I’m still working on playing catch up on my series on Acts. To catch up a little I’m going to combine bigger sections of Acts for my posts over the next few weeks. In case you missed my first What I’m Learning in the Bible post I am sharing what I am learning as our church studies through the book of Acts together over the next few months.
As a reminder, I am using this ESV Acts Study journal. Basically it has scripture on one page and then a blank lined page next to it for taking notes. Now that I’m a couple of months into this I can say that I highly recommend this journal.
In verse 10 I noticed the word “us” for the first time and it struck me that this means that at this point Luke is now with Paul. We get to see Lydia’s baptism and a spirit driven out of an enslaved girl. They were thrown into prison because of this and that might seem like an awful thing to happen but it resulted in the jailor coming to believe in God. God can use bad things to bring about good.
We see a contrast in the Jews of Thessalonica and Berea in this chapter. The jews of Thessalonica were jealous of Paul and Silas and stirred up a mob to get them into trouble. The jews of Berea on the other hand heard Paul and Silas’s teachings and examined the Scriptures to see if the things the taught were true (v. 11).
Paul then moves on to Athens and teaches in the Areopagus. It’s interesting to think about the early church and how the apostles spread the Gospel in different places. Their message of the Gospel did not change, they always preached salvation through Jesus Christ, but the foundation of the message did vary depending on who they were talking to.
In Acts 2 Stephen gives a speech to jews in which he uses the Old Testament as foundation. In Acts 17 Paul gives a speech to Greek gentiles so instead of using the Old Testament he uses the Greek’s religion and philosophy as the foundation of his message. He points them to Jesus but his jumping off point to talk to them is to start with what they know and what makes sense to them. Paul starts in a different way than Stephen did but the core message is the same. The core of all of the speeches in the book of Acts is the resurrection of Jesus.
In a recent sermon I heard it explained like this and I found it helpful so I’m going to share it. This is like giving someone directions. To give them directions you need to be familiar with the destination but you also need to know where they are starting from.
When Paul is in Corinth the Lord speaks to him and encourages him. I love that!
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”Acts 18:9-10
After that Paul stays there teaching for a year and a half.
Acts 18:23- 19:22
I like the account of Apollos in verses 24-28. He was a Jew who was competent in the Scriptures and taught about Jesus. Priscilla and Aquila heard him teaching and then pull him aside to explain the way of God more accurately. Apollos moves on to Achaia and “he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus (Acts 18:27-28) I love the beautiful example of discipleship. The older disciples are discreetly teaching him and investing in him and he’s being teachable and willing to be discipled by them.
Paul spends 2 years making sure that all of Asia heard the word of the Lord. We get another one of those early church updates that I love in verse 20: “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and and prevail mightily”.
There was a riot in Ephesus because the craftsmen were worried about losing their livelihood making idols with so many people turning away from idolatry to the Way. The riot gets disbanded when the town clerk points out that they should take their issues to the court if they truly did anything wrong.
Paul starts making his way to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit has told him that imprisonment and afflictions await him but he’s ready to go.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.Acts 20:24
I also love some of his parting words to the Ephesian elders. He emphasizes that we all must help the weak in verse 35 and I think that’s so important.
Have any thoughts to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below!