Acts

June 23, 2022

Acts 16:16-24

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 16 COMMENTARY

Bible Text

Acts 16:16-24 (ESV)

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Go Deeper

Acts 16:16-24

  • Think about the slave girl who “brought her owners much gain” through her demon-possession. What does Paul’s deliverance of the girl do for her? For her owners? For Paul and Silas?
  • Notice the charges against Paul that the owners of the slave girl bring to the magistrates (vv. 20-21). Why might they have phrased their grievance against Paul in this way?
  • Who might be similarly threatened by the gospel’s impact on people today?
  • How does this passage identify, inspire or commission me?

Prayer

June 22, 2022

Acts 16:1-16

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 16 COMMENTARY

Background: This was Paul’s second missionary journey which lasted for about three years. This time, Paul and Silas set out by land, rather than by sea, traveling the Roman road. Macedonia was a Roman province and Philippi was its key colony, which means its constitution was patterned after that of Rome. This was Paul’s first attempt to evangelize to the Romans.

v.6: “The regions of Phrygia and Galatia included much of modern-day Turkey, yet God, for reasons known only to him, did not allow the missionaries to go into the province of Asia at that time. ‘Asia’ referred not to the continent, but rather to the Roman province that was the western part of Asia Minor. Ephesus probably would have been the leading city in this region.” [1]

“God’s strange providence in the way he prohibited Paul from going to places where he wanted to go shows us that, while it is right for humans to plan and have visions, those plans must be submitted to the will of God and be open to his veto. Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.’ Paul submitted to God’s will and was also receptive to his voice. Though he had his plans, he always presented them to God, and God was able to get through to him with his will. We should be careful about pushing through projects we have reservations about. After all, we will be unable to give our heart and soul to such projects. It is better then to take the time to grapple with God to find out what his will is.” [2]  

“They were forbidden at this time to preach the Gospel in Asia… [perhaps] because the people were not yet prepared to receive it, as they were afterwards (Ch. 19:10), when all those who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord.” [3]  

v.13: “Though ‘place of prayer’ was used in those days for synagogues, this must have been simply a place where people met to worship God. It was necessary to have ten men to organize a synagogue, but only women were gathered here. Being by a river facilitated any ceremonial washing rituals.” [4]

“Paul’s first evangelistic contact in Macedonia was with a small group of women. Paul never allowed gender or cultural differences to keep him from preaching the gospel. In the early church, God often worked in and through women.” [5] 

v.14: Thyatira, the city where Lydia was from, was a great way from Philippi. Perhaps marriage or business brought her to that city, but one should acknowledge God’s providence at work here: to bring Lydia from Thyatira to Philippi so that she can meet Paul and hear the Gospel. Note that through Lydia, her entire household was baptized.

“Her immediate reaction was to offer the hospitality of her house to Paul and his friends. When Paul is describing the Christian character he says that the Christian should be ‘given to hospitality (Romans 12:13). When Peter is urging Christian duty upon his converts he tells them, ‘Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.’ A Christian home is one with an ever-open door.”  [6]

v.18: “The girl is said to have ‘a spirit by which she predicted the future.’ Though what she proclaimed affirmed Paul’s ministry, he was ‘troubled’ by it. (diaponeomai, v.18, which means “to be strongly irked or provoked at something or someone.”). Why Paul delayed responding for a few days remains a mystery. But when he did attend to it, the power of God overcame the demoniac hold over the girl’s life. The employers of the girl must have known that she was in a miserable state and that what Paul had done for her was, in effect, a deliverance from bondage. But they had lost a means of income, so they opposed Paul.  Yet, they couched their opposition in noble terms, stating that the stability of the city was at stake because Paul and his team were ‘advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.’ Paul was motivated by such a deep love for people that he could not endure the pain seeing this girl under the grip of deception.” [7]

vv.19-21: “The charge laid was that Paul and Silas were advocating a religio illicita and thus disturbing the Pax Romana. But the charge, being couched in terms that appealed to the latent anti-Semitism of the people (‘these men are Jews’) and their racial pride (‘us Romans’), ignited the flames of bigotry and prevented any dispassionate discussion of the issues.

Many have asked why only Paul and Silas were singled out for persecution, with Timothy and Luke left free. Of course, Paul and Silas were the leaders of the missionary party and therefore most open to attack. But we must also remember that Paul and Silas were Jews and probably looked very much like Jews (cf. comments on 14:3 on the tradition of Paul’s appearance). Timothy and Luke, however, being respectively half-Jewish and fully Gentile (cf. Col 4:14, where Luke is grouped by Paul with his Gentile friends), probably looked Greek in both their features and their dress and therefore were left alone. Anti-Semitism lay very near the surface throughout the Roman Empire.” [8]

vv.27-28: “When the awakened jailer saw the doors open, he surmised the worst. In Roman law a guard who allowed his prisoner to escape was liable to the same penalty the prisoner would have suffered (Code of Justinian 9.4.4). Thus the jailer drew his sword to kill himself, believing the prisoners had all escaped. But Paul saw him in the doorway and shouted out from within the prison, ‘Don’t harm yourself.  We are all here!’”[9]

v.34: “Luke’s report of joy over salvation in the home of the jailer is evidence of one of the most important themes in his writings. Nearly 24 percent of words of joy in the New Testament appear in Gospel of Luke (53) and Acts (24). It is not surprising then, that the fellowship of the first Christian community was characterized by ‘unaffected joy.’ (Acts 2:46).” [10] 

v.37: “Was Paul being petty? Why did Paul make the magistrates escort him personally out of prison?  His motive may have been to gain respect and some measure of protection from the government officials for the Christians who would remain in the city.  Having treated him shamefully the day before, the city official might be more prone to mistreat the church in the future if they succeeded in hustling Paul out of town.  Paul didn’t want this kind of menacing precedent to go unchallenged.  In addition, Paul may have been setting the stage to return someday.” [11]

Bible Text

Acts 16:1-15 (ESV)

1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Go Deeper

Acts 16:1-15

  • What is the wisdom behind Paul’s decision in v. 3? 

Acts 16:6-10

  • Think about the topic of God’s leading as related in this passage. What did being led by God look like for Paul and his companions? How does this match our notion of what it looks like to be led by God?

Acts 16:11-15

  • In what ways was Lydia ready to receive salvation?
  • What can I learn about the fruit of salvation from Lydia’s response in v. 15?

[1] Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 529.

[2] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 436.

[3] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Peabody,MA: Hendrickson Publisher, 1997) 2134.

[4] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 443.

[5] Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 530-531.

[6] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed., 123.

[7] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 444, 449, 454.

[8] Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, notes for vv.19-21.

[9] Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, notes for vv.25-28.

[10] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 450.

[11] Quest Study Bible, study notes, 1531.                 


Prayer

June 21, 2022

Acts 15:22-35

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

Acts 15:36-41 (ESV)

36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Go Deeper

Acts 15:36-41

  • Consider the source of this “sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas. Recall the mention of John Mark in a previous chapter: “Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13). Why would these two men separate based on a disagreement over such a nonessential matter? 
  • Despite this split, it can be noted that “out of this disagreement came a doubling of their labor, for Barnabas went to strengthen the churches in Cyprus and Paul went to the churches in Syria, Cilicia, and then Galatia.” In addition, both of their assistants (Mark and Silas) went on to have significant ministries themselves.  Lastly, we know from the below passages from Paul’s epistles (both written after the events of Acts 15) that Mark and Paul were reconciled (although Scripture gives no clues regarding Barnabas) and Mark became a needed kingdom worker.

Colossians 4:10 (ESV)

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him),

2 Timothy 4:11 (ESV)

Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.

         What can I learn from this unfortunate episode and its aftermath?


Prayer

June 16, 2022

Acts 15:22-35

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

Acts 15:22-35 (ESV)

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Go Deeper

Acts 15:22-35

The letter was accompanied by representatives of the Jerusalem church who could testify to the reasoning that the consensus expressed.  James agreed with Peter that they should not trouble the Gentiles with the ritual laws. But he knew that Gentile Christians would have contact with Jewish Christians who still kept the ceremonial provisions, including laws about sacrifices, festivals, unclean foods, and circumcision. He offered a proposal by which Gentile Christians could have fellowship with Jewish Christians and avoid giving unnecessary offense. [1]

  • Consider the wisdom and sensitivity demonstrated by the apostles and elders in this passage. What can I learn from this?
  • What was the response of the Antioch church to the decision made by the apostles? What does this reveal about the authority of the apostles in the early church? 

[1] The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2116.


Prayer

June 15, 2022

Acts 15:12-21

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

Acts 15:12-21 (ESV)

12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.

15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

16 “‘After this I will return,

   and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;

   I will rebuild its ruins,

     and I will restore it,

17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,

    and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,

     says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known  

   from of old.’

19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

Go Deeper

Acts 15:14-18

•       God surprised many of the first Jewish believers by revealing His long planned desire to include the Gentiles as part of His people. How does this encourage and challenge me with regards to people in my life who don’t yet know God?

Acts 15:19-21

•       How do James’s sentiments differ from those expressed by the Pharisee believers earlier in the chapter (v.1, v.5)?  Why does James say that they should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God?  Are there ways that I or other Christians might make it difficult for others to turn to God through our actions, words, and lifestyle?

Acts 15:20

  • Although these were not required for salvation, what compromises were the Gentile believers encouraged to make in order to promote unity with the Jewish believers?  Are there some “rights” that I can voluntarily give up in order to promote unity with my brothers and sisters as well?

Prayer

June 14, 2022

Acts 15:1-11

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

v.1: Who were these “some men” who came down from Judea to Antioch?

“Judaizers, some Jewish Christians, took the position that Gentiles must become Jewish first to be eligible for salvation. They believed this because they were devout, practicing Jews who found it difficult to set aside a tradition of gaining merit with God by keeping the law.  They thought grace was too easy for the Gentiles.  They were afraid of seeming too non-Jewish in the practice of their new faith – which could lead to death.  The demands on the Gentiles were a way of maintaining control and authority in the movement.” [1]

v.4: “The debate over circumcision could have split the church, but Paul, Barnabas, and the Jews in Antioch made the right decision – they sought counsel from the church leaders and from God’s Word.  Our differences should be settled the same way, by seeking wise counsel and abiding by the decisions.” [2] 

vv.10-11: “Peter went right to the heart of the question. In this whole dispute the deepest of principles was involved. Can a man earn the favor of God? Or must he admit his own helplessness and be ready in humble faith to accept what the grace of God gives? In effect, the Jewish party said, ‘Religion means earning God’s favor by keeping the Law.’ Peter said, ‘Religion consists in casting ourselves on the grace of God.’ Here is implicit the difference between a religion of works and a religion of grace. Peace will never come to a man until he realizes that he can never put God in his debt; and that all he can do is take what God in his grace gives. The paradox of Christianity is that the way to victory is through surrender; and the way to power is through admitting one’s own helplessness.” [3]

vv.16-18: “In arguing for the full inclusion of Gentiles into the church Peter appealed to direct guidance and intervention from God, and Barnabas and Paul appealed to God’s confirmation of their work through signs and wonders.  James appeals to Scripture, showing that ‘the words of the prophets are in agreement’ with what has happened. James quotes Amos 9:11-12 and sees its fulfillment in the Gentile mission […]

v.20: “Why did they include sexual immorality with dietary restrictions?  The Greek and Roman world was filled with pagan religions.  To help the Gentiles break with their past and to ease sensitive Jewish consciences, Gentiles were told to cut themselves off from anything related to pagan worship.  They were not to eat food offered to idols. Nor were they to participate in pagan religious festivals – often marked by sensual revelry and sexual immorality.  These prohibitions were not intended to cover the whole picture of morality.” [4] 

“Why wasn’t faith alone enough? Why did the Gentiles have to follow four additional requirements? The council had already settled the issue of salvation: it was by grace through faith alone (15:6-11).  The four additional requirements had nothing to do with how the Gentiles would be saved; it had everything to do with how they could live and worship with Jewish believers who were particularly offended by these four types of behavior.  These instructions were intended to maintain peace and unity in the church.” [5]

v.22: The Church was wise in sending a person as well as a letter. One of the earliest Christian writers declared that he had learned more from the living and abiding voice than from any amount of reading. A letter could have sounded coldly official; but the words of Judas and Silas added a friendly warmth that the bare reception of a letter could never have achieved. Any amount of trouble might be avoided many a time if only a personal visit is paid instead of someone being content with sending a letter.” [6]

“A representative from the Jewish believers and one from the Gentile believers were appointed as delegates to go with Paul and Barnabas to deliver the council’s decision … Judas was a Jew; Silas was a Greek.  Their presence together would give credence to the council’s ruling.” [7]

vv.24-27: “In this letter, the Jerusalem church disassociated itself from those men who had troubled the Gentile converts regarding circumcision.  They had received no such instructions from the apostles and had been acting without their approval.  They were not to be regarded as spokesmen for the church.  Rather, the men bringing the letter (Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas) had been chosen as representatives of the church, with authority to speak on behalf of the elders and apostles.[8] 

vv.28-29: “The letter implies a clear leading of God in the decision rendered (it seemed good to the Holy Spirit). Two of the council’s requirements involved issues of morality (avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality), and two involved issues of food.  The dietary restrictions were because the early church often shared common meals (similar to modern day church potluck dinners).  Sometimes called “love feasts” and held in conjunction with the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Cor 11:17-34), these meals would bring Jews and Gentiles together.  In such settings, a Gentile might horrify the Jewish Christians by eating meat that was not kosher.  In this compromise agreement, legalistic Jews no longer insisted that the Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved, and the Gentiles accepted a change in their eating habits.  These decisions should not be regarded as divine ordinances but rather as stipulations for fellowship between the two parties. Their concerns were not so much theological as practical.” [9]  

v.39: “Why would spiritual leaders argue with each other?  “Paul and Barnabas quarreled partly because they held such passionate convictions about God’s will.  For Paul, nothing could eclipse the mission of preaching the gospel and building churches.  If John Mark jeopardized that mission, he should minister elsewhere. For Barnabas, nicknamed the son of encouragement, the restoration of one sincere Christian worker justified the risk.  In a sense, both Paul and Barnabas were right.  Yet in another sense, both were wrong: although they were spiritually mature, Paul and Barnabas allowed anger to influence them.” [10]

v.40: “The narrative of Paul’s second missionary journey, which occupied him for about three years, is given in the section of Acts which extends from Ac.15:36 to Ac.18:23. It began from Antioch. Paul first made a tour of the churches of Syria and Cilicia. Then he re-visited the churches in the regions of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. There followed a period when he could not see his way clear before him. That time of uncertainty ended with the vision at Troas. From Troas, Paul crossed to Neapolis and thence to Philippi. From Philippi he moved on to Thessalonica and Beroea. From there he went to Athens and then on to Corinth where he spent about eighteen months. From Corinth he traveled to Jerusalem by way of Ephesus and finally back to Antioch, his starting point. The great step forward is that with this journey Paul’s activity passed beyond Asia Minor and entered Europe.” [11] 

Bible Text

Acts 15:1-11 (ESV)

1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Go Deeper

Acts 15:1-21

The decision described in this passage—that Gentile believers would not be required to observe Old Testament rituals—had a tremendous impact on the spread of Christianity while maintaining the apostolic unity of the Christian movement. Consider the fact that a decision was arrived at “after there had been much debate” (15:7). One commentator notes: This important theological issue in the early history of the church was not decided by a sudden decree spoken by a prophet but by careful reasoning and thoughtful argumentation based on Scripture. [12]

•       What can I learn from this passage about the process of arriving at truth or of making important decisions? How does this compare to my response to dissensions or disagreements?

Acts 15:7-11

•       Identify and reflect on the words of Peter that capture the essence of the gospel.


[1] Life Application Study Bible,1985.

[2] Life Application Study Bible,1987.

[3] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed.,114-115.

[4] The Quest Study Bible, study notes, 1528.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed., 117-118.

[7] Bruce B. Barton, et al., Life Application New Testament Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2001), 527.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] The Quest Study Bible, study notes, 1528.

[11] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed.,120.

[12] The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2115.


Prayer

June 9, 2022

Acts 14:19-28

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

Acts 14:19-28 (ESV)

19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.

Go Deeper

Acts 14:19-28

  • What did Apostle Paul do after being stoned so severely as to be presumed dead?
  • What would have been the effect of hearing the words in v. 22 from Paul himself, given what he had endured? How do these words speak to me today?

Acts 14:1-28

  • Consider the spiritual battle throughout this chapter.  Who are the parties involved and what is at stake?  What can I learn from Paul and Barnabas’s response through it all?

[1] John R.W. Stott, Message of Acts (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 230-232.


Prayer

June 8, 2022

Acts 14:1-18

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

vv.11-18: “The crowd’s superstitious and even fanatical behavior is hard to comprehend, but some local background throws light on it.  About fifty years previously the Latin poet Ovid had narrated in his Metamorphoses an ancient local legend.  The supreme god Jupiter (Zeus to the Greeks) and his son Mercury (Hermes) once visited the hill country of Phrygia, disguised as mortal men.  In their incognito they sought hospitality but were rebuffed a thousand times.  At last, however, they were offered lodging in a tiny cottage, thatched with straw and reeds from the marsh.  Here lived an elderly peasant couple called Philemon and Baucis, who entertained them out of their poverty.  Later the gods rewarded them, but destroyed by the flood the homes which would not take them in.  It is reasonable to suppose both that the Lystran people knew this story about their neighborhood and that, if the gods were to revisit their district, they were anxious not to suffer the same fate as the inhospitable Phrygians.  Apart from the literary evidence in Ovid, two inscriptions and a stone altar have been discovered near Lystra, which indicate that Zeus and Hermes were worshipped together as local patron deities. […] 

The sermon Paul preached (14:15b-18):

Although what Luke includes is only a very brief abstract of Paul’s sermon, it is of great importance as his only recorded address to illiterate pagans. […] he focused not on a Scripture they did not know, but on the natural world around them, which they did know and could see.  He begged them to turn from the vanity of idolatrous worship to the living and true God.  He spoke of the living God as the Creator of heaven, earth and sea, and of everything in them (15). […] Moreover, he who made all things has not been inactive since.  Although in the past he let all nations go their own way (16), yet he has never at any time or in any place let himself without testimony.  On the contrary, he has borne a consistent witness to himself by his kindness to all humankind, including Paul’s listeners.  He has given them rain from heaven and crops on earth in their seasons, thus providing them with plenty of food for their bodies and filling their hearts with joy (17).” [1]

Bible Text

Acts 14:1-18 (ESV)

1 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4 But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel.

8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

Go Deeper

Acts 14:1-7 

  • How did Paul and Barnabas respond to the mistreatment that they received? What enabled them to respond in this way, and how am I challenged or inspired by their response?

Acts 14:8-18

  • How did Paul and Barnabas react to the crowd’s desire to offer sacrifices to them? 
  • What are the “vain things” that I need to turn from? Reflect on how they are inferior to the living God. 

[1] John R.W. Stott, Message of Acts (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 230-232.


Prayer

June 7, 2022

Acts 13:44-52

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

Acts 13:44-52 (ESV)

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Go Deeper

Acts 13:45

  • What was the consequence of the Jews’ jealousy? What lesson can I learn?   

Acts 13:46

  • Reflect on the ultimate consequence of rejecting God’s words. What are reasons people reject God’s words, and are there subtle ways in which I do so?

Acts 13:47

  • Who are the people God has sent me to be a light for? What did being a light for the Gentiles entail for Paul and Barnabas, and how can I likewise shine as His witness to those around me?

Prayer

June 2, 2022

Acts 13:13-43

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

v.1: The list of prophets and teachers ‘symbolized the ethnic and cultural diversity of Antioch,’ a city with a ‘cosmopolitan population.’  Barnabas is mentioned first, possibly because he was the leader of the group.  He was a Jew from the Jerusalem church but was originally from Cyprus (4:36), an island west of Palestine.  Simeon is a Jewish name, but he is called Niger, meaning black. […] Bruce suggests that Niger was a ‘descriptive addition, given to him perhaps because he was an African.’  Lucius was from Cyrene, which was in North Africa (present-day Libya). […] Manaen is a Jewish name.  The NIV translates syntrophos as ‘has been brought up with’ Herod the tetrarch, but it means foster brother or close friend from childhood.” [1] 

v.2: “The spirit directed Barnabas and Saul to be set apart for reaching the lost.  As we noted above, these were the top leaders of the church, and the young church in Antioch presumably had many needs.  But when God calls, we must release even those we consider the most important and valued persons.” [2]

v.9: “From this point on Saul was called Paul.  In those days nearly all Jews had two names.  One was a Jewish name, by which they were known in their own circle; the other was a Greek name, by which they were known in the wider world.  Sometimes the Greek name translated the Hebrew.  So Cephas is the Hebrew and Peter the Greek for a rock; Thomas is the Hebrew and Didymus the Greek for a twin.  Sometimes it echoed the sound.  So Eliakim in Hebrew becomes Alcimus in Greek and Joshua becomes Jesus. So Saul was also Paul.  It may well be that from this time he so fully accepted his mission as the apostle to the Gentiles that he determined to use only his Gentile name.  If so, it was the mark that from this time he was launched on the career for which the Holy Spirit had marked him out and that there was to be no turning back.” [3]  

vv.38-43: Following the exposition of the Christ event is an offer of forgiveness (v.38) and justification (v.39).  Verse 39 contains ideas that are typical of Paul’s letters:  belief, justification, and the inability to be justified by the Law of Moses.  Stott adds to these references some others from elsewhere in the speech:  death on the tree (v.29), sin (v. 38), and grace (v.43).  After pointing out that Paul was addressing Galatians here, Stott observes that theses ideas provided the foundation stone to his letter to the Galatians, which he would write a few months later.” [4]

vv.44-45: “Evidently the “God-fearing Gentiles” who had heard Paul’s sermon the previous Sabbath had understood that the salvation he proclaimed in Christ included them.  The word has spread like wildfire through the Gentile populace, and they were there en masse.  The Jews were filled with jealousy and began to speak abusively against the things Paul was saying, perhaps even blaspheming the gospel itself (v.45)  The reason for their sudden change in receptivity was evident: their “jealousy” was over the presence of all these Gentiles.  It was one thing to proclaim the coming of the Messiah to the Jews.  It was quite another to maintain that in the Messiah, God accepted the Gentiles on an equal basis.  To them this was little short of blasphemy, and Paul’s witness to them was over.” [5]

vv.46-48: “Paul and Barnabas responded “boldly” (v.46). […] Paul had to focus his attention on those who were receptive—the Gentiles.  Since Jesus was the Messiah who fulfilled God’s promise to the Jews, it was essential to proclaim the gospel to the Jews first (Romans 1:16, 2:9-10).  But the Jews in Antioch had rejected the eternal life that is to be found in Jesus, and Paul had to turn to those who were “worthy” (v.46).  Paul backed his decision to turn to the Gentiles by quoting Isa 49:6, an Old Testament text that was “programmatic” for the Christian mission in Acts (Acts 1:8;26:23; cf. Luke 24:47).  The text of Isaiah, a “servant” passage, originally envisaged Israel’s destiny as being that of a witness to God to all the nations of the world.  As Servant-Messiah, Jesus fulfilled this divine destiny.  He was to be “a light to the nations.”  Now, the messengers of the Messiah are likewise commanded to be “a light for the Gentiles” (v.47).  The Jews of Pisidian Antioch could not accept a messiah who embraced the Gentiles.  In rejecting Paul’s witness to the Gentiles, they thus rejected their Messiah as well. […]

One could view the present statement as definitive: Paul would no longer turn to the Jews:  he would now witness only to the Gentiles.  Such was not the case.  In the very next city on his missionary itinerary he would again begin his witness in the synagogue (14:1).  Again and again he experienced the rejection of the Jews and turned to the Gentiles of that town.  But he never gave up on his fellow Jews (cf. 28:17-28).” [6]

Bible Text: Acts 13:13-43 (ESV)

13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.  15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers,

33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“‘You are my Son,

    today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,

    be astounded and perish;

for I am doing a work in your days,

    a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

Go Deeper

Acts 13:16-41

  • Read the record of Apostle Paul’s sermon carefully and allow the message to speak to me as if I were in Paul’s audience that day.
  • Reflect on the goodness of the gospel promises recorded in vv. 36-39.
  • Note the continued presence of persecution in the midst of people being saved through the preaching about Christ; explore why this might be the case. How does this challenge me regarding my response toward persecution and setbacks in ministry?

[1] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary, 373.

[2] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary, 381.

[3] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed.,100.

[4] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary, 387.

[5] Pohill, The New American Commentary: Acts. vol.26, 306-307.

[6] Pohill, The New American Commentary: Acts. vol.26, 308.


Prayer

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