BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 8, Day 2: Acts 15:1-12

Summary of passage:  Men from Judea (Judaizers) came down to Antioch and began preaching that people must be circumcised to be saved.  Paul and Barnabas disagreed strongly so they traveled to Jerusalem to debate the issue with the elders. On their way, they told how the Gentiles had been converted (basically stirring up the troops for their cause).

Upon arrival, Peter got up and recounted his vision given to him from God some 10 years earlier.  He told them God accepted the Gentiles as proven when He gave them the Holy Spirit, which purified their hearts just like the Jews.  He asks them why are they testing God with a yoke not even they could bear?  It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus alone that everyone is saved.  Paul and Barnabas backed up Peter’s vision with the telling of the wondrous signs and miracles God has performed amongst the Gentiles.

Questions:

3)  The Christians at Antioch had the attitude:  Everyone can be saved as long as you have faith and belief in Jesus Christ our Savior.  The Jerusalem Christians put additional conditions on this claim:  They added you must have faith and belief in Jesus Christ but you also must be circumcised.

4a) Because now the Gentile believers outnumbered the Jewish Christians (my study Bible says between Acts 10 and Acts 15 ten full years had passed), making them the minority.  And we all know it’s the will of the majority that rules (elects leaders, etc).

Gentiles are everyone outside the Jewish faith–a huge number of eligible converts even back then.  Enough to completely overwhelm the Jews.  In today’s terms, think of the number of Jews today versus every other religion.  Even back then they could see the potential ramifications of allowing others into their faith.  They would be a small voice amidst a huge crowd.

b)  Circumcision was a custom taught by Moses, saying all believers had to be circumcised.

Circumcision has a fascinating history.  In the beginning in Old Testament times beginning with Abraham (who was circumcised at the age of 99), all believers had to be circumcised.  “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between you and me,” God says in Genesis 17:11.  It was a way for God to make his people; to set them apart.  Anyone who was “bought” or converted had to be circumcised as well.

Now, when God says something people tend to listen.

The Council is referring to Mosaic Law as given in Exodus 12:43-49 where God decrees to celebrate Passover, one must be circumcised first.  If one is circumcised, “he may take part like one born in the land” (verse 48).  Here, God extends his covenant made with Abraham in Genesis to Gentiles in Exodus.

This Law holds UNTIL ACTS 10 where God reveals His plan for the Gentiles to Peter and Peter baptized Cornelius without being circumcised.  This is the verifiable proof God accepts all and Jesus died for all.  However, the law was broken with Jesus’ death. But the people are slow to understand this.

So, let’s remember the times:  the Jerusalem Christians have been performing circumcisions for millennium now.  Never questioned.  Tradition.  So it seemed only natural to continue this tradition even after Christ died.

I’m not convinced they fully understood the full meaning, implications, and ramifications of Jesus’ death yet.  After all, it had only been 20 years or so, not even a full generation had passed.  A lot of these people may even have seen Jesus alive–a real human being, God incarnate.

So, yes, they are still holding on to their traditions fiercely.

Also, this was probably a power play.  Circumcision in infancy is not fun.  But in adulthood it can be akin to major surgery and takes a while to get over (for a great story on this see Genesis 34 Dinah and the Shechemites–gives you a greater understanding of the aftermath).  Most men didn’t want to undergo such a procedure.  So if it were conditional for being a Christian, less would convert (and if the men didn’t convert odds were their wives wouldn’t either) and the Jews would retain more power.

c)  I’ve wondering if the question is supposed to be Peter here instead of Paul because Peter is the one quoted in Acts 15:7-11, retelling how God gave him the words (Acts 10) at Cornelius’ house that God makes no distinction in who is to be saved since it is through His grace alone that we are saved.

Paul opposes it because it would restrict those who can be saved by God.  Also, Paul has seen God’s work first hand in the miraculous signs and wonders God has done amongst the Gentiles.  Would God do such wonders if he didn’t want the Gentiles to know Him?  No.  God wouldn’t have shown up.  So one can intuit that God wants the Gentiles as much as He does the Jews based on the acts God has performed.

5)  Peter is referring to the vision God gave him on his journey to Cornelius the Roman Centurion’s house that told him that God does not show favoritism amongst His people and everyone is now eligible for redemption thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Conclusions:  Even amongst believers there is resistance to newcomers and new commandments.  People are inherently resistant to change and this is a great illustration of it here.  The Judaizers were probably resentful of the Gentiles and still held prejudices about them.

In today’s time, not all change can be good.  Some traditions are thrown by the wayside that shouldn’t be (like the Native American way of life 150 years ago) that was forced upon them.

Yet change is inevitable.  We must adapt or we’ll spend our lives bitter, resentful, and ultimately broken people.  We are powerless to stop change in the end if the majority approve it.  We can only pray that it is God’s will and we conform to His will. We must follow our inner faith and our true north, which if aligned with God’s heart, will never lead us astray.

End Note:  What I am coming to discover and believe (especially from this lesson–this is my second day I’ve worked on this and counting) is that God’s people (which is everyone by the way) did not understand what Jesus’ death meant.  They just didn’t get it!

Which I can understand.  There wasn’t a huge explosion.  Every day life didn’t change for most people because Jesus died. Everyone still struggled to survive from one day to the next.

So, as we’re following the apostles along we are following them as they begin to understand the full implications of Jesus’s death.  How Jesus’s death changed everything!  So what we’re seeing here is slowly revelations are being made (like Acts 10 where Peter sees that the Gentiles are equal to the Jews) to the apostles who then are trying to convey this to others (including the leaders).

We have the benefit of 2000 years between us and Peter and Paul.  We know what happened after they died (for we have the rest of the Bible!).  We have almost 2000 years of church doctrine and history to study and learn from.

So it’s hard for us to understand what’s happening in the Bible because we (I believe) understand (at least more so than in the apostles time) what happened after.  We know what Jesus’s death meant.  They didn’t.

So some of this stuff (like the circumcision debate–which was HUGE in that time) is no big deal to us.  Why?  Because we already know it’s not a big deal to God.  But they didn’t!

Do you follow me here?

So it’s hard for us to understand the Bible because we understand so much more than they did.

Now, I’m not saying we “get” it.  I’m not saying we know everything.  What I am saying is this:  we have the benefit of history and knowledge that the disciples just didn’t immediately after Jesus’s death.

They had to fight tradition.  We don’t.  They waged battles for us that we reap the benefits of.  They worked out God’s will slowly over time which we don’t have to.

Maybe you all caught this but I didn’t until this Lesson:  Acts 10 is HUGE in terms of God’s proof of accepting us (me and you if you’re not Jewish) into His kingdom.  I think God did this so His people would understand He is for everyone, regardless of circumcised or not.

I think the argument was meant to rest here in Acts 10 but the debate was far from over as we see in Acts 15.

This website is AWESOME.  You can keep clicking forever and learn all about circumcision, God’s laws, and how it all changed and when in the New Testament.  You gotta read this site!!!

http://www.gentiles-and-circumcision.info/exodus-12-48-passover-gentiles-circumcised.html

Caveat to this website and others I post on my site:  If you follow along with the arguments made here, this site concludes that only circumcision was done away with and the rest of God’s laws from the OT still stand.

The first page says very clearly to decide for yourself what you believe and to look to God’s word (the Bible) to answer your questions.

This website has Jewish overtones but it’s meant to answer questions for everyone.

Still, it does a great job of laying out the circumcision argument.

We all have our own beliefs.  The links I put on my site are for information gathering purposes.  I post links that have given me a greater understanding of God’s word.  Do I believe all the conclusions on these sites?  No.  But I go for the facts, not the interpretations.  We all have minds that can draw our own conclusions.

My goal in posting links to sites is this:  I do my research and post what I find interesting; the sites I learned from.  Hopefully, I cut out some of the work for you all.  That being said you must always be vigilant when it comes to fact versus opinion, especially when researching theological issues.

I don’t have all the answers.  I am still struggling myself to understand Old Testament theology.  But I know what I believe about what Jesus did for me on the cross.  And this I hold dear to.

In my humble opinion, Jesus nullified everything in the Old Testament in terms of conditions of being saved.  Obviously, such laws as the Ten Commandments still stand.

Jesus died.  If you believe in him and what he did for you on the cross and have faith, Bam!  Saved.  Done with.  Over.  You accept Jesus.  You get to Heaven.  That’s what I believe.

I believe in a God without conditions except this one.  I don’t need to do anything to get to Heaven.  I don’t have to earn Heaven. I don’t have to watch what I eat or sacrifice lambs and the like.

Sorry for the spiel.  Point being:  take what you can from these sites that I post.  Take what aligns with your beliefs and leave the rest.  Learn about the Old Testament and how God has set up everything for Jesus’ coming.  You will deepen your relationship and your appreciation for God and Jesus.

Then share your knowledge with others.  And your beliefs.  Making distinctions between fact and belief.  For there is a difference.  Caveat emptor!

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 5 & 6: Acts 14:20b-28

Summary of passage:  Paul and Barnabas head to Derbe next (Map HERE) where they preach and win a large number of disciples.  Then they head back home, stopping in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch again on the way back.  They strength the disciples and encourage them in their walk with Christ by saying remain true to the faith.  They appointed elders in each church to continue their work and prayed and fasted for them.

Then they went through Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, and Attalia and then finally back to Antioch, their work complete.  They reported back and told of their adventures and how God had opened the door of the faith to the Gentiles.  Here they stayed for a long time.

Questions:

13a)  Gaius

b)  They met with no resistance (at least none that was recorded) and nothing noteworthy to record.

c)  God gives them ups with the downs.  This must have been a huge moral booster and encourager in doing God’s work.  Good days come with the bad and the good days are what keep a person going.

14a)  Paul encouraged the disciples in the low times.  They put their trust in elders and prayed and fasted for them.

b)  He tells his listeners that they have such a place in his heart that he’d live or die with them.

c)  He is in pain for the people (pain of childbirth) until they accept Christ

d)  Paul was delighted to share the Gospel with them because they were so dear to him.  He was gentle with them like a mother caring for her children.  They worked night and day so as not to be a burden and to support them sharing the Gospel.  He dealt with them as a father does his own children.  They were holy, righteous, and blameless amongst them.

e)  Paul tells the people they are his glory and joy when the Lord Jesus comes.

f)  Paul really lives since now they are standing firm in the Lord.

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  They encouraged them.  They suffered alongside them.  They led by example, never asking them to endure anything they didn’t or wouldn’t.  They chose others, prayed and fasted for them, and trusted them (which is huge.  Think of society today where no one trusts anyone anymore).

Then they returned home and told of all the wonderful miracles and conversions, especially of the Gentiles.  Success stories always motivate others.  Then they stayed there a long time with the disciples.  I would conjecture they trained them, encouraged them, helped them, and modeled a good Christian life for them.

An interesting note:  they didn’t just convert them and then leave them to wonder “What next?”  Paul and Barnabas guided them and showed them the next steps in the walk with Jesus.

Conclusions:  I think Paul and Barnabas set a great example.  Most new believers are super excited when they turn their life over to Christ.  But then the enthusiasm wanes and as the ups and downs of life inevitably occur, they are left wondering, “Is this it?  Is this the Christian life?”

I think it’s hugely important not to leave these people dangling.  They need guidance, friendship, and strength to endure the hardships with being a Christian.  They need to know not everything is Sunshine and Roses from here on out.

Great message today.

End Note:  Not sure why Gaius is important.  I’m assuming he’s going to do something in Acts.  Otherwise, he just seems like a name from the Bible like the lists in the Old Testament.

Cool Map:  This map traces the route for you when you open it up.  It’s quite cool!

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_01.htm

Paul’s First Missionary Journey took place from about 47-48 AD so about 14 years after Christ’ death.

This map makes me wonder why they didn’t take the land route through Tarsus either on the way there or the way back.  Why did they choose Cyprus to visit and the other places?  I’m assuming because the terrain was too rugged or sailing was safer?  I’m wondering if geography played a key role in determining where Paul and Barnabas went as well as the technology in the means of transportation back in the first century AD.  Fascinating stuff.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 4: Acts 14:19-20a & 2 Timothy 3:10-17

Summary of passages:  Acts 14:19-20a:  Some Jews Paul had angered in Antioch and Iconium followed him and stoned him to death.  But the disciples gathered around Paul (presumably praying) and Paul got right back up and went back into Lystra.

2 Timothy 3:10-17:  Paul tells Timothy he knows Paul’s teaching, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, and sufferings for the Lord.  The Lord rescued him from all.  He tells Timothy everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (probably warning him to expect persecution himself) while evil men will continue to do evil.  Paul urges Timothy to continue in his work and in knowing the Scriptures so he may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Questions:

10)  I thought God performed another miracle and this guy doesn’t give up.  I also chuckled at the translation:  they stoned him and left him for dead but then he got up and went right back into the city.  I pictured him like a superhero I guess:  pummeled but gets right back up–all thanks to God.

11a)  Timothy

b)  I’m assuming we’re talking fruits of the Spirit here from Galatians 4:22 which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  He definitely got some patience to return to the people who just killed him or tried to kill him.  Faithfulness to continue his calling.  Self-control to not retaliate.  Love when he meets Timothy.

c)  Personal Questions.  My answer: To not give up in the hard times and to keep persevering despite the fact I don’t feel like it.  To get up even when knocked down because God is with you, picking you up.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Yes, it could be.  We don’t know since we’re not told when Paul had his vision but he could have had it when he was on the verge of death.  Many people report spiritual experiences on the verge of death or after having died and then been resusitated by God.  God could have taken both his body or his spirit to Heaven, spoke to him, and then returned him to life.

When Stephen was being stoned (Acts 7) he sees Jesus.

Galatians 6:17 Paul says he “bears on my body the marks of Jesus.”  This could be from this incident as well as I imagine being stoned leaves some nasty scars.

Conclusions:  Very applicable today.  Paul was persecuted over and over again and yet he still got back up, dusted himself off, and went back to work for God.  We need to have the same attitude for our work for God.

2 Timothy 3:12  “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…”

I loved this!  It makes me feel better when I’m attacked here in this forum.

Personal Note:  Yesterday, I was doing Lesson 7, Day 3 on the computer when I just stopped and thought Why am I doing this?  It was bringing me no joy whatsoever.  So I closed my computer and started writing my novel.  I worked on this novel for about 2 hours.  It brings me great joy when I do.

BSF this year has taken a huge amount of my time.  I have often wondered and thought I need to quit and move on with my life.  But I keep at it.  Keep going.  Despite the lack of joy I may feel at the time.  Your encouraging words do help and I thank you all for every comment and email you send with your thanks.

But ever since I’ve moved I’ve struggled with finding joy in my personal work.  Nothing I do right now brings me joy:  writing my column, this blog.  My novels do but because they are so far away from impacting anyone discouragement is never far away.

I am praying hard to find what is causing this in my life for I know it has nothing to do with the work itself.  It is something else.  I believe I know what it is and I am praying hard for God to rectify it in my life.

I am looking forward to a much needed break here without any Internet and computer so I can just sit, be, and listen.  Praying soon I get some joy back that I had last year.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 14:8-18; Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-32

Summary of passages: Acts 14:8-18  Paul was speaking at the synagogue in Lystra when he healed a crippled man who had faith.  The Lycaonian people thought Paul and Barnabas were Hermes and Zeus respectively, come in human form.  They brought bulls and wreaths to sacrifice to them but Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and shouted how they were not gods, but mere humans, here to bring you the Good News of the One, True God.  Still, they had difficulty in convincing the people of this.

Psalm 19:1-6: The heavens and skies show God’s work, proclaim God’s greatness.  The sun rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other.

Romans 1:18-32:  God’s wrath is against those who suppress the truth of God’s existence.  God has made himself known in plain sight: in His creation.  Men are without excuse in believing in God since God’s divine nature is clearly seen in His creation (the world).  Mankind is foolish when he ignores God, does not give Him thanks nor glorifies Him.  They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mortal images.

They worshipped  and served created things rather than the Creators so God gave them over to their sinful desires and shameful lusts.  Men and women formed unnatural relations with one another and received due penalty for such actions.

God gave them over to a depraved mind (the human nature of man–to do evil) because although they know God’s righteous decree they choose otherwise.

Questions:

6a)  Preach

b)  He had faith to be healed

7)  The people thought Paul and Barnabas were gods themselves, not disciples of the One, True God.  The people wanted to worship them instead of the Lord.  They needed to correct the people quickly; otherwise, word would spread how the Greek gods were doing miraculous deeds instead of the True God.  Then it would be almost impossible to convince the people otherwise.

8a)  Worthless things (Greek gods)

b)  Paul warns in Ephesians to no longer live in the futility of our thinking, which to me means in our ignorance.  The Lycaonian people were ignorant of God and His ways so they turned to what they knew:  their Greek gods.  We must be willing to learn and replace our ignorance with knowledge.

9a)  Romans 1:20 teaches us that since the creation of the world God can be seen due to the vastness and complexity that is the world; therefore, men are without excuse in knowing who God is.  It is man’s responsibility to know God since He is everywhere all around us in everything we touch, see, and do.  When we choose (Free Will) to ignore His testimony and instead worship created things (Romans 1:25) i.e. idols then God will punish us.  In this case, Paul says the punishment is turning us over to our depraved minds.

b)  It only takes in my opinion mere moments.  Sit down and think about this world we live in:  all the connections, the dependencies, the vastness that is this world we live in.  The human body and how it works.  The Sun, the Earth, the Moon–all working together to allow life to exist.  In the Creation, there has to be a supreme being behind it all.  No doubts can exist once this is done.

c)  I think Paul is hinting at this very concept which he details in Romans 1.  However, I see a problem here.  All ancient civilizations from the Egyptians to the Babylonians and now to the Lycaonians (ultimately the Greeks in this case) have creation myths–stories of how this world came into existence.  People intuitively understood that someone had to create this world so they made up stories from the beginning of how it all came to be.

Paul’s challenge here is convincing the people that Zeus is a myth and the One, True God is the one who created this place–debunking the myths so to speak.

Conclusions:  People in the first century were ignorant compared to what we know today.  There is challenges therein.  First, convincing them that the gods they have known for centuries (in various forms) are not real when they have passed this knowledge down for generations by word of mouth.

Second, using Creation as the reason for converting might not be an effective argument (like I think it is today where we know the vastness of this universe and the complexity of living organisms) since these people had many, many myths (what we call myths–to them they were the truth) to explain the creation of the world.  I don’t think this was a powerful argument back then.

The upside:  the people would readily believe in the One, True God when miracles are performed.  One guy healed and the whole town converted.  Bam.  Simple as that.  Would that happen today?  No.  Too many skeptics amongst us (me included) who are used to scams, quacks, and schemes out to make a quick buck.  Back then, frauds existed (remember Simon the Sorcerer Acts 8?) but they were so few and far between that people were not de-sensitized to it like we are today.

I will be interested to see how this line of argument plays out for Paul in the rest of Acts and beyond.

Here is one place I would have liked to have seen a more specific question about how knowledge of God and turning from it applies to us today (9b is just too general in my opinion).  I would add to 9b what are the consequences when this knowledge is ignored?

End Note:  A previous post of mine where I talked about Romans 1:20.  Just for fun!

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

Summary of passage:  At Iconium Paul and Barnabas spoke at the Jewish synagogue, performing miraculous signs and wonders.  A great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed.  The Jews who didn’t believe united with the Gentiles to ultimately divide the city against Paul and Barnabas.  Ultimately, a plot developed to stone the two men, resulting in Paul and Barnabas fleeing to Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia.

Questions:

3a)  Effectively and boldly

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Verbal witness is how you speak verbally as a witness for Jesus.  For me, I’m probably not effective or bold.  I’m a writer, not a speaker.  I don’t get my point across very well when I speak.  I have to think things through and edit my thoughts (which works better on paper, not so much when speaking).  So I hope my life and my actions speak louder than my jumbled thoughts when I witness verbally for Jesus.

4)  A great number of Jews and Gentiles believed but those who didn’t plotted to stone them so once again they fled.

5)  Again, it goes back to anything new and breaking people’s mindset.  The Jews had believed for so long they were special (set apart by God–which is true) and had followed the OT rules (sacrifices) it’s hard to change and accept that Jesus’ death negated all of this.  His death rid them of centuries (over a millennium) of tradition.  Man’s first reaction is to resist and when it comes to religious issues most people are fiercely protective and resistive to change.  Acceptance is slow coming–especially in Jesus’ time where knowledge of others’ cultures and beliefs were limited.

Political correctness did not exist back then.  It was the Roman way or the highway (death).

Conclusions:  I think Question 5 is the ultimate message here.  Wherever there is change, there is resistance and for one who propounds change, that person should be prepared for it.  Great message for me.

If the change is aligned with God’s work, He will provide during the transition.

Map of Lystra and Derbe:  http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-second-missionary-journey-map.html

I liked this map.  It shows how close Lystra, Derbe, and Iconium are in Turkey.  Lycaonia was a part of Galatia–all Roman provinces at the time.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 5: Acts 13:42-52

Summary of passage:  Paul and Barnabas were invited to speak the next Sunday at the synagogue.  The people followed them and talked to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.  The next Sabbath almost the entire city showed up to hear the word of the Lord.  The Jews were jealous that so many showed up to hear Paul speak and spoke against them.  Paul and Barnabas answered them saying we spoke the word of God to you first but you rejected it so we turned to the Gentiles as commanded by God.

Many believed and the word of the Lord spread throughout the region.  But the Jews continued to come against them, expelling them from their region.  So, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium filled with the Holy Spirit.

Questions:

13)  Beginning in grace of God is not enough.  People must continue in it after they have faith in the Lord.  Grace is a foundation of what God gives to us and what He calls us to show to others.  Paul is urging the people not to stop after the beginning.

According to my Bible Dictionary, grace is the unmerited favor of God toward sinners whereby He has provided for their redemption.  He extends favor to all who have faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.

Grace is a major theme of Paul’s.  He identifies it as the instrument through which God has effected salvation of all believers.  Grace is also regarded as the sustaining influence enabling the believer to persevere in the Christian life.  It is not the initiatory act that secures salvation but that which maintains it throughout a Christian’s life.

All of the above is from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney under grace.

14)  Verse 46 “Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”

Acts 18:6  “…Your blood will be on your own hands!  I am clear of my responsibility.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Acts 19:9  “Some of them became obstinate.  They refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way…”

b)  Isaiah 49:6  That the Gentiles will be granted eternal salvation

15a)  They converted many Gentiles but were ridiculed and persecuted by the Jews.  Yet they continued on in joy to Iconium to deliver the Good News there as well.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I pray about it.  Seek advice.  Listen.  Then follow what God has laid on my heart to do.

Conclusions:  This is a great lesson for us today as well.  Some people will believe in Christ.  Some won’t.  Our responsibility is to share the Good News.  It is up to the listeners to decide (Free Will) for themselves.  It is not our responsibility (Acts 18:6) like Paul was saying.  We are called to share.  Ultimately, it is the individual’s responsibility to believe.

Then joyfully, we continue on our journey in life to the next place and the next ears God puts us in contact with and do the same thing over again:  share Him with others.

Map of Iconium:  http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN217ACTSPaulOne.htm

So not too far from Pisidian Antioch to Iconium.  Now I can feel like I’m traveling along with these two as I trace their route!

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 13:14b-41

Summary of passage:  Barnabas and Saul are in Pisidian Antioch (Turkey, yesterday’s map HERE) at the synogogue. Paul is invited to speak.  He tells the people God has prospered them in Egypt, led them out of Egypt and gave them Canaan to live on, and sent them judges.  He sent King Saul and King David.  From David God sent Jesus who preached repentance and baptism.

The prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled:  no one recognized Jesus as the Savior, the executed him with no evidence of a crime, and God raised him from the dead and traveled amongst them for many days.  God has fulfilled His promise to His people through Jesus.

Through Jesus we (the people) are forgiven and justified.  And be warned if you do not accept Jesus, you shall perish as the prophets have predicted.

Questions:

9a)  First division:  16-25  Second division:  26-37  Third division:  38-41

b)  God chose men of Israel and the Gentiles who worshipped God.  He prospered His people in Egypt and led them out of that country.  He cared for them for 40 years in the desert and overthrew 7 nations in Canaan so He could establish His people there.  He gave them judges and when the people asked for a king God gave them Saul and then David. (verses 17-22)

God endured their conduct while in the desert (verse 18). The people asked for a king (verse 21).

God chose David so Jesus could come from his line.  John the Baptist tried to prepare the people for Jesus by preaching repentance and baptism. (verse 23-4)

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By giving me a Christian mom who took me to church.  Giving me a Christian husband.  Leading me to my church where I was baptized as a young adult.  Leading me to BSF and other bible studies where I can learn and grow in God’s word so I can teach others and raise my children knowing and seeking Him.

11)  The prophecies were fulfilled to the letter with Jesus’ coming.  No one recognized Jesus as the Savior.  He was unjustly condemned and sentenced to death.  He was risen from the tomb once killed and continued to abide here on Earth and seen by many as witnesses.  Jesus fulfilled God’s promises.

12a)  Forgiveness of our sins (verse 38) through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses (basically saying OT is nulled and void and now NT–Jesus–rids us of the OT ways and ushers in new ways).  Verse 39

b)  Believing in Jesus (verse 39)

c)  According to Webster’s believe means “to have a firm religious faith; to accept trustfully and on faith; to have a firm conviction as to the reality or goodness of something.”

In this instance, if you accept Jesus as your Savior, trust He is real and everlasting, hold a firm conviction of His reality, and hold faithfully to this knowledge in your heart, then you believe in Him.

d)  If we wonder about Jesus, if we are complacent and do not believe, we will perish.  For Jesus is coming (the something God will do we won’t believe).  Paul is quoting from the Old Testament here (Habakkuk 1:5) before Jesus has come.

e)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, to scoff is “to show contempt by derisive acts or language; to treat with derision; mock”.  People mock Christians, saying their beliefs are antiquated and question whether there is a God or not who would allow such horrible doings on this planet.

In my limited worldly experience of human behavior, I would say a lot of these people who scoff are masking a jealously or a fear.  They are jealous of those who profess faith or are afraid of what turning their heart over to Jesus would mean for them.  They might have to give something up or quit doing something in their lifestyle–a vice if you will.

Paul calls all these people out with dire consequences.

Conclusions:  I think Question 12 nailed it.  I think many today are “dreamers” and do more thinking than they do acting.  If we wait too long to accept Jesus, we might miss the boat and die, ending up on the wrong boat for eternity.  In this generation there is a tendency to “play it safe” and not take risks, a tendency to sit on the sidelines and let someone else make all the decisions.

Here Paul warns if that is you, you will perish.  Period.  End of story.  Too late.

So decide and make it quick.  For one day you might not wake up.

End Tip:  I must have changed my divisions 10 times while doing this lesson.  So I decided to skip that question and answer the rest and fill in the divisions based off of BSF’s questions.  So these are my guesses based off of what I believe BSF is looking for.

End Note on Justification:  I believe this is the first time the thought and idea of justification is expressed since Jesus’ death.  We talked about this last year in Isaiah but I needed to look it up again so I thought I’d review it here.  Most of this is summarized from my Bible Dictionary (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney) found under justification.

When Jesus died, he absolved all of man from sin.  If man believes in Jesus through faith then man is declared righteous in God’s eyes.  Being righteous means we have a right relationship with God (basically we can once again stand in His presence because sin had always separated us from the perfectness of God.  Here sin is washed away, we are righteous, we are right in God’s eyes, so we can be with Him again).

Paul’s last words are trying to convey the key point:  if you don’t have faith, you won’t be justified nor saved and you will perish.  One must have faith to have justification.  The sinner (us) must accept the work of Christ and his death on the cross.