BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 5: Matthew 13:51-58

Summary of passage:  Jesus says every teacher about heaven is like an owner of a house who brings out new treasures out of storage.  Jesus finished telling these parables and returned to Nazareth, his hometown, where he taught the people in the synagogue where they were amazed.  Yet, they didn’t believe because they knew him as a boy and his family.  They thought of him as a simple carpenter’s son.  Hence, Jesus concluded only in his hometown is he without honor so he declined to perform miracles due to their unbelief.

Questions:

10a)  As a “teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven” and his responsibility is to teach others what he has learned.

b)  The old is the wisdom and understanding you had of God before you were instructed and the new is the new knowledge and wisdom you have after having been instructed in the law or any knowledge God has revealed to you.

c)  Through pastors and preachers, studying the Bible, by God Himself when He speaks to you through prayer or otherwise.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All of the above.  Through church attendance, bible studies, the Bible itself, prayer, and God in my alone time.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Impart Biblical knowledge to that person.  Quote them scripture.  Bring them to church and bible study with you.  Pray with them.  Show them God’s compassion on His people.

11)  Because they couldn’t believe a mere carpenter’s son whom they knew personally could possess such wisdom and perform such miraculous powers.  They thought him a charlatan instead.

12a)  Because of their “lack of faith” in him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The key word here is “seemed” because truly we do not know this until we get to heaven if Jesus was working in our lives or not because of unbelief.  For me, I’d say no.  Even in my darkest hours, I have cried out to God and I knew in my heart He was working even when I thought He wasn’t for sometimes not working is what we need.  But then I’ve always been a believer.  It is probably different for those who have not.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Stay close to God.  Pray.  Read His word.  Go to church even when you don’t feel close to Him.  Seek out other believers further along in their walk with Him.  Don’t isolate yourself.  Strengthen your knowledge of Him and unbelief cannot help but fall away.

Conclusions:  This was my favorite day from this lesson because of its practicality, simpleness, and encouragement.  It is our job to learn about God and then teach others (the whole premise of BSF itself).  It is also our job to strengthen our faith so that unbelief never reigns.  This we do through what I said above:  prayer, study, etc.  And when we are rejected we can have faith and encouragement because Jesus was rejected as well.

End Notes:  The disciples who now understand are now commissioned to tell others and bring truth to their lives.

There is nothing special about spiritual people in most cases.  According to societal norms, Jesus came from the lowliest of the low and was as normal as God on Earth could be.  So we too do not have to be exceptional to be doing God’s work.

It is interesting to note how unbelief can limit God.  This is due to God’s gift of Free Will.  He wants to work in our lives on a miraculous scale.  But often times, we choose to not let Him.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 4: Matthew 13:47-50

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells the parable of the net where he says the kingdom of heaven is like a net that catches all kinds of fish.  After the catch, the fish must be sorted and the good will be kept but the bad will be thrown in the fiery furnace at the end of the age by the angels (the fishermen).

Questions:

8a)  God’s word or law (verse 47)

b)  believers (verse 48)

c) non-believers (verses 48-50)

d)  Angels (verse 49)

e)  The good fish will be separated from the bad fish who will be thrown in a fiery furnace (verse 49-50)

9a)  Angels are harvesters and here they are the fishermen (the sorters if you will).  The weeds are burned in the fire as are the bad fish.  Both mention this will happen at the end of the age.  The angels will separate the wicked from the righteous in both.  Verse 42 & 50 are identical “they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

b)  To convince unbelievers to believe for the picture is so gloom for them.  And as a warning to unbelievers.  As encouragement to us that one day sin will be eradicated from our world.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Believed in Jesus and witness to unbelievers.

Conclusions:  Question 9c would be more for unbelievers who don’t know their future.  This one is very clear on its meaning:  you believe or you don’t and if you don’t you burn.  Simple.

End Notes:  Jesus reveals that the world will remain divided up until the very end; that he will not bring about peace to all.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 3: Matthew 13:44-46

Summary of passage:  Jesus told a parable comparing the kingdom of heaven to treasure hidden in a field and that once found man will sell everything to have heaven.  He also compared heaven to a merchant who sold everything he had to buy heaven.

Questions:

5a)  The treasure is God and having knowledge and wisdom of God/Jesus.  A man will sell everything he has to know God.

b)  We, humans, are God’s treasure.  So this interpretations would be God gave up everything He had/valued (namely Jesus) for us, his treasure.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I like a better because we need God; God doesn’t need us.  It’s God-centric and not man-centric.  Part b is man’s ego coming out.   Not that it’s not true (it is) but it’s just a bit egotistical and I believe Jesus meant more us giving it all up for God.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That we love God so much we should be willing to give up everything for Him and vice versa.  It’s encouraging to think that we are God’s treasure especially when we feel no more useful than dirt.

6a)  Jesus Christ or believers

b)  Jesus Christ or believers

c)  Giving up everything to follow Jesus or God sacrificing Jesus for us

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t think I have any new understanding.  It merely re-inforces the idea of how precious we are to God and how God should be equally as precious to us.  How sacrifice is the ultimate form of love in action.  How we are God’s most treasured possession and how He is the same for us.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think he wanted the double meaning of God’s love for us and our love for Him.  Plus, the message is simple so Jesus might have thought we didn’t need it interpreted and that once we had Jesus we would understand it.  Furthermore, Jesus told these before he had died on the cross so the meaning wouldn’t have been totally clear until afterwards and explaining it to his disciples who were in denial about Jesus dying would have been fruitless.  He knew we’d get it in the end.

Conclusions:  I like the treasure parables since mankind in general is very materialistic in nature, it speaks to his desire for Jesus as a treasure and God’s desire for us.  It’s a good analogy.  More straight-forward than yesterday’s.

Parable of the Hidden Treasure:  Scholars say the field represents the world and that the man is Jesus who gave all to buy us back for God.  The reason the man bought the field first is because whatever was found in the land in ancient times belonged to the owner of the land no matter who found it, which I believe is the same today on private property at least.  The treasure is us so Jesus gave up everything to buy us.

Parable of the Pearl:  Again, Jesus is the merchant and we are the pearls that Jesus sold everything to buy.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 5: Genesis 15:9-21

Summary of passage: Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).

Abram fell asleep and the Lord revealed that Abram’s descendants will be strangers and enslaved for 400 years.  But that God would punish this nation and they will emerge with great possessions.  Abram will die in peace and at an old age.

Then the Lord appeared (many believe) in the smoke and united the pieces, making a covenant with Abram, giving his descendants this land.

Questions:

11)  God says that Abram’s descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and they will be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years (Exodus 6:1; 12:31-36; 40 and most of Exodus tells of God’s plan to free the Israelites from the Egyptians).

God will punish the nation they serve as slaves and afterward the descendants will come out with great possession.  This is shown in Exodus as God punished the Egyptians when Pharaoh refuses to release the Israelites.

In modern history, Egypt as an empire and great civilization no longer exists thanks to Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Octavian.  Also, the country of Israel exists today.

Abram will go to his fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age (Genesis 25:7-8).

In the fourth generation, your descendants will come back to Canaan to the land God gives them.

12a)  God as fire:  Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2-6 God appearing in burning bush; Exodus 13:21 God leading the Israelites at night as fire; Exodus 19:18 the Lord descending on Mt. Sinai in fire; 1 Kings 18 has Elijah answering the challenge by God coming as fire.  This is God as fire.

God used fire as a sign He accepted sacrifices:  Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; Leviticus 9:24

God uses fire as judgment:  Genesis 19:24 when He burned Sodom and Gomorrah; Exodus 9:23; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 16:35 where God consumed people in fire.

Fire used to show God’s glory and holiness:  Daniel 7:9; Isaiah 33:13-15

God himself is a consuming fire in Deuteronomy 4:24

God the Son as light: 1 John 1:5, John 3:18-20; John 9:5; Romans 13:12

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m reminded of a Greek myth that tells of how man first received fire.  It was given to them as a gift by Prometheus who was punished by Zeus because Zeus did not want man to have fire.  Prometheus was chained to a rock and forced to endure an eagle pecking at his liver for the rest of his days.

Fire is essential for living and surviving.  We have to cook our food and fire is what has been used for millenia.  Light is essential for seeing.  Otherwise we are blind.

Basically, God is essential for living since He is fire and light.  Without Him we cannot eat.  We cannot survive.  We cannot see.

Man could not exist without fire.  For the Sun itself is a ball of fire from nuclear explosions.  Furthermore, fire changes things.  Look at wood and metals.  Thus, if God is fire and fire changes things, then God changes things, namely us.

13)  Because He wants as many as possible to see the “light” and come to Him; to see His kindness and repent before it’s too late.

14a)  To the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.  This would be from modern-day Egypt to Iraq, which would include Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and parts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  The river in Egypt is most likely the Nile River.  The Hebrew word for the river used here means “large river” so probably the Nile.

b)  Under Solomon (1 Kings 8:65) and possibly under Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25).

Conclusions:  I loved the study of fire in the Bible and I only mentioned a tid-bit of ways fire is used.  It also symbolizes evil, the devil, greed, the Holy Spirit, etc.  Fire changes and purifies.  This I LOVE!  Since God is fire God changes and purifies!  Awesome!

I was also reminded by this SITE where I learned about fire how Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew are much more expressive languages than English and the way fire is used depends on translations and meanings.  These languages have many more meanings for some words than English does.

This is just an interesting ARTICLE on the Promised Land boundaries with maps.  However, this article is propounding a world viewpoint.

Maps of Promised Land:  This was interesting.  I found various maps of the Promised Land the Scriptures used to back up the boundaries.  Here is what I found:

http://www.zionismexplained.org/map/thepromisedland.gif  This Link specifically uses Genesis 15:18-21

http://www.differentspirit.org/articles/boundaries.php  This one shows King Solomon’s boundaries with references.

MAP of Modern Day Israel against Solomon’s Empire in 990 BC.

Another MAP of Modern-Day Israel, showing Gaza, West Bank, and Golan

End Note:  I liked this lesson because it prompted me to learn more.  I spent two days looking up references and finding all these websites.  If I hadn’t of done this, this lesson wouldn’t have had the impact it did on me.  Please see HERE for the spiel this one comment inspired.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 4: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

8 )  No.  Justification is being right with God.  We achieve this through faith in Jesus Christ who eradicates our sins and allows us to be clean, right, and thus justified before God.  We are given works by God to do while here on earth that James says proves our faith.

Here’s the crux:  when you are justified you have the Holy Spirit within.  When you have the Holy Spirit, you have no choice BUT to do good works for you are changed and now desire to do good works, which are a sign of your faith and your justification.

We discussed this James passage last year (see HERE) and my opinion is you can be justified with no good works for all that is required is faith.  There is no “work” we must do to get to heaven and be justified for this is a gift from God.  All we must do is accept Jesus as our Savior and we’re there.

As I have seen in the study of Genesis, everything is a gift from God.  Man does absolutely nothing nor does he deserve what he gets.

9a)  We are all dead unless we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are reborn with the Holy Spirit and only then will be have eternal life.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is meaningless without a purpose.  If I didn’t have God, my life would be empty.  It would be full of “busyness”, things to distract me, and an inner peace would not exist.  Working for God’s-given purpose, gives life to the mundane, life to the evil, and life to the dead.

All those diapers are for a purpose.  Those long days at a dead-end job are serving a purpose.  When the most horrific thing happens to you such as the death of a loved one, rape, bankruptcy, abuse, loss of a job and every other evil, unfair thing in life and God is the only thing that remains, you have life–even if all you feel is dead.

10a)  Abram believed in God’s promises and they were all fulfilled.  He was strengthened by these promises and gave glory to God while he waited.  He had faith.  He obeyed.  He acted.  He took steps out of obedience.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same.  Believe in God, who He is, in His promises, and have faith they will come true in God’s timing.  Have patience.  Give God the glory.  Be strengthened by my knowledge in Him.  Obey God and what He is telling me to do.  Take those little steps of faith.

Conclusions:  I feel as redundant as when I teach my kids their letters but I’ll say it anyways:  Didn’t like this lesson either.  We didn’t once refer to the passage at the beginning, instead exploring Romans and James and we explored James last year.

That being said, I did like re-reading works and faith.  And I did like the reminder we are not dead even though at times I feel dead, indifferent, lost, and immune to the world around me.

My qualm is this:  if this is a study of Genesis, then let’s study Genesis.  If it’s a study of works and justification in the Bible, then don’t bill it as “Genesis 15:1-11″.

End Commentary on Faith and Works taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney:

Being made in God’s image, human beings perform works as they live in God’s world. These deeds are based on the condition of the heart.  Works can be done out of evil motivation or even done in order to earn favor with God.  These are unacceptable to Him.

True works arise out of an inner gratitude to God for what He has done for us.  These naturally spring from our faith in Him.  Thus, Paul in Romans emphasized the need for faith in God for good deeds, James stresses that good works are evidence of true faith.  (P. 1532)

I believe the point is this:  you naturally do good works because God dwells inside of you. Works is not a requirement set forth by God in order to be loved, cherished, and accepted by Him.  This is where history went awry in the Middle Ages with indulgences, the Crusades, and earning your way to heaven.

Works is a gift from God that we as Christians just do without thinking.  We’re not trying to prove how Godly we are (for all of us would fail in that realm).  We’re merely following the Holy Spirit and doing what Jesus would do.  Because of our faith in Him.

It’s a simple as that.

Intellectual faith is not what God is seeking; He is seeking faith of the heart.  It’s the difference between saying and doing something.  Many say they are Christians; but is God in their hearts?

Salvation is a gift from God that is by faith alone.  Yet we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s a two-fold process.  One, you accept Jesus.  Two, good works are produced.  And if you truly have Jesus in your heart you have no choice:  good works will follow.  A life lived for Jesus.

The notes from BSF of Acts Lesson 27 have a great explanation on the James’ passage.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 3: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

5a)  In 12:7 the Lord tells Abram He will give this land to Abram’s offspring.  In 15:2-3, Abram asks God where is this promised offspring because without one his servant will be his heir.

b)  God clarifies to Abram that indeed he will have an heir from his own body and tells Abram that one day his offspring will be as numerous as the stars.  God reiterates again that He is the Lord who will give this land to Abram. (Don’t you just want to hit Abram over the head here?  God probably does!)

6)  That Abram knew (and rejoiced) that Jesus would come, that this day (the day Jesus is walking the earth) would come, and Jesus would be the promised Messiah.  And Abraham was glad!  This shows that Abram had faith in God’s words and believed in the promised Messiah!

7a)  Righteousness is by faith alone–always has been and always will be.  If you believe the Lord and believe in Him you are righteous.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Faith is believing in what you cannot see and righteousness is being right with God through faith in Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross.  In believing Jesus is your Savior, you are wiped clean of sin and only when we are free of sin can we be with God and stand before Him–hence, we are “righteous” or right before Him.

c)  He finally believed he would have a son when God told him (again) and he finally believed his descendants would possess the land as God made a covenant (again) with him.

Some might say Abram made a covenant with the Lord when he cut the animals and God passed between them.  I would say no because in verse 18 we are told “the Lord made a covenant with Abram”.  Abram didn’t do anything but receive.  It’s a covenant God made alone with man out of His infinite love and grace for us piddly humans.  God even told Abram to go and get the animals.  It wasn’t even Abram’s idea!

Hence Abram didn’t “do” anything with regards to this covenant to prove his faith.  He merely received.

Conclusions:  This shows that even Abram, a man scholars would argue is the epitome of faith in the Bible, needed reassurance and signs from God in his life.  This applies to us as well.  God helps us even when we don’t know it.  He is there always even when we push Him away.  He picks us up and gives us a push in the right direction (His, NOT ours).

This also shows that it’s okay to question God.  For we, as humans, cannot understand Him and His ways.  It’s okay to ask Him for more clarification, for a sign, for confirmation, for direction, and for help.  Abram wasn’t for sure if the promised seed would be natural born or an adoptee so he asked God for clarification.  Abram wasn’t sure if he would possess the Promised Land and God told him he wouldn’t but his descendants would.

Throughout the Bible, prophets and others have questioned God and He has always answered.

He still answers.  And all we must do is have faith He will.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 2: Genesis 15:1-7

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Questions:

3a)  A shield is a broad piece of defensive armor carried on the arm; one that protects or defends.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  the devil.  The world.  Things of the world.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God shields me.  He bestows glory on my head and lifts me up.  He surrounds me with His favor and blesses me.  I am joyful because of Him and His shield.  He helps me and gives me hope.  He is faithful and under Him I find refuge.  I find hope in His word.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Money or prizes.  Rich, fertile land.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing monetary that I know of but definitely turning down personal praise and pride and giving Him the glory, not me.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I just don’t see this as an invitation from God for me to ask Him for something.  God is giving us Him as His great reward and there is nothing higher.  This is a declarative sentence, not an imperative.  God is not saying, “Hey, you!  What do you want as a reward?”

Not sure what the point of this question is and where the extrapolation is coming from.

Conclusions:  Well, you probably know what I’m going to say by now:  Didn’t like this lesson.  All of this save 3a should be marked personal.  When asked, “What do you ____” that’s personal, don’t you think?

I liked 3c where we looked up how many times God says He is our shield or He is described as our shield.  That was interesting.  The rest I could have done without, especially 4c where I don’t see how God telling me He is my reward can be turned around and interpreted as Him inviting me to ask Him for something.  Just because Abram was confused about what this meant doesn’t mean I am.

It just is amazing to me how much man doubts and even when God himself talks to someone he or she STILL doubts the words.  We have such an amazing, patient God who gently repeats himself over and over again until finally we get it.

It’s here at this point that I can’t wait to ask God why He created us with such doubts, apprehensions, and questioning minds.  God could have created us however He wanted and sometimes all I see in the Bible is fickleness, selfishness, and overpowering pridefulness.

It all comes down to faith and that is the greatest test of all.

He is truly a Father, correcting us, guiding us, punishing us, and kissing our owies as He picks us up. Amazing!

Fun Fact:  This is the first time believe and righteousness appear in the Bible and hopefully we will explore this tomorrow and what it means for us!

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 14, Day 5: Acts 18:1-22

Summary of passage:  Paul next journeyed to Corinth where he met a tentmaker names Aquila and his wife Pricilla whom he stayed with and helped for a time.  He preached every Sabbath in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks to accept Jesus.  Having little luck after months of preaching, Paul one day announces he is giving up, telling the Jews it will be on their heads they haven’t accepted Jesus and he will turn to the Gentiles now.

Paul did have some success, converting Titius Justus and Crispus.

The Lord then encouraged Paul in a vision:  “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you.”  Paul stayed for another year and a half.

The Jews tried to attack Paul by bringing charges against him in Achaia in front of Gallio.  Gallio dismissed the complaint, telling them to work out their squabbles on their own since the matter was within their (Jewish) own law.  Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, was beaten because of it.

Questions:

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I am at my lowest, usually something happens to pull me up:  a comment from someone, a hug from a child, a word, something in the Bible, or a peaceful night’s rest.  God comes alongside us in unexpected ways to encourage and tell us not to be afraid; to remind us to trust in Him.  It encourages me to focus on my writing despite the chaos around me.

16a)  It seems to me he had an attitude of “I can’t be bothered with such petty squabbles.”  He was more important and had much more important things to deal with then an argument he had no interest in.  He didn’t even care Sosthenes was beaten in front of him.  He was indifferent and apathetic.  He probably thought all these people were beneath him since he was a Roman citizen and most Jews were not.

b)  Concern

Conclusions:  The scene with Paul reminds us that God is always with us even in our most trying trials.  The scene with Gallio gives us insight into Roman culture in the first century AD.  If you weren’t Roman, forget about justice.

This scene also shows how something insignificant as this scene  in Gallio’s mind (I doubted he even remembered it) could be so significant to the spread of Christianity.  Gallio (proconsul in 51-52 AD) by his actions officially gave Christianity protection by lumping it into Judaism (a recognized religion within the Roman Empire).  Gallio was the brother to the well-known philosopher Seneca.  His actions gave Paul the protection he needed in order to continue his work in Corinth.

This goes to show how sometimes consequences of our actions are unknown and could have serious ramifications.  Good lesson for everyday decisions in our own lives:  to remember we can’t always see the consequences of our decisions.

End Note:  Map showing Corinth:  http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 14, Day 4: Acts 17

Summary of passage:  Paul next went to Thessalonica where as was his custom he preached in the Jewish synagogue, explaining and proving Jesus Christ using the scriptures.  Some were persuaded and joined him as well as some Greeks.  But the Jews were jealous so they rounded up some ruffians and started a riot in the city.  They went to Jason’s house where Paul and Silas were staying, and not finding them there, arrested Jason and some others instead.

That night, Paul and Silas left and went to Berea where they preached in the Jewish synagogue as well.  The Bereans were of more noble character and compared what Paul was saying with the scriptures.  They were eager to know God more so many were converted as well.  But the angry Jews from Thessalonica trailed Paul and stirred up trouble in Berea as well.  So the brothers sent Paul away to Athens.

In Athens, Paul was met with idols everywhere and meeting harsh resistance with the intellectual culture of the Athenians as he preached in the synagogue and the market places.  He got into a dispute with a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and was dragged off to heh Areopagus (council) to make his case.

Paul told them about what they referred to as “the unknown god” who was the One, True God.  God who made everything in the world, who does not need anything from mankind, who controls nations and time, who is near to us, who commands people everywhere to repend for one day they will be judged, and who had given proof by raising Jesus from the dead.

Upon hearing the raising from the dead (something the Greeks balked at:  they were big on the spirit living on but believed the body to be merely a physical medium), Paul was cut off but invited to speak again.  Only a few were converted.

Questions:

11)  Converting and saving of souls because that’s what’s most important to God.

12)  Similarities:  Paul preached in the Jewish synagogues and converted people–what he does every place he goes.  The difference is in the people.  We are told the Bereans are of “more noble character” and they searched the scripture every day.  This means that the Bereans did not just accept what Paul was saying or were persuaded by his speaking ability.  They turned to the word of God to see if what he was saying lined up with God’s word.

Another difference:  they were eager to learn.  Some people before were there just because they were.  They wanted to know God with heart, mind, and spirit.

13a)  He’s discouraged.  He’s been followed by people who only want to disrupt his teachings.  He’s alone so he doesn’t have any support.  He’s probably tired (who can sleep well with a mob constantly after you?).

As Paul arrives, he is bombarded by the refined Athenian culture, full of images of gods and temples everywhere.

We must remember Athens is considered the birthplace of philosophy.  Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all were from here and established schools of thought about 400 years before Paul’s journey.  So the Athenian people are used to thinkers roaming around, spouting ideas.  But they are also used to analyzing ideas throughly to see if they match up with the known world.

b)  The Athenians disputed with Paul (verse 18) and called him into a meeting to explain himself (verse 19).  Sounds like our political system from the local city councils to Congress.  Council after all comes from the Latin meaning and assembly for consultation, advice, or discussion.  Verse 21 describes universities to a T.

History:  The Epicurean philosophers were a group of people who believed pleasure is the greatest good and should be the pursuit of life and who believed in gods but believed they had nothing to do with man.  Based upon the teachings of Epicurus in 307 BC, pleasure was obtained by living modestly and gaining knowledge of the inner workings of the world.

The Stoic philosophers were a group of people who believed god was in everything and everything was god; however, they did not believe everything had a purpose or that things could be preordained.  Based on the teachings of Zeno of Citium in the early third-century BC, they believed in formal logic and the ability to overcome destructive emotions.  Man had a will based on nature.

So if we just compare these Athenians, then our culture has much in common with the ancients.  However, not everyone belonged to these sects of society.

c)  The resurrection of the dead

14a)  Verse 25 “He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself give all men life and breath and everything else”

b) Verse 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands”

c) Verse 27 “men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us”

d) Verse 24 “God made the world and everything in it”; Verse 25 “he gives men life and breath and everything else”; Verse 26 “He made every nation of men and determined the times set for them”

e) Verse 26 “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live”

f) Verse 26 “he determines the times set for them and the exact places where they should live”

g) Verse 29 “Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill”

h) Verse 30 “he commands all people everywhere to repent”

i) Verse 31 “he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed”

Conclusions:  Have you noticed the argument for God is the same?  It never changes.  It is just put in different ways and said by different people.  Choosing God is an act of faith–plain and simple–just how God wants it to be.

The Areopagus means “the Rock of Ares” in Greek and is also known as Mars’ Hill.  It was originally a court of appeal for criminal and civil cases in the times of the Greeks.  It was also where the council of elders met, similar to the Roman Senate.  Later, in Roman times, it was a philosophical council that oversaw religion and morals.

End Note:  Map of Journey from yesterday:  http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 14, Day 3: Acts 16:11-40

Summary of passage:  In Philippi, a Roman colony in Greece, Paul and the gang met with a group of women on the Sabbath outside the city (this tells us there was not a synagogue there at this time).  Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, was converted and baptized along with others and invited them to stay at her home.

A demon-possessed slave girl began to follow the group around until Paul was so troubled he commanded the spirit out of her.  The girl’s owners who no longer could make money off of her, seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the magistrates, accusing them of violating Roman customs.  They were stripped, beaten, and thrown in jail.

In jail, whilst singing, an earthquake happened that threw open the prison doors.  The jailer was distraught; but seeing the miracle he and his family became converts and were baptized.

Paul and Silas were then released.  However, Paul announced his Roman citizenship, striking fear in the magistrates, who then tried to appease them.  The group said good-bye to Lydia and the other converts, offering encouragement, and left.

Questions:

7)  Women who had gathered at the place of prayer.  They accepted Jesus as their savior and were baptized in his name.

8a)  They were preaching the word of God when a slave girl who could predict the future began following them.  Paul got so fed up he commanded the evil spirit out of the girl.  That got the attention of the slave girls owners, who dragged Paul and Silas before the magistrates, accusing them of advocating unlawful practices for Romans.  They were stripped and beaten and thrown into jail.

Paul and Silas began singing prayers and an earthquake threw the doors of the prison open.  The jailer and his family was then converted, baptized and saved by Paul and Silas and they were eventually set free.

b)  The jailer and his family were saved for eternity.  Lydia and the other women were saved as well.  Lydia was the first European convert to Christianity so the seed was planted which would spread to convert thousands more.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s hard to say.  I just don’t know if I’ve touched anyone to be honest outside of my family circle.  Definitely nothing as dramatic as Paul’s experiences.

10)  As a Roman citizen, you were afforded many rights.  You were at the top of the caste system so to speak.  Paul wanted the magistrates to know who they were dealing with.  As Roman citizens both Paul and Silas were treated inexcusably.  There could have been repercussions on the magistrates of Philippi for their actions.  By Paul revealing himself the magistrates probably were fearful and would be sure not to cause them trouble next time they were in the city.

This also afforded them the time to meet again with their converts (Lydia and company) without being thrown out of the town.

Conclusions:  Great example of the hardships of converting in the early church and what we should be thankful for.  Also, I think converting Lydia and a group of women helped to put women on equal footing with men, showing them that women are just as important in God’s eyes as men are.  Every soul counts.

Philippi was a Roman province full of Gentiles and not many Jews as indicated by no synagogue.  Philippi was named after Philip, King of Macedonia, Alexander the Great’s father, when he conquered the city when it was a part of the Greek city-state of Thrace in 358 BC.  (I didn’t know this and found it interesting!  I like knowing where the names of things come from.)

End Note:  Map of Journey from yesterday:  http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm