Bible Study on the Acts of the Apostles
This Bible Study course on the Book of Acts was written by Mary Agnes Orr Gelsinger and published by the Syrian Antiocian Archdiocese of New York in 1945. It has been revised and updated for St. Luke Parish use. The Acts of the Apostles was written by St. Luke our patron saint and was the first written history of the Orthodox Church during the Apostolic period. Those who were not Orthodox were eventually called Judaisers or Gnostics. You are invited to take the course and when finished take an examination to receive a certificate completion. Please e-mail Fr. Andrew Harrison for questions and exam requirements. email@example.com
Founding of the Holy Orthodox Church
Our Holy Church was founded by Christ Himself.
We know that, as the Prophets of the Old Testament foretold, Christ came into the world as a little child and took upon Himself the form of a man while He yet remained God's Only begotten Son. Read ?
During His life on earth, Christ chose twelve men to be His Apostles (Disciples). With these men He traveled up and down the land of the Jews, preaching and helping and healing. He proved, by many miracles and signs that He was divine, and that His doctrine was truly divine.
We know also that one of His Disciples (Judas Iscariot) betrayed Him; that Christ was crucified by his enemies; and that He arose from the grave on the third day.
After His Resurrection He lingered for forty days on the earth. During this time He gave instructions to His Disciples about how to carry on His work. He promised them the Gift of the Holy Spirit; and He commanded them, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Forty days after His Resurrection Christ ascended into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father.
Ten days after Christ's Ascension came the Day of Pentecost, at which time, according to His promise, the Gift of the Holy Spirit came upon the Disciples as they were all assembled.
1. Learn the names of the Twelve Apostles. (St. Luke 6:14-16)
2. In your Bible read the Story of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4)
3. How many days after Resurrection (Easter is Ascension?
4. How many days after Resurrection is Pentecost?
5. What was Christ's promise to His Disciples?
6. What was Christ's command to His Disciples?
Our First Bishops:
Having received the Gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the Disciples were ready to carry out Christ's command to preach the Gospel to all the world. (see Lesson 1).
However, they first chose a man, who would take the place of Judas Iscariot, the traitor. The man whom they chose was Matthias. In your Bible read the story (Acts 1:22-26).
Also, seven Deacons were ordained by the laying on of the hands of the Apostles. Chief among the Deacons was Stephen. In Your Bible, read Acts 6:1-8.
Some Disciples continued preaching and teaching in Jerusalem. And people were added to the Church every day.
Other Disciples went into surrounding countries teaching and preaching, and ordaining others to preach and to teach.
Now Christ was a Jew and most of the Christians were Jews; but we have learned also that many Jews were the enemies of Christ.
Soon the Gentiles heard about Christ and were eager to become Christians. (A Gentile is any person who is not a Jew). The first Gentiles who became Christians were the family of Cornelius. In your Bible read about the dreams of Cornelius and the Apostle Peter (Acts, chapter 10).
The Apostles were our first Bishops.
People who believed in Christ were called Christians first in the city of Antioch, Syria.
1. The day on which the Apostles received the Gift of the Holy Spirit is called?
2. Who was chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot?
3. Who were the first Bishops of our Holy Church?
4. Where were members of our Holy Church first called Christians?
The Apostle Peter Acts 2:14-47
The Apostle Peter appears to have been the most talkative of all the Twelve. While Christ was still on earth, it was Peter who usually asked Him questions and was always ready to speak for the rest.
On the Day of Pentecost the crowds were amazed at the signs and wonders -which then happened. It was Peter who arose and spoke to the people. He told how the Prophets of old had prophesied the coming of Christ. Peter said, "God has made this Jesus whom' you have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Act 1:36)
When they heard Peter's words, the people were worried. They asked, "What shall we do?" Peter replied that they should repent and be baptized; and their sins would be forgiven.
All those who believed his words were baptized. About three thousand people were added to the Church that day.
(Note: The Twelve Apostles whom Christ chose are commonly called Disciples. The word apostle means "a messenger," or "one sent forth." Disciple means "a learner," or "one taught by, another."
Because the Twelve were especially chosen and commanded to preach and to teach, they were truly Apostles. And, as pupils of Christ, they were also His Disciples.
All who truly believe and are willing to learn about Christ are His Disciples; while only those who are especially called or chosen to preach or to teach are His Apostles.
Supply the missing words:
1. The Feast of the Resurrection of Christ is called
2. Forty days after is the Feast of
3. Fifty days after is the Feast of
A Lame Man Is Healed Acts 3:1-16
We have learned that the Apostles began their teaching and preaching after they had received the Grace of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They held tender memories of their Lord who had recently gone away from them to His Heavenly Home. They remembered His words; they remembered the many wonders that He had done; and they were eager to tell the world, about Him.
But there were many people who were doubtful about this Christ who could perform miracles; this Christ who was both God and man. There were others, among the rulers, who were jealous and afraid they might lose their power in the government. And even after they had seen or heard about the wonders and signs which happened on the day of Pentecost, they still would not believe in the New Religion.
Perhaps it was for this reason that God gave His Apostles power to perform miracles for His Glory.
One day Peter and John went to the Temple to pray.
At the Gate which was called Beautiful there sat a lame man. He had been lame, all his life. He had never been able to walk. Every day his family carried him to the gate of the Temple where he sat and begged a gift of money from each person who entered.
As Peter and John approached, he asked a gift from them. But Peter cried, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." And as Peter took him by the hand the lame man became strong. He stood up and walked with Peter and John into the Temple.
All the people saw the lame man walking, and leaping and praising God. They were amazed; everyone crowded around Peter and John to see the strange man who had done this miracle.
Then Peter explained to them that it was Jesus Christ; and not they, who had healed the man.
1. Be sure to read this story in your New Testament.
2. Name, according to classification, all the Books of the New Testament.
Peter and John in Prison, Acts: 4
Last lesson we learned how the Apostles Peter and John had, by means of prayer, healed a lame man.
A large crowd soon gathered to see the men who had done this miracle and to hear them speak. According to the Bible story, there were five thousand people in the crowd.
Now when the chief priests and the rulers heard of this, they had the Apostles put into prison; for they were jealous because these ignorant men attracted so many people with their new doctrines.
On the following day all the officers and the priests gathered together, and Peter and John were brought to them. They asked, "What is this -power by which you can heal a man who has been lame all his life"?
Peter explained that it was Jesus of Nazareth, and not they, who had healed the man.
The rulers and the Council did not know what to do with Peter and John; for they said, "Everybody in Jerusalem has heard about this miracle, and we cannot deny that it was done; but let us see to it that the news is spread no farther among the people. We will, therefore, threaten them, and forbid them to teach and to preach in the name of Jesus."
Peter and John answered their threats, saying, "Whether it is right to obey you rather than to obey God, you may judge; for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
As they could find no way to punish them, the officers released Peter and John, and the two Apostles returned to their friends.
All the members of the Church thanked God, and prayed for strength to speak the Truth boldly. As they prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
1. Why were the chief priests and officers jealous of Peter and John?
2. How did Peter explain the miracle which they had performed?
3. Repeat the Apostles' answer to the threats of the rulers and council.
Peter and John Again Imprisoned Acts: 5
After the release of Peter and John from prison "Many signs and wonders were done" by their hands among the people in Jerusalem. "There came also a multitude out of the cities round about Jerusalem, bringing sick people and were tormented by unclean spirits; and they all were healed."
When they saw these things, the high priest and those that were with him were very angry; and they seized Peter and John and put them into prison again.
But during the night God sent His Angel, who opened the prison doors and brought Peter and John out. The Angel told them to go to the Temple and speak. And so, early in the morning, they went to the Temple to teach the people.
Next day the high priest and his company called the council and the senate together and sent officers to the prison to bring Peter and John before them.
Soon the officers returned with the report: "The prison was safely locked, and the guards were at the doors, but nobody is inside."
Then the men of the council were very angry and made plans to kill the Apostles. But- a learned than, a lawyer named Gamaliel, warned the men of the council; saying, "Let these men alone, if their work is of men, it will amount to nothing; if it is of God, you can't fight against God."
The men of the council then agreed to let the Apostles go; but first they beat them and again forbade them to speak in -the name of Jesus.
Thereafter Peter and John spoke every day in the Temple and in all the homes of the city.
The Story of Stephen. Acts: 6 and 7
The sixth chapter of the Acts records the story of the ordination of seven Deacons. Because many subordinate duties arose which the Twelve Apostles were unable to take care of, seven good and loyal men were chosen to become Deacons. Less important ministrations were then taken care of by the Deacons so that the Apostles could give all their time to prayer and teaching.
The Apostles "when they had prayed, laid their hands on them." In this way the seven men were ordained Deacons.
Chief among the Deacons was Stephen, who "Full of faith and power did great wonders and miracles among the people."
But there were those who plotted against Stephen and caused him to be brought before the Council. And as the men of the council looked upon Stephen, "They saw his face as it had been the face of an Angel."
The seventh chapter of the Acts tells the story of the Chosen People as told by Stephen before they council; how the Savior, although His coming had been foretold by the Prophets, had been rejected and murdered by the very people to whom He had been sent:
Then the people rushed upon, Stephen. They drove him out of the city and there they stoned him until he was dead. And, as he died, Stephen cried out this prayer: "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."
Stephen was the first Christian martyr.
Questions & Assigments:
1. Name the Seven Deacons. Acts 6:5.
2. In your own words tell the story of the death Stephen
The Ministry of Philip Acts 8:5-15
Last Lesson we learned about the martyrdom of Stephen. One of the leaders among the crowd that stoned Stephen was a young man, Saul.
Saul was a leader in the cruel persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem at this time. He made havoc of the Church, entering into every house, and dragging men and women away to prison. (We shall hear more about Saul.)
As a result of this persecution, Christians were driven out of Jerusalem and scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. But these refugees did not cease to preach Christianity in the countries to which they fled.
Among those who fled to the city of Samaria was Philip, one of the Seven Deacons. The people in Samaria gave heed to the doctrine of Philip because many miracles and wonders were performed through him.
In Samaria lived Simon, a great sorcerer, who had long bewitched the people with his magic tricks. Upon hearing the words of Philip, Simon believed and was baptized. Thereafter Simon continued working with Philip.
When the Apostles at Jerusalem heard about Philip's work in Samaria, they sent Peter and John to that city. And some were ordained through the prayers and the laying-on of the hands of Peter and John.
Then Simon, when he saw it, offered money to the Apostles that he too might receive this Gift of the Holy Spirit.
But Peter explained to Simon that it is a great sin to think that the Gift of the Holy Spirit can be bought with money.
Simon was sorry for his sin; he asked Peter to pray that the Lord would forgive him.
1. What is a sorcerer?
Who was Stephen?
Tell the story of his work.
What was the name of the young man who helped to stone Stephen and who persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem?
The Ministry of Phillip (Continued) Acts 8:25-40
(Read Lesson 8 again to refresh your memory about Philip's work).
After preaching and teaching in many villages of Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. But Philip was directed by an Angel of the Lord to go toward the south into Gaza, which is in the desert.
As Philip traveled he came upon a man from Ethiopia who was returning from Jerusalem in his Chariot. Now The Ethiopian was one of the high officers of the Queen Candace.
As he rode along, he was reading the Old Testament Book of Isaiah at the place where Isaiah prophesied the Birth of Jesus Christ.
Philip asked, "Do you understand the meaning of this Scripture?''
The Ethiopian replied, "How can I understand when there is no one who can explain the meaning to me?"
Then Philip rode along with the officer; and, as they rode, Philip told the whole story of Christ and of the Church, and the requirements for salvation.
Presently they came to a "some water," and the Ethiopian asked to be baptized at once.
Philip said "If you believe with all your heart, you may."
The man answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
Immediately Philip baptized him.
Then the Spirit took Philip away, and the man did not see him again.
But Philip was found at a place called Azotus, and he preached in all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
1. How did Philip happen to be in Samaria?
2. Why did all the people believe Philip's words?
3. Who was Simon? What great sin did Simon commit after he became a Christian?
Saul's Conversation with Jesus. Acts 9:1.10
In a previous Lesson we learned about a young man named Saul, who helped to stone to death the Deacon Stephen, and also persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem.
One day Saul decided to go to Damascus to carry on his cruel work of persecution in that city.
He first went to the high priest and obtained letters which authorized him to arrest any Christians he might find in Damascus.
But as he approached the city, suddenly there shone about him a blinding light from Heaven and he fell to the earth. A Voice said to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
And Saul said, "Who are You, Lord?"
And the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you persecute."
Saul was so frightened that he trembled and shook as he asked, "What will tyou have me do?"
And the Lord said, "Arise and go into the city. There it shall be told to you what to do."
Now the men who were with Saul stood speechless; for they heard the voice, but they could see no one.
When Saul arose from the ground, he was completely blind, and his friends led him by the hand into the city.
Sau1 remained blind three days and during that time he neither ate nor drank anything.
1. What is the meaning of Pentecost?
2. Who were our first Bishops?
3. Which of the twelve disciples were imprisoned?
4. Name two of the seven Deacons, and describe the works of each.
5. Where were believers first called Christians?
Lessons 1 to 10
1. How many Disciples did Jesus choose?
2. Who was chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot?
3. Name the Twelve Disciples.
4. What Church Feast celebrates the Resurrection of Christ?
5. Which Feast comes forty days after Easter?
6. What was Christ's promise to His Disciples after His Resurrection?
7. What was Christ's command to His Disciples just before His Ascension?
8. When do we celebrate Pentecost?
9. Tell the story of Pentecost.
10. What Gift did the Disciples receive on that Day?
11. What was the gate called where the lame man sat.
12. Tell the story of Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate.
13. How did Peter and John get out of prison?
14. Who was the first Christian martyr?
15. Why did many Christians have to leave Jerusalem at the time of the first martyrdom?
16. Who was the chief persecutor of Christians in Jerusalem?
17. Where did the Deacon Philip preach?
18. Explain two incidents of Philip's ministry.
19. Tell the story of Saul's conversion.
The Story of Saul (Continued) Acts 9:10-31
Saul lay weak and blind in the city of Damascus.
In another part of the city lived Ananias. Ananias was a devout Christian. One day God appeared to Ananias in a vision and told him to go to a certain house on the street which is called Straight. There he should ask for Saul who is from the city of Tarsus.
But Ananias said, "Lord, I have heard of Saul. He is a terrible fellow. Many people have told how in Jerusalem Saul has done much evil against the Christians. And even here in Damascus he has authority to arrest all he can find who are Christians."
The Lord said, "Go, Ananias, for I have chosen Saul to preach both to the Gentiles and to the Jews."
Then Ananias went and found Saul still blind from the great light, "which had come upon him as he was journeying to Damascus. Ananias laid his hands upon Saul, and immediately Saul received his sight and was baptized.
For several days afterward Saul remained with the Christians in Damascus receiving instructions; and then he preached in the synagogues saying that Christ is the Son of God.
All the people who heard him were amazed, for they knew about his wicked persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem. The Jews were angry and planned to kill him.
Saul decided to go to Jerusalem. But in every street the Jews were lying in wait to kill him. Finally his friends let Saul down with ropes outside the city wall, and he went to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem Saul wanted to join with the Disciples, but they were afraid of him because they remembered his wickedness. But Barnabas convinced them that Saul was indeed a Christian.
After Saul's conversion the Christian Churches throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace for a long time. And the Church grew and multiplied.
Assignments & Questions:
Explain in your own words the story of Saul's conversion.
Have you read the story in Acts 9:1-31?
Peter at Lydda and Joppa Acts 9:32-43
At this time Peter was visiting among all the Churches in the region surrounding Jerusalem.
One day he came to the village of Lydda. There Peter found Aeneas, a man who was sick of the palsy. Aeneas hid been in bed eight years.
Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole: Arise and take your bed." And Aeneas rose immediately.
Seeing this miracle, all the people in Lydda and Saron became Christians.
Nearby in the village of Joppa lived Dorcas, a woman greatly loved by all because of her many good deeds among the poor and needy.
Suddenly Dorcas fell ill and died; and there was great grief and sadness in Joppa.
Someone had heard that the Apostle Peter was in Lydda.
"Surely Peter can help us," said the friends of Dorcas.
Two men were sent to Lydda to ask Peter to come.
Peter returned immediately with them, and they showed him to an upper room where the body of Dorcas lay.
There many friends of Dorcas were weeping, and they showed Peter garments which she had made for the poor. Peter sent the people out of the room. Then, after he had prayed; he said to the woman, "Arise."
Dorcas opened her eyes ; and when she saw Peter she sat up.
Peter called her friends, and they were filled with surprise and joy to find their beloved Dorcas alive and well.
Because of this miracle many more people became Christians. And Peter remained in Joppa many days staying at the home of Simon the tanner.
Can you tell about other miracles accomplished through the prayers of Peter?
The Gentiles Receive the Gospel Acts: 10
In the days of the Prophets (before the Birth of Christ), many of the Chosen People supposed that Christ would come to be king of the Jews only. But when Christ came, he made it clear to His Disciples that He came to save not only the Jews, but the Gentiles as well.
However, it was very difficult at first for the early Apostles to realize that the Gentiles were to share the Gospel and Teachings of our Lord equally with the Jews. For the Jews believed that people who did not belong to the race of the Chosen People were unworthy; and the Jews were not accustomed to associate with the Gentiles. And so it was necessary that even the Apostle Peter should be reminded that Christ came to save the whole world, and not the Jews only.
The first Gentile family to accept Christianity was that of Cornelius, a soldier who lived in Caesarea. Cornelius was a very devout man; and he, with his family, gave much alms to the poor and needy. The Bible says, "They prayed to God always,"
One day an Angel of the Lord appeared to Cornelius. The Angel said, "Cornelius, your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God . . . Now send men to Joppa, and call for Peter who is staying with Simon The Tanner; he shall tell you what to do."
Cornelius immediately sent his most trusted servant to Joppa to call for Peter.
Meanwhile strange things were happening also to Peter. He had gone up upon the housetop to pray. He was very hungry but the meal was not ready, and perhaps Peter dozed a bit as he waited. At any rate he saw a vision: the heavens opened, and he saw a great sheet descending. On it were all manner of beasts, fowl, and creeping things. A voice said, "Rise; Peter, kill and eat."
But Peter said, "O no, I do not eat anything common or unclean."
Then the voice said, "What God has cleansed, you must not call common."
This was done three times, and then the sheet was again lifted up into Heaven.
While Peter wondered what the vision meant, the Spirit of God said, "Three men are at the door asking for you; go with them, for I have sent them."
The men lodged with Peter that night, and the next day Peter went with them to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. There he found many people waiting to hear what he would say.
Peter preached that day to all the people at Cornelius' house. As he spoke, many believed. And the family of Cornelius was that day received into the Church.
Assignments & Questions:
1. Read the story in your Bible.
2. Why was Peter at Joppa at this time?
3. What does alms mean?
4. What happened when Peter entered the house of Cornelius?
5. What lesson did Peter learn from the vision?
Barnabas and Paul at Antioch Acts: Chapter 11
The Apostles in Jerusalem heard about Peter's visit in the home of Cornelius in Caesarea. And when Peter came back to Jerusalem they complained that he had been associating with Gentiles. Peter told them the whole story as we learned it in our last Lesson (see Lesson 13). Peter's story convinced them that Jesus came not only to the: Jews, but to all men.
Do you remember what happened as a result of the stoning to death of the deacon Stephen? The important result was this:
The Christians were forced to leave Jerusalem, and they scattered abroad, to all the surrounding towns and villages, preaching and teaching Christianity wherever they went. They traveled as far as Cyprus and Antioch; and many people believed. They preached to the Jews only; but in Antioch there were many Greeks who happened to hear about Christ; and they also believed.
The Church in Jerusalem, hearing about the many believers in Antioch, sent Barnabas to instruct them.
Now Barnabas was a good man, full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. When he saw the number of believers in Antioch, he was delighted, and under his ministry many people were added to the Church.
Later, Barnabas went to Tarsus and brought Paul back with him to Antioch.
Together they stayed one year, strengthening and building up the Church at Antioch.
It was at Antioch that believers were first called Christians.
Review Lesson 7 for the story of Stephen.
The Arrest and Deliverance of Peter Acts: Chapter 15
About this time King Herod began a severe persecution of the Christians. He killed one Disciple, James, the brother of John; and because it pleased the Jews he decided to kill Peter also.
Accordingly, Peter was arrested and placed in prison under a guard of sixteen soldiers. Herod meant, after Easter, to bring Peter out before the people to make great sport of his persecution and death.
Meanwhile, all the Christians were gathered together to pray continuously for Peter's deliverance.
On the very night before Herod was to bring Peter out before the people, an Angel of the Lord visited Peter, and, loosening his chains, commanded Peter to follow him.
Peter thought that he was dreaming; but he followed the Angel out through the gate of the prison. The gate opened of its own accord. The Angel led Peter into the street and departed from him. Then Peter came to himself and realized that he had not been dreaming, but knew that God had delivered him from prison. He hurried to the house of his friends who were praying for him.
A girl named Rhoda answered Peter's knock at the door. When she saw Peter, she was so astonished that she forgot to open the door, but ran back to tell who was there.
All the people were amazed, but Peter quieted them, and told them how the Angel had delivered him.
Next day when King Herod sent for Peter, there was a great stir at the prison because of his escape. Herod was so angry that he had all the keepers put to death.
See Lesson 6 for the story of a previous visit of an Angel to Peter in prison.
Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus Acts 13:1-12
Paul and Barnabas had been ministering to the Church in Antioch, for the Church there was strong.
As the Faithful fasted and prayed, the Holy Spirit commanded that Paul and Barnabas should be set apart from the others for a special work.
So Paul and Barnabas departed to the seaport, of Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
Cyprus is a large island in the Mediterranean Sea.
There Paul and Barnabas visited the city of Salamis and preached to the Jews in the synagogues.
From Salamis they traveled the length of the island to the town of Paphos.
In Paphos lived Sergius Paulus, a deputy of the country who was a good man and was eager to hear the word of God preached by Paul and Barnabas.
But a certain sorcerer was associated with Sergius Paulus; and he did everything he could to dissuade Paulus from belief in the Christian Faith.
Paul, being filled With the Holy Spirit, rebuked the sorcerer. He said, "You are a child of the devil; and an enemy of righteousness. Now, behold, the Hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind for a while."
And immediately it was as if a mist had fallen upon the sorcerer. He could not see, and he went about seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
Then Paulus, astonished at the doctrine of the Lord, believed in Him.
Things to do:
1. On a map locate the following places: Antioch; Cyprus; Salamis; Paphos.
2. What special fact have we learned about Antioch?
3. Tell the story of another sorcerer who became a Christian. (See Lesson 8.)
PART 1: BIBLE STUDY
Paul and Barnabas Persecuted Acts .13:3-52
Paul and Barnabas went from Cyprus to Antioch in Pisidia (not the Antioch in Syria). There Paul preached to the Jews in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day.
He related to them the history of the chosen People from the time of Moses: how God had led them out of Egypt into the Promised Land; how He had directed the course of their nation through the centuries; and how, finally, through the line of David, He had sent His Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world.
After the sermon, when the Jews had gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles came and begged Paul and Barnabas to preach to them on the next Sabbath Day.
"And on the next Sabbath Day, came almost the whole city together to hear the Word of God." (Verse 44.)
Seeing such a crowd of Gentiles, the Jews were jealous, and began to stir up trouble. They said that Paul and Barnabas were imposters and blasphemers.
But Paul and Barnabas were very bold, and said to the Jews: "It was necessary that the Word of the Lord should be been spoken to you (the Jews): since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles, for so the Lord commanded us, 'I have set you to be a light of the Gentiles that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
When the Gentiles heard this they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and many accepted Christianity.
But the Jews stirred up among the officers of the city so much resentment against Paul and Barnabas that they were forced to leave the city.
Assignments and Questions:
1. Review Lesson 16, and read the entire chapter in your Bible. (Acts: Chapter 13).
2. Give an account of Paul's sermon as told in this chapter.
Travels of Paul and Barnabas (Cont'd) Acts 14:1-18
From Antioch in Pisidia Paul and Barnabas went to Inconium. There they preached to both Jews and Gentiles; and the bible story tells that multitudes of people believed.
However, the unbelieving Jews stirred up hatred against them and would have stoned them; but Paul and Barnabas were warned of their danger and fled to the towns of Lystra and Derbe.
While Paul was preaching in Lystra, he noticed a crippled man who listened intently.
Now the crippled man's feet were so weak he could not stand, and he never had walked in his whole lifetime. Paul saw by the _expression on the man's face that he believed in the Gospel of Christ and had faith to be healed. Paul said in-aloud voice, "Stand upright on thy feet." And the man leaped and walked.
Seeing what Paul had done, the people were excited. They cried, "The gods have come down to us in the 1ikeness of men!" They thought that Barnabas was Jupiter and that Paul was Mercury.
The priest of Jupiter brought oxen for a sacrifice, and garlands of flowers were gathered for the occasion. All the people prepared to worship the Apostles.
When Paul and Barnabas realized what was happening, they ran through the crowds explaining that, after all, they themselves were only men who were trying to teach the people to cease their worship of heathen gods, and to believe in the one true God who made all things.
It was with great difficulty that they were able to persuade the people that they were not gods and should not be worshipped.
Assignments and Questions:
1. On your bible map locate Derbe and Lystra.
2. According to pagan belief, who were the gods Jupiter and Mercury?
3. Why would the people think that Paul was Mercury?
Paul is Stoned Acts 14:19-28
In Lystra, Paul, through prayer, had accomplished the healing of a crippled man (see last lesson). Because of the miracle, the people thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods, and they prepared to worship them.
Despite all this, when certain Jews came from Iconiam and Antioch telling all kinds of stories against Paul and Barnabas, the people believed them. They became so angry and excited that they threw stones at Paul; they stoned him until they thought he was dead. Then they dragged him out of the city and left him.
But as his friends stood around him, Paul arose.
He went back into the city; and the next day he and Barnabas went to Derbe. After preaching there, they traveled Back to Lystra. And afterward they visited the churches of Iconium, Pamphilia, and many other places.
In every Church where they visited, certain officers were appointed and the members were encouraged and strengthened.
Finally, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch in Syria, the place from which they had begun their travels.
In Antioch all the members of the Church came together to hear Paul and Barnabas tell about all the adventures they had had on their travels. They especially emphasized the story of how God had opened the way for the gentiles to receive the Gospel of Christ.
Special Topic: Name and locate five towns or cities in which Churches were established during the time of the Apostles.
Paul and Barnabas Separate Acts: Chapter 15
After Paul and Barnabas had made clear to the Christians in the Church at Antioch that many Gentiles had received the Gospel and were not Christians, a dispute arose among the Jewish Christians as to whether the Gentile Christians had to obey all the laws of the ancient Jews.
It was decided that Paul and Barnabas should go to Jerusalem and find out what the Apostles and Elders in the Mother Church thought of the matter. Accordingly, a conference was held in Jerusalem.
As a result of this conference, letters were sent to the church in Antioch, carried by Paul and Barnabas upon their return to that city. These letters advised that the Gentiles, having been chosen by our Lord to receive the Gospel, should not be burdened with all the old Jewish Laws.
One day Paul suggested to Barnabas that they should make a tour, visiting all the towns and cities when they had preached before.
Barnabas wanted to take a friend along. The friend's name was Mark.
But Paul wanted to take his friend Silas.
Then Paul and Barnabas quarreled and separated. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, while Paul too Silas and traveled through Syria and Cilicia encouraging the Churches.
Assignments and Questions:
Review Lessons 16 and 18, and tell what happened when Paul and Barnabas were in Cyprus and Lystra.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
Lessons 11 to 20
Paul and Silas in Prison Acts 16:16-40
Paul and Silas were preaching in Macedonia, near the city of Philippi.
In Philippi there was a young girl who was a fortune teller. She was hired by some men who made much money by her fortune telling.
This girl followed after Paul and Silas for several days to hear their preaching. Paul felt very sorry for her and commanded the evil spirit to depart from her; and she became a Christian.
Because she could no longer tell fortunes her masters became angry. They seized Paul and Silas and took them before the magistrates. They accused them of stirring up trouble in the city. Then Paul and Silas were beaten severely and thrown into prison. The keeper of the prison was warned to watch the prisoners carefully so as to make sure they could not escape. And so Paul and Silas were put in a dark dungeon and their feet chained in the stocks.
That night at midnight Paul and Silas sang hymns and prayed. All the prisoners heard the singing.
Suddenly there was a great earthquake. The foundations of the prison were shaken; all the prisoners were released from their chains, and the prison doors were opened.
Seeing that the prison doors were open, the keeper of the prison thought that the prisoners had all fled, and he drew his sword to kill himself.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm: for we are all here."
Then the keeper fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, asking, "What must I do to be saved?"
That same night the keeper of the prison and all his house were baptized and became Christians.
Next morning the officers came and said to the keeper, "Let these men go."
But Paul said, "They have beaten us and put us in prison, although we are Roman citizens and are not condemned. Let them come and fetch us."
When the magistrates learned that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid of getting into trouble with the Roman government. They came and begged them please to depart from the city.
Paul and Silas walked out of prison and went to the home of Lydia, where they joined their friends.
"The Unknown God"Acts 17:13-34
Once upon a time, while he was traveling with his friends, Timothy and Silas, Paul was forced by his, enemies to flee for his life. He fled to the city of Athens; and he sent word to his friends to join him there.
Now most of us know that Athens is the most famous city in Greece. At the time when the Apostles were preaching about our Savior, Athens was probably the most beautiful city in the world. In it were beautiful temples. These temples were built to honor, not the true God, but the pagan gods and goddesses which the Athenians worshipped. To this day many of these temples are remembered for the beauty of their architecture. Chief among them is the Parthenon, which was built to Honor the goddess Athena.
While Paul waited in Athens for his friends he walked about to see the city. He was much distressed to observe that the whole city worshipped these pagen idols, and he spoke about it to everyone he met.
Certain philosophers and scholars heard of this strange man who taught a new religion; and they sought him to ask him what it was all about, for at that time Greek culture was at its height. Learned men were continually trying to find out some new Doctrine.
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars Hill and said: "You men of Athens, I perceive that you are very religious. For as I stood by and beheld your devotions I found an Altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you. God made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of Heaven and earth and does not dwell in temples made with hands."
Then Paul explained that God made all nations equal to live upon the earth and to worship Him alone, and not these images of gold, silver, or stone, which are carved by men.
When the people heard about the Resurrection, some of them laughed with scorn; others said, "We will hear you again about this matter;" and still others believed and became Christians.
Paul's Travels (Continued) Acts: Chapters 18 and 19
After he left Athens, Paul next visited Corinth. There the Lord spoke to him in a vision saying, "Be not afraid, but speak and hold not your peace: for I am with you and no man shall set on you to hurt you: for I have much people in this city." And Paul continued there a year and six months. While in Corinth, Paul lived with Aquila and his wife Priscilla because they were tentmakers, and Paul was a tentmaker also; and they all worked together at their trade.
When Paul left Corinth, his friends Aquila and Priscilla went with him to Syria and later as far as Ephesus. There Paul bade them farewell and sailed to Caesarea. After a short visit to the Church in Caesarea, he went to Antioch, where he spent some time. Afterward, he traveled over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia, cheering and strengthening the Christians; and finally he came back to Ephesus again, where he remained two years.
During this time all the people in Asia, "Both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord."
"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul so that even handkerchiefs or aprons from his body were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them."
Assignments and Questions:
Find on the Bible map all the places visited by Paul in this Lesson Story: Athens, Corinth, Syria, Ephesus, Caesarea, Antioch, Galatia, Phrygia.
Paul's Farewell to the Elders at Ephesus Acts:Chapter 20
Having spent two years in Ephesus, Paul now traveled through Macedonia and came to Greece. He stayed three months in Greece. When he planned to go back into Asia the Jews lay in wait for him; and several of his friends traveled with him until they came to Troas, where they spent seven days.
At Troas, on the evening before their departure, Paul preached to the Christians. Paul, had much to tell his friends, and the sermon was long, lasting until midnight. A young man who was sitting in a window (his name was Eutychus) fell asleep, and fell down from the "third loft" and was picked up dead. But Paul went down to him and restored his life.
Paul and his friends continued talking until daybreak. Then Paul told his traveling companions to meet him at Assos, for he wished to walk alone as far as that. And so at Assos Paul embarked with them and they sailed by way of Chios, Samos, and Trogyllium, and came to Miletus.
Paul had planned to sail by Ephesus, but he wanted to be in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost, and as time was short, he sent for the Elders at Ephesus to come to him at Miletus. When they had come to him Paul spoke to them: he told them that he was on his way to Jerusalem, where he was certain to suffer persecution and imprisonment, and perhaps death. But he said that he was not afraid, for his life on earth was not important to him. He reminded them of their responsibility, given them by the Holy Spirit, to take care of the Church which Christ had purchased with His own Blood.
"And now," he said, "I commend you to God . . ." and when he had spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them. And they all wept sorely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Assignments and Questions:
1. Why were Paul and Barnabas imprisoned in the city of Philippi? See Lesson 22.
2. In what city was the Altar to the UNKNOWN GOD? See Lesson 23.
3. What profession did Paul follow in civil life? See Lesson 24.
Paul is Assaulted in the Temple Acts: Chapters 21 and 22
At every place where Paul stopped on his way to Jerusalem, his friends begged him not to go to Jerusalem; for they know that the Jews hated him because of his great work of spreading Christianity over many countries and in many cities.
But Paul said, "I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
And so Paul came with his friends into Jerusalem.
One day when Paul was in the Temple, some Jews from Asia recognized him and seized him, crying, "This is the man who has been teaching all men everywhere this new doctrine of Christianity; he has even brought Greeks into the Temple!"
And they took Paul out of the Temple and beat him, meaning to kill him. But the news of the uproar reached the chief captain, who came to see what the trouble was. But he could not find out anything for certain, because some said one thing and some said another.
The chief captain took Paul and had him bound with two chains, and ordered that he should be taken into the castle. The crowds were so wild and angry that the soldiers had to carry Paul up the stairs for fear of violence.
Then Paul asked permission to speak to the people. And when they were silent he spoke to them in the Hebrew language.
Paul described to them his conversion (see Lesson 10). However, when he had finished speaking, the crowds screamed "Away with him." The chief captain commanded the centurion to scourge Paul, the better to determine his guilt.
But Paul said, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?"
Then the centurion told the chief captain, "Be careful; this man is a Roman."
The chief captain asked Paul, "Tell me, are you a Roman?"
Paul answered, "Yes."
The captain said, "With a great sum obtained I this freedom." Then, being afraid, he loosed Paul's bonds and on the marrow brought him before the council.
1. Why did Paul's friends not want him to go to Jerusalem?
2. What was Paul's answer to the pleadings of his friends?,/p>
3. Of what nationality was Paul?
Paul before Felix, the Governor Acts: Chapters 23 and 24
Paul, addressing the council, observed that a part of the members were Sadducees, and the other part were Pharisees. Now the Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, but the Sadducees did not. And Paul cried out, "Men and Brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. Of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." Immediately a dispute arose between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. There was such uproar that the chief captain feared for Paul's life; and he ordered the soldiers to remove Paul to the castle.
That night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testified of me in Jerusalem, so must you bear witness also in Rome."
Meanwhile, about forty Jews bound themselves under oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. With the chief priests and elders they planned a trick so as to make opportunity to carry out their plan.
But Paul's sister's son heard of it and told Paul. Paul sent the young; man to the chief captain, who listened, privately to his story.
The chief captain warned the boy to tell no one about it; and he commanded that soldiers and horsemen be made ready at once to take Paul to Caesarea. There he should safely appear before Felix the governor.
Accordingly, on the morrow, Paul was removed to Caesarea and delivered unto Felix in his own defense. Paul spoke eloquently, declaring that if his accusers had anything against him they should at least be there to speak.
The Governor was sympathetic. He ordered a centurion to guard Paul; but Paul was to have privileges, and his friends and relatives were to be allowed to visit him.
Both Felix and his wife, Drusilla, were interested in the religion of Christ, and Felix often talked to Paul. He would have been glad if Paul had offered him money so that he could have had an excuse to liberate him.
1. Explain why there was dissension among the members of the Council.
2. Who told Paul about the conspiracy of the Jews?
3. Tell how the plot was thwarted.
Paul's Defense Before King Agrippa Acts: Chapters 25 and 26
After Paul had been in prison two years in Caesarea, a new governor named Festus was appointed to replace Felix.
When Festus went to Jerusalem, the leaders of the Jews asked to have Paul brought from Caesarea for trial. Their plan really was to lie in ambush and to kill Paul on the way to Jerusalem. However, Festus refused this request, and said that those who wanted to accuse Paul should go to Caesarea.
When certain of the Jews therefore appeared in Caesarea against Paul, they made many complaints against him, but could prove nothing. Festus, willing to please the Jews, asked Paul whether he would appear in Jerusalem to be judged of these matters.
Paul, answering for himself, said, "To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know . . . . I appeal to Caesar."
Festus then explained Paul's case to King Agrippa that the accusations of the Jews were of their own superstition, and of one Jesus who was dead, but whom Paul declared to be alive.
King Agrippa wanted to hear Paul. Accordingly, on the next day the King and his wife Bernice appeared with great ceremony and Paul was brought before them. Festus explained that the Jews in Jerusalem were loudly demanding the death of Paul, but that he himself could find no fault in him worthy of death. Therefore he had brought Paul before the King for examination so that it might be determined what charges could be preferred against him before Caesar; "For," said Festus, "It seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to signify the crimes laid against him."
And so again Paul was permitted to speak for himself. Again he told the dramatic story of his conversion; how, before that time, he had ruthlessly persecuted the Christians; and how, afterward, he had continuously preached Christ to the Jews and Gentiles alike.
King Agrippa was much impressed. He said, "Paul, almost you persuade me to be a Christian."
Paul replied, "I would to God that not only you, but all who hear me this day, were such as I am, except these bonds."
The King and Festus, speaking privately, found no fault in Paul and agreed that if he had appealed to Caesar he might have been freed.
1. Why did the Jews want to have Paul returned to Jerusalem?
2. To whom did Paul appeal?
3. Tell in your own words the story of Paul's appearance before the King.
Paul's Voyage Toward Rome Acts: Chapter 27
Because Paul was a Roman citizen he had the right to demand trial before Emperor Caesar Augustus in Rome.
Traveling from Caesarea to Rome was very difficult. In those days the journey had to be made by sea, and there were no ships except sailing vessels.
However, according to Paul's demand, preparations were made and he was placed in charge of a centurion on a ship which also carried other prisoners; and they set sail toward Rome.
It was a treacherous voyage. Contrary winds delayed the ship for many days. They had meant to sail along the coast of Asia, but headed toward Crete. There Paul warned the centurion that the ship might suffer loss of both cargo and passengers if they proceeded. But the captain would not heed the warning, and continued the journey.
Soon a terrible storm arose, and it was impossible to control the ship. Finally, after many days of tempest and storm, all hope for their safety was abandoned.
But the Angel of the Lord appeared unto Paul and assured him that no lives would be lost; only the ship.
Paul told the centurion and the soldiers of his vision. He persuaded all the people on the ship to be of good cheer. And after Paul had given thanks to God they all ate a good meal and felt much better. In all there were 276 people on the ship.
Presently they saw land, but did not recognize the country. The ship ran aground and was soon broken in pieces by the violence of the waves.
The soldiers advised that they kill the prisoners to prevent their escape, but the centurion wanted to save Paul, and did not allow it. He commanded that all who could swim should swim to land; and they reached land on boards or on broken pieces of the ship.
And so it happened that they escaped all safe to land.
1. By what right did Paul demand appearance before Caesar?
2. Describe the voyage and its conclusion.
Paul in Rome Acts: Chapter 28
As soon as they were escaped to land, Paul and the other survivors of the wrecked ship know that the island was called Melita (Malta).
It was rainy and cold, but the natives were kind to them and built a fire on the beach.
Paul gathered a bundle of sticks to add to the fire. As he laid the sticks on the fire, a snake buried its fangs in his hand. Paul shook the snake off into the fire as the natives stared, expecting to see Paul fall down dead, for it was a viper of the most deadly kind. When they saw that Paul was not harmed, they thought he was a god.
The chief of the natives entertained them and was kind to them in many ways.
While Paul was on the island, the Lord; through him; performed many miracles of healing upon the natives.
After three months they set sail for Rome.
When they arrived in Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to live by himself with a soldier who was appointed to take care of him.
After a time, Paul called the Jews together and explained to them why he had come to Rome. They replied that no one had received letters concerning Paul, and further, they had heard no harm of him. But they wished to hear more about the new Religion of Christ.
And so for two years Paul remained in Rome, living in his own rented house, teaching and preaching the Gospel of Christ; and no one forbade him.
1. Can you think of a special reason why the natives were kind to Paul and his companions?
2. How was Paul treated in Rome?
Lessons 20 to 30
ON BIBLE STUDY:
1. Tell the story of the release of Paul and Silas from prison.
2. Why did the magistrates desire that Paul and Silas depart quietly from the city?
3. For what is the city of Athens famous?
4. How did Paul explain to the Athenians the Altar "To the Unknown God"?
5. Tell where these cities are: Athens, Ephesus, Caesarea, Antioch.
6. What profession did Paul follow in civil life?
7. Tell the story of Eutychus.
8. For what reason was Paul returning to Jerusalem at this particular time? (Lesson 25)
9. Why were his friends unwilling that Paul should go to Jerusalem? (Lesson 26)
10. What was Paul's answer to the pleadings of his friends? (Lesson 26)
11. After Paul's arrival in Jerusalem, what excuse was offered for his arrest?
12. Of what city was Paul a citizen?
13. Tell about the conspiracy of the Jews in Jerusalem against Paul. (Lesson 27)
14. How was the plot thwarted?
15. What was the opinion of the governor Felix and his wife concerning Paul's defense?
16. By what right did Paul demand appearance before Caesar?
17. Describe Paul's voyage to Rome, and the shipwreck.
18. Name the island upon which they landed.
19. What happened that caused the natives of the island to be kind to Paul and his companions?
20. What treatment did Paul receive in Rome?