- Follow the voyage on a map. What were the outstanding events the voyage, and what encouragements did Paul receive during the early part of the journey? Has God given you an unexpected blessing in a difficult time?
- Why was Paul’s advice disregarded at first, but heeded later? Cf. verses 9-12 and 21-25.
30 June, 2015
Note. Verse 9 ‘The fast’: the Day of Atonement, which came in the latter part of September, and was considered by the Jews as marking roughly the close of the safe season for sea travel.
29 June, 2015
- What do you learn about obedience from Paul’s example (verses 19-23)? Note especially (a) the place where he witnessed, (b) the message he gave, (c) the cost involved, and (d) the help God gave. Does your obedience cost you anything?
- What was the motive that enabled Paul to speak so boldly and yet politely before such men as Festus and Agrippa? Cf. verse 29 with 1 Cor. 9:16-22 and 2 Cor. 5:14. Is this true in your life?
28 June, 2015
- Paul makes his defense before King Agrippa. He deals with three themes: (a) his life before he was converted (verses 4-11), (b) his conversion (verses 12-15), and (c) his commission to serve Jesus Christ (verses 16-18). Sum up in a few word each of these three periods in Paul’s life. What made this change and what was the real question at issue in this trial? See verses 6-8; 13-15.
- How does the Lord Jesus, in the commission which He gave to Paul (verses 16-18), describe (a) the lost condition of mankind, (b) the content of salvation, and (c) the method of salvation?
27 June, 2015
- What evidence is there that Festus can be commended for his fair dealings with Paul? Nevertheless, what major fault did he reveal (cf. Mk. 15:15; Acts 24:27; 25:9)? Do you believe that God sometimes uses non-Christians, with their faults, for His own purposes? Cf. Is. 45: 1. Should this alter our attitude towards people in authority?
- What promises of God are now being fulfilled in Paul’s experience? Cf. Acts 9:15, 16; 22:15. What condition did Paul have to satisfy? How would God’s word prevent him from feeling that the last two years awaiting trial had been a waste of time?
26 June, 2015
- 24: 22-27. Paul before Felix. What four motives controlled Felix’s treatment of Paul? Do self-interest and fear ever stop you from doing what is right?
- 25:1-12. Paul before Festus. Why did Paul refuse Festus’s offer for a trial in Jerusalem, and instead, as a Roman citizen, claim his right to appeal to Caesar? Do you think Paul was taking the right course of action regardless of the consequences?
Note. 25:11. A Roman citizen could appeal to a higher Roman magistrate against his sentence, or at any stage in his trial. Paul now appeals to Nero.
25 June, 2015
- The Jewish prosecution employed on this occasion a trained advocate, Tertullus. What four charges are brought against Paul? What evidence is produced in support?
- How did Paul answer these charges? See verses 11-13; 14-16; 17, 18. Note especially (a) that Paul had to contend with unsupported and false accusations (verses 19-21). He was firm but calm in refuting them. Are you, when you are in the same situation? (b) Paul was able to give a reason for the hope that he had (verses 14-16). Can you? (c) Paul was really on trial because he believed in the resurrection of the dead (verse 21). Does this truth make a practical difference to your life?
24 June, 2015
- Consider how greatly Paul must have needed encouragement because of (a) the physical strain he had undergone, (b) the pain of Israel’s unbelief, (c) the seeming failure of his witness, and (d) the danger of which he would be aware next day. How would the vision and the words spoken by the Lord meet all these needs? What words of the Bible have you found a help in such times? Do you memorize them?
- God sends deliverance in many different ways. How did He send deliverance in this case? Paul must have been greatly encouraged by what his nephew did. Are you able to do any acts of kindness that will bring gladness to some person in need or loneliness or anxiety?
23 June, 2015
- What is Paul’s testimony concerning his behavior and his belief? Cf. 24:16 and 2 Tim, 1:3. He sought always to live to the glory of God. Are you able to testify in the same way concerning your behavior and belief?
- Consider Paul’s tactics in the courtroom: (a) his righteous anger (verses 3-5), and (b) his division of the court (verses 6-10). Once again the inquiry was abandoned. Was Paul more concerned for his own welfare and a settlement of the whole matter, or for the truth?
- 23:1. ‘Lived’: literally ‘lived as a citizen’. Paul’s meaning was: ‘Men and brethren I have fulfilled my duty to the Commonwealth of Israel in all good conscience, in the sight of God, until this day.’
- 23:5. This was not a formal meeting of the Jewish Council, at which the high priest was present, but a meeting summoned by the chief captain and no doubt presided over by himself. Paul, therefore, did not know that the voice that spoke was that of the high priest.
22 June, 2015
- Paul argues in verses 19, 20 that he is well qualified to take the gospel to the Jews. Why? Yet God commands him to go to the Gentiles (verse 21). What practical lessons about Christian service and God’s working may we learn from this?
- With verses 22-29 compare 16:22, 23, 37-39. Paul mentions his Roman citizenship to prevent scourging; yet at Philippi he had acted otherwise. Compare the circumstances and consider the reasons for Paul’s action. Are you prepared to forgo your personal rights for the sake of God’s glory? Cf. 1 Cor. 9:12.
21 June, 2015
In the face of a murderous mob, and by permission of the captain of the guard, who at first misunderstood who he was, Paul makes his defence.
- Paul uses, not a sermon, but personal testimony. Notice what he says about his background, religious activity, conversion and calling to serve the Lord Jesus. Have you realized how powerful a weapon you possess in your personal Christian testimony? Do you use it?
- Paul seeks to put no unnecessary offence before the Jews: notice the language he uses, and what he says about Ananias as a Jew. Here was a man being utterly faithful to Christ, and concerned for his enemies. Can you care, in the same way, for those who badly treat you?
20 June, 2015
- Verses 17-26. Paul’s arrival at Jerusalem. He relates to the leaders of the church at Jerusalem all that God has done among the Gentiles. (a) What problem did James consider would thus arise (verses 20-22)? (b) What practical action is recommended to Paul (verses 23-26)? (c) What principles determined Paul’s action? Cf. 20:24; 1 Cor. 9:20-23; 10:32, 33. How might these principles affect your own attitudes to others?
- Verses 27-36. Paul’s arrest at Jerusalem. Try to picture the vivid scenes. Why did it happen? Trace the parallels—at least five---between the treatment given to Paul and to Christ. Do you expect men to treat you better than they did Christ?
Note. Verse 23. ‘We have four men’: these men were Jewish Christians who were about to complete a Nazirite vow by offering the prescribed sacrifices (see Nu. 6:13-21). It was considered a meritorious act to defray the expenses of poor Nazirites.
19 June, 2015
- Paul continues his journey to Jerusalem. Follow the route of the voyage on a map. Note, especially, the moving scene in verse 5, and the part that hospitality played (verses 4, 7, 8, 16). What insights does this give us about the influence of a Christian home on visitors and children?
- How are we to understand these warnings of the Spirit? To Paul’s friends they seemed to say ‘Do not go to Jerusalem’. But, Paul himself did not so interpret them. Is the explanation that the Spirit gave clear warning of peril and suffering, and Paul’s friends in their human affection interpreted this in one way, while Paul regarded it in another and deeper way? Cf. 20:23, 24; Mt. 16:21-23. What would your reaction have been in the same situation?
18 June, 2015
Paul’s farewell address to the leaders of the Church at Ephesus (verses 17-35) and his departure for Jerusalem (verses 36-38).
- Verses 17-27. Paul reviews his ministry at Ephesus. Notice, especially, what he says about his behaviour, service, faithful preaching of Christ and the overriding ambition of his life. As you measure your outward service and inward spirit against Paul’s in what respects do you feel you come short?
- Verses 28-35. What counsel does Paul give those to whom God has given positions of leadership? How can they guard the flock against the dangers that threaten? Have you begun to experience the truth of Christ’s words quoted in verse 35?
17 June, 2015
Paul revisits the churches in the province of Macedonia to encourage them
- With 19:21 compare 20:1-6 and 13-16. How was Paul’s original plan modified and why? Follow Paul’s route on a map and discover what advantage this opposition was to Paul. Cf. Gn. 50:20.
- Paul is seeking to encourage and strengthen the young churches. What part do personal example (verse 4), fellowship (verse 7), and instruction (verse 11) have in this? With verses 7-12, cf. 2:42. Are the spirit and the marks of these Jewish and Gentile churches found in you and your church today?
16 June, 2015
Luke’s vivid description of the riot at Ephesus is a close study in crowd psychology as well as a faithful account of the persecution which Paul and his companion faced.
- Verses 21, 22. What were Paul’s plans for the future? To where was his eye turned? But what two things must first be done? Cf. Rom. 15:19, 23, 24. Is your Christian work planned or haphazard?
- What was the cause of the riot and persecution? How did it spread and how was it quieted? Note especially (a) the challenge of the Christian faith to a man’s business and wealth (verses 25, 27); (b) the blindness of religious people (cf. verses 26, 27, 35, 36); (c) the cost, fellowship and protection Paul found in missionary service (verses 28-31, 37-41). To which of these truths do I personally most need to pay attention?
15 June, 2015
Ephesus was the metropolis of the large and wealthy Province of Asia, a centre of commerce and religion, famous for its image and its temple dedicated to the goddess Diana.
- Apollos had taught only the baptism of John (18:24, 25) at Ephesus. When Paul arrived, what did he find these disciples lacked in knowledge and assured experience? Is this experience yours? Have you realized how essential it is for you to understand fully in order to teach others accurately?
- Verse 20 summarizes both Paul’s ministry at Ephesus and Luke’s whole section from 16:6 to 19:20, which covers the evangelization of Macedonia, Achia and Asia. What methods and special incident led to such a result in Ephesus (verses 8-19) and by what power were great results achieved in the three provinces? Cf. 16:14; 18:9 and 19:11. Does this review highlight any weaknesses in your Christian life?
14 June, 2015
- Paul ends his second missionary journey (verses 18-23) with travels of more than a thousand miles. Luke reviews many months very briefly. Note, with the help of a map, the places Paul visited and the purposes he hoped to achieve.
- We have a thumb – nail sketch of Apollos in verses 24-28. What is said about (a) his knowledge of the Scriptures, (b) his enthusiasm, (c) the help Aquila and Priscilla gave, (d) his preaching, and (e) the value of his ministry (cf. 1 Cor. 3:6)? Take each of these five points and ask yourself what you can learn from the life of Apollos.
- Verse 18 ‘He had a vow’: it is not known why Paul made a vow. The practice was, however, common among the Jews.
- Verse 22. ‘He went up’: ie, to Jerusalem.
13 June, 2015
The city of Corinth was the capital of the Province of Achia, and one of the greatest cities in the Empire. It was famous for commerce and learning but infamous for its wickedness.
- Consider the enormous task Paul faced in an evil and pagan city as he sought to found a church there. Note (a) the value of Christian fellowship (verses 2, 3; 5; 7, 8) (b) the command and promises of God’s word to Paul (verses 9-11). Cf. 1 Cor. 2:3. Is this God’s answer to a depressed Christian worker? Do these things encourage you in difficult situations?
- Compare the three distinct stages in Paul’s ministry mentioned in verses 4, 7 and 12. What hindrances did Paul face and what encouragement came to him? Notice that with the hindrances came new opportunities and new encouragements. Let’s pray for grace to be equally faithful.
12 June, 2015
Paul at Athens faces philosophers, who are eager to hear another man’s views in order that they may add these to their rag-bag of ideas, and who also have no background understanding of the Old Testament.
See, if possible Acts (TNTC), pp. 136-146 for a most helpful explanation of Paul’s visit.
- Verses 16, 21. From what motives, and by what methods, did Paul proclaim the gospel? Do you know anything of a divine jealousy provoked by the fact that people do not give Christ the allegiance which is His right?
- Verses 22-34. Study Paul’s sermon and note (a) how he gained the interest of his hearers (verses 22-23), (b) what he taught about God in relation to the universe, mankind, idols and images (verses 24-29), and (c) the response he argued which men needed to make to God (verses 30-34). Paul sought to make the Christian message relevant to the thought and background of his hearers. He had no slick phraseology. What do you learn from this about preaching today?
11 June, 2015
Thessalonica was the metropolis and most populous city of Macedonia, a centre for both inland and maritime trade. Berea was a smaller town some sixty mile to the south-west.
- What do we learn from Paul’s visits and preaching at Thessalonica and Berea about (a) the places where he preached, (b) the features of his preaching, (c) his chief message, (d) those who believed, and (e) the persecution that arose? The same events are written about by Paul in 1Thes. 1:1-2:16. Do you realize that opportunities for strategic Christian witness may last only a short time? What ought you to do?
- Verses 11, 12. How are those who attended the Jewish synagogue in Berea described, and why are they commended? Are these features found in your life and Bible study?
10 June, 2015
- Verses 16-24. What was the origin of the persecution, and in what way did it differ from all those hitherto recorded? Note the successive stages of it, as described in Luke’s very vivid account. Do you find yourself tempted or persecuted in new ways in your Christian life?
- A beating with rods (verse 22) was very severe. Yet Paul and Silas are calm and rejoicing. What caused them to triumph? Cf. Phil. 4:13; 2 Tim. 1:7-8. Paul insists that a public declaration of their innocence is made (verse 37). What use would this be to the advance of the gospel? Are there any ways we can use public authority to help advance the gospel?
- What caused the jailer to believe? What was essential to his salvation? What change was immediately found in his life? Cf. 8:39; 13:52. Does your salvation give you the joy of the Lord?
Note. Verses 20, 21. Philippi, as a Roman colony, was proud of its Roman connections and privileges. Hence the charges brought against the missionaries would excite the people and magistrates.
09 June, 2015
A new period begins here, recording Paul’s greatest missionary effort and achievement: the evangelization of three important Roman provinces—Macedonia, Achaia and Asia.
- Verses 6-10. By what various means was Paul guided at this time? Trace on a map how remarkable the guidance was. What indication is there from this that God does not always guide us in the way we might expect?
- Verses 11-15. The gospel comes to Europe. What evidence is there (a) that Luke, the author of Acts, joined Paul at this time; (b) that the work began in a small way (with verse 13, cf. 13:14-16; 14: 1, 2, and Zc. 4:10a), and (c) that Lydia was truly born again of the Holy Spirit? Do you ever try to organize great work for God, rather than let God start a lasting work in a small way?
08 June, 2015
- What was the contention between Paul and Barnabas? Which was right, or were both wrong? Cf. Jn. 21:21, 22; 2 Tim. 4:11. Can you disagree with another Christian without falling out with him?
- What provision did God make for Paul when he lost the help of Barnabas and John Mark? What was the keynote of their work at this stage? Cf. 14:21-23. In what ways can you help a young Christian to be strong in the faith?
- 12:25-16:5 List the developments which took place in this fourth period (see analysis)
Note. 16:3, 4. Paul firmly opposed the circumcision of Gentile believers as something necessary to salvation. This is shown by his passing on of the decision of the Jerusalem Council. But, Timothy in Jewish eyes was a Jew by birth; and, in fresh evangelism, it would cause needless offence if he did not wear the sign of Jewish nationality. Cf. 1 Cor. 9:20; Gal. 5:6; 6:15.
07 June, 2015
- Verses 14-21. Here James, the leader of Jerusalem church, the Lord’s brother, and probably President of the Council, sums up. What judgment does he give, and for what reasons? Do you think this would satisfy both Jew and Gentile?
- Verses 22, 23. In what ways was the decision to be made known to the Gentiles and with what results? From the whole debate what principles can you draw out to guide you when there is a disagreement among fellow-Christians (a) on essentials of the faith and (b) about non-essentials and matters of individual conscience?
06 June, 2015
- The point at issue between the newly-established Gentile church at Antioch and the older Jewish church at Jerusalem was: ‘On what terms can Gentiles be saved?’ What answer was given by (a) Paul and Barnabas (see 14:27), and (b) the teachers from Judaism (verses 1, 5)? Write down what you think is essential for Salvation.
- Verses 7-11. Of what three facts did Peter remind the Council at Jerusalem, and what conclusions does he draw from them? Is it possible for old established churches to impose upon young churches of a different culture, or for mature Christians to impose upon new converts patterns of behaviour or ceremonies that are not essential to Christianity?
Note. Verses 6-21. Luke records only the closing speeches of a discussion that may have lasted for some days and been marked by deep feeling.
05 June, 2015
- What five elemental truths about God are set forth by Paul in verses 15-17? What application does he draw from them? Cf. verses 11, 14, 15. To whom do you think Paul would bring this kind of message today?
- Verses 19-25. Despite opposition Paul and Barnabas return to the cities where churches have been founded to strengthen them. In what ways did they encourage these young Christians? What may we learn from this about helping one another in our faith?
- Paul and Barnabas report to the Church that had sent them out. Cf. 13:1-4 with 14:26-28. What is their emphasis in the way they report?
04 June, 2015
Paul continues his missionary visits to the towns and cities of Asia Minor. He always chose the strategic centres from which to work. Iconium was a prosperous commercial city on one of the main trade routes from east to west, where there would be both Jews and Gentiles. Lystra was a smaller and more country town, with a simpler and less-educated population.
- Each verse of verses 1-7 describes a fresh development in the events at Iconium. From these identify the three main stages of the work. Are you finding that opposition (human or satanic) follows blessing in your Christian work?
- Verses 8-12. At Lystra a cripple is healed. What are (a) the condition of the man, (b) the cause and the character of his faith, and (c) the reaction of the people?
03 June, 2015
The Jews Antioch became Jealous (verse 45) because Paul’s message of forgiveness through Christ was drawing away the God-fearers, whom they hoped would eventually become fully committed to Judaism.
- What was the result of this jealous opposition upon the work of Paul and Barnabas? Cf. 18:5, 6; 28:28. Do you ever allow opposition to silence your testimony or halt your Christian work? Of what may the refusal of some to respond be an indication?
- Paul and Barnabas now turn to the Gentiles. What two reasons are given in verses 46, 47 (see Note 1), and what two results follow in (a) the wider proclamation of the gospel and the ingathering of believers, and (b) the experience of the converts?
- Verse 47. Cf. Is. 49:6. Supremely this refers to Jesus Christ, but Paul sees himself as continuing the mission to the Gentiles that Jesus began.
- Verses 46 and 48. The Jew’s exclusion was their own fault. The Gentiles’ inclusion was due wholly to God’s grace and a fulfillment of His foreordained purpose. This illustrates two sides of scriptural truth which need always to be held in balance.
02 June, 2015
Paul’s journey from Paphos to Antioch involved an ascent of 3600 ft from the sea coast to a high plateau which was a flourishing region of Graeco-Roman civilization. This probably accounts for the return of John Mark, who was thus faced with more than he expected when he set out. Note also the presence in the synagogue at Antioch of two classes-Jews and God fearing Gentiles (verses 16 and 26).
- In the first part of his address (verses 16-25), how does Paul show that the coming of Jesus was the culminating point in God’s activity in the history recorded in the Old Testament?
- When speaking of the resurrection (verses 30-39), what does Paul say about (a) the reasons for, (b) the Old Testament prophecies about, and (c) the result of, Jesus’s resurrection? Of what particular blessing is it a God-Given pledge? Cf. Rom. 4:25.
Note. Verse 39. Paul here sets side by side two contrasting methods of justification: the one, by the works of the law, failing to achieve the end desired; the other, through faith in Jesus, bringing the person into the immediate blessing of full justification. Cf. Phil. 3:6-9.
01 June, 2015
And now, we are back to the book of Acts and we will stick with it until the end. Once that is done, we will study Amos & Hosea together because they are two very short books.
With the return of Barnabas and Saul to Antioch (12:25) begins the story of a great expansion of the gospel among the Gentiles.
- What parts were played by (a) the Holy Spirit and (b) the local church in initiating the new advance? Note that the church may have been praying about possible future developments of their work when guidance came through a prophet inspired of the Holy Spirit. What does this teach you about guidance?
- Paul and Elymas meet in a head-on clash (verses 6-12). What was (a) the cause of the clash, (b) the reason for Paul’s strong condemnation of Elymas, (c) one purpose of the judgment which visibly fell upon him? Are you as prepared as Paul to rebuke and resist direct opposition to the Lord Jesus?
- Verses 6-8. As a court magician Bar-Jesus or Elymas feared his job would be in danger if the proconsul became a Christian.
- Verse 9. ‘Saul, who is called Paul’: Luke changes from the apostle’s Jewish name to his Roman and gentile name to stress Paul’s special ministry as the apostle to the Gentiles which was now beginning. Note also that Paul takes over as leader from Barnabas: Cf. verse 1 with verse 13. Doubtless, because Paul was a Roman citizen, the proconsul treated him as superior to Barnabas.