Week #140; Wed, Sep 02: Acts 14:1–19:41


Acts 14:1, I. Paul and Barnabas at Iconium; II. Paul and Barnabas at Lystra; III. Paul Stoned at Lystra; IV. Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria

I. KEY TEXT (Paul and Barnabas at Iconium): “Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.” (14:1)
A. INFERENCE: “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.” (14:2)
1. FINDINGS: “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” (14:3)
2. CRITERIA: “But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles.” (14:4)
3. CONDITION: “When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country and there they continued to preach the gospel.” (14:5-7)
4. CAUSE: “The Gentiles and Jews were at enmity with one another, yet united against Christians. If the church’s enemies join to destroy it, shall not its friends unite for its preservation?” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “God has a shelter for his people in a storm; he is, and will be their Hiding-place. In times of persecution, believers may see cause to quit a spot, though they do not quit their Master’s work.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Don’t quit.

II. KEY TEXT (Paul and Barnabas at Lystra): “Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked.” (14:8)
A. INFERENCE: “He listened to Paul speaking.” (14:9)
1. FINDINGS: “And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And he sprang up and began walking.” (14:9-10)
2. CRITERIA: “And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, ‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” (14:11)
3. CONDITION: “Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, ‘Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” (14:12-15)
4. CAUSE: “In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (14:16-17)
5. EFFECT: “Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.” (14:18)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Fellowship with the Lord.

III. KEY TEXT (Paul Stoned at Lystra): “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” (14:19)
A. INFERENCE: “But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.” (14:20)
1. FINDINGS: “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (14:21-22)
2. CRITERIA: “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (14:23)
3. CONDITION: “It must have been sorrow indeed to awaken from such a vision to the suffering of his battered body. But that scene, no doubt, gave him the love and devotion of the young Timothy and his mother and grandmother. See Act_16:1-2.” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “On Paul’s next visit to Lystra, this son, whom he had begotten in the sore anguish of that hour, was to become his devoted attendant.” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “In spite of the treatment Paul had received, he returned to the city, Act_14:21. Back to the stones! Naught could stay his ardent spirit, if only disciples were to be won or confirmed in their faith for the Master, Act_14:22. ” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “All who love the Lord Jesus, will rejoice to hear that he has opened the door of faith wide, to those who were strangers to him and to his salvation. And let us, like the apostles, abide with those who know and love the Lord. Acts 14:19” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

I. KEY TEXT (Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria): “Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch. where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled.” (14:24-26)
A. INFERENCE: “The praise of all the little good we do at any time, must be ascribed to God; for it is He who not only worketh in us both to will and to do, but also worketh with us to make what we do successful. Acts 14:19” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
1. FINDINGS: “See how restless the rage of the Jews was against the gospel of Christ: they could not bear that it should have footing anywhere.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)
2. CRITERIA: “Those who but the other day would have treated the apostles as more than men now treat them as worse than brutes.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)
3. CONDITION: “How they went on with their work. All the stones they threw at Paul could not beat him off from his work.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)
4. CAUSE: “How they at length came back to Antioch in Syria, from which they had been sent forth because from there they had been committed to the grace of God.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)
5. EFFECT: “They thought they owed them an account of it, that they might help them by their praises, as they had been helped by their prayers.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “Commitment.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)

Acts 15:1, I. The Jerusalem Council; II. The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers; III. Paul and Barnabas Separate

I. KEY TEXT (The Jerusalem Council): “But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” (15:1)
A. INFERENCE: “And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.” (15:2-3)
1. FINDINGS: “When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.’” (15:4-5)
2. CRITERIA: “The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.’” (15:6-11)
3. CONDITION: “And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, ‘Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’” (15:12-18)
4. CAUSE: “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.” (15:19-20)
5. EFFECT: “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (15:21)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “Let converts be warned to avoid all appearances of the evils which they formerly practiced, or are likely to be tempted to; and caution them to use Christian liberty with moderation and prudence. Acts 15:7” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)

II. KEY TEXT (The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers): “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter:” (15:22-23)
A. INFERENCE: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings.” (15:23)
1. FINDINGS: “Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements; that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.’” (15:24-29)
2. CRITERIA: “So when thy were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.” (15:30-31)
3. CONDITION: “And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” (15:32-35)
4. CAUSE: “Being warranted to declare themselves directed by the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost, the apostles and disciples were assured that it seemed good unto God the Holy Spirit, as well as to them, to lay upon the converts no other burden than the things before mentioned, which were necessary, either on their own account, or from present circumstances. Acts 15:22” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “It was a comfort to hear that carnal ordinances were no longer imposed on them, which perplexed the conscience, but could not purify or pacify it; and that those who troubled their minds were silenced, so that the peace of the church was restored, and that which threatened division was removed. Acts 15:22” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “The zeal and usefulness of others should stir us up, not lay us asleep. Acts 15:22” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

III. KEY TEXT (Paul and Barnabas Separate): “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’” (15:36)
A. INFERENCE: “Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.” (15:37-38)
1. FINDINGS: “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.” (15:39-40)
2. CRITERIA: “And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” (15:41)
3. CONDITION: “Here we have a private quarrel between two ministers, no less than Paul and Barnabas, yet made to end well. Acts 15:36” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “Barnabas wished his nephew John Mark to go with them. We should suspect ourselves of being partial, and guard against this in putting our relations forward. Paul did not think him worthy of the honor, nor fit for the service, who had departed from them without their knowledge, or without their consent: see 13:13.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “Neither would yield, therefore there was no remedy but they must part. Acts 15:36” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “We see that the best of men are but men, subject to like passions as we are. Perhaps there were faults on both sides, as usual in such contentions. Christ’s example alone, is a copy without a blot. Yet we are not to think it strange, if there are differences among wise and good men. Acts 15:36” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

Acts 16:1, I. Timothy Joins Paul and Silas; II. The Macedonian Call; III. The Conversion of Lydia; IV. Paul and Silas in Prison; V. The Philippian Jailer Converted

I. KEY TEXT (Timothy Joins Paul and Silas): “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.” (16:1-2)
A. INFERENCE: “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” (16:3)
1. FINDINGS: “As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” (16:4-5)
2. CRITERIA: “. . . in circumcising Timothy, “to the Jews he became as a Jew that he might gain the Jews.” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “That he was a disciple, one that belonged to Christ, and was baptized, when his mother became a believer, as Lydia’s household was baptized upon her believing, Act_16:15.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)
4. CAUSE: “Paul took to be his disciple, that he might further train him up in the knowledge and faith of Christ; he took him to be brought up for Christ.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)
5. EFFECT: “He had gained a very good character among the Christians: he was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium; he had not only an unblemished reputation, and was free from scandal, but he had a bright reputation, and great encomiums were given of him, as an extraordinary young man, and one from whom great things were expected.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “The design of the decree being to set aside the ceremonial law, and its carnal ordinances, believers were confirmed in the Christian faith, because it set up a spiritual way of serving God, as suited to the nature both of God and man. Thus the church increased in numbers daily.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)

II. KEY TEXT (The Macedonian Call): “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Hoy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.” (16:6-8)
A. INFERENCE: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” (16:9)
1. FINDINGS: “And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (16:10)
2. CRITERIA: “The removals of ministers, and the dispensing the means of grace by them, are in particular under Divine conduct and direction. We must follow Providence: and whatever we seek to do, if that suffer us not, we ought to submit and believe to be for the best.” (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “People greatly need help for their souls, it is their duty to look out for it, and to invite those among them who can help them. And God’s calls must be complied with readily.” (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “And having gone through Phrygia – And spoken there what was sufficient, as well as in the region of Galatia, being forbid by the Spirit (probably by an inward dictate) to speak as yet in the proconsular Asia, the time for it not being come.” (John Wesley)
5. EFFECT: They went to Macedonia per Paul’s vision.
6. RECOMMENDATION: Do what He says.

III. KEY TEXT (The Conversion of Lydia): “So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days.” (16:11-12)
A. INFERENCE: “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.” (16:13)
1. FINDINGS: “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us.” (16:14-15)
2. CRITERIA: “They were forbidden at this time to preach the gospel in Asia (the country properly so called), because it did not need, other hands being at work there; or because the people were not yet prepared to receive it, as they were afterwards (Act_19:10), when all those that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
3. CONDITION: “Christ would employ Paul in a piece of new work, which was to preach the gospel to a Roman colony at Philippi, for hitherto the Gentiles to whom he had preached were Greeks.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
4. CAUSE: “The Romans were more particularly hated by the Jews than other Gentiles; their armies were the abomination of desolation; and therefore there is this among other things extraordinary in his call thither that he is forbidden to preach the gospel in Asia and other places, in order to his preaching it there, which is an intimation that the light of the gospel would in aftertimes be directed more westward than eastward.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
5. EFFECT: “It was the Holy Ghost that forbade them, either by secret whispers in the minds of both of them, which, when they came to compare notes, they found to be the same, and to come from the same Spirit; or by some prophets who spoke to them from the Spirit.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Follow the Holy Spirit.

IV. KEY TEXT (Paul and Silas in Prison): “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.” (16:16)
A. INFERENCE: “She followed Paul and us, crying out, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.’ And this she kept doing for many days.” (16:17-18)
1. FINDINGS: “Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.” (16:18)
2. CRITERIA: “But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.’” (16:19-21)
3. CONDITION: “The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (16:22-24)
4. CAUSE: “The charge they exhibited against them was that they were the troublers of the land, Act_16:20. They take it for granted that these men are Jews, a nation at this time as much an abomination to the Romans as they had long ago been to the Egyptians.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
5. EFFECT: “The general charge against them is that they troubled the city, sowed discord, and disturbed the public peace, and occasioned riots and tumults, than which nothing could be more false and unjust.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Comply with civil authority and pray; trust God. Recall the power of the vision that called them to Macedonia. Carry on.

V. KEY TEXT (The Philippian Jailer Converted): “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” (16:25-26)
A. INFERENCE: “When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’” (16:27-28)
1. FINDINGS: “And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (16:29-31)
2. CRITERIA: “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” (16:32)
3. CONDITION: “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (16:33-34)
4. CAUSE: “But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, ‘Let those men go. And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.’” (16:35-36)
5. EFFECT: “But Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.’ The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. ” (16:37-40)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Carry on to Thessalonica.

Acts 17:1, I. Paul and Silas in Thessalonica; II. Paul and Silas in Berea; III. Paul in Athens; IV. Paul Addresses the Areopagus

I. KEY TEXT (Paul and Silas in Thessalonica): “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’” (17:1-3)
A. INFERENCE: “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.” (17:4)
1. FINDINGS: “But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.’” (17:5-7)
2. CRITERIA: “Therefore many of them believed—convinced that Jesus of Nazareth whom Paul preached was indeed the great Promise and Burden of the Old Testament. From this it is undeniable, (1) that the people, no less than the ministers of the Church, are entitled and bound to search the Scriptures; (2) that they are entitled and bound to judge, on their own responsibility, whether the teaching they receive from the ministers of the Church is according to the word of God; (3) that no faith but such as results from personal conviction ought to be demanded, or is of any avail. (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.” (17:8-9)
4. CAUSE: “He was sowing seeds of which others would reap the harvest. His one theme was the risen Lord, whether amid the less or the more cultivated, Act_17:3; Act_17:31. This is surely the true method of world evangelization-not to argue but to proclaim the glorious personality of our risen Lord. Notice the distinction in Act_17:3 between the human name, Jesus, and the royal name, Christ. As Jesus, our Lord lived, ministered, and died; as Christ, He was raised from the dead, and as such He is the crowned King of men, Act_17:7. However loyal we may be to the civil government, our first allegiance is to another king, Act_17:7.” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “If only our people would love the Bible, saturating their minds with it and teaching it to their children, what different results would follow the preaching of the gospel!” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Own the Word of God.

II. KEY TEXT (Paul and Silas in Berea): “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.” (17:10)
A. INFERENCE: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (17:11)
1. FINDINGS: “Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.” (17:12)
2. CRITERIA: “But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too agitating and stirring up the crowds.” (17:13)
3. CONDITION: “Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible they departed.” (17:14-15)
4. CAUSE: “The Jews in Berea applied seriously to the study of the word preached unto them. They not only heard Paul preach on the sabbath, but daily searched the Scriptures, and compared what they read with the facts related to them.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “Those are truly noble, and likely to be more and more so, who make the Scriptures their rule, and consult them accordingly. May all the hearers of the gospel become like those of Berea, receiving the word with readiness of mind, and searching the Scriptures daily, whether the things preached to them are so.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Follow the Holy Spirit’s provocations.

III. KEY TEXT (Paul in Athens): “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (17:16)
A. INFERENCE: “So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler wish to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities’–because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.” (17:17-18)
1. FINDINGS: “And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.’” (17:19-20)
2. CRITERIA: “Athens was then famed for polite learning, philosophy, and the fine arts; but none are more childish and superstitious, more impious, or more credulous, than some persons, deemed eminent for learning and ability. It was wholly given to idolatry.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (17:21)
4. CAUSE: “The zealous advocate for the cause of Christ will be ready to plead for it in all companies, as occasion offers. Most of these learned men took no notice of Paul; but some, whose principles were the most directly contrary to Christianity, made remarks upon him.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “The apostle ever dwelt upon two points, which are indeed the principal doctrines of Christianity, Christ and a future state; Christ our way, and heaven our end. They looked on this as very different from the knowledge for many ages taught and professed at Athens; they desire to know more of it, but only because it was new and strange. They led him to the place where judges sat who inquired into such matters. They asked about Paul’s doctrine, not because it was good, but because it was new.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Follow the Holy Spirit’s provocations.

IV. KEY TEXT (Paul Addresses the Areopagus): “So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’” (17:22-23)
A. INFERENCE: “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” (17:24-28)
1. FINDINGS: “’Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’” (17:29-31)
2. CRITERIA: “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’” (17:32)
3. CONDITION: “So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.” (17:33-34)
4. CAUSE: “Great talkers are always busy-bodies. They spend their time in nothing else, and a very uncomfortable account they have to give of their time who thus spend it.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “Time is precious, and we are concerned to employ it well, because eternity depends upon it, but much is wasted in unprofitable conversation.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Spend time in God’s Word.

Acts 18:1, I. Paul in Corinth; II. Paul Returns to Antioch; III. Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus

I. KEY TEXT (Paul in Corinth): “After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.” (18:1-2)
A. INFERENCE: “And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.” (18:2-4)
1. FINDINGS: “When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” (18:5-6)
2. CRITERIA: “The sense is not, ‘Therefore went he to the Jews,’ because the Gentile Athenians were steeped in idolatry; but, ‘Therefore set he himself to lift up his voice to the idol city, but, as his manner was, he began with the Jews.’” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” (18:7-11)
4. CAUSE: “But when Gallio was proconsul of Achala, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, ‘This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.’ But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, . . . ” (18:12-14)
5. EFFECT: “. . . ‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.’ And he drove them from the tribunal. And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.” (18:14-17)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Hold fast to your mission.

II. KEY TEXT (Paul Returns to Antioch): “After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquilla. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When thy asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined.” (18:18-20)
A. INFERENCE: “But on taking leave of them he said, ‘I will return to you if God wills.’ and he set sail from Ephesus.” (18:21)
1. FINDINGS: “When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.” (18:22-23)
2. CRITERIA: “Paul’s arrival and labors at Corinth, where he is rejoined by Silas and Timothy, and, under divine encouragement, makes a long stay – At length, retracing his steps, by Ephesus, Caesarea, and Jerusalem, he returns for the last time to Antioch, thus completing his second missionary journey.” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “Such a city was a noble field for the Gospel, which, once established there, would naturally diffuse itself far and wide.” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “the capital of the Roman province of Achaia, and the residence of the proconsul; a large and populous mercantile city, and the center of commerce alike for East and West; having a considerable Jewish population, larger, probably, at this time than usual, owing to the banishment of the Jews from Rome by Claudius Caesar (Act_18:2).” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “He was now instrumental in planting a church that became on many accounts considerable.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Preach far and wide.

III. KEY TEXT (Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus): “Now a Jew named Apollos a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.” (18:24-25)
A. INFERENCE: “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” (18:26)
1. FINDINGS: “And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him.” (18:27)
2. CRITERIA: “Apollos was a man of excellent good parts, and well fitted for public service. He was an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures of the Old Testament, in the knowledge of which he was, as a Jew, brought up. ” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
3. CONDITION: “When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” (18:27-28)
4. CAUSE: “He understood the sense and meaning of them, he knew how to make use of them and to apply them, how to reason out of the scriptures, and to reason strongly; a convincing, commanding, confirming power went along with all his expositions and applications of the scripture.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
5. EFFECT: “We have here the employment and improvement of his gifts at Ephesus; he came thither, seeking opportunities of doing and getting good, and he found both.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Seek opportunities to serve the Lord.

Acts 19:1, I. Paul in Ephesus; II. The Sons of Sceva; III. A Riot at Ephesus

I. KEY TEXT (Paul in Ephesus): “And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’” (19:1-3)
A. INFERENCE: “And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’” (19:4)
1. FINDINGS: “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” (19:5)
2. CRITERIA: “And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.” (19:6-7)
3. CONDITION: “And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.” (19:8)
4. CAUSE: “But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.” (19:9)
5. EFFECT: “This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” (19:10)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Speak boldly, reasoning and persuading about the kingdom of God.

II. KEY TEXT (The Sons of Sceva): “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” (19:11-12)
A. INFERENCE: “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this” (19:13-14)
1. FINDINGS: “But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.” (19:15-17)
2. CRITERIA: “Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all.” (19:19)
3. CONDITION: “And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (19:19)
4. CAUSE: “When arguments and persuasions only harden men in unbelief and blasphemy, we must separate ourselves and others from such unholy company. God was pleased to confirm the teaching of these holy men of old, that if their hearers believed them not, they might believe the works.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” (19″20)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the using of Christ’s name, or his works, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

III. KEY TEXT (A Riot at Ephesus): “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’ And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.” (19:21-22)
A. INFERENCE: “About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen.” (19:23-24)
1. FINDINGS: “These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, ‘Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.’” (19:25-27)
2. CRITERIA: No idolatry; false gods.
3. CONDITION: “When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (19:28)
4. CAUSE: They were only concerned over the potential loss of revenue from the sale of idols made with hands.
5. EFFECT: “So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging not to venture into the theater. Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, ‘Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.’ And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.” (19:29-41)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “Men are jealous for that by which they get their wealth; and many set themselves against the gospel of Christ, because it calls men from all unlawful crafts, however much wealth is to be gotten by them. There are persons who will stickle for what is most grossly absurd, unreasonable, and false; as this, that those are gods which are made with hands, if it has but worldly interest on its side.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

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