19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples. Applications 14:1-28: Missionaries in Iconium. Why does God not grant “signs and wonders” as openly in our society today compared to then? What are ways in our daily lives that we can validate the truth of the gospel to others? When should we “spea[k] boldly for the Lord”, or “fle[e]”? What are the common reasons why you would “fle[e]”? Are they good reasons? How would you respond in the face of those who are against the Lord and thus hate you? “We are men, of like nature”. Do you find yourself unqualified to do God’s work? Why? How qualified were the disciples? In this world it may be politically correct to have different views such as the Lycaonians and their Gods or the liberality of same sex marriage like in America; how should believers respond (Pro 14:12)? Nature bears witness. Nobody has come to know Christ without being told of the gospel; if nature provides sufficient evidence for God (Rom 1:19-20), why then does the gospel need to be spread? Paul returns to danger. What is your attitude toward Jesus’ command to spread the gospel? Missionaries revisit the Galatian churches. What is church for you? Why is it important for believers to meet regularly? How is it different from normal everyday meetings? How would you make it different? What image does the “door of faith” portray for you? Commented [DC78]: Who were the “apostles” ([ἀπόστολος] literally means “sent”)? Were they apostles in the same sense as the “Twelve” (1:26 – Ordained by Christ to have directly witnessed, and on a mission)? Why is “apostles” used in a general sense in 14:4, 14 (only instances in Luke and Acts)? Why did the missionaries “remai[n] for a long time”? Why did God “gran[t] signs and wonders”? Why did they flee? Paul and Barnabas. Paul was, having been ordained and received the gospel directly from Christ (Acts 9:1-19, Gal 1:1, 12, 15-6), but not Barnabas (4:36 – clear distinction made). “Apostles” differentiates Paul and Barnabas as mortal men legitimately sent by God, despite strong rejection, comparatively to the Jews who were against God (13:50), and the “vain” Greek gods (14:12). They wanted to ground the truth amidst opposition (Gal 1:6-7). Validate and “b[ear] witness to” the gospel, “the word of [God’s] grace” to establish the right gospel for the ancient Church. They had not yet completed their mission (14:7). Commented [DC79]: Why did the ministry at Lystra start with the lame man? How did Paul heal the man? How was this similar to 3:2-12? Why the parallel? Why did the missionaries respond as such, and only after the people brought sacrifices? How does nature bear “witness” for God? Lystra was polytheistic (14:12) and did not have a synagogue, the usual mission starting place (13:5, 15, 14:1; refer 13:46-7 for why). By God’s power (14:3), also “made well” spiritually by the gospel; not humanly possible to “see” another person’s “faith” either. Both men were lame “from birth”, “leaping up” (3:8) when healed. Both apostles’ “directed… gaze” (3:3) at the cripple, and both crowds ascribed the work to the apostles’ “own power” (3:12). The parallel affirms Paul’s apostleship, displaying the same power as Peter, the chief apostle, imitating Jesus (Luk 5:17-26). They did not understand, “heard”, what was happening because the people were speaking “in Lycaonian”. Clothing had an effect of elevating status (refer 12:21). It is evidence of intelligent cohesive design by a single creator who does good (refer Rom 1:19-20), unlike frivolous polytheism. Lystra had a legend that once Zeus and Hermes visited their land disguised as mortals, and no one gave them any hospitality except for one poor elderly couple. In their anger at the people, Zeus and Hermes wiped out the whole population, except for the one couple. Commented [DC80]: The road distance from Lystra to Antioch and Iconium was at least 160km and 30km respectively – significant time gap between events. What was ironic in the Jews’ actions? What about the crowds in Lystra? How did Paul survive (confer 2Co 11:25, 30)? What did God achieve through the first mission (14:21-28 – revisiting and returning to Antioch)? They spent great effort to impede the knowledge of God, preferring the Gentiles worship pagan gods. Lystra initially worshipped Paul as a god, only to stone him later. God miraculously saved, also restoring Paul to be able to walk and even travel long distance (about 93km) the next day. Paul and Barnabas formed many disciples despite heavy persecution, even right after Paul’s stoning (14:20), establishing churches and leadership. 24 Applications 15:1-35: Passing through Phoenicia and Samaria. Emotions are indicative of the heart; they indicate if we are aligned with God. Do you feel joy when God’s purpose/gospel is furthered, sadness when hindered, or even angry when things do not go your way? Assembly in Jerusalem. Read Ephesians 2:8-10; what does the “Law” look like today? What are ways which we can avoid the trap of trying to earn God’s favour? How do you react to theological differences with another believer? Letter to the churches. Do you believe that the Spirit guides and governs your everyday conversations, not just between believers? Why then is there disparity in the church today (Catholicism, protestant denominations)? How do you think this can be resolved? Prohibitions. The 4 prohibitions that James mentioned are still valid today. Should we be worried about eating beef that is not well done or raw fish (The prohibition refers to intentionally eating or drinking blood. The blood commonly consumed meat has been properly drained; it is impossible to remove all the blood as cooking meat does not remove but changes the colour of blood)? 15 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” 12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 “‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’ 19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” Commented [DC81]: 15:1-35 – Assembly in Jerusalem. This likely occurred after Paul’s opposition to the saints’ hypocrisy, involving Peter and Barnabas (Gal 2:11-21), for Peter to strongly side with Paul. What did it the term “circumcision” represent? Why? What was the difference between the response of the brothers in Phoenicia and Samaria with the Pharisee (“some men”) believers? Keeping the Law of Moses (Gal 5:3, Rom 2:25). It was the first covenantal condition given to Abraham (Gen 17:10, 14). The brothers’ response was joy, while the Pharisees’ were that of stoic legalism. Commented [DC82]: Simeon Peter (Luk 6:14) recounted the episode involving Cornelius the centurion (10:1-11:18). The Spirit led him (10:19-20) and “fell on all who heard the word” (10:44-7) similar to the Jews on Pentecost (2:4). What is a “yoke” (confer 2Co 6:14)? What did it represent? What was Peter’s argument? What did grace mean to the Jews (15:11)? A harness used to couple 2 animals to pull something heavy. It represented the Mosaic Law that Israel failed to keep (Exo 32:7-8); not that it was possible (Gal 3:10-11). From before, the Pharisees “know that” (11:2-3) God has “to the Gentiles also… granted repentance” (11:18) despite being “common or unclean” (10:14, 11:8) due to noncompliance to the Law. Jews themselves need not keep the Law to be saved (9:43, 10:28, Rom 2:26-9); a shocking claim at the time. Commented [DC83]: Barnabas’ and Paul’s mission elaborated previously (12:25-14:28). As the leader of the apostles (12:17), what was different about James’ argument? What was James’ point (plural “prophets” may suggest that other texts were used, though unrecorded. 14:18 possibly alludes to Isa 54:21)? He quoted scripture (Amo 9:11-12) and proposed a solution. God had promised “from old” to restore David’s house and fulfil His covenant (2Sa 7:12-7), already done through Christ (Luk 3:23-31), that Gentiles from all nations “who are called by [God’s] name” will “seek the Lord”. Commented [DC84]: Why would following the Law be “trouble” for the Gentiles? What was the similarities and difference between “circumcision” (keeping the Law) and grace through faith (15:11)? What is the purpose of the Law (Rom 7:7)? They would have to follow the ritual, priesthood, and purity (ritual and moral) laws, making it impossible for believers to live in their Gentile communities. Circumcision brings people to God by turning Gentiles into Jews (Exo 12:48 – proselyte); before Jesus, this was the only way for Gentiles to know God. The “Pharisees” held to this notion not knowing that it would not even benefit themselves (15:10-11). Faith unites all believers to Christ despite differences (15:9). Both “unite” people but circumcision demands conformity and meritorious effort while faith embraces diversity and the need for God’s grace. The Law exposes sin. 25 22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” 30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. 5 5 “Paul’s Second Missionary Journey.” ESV Bible Online. Crossway. JPEG file. http://static.esvmedia.org/media/esv-study- bible/images/big/map-44-08.jpg Commented [DC85]: What was the purpose of the letter? Why was the Holy Spirit suddenly mentioned (15:28 – only time in Act 15)? Establish universally that the keeping of the Law, which was previously taught (15:1), was not endorsed by the apostles and Jerusalem church, considering the widespread proclamation of the Mosaic Law (15:21). It also accredited Barnabas, Paul (15:26), Judas, and Silas (15:22 – “leading men”) as proven reliable (15:26) witnesses of the gospel to distinguish false teachers. Lay down the prohibitions that Gentiles may not have been aware of. The assembly believed that whatever the result of the debate was, it was governed by the Holy Spirit. Commented [DC86]: Abstaining “from what has been strangled and from blood” refers to consuming blood; “strangled” refers to intentionally leaving blood in slaughtered meat for eating. Why did James advocate these 4 prohibitions, if the Mosaic Law need not be kept, also approved by the assembly without question? They are universal laws outside (though restated in) the Mosaic Law: idolatry (Gen 6:5, 9 – “every intention… was only evil”, Deu 5:7-8), sexual immorality (Gen 19:5-6, Deu 5:18, 21), consuming blood (Gen 9:3-4, Deu 12:23). It was unlikely that the prohibitions were for the purpose of avoiding offense during fellowship between Jews and Gentiles as forcing the Gentiles to follow “some” of the Law would be contrary to what the assembly just established (15:10), and undermine Paul’s later teaching to act in love (Rom 14:15, 1Co 8:1). Commented [DC87]: The letter marked significant change: Peter would be hardly mentioned here onward and the Jerusalem church had relatively less significance, as the focus switches to the Gentile churches. 26 36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. 16 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. 6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. 16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Commented [DC88]: 15:36-16:40 – Paul begins 2nd Missionary Journey. Barnabas wanted to give Mark another chance (13:13). What was Paul’s reason for not taking Mark? Who was right? What did the “sharp disagreement” result in? Mark proved himself uncommitted to the mission. Paul later spoke well of Mark in his epistles however (Col 4:10, 2Ti 4:11). Both Barnabas and Paul had right reasons but wrong responses; they ungraciously refused to give in to each other and parted on bad terms. Neither men gave up, resulting in twice the manpower, covering larger regions. It was God’s will that they separated, but not necessarily in a petulant manner. Commented [DC89]: How did Paul exhibit faith by going to Lystra? Why did Paul subject Timothy to the Mosaic Law? Was it necessary for Timothy’s sake? He was almost killed in his previous visit (14:19), although that in itself was a testimony to the believers there such as Timothy. So that Timothy would be able to minister to the Jewish community more easily (1Co 9:19-23); it would be more difficult as a Gentile outsider. No; it would have been ironic whilst delivering the letter stating otherwise (15:28-9). Commented [DC90]: Philippi was an Augustan colony, with privileges of tax exemption and land ownership. What did the shift to plural pronoun “we” show (16:10)? What was the profile of Lydia? How did she come to know Christ? How did her faith bless the church in Philippi (16:40)? The author, Luke, joined them at Troas and remained in Philippi (17:1 – “they”). Lydia was wealthy (“purple” dye – luxury) in the privileged commercial Roman colony Philippi (tax exemptions). She worshipped God though not a Jew/proselyte. God “opened her heart”. Lydia’s wealth and property became a gathering place for believers. Commented [DC91]: Was the spirit wrong? Why was Paul “annoyed”? How were Paul and Silas wrongly treated? What were the chances of them escaping by themselves? The spirit was right about the missionaries but the practice forbidden by God (Deu 18:10). He did not want to associate with the spirit, displaying power over spirits that Christ had given to His disciples (Luk 10:17). They were falsely accused of “disturbing [the] city” and breaking Roman law. “To the magistrates”, the owners omitted their hidden agenda that “gain was gone”. The missionaries were humiliated, beaten, and jailed without trial, ironically a custom that “Romans” should practice. Very low, in the “inner prison” with “their feet [fastened] in the stocks”. 27 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. 35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. Applications 15:36-16:40: Sharp disagreement. Paul and Barnabas worked with each other in dangerous conditions for about 10 years (9:27 – Barnabas even testified for Paul to the Jerusalem church); does growing in Christ and spiritual maturity remove our personality differences? How would you deal with these differences in a church setting? Timothy circumcised. To what extent would you go to spread the gospel? Lydia. How do you use your resources to serve God and His people? Guided by the Holy Spirit. God opens doors wide and closes doors fast. Why is it difficult to follow God’s will? Spirit of divination. What kind of people do you associate yourself with? Is what they do glorifying to God? What would be your response to non-believers that you know who belittle God in front of you? Would somebody who is selfish or arrogant be a good witness for Christ? Paul and Silas wrongly treated. How would you respond when treated wrongly or unfairly because of your faith? How can you be a testimony to non-believers around you? Commented [DC92]: What was the missionaries’ response to their unfair treatment and predicament? Why did the jailer want to kill himself (confer 12:19)? How powerful were the missionaries’ testimonies? What was the effect of the missionaries’ faith? Did the jailer understand faith at first? They were rejoicing to God, becoming a witness to “the prisoners [who] were listening” by showing hope in a hopeless circumstance. Roman practice: soldiers who lost their prisoners were subject to the same penalty due to the prisoners. Paul and Silas affected “everyone” in the prison, that “all” of them chose not to escape, abiding by the Roman law and showing grace to the jailer. Their faith was an extensive blessing to those around them; everyone in the prison knew Christ, also the jailer, and his “entire household”. No; he wanted to earn his salvation (16:30), but Paul, Silas, and the prisoners bridged his understanding by showing grace to him. Commented [DC93]: Why did Paul assert his rights to the magistrates? What was his intention? Paul was concerned about the magistrates’ unfair practices, holding them accountable to enact justice in future. This also insured the church in Philippi, that the authorities would not wrongly persecute believers, whom were mostly Roman citizens. Paul’s response was motivated by the furtherance of God’s purpose and justice through earthly law and governance, not for his personal justice due from unfair treatment. The Philippian church later became one of the strongest (Php 1:3-5, 4:15). 28 17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. 10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. Epicureanism – pleasure is greatest good, but in moderation to avoid suffering from overindulgence, with emphasis on pleasures of the mind and intellect rather than body. Gods are passive with humans and there is no afterlife (materialism). Stoicism – way of life which through logic and restraint delivers a person from destructive emotions; good lies in the soul itself and man’s rational ability, self-sufficiency, and obedience to duty. God encompasses reality (pantheistic). 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. Commented [DC94]: 17:1-34 – Missionaries in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. Thessalonica was the capital of the Roman province Macedonia, a centre of trade with a natural port. How long did the missionaries stay in Thessalonica? About 3 weeks (Exo 20:8); Paul’s premature departure warranted sending Timothy back later on (1Th 3:1-3). Commented [DC95]: Why were the Jews jealous (confer 5:17)? What was the irony of the Jews’ actions? Were the missionaries acting against the Roman government (Luk 20:25)? What did Jason do that was commendable? They were losing influence, as the missionaries “persuaded… a great many of the devout” in the synagogue. As “God’s people” (Exo 20:5-6), they associated themselves with “wicked men”, appealed to the “city authorities” and “decrees of Caesar” instead of God and God’s law, accusing the missionaries of “turn[ing] the world upside down” while they are the ones creating “an uproar”, and used earthly wealth, “money as security” to blackmail Jason and the rest. No; Paul did not previously mention Caesar at all. “Jesus… is the Christ”, like God, the spiritual king; the Jews likely knew of this but distorted Paul’s words for their own purpose. Jason’s house was a gathering place for believers, and he did not reveal where the missionaries were in that hairy situation, only being a believer for 3 weeks. Commented [DC96]: Berea was 2 days’ journey by foot from Thessalonica. Noble [εὐγενέστεροι] literally refers to having higher birth, but is applied here to noble behaviour. What were the similarities between Thessalonica and Berea? What was the difference? They both had a Jewish presence, a “synagogue”, and received the gospel in a similar manner, both Jews and Greeks of high standing believed. The Thessalonians relied on emotions, “jealousy” while the Bereans approached the gospel with reason and “eagerness”, testing what the missionaries said with Scriptures, why “many of them therefore believed”. Commented [DC97]: What struck Paul the most in Athens? Was there a Jewish presence? What attracted the Athenians to the gospel? What was their attitude towards it? What are the parallels between Athens and society today? Athens was an intellectual and cultural centre and the first known democracy. What struck Paul was not the wisdom or the architecture but the copious idols (17:16). There was a synagogue, but it was not Luke’s focus. It was “new” and “strange” (17:21). Sceptical and cynical, like they were testing a new philosophy or scientific concept. A “babbler” refers to one who pecks at ideas like a chicken “picking up seeds” (literal translation) and then spouts them off without fully understanding. Freedom of knowledge, democratic, highly educated, confidence in logic and reason. 29 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Applications 17:1-34: Thessalonian hypocrisy. What do modern believers do today that you think is hypocritical (e.g. Going to church without understanding the Bible, not practicing what believers preach and teach, working on Sundays etc.)? Why? Berean reason. Why has God given us the ability to reason? Is faith in Christ reasonable? Why? Athenian cynicism. What are the principle false premises of Atheists today? How would you share the gospel with an Atheist? What is the problem of approaching the gospel with only logic and no emotion? Commented [DC98]: The “Areopagus” was the “hill of Ares”. What was different about Paul’s sermon here compared all the previous sermon’s in Acts? What was he quoting (17:28)? Why? How did Paul take advantage of Athenian culture and philosophy? What did Paul mention first while introducing the gospel? He did not mention Scripture at all. Paul quoted the Cretan poet Epimenides and the Cilician poet Aratus, both written in the context of Greek polytheism. Because the Athenians do not know Scripture, Paul wanted to address them on common ground. He addressed the fact that the Athenians acknowledge that gods exist, from observing their religion (17:25) and their literature (17:28) but are unable to know God (agnostic). He also addressed Greek racism (people who cannot speak Greek were barbarians), that all people came “from one man”. Paul first introduced who God is: powerful, “made the world”, sovereign, “as though he needed anything” and mindful of man, “having determined allotted periods… that they should seek God”. Commented [DC99]: How did the Athenians see god? How did Paul address that? What was Paul’s main point (17:30-31)? Why did Paul stop his sermon? Why was he stopped? Compare the Thessalonians with the Bereans with the Athenians. God is “art and imagination of man”, that god exists only as logic permits. They took themselves for granted, despite God giving “all mankind life… and everything”. People have nothing to offer to God, not “served by human hands”. He logically critiqued idolatry; even though man is dependent on God for everything, man has rejected God for his own way. He was interrupted before he could mention Christ (17:32-3). The Athenians immediately dismissed the idea of “resurrection of the dead”. Paul thus did not stay to be “hear[d]… again” but moved on. The Thessalonians were hypocritical and rejected the gospel on the basis of their emotions. The Bereans with “eagerness” tested the gospel logically with Scriptures. The Athenians showed extreme reliance on human reasoning, treating the gospel like any other concept that has no immediate implications. 30 18 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. 18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. 24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. Commented [DC100]: 18:1-22 – Paul in Corinth. What was Paul’s job? What was the first problem Paul faced in the Corinthian synagogue? Why did Paul make reference to Eze 33:1-6? Did Paul give up on the Jews entirely at that point (18:7)? Why was Paul’s chance meeting with Aquila significant? What was the change when Silas and Timothy arrived (2Co 11:8-9)? What was Paul’s state of mind (1Co 2:1-3, 2Co 1:8-11)? What were the 2 promises God made to Paul? He was a tent maker; being a Pharisee raised social status but was voluntary. The Jews rejected the gospel. Paul regarded himself as the prophetic “watchman” who did his part (Eze 33:3) and discharged responsibility for the unbelieving Jews (Eze 33:5). No; he stayed “next door to the synagogue” and persuaded “the ruler of the synagogue… with his entire household” (1Co 1:14). Paul could support himself in Corinth long term (18:11) since there was no church community yet to provide for him. Paul stopped working and instead was “occupied with the word”, as Silas and Timothy brought supplies. Paul was fearful. He would not be harmed and many in Corinth would believe. Commented [DC101]: “Proconsul” referred to the highest-ranking officer in a Roman senatorial province. What was the second problem Paul faced in Corinth? What did Paul do to be spared? What was the significance? Who was Sosthenes? Why was he beaten? Why did Paul cut his hair (1Co 9:19-23)? Jewish persecution and Roman trial. Nothing; before Paul could defend himself, Gallio judged fairly. Christianity was declared legal (16:37); believers were not seditious, not against Roman law, and could not be legally harmed. Sosthenes had the same office [ἀρχισυνάγωγος] as Crispus. He was likely Crispus’ successor/colleague leading the persecution; he possibly could have been a believer (1Co 1:1) or Crispus himself. He was beaten because of the failure to persecute Paul. As the persecution was a “united attack”, Sosthenes was unlikely to be a believer then with different motives (1Co1:1 – possibly converted later). He was also beaten “in front of the tribunal”, not seeking legal action against his attackers (“Gallio paid no attention”), implying that he acknowledged his failure, keeping the issue internal (“see to it yourselves”). He was completing a vow, possibly Nazerite (Num 6:2, 18), to devote himself to God. Commented [DC102]: 18:23-19:10 – Paul begins 3rd Missionary Journey. What did “the church” refer to? Who was Apollos? What did he lack (19:2-5)? Why was Paul’s chance meeting with Aquila (18:2) significant? It referred to the Jerusalem church, given its higher altitude than Caesarea and Antioch. Apollos was a skilled scholar from Alexandria, an intellectual centre in Egypt. He did not know of the baptism of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, only the ancient promises (Luk 3:4 – “way of the Lord”). Paul discipling the couple led them to follow him to Ephesus. There they discipled Apollos, who then influenced the Corinthians (1Co 1:12, 3:4-6, 22, 4:6), fulfilling God’s promise of claiming His people (18:10). 31 19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. Applications 18:1-19:10: Paul’s responsibility. How do you handle the fear of sharing the gospel (1Co 2:1-3, 2Co 1:8-11)? How seriously do you consider God’s call to share the gospel (Eze 33:1-6)? What is your impression of unbelievers, do you potentially see them as “many in this city who are [God’s] people”? What is the importance of secular economic activity? God’s plan. Why does God sometimes not cause immediate results but has some intricate plan? Apollos the apologetic. Why is it important for us to be able to defend our faith? Discipling disciples. What does it look like to make disciples? How is it different from spreading the gospel? 6 6 “Paul’s Thrid Missionary Journey.” ESV Bible Online. Crossway. JPEG file. http://static.esvmedia.org/media/esv-study- bible/images/big/map-44-09.jpg Commented [DC103]: 19:1-10 – Paul Disciples Disciples of John. “Inland country” refers to the route through Phrygia’s mountainous region to Asia and Ephesus. What were similarities between Apollos and the disciples? What was significant about the number 12? What did the Aquila and Priscilla as Paul’s disciples do? How did Paul’s disciples learn from him? Both did not know Jesus and needed discipleship. Paul was mirroring Christ who chose the 12 apostles whom received the Holy Spirit in a similar manner on Pentecost (2:4, 14). They made Apollos their disciple, and likely many others also, being key figures to the Corinthians (1Co 16:19). They accompanied and followed him in his ministry (18:18, 19:9) for a substantial length of time (18:11, 18:10) like how the apostles followed Christ in His ministry of at least 3 years. 32 11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. 21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” 28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. Commented [DC104]: 19:11-41 – Paul at Ephesus. What was the significance of Paul’s apparel doing miracles? Why did the exorcists “invoke the name of the Lord Jesus”? How was it different from miracles done by Paul? Why did it not work? How did the exorcists’ foolishness serve the gospel? “Pieces of silver” likely referred to the Greek drachma, representative of a labourer’s daily wage. How profitable was witchcraft at that time? Why did they burn the books instead of sell them? What did this show? It was similar to Jesus (Luk 8:43-8). They knew it was effective. Paul was a conduit for God’s miracles which was in overflow (19:11-2), while the exorcists attempted to claim (“invoke”) Jesus’ power, as if it were theirs, for their own gain (19:19). The exorcists had no relation to Jesus (19:15), nor did God grant them power as God condemns witchcraft (Deu 18:10-2). The incident proved to other magicians that the Holy Spirit is much greater than their practices, or the Jews who reject Christ. Paul’s ministry indirectly served God’s specific purpose. Witchcraft was very influential, similar to science today (previous instances of witchcraft: 8:9-13, 13:6-11, 16:16-8). They knew the books were against God, regarding the gospel and God’s kingdom worth much more than their possible profit. Commented [DC105]: 19:21 outline the rest of Acts: Macedonia (20:1), Achaia (20:2), Jerusalem (21:17), and Rome (28:14). How did Paul know where to go? What Demetrius said was historically accurate. “Silver shrines” were domestic replicas of the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. What was the reason for the Gentile mob (confer 21:27-40)? What was the importance of the idol Artemis to Ephesus? Who were the “Asiarchs”? Why was Alexander opposed? What was the similarity between Alexander and Paul? Why was it good that Paul did not join? By the “Spirit” (20:22). The gospel threatened the workmen’s business (“wealth”), social status (“disrepute”), and religious pride (“Artemis may be counted as nothing… deposed from her magnificence”). It started out of self-interest rather than for the community (19:32), with religious piety “Great is Artemis…” as the false pretext. “Asiarchs” were high ranking members of the imperial cult (worship the Roman State and authority) who were concerned about Paul’s, a Roman citizen’s (16:37), safety. The crowd knew that as a Jew, he would oppose Artemis (Exo 20:4). They were both Jews, rejected idolatry, and wanted to speak (confer 18:14 – Paul likely wanted to preach). The crowd was violent (19:29 – “dragged”), and like Alexander, he would not have had a chance to speak. Commented [DC106]: What was the town clerk’s argument? Where was God in all of this?  Artemis worship was undeniably famous and would be unaffected (“sacred stone” likely referred to a meteorite, an attraction).  Believers had not committed any crime. Even if they did, Demetrius may take them to court which would neither work (confer 18:12-5).  The people committing crime are those in the mob, creating a “disturbance” and “commotion”. God used non-believers, the Asiarchs and the town clerk to protect his people. Paul was safe while Gaius and Aristarchus were released (20:4) 33 20 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. 13 But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. 15 And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. Applications 19:11-20:16: God prevails magic. Why should God listen to you (Psa 8:4)? How much do you value the gospel? How have you allowed it to shape the way you live? How much does it cost to share the gospel of infinite worth? Disturbance in Ephesus. What kind of idols do we have today? Can church be an idol? How can we guard against idolatry? Paul preaches in Troas. How has God revealed Himself to you? Why is it important to study God’s word? Commented [DC107]: 20:1-16 – Paul collects supplies. Paul’s plans can be seen in 1Co 16:1-9. The purpose of his roundabout journey was to collect supplies for the Jerusalem church (Rom 15:22-9). Luke however omits recording this purpose, as it was not the focus of how the gospel was spreading through God’s power. What did the shift to plural pronoun, “we” show? Luke joined Paul from Philippi. Commented [DC108]: “Eutychus” means lucky/fortunate. He was likely at the window because the “many lamps” heated the room, making it uncomfortable. Luke, a doctor (Col 4:14), declared the youth dead. How did Paul perform the miracle? What did he do right after that? What was Paul’s priority? What does this show about the importance of knowing God? The details are not recorded, not even mention of God’s or the Holy Spirit’s power. Paul immediately “gone up” not long after he “went down” and saved Eutychus, to resume communion and teaching. He did not even speak to the youth. His priority was to urgently teach as much as possible, “intending to depart on the next day”, paying little attention to the miracle and speaking the entire night. Understanding God was more important than witnessing God’s power. 34 17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” 36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. 21 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed 6 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home. 7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you Commented [DC109]: 20:17-21:16 – En Route to Jerusalem. The contents of Paul’s message in Troas (20:7) is not recorded, however it was likely overlapping with what Luke recorded in Miletus (20:17-35). How was Paul’s message here different from others in Acts? Why was Paul’s testimony effective? What other character trait did Paul have (20:18-28)? Why was it important? How seriously did Paul view his ministry? It was addressed to the church (Paul’s only recording of such speech). Paul was transparent (21:18), that he was accountable to those he ministered (21:33-4). He was humble (21:19), not valuating himself at all but only sacrificially considering God and His people (21:24). Paul’s humility granted him perseverance and courage to proclaim the gospel unselectively, and to be freely guided by the Holy Spirit. He held himself responsible for others’ salvation (21:26-7), alluding to Eze 33:1-6 (refer 18:6), his duty as the “watchman” being sharing the complete gospel. Commented [DC110]: What did Paul ask the church to be careful of? Why? What were the differences between Paul and the false teachers? How was Paul able to keep himself from greed? Beware of false teachers. They can destroy the sacrificial work of Christ (“obtained with his own blood”) and Paul (“for three years I did not cease…”). Paul humbly spoke the “whole counsel of God” with “careful attention… to all the flock” to serve the Lord, while the false teachers arrogantly “twisted things”, “not sparing the flock” to “draw away” people to themselves. Working hard to give to others, according to Christ’s wisdom (confer Mat 10:8). Commented [DC111]: Paul lodged with the same Philip previously in Jerusalem (6:4) and Samaria who ended up in Caesarea (8:5-40). How did these events parallel Jesus’ ministry? Jesus had ominous forebodings as he was about to enter Jerusalem to be murdered (Luk 13:33-5, 18:31-3). 35 doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” 15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge. Applications 20:17-21:16: Paul’s message. Why is it important to be open to brothers and sisters in Christ? Why is humility important with our walk with Christ? Why is it important to share the entire gospel? How much of the gospel is enough? Do you consider God’s call to share the gospel a responsibility (Eze 3:16-21, 33:1-6)? Why? Paul resolved to return to Jerusalem. How do we discern God’s will? Is there are formula we can use (1:24-6 – the apostles drew lots before!)? Is it harder to discern God’s will, or do God’s will? Why? Commented [DC112]: Agabus previously prophesied about the Jerusalem famine (11:28). Was it Paul’s mistake to go to Jerusalem? Why did the prophets then ask Paul not to? Why did Paul’s message in 20:18-35 carry weight? No. Paul was to suffer for Christ (9:15-6, 20:22-4), and had also “resolved in the Spirit” (19:21) to go to Jerusalem and Rome, which he did, but not in the manner he had expected. God even commends his actions later (23:11). Taking the advice of the believers would express a lack of faith in God’s ability to work in difficult circumstances, exemplified throughout the book of Acts. The believers through the Spirit, knew that Paul would suffer in Jerusalem and (Luke included) advised him not to go based on their own judgement (interpretation assumes that the events in abbreviated Tyre account, 21:4, were similar to the longer Caesarea account, 21:11-2; that the Spirit revealed only the consequence, not explicitly prohibiting the journey). Paul resolved to go to Jerusalem despite knowing that he would be persecuted giving all he had for God’s kingdom. He likely shared that same message as he stayed in Tyre and Caesarea. 36 17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. 27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, 36 for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!” 37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: 22 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. Commented [DC113]: 21:17-22:29 – Paul Enters Jerusalem. James was then leader of the apostles (12:17). How was Paul received by the church? Why did the Jerusalem church elders want Paul to cleanse himself with the Nazarites (Num 6:13-21)? Was it wrong for Jews to practice the Mosaic Law? Why? Why was the letter by the Jerusalem assembly (15:23-9) mentioned? Compare the advice from the Jerusalem elders (21:17-26) to that from the believers in Tyre and Caesarea (21:4-6, 8-14). He had a favourable welcome. Disprove false rumours of Paul teaching “Jews… to forsake Moses”, to avoid discord with the Jewish believers (confer 1Co 9:20). No there is no such restriction; Jewish believers could uphold the Law, not out of fear, for merit, nor adding to salvation in any way, but because the Law was fulfilled in Christ (15:7-11, Luk 24:44). Even Paul himself previously observed the Law (18:18, 20:16), this instance being hardly extenuating with his silent consent, even piously paying for the others’ expenses. It reaffirmed that Paul’s actions were for a different purpose, not contradicting the earlier letter, that salvation did not necessitate keeping the Law, only the universal laws outside (though restated in) the Mosaic Law: idolatry (Gen 6:5, 9 – “every intention… was only evil”, Deu 5:7-8), sexual immorality (Gen 19:5-6, Deu 5:18, 21), consuming blood (Gen 9:3-4, Deu 12:23). Both were well-intended and ostensibly from God. The elders advised Paul to be mindful of others (Jewish believers), promoting the gospel, while the believers in Tyre and Caesarea advised Paul to be mindful of himself, (unknowingly) hindering the gospel. Commented [DC114]: Did the elders’ strategy work? Why? Who persecuted Paul? What was a Roman tribune? Why did the mob stop beating Paul? What were the similarities between the riot in Jerusalem and that in Ephesus (19:23-41)? What was the significance? Why was the tribune surprised? How did Paul use language to his advantage? No. Paul was falsely and one-sidedly accused for breaking the Law (Lev 22:3, 10). Likely Ephesians (19:8-9) with resentment against Paul and the gospel after the riot (19:23- 41), who recognised Trophimus (20:4). Commander of a cohort as large as 1000 soldiers. It was against the Roman Law (18:14-5). The rioters were from “Asia” (19:26), violent and caused wide “confusion” (19:29), themselves confused by vague false religious pretext (19:32), and only stopped by Roman authority. By “motion[ing] with his hand”, Paul could however testify to the crowd in Jerusalem, unlike Alexander (19:33). The riot in Jerusalem, like in Ephesus, was groundless, irrational, and chaotic, but while God protected Paul in Ephesus, God used him in Jerusalem to testify to the Jews. He assumed that Paul was an Egyptian revolutionary, not an educated citizen of a strategically important Roman city. Paul used Greek to justify his innocence to the tribune, and Hebrew, only spoken by Jews (unfamiliar to the Asian/Hellenistic Jews who used Greek), to address and identify with the Jewish audience. Commented [DC115]: Which people did Paul identify himself with? The native Jews of Jerusalem; trained under a highly regarded Pharisee (5:34) and zealous for the Law, despite being a Hellenistic Jew from Tarsus. 37 6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ 17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” 22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him. Applications 21:17-22:29: Elders’ advice. How do you differentiate good advice from bad? Why is it difficult? Why is it important to respect another’s culture (in church)? Where is the line between culture and superstition? Riot in Jerusalem. Why do bad things happen even when you do the right thing? Is sin logical? Paul’s testimony and deliverance. What does the sovereignty of God mean to you? What is your most recent experience that taught you that God is in control? Commented [DC116]: What was different in Paul’s account of meeting Christ compared to the previous (9:1-9)? What was the significance? Why was Ananias portrayed as pious to the Law? The idea of “light” was emphasised, that it was “great” even at “noon” and those who were with Paul also “saw” the light instead of only “hearing the voice but seeing no one” (9:7). Provided eyewitness credibility to the supernatural phenomenon of Christ. Paul persisted in his Jewish inheritance even when he encountered Christ, without any Gentile influence. Commented [DC117]: This trance likely occurred during Paul’s first return to Jerusalem (9:26-9), not mentioned in the previous account (9:1-31). What was Paul’s response to God’s instruction to leave Jerusalem? Why? What was Paul’s main point in his defence? Why did the crowd begin rioting at that point? What was the irony? He was indignant, thinking that his testimony of his life being completely changed would be enough to convince those who were like his previous self. Paul was previously an exemplary Jew in Jerusalem, a role model for those in the crowd, who received the gospel from God without Gentile influence. He was instructed to minister to the Gentiles, without any dealings with Jerusalem (he had not taught since he arrived), much less desecrate the temple which he was being accused of. Paul had claimed that God sent the gospel to the Gentiles because the Jews of Jerusalem, God’s people, would reject it. The crowd was enraged and rejected Paul’s testimony because God told Paul that they would reject Paul’s testimony; letting Paul witness for himself the reason he was sent to the Gentiles. Commented [DC118]: Why did the tribune want to interrogate Paul? Why did Paul only mention his Roman citizenship after he was ill-treated? What was the significance of the tribune still not having any understanding about the riot? Hebrew was foreign to the tribune, who could only observe that whatever Paul said at first pacified the crowd (22:2) only to incite an even stronger reaction (22:23). Paul wanted to highlight the carelessness of the tribune who acted rashly (punishing citizens without proper trial was a Roman crime), possibly causing him to lose the citizenship that he paid for if reported. Roman citizenship at the time had many benefits and was highly sought after; being one by birth was particularly prestigious. That circumstance granted Paul audience with the Jewish council later (22:30). 38 30 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them. 23 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God's high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” 6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees' party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. 11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” 12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” 16 Now the son of Paul's sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.” 19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” 20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him. 21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.” 22 So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.” 23 Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 And he wrote a letter to this effect: Commented [DC119]: 22:30-23:35 – Paul amidst the Jewish Community. What was the context of Paul’s defence? What was Ananias’ mistake? What did Paul mean by “whitewashed wall” (Eze 13:8-16)? What did Paul do wrong (Exo 22:28)? What was his response? Compare Ananias’ with Paul’s responses to their own mistakes. Who was a better witness for God? Paul had not broken the Law to his own knowledge as he was accused (21:28). Ananias hypocritically judged with unfair prejudice, ordering Paul to be beaten without hearing his case nor concern about justice, which was against the law (Lev 19:15, Deu 25:1-2). It represents something aesthetically pleasing on the outside but bad on the inside, that would face God’s wrath (Eze 13:14). Jesus makes use of a similar image (Mat 23:27). He insulted the high priest albeit out of ignorance. An alternate view is that Paul was sarcastic, implying that Ananias was not acting how a high priest should have, denying him recognition; a problematic interpretation as Paul’s scripture quotation condemns his own actions being one who kept the Law (21:24). He admitted his own error with explanation, that he genuinely did not realise the command was from the high priest, also subtly implying that Ananias was not characteristically recognisable as one. As “God’s high priest”, Ananias acted hypocritically and hypocritically refused to admit his wrong by his silence. The council as well turned a blind eye to Ananias’ wrong but accused Paul instead. Paul displayed “liv[ing]… in all good conscience”, humbly and openly admitting his wrongdoing, strengthening his defence and testimony. Commented [DC120]: Sadducees were priests and aristocrats who emphasised on priestly obligations, strictly following the Pentateuch. Pharisees were common people who applied priestly laws to daily life, following both the Pentateuch and oral laws. Why did Paul mention the gospel despite it not being his charge? Why did Paul word the gospel in such a manner? What did Paul achieve? Was Paul’s ministry in Jerusalem successful? It was the unspoken real reason why he was persecuted by the council. The council already knew the gospel (5:27-32); Paul wanted to establish a common ground with the Pharisees, “I am… a son of Pharisees”, to appeal the case for Christ. He was able to convince some Pharisees of his innocence, implying that a case for the gospel had been established within the council. Yes. Despite rejection by the crowd (22:22) and the inconclusive council meeting (23:10), which may seem trivial by the standards of men, God still commended and encouraged Paul for testifying “to the facts about [the Lord]”. The section of prophesy regarding Paul testifying to the “children of Israel” (9:15) was also fulfilled. Commented [DC121]: How determined were the conspirators? Offices of “chief priests and the elders” were primarily held by Sadducees. What was their hypocrisy? How was Paul’s nephew commendable? What was Paul’s response? They swore an oath; implications of their failure are uncertain. They, keepers of the Law, consented to work outside the Law for their own purpose instead of God’s. He placed himself in danger to inform Paul, with the possibility of the conspirators finding out. He actively assisted his nephew, despite knowing God’s promise to deliver him (23:11). 39 26 “Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. 29 I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. 30 And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.” 31 So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. 33 When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod's praetorium. Applications 22:30-23:35: Paul before the council. How can we strengthen our testimony of Christ? Would making mistakes invalidate our testimony? (Not necessarily) Why is it important to be honest about admitting our own mistakes? What determines success when testifying for God? Why? Paul delivered from Jewish conspirators. Why is it important to be aware that we are part of God’s plan? What is your role in God’s sovereign plan? Is it passive or active? Commented [DC122]: The tribune (Claudius Lysias) was courteous to Paul’s nephew and sent 470 soldiers to escort Paul (about half the Jerusalem cohort consisting of up to 1000 soldiers). Antipatris was 56 of the 100 km by road from Jerusalem to Caesarea. What was untrue in the letter? To whom do the verbs (action words) ascribe to in the letter? What was the tribune’s intention? The tribune had not intended to rescue Paul (23:27) but to arrest and interrogate him (21:33, 22:24), only later discovering Paul’s citizenship (22:27). Most of the verbs relate to the tribune to emphasise his own initiative. His intention was to gain credit and favour with the procurator Antonius Felix (also addressed “his Excellency”) for protecting a Roman citizen. Commented [DC123]: Herod’s praetorium was one of his palaces which housed high-ranking Roman officials. What was God’s role in all this? What does it show about God’s sovereignty? Did Paul know about God’s plan? God could have quelled the conspiracy without involving Paul, but chose to have him play an active role; what was Paul’s role in God’s plan? Paul’s safe deliverance was God’s sovereign providence. God may use coincidences and people (even with different intentions) to carry out his will. Paul likely knew that his nephew overhearing the conspiracy was nothing fortuitous but a miracle designed for his ministry in Rome (23:11), for him to actively assist. Paul’s involvement was less for God than it was for him, for God to display His favour upon Paul. 40 24 And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. 2 And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying: “Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, 3 in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. 4 But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. 5 For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.” 9 The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so. 10 And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. 11 You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12 and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18 While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia— 19 they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21 other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’” 22 But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. 24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” 26 At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. Applications 24:1-27: Paul before Felix. What does it mean to “have a clear conscience towards both God and man”? Will things always go well if you have integrity? Why? Felix puts off the gospel. What are your spiritual goals? What are some things that you prioritise which you procrastinate God for? Is there sin in your life that you have put off dealing with (if you bury a seed, it grows)? What opportunities can you seize this week to achieve your spiritual goals? Paul in custody. Why does God sometimes make us wait? Commented [DC124]: 24:1-25:22 – Trials Before the Governors. Antonius Felix was a slave to the house of Antonia (Emperor Claudius), rising to high position after being granted freedom. As procurator of Judaea, he was known for cruelty and licentiousness, hated by the Jews, and had the least peaceful term (about AD 52-9) than any of his predecessors. What were the differences between Tertullus’ introduction (24:2-4) and Paul’s (24:10)? What was omitted in Tertullus account from Luke’s account (21:30-1)? What were the charges against Paul? Tertullus flattered Felix with blatantly untrue statements, and masked his short unsubstantiated false claims with a courteous pretence. Paul on the other hand briefly appealed to Felix’s authority and responsibility to judge. The Jews “seized” Paul not to arrest but kill him, against Roman law.  Inciting sedition.  Leader of a heretical “sect” (“Nazoraion” [Ναζωραίων] means “men from Nazareth”) not recognised by the Roman government.  Desecration of the temple (Rome had granted the Jews authority to judge those who did so, including Roman citizens). Commented [DC125]: What was Paul’s defence to the charges? Why did Paul cut short his sentence (24:19)? Why did Paul mention the trial before the Jewish council? Why did Paul “take pains to have a clear conscience”? Why did Felix call for Lysias’ input to postpone the case?  Paul was in Jerusalem for too short a time to gain support and start a riot. He purpose was worship; peacefully without any dispute.  The Way (Christianity) is not a sect but of intrinsically Jewish heritage, “laid down by the Law and… Prophets, having hope in God”, acknowledged by the Sadducees (“these men”) and even Felix (“having… knowledge of the Way”).  Paul “bring[ing] alms” was of noble purpose, also found by the accusers being “purified in the temple”, actions hardly fitting for one who would “profane the temple”. The accusers were not present, which by Roman law meant that those charges would be withdrawn (25:16) and need not be addressed. The only new information the Jews retrieved from Paul’s trial was that one statement, showing that they had nothing to charge Paul with even under Mosaic Law. God will judge “both the just and unjust”, an eternal consequence (“resurrection”). Felix knew that Paul was innocent and could not be charged, “having… accurate knowledge of the Way”, yet wanted to please his constituents, “do[ing] the Jews a favour”. Coercing a bribe from Paul could also have been his intention (24:26). Commented [DC126]: Drusilla was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I (12:1-23) and sister of Agrippa II and Bernice (25:13). Compare Paul’s actions with Felix’s (24:24- 7). Felix was removed for inadequate dealing with a Jew- Gentile dispute in Caesarea. Why did Felix procrastinate the gospel? Paul’s imprisonment had no evident purpose for God. What did Paul do right? Paul seized opportunities for spiritual advance, spreading the gospel to Felix, while Felix waited and procrastinated, eventually losing the chance to know God. His priority was getting money from Paul, hanging on to his sin rather than repentance that the gospel required (“righteousness and self-control”). Paul did not resort to corrupt practice (bribery) for noble cause (possible ministry). His priority was “a clear conscience” which he patiently maintained for 2 whole years without complaint, having remarkable integrity. 41 25 Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3 asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4 Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5 “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.” 6 After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. 8 Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.” 13 Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. 14 And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, 15 and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. 17 So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. 19 Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20 Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. 21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.” Applications 25:1-22: God’s deliverance. Why is it practical to see every circumstance as under God’s sovereign control? Festus’ opinion. What would your response be to someone who says, “religion is subjective; you have your God and I have mine”? Commented [DC127]: Who wanted to kill Paul? What was the difference compared to previously (23:14-5)? What did Festus’ decision to go to Caesarea achieve? What did this show? What “charges” was Paul accused of? Festus, like Felix (24:27), wanted to gain support from his constituents (25:3, 9). What did this show about Festus’ character? Paul had the right to “appeal to Caesar” as a Roman citizen. Why did Paul do so? The Sadducee party. They spontaneously planned Paul’s assassination instead of being passive before. Festus’ flippant decision unknowingly saved Paul, undoubtedly God’s providence. Likely the same as previously (24:5-6), which he could successfully defend against. Despite being a better procurator, Festus was also self-serving. Siding with Paul would also offend the Jews. Going to Jerusalem would have been fatal; there were plots to kill him (23:12-5, 25:3) and neither would he have had a fair trial (23:1-5) if Rome were to give the Jewish council judging authority. It was a dead end to possible ministry. Commented [DC128]: Herod Agrippa II was the son of Agrippa I (12:1-23). Bernice was his sister and alleged incestuous lover. Did Agrippa go to Caesarea for Paul? How did it benefit Festus? How did Festus view the gospel (25:19)? Paul would later testify the gospel in front of the king (26:1-29). Was God’s prophesy about Paul fulfilled (9:15)? How did God use Paul’s imprisonment? No he was just passing by, but it allowed Festus to consult the king regarding Paul (25:20), because he was “at a loss how to investigate”.  It was trivial, compared to “evils as [he] supposed]”.  It was not factual but up to personal opinion, referring to the “points of dispute… Paul asserted”. “Religion” (“deisidaimonias” [δεισιδαιμονίας]) may be translated “superstition”, implying something unverifiable.  Jesus was not special, just a “certain Jesus, who was dead”. Yes. He preached to the Gentiles, the “children of Israel” (22:1-21), and royalty lastly. It positioned Paul to proclaim the gospel in front of highly influential people. 42 23 So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.” 26 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense: 2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently. 4 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? 9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. 12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” Commented [DC129]: 25:23-26:32 – Paul Witnesses to King Agrippa. What was the profile of Herod Agrippa II? What about the audience? What was Festus’ situation? What was the audience’s likely impression of Paul? Authoritative, proud, and powerful (12:20-22 – inherited the office his father). Audience consisted of high ranking and influential people (23:23-4 – military tribunes were commanders of a large cohort not exceeding 1000 men). Festus knew that Paul was innocent (25:10) but because of his unjust biasness (24:9), Paul appealed to Caesar and needed assistance in writing a report. Inclined to find fault (25:26), and sceptical (26:24). Commented [DC130]: What defence was Paul making? Who was it directed to? Paul’s 3rd recorded testimony in Acts. Why did Paul introduce himself as such? What was additional compared to Paul’s previous testimony to the Jewish crowd (22:3-21)? What did Paul claim he was on trial for? What was that “promise” (13:32-3)? What did the promise have to do with “rais[ing] the dead”? Why was Jesus’ resurrection a crucial issue to Paul? Defence of the gospel, not himself. This hearing was informal; his trial would be before Caesar (25:25). Paul was directly addressing Agrippa, who was “familiar with… the Jews”, unlike Festus (25:19). Prove that he was Jewish and also “familiar with all the customs and controversies”, a pious Jew similar to Agrippa. Paul’s “hope in the promise made by God” (26:6-8 – parenthetical), his personal emotions and convictions against Jesus (26:9-11), and his commission (26:16-7). Ironically being consistent with the Jewish “hope”, the “promise made by God to… [their] fathers”. The coming of Christ. The promise would have been worthless to the past generations of Jews, Israel’s “fathers, to… twelve tribes” who had died, if not for “rais[ing] the dead”. It would be unreasonable for God not to “rais[e] the dead” for “hope in the promise”, which was Paul’s charge (24:21). It determined if Jesus was the promised one (13:32); there was no dispute over Jesus’ death (25:19). Commented [DC131]: How did Paul view Jesus and believers? A goad is a sharp stick to prod misbehaving oxen. What did it mean to “kick against the goads”? Why was Ananias not mentioned? What was the irony of the hearing (26:22-3)? He was fully “convinced… in opposing” them, working very hard with a personal animosity. Paul was convinced that Jesus was a lie, using first the mundane address “Jesus of Nazareth”, compared to the “Way” (22:4), also possessing “authority from the chief priests”. Paul was hurting himself. Believing in Jesus did not mean that Paul was not Jewish, but rejecting Jesus did. Paul’s focus was not his conversion, but his whole life and ministry “to this day” (26:22). The audience were there to judge Paul, but instead they were on trial; to make a personal decision upon hearing his testimony, whether to “open their eyes… turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (26:18). 43 24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” 30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Applications 25:23-26:32: Paul’s testimony. Why must we take every chance to share the gospel if belief depends on God (26:29 – “I would to God”)? What is the point if God is sovereign (the message is for the messenger first)? Commented [DC132]: What was Festus’ response? What was Paul’s response? What did “done in a corner” mean? What was Agrippa’s response? What was Paul’s response? What problem did Festus have? Did Agrippa know about Festus’ unfair sentence (25:9)? Rejection. Paul addressed Agrippa, whom Paul knew would take Paul’s “true and rational words” seriously. Done in secret, compared to Jesus’ public ministry. He was uncomfortable; he could not deny what Paul said, but seemed unwilling to believe Paul. Openly invited the unsuspecting audience to make a decision, wittingly addressing Agrippa’s concern, “whether short or long”. Festus proved his own incompetence in front of Agrippa and his contemporaries: he was about to send Caesar a man with no valid charges to be charged. No; Agrippa did not know why Paul appealed to Caesar, that Paul would be unjustly tried (23:1-5) in Jerusalem otherwise. Thus Agrippa remarked on the pointlessness of Paul’s appeal. 44 27 And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. 2 And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3 The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. 4 And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. 5 And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. 9 Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there. 13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship's boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. 21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.” 27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28 So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms. 29 And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship's boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's boat and let it go. Commented [DC133]: 27:1-44 – Paul Sailed for Rome. “Aristarchus” was one of Paul’s travel companions (19:29). What did the shift to plural pronoun, “we” show? Augustus was the first emperor of the Roman empire (27BC-AD14). What was the significance of that cohort? “Under the lee” (27:4, 7) meant sailing under shelter; being protected by land from wind. The party were off the normal route to Rome, sailing South instead of North of Crete. How did Paul know not to continue the voyage? The “Fast” referred to the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:29) in October. November through January was when the Mediterranean Sea became too dangerous for ships. Was it surprising that the centurion rejected Paul’s advice? Why? What did the passengers put their faith in? Luke had accompanied Paul all the way to Rome (28:16). Named after the first emperor, it was a special unit in the Roman army, indicating importance of Paul as a prisoner. Paul was likely talking from his personal travelling experience and not divine revelation (2Co 22:25). No; Paul was a mere prisoner, while the “pilot and the owner of the ship” were more experienced. The sailors, their own comfort (“harbor was not suitable”), the ship, and “chance” (27:12). Commented [DC134]: What had failed (27:13-4, 20)? The “ship’s boat” (27:16) was a smaller vessel used to ferry passenger in the event that the ship could not port. “Syrtis” referred to a shallow gulf which would ground and destroy large ships. The “gear” (27:17) likely referred to anchors (27:29). What else had failed (27:15-19)? Faith in “chance”. For a short time, the party thought luck was on their side and “obtained their purpose” by good weather. However, the wind “struck down from the land”, the “lee of Crete”, which was previously shielding the ship, and “for many days… no small tempest lay”. Also, ancient sailors relied on celestial bodies for bearings; so happened that “neither sun nor stars appeared” (27:20), making navigation impossible. The “ship of Alexandria” (27:6) carrying “wheat” (27:38) was likely a large vessel capable of long distance travel (Alexandria was an intellectual centre in Egypt). It however “gave way to [the wind]”, and despite its capabilities (“supports” and “gear”), The passengers resorted to losing cargo and even the “ship’s tackle” (part of the ship’s equipment) to keep afloat. Lightening the ship’s load reduced strain and allow it to sit higher in the water. Commented [DC135]: The crew was “without food” because of seasickness on the rough sea. What else had failed (27:21)? Why did God protect the ship’s passengers? 1 Fathom was 1.8 Metres. What else had failed (27:27-32)? The passengers’ comfort; they were even more uncomfortable than spending the winter in Fair Havens. It was God’s plan that Paul “must stand before Caesar” (27:24); God’s grace extended to the entire party. The ship was nearing shallow water and risked being grounded. This was especially risky at night when visibility was poor. Knowing this, the sailors tried to escape secretly, leaving the unskilled passengers for dead (27:30), which Paul exposed. The sailors not only made a poor decision (27:11) and failed to control the situation “by their own hands” (27:19), but selfishly shirked responsibility. 45 33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. 39 Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. 40 So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. 41 But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. 42 The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land. Applications 27:1-44: Unfounded faith. What earthly things do you put your faith in? How do these compare to God? Why is it hard to place your faith in God (humility)? Does trusting in God mean giving up reason (God works through the means He appointed)? Lost at sea. Why do you think God sometimes drives us to breaking point and helplessness before intervening (pain is the best teacher / God’s glory is exposed when all else fails)? 7 7 “Paul’s Journey to Rome.” ESV Bible Online. Crossway. JPEG file. http://static.esvmedia.org/media/esv-study- bible/images/big/map-44-12.jpg Commented [DC136]: How did the passengers exercise faith in God? What was the irony in the passengers taking Paul’s advice? Roman practice: soldiers who lost their prisoners were subject to the same penalty due to the prisoners (confer 12:19). It was likely that some of the prisoners were on death row as public executions were a form of entertainment in Rome. Why did the centurion “wi[sh] to save Paul”? What did this chapter show about God’s providence? They trusted Paul placing faith in who Paul claimed God was. They chose to eat despite the possibility of discomfort from seasickness. They also abandoned their source of income and livelihood, “throwing out the wheat”, and willingly “planned if possible to run the ship ashore” in light of Paul’s revelation (27:22, 26). Paul, who was prisoner, was in charge, having been right twice (27:10, 31). This would have been humbling for the entire party, including the Roman centurion and wealthy “owner of the ship”. Paul was not on death row but on appeal. It was the centurion’s mission to escort him safely, which he carried out dutifully, no doubt part of God’s providence that “all were brought safely to land”. Nothing can stop God’s will; no force of nature nor men’s actions. 46 28 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. 3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. 7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. 8 It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. 9 And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed. 11 After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. 12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him. 17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” Commented [DC137]: 28:1-10 – Paul in Malta. A similar instance where Paul was called a God occurred in Lystra (14:14-5) which he protested strongly against. What did the episode with the viper show? What did Paul’s healing of the locals show? Was the gospel mentioned at all during Paul’s transfer (27:1-28:16)? What was Luke’s focus? Did Paul share the gospel during this period? Paul’s special identity as God’s apostle. Paul was a blessing to those around him. The gospel was not mentioned to be shared; Luke’s focus was on Paul’s credibility as God’s apostle (27:21, 28:6), and God’s blessing to those around Paul (27:24, 28:8-9). Very likely, having spent 3 months in Malta (28:11). However, it was possible that the “native people”, barbaroi [βάρβαροι] could not understand Greek. Commented [DC138]: 28:11-31 – Paul reaches Rome. The “twin gods” refer to Castor and Pollux, sons of Zeus and Leda and gods of travel in Greek mythology. What did this small detail show? The “Forum of Appius” and the “Three Taverns” were 64 km and 45 km from Rome. How did the believers encourage Paul? What was the significance of Paul’s prison privileges? The Gentile party that Paul was sailing with was pagan and hardly knew God at all, but were more receptive to Paul’s truth (27:21-6) than the Jewish leaders (28:24). They provided for Paul and showed their appreciation by visiting him from far away. He was under house arrest, which meant that he could continue his ministry and support himself financially (28:23, 30-1). Commented [DC139]: Why did Paul recount his situation (28:17-20)? What was the Jews’ initial impression of the gospel? Prove his innocence (“no reason for the death penalty”) and his pure intentions (“had no charge to bring against [Israel]”, “because of the hope of Israel”). They were neutral, they had no definite proof that Paul was wrong, though aware of the negative rumours (“sect” haireseōs [αἱρέσεως]) 47 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 27 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” 30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. Applications 27:1-44: Paul blessed those around. Does your life credibly reflect yourself as God’s witness to other people? How can you be a blessing to others this week? Paul encouraged by the brothers. How can you encourage fellow believers in faith (90% of service accomplished by just being there)? Mission accomplished? What responsibility do you have as a believer? Commented [DC140]: The context of the quote was Isaiah’s call to prophesy. It was also quoted in Luke’s previous account (Luk 8:10). To whom was the scripture referring to? What did it mean? How did this reference to scripture (Isa 6:9-10) explain the Jews’ situation? Israel. Isaiah’s ministry would have a hardening effect on those he prophesied to. Israel since the days of Isaiah had continued to reject God’s message, and was no surprise even with the gospel of Christ. Commented [DC141]: What was Luke’s focus throughout the book of Acts? There was already a church in Rome (Rom 1:9-13). What was Luke’s focus of Paul’s ministry in Rome? Why did Luke conclude the book with such a focus? Was the conclusion satisfactory; did it answer all the questions the book raised? Why did the book conclude with a sense of incompleteness? The focus transitioned from the Jerusalem church (1:1- 12:25) to an international church, where Paul was rejected by the Jews in almost every city he visited (17:10-5 – except Berea). The unbelieving Jews were the focus. It tied up the book’s overall idea. The gospel, which started from Israel through “the Law of Moses and from the Prophets” (28:23), through the Holy Spirit (2:1-4, 10:44-7, 19:6) spread from the Jews to the entire world. Despite the gospel being ironically rejected by the Jews (28:25-8), its origin (13:46-7), it still holds true as the “salvation of God” for all (28:28). No; much details were left obscure, such as Paul’s testimony before Caesar (27:24), the outcome of his appeal (28:19), and his ministry to the church in Rome (28:30-1). The story was not yet complete. Paul promised that “this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen”. The future tense “will listen” akousontai [ἀκούσονται] indicated that it was only started, and still in progress for the reader to continue in acts. (27:21-6) than the Jewish leaders (28:24). They provided for Paul and showed their appreciation by visiting him from far away. He was under house arrest, which meant that he could continue his ministry and support himself financially (28:23, 30-1). Commented [DC139]: Why did Paul recount his situation (28:17-20)? What was the Jews’ initial impression of the gospel? Prove his innocence (“no reason for the death penalty”) and his pure intentions (“had no charge to bring against [Israel]”, “because of the hope of Israel”). They were neutral, they had no definite proof that Paul was wrong, though aware of the negative rumours (“sect” haireseōs [αἱρέσεως]) 47 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 27 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” 30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. Applications 27:1-44: Paul blessed those around. Does your life credibly reflect yourself as God’s witness to other people? How can you be a blessing to others this week? Paul encouraged by the brothers. How can you encourage fellow believers in faith (90% of service accomplished by just being there)? Mission accomplished? What responsibility do