A. A Study on Paul’s Life Through
Acts 9:15-16. “It is not what we do for God that will count in the end, but what we let God do through us and with us that will last. It is not how ‘effective’ or how noticed I was, rather how obedient I am to my Lord and Master.” - Blackaby
I.Paul’s Beginnings Ephesians 1:4-5, 2:10
1. Father was a Pharisee
2. Paul was a Pharisee. Acts 23:6, Phil. 3:8, Gal. 1:13-14. (Jewish birth – Acts 22:3) Circumcised on third day - Phil. 3:5.
3. Roman citizen. Acts 22:25-28
4. Mom unknown.
5. Sister lived in Jerusalem. Acts 23:16.
6. Sister’s son aided Paul – Acts 23:16.
7. Named after King Saul – (maybe around 1 A.D.?)
1. Born and raised in Tarsus – Acts 22:3.
a. Tarsus – chief town (capital) of Cilicia, on the banks of the river Cydnus (12 miles north of the Mediterranean).
b. Mixed population, commercial center, had a temple of Baal, seat of a great university.
c. Born out of the Benjamin tribe. Phil. 3:5.
1. Tentmaker – Acts 18:3.
What role did Gamaliel play in Paul’s life and prepare him for what God had for Paul?
2. Studied with Gamaliel - Phil. 3:8, Acts 22:3.
a. Being thoroughly trained in the law of Jewish fathers.
b. Gamaliel was a celebrated doctor of the Jewish law. Acts 5:34-40. Spoke when Peter and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching. He had great insight in that if these apostles were not of God, things would fade away, but if they were from God, no one could stop their influence. Gamaliel was a very God-fearing man who had a great Old Testament faith in God and the Jewish law. This zeal obviously passed on to Paul. He probably gave Paul a great desire to know Pharisaical law and follow it religiously so that you would be honoring God.
A. Young Manhood
1. Arch persecutor – Acts 9:1-13, 22:4. He was notorious, greatly feared, full of zeal to get rid of the followers of the Way. Arrested men and women, and never hesitated to put them in prison or participate in killing them. He thrived on getting rid of them. (Acts 8:1 – death of Stephen).
How did seeing and participating in Stephen’s death prepare Paul for his new ministry opportunity?
2. Participated in Stephen’s stoning. Those who were stoning Stephen, the witnesses against Stephen, laid their garments down at Saul’s feet and threw stones at Stephen until he died. Seeing Stephen killed enthused Saul! (This was the first appearance of Paul (Saul) in the Bible. He was an enemy of God’s when we are first introduced to him.)
Why did God intend to have Paul become the leader for the Gentiles?
3. He perfectly kept the law – Acts 26:5. Saul was a zealous Pharisee as a young person. He probably was willing to do basically anything in the name of Pharasaicalism. How often does a zealous non-Christian continue that zealousness after becoming a believer? Paul was a prime candidate for the job God had to be the culture, religious buster to reach out to Gentiles. God has Peter lay the groundwork as he was the foundation to the early church. Only a key leader could have done that because of respect and allowing a top established leader to take a quantum leap into a new culture and a culture that was to be left alone in Jewish tradition. Then it takes a Paul who has the traditional roots enmeshed in his life to do something so drastic as reach out totally to the unclean, unholy, the heathen
B. His Conversion (9:1-18, 22:4-11)
1. Went to Damascus to get people from the Way (people following Christ), to imprison and kill them. Saul believed he was doing the right thing. Following proper channels of going to the high priest for letters to the Damascus synagogues, Saul was on his way to stop and kill Christian men and women. He was very zealous in what He believed.
On the way to Damascus a great bright light flashed all around Saul. This light was from heaven. It had to be an intense, penetrating light for it caused Saul to fall to the ground off his horse. It was bright out already as it was noon, so this extra light was extremely intense.
If you heard the audible voice of God, what would you do?
Paul was zealous in what he believed. How passionate are you for the things of God?
2. A voice spoke out, saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” In Acts 22, Paul indicates that the voice let him know who the Voice was, Jesus of Nazareth. This was an earth-shattering experience for Paul. It definitely got his attention, for his response to Jesus was, “What should I do?” And there was instant obedience, as Jesus was addressed as Lord, a name for great honor and respect, especially with the credentials Saul had. Saul was to go to Damascus and there he would be told the next responsibility or assignment.
Instant obedience – do you or I have that?
3. Saul’s companions were speechless as they saw the light, heard the sound but did not see anyone. The light was completely directed at Saul, but the men knew something was happening.
How brilliant was the light?
4. The brilliance of the light was so great that it blinded Saul. Also because of his instant obedience, could the light have revealed all of Saul’s unworthiness, sin and realized in that instant, that his pedigree which he shares in Acts 22:1-3, meant nothing any more? The light had to be the glory of Jesus, or at least a representation of His glory. Just as God hid Moses in the cleft of the rocks for his protection against the glory of God passing by Moses, so Saul was given a dose of that glory. It is like radiation treatment, as the laser pinpoints one specific location that is so intense it can kill specific cells.
What was the light that shone on Saul?
5. His companions led Saul into Damascus, humbled and driven to the core. For three days, Saul fasted and prayed (9:9, 11). Wow, what obedience and focus. Saul had to do this immediately.
6. During these three days, Saul had a vision that Ananias would come to him to place his hands on him to restore his sight (9:12)
When given a glimpse of God’s glory, how are we to respond?
How was Saul commissioned? Are you being obedient to your calling or purpose?
7. Ananias had a vision during that same time and the Lord told him to go seeking the one from Tarsus named Saul who knows that Ananias would be coming, due to Saul’s vision. There was no doubt who Ananias was to meet up with. Ananias was a devout observer of the law, a true Jew and was extremely respected by all Jews there in Damascus. He lived what he spoke. Yet Ananias was not sure about obeying the Lord’s vision, for he knew Saul was coming to arrest all the believers. Was Ananias a believer before this vision? Yes, but became stronger as a result. Again, God takes leaders who are pursuing Him to do His work (earthly position has nothing to do with it) and uses them for His glory and activities.
7. (9:15-18, 22:13-16) What Ananias was to convey to Saul was his commissioning. The Lord said that Saul was His chosen instrument/vessel to carry Jesus’ name to the Gentiles, their kings and the people of Israel. Saul would be filled with the Holy Spirit. He would also suffer much for Jesus’ name. Acts 22 says Saul saw the Righteous One – Jesus Christ. When Ananias stood by Saul and placed his hands on Saul, something like scales came off of Saul’s eyes and he was able to see again.
What role does suffering play in following Jesus?
8. Saul got up and was baptized. Then he took some food to regain his strength. Saul was obediently following Jesus from the first moment. He was totally sold out for the Lord. Is that my attitude? Following Jesus would involve suffering. That was indicated immediately during his commission. We want to follow Jesus without the pain and suffering?
III. Post Conversion
A. Early On.
1. (9:19-20) Spent several days in Damascus, preaching immediately in the synagogues. He had a zeal that went from one passion to the other. He was gifted in teaching and communication. Saul could have had the spiritual gifts of evangelism, faith, apostleship, discernment, leadership.
What were Saul’s spiritual gifts?
What does this tell you about Saul’s character?
What would you have believed about Saul at this moment, if you were living then?
2. (9:20-22) People were baffled at how he could preach about Jesus of Nazareth and the fact that he was not persecuting believers but had gone to their side. “Jesus is God,” was his message. This city was upside down. This had to spread like wildfire. What got into this persecutor of the Way to become a leading advocate of the Way? Was this a trap, to bring out the Christians so that it would be much easier to capture them and put them in prison? His reputation was in flux, many people probably did not know what to believe.
Saul was gifted in apologetics. He used his strength for the kingdom. What are your strengths? Are you using them for the kingdom?
3. The more he spoke, the more powerful Saul became. This only baffled the Jews even more. Saul had to be gifted in apologetics so he could prove Jesus is the Christ. We see this ability throughout Acts and in his writings.
4. It is possible that the Jews were getting a bit irate. So Saul left, not to head to Jerusalem where the apostles were, but rather headed to Arabia. He went east into Arabia - where he stayed we don’t know for sure.
5. (9:23-25) We read that as a result of Saul’s preaching, the Jews were getting ticked off, furious with him. They conspired to kill him. In God’s sovereignty, Saul learned of the plan to kill him. It sounded like the Jews were keeping pretty close watch on the city gates so that when Saul tried to leave or escape, he would be killed. Those who had come to believe his story and the truth about Jesus took him at night and lowered him down the outside wall in a basket through an opening.
6. From 2 Corinthians 11:32-33, we read that the governor under King Aretus has Damascus guarded in order to arrest Saul. Saul had people in an uproar. Exterminate Saul now. Zealous Jews who faithfully kept the law saw this former persecutor become Jewish public enemy number one.
Key people help us through ministry and including our journey in leadership development. Who are the people (ropeholders) that are foundational in your life? How do they help you? Who has helped you in your spiritual journey that came at a crucial time in your life where your spiritual life could have fallen apart? Who are loyal to you, people willing to invest in your spiritual development, people who have or are putting you ahead of their own agenda or needs? Have you thanked them for their precious gift? If not, do so.
7. We never find out who those followers were that helped him down the wall, nor do we find out whether they suffered imprisonment or death for that heroic feat. People saw quickly the role Saul was playing in the church and took means to protect him.
Have you had times where you were “set apart” to reflect, get quiet, focus on Jesus? Do you have a plan scheduled to get away for a while – retreat, sabbatical? If not, do so.
8. According to Galatians 1:17, Saul went to Arabia and later returned to Damascus. I think we can be relatively sure that the lowering down in the basket occurred on his way to Arabia, for he did not head to Jerusalem where others probably would have pursued him to capture and kill him, plus why go to Arabia, other than to escape and get away from the heat of those pursuing you. Heading to Arabia and returning to Damascus lasted about three years. What he did in Arabia we don’t know for absolute, but it is very likely Saul spent time learning and meditating on the gospel, the Old Testament and what he knew of things Jesus said and did on earth. He met with Jesus there. This time was necessary to focus and prepare Saul for the ministry he was about to embark upon. This could be called his wilderness time. We all need such times in our lives and God does this to leaders especially when He prepares us for new ministry opportunities. Jesus had to get some of his Jewish ways out of him and replace them with Jesus’ thoughts and ways.
B. The first encounter leads to radical ministry
1. (9:26-27, Galatians 1: 18-19) Saul stayed in Damascus until the Jews drove him out, which was part of the three years mentioned. From there, he traveled to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed for 15 days. The only other apostle Saul saw was James, the Lord’s brother.
2. All the disciples were fearful of Saul because of his reputation. They really did not believe that Saul could actually be on their side. According to the Acts 9 passage, it took Barnabas to take him in, to befriend him, and was the mediator to introduce Saul to the apostles. It seems only Peter and James met up with Saul. Barnabas did explain what had happened to Saul over the past three years. Peter took the initiative to get to know Saul, which reiterates the responsibility Peter had as one of the key leaders of the early church.
Barnabas was an encourager to people. Who are the people you encourage?
Who are the people that encouraged or built into you, who saw potential in you and helped you develop to become who you are today?
3. Barnabas will play a key role in the development of Saul. This was the first mention of Barnabas connecting with Saul. There will be more significant opportunities in the future for the two of them. Barnabas’ name was Joses, and renamed “son of prophecy” or “encourager.” He was renamed this by his peers because of his character and manner. He was a Levite and a Cypriot by birth. He was a prophet and minister with the apostles. In Acts 9, Barnabas and Saul established a relationship that extended over many years. Barnabas gave legitimacy to Saul and his message, as Barnabas was highly respected in both Jerusalem and Antioch. His strength was identifying potential kingdom workers and establishing them in ministry (Saul and John Mark). Barnabas and Saul did eventually split up over the dispute with John Mark.
If your peers gave you a new name like Barnabas received, what would you be called?
What direction or calling does God have on you? How are you going to be obedient to what He wants to do through you?
4. (9:28-30, 22:17-21) Saul stayed in Jerusalem, freely and boldly preaching. He had discussions with the Grecian Jews, but those Jews wanted to persecute and kill him. Saul had a trance one day while praying in the temple, where the Lord told him to quickly leave Jerusalem because the Jews were not accepting Saul’s preaching. Saul wanted these Jews to know that even though he had persecuted and helped kill believers, he now had changed and seen the light of salvation through Jesus. Here is where Saul was given the instructions that he would become a missionary to the Gentiles. Saul had too much history with the Jews, especially those who knew of him before his conversion. These Jerusalem and Damascus Jews simply wanted to exterminate him. Here is another truth. A prophet receives no honor from where he is from. Reaching the Gentiles was a whole new chapter for the Church. It had never been done before, but God had the right man for the job.
How do you determine the Lord’s will in your life?
What are ways we can easily get ahead of God, in His timing?
How did Moses get ahead of God’s timing?
Why did Peter have to have his experience with Gentiles before Saul was sent by God?
5. (Acts 9:30) The believers got Saul out of Jerusalem and sent him home to Tarsus via Caesarea, the seaport. There in Tarsus, Saul stayed for some time. Again, it was not God’s timing for Saul to work specifically with the Gentiles. The remainder of Acts 9, through Acts 10 and through Acts 11:18, brings Peter into the ministry light as he has the encounter with the Gentile Cornelius. Probably the key figure in the early Church (made up of Jewish Christians) has exposure to Gentiles which becomes the doormat or opening for Saul’s ministry. Peter’s experience legitimizes what Saul is about to do. It is so easy to get ahead of the Lord’s timing, because we think we know the direction the Lord is leading us and we take off. We have to be so careful not to confuse our plans, confidence, strength or our abilities for the Lord’s will. It takes having a great sensitivity to the Lord’s leading, working diligently to hear His voice by being still, being quiet. We need times to be alone with Him to know where He is leading, and how He is leading. Discerning God’s will is not an easy couple step process. I think I am on the right course with God. It is something I constantly need to be checking in with Him. John 15 clearly shows we need to be part of the vine, for without Him, we can do nothing, we have no lasting fruit to show. Jesus withdrew often to hear His Father because He needed to listen to Him. We need to be more like Jesus.
B. Barnabas Teams up with Saul
1. (11:19-24) Due to the persecutions Saul oversaw, the Jewish Christians were scattered to locations as far away as Antioch (300 miles from Jerusalem) and Cyprus (200 miles). (Distances – Jerusalem to Damascus – 133 miles, Jerusalem to Caesarea – 54 miles, Jerusalem to Joppa – 35 miles, Joppa to Caesarea – 35 to 40 miles.) First, the Jews were being shared the gospel. Then the Christians began to tell the good news to the Greeks. This occurred after Peter’s experience with Cornelius. Many Greeks began becoming believers. (One mile equals 1.62 kilometers)
Barnabas took Saul under his wing and matured Saul in his walk and ministry. Who is someone helping you develop and who are you developing?
In what areas do you mentor someone?
2. News of the conversions reached the church in Jerusalem, so the leaders sent Barnabas to check things out in Antioch. A great deal was happening. He saw evidences of the grace of God and encouraged the new believers. Barnabas was a good man, filled with the Spirit and was used greatly to reach more for Christ.
3. (11:25-26) For some time Saul was in Tarsus and Barnabas needed help with the ministry, so he sought after Saul. Tarsus was also not too far from Antioch, so going to find Saul was not a long journey. Barnabas brought Saul back to Antioch. I am sure Saul had a good ministry going on in Tarsus but left that to be obedient to God’s leading.
The Antioch disciples were called “Little Christs” or Christians for the first time. How do you and I represent Christ? What example do we give of Christ in our lives?
4. For a whole year, the two of them ministered together. Barnabas was mentoring Saul. Saul was being grounded in the faith, developed in ways that can only occur when someone disciples/mentors you. They taught and discipled a great number of people. Here was the first place where Christians were called Christians, or “Little Christs.”
5. (11:27-30) Some prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Prophetically speaking, Agabus predicted a severe famine would spread over all of the Roman world. The disciples (Christians) gave a love offering to help with the Christians in Judea. The offering was gathered up and Barnabas and Saul were commissioned to take this offering to them. It is interesting that the church was strong enough to release Barnabas and Saul, plus the maturity to be a giving church that way.
What effect did James’ death and Peter’s miraculous release from prison have on Saul?
How do you view God’s sovereignty? Is it a comfort to you, or does it frighten you?
6. (12:1-24) Herod began persecutions again, first killing James (son of Thunder) and imprisoned Peter. Barnabas and Saul had to be in Jerusalem during this time and knew what was going on. Perhaps they were even at the prayer meeting held at Mary’s home (John Mark’s mom) when Peter showed up as a result of the miraculous escape from prison. Though Herod died shortly after this, the second wave of persecution was occurring and caused believers to scatter as the Word continued to increase and spread.
7. (12:25) Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch, completing their mission of benevolence, plus they brought John Mark, Barnabas’ nephew, along. Between the famine and persecution, disciples were going in many directions. Barnabas and Saul saw the sovereignty of God working with Peter being released by an angel, but also the tragedy and reality of serving God with James being killed. God was certainly preparing them for what would lie ahead on the spiritual journeys. Saul had to take this all in and solidify his obedience even more. Whatever he did in life, he did it to the best of his abilities and did not concern himself with the outcome – that was God’s responsibility.
IV. First Missionary Journey (Acts 13-14)
A. Antioch Church (13:1-3)
1. The understanding is that Saul was at this church for four years. Definitely at the Antioch church. Saul ministered with and to Gentile Christians, plus the non-believing Gentiles. It would make sense that here would be the first place believers were called Christians, for being among more Gentiles, there was not the degree of Jewish background and influence. Thus a more obvious difference in life and culture.
If the Antioch church was going to have a cross-cultural impact, why was it necessary to have a multicultural leadership team? Does your church have such a vision?
When people observe you and your church, do they see “little Christs?”
2. At Antioch they had a multicultural gathering and an assortment of gifts. They had prophets and teachers (that is why when Agabus came in an earlier chapter, the church readily accepted his prophecy). This church was home to the foreign missionary movement. Their leadership exhibited a foreign flavor. They had Barnabas and Saul, plus Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, which is a city in Libya, and Manaen who was brought up in Herod’s court as his foster brother. Simeon was called the “black man.” Both Simeon and Lucius were from Africa. What a multicultural church they had in Antioch. So Manaen and Lucius, perhaps Simeon, had non-Jewish backgrounds. Thus the church was a melting pot to promote and develop a cross-cultural ministry. The atmosphere was right for Saul to become engrossed in Gentile ministry.
How do you feel about the idea that a healthy, growing church has an outward focus on reaching out to the lost? Should a church have a missions emphasis? Why?
How do you (and your church) promote and encourage missions, whether it be in your city or other countries?
Why is it wise to send people out in missions in teams of at least two?
3. (13:2-3) The church was praying and fasting, worshipping the Lord, prophetically, the Holy Spirit said to set apart Barnabas and Saul for he work they were called. Finally the release from God to go into the Gentile world. The church commissioned them, as they laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them off. The church of Antioch was the sending church, the home church. This church became the church that sent out leaders and it was not solo expeditions, rather the leaders went out in at least pairs (Saul and Barnabas; Judas, Silas and Paul; Barnabas and Mark; Timothy, Paul and Silas; Paul, Aquila and Priscilla; Timothy and Erastus). The Antioch church was committed to global impact, busy raising up leaders to become international change agents. Jerusalem ceased to be the center of God’s activity. It actually became a needy church, needing the help of Asian and Greek churches. Antioch thrived because of its outward focus and vision to send out leaders.
The Antioch church was the first place where traditions were not taught with the gospel, like at the Jerusalem church. Gentile believers were actually teaching Jewish believers.
B. Cyprus (Acts 13:4-12)
1. Holy Spirit’s role. It needs to be noted that not only did the Holy Spirit lead the Antioch church to lay hands on Barnabas and Saul in setting them apart for these missionary journeys. The Holy Spirit guided the men all along the way. Barnabas and Saul were filled, controlled by the Spirit. They were totally sensitive to His leading and were obedient to that leading. Barnabas and Saul were spending time praying (talking and listening to God), worshipping, fasting, and reading the Old Testament. They slowed down their lives to be in touch with their heavenly Father.
Why would it be the normal process in preaching to begin at the synagogue?
What role and activities did John Mark participate in?
2. Salamis (13:4-5) From Antioch in Syria, Barnabas and Saul went to the coastal city of Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus, landing at Salamis. Their preaching point was the Jewish synagogue which was very normal to begin the preaching opportunities there. Jewish believers and non-believers, plus God-fearing Gentiles, would show up to learn about God. The synagogue was church and was the center of activity for God-fearing people. Go to where the people are at.
How do you become controlled, yielded or filled by the Holy Spirit?
How obedient are you to the Spirit’s leading?
How do you hear or sense the Holy Spirit speaking to you?
3. John Mark joined Barnabas and Saul at the beginning of this journey. He was their helper and discipled by both men. John Mark has now been with the two men for several years. Any time we are involved in ministry, we should try to involve others, especially to disciple and/or mentor.
What kind of boldness and courage does it take to do what Paul did?
Why did the Spirit have Paul perform this miracle, for he could have told Elymas that his power was rendered useless?
Are we willing to be used by God for great work? How great is your faith in God?
Would Sergius Paulus have believed in Jesus without this miracle? Why don’t miracles like this occur all the time?
4. Paphos on the island of Cyprus (13:6-12) Barnabas and Saul traveled across the island to the city of Paphos. There they encountered a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet, Bar-Jesus (Son of Jesus). His name was actually Elymas, the sorcerer. He was the attendant, helper to the proconsul from Rome, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul was very intelligent and obviously had power in that area. Sergius Paulus requested that Barnabas and Saul come to him to share the word of God. (It was common for such leaders to keep private sorcerers.) Now Elymas opposed them because he was speaking for Satan and tried to turn the proconsul away from faith. Paul, filled with the Spirit, looked Elymas straight in the eye with spiritual boldness and courage and said he was a child of the devil and an enemy of Jesus Christ. He was full of tricks and deceit, always perverting the right ways of the Lord. The Lord’s hand was going against him and he was blinded. Immediately Elymas was stricken and could not function on his own. Sergius Paulus saw all this and believed in Christ, amazed about the teaching of the Lord.
Why was Saul’s name changed to Paul? What does Paul’s name mean?
Why is it important for the visionary to be a team player?
What is vision? What qualities should a visionary have in order to be successful?
Vision is from God, plans are man-made. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Has God laid a vision on your heart? What is it? Do you feel you are ready to carry it out? What do you need to do to carry it out?
5. Name change. (13:9) Saul’s name was changed to Paul, meaning “little.” The other feature is, from now on, his name is mentioned first. He takes the leadership role. Barnabas has the supportive role of the pair. We remember that Paul was commissioned to be the missionary to the Gentiles. We do not read that commission for Barnabas. The vision to reach the Gentiles flowed through Paul. The power of the Lord’s leading flowed through Paul. In Kingdom leadership it is necessary to understand to whom the vision was given. Yet the paradox is, if the vision is from God, it is bigger than the individual person whom God is leading. This is a humbling process to share the vision and know that a team is needed to accomplish the vision. The way to accomplish the vision may turn out totally different from the original plans of the visionary, because vision is from God, plans are man-made. So having others involved can create friction and conflict because if the visionary says his way is the only way to accomplish the vision, team members may quickly feel they have no input into the process and do not want to be simply robots or “yes” people. Thus the power the visionary has can enhance or crumble the vision. Being humble, the visionary knows that he/she cannot accomplish this vision alone and invites others to join the journey. My guess is Paul, having the vision, invited input from his trusted companions, who were his team and though he did not always agree with plan ideas, sought direction from his companions (we know this as we see and read how some of his mentees performed – Timothy, Titus, Silas, Luke, etc.). As for his name meaning “little,” that could have been to remind him who he was in Christ and he was personally representing Christ in proclaiming the gospel. It could be also, that Paul was a short person in physical stature, but his personality was dominant. That personality was needed in order to accomplish what he would experience the next years. Many people would have given up with all that Paul had to go through (2 Corinthians 11).
Why is it important to learn to work with people of different personalities than you? Do you know your personality type?
In ministry, God emphasizes the Body of Christ working together. What are your strengths and abilities? How do those strengths help when working with others in a team?
Who do you not get along with? If you begin to understand the other person’s gifts and strengths, can you work with that person? What do you need to do to change?
C. Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:13-51)
1. John Mark leaves. (v. 13) From Paphos, Paul, Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Perga in the Pamphylia region. At that seaport, John Mark decided to leave the ministry team. We are never given really any reasons for his leaving. What we do know, he became the point that caused Paul and Barnabas to split. The leadership roles had changed in the previous city of Paphos. John Mark had agreed to join the team when Barnabas was still the point leader. Barnabas’ and Paul’s styles of leadership were different because their personalities were also quite different. Paul was more of a dominant type while Barnabas was loyal and more of a people person. Paul would be the general of the army and Barnabas would be his loyal assistant who encouraged the troops to be faithful to General Paul. Thus the change in leadership and the fact that John Mark was much more loyal to Barnabas because they were related, may have been determining factors in Mark’s decision. His maturity was still a work in progress, so he could have acted more on emotions than the stability to learn how to work with someone different in personality. Paul accused John Mark of lacking courage and commitment. (Acts 15:37-38)
2. On to Pisidian Antioch. (v. 14-51)
a. (v. 14) On the first Sabbath they were there, Paul and Barnabas began their normal way of entering a new city, by making the synagogue their first stop to proclaim the gospel. There they would encounter God-fearing Jews and Gentiles, plus men who knew the Old Testament. They were giving the Jews an opportunity to hear the gospel before moving on to the Gentiles. It also was the custom to go to the synagogue and speak about the Old Testament. This was the place to do this.
b. (v. 15) The synagogue rulers saw that some new people had joined them that Sabbath and gave the newcomers an opportunity to give a word of encouragement. This was customary – to invite visiting rabbis to speak (to give the sermon), so Paul and Barnabas usually had an open door when they went to the synagogue, that is, until they spoke about Jesus. Recall that Jesus in Luke 4:14-30 entered the synagogue in Nazareth and there read from Isaiah 61:12 and indicated that the scripture was fulfilled.
Why did Paul and Barnabas begin their ministry in a new city by first starting at the synagogue?
Why did Paul begin his message with a history of Israel?
Why emphasize David in the history of Israel?
How well do you pursue after God? How are you getting to know Him better every day?
c. (v. 16-22) Paul took the opportunity to preach. He gave a history of the Jewish people first of all. He laid a common basis, foundation in the process of sharing about Christ. He took what the people knew and understood in order to let them see where Jesus fit in and what their response should be. He went from the time of Abraham, through the time in Egypt and the wilderness, to King Saul and David. Paul emphasized that David was a man after God’s own heart, as David would be obedient to God’s leading. The blood line of Jesus went through David, but that is not why David was a focal point in Israel’s history. It was his heart!
d. (v. 23-25) Through David’s seed/descendants, the Savior Jesus was brought as promised. John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance to all Israel. “Turn from your sins and believe in the Savior of your sins that is to come,” John would preach. John knew where he fit with his responsibilities in the Kingdom as he humbly said he was not worthy to loosen even Jesus’ sandals. He was speaking as a slave would.
How do you develop a humble heart similar to John’s heart?
What is the connection between the history of Israel and Jesus?
Why did Paul use Old Testament passages to prove Jesus had risen from the dead?
Why is it important to use Scripture when sharing the gospel, or anything in spiritual discussions?
e. (v. 26-31) Paul shared that this salvation message is why they were proclaiming the good news. Jerusalem’s Jews and rulers did not recognize Jesus as Savior, as they condemned Him to death which fulfilled prophecy that is read every Sabbath. They had Pilate execute (crucify) Him, though no charges could be filed against Jesus. But when prophecy in the Old Testament was fulfilled, the Jews took Jesus down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. God raised Jesus from the dead and for many days, was seen by many, including His disciples, as proof He had risen from the dead. These people who saw Him are our witnesses to these events.
f. (v. 32-37) The good news or glad tidings is that promise of salvation was promised to the forefathers. The promise was fulfilled in the present generation, by raising up Jesus. Paul quoted Psalms 2:7 that Jesus is God’s Son. The promise that God would raise Jesus from the dead, never to decay or return to corruption was also shared by Paul, quoting Isaiah 55:3 and Psalms 16:10. Paul’s audience knew the Old Testament and Paul was bridging the prophecies with Jesus fulfilling those prophecies. The Holy Spirit uses Scripture to convict, to reveal truth and God Himself (John 16:8-12). David died and his body decayed. He was not the Savior. Jesus, who is the Savior, did not have His body decay because God raised Jesus from the dead, because He is eternal life for us.
In reaching today’s people, what would be focal points or areas you could tie in spiritual truths and understanding?
What do you need to do to get better understanding of Scripture and actual memorizing of Scripture into your life? What areas do you need to apply to your life?
g. (v. 38-41) Paul concluded the sermon by bringing everything said back to Jesus. He is the focal point. Only through Jesus are sins forgiven and only through Him is everyone justified. The law of Moses could not do this. Nothing in Moses’ law justifies. Those who faithfully followed the law had to know what Paul was saying. Keeping the law did not give you the right to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The law pointed out how imperfect they were. Grace did not come through Moses. The people’s lack of belief in the coming Messiah was prophesied in Habakkuk 1:5. Though the Messiah would be proclaimed, that proclamation would fall on deaf ears. Paul focused on David and the Law of Moses, two key components of the Old Testament. All Jews would know what Paul was talking about and these two figures would be some of the first to be preached to the Gentiles interested in the Old Testament.
h. (v. 42-43) Upon leaving the synagogue, Paul and Barnabas were invited back by the Gentiles to speak again the following Sabbath. Throughout the remainder of the first Sabbath and during the week, Paul and Barnabas had a following of Jews and converted Judaism individuals gathered around them who urged these interested souls to pursue grace and allow the grace of God to be what they follow. It is interesting that the Gentiles requested that they return. According to some versions, the Jews left the synagogue and the Gentiles stayed to invite Paul and Barnabas back, yet outside the synagogue during the weeks Jews hung around the two, taking in what Paul had to share about grace.
Why would Gentiles be more excited about having Paul return to preach?
The Jews did not leave Paul and Barnabas alone during the week. Why wait until they were out of the synagogue to show their enthusiasm or interest?
i. (v. 44-45) The next Sabbath arrived and almost the whole city came to hear Paul preach. This made the Jews very envious, jealous and indignant toward Paul and Barnabas. The Jews spoke abusively, contradicting and blaspheming Paul. The Jews did not appreciate that Paul was more popular than they were, plus the message Paul was sharing was just off enough of what they taught that this grace thing would not keep the Gentiles under the rules and regulations set up by Pharisees. Grace meant they were losing control over the subjects.
How does keeping laws versus living under grace cause someone to be under more restrictions?
Which is more freeing, living in grace or under laws?
How would you feel if you knew you were the selected one to receive a very special gift and refused to receive it?
Why did the Jews refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah?
j. (v. 46-48) Paul and Barnabas got very bold (God was giving them the courage needed) and answered that the Jews had the first opportunity to receive the Word of God, but they rejected this grace and actually judge themselves unworthy of eternal life through this rejection. Thus the door has opened to go with this gospel to the Gentiles, which fulfilled another prophecy in Isaiah 49:6. This thrilled the Gentiles and they honored and glorified the Word. Then those who were appointed for eternal life believed. This could be a very strong case for absolute predestination; that, no matter what, because God selected you from before the beginning of time to be among the elected. A slight deviation could be that the person still had to be in a position to want to hear the gospel. This gives the idea that free will is still part of the process.
Why would the Jews incite key people to persecute and expel Paul and Barnabas?
Have you ever treated someone poorly because of a prejudice or religious view? What was it?
k. (v. 49-51) The Word of God spread like wildfire throughout the Pamphylia region. None of this was sitting well or pleased the Jews. Now they were on the outside looking in. The Jews incited, stirred up God-fearing, well-respected women and men of the city (prominent women and chief men [those that possibly sat at the city gates, as Old Testament history describes]) to kick Paul and Barnabas out of their region. So Paul and Barnabas left, shook the dust from their feet in protest and headed for Iconium. Antioch people were persuaded to persecute Paul and Barnabas and kick them out of the city. The Jews hated Paul and Barnabas. They followed what Jesus told the disciples to do if they were not welcomed into a home or city to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom (Matthew 10:14-15). Judgment would come upon that home or city, and what judgment would occur on the despicable cities of Sodom and Gomorrah would be less than those who reject the Word of God. This city of Pisidian Antioch was in trouble! The shaking off the dust symbolized cleansing themselves from the contamination of those who did not worship God. It also showed Jews who rejected the Good News were not part of true Israel, and God does not hold us responsible for others’ decisions.
D. Iconium (13:52-14:6)
1. (v. 13:52) When the disciples left Antioch and headed to Iconium, they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. They were joyous because they were preaching the gospel and they knew the Holy Spirit was guiding them. Whatever results occurred, that was in the hands of God. Their responsibility was to be obedient to His leading. If you keep that in perspective, ministry will be much more joyful.
2. (14:1) First stop in Iconium for Paul and Barnabas was the synagogue, which was their normal pattern. The impact of the preaching was immediately felt and a great number of both Jews and Gentiles (Greeks) believed in the saving grace of the gospel.
3. (14:2-3) The Jews who did not believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned the Gentiles’ minds with lies and false accusations against Paul and Barnabas. That did not discourage Paul and Barnabas for they stayed in Iconium for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord. The Lord confirmed the message of grace being preached by granting miraculous signs and wonders to be through Paul and Barnabas. There are times when you are faithfully carrying out God’s will that He will do amazing things as signs like certain people will become Christians, funds will come from unplanned sources, opportunities will be available that only God could have made happen, or a miraculous healing.
When do you get worried about the results of a ministry activity?
How does God work in your life?
Have you experienced something that only God could have made happen? What was that?
4. (v. 14:4-6) The city was divided. Some sided with the Jews and the others with the apostles. It is interesting that Paul and Barnabas are called apostles here. A violent attempt (plot) was devised by both Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, to mistreat, abuse and stone Paul and Barnabas. The goal was to beat them up really well and hopefully kill them so that could be a lesson to all who had become believers and followers of these two. But in God’s sovereignty, Paul and Barnabas found out about the plot and fled to Lystra and Derbe. God is in control of our lives and He will get His will accomplished. Paul and Barnabas could rest assured that nothing was going to happen in their lives that God did not oversee.
Have you ever had an attempt on your life, or where you were beaten up? When?
With knowing God is in control of our lives, how then should we live?
What kind of spiritual boldness can we develop, knowing the sovereignty of God?
E. Lystra (14:6-20)
1. (14:6-7) Quickly Paul and Barnabas fled Iconium (25 miles/40 kilometers south) because of the plot against their lives. They headed further south to Lystra (and Derbe) where they continued to preach the good news. They knew their mission, their purpose, and nothing was going to stop them. That is why it is so important for all of us to know why we were created and for what purpose we have in life. Knowing this allows us to pursue with excellence and total enthusiasm what God has prepared for us – opportunities and direction to carry out that purpose. We need to know our spiritual gift(s), understand our personality and abilities, experiences and understand what really excites us in life (passion). The Galatians’ letter emphasizes that non-Jews did not need to follow Jewish laws and customs to be saved. In the region of Galatia (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe), Paul encountered this thinking, which prepared him well for the Jerusalem Council meeting in Acts 15.
Do you have a mission statement for your life? What is it?
What is your purpose in life? Why were you created? What opportunities has God given you to live out how you were created?
2. (14:8-10) A crippled man – Paul was speaking at Lystra and a crippled man who was that way from birth was listening intently. Paul noticed him listening and saw that the man had faith to be healed. The man was called out by Paul, who said to stand up. The man’s feet straightened out and he jumped to his feet and walked.. Now, how did Paul see the man had faith to be healed? Paul probably was prompted by the Holy Spirit to notice what was inside the man’s heart. Plus, to go with that, we need to ask to have “blepo” eyes, to see what God sees in a person, what is going on inside by questions asked, by how someone talks of their passion for God, or observing their body language in conversation. We will be prompted at times by the Holy Spirit and need to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in our lives.
What does it mean to have “blepo” eyes?
How do you sense the Holy Spirit leading you?
What do you need to place in the schedule of your life to be able to hear from God?
3. (14:11-13) The local crowd got extremely excited by this, and began to claim that Paul and Barnabas were actually Greek gods in human form, with Paul being Hermes (Mercury), the chief speaker, and Barnabas was Zeus (Jupiter). The priest of Zeus right away brought oxen and flower wreaths, with the intent to sacrifice the animals in honor of the two apostles. The legend was that these two gods had at one time come to the city and were shunned, being offered no hospitality, except by one old couple. The gods killed all the city except this couple. When the miracle occurred, they thought the gods had come back, so they were not going to make the same mistake twice. Thus Paul and Barnabas were quickly treated well.
4. (14:14-18) When Paul and Barnabas realized what the people wanted to do, they were beside themselves. As they ran to the people, they tore their clothes (showed great emotion when you tore your clothes), telling the people they were mere humans, nothing special, and definitely not gods. They came to share the good news about God and Jesus, the creator of all things. He is sovereign enough to let nations go their own way, and yet gave all a testimony of who He is as He has shown kindness by sending rain and allowing the crops to grow. He is the source of food and joyful hearts. Even with saying this, the multitudes still wanted to sacrifice to them. Rain and good crops are evidences of God’s goodness. Romans 1:20 states that nature leaves people without an excuse for not believing in God. The nature in this world shouts out about God’s existence.
How easy is it to fall into the trap of pride and ego when people feel you are doing a wonderful job and they speak praises about you?
What ways help you work at being humble?
What evidences in nature do you see of God’s handiwork?
5. (14:19-20) Within days, the mob from Antioch and Iconium followed Paul and Barnabas to Lystra. These angry Jewish mobsters convinced the Lystra crowds to become murderers. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city. The thought was, Paul was dead. Not so, as the believers got around Paul and he got up and went back into the city. What commitment to Christ, as he went back and continued to preach the Good News. Nothing was going to keep Paul from fulfilling his purpose. The courage and boldness he possessed was extraordinary. He knew he belonged to Christ and was willing to suffer for it.
How do you develop spiritual boldness and courage?
Where did Paul get his source of strength?
Where is your commitment to Christ?
How have you suffered for the cause of Christ?
F. Derbe and return (14:20-28)
1. (14:20-21) The following day after the stoning, Paul and Barnabas headed to Derbe (about 50 miles/80 kilometers) from Lystra. They spent some time in Derbe preaching and saw many come to Christ. They discipled the converts, established elders and got the Derbe church going well.
2. (14:21-25) Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps by heading back through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. Despite dealing with angry Jews, Paul and Barnabas diligently established the churches in these cities. These two mentored and discipled believers and accomplished several things spiritually.
a. They strengthened the believers by teaching them the Word, praying, talking about Jesus and how to grow spiritually.
b. Encouraged the new believers to keep focused on Jesus because many hardships and tribulations would come here on earth before entering heaven. Expect that and stay focused. It was not convenient or nice for Jesus to go to the cross.
c. Appointed elders in each of the churches to organize the leadership. These leaders would help the believers grow and be led by the Spirit. This was no simple task; great spiritual insight (prayer and fasting) was required. If the leadership failed, the church would fail. Being a spiritual leader is not a responsibility to take lightly. Pursue knowing God in your life to develop you into a spiritual leader.
d. From Antioch, they traveled south to the Pamphylia region, where they preach in Perga and on to Attalia.
Why was it important to travel back to the cities Paul had preached in?
How do you encourage new believers?
Who is God laying on your heart to strengthen and mentor?
Why is establishing the spiritual leadership in each city a requirement?
What would you teach to establish spiritual leaders?
3. (14:26-28) They got on a ship at Attalia and sailed back to Seleucia, then on to Antioch. Returning to the Antioch church, Paul and Barnabas gave a report of all they had done, as God opened doors, including to the Gentiles. For a long time, they stayed at the church that had committed them to the work which now was completed.
This showed Paul and Barnabas being willing to be accountable to the church that sent them. It is easy to balk at accountability, especially as you develop and become more influential. That is when you need it more than ever. Believers need to realize we work together as a team and that is where accountability sets in.
Why do we need to hold each other accountable, especially on a team?
Who holds you accountable? If you don’t have someone, why not?
4. It is estimated that this journey covered 1500 miles (2400 km) and lasted about two years. People theorize that Paul wrote Galatians while he was there in Antioch (A.D. 48-49). Most feel he was writing to the churches in Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. In the letter the question of whether Gentiles should be required to follow Jewish law was not yet resolved. Acts 15 council met to solve that problem.
V. Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-35)
A. Cultural teaching (15:1-5)
Some Jewish Christians came to Antioch and taught a prerequisite to salvation was following the Jewish law of circumcision. These Gentile Christians had to adhere to Moses’ law. Jewish Christians were worried that soon there would be more Gentile Christians than them. Thus, the moral standards among believers would be weakened if less people would be following Jewish law. Old Testament law was important to Paul and Barnabas, but was in no way to be considered part of the salvation experience. Grace would mean basically nothing.
This obviously caused Paul and Barnabas to be irate. So they were appointed, with some other believers, to go to Jerusalem to settle this question – should Gentile believers obey the law of Moses to be saved and have the requirement of circumcision be the outward sign? Gentiles would be forced to convert to Judaism and be circumcised. This would confine Christianity to be a sect of Judaism.
So Paul and company traveled to Jerusalem and were warmly welcomed by the church and apostles. It was Pharisees who had become believers who were the force behind the desire that all believers be circumcised and follow Moses’ law.
What rules and regulations do you want to place on other Christians to make sure they are being good “Christians?”
In what ways do we act like Pharisees toward other Christians and non-Christians?
What cultural traditions do you follow that give the impression of obeying God?
B. Council Discussions (15:6-35)
1. The council sought the truth right away. What were the facts in this? Great discussion and disagreement resulted. This was a heated issue because it dealt with tradition, strong-held beliefs that people used Scripture to back up their arguments, and the emotions of people. You hold to something for so long, it is hard to separate emotion from fact.
2. (vv. 7-11) Peter was the first to address the group, and rightly so, because of his encounters with dreams and the Gentiles. He was one of the main leaders of the “old school,” from tradition and history. Yokes can create great problems and greatly reduce the main theological issue – grace and grace alone. Peter had to comment; otherwise, the Jewish Christians would have listened to no one else. Peter was part of them, and his voice and judgment carried an enormous amount of weight and influence in the Jewish Christians.
Who in your sphere of influence carries a great deal of influence in your church and those who minister with you?
How do you involve the person in guiding the church?
3. (v. 12) Barnabas and Paul got up after Peter and clearly articulated what God had been doing among the Gentiles. The whole assembly was very quiet as they listened to these accounts. Peter probably gave more of the theological discussion, whereas Paul shared more of the experiential.
4. (vv. 13-21) James (half-brother of Jesus?) followed and summarized especially what Peter shared. Peter commanded the greatest respect and truth in this situation because of his place in the church and experience. He was probably one of the elder statesmen and his years of walking with Jesus, and how God had used him to minister gave him the absolute right to communicate. James fed off of Peter’s statements and gave prophecy from Amos 9:L11-12 about the Gentiles. Thus, James must have been the one to oversee, preside over this council.
Don’t make it difficult by adding extra (yokes) to the gospel. By way of respecting the Jewish tradition, please abstain from food sacrificed to idols, stay away from sexual immorality, don’t eat meat of animals that were strangled, as the blood had not been properly removed, and don’t drink the blood. These all related to pagan practices, and for fellowship proposed with Jewish Christians, restrain from such activities when with Jewish believers. Paul wrote in Romans 14:1 and I Cor. 8:1 to restrict one’s liberty when it is offensive to a weaker brother. Make others more important than you.
Gentile Christians also had to realize their rituals of paganism could not be part of the salvation experience, thus what James said about abstaining from certain meats and foods were also to lay aside former activities.
THE FIRST CHURCH COUNCIL
Group Position Reasons
Judaizers Gentiles must become 1. They were devout, practicing Jews who
(some Jewish Jewish first to be eligible found it difficult to set aside a tradition of
Christians) for salvation gaining merit with God by keeping the law.
2. They thought grace was too easy for the
3. They were afraid of seeming too non-
Jewish in the practice of their new faith –
which could lead to death.
4. The demands on the Gentiles were a way
of maintaining control and authority in the
Gentile Faith in Christ as Savior 1. To submit to Jewish demands would be
Christians is the only requirement to doubt what God had already done for
for salvation. them by grace alone.
2. They resisted exchanging their pagan
rituals for a system of Jewish rituals –
neither of which had power to save.
3. They sought to obey Christ by baptism
(rather than by circumcision) as a sign of
their new faith.
Peter and Faith is the only 1. They tried to distinguish between what
James requirement, but there was true from God’s Word and what was
must be evidence of just human tradition.
change by rejecting the 2. They had Christ’s command to preach to
old life-style. all the world.
3. They wanted to preserve unity.
4. They saw that Christianity could never
survive as just a sect within Judaism.
Why should we be considerate with other believers? Why should we not exercise our liberty in Christ when it is offensive by what we are doing?
What activities do we do that can be offensive to other Christians?
How do you show spiritual maturity when you restrain from being involved in certain activities offensive to others?
5. (vv. 22-35)
a. The Jerusalem Council sent delegates with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch to report on their decision. James was an elder who was leading and managing the church. So, with the apostles, the elders chose Silas and Judas Barsabbas. With the delegation, they took a letter from the Council and directed to the Gentile believers.
b. (vv. 24-29) The letter reiterated what was decided in Jerusalem. It was simple, but clear, emphasizing the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance. The tone of the letter was uplifting and encouraging. The attitude built up the believers and did not indicate a looking down upon the Gentile believers. The requirements, or necessary things, were issues of culture and be submitting to one another; the Gentile believers would want to lay aside such practices for the sake of the Jewish brothers and sisters. If believers would only lay aside non-essentials of salvation and focus on what the common bond of Christ and salvation brings, thus promoting unity. For example, there was nothing wrong with eating meat offered for idol worship (as Paul states) but it was a difficult issue for Jewish Christians who were raised in the environment that eating meat offered to idols was wrong, because of the Levitical law, and staying separate from pagan practices.
c. (vv. 30-31) Great joy resulted from the letter and the delegation coming to Antioch. This joy was a result of seeking wise counsel, leading of the Holy Spirit and using the Word of God as the absolute standard. They all agreed to abide by the decision. Can we create unity with the Body by following this example?
d. (vv. 32-35) Judas and Silas were prophets also, so they stayed for some time and preached. Finally they left, or at least Judas left with greetings from the church in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas staying in Antioch continuing the ministry there. Antioch had to be the discipleship center for Gentile Christians. Paul probably had what we consider a Bible Institute there. Paul and Barnabas were constantly developing people; they were increasing the spiritual labor force. Wherever you are, as a spiritual leader, it is your responsibility to do the same.
What cultural differences today could impede the speed of the gospel?
How do you resolve conflict when it comes to Biblical and non-Biblical issues?
What Biblical issues divide the Body today? How can we resolve them?
What role does the Holy Spirit play in these issues and how should He direct us specifically in the issue you are thinking about?
When and where will the joy come in this dispute?
VI. Confrontation Between Paul and Peter (Galatians 2)
A. Background (2:1-10)
1. The first ten verses seem to point the Jerusalem Council; that 14 years after being in Jerusalem, Paul returned. That initial visit was Paul’s first exposure to Peter, from Acts 9:26-30. Now Paul joined Barnabas and took along Titus, a Gentile who had a vested interest in the Council’s decision, as he was not circumcised.
2. Some false Christians had stirred up the Christian ranks by saying you had to follow Jewish tradition to be saved, which Paul vehemently rejected. So the Council occurred and Paul was accepted by the church leaders who saw the call (responsibility) upon Paul’s life to preach to the Gentiles specifically. Peter, John and James accepted Paul’s ministry and encouraged him and his team to keep pressing on. Remember the poor to help them was the only exhortation given.
The Law of Solid Ground: How Leaders Gain Trust (Galatians 2:1-10)
It seems Paul constantly had to defend his leadership with some churches. He felt compelled to proclaim his trustworthiness with the churches in both Corinth and Galatia. He earned their trust by. . .
1. Investing his time in learning from God (v. 1).
2. Associating with a trusted leader (v. 1).
3. Submitting to respected leaders and sharing his journey (v. 2).
4. Asserting that even the leaders didn’t correct his team (vv 3, 6).
5. Standing up to those who opposed God’s truth (vv. 4, 5).
6. Putting no confidence in people’s infallibility, but trusting in God (v. 6).
7. Affirming that even the leaders fully endorse him (vv. 7-8).
8. Cooperating with the present leaders and honoring their requests (v. 10).
B. Confronting the issue (2:11-16)
1. Fast forward in time, highly likely after the Jerusalem Council and before Paul’s second missionary journey. Peter came to Antioch and began eating and fellowshipping with Gentile Christians. When Jewish friends of James showed up, Peter wouldn’t eat any more with the Gentiles, because of what the legalists would say. They were of the circumcision group! Peter was driven by fear of people, which would help explain his personality, for he didn’t want to lose any friends and would give in to pressure to “preserve” friendships.
2. Other leaders joined Peter in bowing to peer pressure. Barnabas was also led astray in this hypocrisy, too. As leaders, we have to be very careful of our actions, and if we are wishy-washy or unstable (James 1:6-8), others will have the urge and desire to also be unstable. Know why you believe something and stick to it. Peter probably thought that by staying away from the Gentiles, he was promoting harmony, not offending James and other Jewish Christians. By his actions, Peter was promoting that Christ was not sufficient for salvation.
We need to be willing to compromise and work together when Biblical truth is not the issue. When that truth is the issue, there is no compromising, even if we lose face with those who oppose us.
Why is it dangerous for a Christian leader to go astray?
How do we keep from going astray, keep from doing activities or saying things that are not totally Biblical?
Who holds you accountable?
In what areas of your life do you sometimes feel you are above others and more important than others?
3. Paul publicly opposed Peter. He did not avoid the issue, gossip to others about what Peter was doing, write letters (or emails) to other leaders. He simply took the Biblical truth right to Peter’s face, and asked how Peter’s actions backed up what Scripture says – salvation comes by faith in Christ alone, and any Jewish tradition or ritual has nothing to do with salvation. Jews and Gentiles alike are saved by the blood of Christ and faith in Christ.
Paul did not beat around the bush, took the Biblical facts to Peter and had Peter size up his life to the truth. When we leaders make mistakes, we need other trusted believers to hold us accountable. No one is higher than Scripture and no one is more important than anyone else. Directly approach the conflict in a loving, humble way and seek to restore or develop the relationship. There are times you can’t, and other times, Christians will reject what you are presenting to them. We are responsible to that person, not for that person.
Why do you believe the Scriptures to be truth? Are the Scriptures the absolute truth in your life?
What is the process or steps Paul takes in confronting Peter? How much do you enjoy confronting others?
Is there a group of people that have the right to hold you accountable? If not, why not?
What would have happened if Paul would not have confronted Peter?
What role did and does the Old Testament law play in Christianity (vv. 17-21)?
4. Confrontation: Paul Exhibits Integrity with Peter (Galatians 2:11-21) The Maxwell Bible
Paul’s integrity drove him to stand up to Peter, his fellow leader, in front of several Jewish and Gentile believers. He criticized Peter’s hypocrisy and demanded that all Christian leaders remain consistent, regardless of the company they keep. Paul teaches us how to critique someone. Consider this checklist:
1. Check your motive. Your goal should be to help, not humiliate.
2. Make sure the issue is worthy of criticism. Does it really matter?
3. Be specific. Don’t drop hints, but clearly name the problem.
4. Don’t undermine the person’s self-confidence or identity. Make it obvious that you value the person.
5. Don’t compare people. Use realistic standards to measure conduct.
6. Be creative or don’t criticize. Find ways to reach a solution.
7. Don’t attack the person. Critique the problem, not the person.
8. Do not postpone needed criticism. If the issue is big, act now.
9. Look at yourself looking at others. Take the log out of your own eye.
10. End criticism with encouragement. Finish on a positive note.
Are there any issues facing your church or you that need to be dealt with before there is more damage? What would those issues?
What process should we follow when confronting people?
Why is it so important to try to restore the relationships when conflicts arise
(2 Corinthians 5:17-21; John 17:20, 21)?
VII. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36 – 18:22)
A. The Team Separates (15:36-40)
1. About three years after completing the first journey, Paul wanted to revisit the churches that they had established on the first journey. Barnabas was in agreement with this idea and so made plans with Paul to head out.
2. The major problem between Paul and Barnabas came when Barnabas said he wanted to take John Mark along again. Paul was in sharp disagreement for that to happen. It was unwise, because John Mark had deserted the team on the first trip in Pamphylia, shortly after landing from Cyprus. He had been involved in very little of the work on that first trip.
Now we do not know all of Paul’s arguments against taking John Mark, but they were severe enough that Paul and Barnabas could not come to a solution or agreement on John Mark, and the team broke up. John Mark was related to Barnabas and Barnabas was a people person. He was quick to forgive, faster to see the positive aspects of a person and dwell on them. Barnabas’ nature was to encourage, high on praise and be praised, hated rejection and was loyal. He was warm, empathetic, good people/problem solver, was understanding, approachable, good listener, but was probably over-tolerant with non-producers and sometimes lost sight of the task because he was so concerned with the people. Barnabas was a counselor. Paul desired accomplishment and perfection, had aggressiveness tempered by sensitivity, and sometimes projected coolness toward people and aloofness. He was creative, a confronter. He was innovative and decisive and had little tolerance for those that struggled with his authoritative role.
With John Mark, he had abandoned Paul and Barnabas for whatever reason(s) on the first journey. It could have been the change in authority from Barnabas to Paul on that journey. John Mark probably was more comfortable with Barnabas. Maybe he had gotten sick, his youthfulness, or just had not matured enough spiritually to stick with a commitment, no matter the cost.
Most likely a minimum of four years had passed, and John Mark had matured and developed some. He probably had been exposed to Paul and Barnabas’ training in Antioch. Yet Paul would not hear of any sympathetic plea to involve John Mark again. Yes, John had matured a bit, but he still was the one who abandoned the team and you can’t trust him (yet). Paul’s personality included a fault of having a harder time than normal to forgive.
So, was it God’s will for Paul and Barnabas to separate? The story is in Scripture and they both continued to have great careers, but that does not automatically mean it was God’s will. We don’t read of Barnabas again in Acts, which is not necessarily an argument that it was not God’s will. Obviously, John Mark continued to develop as Paul utilizes him later in Paul’s life, as one of Paul’s helpers (Colossians 4:10). The separation of Paul and Barnabas created two mission endeavors, instead of one.
God does work through conflict and disagreement between people. Christians do not always agree. Problems can be solved by agreeing to disagree, and let God work His will. Paul was the leader and focal point of the next surge of God’s work, as Paul had been given the vision.
What personality conflicts could result between Paul and Barnabas?
Did they handle this conflict over John Mark correctly?
What are arguments, both for and against taking John Mark?
Was it God’s will to not take John Mark, and that Barnabas and Paul separate?
Describe both Paul and Barnabas. Who in your church is similar in personality to them?
In any case, Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus, while Paul recruited Silas who had come along from Jerusalem after the Council met and was heavily used in the Antioch church as a result. The church sent them, entrusting them to God’s grace.
God will use situations that arise between believers to still accomplish His will, even if we say no to God over an opportunity to be involved in a ministry opportunity. God will still accomplish His will in that situation, but we may have lost out on a blessing God was offering through that service. Never think that we are indispensable to God.
Even if Barnabas stayed with Paul, Silas could have been asked to join their team. It is obvious that Silas was doing a great work among the Christians in Antioch, so Paul probably had thought about involving Silas somewhat.
Did it really matter who Paul’s partners were?
Was it a mistake on the first journey to take John Mark along, partly because he was related to Barnabas and very young?
How many chances/opportunities do you give someone?
How mature should a person be to get him/her involved in ministry?
Did Paul and Barnabas eventually reconcile their relationship, yet still agree to disagree? Remember 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.
B. Timothy Joins Paul (15:41 – 16:5)
1. (15:41 – 16:1) Paul and Silas took off traveling on land to Tarsus, Derbe and Lystra in the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
2. At Lystra, they met Timothy (again), who was a young disciple in the faith. His mother Eunice and grandmother Lois had become Jewish believers and faithfully influenced Timothy to grow in his faith
(2 Timothy 1:5). His father was a Greek and not a believer. Timothy was young age-wise, and had not been circumcised, which Paul arranged to have done.
3. (16:2-3) Eunice and Lois must have done a great job discipling Timothy, for he had a very good reputation and was well-thought-of by the believers in both Lystra and Iconium (which was close to a day’s walk away). Timothy was quiet, probably not overly strong, and shy. He had good Bible content and was serving the Lord in his area. Paul saw the potential in Timothy and had him join the team. Plus, to eliminate any controversy, Timothy was circumcised, seeing that it did not occur in the home where Timothy was raised (Dad was Greek). Paul chose to mentor Timothy because he saw the potential!
What do you look for in spiritual leaders?
How do you think Eunice and Lois raised Timothy?
Who is a young person who is a believer and shows great potential? Work with him/her.
Why did Paul have Timothy circumcised? Was that right or wrong?
4. (16:4-5) As Paul and the team traveled through the cities where they had established churches on the first missionary journey, they told the believers to follow the commandments that were to be obeyed as decided by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Timothy had agreed to be circumcised, even though the decrees by the Jerusalem Council included the issue of not needing to be circumcised to be saved. Timothy was circumcised so it took any argument away from Jewish believers, because Timothy was being put in a leadership role with being with Paul.
When we are spiritual leaders, we need to go beyond the call of duty to further the Kingdom of God. We become less of pushing our agenda and more of serving the people and their needs. It means to not allow our theology to get in the way of our ministry. We never compromise the absolutes of Gospel, but become less argumentative and headstrong on things that allow agreeing to disagree.
As a result of Paul team’s ministry, the churches grew stronger and increased in new converts daily. Being servants for Christ made a great difference!
How did Timothy show humility and servanthood when he got circumcised?
How can you show servant attitudes to the people to whom you minister?
a. Found in Acts 15:22 – 19:10. He is also mentioned in 2 Cor. 1:19, I Thess. 1:1, 2Thess. 1:1, and I Peter 5:12.
b. His name means wood and that implies he was a Hellenistic Jew. He was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37). He is also indicated as a prophet (Acts 15:32) as he was a delegate at the Jerusalem Council and joined Paul and Barnabas back in Antioch to let people know what had occurred with the Council.
c. Silas had to have impressed Paul quickly, as he chose Silas to take over for Barnabas when the pair separated. He had to be stable, a strong believer and one who could encourage and direct the young churches. He was a good teacher, as you get that understanding in the last of part of Acts 15 and 2 Cor. 1:19.
d. Silas was beaten, bloodied, hungry and unjustly imprisoned (Acts 16:25), but was willing to go through all that for the sake of the Gospel, as Paul and Silas both sang praises to God. He was willing to rejoice in suffering for Christ, as Paul talks about in Colossians 1:24.
Is there something God is leading you to do through obedience, where you are giving up security? Are you willing to be obedient to God’s leading?
e. In helping establish the Thessalonian churches, he joined Paul, assisting him in writing those letters, and also Peter in writing his letter (I Peter 5:12). Silas was a steady, clear influence for many years in the early church movement. He was willing to be obedient to God, even if that meant giving up what made him feel secure. He served God faithfully, though not flashy but effective. He probably was a very quality complement to Paul on the missionary journey.
C. To Macedonia – the Spirit says (16:6-10)
1. (16:6-8) Leaving Iconium, Paul and Silas headed through the Phrygia and Galatia regions because they didn’t sense the Holy Spirit directing them to go to Asia. They kept doing what they knew, going in the direction originally set. Next, at the border of Mysia, they headed into the province of Bithynia (all these areas are in Turkey) and ended up at Troas. Not once during this time did the Holy Spirit lead them to head deeper into Asia (further into Turkey in an easterly direction, or southwest toward Ephesus).
2. (16:9-10) While sleeping one night in Troas, Paul had a dream/vision and saw a Macedonian man from northern Greece, begging/pleading with Paul to come to Macedonia to help his people. Immediately after that vision, Paul and the team prepared to head to Macedonia via ship, concluding that God had called them there to preach the Gospel.
How sensitive was Paul to the leading of the Holy Spirit?
How do you discern the leading of the Holy Spirit?
Where was the priority of spending time with God through prayer and meditating on the Old Testament and his encounters with Jesus in Paul’s life?
How do you hear God?
3. Heavy doses of the Holy Spirit in this passage. We are not told in verses 6-8 how Paul and the team had discerned the leading of the Holy Spirit. Possibly a prophet, a vision, an inner conviction or something else (circumstance) had given them direction. Hearing God’s voice is not a clear-cut, follow a couple of simple steps and suddenly you know God’s will. Key for any spiritual leader is an attentive listening ear to God. This means the pursuit of knowing God better as time goes on. We need to place time in our lives to intentionally listen to God through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
There are a number of ways to discern God’s leading, many times a combination of the following:
a. Prayer – both talking, asking for direction, and listening, being still to be able to hear God’s leading – the prompting of the Holy Spirit with your spirit. You can pray for God to open doors, and also close them as He desires. The Holy Spirit will guide us to not only knowing what to do and where to go, but also what not to do and where not to go.
“Prayerless leaders are like ship captains without compasses – they can make their best guess at which direction to go, but have no assurance they are heading the right way.” pg 180, Spiritual Leadership, Henry Blackaby
b Spend time in the Word, making sure your plans are in harmony with the whole counsel of God’s Word. There are many passages that show and discuss God’s will for us. Don’t just pick out one verse and say, “This must be God’s will.” Put that verse up against other verses and passages in Scripture to make sure you are not going against God’s will or taking a verse out of context. It is easy to justify your actions by having a verse verify God’s leading, especially when you want the verse to say what you want it to say.
c. Ask other mature Christians for advice and counsel. Be open to what they say and do not keep asking Christians their advice if you are simply trying to find one who will agree with you. Remember vision is from God and plans are man-made, so be open to critique what you feel is God’s will.
d. Be extremely careful of feelings – feeling that it is God’s will! Do not totally rule them out, but be very careful about putting a lot of emphasis on feeling right. The peace of God will enter in, but that is in conjunction with prayer, the Word and the sensing of the Holy Spirit in your life.
e. Circumstances can also help discern direction, but also do not rely on circumstances completely, because they also, like feelings, can be deceiving. There are times when you attempt different routes and they become blocked, not allowing you to move forward. Be sensitive for God may want you to not abandon your plans, but rather change them slightly, or it is not the time yet for such to occur. Perseverance may also be part of it, for if everything occurred with ease, we would quickly forget relying on God.
f. Motives are also to be checked. Am I really seeking what God wants me to do, or is it something you really want to do and feel good and know you are very talented in that area? Motives can give a person false security that you are doing God’s will. Think back to Peter.
g. Results are also not clear indications of God’s will. Sometimes - yes, other times – no. Numbers 20 shows how on earth we can have positive results and at the same time be in total disobedience to God.
How can any of the areas mentioned (a-g) help or hinder discerning God’s leading?
What experiences in your life help give you an indication of the ways God will use to help you discern His leading?
What experiences of others or yourself can you share that shows if you rely on feelings, results or circumstances totally will not be good indications of God’s leading?
What disciplines (the Word, prayer, meditation, fasting, silence, solitude, worship) do you have in your life that help you discern God’s leading?
Who are you able to ask for wise godly counsel? Who holds you accountable?
Be obedient to knowing what God has for you already, and stick with that until God shows you what is next. Make knowing God better each day as your goal and that will be a major component in discerning God’s will for you.
4. “We” (16:10) This is the first time the pronoun “we” has been used in the detailing of Paul’s journeys. Luke, the writer of Acts, joined up with the team somewhere in these areas mentioned, many people feeling he was from Troas. We need to remember, though, that he was a doctor and having a medical professional involved was a huge asset to the team, especially Paul, who could not get rid of the “thorn in his flesh.” So from here on out with Paul’s journeys, we have eyewitness accounts.
D. Finding Lydia and the jailer in Philippi (16:11-40)
1. (16:11-12) Paul and his team left Troas, sailing to the island of Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis, a city in the Macedonian province. The next step in the journey was to Philippi, which was a Roman colony and the leading city in the district of Macedonia. There they stayed for a few very eventful days. Philippi was on the Egnatian Way, a main transportation artery connecting the eastern provinces with Italy. So this city became strategic in the spread of the gospel. Be observant in what God is doing in your life. Ask questions like why this person or why is this door or opportunity opening?
When were there opportunities for you and you saw God do some exciting things?
How did you respond?
2. (16:13-15) The first Sabbath they were in Philippi, the team went outside the city to the riverbank where a prayer meeting was going on. So they sat down with a group of women who had come to pray. The reason for meeting outside the city was a prohibition against bringing unrecognized religion into the city, thus the prayer meeting was held by the river.
A woman named Lydia was among the women praying. She sold purple cloth, which probably made her wealthy. Purple cloth was valuable and expensive. It was worn often as a sign of nobility or royalty! She actually was from Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29). Lydia was also a worshipper of God. The Scriptures say the Lord opened her heart as she listened to Paul and the team preach and she accepted the things Paul was sharing. Lydia, along with members of her household, accepted the gospel and were baptized. The team was then invited to her home. Actually, she begged them to stay, saying that if they felt, believed her to be a believer in the Lord and was proving herself faithful, they had to come and stay. Lydia was persuasive.
Lydia had made up her mind right away that she wanted to be publicly recognized as being identified with Christ and other Christians, so she was baptized. Though her whole household may not have been believers yet, Lydia’s home was now a Christian home.
How involved should women be in the church?
How do you deal with Christians who are either more conservative or liberal in the view of women than you?
What cultural, gender or personal barriers keep you from ministering to certain groups of people?
How do you make your identification to Christ known to people?
3. (16:16-19) One day Paul and the team were headed to the prayer meeting location when a girl who was possessed by an evil spirit (demon) met up with them and started shouting out that Paul and the team were servants of the Most High God and had come to proclaim the gospel, how people can get saved. Finally, after a number of days of this occurring, Paul was very exasperated from her yelling out all that stuff, and he turned to her and commanded the evil spirit to leave her – that in the name of Jesus Christ, the demon was to depart.
Now this created a real problem for the ones who owned her because with the evil spirit, she could do fortune-telling and that was a lucrative business. Without the spirit, this slave girl was useless, plus their steady income was no more, and this greatly angered the slave owners. So the owners grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities who were in the marketplace in front of many people.
Fortune-telling was a common practice in Greek and Roman culture, so it was a “lawful” business for people to own slaves who were demon-possessed and utilizing them for profit. Because the truth about why Paul was in Philippi was being offered by demon-possessed people, there would be a tie between the Good News and demon-related activities. Evil and truth do not mix. Using evil to get or reveal truth is not the Biblical way. Linking Jesus with evil is not right.
What activities in our world could possibly be linked with evil that Christians are involved in?
Why should we as Christians not use evil activities or tactics to accomplish the greater good, to enhance Christianity?
Is lying or stealing wrong in every situation? Why or why not?
4. (16:20-24) The owners of the slave girl told lies and riled up the crowd, complaining that the whole city was in an uproar for teaching customs and activities that were totally opposite from their Roman customs. It could certainly be assumed that these authorities of Philippi were receiving bribes or profit from such owners as this girl’s to allow activity to continue and always look the other way.
Fortune-telling and poor treatment of humans was part of Roman culture. If it brought in profit, why would it not be lawful? Look at abortion, euthanasia, drug involvement, sex slave trade and other forms of slave trade. If money can be made and you have corrupt authorities, things are allowed to occur.
Roman and Greek culture had their moral problems, and ultimately, that is what destroyed their dominance in the world. What is and will destroy America is the decay of morality. God says it in Scripture and history has proven it through the ages, that when you do not have a moral foundation based on absolute truths, the foundation crumbles. That is a key reason why communism has failed in so many parts of the world.
A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas and the city authorities had the two stripped and severely beaten with wooden rods. Then they were thrown into the inner dungeon of the prison. The one in charge of the prison, the jailer, wanted to make sure of no escape, so they were placed in the inner prison and fastened their feet in stocks. Stocks were two boards fastened with iron clamps, with holes just big enough to have ankles put through. Stocks were also used for wrists and the head, but not in this case. Paul and Silas were treated as the worst of criminals, as murderers, but had committed no crime.
Christians, from the beginning until now, have been treated as terribly and harshly as any criminal. People have always had an outcry against Christians and treatment of believers has always been as inhuman as possible. Christ made it clear that if the world hates Him, the followers would also be hated equally – and they crucified Jesus.
Why does the world hate Christians so much?
How have you suffered for Christ?
What struggles do you face as a Christian as you deal with your culture and the lack of Biblical absolutes your culture has?
Why were Paul and Silas treated so harshly?
a. At about midnight in the prison, Paul and Silas were praying and worshipping God by the singing of hymns. Everyone in the prison heard them. Some probably felt these two were crazy, gone insane. Others were comforted. Paul and Silas knew God was in control of their lives and honored God, no matter the circumstances.
Suddenly there was a great violent earthquake, so strong that the foundation of the prison was shaken, so much so the doors flew open and the chains of all the prisoners fell off, or came loose. Now the shaking had to be pretty strong for the shackles and the stocks to be loosened. It is true that during the quake, God could have supernaturally loosened the chains, but I imagine God used the natural forces of nature to cause the damage. The next amazing thing is no prisoners attempted to escape, even though it was pitch black, totally dark inside. Paul and Silas’ worshipping prepared all the prisoners for a God moment and they all had to be in awe and wonderment.
The jailer woke up and, thinking that there had been a prison break, was ready to kill himself, for he was responsible for the prisoners and would be held accountable for any escapees, which meant death. Paul, knowing the Roman law on this, called out to the jailer to assure him no one had escaped.
The jailer got light into the jail and ran in, pleading with Paul and Silas to know what he had to do to be saved. This, too, is amazing because it was the attitude of Paul and Silas that came through in their worshipping God that the jailer would recognize the earth-quake was from God, and no one escaped. He knew that the God of Paul and Silas was the true God. They, in their worship, along with their reputations, had spoken enough of God and Jesus to cause people to face the truth of the Gospel. The jailer risked everything to find the answer
Are you able to worship God in difficult situations? Why or why not?
What kind of attitude do you need to be able to worship in difficult situations?
How were Paul and Silas able to testify of Jesus in their worship of Him?
How strong of an earthquake would it have taken to shake the foundations of the prison?
What prompted the jailer to ask how to be saved?
What people, like the jailer, are in your life who are watching your life and determining whether to believe or not to believe in Christ?
b. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is the way to salvation. The jailer had his whole household (family and slaves/servants) come to the prison to hear what had occurred and that Jesus was real and wanted them all to believe in Him. In faith all believed and were immediately baptized, so they could from that moment on be recognized as believers in Christ. At the same time, the jailer washed their wounds, cleaning them to keep from infecting the open areas on their bodies. The jailer also took them home and fed them. There was great joy in that home because all in the family and servants were now believers. The jailer’s family showed mercy and kindness immediately to Paul and Silas, even though they were still technically prisoners in the Roman system. That took a bit of courage to do that.
What is the gospel?
How do you think the jailer explained what happened at the prison to his household?
Why is it important to be baptized as a believer?
6. City officials in big trouble (16:35-40) Paul and Silas stayed with the jailer throughout the night, because at daybreak, the city officials sent the police officers to have the jailer set Paul and Silas free. So the message was passed on and they could leave in peace. Leave it to Paul, though, to mention one little detail – that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens who were openly beaten, unjustly and without due process of the Roman law by having a trial, were condemned and thrown into prison. Now the city officials want them to leave quietly and forget this all occurred. Paul exhorted the police to inform the city officials to come themselves to Paul and Silas and release them.
The city officials were alarmed, scared, terrified when given this report on Paul, because they were Roman citizens and were unlawfully imprisoned, which meant the city officials were in big trouble with the Roman government. Talk about having the tables turn on you. These officials pleaded with Paul and Silas, took them out of the prison and graciously asked that they would leave Philippi. Again, these officials were very scared at what Paul and Silas could do, and had a right to do. Yet Paul and Silas left peacefully and went over to Lydia’s home to encourage and bless the believers, then left the city. They left without demanding legal action because their rights were violated. Luke stayed in Philippi.
Do you think the jailer realized that Paul and Silas ended up in his jail by God’s design?
Why did Paul bring up the issue of their Roman citizenship? What could have happened to the city officials?
When is it right to bring up your civil rights, and when should you not say anything?
What rights of Paul and Silas were violated? Should they have pursued legal action?
E. Paul in Thessalonica (17:1-9) – World Changers - turning their world upside down.
1. (17:1-4) Leaving Philippi, Paul and Silas traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, before coming to rest in Thessalonica. These towns were at or near the Aegean Sea. Thessalonica was one of the wealthiest and most influential cities in Macedonia. This became the first city where a large group of prominent people were attracted to the church. Timothy was sent years later to see how the church was doing, which prompted Paul to write two letters to the Thessalonians.
There was a Jewish synagogue located in Thessalonica, so Paul, as was his custom, went there to preach, interpreting the Scriptures. He did this for three Sabbaths. To start a synagogue, you had to have a minimum of 10 Jewish males. Paul began with the Old Testament, because it is what the people were familiar with, and moved to the unfamiliar, explaining how the Messiah fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. That is a good practice – to go from familiar to unfamiliar, especially with non-believers.
Some who heard were persuaded, becoming believers. This included a large number of godly Greek men and their wives, or prominent women. God-fearing people are ripe for the gospel. They are pursuing the goal of knowing God and are prime to become Christians.
In what ways do you go from the familiar to the unfamiliar in your teachings?
Why are God-fearing people often ready to receive Christ?
Why did Paul make it a regular practice to go to the synagogues first?
2. (17:5-9) Now some of the Jews who did not become believers, became jealous of Paul and Silas’ popularity and found some worthless, evil, bad characters from the streets (marketplace) to form a mob and start a riot. They got the city in a frenzy and marched to Jason’s home, where Paul and Silas were staying, so the mob could overwhelm them with the crowd and take them to the city officials. Now if they didn’t reach that destination, at least the mob could inflict great bodily harm along the way. When Paul and Silas could not be found, Jason and some of the believers became the target of this mob’s thirst for injustice. We know, basically, nothing of Jason, but he was faithful and willing to be persecuted for his faith. I would think Jason and the believers did not know whether they would be alive for very long. They ended up before city officials.
“Paul and Silas have turned the world upside down, and now they are here to do the same to our city,” was the cry. Jason let them in his house and they were all guilty of treason against Caesar because their leader, Jesus, was going to set up a different kingdom. This threw the city officials and people of the city into turmoil and troubled spirits. So Jason and the believers were thrown into jail until they were able to post bail or bond (pay the fine) and then released (bail was promising that the trouble would cease, or his property or life would be taken).
How great would it be to have the reputation of “turning the world upside down.” Paul’s reputation traveled great distances and he did not waver anywhere he went. It is the power of the Gospel to change lives. The gospel breaks down social barriers, shakes prisons, stirs people to be in awe of God. A transformed life is the goal. The Jews had to come up with some strange charges against Paul and his followers because spiritually, exciting things were happening in Thessalonica. The charge was treason, which was a serious offense against the Roman Empire. People were not to be told to rebel against Rome, but to follow a heavenly King who changed lives.
How serious was it to post bail or security?
How courageous was Jason to take on the crowd and stand up for Christ?
How can we turn our worlds upside down?
What amount or kind of courage does it take to be someone who changes their world?
Who are people you feel are world changers?
On a Pepsi can, the question is asked, “Are you ready to change your world?” Are you?
Why does it take a pop company, Pepsi, to encourage changing your world?
Why are Christians not leading this revolution?
F. Diligent Bereans (17:10-15)
1. With all the turmoil over them in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas, along with Timothy, were sent immediately to Berea by the believers. When they arrived there in Berea, they went straight to the synagogue. The people of Berea were more fair-minded and open-minded, of more noble character than the Thessalonians. Eagerly they listened to the messages. What the Bereans did next was unique, for they would go search the Scriptures daily to check up on what Paul and Silas were preaching, to make sure they were teaching truth! The eagerness to learn was very refreshing. As a result many Jews believed, along with prominent Greek women and men.
2. Thessalonian Jews heard Paul and the team were down the road in Berea, so they went to Berea to stir up trouble and problems for Paul. Immediately the believers in Berea sent Paul by sea to Athens, while Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. Paul sent a message for Timothy and Silas back with the Bereans who escorted him to come to Athens as soon as possible. It was important for the team to be together – accountability, prayer, encouragement, staying focused and probably not being lonely, getting different perspectives.
How do you evaluate sermons and teachings?
Do you have certain people who hold you accountable as to what you teach?
Why were the Bereans of more noble character, open-minded than the Thessalonians?
Why should we work together in pairs or teams whenever possible?
G. The Philosophers of Athens (17:16-33)
1. Athens was a center for Greek culture, philosophy and education. The city of Athens had magnificent buildings and many gods with their shrines and altars. Katmandu, Nepal, reminds me of reading this portion of Scripture, as Katmandu has many shrines, altars and diverse populations of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Communist and Christian. In Athens you had Epicureans and Stoics. Epicureans believed that seeking happiness or pleasure was the primary goal of life, whereas the Stoics, being very disciplined, placed thinking above feelings, trying to live in harmony with nature and reason, suppressing their desire for pleasure.
2. (17:16-18) As Paul stayed, waiting for his colleagues to arrive from Thessalonica, he looked around Athens and was deeply troubled, provoked, distressed to see so many idols everywhere in the city. So he went to the synagogue to debate and reason with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles, and also went to the public square, or the marketplace, daily to speak to whomever was there. He wanted to let people know that these idols could do them nothing, but Jesus could and would! In the marketplace a number of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers gathered to debate with Paul. When Paul told them about Jesus and His resurrection, Paul was described as a babbler who had strange ideas that must be some foreign religion. To babble, you just talk and talk, making no sense. That is how Paul sounded to them at first, but truth began to set in.
3. (17:19-21) Paul was invited to the Council of Philosophers, or the Areopagus, which was on a low hill overlooking Athens. These philosophers were interested in what Paul had to say. The ideas were strange and startling that Paul was bringing and these people wanted to figure this all out. What was unique about Athens is the Athenians and foreigners who lived there wanted to spend all their time discussing the newest thing or idea. That is what Athens was known for, and work was not part of their culture. Idols all over the city were a result of all their thinking and discussing, There is a time to discuss and a time to work.
What troubles you about your society or culture?
What do people think about Christianity in your country or region?
For how long should you keep dialoguing with someone until you say it is enough of talking?
Are there different sects of people who love to debate spiritual issues ?
How do people perceive Christianity in your area?
As leaders, why do you need to, at times, keep telling of a new idea before people understand it?
4. (17:22) Paul was definitely well-prepared to communicate with this audience, as he was trained in Tarsus which was an educational center. He was a rabbi taught by Gamaliel who was considered one of the finest Jewish scholars of his day. As a communicator, Paul was excellent, for he knew what he believed and could articulate it without using fancy flattering words. In our lives we need to continually develop in our spiritual life, and in our ability to communicate, plus knowing your audience. The audience at the Areopagus did not know Jewish history, unlike those at the synagogue, so Paul used examples of God being the one true God, establishing common ground, then finally encouraged a decision about Jesus. Knowing your audience is so important because if they do not understand what you are talking about, it does not matter how good your points or your theology are!
How well do you communicate? Do you know your audience?
Who do you allow to critique you in your preaching and teaching?
What ways can you improve y our communication skills?
Who can help you develop?
a. Paul began by complimenting them on their desire to be religious, and even superstitious. He was walking around the city, seeing the sights of the city, mainly all the shrines and altars. Paul came upon one that said, “To An Unknown God.” The Athenians had been worshipping an idol that had no name to basically cover the likelihood they had missed a god out there. They feared missing blessings or receiving punishment. So Paul took advantage to inform them about the true God. These men Paul was speaking to were educated and religious, but knew nothing of God. Being religious does not guarantee someone is a believer in Christ.
b. (vv. 24-26) Paul began to explain who God is, and His attributes. God made the world and everything in it. He is Lord of heaven and earth, and does not live in any temple or shrine man has built. Humans cannot serve Him for He has no needs. God Himself has given life and breath to everyone and everything. He satisfies all needs. He began with one man to create all the nations. God decided beforehand what nations will rise and fall and determined their boundaries. He also set when and where each of us would live, and at what time.
How do you explain to your people the sovereignty and all knowing attributes of God?
How do you show your faith with a religious person?
How do you describe God when someone inquires of you?
Knowing that God has predetermined when you would live, how does that affect you as far as serving Him?
c. (vv. 27-29) His purpose in doing all this was that nations, people would seek Him and find their way to Him, for He is very near to us. He is easy to find. For in Him, we live and move and have our being. Then Paul took something of Athenian culture to prove this point, as a poet wrote that we are God’s offering. God is the creator of the world, we can find Him in this creation. Paul quoted the poet Arastus, who lived about 270B.C. as he wrote to Zeus.
God is in control. He began the human race and put in all of us a void that can only be filled by Him (Romans 1). That is why man searched for a god and thankfully, there are those of us who find the true God. To know He controls the world and arranged when and where we live is astonishing. So God is not a stone or metal idol that some craftsman created – rather God is the One who created the stone, the metal and the craftsman.
d. (vv. 30-31) In the past, God overlooked this kind of ignorance, but now has revealed Himself through Jesus, so all of us are commanded to turn from idol worship and turn to God. A day is set by God when He will judge the world by the One whom God has appointed, and God proved who that was by His resurrection – Jesus! Greeks had no concept of judgment, so this was a punch between their eyes. They were hit hard with this truth.
e. (vv. 32-33) The truth of resurrection was foreign to the Greeks, unbelievable and offensive to some, while others wanted to hear more. To have someone rise from the dead was not a very easy concept to understand or grab a hold of. This ended the discussion Paul had with them, but some joined in further conversation and became believers, including Dionysius, a member of the Council (an Aeropagite, being a part of the Aeropagus Council) and a woman Damaris, plus others. To note these two people must have meant they really had a clear understanding of Jesus and became probably leaders in the Athenian church. Paul presented the truth and let it sit in their minds and hearts to ponder. Some believed, others didn’t.
Paul took the Athenians from where they were knowledge-wise, and used that to open the door to the Truth. We need to do the same with people we work with. Seek to know where they are at.
How do we find God in creation? In what ways is He made known in creation?
How did Paul fit his message to meet the Athenians where they were spiritually?
How aware are you of your audience, whether speaking to them or leading them?
What in your culture can you use to be an object lesson(s) of introducing God?
What reactions do you have when someone does not become a Christian after sharing the gospel with them?
H. Paul Meets Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth (18:1-17)
1. (vv. 1-4) From Athens, Paul headed to Corinth. There he met Aquila and Priscilla. They had come from Italy, where Aquila had been born in Pontus. Claudius Caesar had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. They ended up in Corinth, which was the political and commercial center of Greece. It was sin city for sex. A temple built for Aphrodite, the goddess of love and war, was on a large hill behind the city. Sex and drinking could be found all over. Sex was a religion.
Paul found common ground with the couple as they were tentmakers also. Tentmaker is also used to describe a leather worker. Tents were made of goat’s hair and hide and were sold to the Roman army. Every Sabbath Paul would head to the local synagogue, preaching and trying to convince Jews and Greeks alike of who Jesus was. Aquila and Priscilla believed the message.
2. (vv. 5-6) Silas and Timothy finally were able to reunite with Paul. They probably traveled to Athens thinking they would find Paul, but kept going to meet. Once they arrived, Paul devoted himself full-time to preaching and testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. When Jews oppressed him and became abusive, insulting him, Paul shook the dust from his robe and said that their blood would be upon their own heads, for he was innocent. He had tried to share the gospel, but the Jews were the ones who rejected the message. Thus he was going to focus upon the Gentiles. Regarding Silas and Timothy, they must have joined Paul in Athens
(I Thessalonians 3:1), and apparently told Paul that it was not safe for him to return to Macedonia. So Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica and Silas to some other cities in Macedonia, possibly Philippi. Now Silas and Timothy did rejoin Paul in Corinth and let him know things were still not good for him in Macedonia, for apparently he was planning to head there after Silas and Timothy returned. Instead he, with fresh vigor, focused on the Corinthians. Paul must have really riled the Macedonians.
What gifts, abilities, skills and experiences do you have where you would be able to connect with people of similar situations?
How important is it for you to mention and put together a team, following the example of Paul?
When do you say you have had enough, like Paul indicated, and you move on?
What impact did Paul have on Macedonia, because his life was still in danger in Macedonia? How impacting are you?
3. (vv. 7-8) Paul, in carrying out his promise to go to the Gentiles, stayed with a Gentile, Titus Justus, who worshipped and lived next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader (ruler) of the synagogue, along with his household, all believed in Jesus, plus many other Corinthians also believed and were baptized.
4. (vv. 9-11) Paul ministered in Corinth for about 18 months. His boldness and courage was enhanced by a vision he had one night as the Lord spoke to him, telling him to not be afraid, to speak out because no one would harm him and many of the Corinthians belong to the Lord. Possibly when he received the opposition by the Jews, he thought, “Here we go again.” It was a wicked city, full of sin. Sexual immorality was rampant, not ideal conditions for spiritual growth. Yet God knows the hearts of people and He is in control. When we feel isolated, ask God to lead you to godly believers, because we do need encouragement. Ask Him also for endurance. If you keep getting beat down, it will get discouraging and downright hard. The vision was as much as a spiritual encouragement anytime. We need Christians and God through prayer and the Word to speak into us. Ministry to people is hard and difficult, not always that rewarding. During this time Paul wrote the two letters to the Thessalonians.
Who can you go to when you are discouraged and just wanting to get away from ministry for a while?
What do you think were some of the feelings and thoughts that went through Paul’s mind, when he constantly faced opposition?
Has there been a time, or several times, when ministry was very difficult and quitting was a real option for you?
5. (vv. 12-17) Gallio became the governor (proconsul, deputy) of Achaia (modern Greece) in 51 A.D. At that time, some Jews got together and made a united attack on Paul (rose up in one accord) and took him to the “bema seat” – judgment seat before Gallio. The accusation was that Paul was persuading men to worship God, contrary to the law (Mosaic Law). Gallio put a stop to that right away, even before Paul could offer up his defense by telling this mob that if it were a real crime, like a wrongdoing, he would listen. But if it was over name calling, a question of words (word-smithing) and about the Jewish law, forget it, and they take care of it themselves! They were ordered out of his courtroom.
This was an important judicial ruling for the Roman Empire. Christianity was seen as part of the Jewish religion, a recognized religion under Roman law, so people were not in violation when they were arguing the theology of the religion. If claiming a new religion, that could have easily been
outlawed by the Roman government. Gallio and other Roman government leaders were not theologians nor apologetic gurus, so he wanted nothing of the sort in his court.
The Jewish mob turned on Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue who took over for Crispus when he became a believer. They beat him right there in the courtroom, and Gallio didn’t care. This might be the same man as mentioned in I Corinthians 1:1, who was a believer and follower of Paul. A bunch of Greeks and some Jews could have been the beaters, because Sosthenes lost the case and the synagogue was worse off now.
Gallio had the wisdom and courage to say if things or accusations had something to do regarding Roman law, he would hear the case. If it was religious, and not causing criminal activity, that was the established religion’s responsibility to regulate. He separated the state (government) from the affairs of the church (religion). This would be a monumental case decision in most countries’ court systems today. We need judicial decisions that keep government out of religion’s affairs (prayer, national religion, how you can worship).
Does the government interfere with freedom of religion in your country?
How do you view Gallio? Was he putting off dealing with this case, or was he making a ruling that was right, and also Biblical?
What do we as Christian leaders need to do to keep pursuing freedom to worship and freedom to choose what religion we want to follow?
I. Heading Back to Antioch (18:18-22)
1. It was time to head out. Paul had been in Corinth a year and a half. Before sailing, he had his head shaved, which probably was a Nazarite vow that he offered his hair as a sacrifice (burning it – Numbers 6:18) Priscilla and Aquila went along as Paul took them with him. They sailed to Ephesus and docked there for a short time, but long enough to go to the synagogue to debate the Jews. It must have been friendly, because he was requested to stay. The city God would not allow him to go to in Acts 16, now he was checking out the spiritual condition of the city and found it to be promising. It is conceivable that the city of Ephesus was not ready for Paul, or the areas of Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens and Corinth were ready for the message. We do not often know the reasons why some doors open or stay shut. We need to be listening to God and obedient to His word and direction.
What have you placed in your life schedule to make time to be listening to God?
How do you hear God and His leading?
Was Paul right in taking this Nazarite vow?
When have you had a time when the door for ministry was open or shut?
2. Paul left Ephesus, but left Aquila and Priscilla behind, along with possibly the rest of the team. He was on a schedule to get to the upcoming festival in Jerusalem, to be with friends and probably debate with them about Jesus. He pledged to return, God willing, and arrived at Caesarea. He went to Jerusalem for a short visit and then home to Antioch.
This second missionary journey lasted about three years and the route was about 3,500 miles, or just less than 6,700 kilometers. Paul was able to establish some very key churches in Asia and western portions of Europe (Greece) that became strategic points for the early church.
Are you committed to be used in whatever way, wherever God so chooses to send you?
Why did God use Paul?
3. If Paul took a Nazarite vow, it would have been 30 days to think about and worship God. He would have abstained from some items like grapes. He would not have touched a grape or even ate nor drank grapes. This would have been a situation where Paul would have had to keep very observant, because grapes were so prevalent everywhere. Another thing is he left Corinth by himself except for Aquila and Priscilla. They ended up on their own soon after arriving in Ephesus.
By himself Paul went to the synagogue to debate with the Jews. Wanting him to stay and continue to discuss with them, the Jews and Greeks saw something very special in Paul. He declined as he was headed to Jerusalem. He went back to his beginnings, to Jerusalem and Antioch. Was he tired, burned out, needing simply some time to get quiet with the Father and seek His face?
It is interesting that he was alone. This is the only time that he freely chose to be by himself. He spent some time in Antioch. He went back to his ministry beginnings to remember, analyze, think and probably process the past seven to ten years. His two missionary journeys lasted 5 years combined, plus there was the Jerusalem council and sharp disagreement with Barnabas. Numerous times on those journeys he faced persecutions like stoning, beatings, imprisonment, harassments, arguing, conflicts and people simply mad at him. It could be that he was just plain beat and needed a sabbatical.
Yes, Paul was very godly and had a passion that hardly anyone could match, but he was still human. No matter what someone would call it, he got away, slowed down and let God minister and speak to him. He had to heal emotionally, possibly some physical aspects needed healing, too, and he had to slow down for a while. From the time of the Nazarite vow to spending some time in Antioch, Paul could have minimally spent three months and maybe up to a year or more in this slowdown state of mind.
We can only speculate that there were some men and women elders at the Antioch who encouraged and ministered to him. He was geared up again when it was time for the third journey, and was ready wholeheartedly to serve the Lord.
People who are involved in ministering to others need to have times when you get away from your normal routine and let God minister to you, either through using others in the Body, or as you are able to focus on God, God Himself. Often God is preparing you also for great ministry opportunities (Acts 19:7-19).
When is the last time you took off some time to rest and get rejuvenated spiritually, emotionally and physically?
Do you have a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly time to slow down and focus on God and you? This is not your devotions times. It is time to get re-focused.
Have the emotional issues you need to deal with been pushed into the recesses of your brain?
VIII. Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (18:23-21:14)
A. The Journey Begins, and a Digression on Apollos (18:23-28).
1. Paul left Antioch after taking some time to slow down, and headed to churches in the Galatia and Phrygia regions that include Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (churches established during his first journey). He went there to encourage and help them grow spiritually. He was re-energized.
2. Apollos (18:24-28). Apollos was a Jew who was an eloquent speaker and knew the Scriptures. He had come from Alexandria, Egypt. Apollos had heard only what John the Baptist proclaimed, that Jesus was coming and to repent from one’s sins. With great enthusiasm, Apollos preached that. So when Aquila and Priscilla heard that, they took Apollos and taught him the rest about Jesus, in order to accurately preach about Christ. They discipled Apollos and helped him to become even better, plus clearly communicate about Jesus – that not only had He come but died and rose again.
Apollos desired to go to Achaia and the Christians in Ephesus encouraged him to do so, as they sent along a glowing letter of introduction. He quickly became the verbal champion of the Christians in Corinth. He was able to easily refute the Jews in public debate. Now he could say with total confidence that the Messiah is Jesus. Apollos used the gift of reason to convince many in Greece of the truth of the Gospel. He had known the Old Testament, now with Aquila and Priscilla’s help, he was entering into the New Testament.
How much does your willingness to learn affect God’s efforts to help you become all He wants you to be?
How teachable are you? How do you know that?
Who can help you become better at what you are doing for God? Who can you help to better themselves?
B. The Holy Spirit arrives in Ephesus (19:1-7)
1. Ephesus was one of the leading cities on the Mediterranean Sea. It was the leading business center for Roman-controlled Asia. Paul stayed there for just over two years. There he wrote the first letter to the Corinthians, to counter several problems the Corinth church was facing. When Paul was in Rome in prison, he wrote a letter to the Ephesian church.
2. (19:1-4) Paul traveled through the southern half of (Turkey) Phrygia and Galatia to Ephesus. There he found several believers. The believers were asked if they received the Holy Spirit and they hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit. They had only experienced the baptism of John, which was to demonstrate a desire to turn from sin and toward God. John had told people to believe in Jesus who was coming later. John’s baptism was a sign of repentance from sin only, not new life in Christ. In Acts believers received the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways. Normally the Holy Spirit would fill a person as soon as one professed faith in Christ. Here that filling happened later because the disciples’ knowledge was incomplete. God was confirming to those believers who did not initially know about the Holy Spirit. The filling occurred later because the disciples’ knowledge was incomplete. The Spirit’s filling endorsed them as believers.
3. (v. 5-7) As soon as Paul shared about Jesus, the twelve got saved. Paul put his hands on them and the Spirit came upon them so they spoke in tongues, being able to communicate with the different variety of people groups there. Knowing the whole counsel of Christ with salvation makes so much difference. Things are not fragmented and the gospel is truly clear. The accepting of the message Paul shared, and the laying on of hands with receiving the Holy Spirit is looked upon as one event.
How are you gifted? Be used by God that way.
C. Ephesus Ministry Opportunities (19:8-20)
1. (19:8-10) Over the next two to two and a half years, Paul ministered in Ephesus. This was his location where God wanted to use him. First, he went to the synagogue and preached boldly there for three months, reasoning and persuading regarding the things of the Kingdom of Heaven. There were some who rejected his message and publicly spoke evil against the Way, trying to malign and destroy the believers. So Paul took his disciples with him away from the synagogue and went to the Tyrannus lecture hall. This was a school, and the hall was used to teach philosophy. Usually between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. no one used the hall because that was the hot part of the day. Many people did not work during that time due to the heat, so they would come and listen to Paul preach. This went on over two years, and many Greeks and Jews heard the Good News of Christ. Throughout Turkey, Paul and his co-workers spread the Gospel. The church of Colossae, along with the seven churches of Asia Minor, came into existence during this time as people came to hear Paul.
(I Corinthians 16:7-9) From the time during Acts 18:18-23, God was preparing Paul’s heart and mind for this period.
What opportunities does God have for you that you simply need to follow in faith?
What unique situations have you been involved in where a negative situation (Paul leaving the synagogue) opened the door for great ministry opportunity?
How does God want to use you in a new way?
2. (19:11-12) Miracles – God gave Paul power to perform unusual miracles, such as if a cloth or handkerchief (sweat cloth) had touched Paul, that the cloth when placed on sick or demon-possessed people, they were healed. The word for miracle is dunamis, from which we get dynamite or power. God gave Paul special powers. Why? Ephesus was a great religious center, including the great temple of Diana. This worship was very satanic, so to meet that opposition, special powers were given by God. Using dirty, sweaty cloths of Paul to heal people went against the Ephesus culture, for God was rebuking the pagan religions because everything had to be white and clean. It was a unique situation that required unique solutions!
Remember, this call occurred shortly after a time where Paul slowed down and got very special time with God, basically a sabbatical. It occurs more often than not when God does more dynamic ministry through someone when they take time away from ministry.
Be totally honest, do you need to take some time away from ministry to let God deeply minister to you?
What does God use in your ministry to let your culture know that God is God and cultural things are from man?
In what special ways has God used you?
3. (19:13-20) Replication turns to disaster. Some Jews thought they could reproduce what Paul was doing, using the “power” Paul had, that is Jesus. It seems like they were doing this for a while and picked up on the idea of using Jesus as part of their process. This group included sons of a Jewish chief priest, Sceva, who, when they tried to cast out demons, had an evil spirit reply to them that it did not know this group of exorcists but did know Paul and Jesus. The man who had this evil spirit leaped on all seven, overpowering them, causing them to flee naked and bodily wounded.
This news spread like wildfire throughout Ephesus to all the people. A very healthy and solemn fear came upon the people, greatly honoring Jesus’ name. Many repented and confessed sinful practices. Many who had witchcraft books brought them to a bonfire and had all the books burned, which valued 50,000 silver pieces ($8,000 US in those days). The message of Jesus spread widely and powerfully
Casting out demons and using Jesus’ name to have power is not something to take lightly. Ephesians utilized this practice as a business. The seven sons of Sceva saw how “successful” Paul was, even though he never received money for these services. Toying with God’s power is dangerous and using God for your benefit is idolatry and simply wrong. Magic, sorcery and the occult are wrong and go against the nature and attributes of God. Being involved in any of those activities allows Satan a stronghold in one’s life and must be spiritually dealt with. Only through God’s power are you released. As spiritual leaders, we must be the ones who take the responsibility to get rid of this with the people we work with.
Should we fear dealing with the Satanic world?
How should we handle situations where we need to deal with Satanic influence?
D. Riot in Ephesus (19:21-41)
1. (19:21-22) Rome or bust! Paul sensed the Holy Spirit prompting him to want to go to Rome. Paul intended to go to Rome a certain way, but the Holy Spirit had a different plan on how to get there. Going to Rome was the center of influence for all that Paul saw. Now Paul was fixed on the course.
Here is where people figure Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Timothy and Erastus took the letter to Macedonia and believers in Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Achaia and Athens. The adversaries he wrote about in the letter were satanic. Remember the sabbatical break Paul had before the third journey. He needed rest and God was preparing him for what was in store in Ephesus; otherwise, I doubt Paul would have made it through this spiritual battle in Ephesus. Think about the book of Ephesians – chapter six deals a great amount on spiritual warfare.
Here is a point to remember. Erastus was a committed follower of Christ and Corinth’s city treasurer (Romans 16:23).
How does God prompt you so you know God is leading you somewhere?
What is God prompting in your heart right now?
How do you deal with having your (man-made) plans changed by the Holy Spirit, when you know your vision is from God?
Do you need to take a rest, or even some time away from ministry, to prepare for the
next step of the ministry God has given you?
2. (19:23-28) The Way (John 14:6) movement was getting in the way of the idol business. Christians were messing things up. One of the leading silversmith businessmen, Demetrius, realized the industry he was overseeing was being hurt by what Paul was preaching. His business employed many craftsmen and they produced smaller versions of the shrine of Artemis, also known as Diana. The shrine of Artemis in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, so it brought many tourists and worshippers. Paul’s preaching was bad for business. It was not the doctrine, rather what Paul was saying would cause people not to purchase these shrines. Thus economics drove Demetrius to do something.
Artemis was the goddess of fertility. She was a carved female figure with many breasts. Supposedly the large statue of her came down from heaven and was in this temple. The big festivals for Artemis involved wild orgies and carousing. This deity brought in a lot of money and ungodly activity.
Demetrius gathered his fellow craftsmen and gave them an understanding that the bottom line was Paul was significantly hurting their profits and Paul’s influence was felt throughout Asia. Ephesus was where eastern culture and western culture and the influence of Artemis would be greatly undermined. Demetrius’ main and focused concern was money and profits. He used patriotism and religious loyalty to fuel the emotions of people, which allowed the demonstrating craftsmen to incite people to riot for their selfish motives of money, while disguising themselves as heroes for the sake of beliefs and what the people stood for.
Shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians,” Demetrius thought he would accomplish his devious scheme with the help of his craftsmen. How often do people use a cover or smoke screen for greed, by getting people angry over being loyal, patriotic or faithful to their country, tribe or religious beliefs? Great atrocities have happened over greed.
Was Demetrius really interested in the religious impact that Paul had on the idolatry?
What motivated you to serve God. . . is it status, money, power or influence? Or is there a purity of heart and motive to serve God because of your love?
Can you share examples of how greed caused people to get involved in activities they would not have otherwise?
Why does loyalty, patriotism or faithfulness to a religious belief or to a country cause our emotions to quickly arouse us to action?
a. A crowd quickly gathered and confusion abounded throughout the whole city. No one really knew why they were rioting, but the mob mentality quickly formed. People will do unspeakable atrocities in a mob mentality when by themselves, they would never even consider such an act. The crowd all rushed to the amphitheater, dragging Gaius and Aristarchus with them. They were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul trailed behind and wanted to enter, but the believers would not let him. He would most likely have been killed. Some of the officials of Asia, particularly the chief of Asia, people called Asiarchs (political or religious advisors) who were friends of Paul, told Paul it would be foolish to enter the theater because the mob was in a frenzy and Paul had little chance of surviving an attack on him. These officials, the Asiarchs, were government people who oversaw the religious and political order of the region. The message of the gospel was spreading to all sections of society and social barriers.
Who are people that through the message of the Gospel you have influenced?
What are ways you can positively influence people? Who should you influence and how can you save those people?
Why is it important to keep people calm when the emotional level in a situation is quickly escalating?
b. (v. 32-34) The crowd that had entered the amphitheater was in a great frenzy. Many did not know why they were even there. It was utter, complete chaos and confusion with people shouting at the top of their lungs. A Jew, Alexander, was pushed, thrust out to the center of the huge crowd to explain the situation, that the Jews had no part in the Christian community and their views thus not involved in the economic problems of the silversmiths. This crowd had gotten so out of control, they were anti-Christian and anti-Jewish, all at once. Well, Alexander could not do much with the crowd, such that all they continued to shout was, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
c. (v. 35-41) The town clerk, or mayor, who was in charge of keeping the peace and order in Ephesus under the domination of the Roman Empire, got the people settled and let them know nothing had or would happen to their great temple, for it came down from the heavens. It came from the gods, so relax and go home. If Demetrius has something against the Christians, the courts would handle that. Besides, the Christians had not spoken anything against the goddess, nor stolen anything. If Rome finds out that Ephesus was having riots, martial law could be enforced, and many freedoms would be lost and the mayor and others could lose their jobs. There simply would not be a good explanation to this uprising, so the people were sent home.
Paul realized that his ministry was finished in Ephesus, but Christians still had some protection by the law. So he knew they would be okay, and he would move on.
What issues cause great anxiety in your area of ministry, whether it involves Christians or non-Christians?
When is the right time to move on, whether it is an issue or for a pastor or church leader to leave a church and go somewhere else?
E. Around the Aegean Sea and Back (20:1-38)
1. (20:1-2) Paul gave an encouraging farewell to the believers in Ephesus and traveled around the Aegean Sea, going through Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and ending up in Corinth, where he stayed for three months.
2. (20:3-6) In Corinth, he stayed three months. During that time he wrote his letter to the Romans, indicating he planned to visit them. Paul was planning to sail back to Syria, when he discovered a plot against his life devised by some Jews. So he retraced his journey and returned through Macedonia.
Like many of his journeys, he had men he was mentoring and discipling. The list included Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus and Trophimus. These men came from the different cities Paul had visited. Each carried an offering from his home church that was to be given to the Jerusalem church. Paul mentions this in 2 Corinthians 8. The disciples went ahead to Troas to wait for Paul, Luke (who joined the group again after some time in Philippi [ch. 16]), and possibly a few others. Jewish believers celebrated the Passover, no matter where they were in the world. Those observing included Paul and Luke. Once the season of unleavened bread was completed, the group got on a ship from Philippi and sailed to Troas, which took five days, where they stayed for a week.
Paul always mentored and discipled others. He was able to have missionaries and leaders be left at the churches he’s started. Who are you discipling/mentoring to prepare them for ministry?
Who will take your responsibilities when God has you doing other things?
Why are you not discipling, if in fact you are not?
3. (20:7-12) Final visit to Troas. The day before leaving Troas, Troas believers and Paul’s team gathered to observe the Lord’s Supper or the days of unleavened bread. Since Paul was leaving, he was given the opportunity to preach for a long time. A young man named Eutychus was sitting on a window sill and fell asleep, falling out of the building from three stories. He died from the fall, but Paul came down to him, gathered him in his arms and let everyone know that the young man was okay and alive. They returned to the room they were all in, and had the Lord’s Supper. Paul continued to preach until daybreak and then left. The young man went home, too, and everyone was greatly relieved. Eutychus was probably between the ages of 8 and 14.
4. (20:12-16) Paul walked to Assos, where the rest of the team had arranged to meet him, perhaps to visit someone(s) along the way, or needed time alone to think and pray. From Assos, they all sailed to Mitylene to Kios to Samos and finally to Miletus. Paul was not planning to stop in Ephesus because he wanted to get to Jerusalem by the Feast of Pentecost, for he was carrying gifts from the Asian churches, along with gifts from the churches in Greece. The Jerusalem church was going through difficult times, and by getting to Jerusalem by Pentecost, the church would already be in celebration with Pentecost and the gifts would greatly encourage them.
Who can you encourage today?
As a leader, what role should a leader play in encouraging others?
5. (20:17-23) When they arrived in Miletus, which was the port for the city of Ephesus, Paul sent for the elders of the Ephesus church to join him at the port. His message was simple. He had humbly done the Lord’s work, sharing the Gospel in every way possible so people would understand the truth. The burden of people’s souls drove him to tears. He shared the Good News of Christ everywhere with Jews and Greeks alike. He was willing to face problems, threats and prison, but he was faithful to the calling.
Now he would head to Jerusalem, being drawn irresistibly by the Spirit, feeling bound by the Spirit to go there, not knowing what lies ahead, but knowing the Holy Spirit has shown Paul that chains and tribulation await him in every city. This did not stifle the passion and drive to follow the calling Paul had. He was an example to others to stay the course.
Paul was committed to his calling, to be obedient. Are you that committed?
Do you know how God wants to use you as a messenger of the gospel? What is holding you back from total commitment?
6. (v. 20-24) Paul was totally honest and transparent when he let the Ephesian leaders know his worth is found in Christ and the role he was playing in the Body, the work assigned to him by Jesus, to share the gospel and tell of how wonderful God is. He was focused, for he knew his identity in Christ and how God had created him. This allowed him to be single-minded and able to be doing what God had called him to do. His goal was to finish his life with joy. His life was worth nothing. His following the Lord was everything. and there was the joy.
What is more important to you, what you get out of life or what you put into it?
Do you truly understand where you fit in the Body of Christ? Are you using your gifts and talents the best way possible? What are your spiritual gifts, your passion and your talents?
What do you need to change or give up in order to pursue the very best in your life?
7. Several aspects of a leader are shown in this passage. He consistently lived his life among the Ephesians (v. 18). He had a contrite heart, willingly showing his weaknesses (v. 19). Being courageous allowed him to do the right things (v. 20). He boldly communicated his convictions
(v. 21), and was committed to being obedient to Jesus, even willing to die (v. 22-23). Finally, Paul showed that a surrendered person doesn’t have to survive, for he was captivated with the prize (v. 24).
Looking over these characteristics of an effective leader, what area are you the strongest in right now? What are you weakest?
How can you develop the weak area of your leadership? Is there someone who can help you develop in that area?
How does a person get to the point of total surrender where the person is willing to die, and does not live to survive?
Why is spiritual leadership more “being” before “doing?” How much does the character of a person enter into these steps?
8. (20:25-31) None of the Ephesians would see him again. He had been faithful to them and all who had contact with him knew where they were spiritually, either a believer or not, nor holding back on anything God was directing to say to them. He had declared the whole counsel of God.
The leaders needed to be careful making sure the Word was being faithfully preached and taught. The Holy Spirit had directed those elders Paul was telling to carry out this charge. False teachers would soon be trying to devour the believers, deceiving wherever they could. Even some of the leaders would be deceived and be deceptive to draw people to themselves. Never forget the three years Paul had devoted to them, the tears, the sweat, the prayers over them. Don’t fall away.
As a spiritual leader, how do you protect the people you have a responsibility to and over?
What deception is ready to devour your people?
What burdens you right now?
9. (20:32-38) Paul was now entrusting the Ephesians to God and the Word which is able to build up and develop someone. This message offers an eternal inheritance which is shared with all who have been set apart, been sanctified by God. Paul testified he never coveted anyone’s money or possessions. He paid his own way and also helped cover the costs of his companions. He was a clear example of how to help the poor by working hard. As he was tent-making, his income covered himself, his disciples and giving to the poor, for a saying came from Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
He had poured his life into them for three years and lived the example of his preaching. As he went to depart, he knelt and prayed with them. It was a difficult farewell. They had grown so close in that time. Even though they had a strong relationship with each other, knowing they would never see Paul again on earth was extremely difficult. Then he left.
What would you say to the group of people you had been leading for several years?
Has your life been a life of integrity before them, so if they didn’t have the Bible, they would have known how to live the Christian life by your example?
F. Paul’s journey to Jerusalem to end the Third Journey (21:1-15)
1. (21:1-6) Paul’s route took him along the southwest coast of Turkey, traveling to Cos, Rhodes and Patara. Then they boarded a ship which sailed to Tyre, where the ship was unloaded. Paul’s team went ashore, found the local believers and stayed a week. The believers prophesied that Paul should not continue to Jerusalem. Paul did not disobey the Holy Spirit. Rather, the believers were being warned about the suffering Paul would run into in Jerusalem. At the end of the week, all gathered to pray and say farewells.
How do you know when the Holy Spirit is leading you, when people indicate you should not do something, as in Paul’s case?
2. (21:7-12) From Tyre it was on to Ptolemais and then to Caesarea, staying at the home of Philip, the evangelist. He was one of the deacons selected in Acts 6 to distribute food to the widows. He had four single daughters who prophesied. During the stay there, Agabus, who had prophesied 15 years earlier that there would be a famine in Jerusalem, came from Judea. He took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet with it, saying the Holy Spirit told him the owner of that belt would be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Romans. The believers in Caesarea and even Paul’s team pleaded he would not go there to Jerusalem.
3. (21:13-15) Paul’s reply was, “why weep over this news.” He was ready to not only be jailed in Jerusalem, but also die for the sake of Christ. They knew they couldn’t persuade Paul, so they resigned for the Lord’s will to be done. Paul moved on to Jerusalem because he knew God wanted him there. Paul wanted above all to please his Father. Our desire to please Him needs to go above or overshadow any desire toward hardship and suffering. Doing God’s will causes us to accept anything that comes with it, including possible pain and death. Plus, he was still carrying the offering from the churches he had just visited, for the Jerusalem Christians. And he wanted to give it in person.
4. This ended the third missionary journey. This would be the last voluntary journey Paul would take. This missionary journey took 3-1/2 to 4 years, having spent a considerable amount of time in Ephesus. Ephesus to Jerusalem is about 600 miles or 1,000 kilometers. He was willing to do anything and go anywhere God would lead him. It did not matter if suffering was going to occur, or it would be peaceful.
Paul simply loved God and served God with every part of who he was. His zeal and fervor never diminished. When the going got difficult, Paul would rise to the occasion.
How much are you willing to suffer for the sake of Christ? What thought processes go through your mind knowing that you are going to face pain? Paul suffered a lot. What kept him focused to keep serving the Lord? Would you go somewhere, knowing you could be facing death?
What do you need to do now to ensure you will hopefully remain faithful when suffering comes?
How do you develop spiritual courage and boldness?
IX Bound Over in Jerusalem (21:16-23:32)
A. Arriving in Jerusalem (21:16-26)
1. (21:16-17) With some believers from Caesarea, they went to the home of Mnason, who was originally from Cyprus and one of the early disciples. All the believers in Jerusalem welcomed Paul and his team.
2. (21:18-26) Paul went to meet James, the brother of Jesus and the leader of the Jerusalem church, plus he met with the church’s elders. He gave a detailed report of all that God had accomplished among the Gentiles. Upon hearing this, there was great celebration and praising.
Then came the controversy. The church elders then spoke of how thousands of Jews had become Christians and they still take the law of Moses seriously. The Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were told that Paul was teaching all the Jews living in the Gentile world to turn their backs on the laws of Moses, that Jews did not have to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. So there ended up to be controversy and a dilemma, and the problem would only get worse because Paul was now in Jerusalem.
The solution offered was Paul to willingly submit to Jewish customs to show he was not working against the Jerusalem Council’s decision in Acts 15, and that he was still Jewish in his lifestyle. He would go with four other men who took a vow and prepare to shave their heads. They would go to the Temple for the purification ceremony and pay to have their heads shaved. In doing this, Paul did not reject nor water down the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, but still could accept the tradition that the Old Testament prepares and teaches us about Jesus’ coming.
For whatever reason, a rumor about how Paul conducted ministry and the teaching of Jewish tradition circulated among the Jews, including the Christian sector. People assumed that the rumor was truth and got very perturbed and angry. Now that Paul was back in Jerusalem, this was the igniter for people’s feelings on the subject to become explosive. The sad thing is the church was not exempt from these aggressive feelings.
Tradition is terribly difficult to break from. It will take years, if it does at all, for tradition to leave a person’s mind and reasoning. Though the Jewish Christians knew that salvation came only through the grace of Christ and His redemptive work, traditional customs and thoughts were still woven into their mind-set. That is one reason why we must keep renewing the mind – the old has passed, the new must be in charge. That is very difficult!
Paul was always following the Jerusalem Council’s decision of not making anyone be circumcised to prove or justify their faith. He also emphasized the instructions of not eating food offered to idols, not consuming blood, eating strangled animal meat nor getting involved in sexual immorality. He was fine with that. So how the rumor started, we will never know, but human nature is such that someone may have not liked Paul, misread something Paul said or did, or the facts got messed up – all resulting in a rumor. Christians love to feast on rumors which only spread malice, bitterness, hatred, envy, jealousy and strife.
Being the mature believer Paul was, he was willing to go the second mile to avoid offending others, when he truly had a clear conscience on this matter. He was a man of strong convictions but was willing to compromise, not make a big deal on non-essential points of Scripture, willing to become all things to all people so as to win some for Christ
(I Corinthians 9:19-23).
The willingness to avoid needless offending and not get dogmatic on the non-essentials of salvation shows maturity in Christ. As leaders, we must choose what battles are essential to fight, and what ones are not worth breaking fellowship or splitting the Body over. Again, the mature need to show submission to the Body. If, as leaders, we do not show mutual submission (Phil. 2:3, 4; Matt. 22: 37-39), we cannot expect the other younger Christians to show that loving act of kindness. We are not talking about violating a person’s true convictions, we are dealing with areas of Scripture that are not involved in salvation. Most times, the issues that divide are not even close to the topic of salvation.
Paul could have easily made a stand, defending his view or the truth that the rumor was false because he had never taught that way. Rather, he submitted himself to the church body by going through the Jewish rituals and showed people by his actions that the Jewish tradition and culture were important to him yet, but he was not forcing anyone to follow that tradition. He publicly let people know when the vows would end and sacrifices would be offered for the five of them.
What are non-essentials of salvation?
What traditions do you have deep inside of you that are hard to break and how do those traditions affect your ministry yet today?
Would Paul have been justified by not taking the vow and following the purification rites? Why did he go through the ceremony?
What does this tell you about Paul’s character?
What areas of theology are you truly willing to fight and die for?
What lessons can Christian leaders draw from this episode?
What are issues that are non-essentials of salvation that separate the Body of Christ? How can we bring them to peaceful solutions?
Why do Christians spread rumors?
What is submission?
Why is it important to show mutual submission to one another?
How should Christian leaders show mutual submission to one another?
Did the grace of God permit Paul to take a Jewish vow to win the Jews?
(I Corinthians 7:17-20)
B. Paul gets arrested (21:27-40)
1. (21:27-29) When the seven days were basically over, some Jews from Asia saw Paul in the Temple and got a mob to beat Paul up. They were yelling that Paul taught against Jewish tradition and law, to disobey them. Plus, Paul would defile the Temple by bringing Gentiles into it, for earlier they saw Paul with Trophimus, who was an Ephesian Gentile and assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple. These Jews knew how effective Paul had been in Asia and wanted to discredit and weaken him as much as possible. They made false assumptions and were getting others to listen to them. Be careful of when you have accusations against God’s workers. Keep an open mind and find out the facts.
What role do spiritual leaders need to play when accusations are made known?
What has occurred to you when there has been an accusation made about you?
How do we support those who have had false accusations made about them?
2. (21:30-33) The Jews accomplished their goal as the city was disturbed, rocked by this news, and a great riot followed. Paul was dragged out of the Temple and immediately the gate doors were closed behind him. While trying to kill him, word got to the Roman regiment commander about the uproar. Claudius Lysias was the commander, the senior Roman officer in Jerusalem. He took his soldiers and centurions with him to find out what was up. The beating of Paul stopped when the mob saw the soldiers coming. On the spot, Paul was arrested and bound in chains.
3. (21:33-36) The commander then asked what was going on, what had this man done. Some shouted one thing, others something else. When he could not figure out the truth, the commander ordered Paul to be taken to the fortress, or barracks. As the soldiers reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent that the soldiers had to carry Paul on their shoulders to protect him. The crowd was yelling to kill him.
4. (21:37-40) Paul asked if he could speak with the commander. The commander assumed Paul was some Egyptian rebel who had led a revolt of 4,000 people in Jerusalem in 54 A.D., and then disappeared. The commander was surprised that Paul spoke Greek, and this caused the commander to give Paul protection and the opportunity to speak or give his defense. Paul showed how cultured and educated he was by speaking Greek, and that he was not a common rebel who enjoyed starting riots. Paul did tell the commander he was a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, and that he wanted to talk to the crowd, to which the commander agreed. The crowd got silent and Paul addressed them in their own Aramaic or Hebrew language. He used Aramaic so the crowd understood him and to show he was a devout Jew who had respect for the Jewish laws and customs. This points out that, in order to communicate effectively, you have to use language people understand (to the Roman officials – Greek, to the Jews – Aramaic) and to communicate, you have to use words, the semantics people understand.
Why were the Jews so adamant that Paul be killed?
What tools or skills have you learned that aid in your communication with others, like speaking different languages, learned communication skills (listening, eye contact, voice fluctuations)?
How can you develop in your communication skills?
What do you need to learn about young people (youth) if the church is going to reach them for Christ?
How significant is getting Roman soldiers involved in order for Paul to end up in Rome?
C. Paul addresses the Jews in Jerusalem (22:1-23)
1. (22:1-5) Paul addressed them as family (brothers and esteemed fathers) in sharing his defense. When the people heard him speak in their own language, the silence got even greater. He shared his upbringing and was educated under Gamaliel. By mentioning Gamaliel, Paul showed his credentials as being well-educated by the most respected Jewish rabbi, and probably went to the finest Greek university which was in Tarsus. Paul talked about how zealous he was for God, living out the Jewish law, just as all the people listening to him felt. He knew the Jews’ motives – that they were sincere and zealous for God, also. The fact the crowd wanted to kill Paul was no different from Paul going after the Way, the believers in Christ, doing whatever he needed to, either killing or putting in prison, as the high priest could testify of that.
Paul had established common ground with his audience in language and sincere inner motives. They could relate to him, and this was before witnessing for Christ. He had won the right to be heard, for if he had not shared similarities to establish a bond with the audience, they would not have listened to him. It is so important to know your audience and how to have them willing to listen to you. It may take a story before getting into the heart of your message, so that the audience feels you are speaking to each one individually. There is real skill involved.
How do you establish a relationship with your audience whenever you speak to someone individually, or in a larger group setting?
How does your audience know you care about them, for if they don’t sense you care for them, they will not listen to you?
What communication skills do you need to develop?
2. (22:5-16) With a letter from the high priest and council leaders, Paul was on his way to Damascus to round up Christians and bring them to prison in Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus, Jesus knocked him off his horse and questioned why Saul was persecuting Him. The people around Saul saw the light, but not the voice of the Lord. Jesus told him to go to Damascus, but Paul needed help for he was blind. Ananias met Saul there. Ananias was a godly man in his devotion to the law and was well-respected. In Damascus, Saul received his sight back. Ananias commissioned Saul with the responsibility of taking the Good News to all the world as Saul follows the will of God. During this time Saul did accept Jesus as his savior and was baptized.
3. (22:17-23) After spending time in the Arabian desert listening to Jesus (probably), Saul was in Jerusalem and fell into a trance, seeing a vision of Jesus letting him know to leave Jerusalem because the Jewish people won’t believe the testimony about Jesus. Saul persisted with the logic that the Jews have to know he is one of them because of the persecution he inflicted on the Christians, and he was right in the middle of Stephen’s death. Surely the Jews would listen to him.
The Lord said, “No,” and that Saul would be sent to preach to the Gentiles. When Paul said Gentiles, the crowd went wild again, wanting Paul killed. The commander did not know Hebrew, so he did not know what Paul was sharing, but as soon as the crowd went wild again, he had to do something. The Jews were going crazy, tearing their clothes and throwing dust into the air. Jews were so proud in their feelings about Gentiles. They were a much greater people and God’s chosen, compared to Gentiles. Jews had the opportunity to take the Gospel to all the world, but rejected that offer by God.
What heritage or cultural background keeps you from ministering and reaching all people?
Why does pride create division, hatred, unwillingness to obey God?
In what areas of your life are you prideful?
Are you willing to repent of those areas?
D. Paul reveals his Roman citizenship and speaks to the High Council (22:24-23:23)
1. (22:24-29) The commander, not knowing what to do and wanting to know the truth of the fury of the crowd, orders Paul to be lashed or whipped. Just before being whipped, Paul questions whether it is legal for a Roman citizen to be whipped with being proven that he committed a crime. So the commander did find out that Paul was actually a Roman citizen by birth versus the commander, who was a slave and had purchased his freedom to buy his citizenship. Purchasing your citizenship was considered inferior to citizenship by birth.
What does your heritage, your ancestry do for you? Does it give you opportunities to impact your world for Christ?
How does God want to use you in the future? Will you be obedient?
2. (22:30-23:5) Paul was freed from his chains the next day and ordered the leading priests into session with the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council.
It is amazing how God will open doors for ministry as we follow Him and give us the platform to proclaim His name.
Paul spoke humbly, but firmly. He had always lived before God with a clear conscience. Ananias, the high priest, was offended by Paul’s remarks and ordered Paul to be slapped in the face, but boldly, Paul challenged Ananias, indicating God will slap Ananias for being a whitewashed wall, as Ananias broke the law himself. Those close to Paul told Paul not to speak that way to the high priest. Paul then apologized, for he had not realized Ananias was the high priest (Exodus 22:28), we are not to speak evil of anyone who rules over us.
Yet Ananias had violated the Jewish law, according to Josephus, a respected first century historian. Ananias had violated the law because he was assuming Paul was guilty without a trial and ordering Paul’s punishment (Deuteronomy 19:15). Paul didn’t recognize Ananias as high priest probably because Ananias’ command broke the law he was pledged to represent.
Are non-Christians able to know we are Christians without saying a word to them?
How self-controlled are you as a spiritual leader? What flaws do you have that cause problems as a leader?
How high of a character standard should spiritual leaders have?
3. (23:6-10) The insight Paul has in this passage is what Jesus promised to believers (Mark 13:9-11 – just say whatever is given to you at the time because the Holy Spirit will be guiding your words). God will help us when we are under fire for our faith, always being ready to present our testimony as the Holy Spirit will give us the courage to speak boldly.
Paul knows he is speaking to both Pharisees (who believe in the resurrection of the dead and angels and spirits) and Sadducees (who don’t believe in anything of that). Paul let them know that he was a Pharisee and a son of a Pharisee, being put on trial because of his hope in the resurrection (which was slightly different view of even the Pharisees).
This divided the two groups. A great clamor, discussion arose and it was getting so out of hand between the two because the Pharisees could find no wrong now in Paul, for perhaps an angel or spirit spoke to him. Paul was being physically pulled back and forth, so badly the commander feared Paul would be physically torn apart. So Paul was taken back to the fortress (castle or prison).
How has God given you words to say in difficult situations?
How important is it to keep in close fellowship with God?
God here seems to have a sense of humor, leading Paul to say he was a Pharisee, and God knew what chaos would result. Why would God work this way?
4. (23:11) The Lord appeared to Paul that night, letting him know that just as he told people in Jerusalem about Jesus, so, too, he would be preaching the Good News in Rome. It was God’s will for Paul to come to Jerusalem, even though some scholars and theologians think differently. And it is God’s will for Paul to go to Rome. Both in Jerusalem and Rome, Paul would face persecution, imprisonment and eventually death in Rome, but God would be allowing that in Paul’s life and still be the will of God. We need to be careful to term everything bad that happens to us as not God’s will, and everything good happening to us as God’s will.
5. (23:12-22) The Jews were not happy with what was going on, so forty (40) of them made an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until Paul was dead. So they went to the leading priests of the Council to tell of this oath and devise a plan to have the High Council request Paul return for some more examining. On the way they would jump the guards and kill Paul. Obviously the Council politics and position were more important than God, because the resurrection dispute had died down.
Paul’s nephew heard about the plot and told Paul. Paul had his nephew go to the commander, as an officer took the nephew. The nephew was able to see Paul, as Roman prisoners were accessible to relatives and friends for food and other items. So the nephew told the commander everything, just as it would happen, and who was involved. The commander had the young man keep this a total secret.
God used a young man, Paul’s nephew, to help save Paul’s life. What young people in your congregation have the potential to do great things for God?
What special roles can these young people be involved in now to help develop them?
Who could mentor these young people? Are you willing to develop people biblically?
6. (23:23-24) The Roman commander ordered Paul to be sent to Caesarea, the Roman headquarters for the region. With a protection group of 200 soldiers, along with 200 spearmen and 70 horsemen, a total of 470 military, Paul was to be sent to Caesarea and safely to Governor Felix. God chose the Roman army to deliver Paul to Caesarea, and away from the enemy. We need to let God orchestrate ways, don’t limit Him by doing things your way.
How do we limit God?
What does God want to do in your life now, but you are limiting or resisting Him?
7. (23:25-32) The Roman commander, Claudius Lysias, sent a letter to Governor Felix, who served from 52 to 59 A.D. Pontius Pilate held this same position earlier. The governor ran the army, kept the peace and gathered taxes. Luke wrote down what was in the letter, for he could have heard it in court when Paul went before Felix, or a copy might have been given to Paul as a courtesy to a Roman citizen.
The letter let the governor know what had transpired between Paul and the Jews. Lysias saw no crime worthy of death and for Paul’s protection, he was being brought to Caesarea. There the accusers could bring their charges. So the soldiers took Paul to Antipatris the first day and the horsemen took Paul the rest of the way to Caesarea.
X. Paul in Caesarea (23:33 – 25:13)
A. (23:33 – 24:27) Felix encounters Paul
1. (23:33-24:9) Felix met Paul right away and found out what province Paul was from – Cilicia. After reading the letter and learning a bit more about Paul, Felix said he would hear the case himself when the accusers arrived. Paul was kept in Herod’s Praetorium, or the prison at Herod’s headquarters.
Within five days, Ananias, the high priest, along with some of the Jewish
leaders and an orator/lawyer, Tertullus, brought charges against Paul.
They had traveled the sixty miles or 100 kilometers to get to Caesarea
from Jerusalem. They were determined to get rid of Paul.
Tertullus immediately brought up the charges against Paul. Three
charges were brought against Paul: 1) Paul was a troublemaker, stirring up
riots among the Jews around the world (sedition), inciting rebellion
against the Roman government; 2) Paul is a ringleader of an
unrecognized religious set, the Nazarenes, which was against Roman law;
and 3) Paul was trying to desecrate, defile the Temple. They would have
naturally judged Paul by their law, but Claudius Lysias took Paul violently
away, so they were appealing to Felix’s court, hoping Paul would be
executed, so as to keep the peace in Palestine. This was all true, for they
encouraged cross-examination of Paul and all the Jews chimed in, saying
everything Tertullus said was true. The Nazarenes referred to Christians,
named after Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth.
In just a few minutes, Tertullus flattered Felix, accused Paul of three
charges, and subtly accused Lysias of dereliction of duty. This orator
knew how to speak and with pinpoint accuracy of what they wanted said.
Have you been accused of a false crime or accusation?
How did you respond? How should spiritual leaders deal with false accusations?
2. (24:10-16) Now it was Paul’s turn as the governor motioned to him to rise and speak. Paul would refute their points one by one and also present the Gospel through his defense. Paul’s accusers could not produce concrete evidence to support the accusations. Where were those Jews from western Asia who Paul supposedly incited? He was worshipping in the Temple when the accusers grabbed him, but he started no riot in Jerusalem. Paul did say he was one of the Way members. He worshipped the God of their ancestors, believing in the Jewish law and everything written in the prophecy books, that being the Old Testament. Paul brought in that he believed in the resurrection of both the just and the unjust. He was witnessing! His conscience was clear before both God and man, something he always strived for.
3. (24:17-21) Paul indicated he had returned to Jerusalem after being gone for some time. He had brought money to aid his people and offer sacrifices to God. He was in the Temple completing his purification ritual and no riot was happening. Besides, some Asian Jews were there also, and if anyone could bring charges against Paul, it was them, but they had not. At the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council, the only thing that got some people upset was when Paul said he was on trial for believing in the resurrection. The charges brought by Tertullus were false.
4. (24:22-27) Felix could not decide what to make the verdict, so he would have Lysias, the Roman commander, come and testify. Felix also knew about the Way, for Christians had been a source of discussion for some time, plus Felix knew Christians did not go around stirring up riots. Paul stayed in custody, but was given a great deal of liberty.
In a few days, Felix brought his wife Drusilla, a Jew, to hear Paul talk about faith in Jesus. Paul challenged them about righteousness (walking and living the right way – Felix had taken Drusilla, another man’s wife), self-control and judgment to come. Felix was terrified, and rightly so, for what he had done and the reality of eternal separation from God. Felix sent Paul away, and said he would send for Paul again, hoping Paul would eventually bribe Felix to let Paul go. This occurred a great deal over the next two years, until Festus took Felix’s place. To save face with the Jews, Felix never released Paul, even though Paul was never convicted of a crime. Felix lost his job in late 59 or 60 A.D.
Felix and Drusilla never responded positively to the gospel. They had to know what they did to get married was not right, but their hearts were hard. What could have changed their lives and impacted the Roman world ended up to be noise to them. Felix had no courage nor boldness to do what was right.
How committed are you to the gospel even when you know it is not popular, or you could get in trouble for speaking truth?
What would have been some of the areas Paul discussed with Felix when Paul had a private audience with Felix and Drusilla?
Do you have the courage to do what is right?
B. Festus hears Paul’s case (25-1-12)
1. (25:1-8) Three days after taking office, Festus traveled to Jerusalem, where the Jewish leaders presented their cast against Paul, desiring a transfer of location for the trial, because they would have ambushed the group bringing Paul to Jerusalem. Paul was in Caesarea and Festus would be returning there in 8 to 10 days, and the trial would be there. Any accuser could come along and make their case against Paul at that time.
The day after returning, Festus held court (because this whole thing had gone on long enough). When Paul arrived in court, the Jews made accusations they could not prove. Paul denied the charges and said he had committed no crime against the Jewish laws, Temple nor Roman government.
Can you say you have a clear conscience and lifestyle whenever, if there are accusations, no one would find fault?
Are there relationships that you need to reconcile and/or make restitution?
2. (25:9-12) Festus wanted to please the Jews, so he asked if Paul was willing to go to Jerusalem to stand trial. (Felix probably had told Festus all about the plot to kill Paul, and why Paul was in Caesarea.) No way, according to Paul, for here in Caesarea. This was a Roman court and he, being a Roman citizen, had that right. And Paul knew Festus knew that Paul was innocent. If Paul had done something worthy of death, Paul said he would die, but if innocent, no one had a right to turn him over to the Jews to be killed. So he appealed to have his case heard in Caesar’s court which was right for every Roman citizen. After conferring with his advisors, Festus agreed to allow Paul to appeal to Caesar.
Paul’s goal was to get to Rome and preach the gospel. Now was his opportunity. Festus also found a way to get Paul out of the country and pacify the Jews. Paul could claim Rome’s protection. Plus, Paul’s good reputation and clear conscience helped him remain guiltless before God and blameless before the world. It is probable that Festus would have sent Paul to Jerusalem (to die), but with Paul’s right to appeal to Caesar, Paul was no longer an issue for Festus.
How many of us would be willing to use difficult situations to accomplish the vision God laid on our hearts? What hardships in your life bring glory to God?
How do you develop blamelessness or being above reproach with people? What areas of your life do you need to hand over to God so that you live a blameless life? (I Tim. 3:2)
XI. An Audience Before King Agrippa (25:13-26:32)
A. (25:13-22) Herod Agrippa II – his great-uncle, Herod Antipas, actually met Jesus during Jesus’ trial and like Agrippa, who would hear the Gospel, did not respond either. While Agrippa and his sister Bernice, the two of whom were having an incestuous relationship, went to visit Festus. The two wanted to work together and cooperate with each other in governing their lands. So Festus told Agrippa about Paul, and that no formal charges had been issued against Paul, but he insisted on appealing to Caesar. Perhaps Agrippa could help with his Jewish descent on the whole mess and actually have a charge brought against Paul so there would be something official to charge Paul when sent before Caesar. The whole case dealt with religious accusations, and Festus was perplexed.
B. (25:23-27) So Agrippa said to have Paul come before him, and so Festus was hoping Agrippa would be able to offer up a charge against Paul. You could not charge someone for believing in the Resurrection. The Lord said Paul would appear before kings, and prophecy was being fulfilled. This was an opportunity for Paul to share the Gospel and he did not miss out on that opportunity!
Do you take advantage of opportunities even when you are not treated correctly?
What are some situations like that?
C. (26:1-3) Agrippa invited Paul to speak, and he spoke. He was not on trial, so he is not defending himself. He is sharing the Gospel. Many people see this piece as one of the greatest pieces of literature, secular or inspired. Because he appealed to Caesar, neither Agrippa or Festus can condemn nor set Paul free.
There was a lot of pomp and festivity surrounding this public hearing, because King Agrippa and Bernice came in splendor and pageantry. For two years Paul was a prisoner. He had to be somewhat impatient by now, but as a prisoner he came before Agrippa and spoke with conviction and passion. He said he was thankful to be able to come before Agrippa, and that Agrippa was an expert on Jewish customs and issues. So Agrippa could discern what was factual and what were false accusations.
D. (26:4-18) The Jewish leaders were well aware that Paul had an excellent Jewish training and became a Pharisee. So Paul is on trial for looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise made to the forefathers, which is the same hope of all twelve tribes of Israel. Is it wrong to have that hope? Is it so incredible that God can raise someone from the dead? He uses questions to keep Agrippa involved.
Paul shared how he was a persecutor of and opposed to the followers of Jesus, doing whatever necessary to crush the movement of the Way. On his way to Damascus, armed with the authority of the leading priests, a great light from heaven hit Paul and knocked everyone off their horses. A voice only Paul heard asked why he was persecuting Jesus – know how hard it is to fight against God’s will, or, translated, ox goads or pricks.
Jesus revealed Himself to Paul, letting Paul know it was Jesus he was persecuting. Paul would now be Jesus’ servant and witness, both to the Jews and Gentiles (Agrippa was a Gentile). He would be protected from the Jews and Gentiles. Paul would be sent to the Gentiles to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, from Satan’s power to God’s, receiving the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among God’s people set apart by faith in Jesus!
E. (26:19-23) Paul told of his response to the vision – that he was compelled to tell the story wherever he went and to whomever would listen, first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. Paul seemed to be emphasizing that Agrippa would do the same thing. Yet some Jews arrested Paul in the temple for doing this and tried to kill him. But God protected him and gave the opportunity that day to share with all who were listening, teaching what Moses and the prophets said would happen, that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, resurrect, as a light to both the Gentiles and Jews alike.
F. (26:24-32) Suddenly Festus shouted that Paul was insane, too much study had made Paul crazy. Paul was risking his life for a message that was offensive to Jews and unbelievable to Gentiles. Jesus got the same response. Paul calmly answered Festus, showing he was not a madman and fanatical. He was speaking sober, honest truth. Emphasizing that Agrippa knew about these things. Paul drew Agrippa back into the discussion, for Agrippa had heard about the events of Jesus and the resurrection, as many witnessed Jesus after the resurrection, seen His miracles (these witnesses are mentioned in literature outside the Bible, too). Pinpointing Agrippa with the question of whether he believed the prophets, Agrippa stopped Paul and asked if Paul thought Agrippa could become a Christian so quickly. Paul had connected with Agrippa’s understanding of what Agrippa knew about Jesus, the Jews and Old Testament, upon which Paul built the evidence. Paul simply responded that all in that audience that day would respond to the Gospel as Paul had. Paul gave a sincere personal appeal or testimony to show his deep concern for their salvation. He would stay in chains if it meant salvation for others.
Agrippa and the others talked Paul’s case over, and if it had not been that Paul appealed to Caesar, he would have been released, for Paul had done nothing worthy of death or prison.
Paul used many questions throughout his message. What skills or techniques, like
question-asking, do you use to keep your audience with you?
How was it that Paul could calmly answer Festus, when Festus rudely interrupted Paul as he was getting to the key part of his message?
To what level are you concerned for the salvation of others? A deep enough level to suffer hardships?
Where does God want you, as a spiritual leader, to be serving Him in the Kingdom right now? Five years from now? Ten years from now?
What kept Agrippa from becoming a Christian?
XII. On to Rome (27:1-28:10)
A. Paul sets sail for Rome (27:1-12)
1. (27:1-3) This chapter has been considered the finest description of a sea voyage in the ancient world. Sir William Ramsay considers this a masterpiece and the most accurate voyage description ever written. Luke accompanied Paul as Luke uses the “we” pronoun.
Once Paul and other prisoners set sail for Italy, Julius, a captain of the Imperial Regiment (remember Cornelius in Acts 10), was assigned to guard Paul. They developed a respect for each other – Paul had a certain amount of freedom as Julius allowed Paul to go ashore at Sidon so friends could care for his needs. Aristarchus, the man dragged into the amphitheater in Ephesus, was along.
How does your character look, close up and personal, as Paul was given freedom from Julius?
Can you be trusted? Is your word good?
How do you develop trust and respect from others?
2. (27:4-12) Head winds made it hard to sail westward from Sidon, so they sailed north of Cyprus, the island, and the mainland of Asia. They passed the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia, landing at Myra. There the officer found an Egyptian ship from Alexandria headed for Italy, and they got aboard. The other prisoners were possibly gladiators and would be fed to wild beasts. These men had no hope, but Paul was along and they would hear of real hope!
Rough sailing was the way things were as they sailed in October (AD 59). September is doubtful sailing time and impossible in November. They had no compasses and navigated by the stars, so overcast skies made it nearly impossible. Winds were against the ship, so they sailed on the south side of Crete. When they got to the Fair Havens harbor, because of the time they lost, Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about staying there for the winter; otherwise shipwreck could result. Most of the crew wanted to go on to Phoenix, a good harbor with better exposure. The owner and pilot wanted to get to Phoenix, but bad weather quickly came.
B. The Storm (27:13-44)
1. (27:13-26) The south wind blew and they went on, but a typhoon wind strength, called a northeaster, caught the ship and blew it out into the Mediterranean Sea. What they were hoping to do by staying close to Crete did not happen and now they were pushed out to sea, almost crashing into the island of Cauda (Claudia). To navigate better (or at all), they hoisted the lifeboat aboard and banded the ship by wrapping ropes around it to hold it together and strengthen the hull. The sailors were afraid they would be driven on the Northern African sand bars of Syrtis, so they lowered the sea anchor and were driven by the winds. To survive, they let the cargo overboard to lighten the load. Then they tossed the ship’s equipment and anything else they could find, overboard. The storm continued unabated for days, so strong they could not see the sun nor stars. Thus, all hope was gone.
Finally, after no one had eaten for a long time, Paul got the crew together and reminded them they should have listened to him and not left Fair Havens, because God was leading him, Paul. It would have saved a lot of turmoil. He did say no one would die, even though the ship would be lost. He could say this because the night before, an angel let Paul know he would stand trial before Caesar and no one would die, yet they would shipwreck on an island. So take courage, for he believed God.
How close do you walk with the Lord, that you can sense His leading?
Paul believed God. What does that mean to you?
Do you (I) believe God? How do you develop such faith?
What are you going through in your life where you are learning to believe God for something?
2. (27:27-38) About midnight on the 14th day of the storm, the sailors sensed they were coming to land. They had been driven across the central part of the Mediterranean Sea. They made soundings, which were made by throwing a weighted, marked rope into the water. When the lead hit the bottom, sailors could tell the depth of the water from the marks on the rope. Getting closer to the island (Malta), they were concerned about hitting rocks, so they threw out four anchors and prayed for daylight. Some of the sailors wanted to abandon ship and tried to lower the lifeboat, but Paul objected that they needed the sailors, so the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and it was then gone.
As daybreak approached, Paul begged everyone to eat, for no one had eaten for two weeks. No one would perish, so Paul took some bread, gave thanks to God before all of them, took a piece and ate it. Everyone was encouraged, and all 276 of the people aboard began eating. To further lighten the ship’s load, the remaining wheat was tossed over.
What kind of courage did it take to do what Paul did on the ship, for he was a prisoner?
What significance was it that he took bread, gave thanks and broke it before 275 people? How closely did Paul walk with God?
3. (27:39-44) When morning came, they could tell they were near a bay, though they did not know what coastline they saw. They cut the anchors, hoping to float between the rocks. The ship hit a shoal as they tried to navigate to the bay. There the ship began to break apart. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners so there would be no escapees, as they swam ashore, but the commanding officer wanted to spar Paul, so he did not let them carry out their plan. He did tell all who could swim to jump overboard, while others to go for planks and debris from the ship, to get ashore. Everyone made it.
Julius, the head officer, the commander, was impressed with Paul and didn’t want Paul to die. The soldiers would pay with their own lives if any prisoner did escape, so they wanted the prisoners killed. Yet Paul had impacted Julius’ life so much that he probably went against all the training he had been given to say no to the killings.
Who are you, as a spiritual leader, impacting to change their thinking processes?
How do you impact someone that much? Do you believe you can impact someone that positively for the Lord?
What do you need to develop in your character to have such impact?
C. On the Island of Malta (28:1-10)
1. Once they got ashore they realized the island was Malta (100 km or 60 miles south of Sicily). The islanders welcomed everyone and built a fire. The Maltans were of Phoenician descent, so they did not speak Greek.
2. (28:3-6) Paul went to get some wood for the fire and a snake bit and hung onto him. The islanders thought for sure he was a murderer and justice was coming to him, but Paul shook it off and did not swell up, dropping dead. After quite a while, the islanders saw no harm had come to Paul and decided he was a god.
God promised Paul would make it to Rome, no matter what obstacles came along. The islanders were superstitious, thus all the thoughts they had about Paul. Now he was being thought of as a god, like in Acts 14:11-18.
3. (28:7-10) Divine appointment with the chief official of Malta.
Publius, the chief official of the island, had an estate near the shore. He was gracious to all of them and fed the 276 for three days. His father became ill with fever and dysentery, so Paul laid hands on the man, and he was healed. Other sick people came and also were healed. Thus Paul and others were given honors and when they left to sail again, plenty of supplies went along. Wherever Paul went, the effects of the gospel lasted!
How do people know you are a believer in Christ?
Why would God give Paul the ability to heal?
What divine appointments have you had in your life? Why does God use us for His purposes?
XIII. Rome!! (Acts 28:11-31)
A. The final voyage (28:11-16)
1. It was three months before they set sail again, on an Alexandrian ship with twin Roman gods (Castor and Pollux) as the figureheads. First, the ship stopped at Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, for three days. Then they sailed across to Rhegium on the southern tip of Italy. South winds blew the next day and the ship finally ended in Puteoli. Some believers were there who invited Paul and others to stay for seven days. Then they went to Rome.
2. Christian believers heard the group was coming, so these Roman believers met Paul and others at the Forum, about 70 kilometers or 43 miles from Rome on the Appian Way. Others met the group at the Three Taverns (35 miles or 57 kilometers from Rome). This greatly encouraged Paul, thanking God and gaining courage. In Rome Paul was permitted to have private lodging but guarded by a soldier.
3. Believers lived in Rome and became Christians at different opportunities. A tavern was where people could get food and lodging. Christians came to meet Paul. They knew of him, for he had written his letter to the Romans before going there.
How excited do people get if they know you are coming to visit them?
Why was Paul well received?
What kind of reputation do you have before both Christians and non-Christians?
How do you develop a good reputation?
B. In Rome (28:17-31)
1. (28:17-20) After three days, Paul met with the Jewish leaders in Rome. The decree from Claudius expelling the Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2) must have been temporary, as they were definitely back in Rome. Paul told them how he got to Rome, that he was falsely accused, having done nothing against Jewish tradition or customs, and had appealed to Caesar when the Jews wanted him dead. He could have brought charges against those Jews, but didn’t. So Paul wanted to connect with the Roman Jews to set things straight and share that the reason he was in chains was because of his belief in the hope of Israel, the Messiah, who had come. God had worked all things for Paul’s good, and used Paul everywhere Paul went because Paul was obedient!
2. (28:21-22) The Jews had heard nothing about Paul, no letters or reports from people who arrived in Rome. They were anxious to hear about what Paul believed, for the only thing they knew about the Christians was that they were denounced everywhere. They were a threat to the Roman establishment. Christians believed in one God. The Romans had many, including Caesar. Christians were committed to a higher authority than Caesar.
Paul’s obedience is seen on every page in Acts 9 to the end. How obedient are you to the leading of the Holy Spirit? Is there something right now that you are struggling with in obeying God?
How do you develop obedience?
Why were Christians denounced everywhere?
3. (28:23-27) From that time on, times were set up for the Jews and Gentiles to come to Paul’s house where he was under house arrest, to learn about the Kingdom of God and Jesus. Paul used the five books of Moses and the books of the prophets because of the Jews involved, showing Jesus was the Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s promises. From the book of Romans, written ten years earlier, showed the dialogue Paul had with the Jews in Rome and how he built on it here.
Paul would teach from morning to night and some did become believers. They all would argue back and forth about what was said, and Paul shared this before they finally left him, a passage from Isaiah, as the Holy Spirit instructed Isaiah, “Go to the Jews and say, they will hear my words and not understand, they will see and not perceive its meaning. The hearts of the people are hard, ears can’t hear and have closed their eyes. So they can’t see, hear, nor understand, thus not turning to the Messiah to heal them (Isaiah 6:9-10).
Why would the ears, eyes and hearts of the Jews be closed and hard to the Messiah?
Are there people you make contact with who do the same thing?
4. (28:28-31) The salvation offered is for both the Jews and the Gentiles, which the Gentiles will accept. (Some versions add verse 29, that after saying this, the Jews left arguing vigorously.)
For two years Paul was under house arrest and lived in his own place that he paid for. Many visited him and he proclaimed the Kingdom of God with boldness and teaching about the Lord Jesus. No one tried to stop him, he had total freedom to preach the Good News.
Paul also wrote letters during this time, like Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians, and wrote a personal letter, Philemon. People who were with Paul or visited included Luke (who was with Paul), Timothy, Tychicus, Epaphroditus and Mark.
Tradition says Paul was released after two years of house arrest and set off on a fourth missionary journey. Some reasons for this thinking are:
1) Luke does not give an account of his trial before Caesar, and Luke was detailed. 2) The prosecution had two years to come up with a case for trial and time ran out. 3) From the book of Philippians, written during his imprisonment in Rome, Paul implied he would be released and travel again. 4) Paul mentioned several places he wanted to share the gospel, but never had visited them in his first three journeys. 5) Early Christian literature plainly spells out other travels made by Paul.
Paul might have traveled to Spain and back to church in Greece.
I Timothy and Titus were written during this time. Paul was imprisoned again later in his life, probably in Rome, which he wrote down in his last letter (2 Timothy).
How will you make sure that you remain faithful to the Lord until you die?
How are you growing in your faith today, and what plans do you have to keep growing? Do you have a growth plan?
Who will help you attain those goals?
What dream does God want to carry out in your life?
B. Mutual Submission
(Source: “Loose Lips” – Today’s Christian Women (Nov/Dec 2000)
While at a restaurant after lunch, my friend Michelle and her coworker, Sharon, stopped in the restroom to fix their makeup before returning to their jobs. Their small talk turned to the subject of a woman who drove them crazy. Michelle launched into a two-minute diatribe about their coworker Beth. As Michelle prepared to divulge more, a stall door opened. Out walked Beth, red-faced and angry.
Michelle and Beth stared at each other in embarrassed panic. Michelle knew she couldn’t take her words back. In the instant their eyes met, Beth fled out the door. That afternoon, Beth didn’t return to work. The next day Michelle heard through the grapevine that Beth had resigned. While other staff members cheered what seemed to be good news, Michelle felt miserable. She wished she had talked to Beth instead of talking about Beth.
Although that situation happened five years ago, Michelle’s never forgotten it. She tried to reach Beth several times by phone, then wrote her a letter of apology. Beth never responded. Michelle says she learned her lesson about loose lips the hard way. What’s worse is that Michelle’s a Christian, and Beth, to her knowledge, isn’t.
A. Paul arrives in Jerusalem and is met by the church leaders (Acts 21:17-26)
1. The problem –
a) Rumors spreading about Paul that he is encouraging the Jewish believers to turn away from the Law of Moses and not have their children circumcised.
b) Paul is now in Jerusalem.
c) They had the ruling from Acts 15.
2. Solution – Take four men ready to take a vow and shave their heads. Go to the Temple for purification ceremony and Paul pay their expenses (and his) so as to get their heads shaved (Nazarite vow).
3. Implications –
a) “Squelch the rumors” - why do Christians spread rumors?
b) Paul did not reject nor water down the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. He was following something traditionally done to show his culture was still important to him. He could still accept the tradition that the Old Testament prepares and teaches us about Jesus’ coming. He was keeping the law, as custom, to avoid offending those he wished to reach with the gospel. What traditions do you have that go deep inside that are hard to break, and how do they affect your ministry today?
c) He was willing to pick his battles of doctrine very carefully, willing to compromise on the non-essentials of salvation, becoming all things to all people (I Corinthians. 9:19-23).
- Non-essentials of salvation – what are the essentials of
What theology are you willing to die for?
d) Would Paul have been justified by not taking the vow and going through the purification rites?
- Did the grace of God permit Paul to take a Jewish vow to
win the Jews? I Corinthians 7:17-20
B. Submission – Paul submitted himself to others to reach them, to minister to them.
1. Paul had the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get his own way, realizing the battles willing to die for were fewer and fewer.
2. Ephesians 5:21 – Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, willing to put the needs of others ahead of our own, to place our rights, subordinate our rights to someone else.
3. Philippians 2:3-4 - Seeing the needs and rights of someone else and making that our priority – not our own – serving others
- we can then value people, love unconditionally – we don’t have to be treated the same as we treat others.
C. Paul’s Character – what does this say about his character?
1. When someone can focus on others, they are content with themselves. They know who they are and as believers, their identity is Jesus. Thus they can deny themselves – Mark 8:34 – If you truly follow Jesus, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. If someone asked who you are, how would you respond?
2. Give your life to Jesus find it back. Jesus lived a cross-life where position and status meant nothing. He was into towels, not titles. Want to be great – serve. . . be a slave. Luke 22:24-26
3. To deny yourself, to give your life to Jesus that way –
a) Be obedient to the Word.
b) Renew the mind (hard to get tradition out of your head).
d) Know yourself – how you were created – contentment.
e) Know what you believe and why you believe.
4. Paul could go through the ceremony because his identity was in Jesus. He knew who he was and he knew what he believed and why he believed.
5. Why is it important to show mutual submission to one another?
a) Shows Jesus.
b) Obedience – making people more important than you.
c) Build up the Body.
d) Glorifies God.
e) Impacts our culture/world.
C. Male-dominant culture -
1. Paul lived in such a culture. If men in that culture began to put their wives, children and slaves above them, it would be a dramatic life-style change for the men in that culture, and that would impact the world view of their time. Paul gave personal moral responsibility to people like women, children, slaves – who had no legal or moral status in their culture. He made decision-makers of people who were forbidden to make decisions. (Colossians 3:18-22)
2. As believers, there is no second-class status. We are equal at the cross, and if we are to follow Christ, others must come first, and we deny ourselves. Place Bible truth over culture. As Christians, we are to impact our culture – this is culture impacting today.
D. Willing to suffer when doing good – I Peter 1:20-22; 2:19-21; 3:15-18.
1. Like Jesus, be willing to suffer when doing good.
2. Submission ends when it becomes destructive – abuse.
C. COMPANIONS OF PAUL
Acts 9:26-28; 11:19-26; 12:25-13:5,13; 15:36-41
All the disciples were fearful of Saul (Paul) because of his reputation. They really did not believe that Paul could actually be on their side. They were possibly thinking that Paul was up to a trick to easily round up the believers in Jerusalem. Yet a disciple by the name of Barnabas took the risk and befriended Paul (Acts 9:26-28). Barnabas was the mediator to introduce Paul to the apostles and explain what happened to Paul on the way to Damascus and what had transpired in Paul’s life over the past several years.
Who are the people that encouraged or built into, who saw potential in you and helped you develop to become who you are today?
Who is someone you could encourage?
Barnabas played a key role in the development of Paul. His name was Joses, and renamed “son of prophecy” or “encourager.” Due to his character and manner, he was renamed this by his friends. He was a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, a prophet and minister with the apostles. Barnabas and Paul established a relationship that extended over many years. Barnabas gave legitimacy to Paul and his message, as Barnabas was highly respected in both Jerusalem and Antioch.
If your peers gave you a new name like Barnabas received, what would you be called?
His strength was identifying potential kingdom workers and establishing new servants in ministry like Paul and John Mark. Barnabas served as the head leader initially in Paul’s first missionary journey. As a spiritual leader, one must be looking for the potential in younger Christians to help mentor and develop them to be the servants God intends for them.
Who is someone helping you develop?
Who are you developing?
Due to the persecution in Jerusalem, believers were scattered (Act 11:19-26). News of the conversions reached the leaders in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to check things out in Antioch. He saw evidences of the grace of God and encouraged the new believers. Barnabas was a good, Spirit-filled man, greatly used to reach people for Christ.
During this time Paul was in Tarsus, not far from Antioch. Barnabas needed help with the ministry so he went to get Paul to help with the ministry in Antioch. For a whole year, the two of them ministered together. Barnabas mentored Paul. Paul was being grounded in the faith, developed in ways that can only occur when someone disciples you. They taught and discipled a great number of people.
Who is someone you can invest your life into right now?
Why is it important to do ministry together when you are discipling someone?
Who is a young person who is a believer and shows great potential? Work with him/her.
In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit said to set apart Barnabas and Paul for the work they were called, the first missionary journey. With them they took Barnabas’ relative, John Mark along who had been discipled by the pair. That was short lived when John Mark decided to leave the ministry team (Acts 12:25 - 13:1-5,13).
Paul and Barnabas completed the journey, but when it was time to head out on the second missionary journey, Paul was adamant that John Mark not join the team again even though Barnabas wanted John Mark along. The disagreement caused the two men to split, each going in separate directions (Acts 15:36-41)
What personality conflicts could result between Paul and Barnabas?
Did they handle this conflict over John Mark correctly?
Barnabas was a people person. He was quick to forgive, fast to see the positive aspects of a person and dwell on them. His nature was to encourage, high on praise and be praised, hated rejection and was loyal. He was warm, empathetic, good people/problem solver, approachable, good listener and probably over-tolerant with non-producers, sometimes lost sight of the task. Barnabas took risks with young, new believers. Spiritual leaders need to seek God, asking Him to show us who we can invest our lives in and impact them for the Kingdom. By not following this model set forth in the Bible, we are missing out on some of the greatest ministry God offers to Kingdom laborers.
Describe both Paul and Barnabas. Who in your church is similar in personality to them?
How many chances/opportunities do you give someone?
How mature should a person be to get him/her involved in ministry?
What do you look for in spiritual leaders?
Acts 15:22 – 19:10 (2 Corinthians 1:19,
I Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1,
I Peter 5:12)
His name means “wood” implying he was a Hellenistic Jew, being a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37). He is also indicated as a prophet (Acts 15:32) as he was a delegate at the Jerusalem Council and joined Paul and Barnabas back in Antioch to let people know what had occurred with the Council.
Silas had to have impressed Paul quickly, as he chose Silas to take over for Barnabas when the pair separated (Acts 15:39-40). He had to be stable, a strong believer, one who could encourage and direct the young churches. He was a good teacher, as you get that understanding in the last of part of Acts 15 and 2 Cor. 1:19. During the second missionary journey, Paul left Silas (and Timothy) at Berea (Acts 17:14). They did not meet up with Paul for some time. Silas had the maturity and understanding to remain behind, to continue to minister to the Bereans without Paul being there.
What were some of the qualities and traits of Silas that attracted Paul to him?
How do you develop in your faith?
Who could continue the work you are doing if God chose to move you somewhere else or you were unable to perform your responsibilities?
If you do not have someone that could continue the work, why not? What will you need to do to assure continuation?
Silas was beaten, bloodied, hungry and unjustly imprisoned, but was willing to go through all that for the sake of the Gospel, as Paul and Silas both sang praises to God (Acts 16:16-40). He was willing to rejoice in suffering for Christ (Colossians 1:24).
In helping establish the Thessalonian churches, he joined Paul, assisting him in writing those letters, and also Peter in writing his letter (I Peter 5:12). Silas was a steady, clear influence for many years in the early church movement. He was willing to be obedient to God, even if that meant giving up what made him secure. He served God faithfully, though not flashy but effective. He was a very quality complement to Paul on the missionary journey.
Is there something God is leading you to do through obedience, where you are giving up security?
How willing are you to be obedient to God’s leading?
How is one able to praise God when going through difficult life situations?
What are you doing, to the best of your ability, to ensure finishing strong spiritually when you get to the end of your life?
Priscilla and Aquila
Acts 18, Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19;
2 Timothy 4:19
Paul met Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth (18:1-4) and opened their home to Paul. The two had come from Italy, where Aquila had been born in Pontus. Claudius Caesar had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome and the couple ended up in Corinth, which was the political and commercial center of Greece. It was sin city for sex. A temple built for Aphrodite, the goddess of love and war, was on a large hill behind the city. Sex and drinking could be found all over. Sex was a religion.
Paul found common ground with the couple as they were tentmakers also. Tentmaker was used to describe a leather worker. Tents were made of goat’s hair and hide and sold to the Roman army. Every Sabbath Paul would head to the local synagogue, preaching and trying to convince Jews and Greeks alike of who Jesus was.
What gifts, abilities, skills and experiences do you have where you would be able to connect with people of similar situations?
How does God want to use your home and family for the Kingdom of God? What gifts do you and your spouse offer together to impact people?
Aquila and Priscilla believed the message, receiving in a great deal of spiritual wisdom and biblical understanding. This couple opened their home for ministry and was always mentioned together, operating as one. Churches in Ephesus and Rome were birthed out of their home (Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19).
How important is having a godly home in order to minister to the people with whom God has entrusted to you?
How important is it to put together a team, following the example of Paul?
Who could you disciple and bring on to your team?
Paul had been in Corinth a year and a half (18:18-22). It was time to head back to Antioch. Priscilla and Aquila went along as Paul took them with him. They sailed to Ephesus where Paul left them when he left Ephesus.
What have you placed in your life schedule to make time to be listening to God?
How do you hear God and His leading?
When have you had a time when the door for ministry was open or shut?
Are you ready to be moved or be used at a moment’s notice for the Kingdom?
Who can help you become better at what you are doing for God? Who can you help to better themselves?
While in Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos speak (18:24-28). He knew the Old Testament and was an eloquent speaker. Once again they opened their home and took Apollos in, teaching him about Jesus. They discipled Apollos and helped him to become even better, plus clearly communicate about. He had known the Old Testament, now with Aquila and Priscilla’s help, he had entered into the New Testament. Being a stabilizing and encouraging force, they assisted their pastor Timothy (2 Timothy 4:19). Aquila and Priscilla were definitely ministry minded. Their willingness to risk their lives for Paul shows their commitment level to Christ (Romans 16:4).
Who needs your assistance and mentoring that has a spiritual potential (zeal) but does not have the knowledge and skills to be an impact for Christ?
What can you teach this person?
How committed are you for Christ? Are you committed enough to risk your life for the advancement of the Kingdom of God?
Acts 16:1-5, 17:14-15) 1 & 2 Timothy, Philippians 2:19-23
Timothy (name means honoring God) was most likely converted by Paul on Paul’s first missionary trip through Lystra (1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 3:10-11). Then on the second trip which was about seven years later, Paul met Timothy (again), who was a young disciple in the faith. His mother Eunice and grandmother Lois had become Jewish believers and faithfully influenced Timothy in his faith (2 Timothy 1:5). His father was a Greek and not a believer. Timothy was young age-wise, and had not been circumcised, which Paul arranged to have done.
Eunice and Lois did a great job discipling Timothy, for he had a very good reputation and was well-thought-of by the believers in both Lystra and Iconium (which was close to a day’s walk away). Timothy was quiet, probably not overly strong, and shy. He had good Bible content and was serving the Lord in his area. Paul saw the potential in Timothy and had him join the team. Plus, to eliminate any controversy, Timothy was circumcised, seeing that it did not occur in the home where Timothy was raised (dad was Greek). Paul chose to mentor Timothy because he saw the potential! He was highly recommended by the church elders for missionary work.
Timothy was known as Paul’s “son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). He became a strong foundation that Paul could build and be utilized in churches throughout the Mediterranean region (Philippians 2:19-23). Paul shared that there was no one else like-minded like Paul. Timothy thought and studied the Scriptures like Paul. No one else in Paul’s life had more investment poured into than Timothy.
Timothy took Paul’s message to others on more than one occasion
(I Thessalonians 3:1-2). He was sent to Corinth to settle problems
(1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10). When Paul left Berea, Timothy stayed with Silas to minister to the church there (Acts 17:14-15), then stayed behind when Paul left Corinth (Acts 18:5). Timothy served the church in Ephesus as noted when Paul wrote 1 Timothy.
Their relationship was mutual. Timothy was Paul’s truest mentoree. They were extremely close as Paul lists Timothy as co-authors in six books (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philemon). He was also a fellow prisoner with Paul (Hebrew 13:23) and was the person Paul requested to come as Paul’s final days drew near (2 Timothy 4:9).
Who is someone you have helped lead to Christ and is in need of being discipled?
What qualities do you look for when determining who to disciple?
Timothy had a much different physical appearance and personality than Paul. How much does do those areas of a person’s life affect ministry?
How did Paul teach Timothy?
What life lessons and spiritual lessons would Timothy have learned while studying and traveling under Paul?
How do you help develop a Biblical mindset in someone?
When do you allow a mentoree to go on his/her own to do ministry?
What was developed in Timothy to allow Paul to send him off to different cities representing Paul? Is there someone in your ministry who is able to represent you when you are absent or you need to send someone to represent you, and you know you will be represented well?
Acts 1:1, 16-28; Luke 1:3; Colossians 4:14
We meet Luke in Acts 16:6-10, when the narrative of Acts becomes “we”. Troas is probably the location Luke and Paul meet. Paul could have led Luke to Christ. Luke is a very humble person as we know very little about him even though he wrote the gospel of Luke and Acts. He speaks very little of himself. He placed the emphasis on others as he wrote.
Luke was a man of compassion. He illustrated Jesus’ compassion both in His power and also the care Jesus showed and treated people. In Luke relationships with women are highlighted. His name is contracted from Lucanus, which is a slave name. He was most likely a freedman practicing a profession not uncommon to slaves.
By trade Luke is a physician, the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) as Paul calls him. Luke was probably called on often for medical reasons as Paul and others were welcomed with whips and stones. Possibly Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”, needed attention being some sort of physical ailment and so Luke was very strategic on the team.
In writing the two books, Luke is an exact historian and an evangelist which you can see in his writings and lifestyle. He was able to write vivid word stories so that we can see what was happening in both books. Luke was with Paul for a long time, being called a fellow laborer (Philemon 24) and the only one with Paul in Rome at the end of Paul’s ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
How would you describe Luke?
In what ways was Luke a great benefit to Paul and the team Paul assembled?
How do you develop humility in your life?
How do you develop a team?
What skills do you have that could be beneficial to the Body of Christ?
Who in your congregation or area has a skill that could be strategic as you build a team of Christians to accomplish the vision God has given you?
Acts 12:12, 13:4-13, 15:36-40; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11; Mark 14:51-52;
1 Peter 5:13
Before we are introduced to John Mark joining the Barnabas and Saul team, we are given a couple of opportunities to meet him first in Mark 14:51-42, most likely being the individual that was spoken about and eyewitness to the arrest of Jesus. and in Acts 12:12, where the apostles and other believers met at the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. He heard and saw the great miracle God performed when Peter got out of prison plus having the apostles around, he learned a lot about Jesus. Peter calls Mark his son in 1 Peter 5:13 for he was converted under Peter’s ministry.
John Mark joined Barnabas and Saul at the beginning of their first missionary journey. He was their helper. He was being discipled by both men. John Mark had been with the two men for several years. Any time we are involved in ministry, we should try to involve others, especially to disciple and/or mentor.
In Act 13:13, Paul, Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Perga in the Pamphylia region. At that seaport, John Mark decided to leave the ministry team. We are never given really any reasons for his leaving. What we do know, he became the point that caused Paul and Barnabas to split. Very few others caused Paul to react the way he did with John Mark.
John Mark’s maturity was still a work in progress. He could have acted more on emotions than the stability to learn how to work with someone different in personality. Paul accused John Mark of lacking courage and commitment. (Acts 15:37-38)
The young man turned things around as he had a change of heart, developed some maturity and became well known for his faithfulness and effectiveness for the Kingdom of God. Paul heard about John Mark’s development and had him become part of the team again.
John Mark was very valuable and was recommended by Paul to the Colossian church (Colossians 4:10). He was Paul’s fellow laborer (Philemon 1:24) and had developed where he understood why Paul took the stand Paul did years earlier in the disagreement with Barnabas. John Mark was certainly profitable to Paul for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). He learned humility, not to keep grudges and realized that a person has to continually mature to be used as a spiritual leader in God’s army. When he left Paul in Acts 13, that could have been the last we ever would have heard of John Mark, but he rose above his immaturity and eventually became one of the fathers of the early Church.
In what ways could John Mark have developed spending time in his mother’s home and listening to the apostles?
Why was John Mark allowed to join Paul and Barnabas’ team?
What do you think made John Mark leave?
What was going through John Mark’s mind when he did leave?
What do you do with people who walk away from your ministry?
What issues or situations would cause you to let go of someone who was involved in ministry?
How did John Mark mature after leaving Paul?
What would have caused Paul to involve John Mark again?
Who do you need to help get back on a ministry team that had previously failed?
How does someone develop maturity and overcome pride and failure to be used again by God?
2 Corinthians 2:13, 7:6-7, 8:16-17, 23, 12:18;
2 Timothy 4:10; Galatians 2:1-4; Titus (1:5)
Titus means honorable. It is highly probable that Titus became a believer through the ministry of Paul. He was a Greek Gentile who was never circumcised because it is possible that he was with Paul during the discussions in Acts 15 about whether Gentile believers had to be circumcised to be true believers.
He had a personality that was similar to Paul’s to include the zeal and drive. When things were not getting resolved in Corinth, Paul’s exhortations were enforced by Titus, whereas Timothy was unable to accomplish that mission (2 Corinthians 7:6-7, 12:18). Titus was a man of great character and an example to follow.
Paul and Titus had the same heart for spiritual things and Paul was able to utilize Titus in very key church plants including in Crete (Titus). Titus was sent there to fix the problems going on in the church and raise up godly men who would oversee the churches there. Paul had him focus on finding such men, mentoring them and having godly women mentoring the younger women, with the teaching centralized on grace and how to live in grace with one another. So Titus’ knowledge of the Scriptures and his life style illustrated Christ.
For Paul to release one of his team and act on behalf of him was a great compliment to Titus. Yet in discipling and mentoring, that is the goal. If we are not willing to train, develop and empower those to whom must follow us, then we are missing the purpose of having a team. Paul took people like Titus and developed the vision and outreach so much more than if he would have done it simply by himself.
Why involve other people in ministry with you?
How do you handle people who do not have the same personality as you do? Do you ignore them, stay away from them or learn to work with them, so as to strengthen the team?
How much confidence would Paul have had to have in Titus to send him off representing Paul in Biblical matters?
Why do you think Titus was able to accomplish and take care of the Corinth problem, while Timothy was unable to do so?
Who can or are you mentoring/discipling right now? What are you sharing with that person to help that person grow spiritually?
How do you empower someone to be able to do ministry?
Was there a person who could have empowered you in ministry but didn’t? Why do you think that occurred? If you were empowered, what happened for you?
8. Other Companions
What can you learn from these team members of Paul?
Tychicus – An Encourager - Colossians 4:7-9; Ephesians 6:21-22;
Titus 3:13; 2 Timothy 4:12
Epaphroditus – Philippians 2:25, 29-30, 4:18
Aristarchus – Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:23
Epaphras – Colossians 1:7-8,4:12-13
Onesimus – Philemon (10-13); Colossians 4:9
Philemon – Philemon (1,4-7,19); Colosse church met in his home
Apollos – Act 18:24-19:1; I Corinthians 1:12, 3:4-6,22, 4:1-6, 16:12;
Onesiphorus – His timely help; 2 Timothy 1:16-18, 4:16-19
Lydia – Acts 16:14-15,60, (Matthew 10:11-13); Philippians 4:18;
Possible financial helper for Paul
Phoebe – Acts 18:18; Romans 16:1
Peter – Galatians 1:18, 2:7-11; 2 Peter 3:15-16
Ananias – Risked his life for Paul; Acts 9:10-19, 22:11
What can you learn from each of these individuals that helped Paul in his ministry? What is unique about each one?
Could Paul have accomplished all the ministry he did without the help of his fellow co-laborers? Why then do so many in ministry today work independently or are not intentionally mentoring or developing others?
In what areas do you need assistance to accomplish the ministry God has led you to lead?
Do you know your spiritual gifts and passion plus understand how you have been uniquely assembled by God (personality, interests, life experiences, habits)