BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 5: Acts 20:13-21:15

Summary of passage:  From Troas Paul head to Assos, Mitylene, Kios, Samos, and then Miletus.  He avoided Ephesus because he wanted to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost.  But he sent for the elders of Ephesus to come to Miletus to speak with him.

Paul tells them he lived a life of humility and tears as he served the Lord.  He preached helpful words to both Jews and Greeks about having faith in Christ and repenting to God.  Paul is compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem where he knows he will face prison and hardships.  His life is worth nothing to him if only he will finish the race and complete the task set out for him by Lord Jesus.

They won’t see him again so they must keep watch over the church and believers.  They must be on their guard for wolves will lurk and try to hurt the believers.  He commits them to God who can build them up and give them an inheritance.  We must help the weak, work hard, and remember Jesus’ words “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

They Paul prayed.

Then Paul boards a ship to Cos, Rhodes, Patar, Phoenicia, Syria, Tyre (where he stayed to encourage disciples and prayed), Ptolemais, and then Caesarea.  Here, the prophet Agabus bound his own hands and feet in warning to Paul about what will happen to him in Jerusalem.  Paul says he is ready to die for Jesus and his companions finally said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Finally, Paul arrives in Jerusalem.

Questions:

13)  Paul mentions again how he lived with them, serving the Lord with great humility and tears, and how he had not coveted anyone’s silver, gold, or clothing.  Paul’s own hands supplied his needs and the needs of his companions.  He worked hard to help the weak.  Paul taught the people from house to house.  In every city he faces prison and hardships.

14a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Verse 24 “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  It’s important to strive every day and stay on track with God’s purpose for your life, which is different for all of us, but is ultimately the same:  testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Verse 35  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Important to remember.  God blesses you.  You bless others.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It shows his undying devotion to God’s call on his life.  He is singularly focused on his task.  It shows his love for others and how much others loved him (which is much harder to earn).  Throughout it all he prayed, kept the faith, and once again offered sage advice upon leaving.

15a)  Verse 35:  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Have a giving attitude.  Remember how everything is from God and you are merely a steward of it all.  Give of yourself, your finances, your time, your energy, and your passions in all areas of life.

Conclusions:  Paul is a great example of how to life your life.  He faces challenges knowing God is with him.  He obviously knows how to treat people since they adore him and beg him to spare himself.  He is always giving advice on how to live a better life and he himself is always striving to be a better person.  He’s a great role model.

I like how finally everyone agrees to “The Lord’s will be done.”  So often we fight against God and His will for us and others that we don’t submit to Him our problems, anxieties, and ultimately our lives.  God is in control but we sometimes try to be. Here Paul is the perfect example of knowing he cannot fight God’s will for his life so he accepts it 100%. This is hard for most of us but something we can always be trying to achieve:  100% committal to God’s will for our lives.

End Note:  My study bible says that the quote “It is more blessed to give than to receive” is the only quote from Jesus not found in the New Testament Gospels.  I found this fascinating.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey:

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_03.htm

This map shows all of the places mentioned in the passage:

http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-third-missionary-journey-large-map.html

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 4: Acts 20:1-12

Summary of passage:  Paul heads out to Macedonia encouraging the people and then arrives in Greece where he stayed 3 months.  Intending to sail back home but having to change plans because of a plot against him by the Jews, Paul travels back through Macedonia overland.  He was accompanied by representatives of various churches since he was purportedly carrying a large amount of famine relief money with him.

Paul arrives in Troas where he speaks all night to a group of people before his final departure to Jerusalem.  A young man named Eutychus was seated in a window when he fell out of it during Paul’s long sermon and dies.  Paul then throws himself on the man, wraps his arms around him, and brings him back to life.  Then Paul continues with his sermon until daybreak.

Questions:

10)  God ultimately.  Then to encourage believers and the churches he had established and spread the Good News.

11a)  He sunk into a deep sleep and fell from a third story window and died.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Eyes on speaker.  Ears open for God to speak to you.  No outside distractions or speaking.

12)  Paul threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him and Eutychus was brought back to life. He continued on as if nothing odd had just happened.

Conclusions:  I completely disagree with the interpretation here on Question 11b.  I don’t blame the guy for falling asleep.  I probably would.  I don’t know many of us who can sit through a 6 hour sermon until midnight after having been up since daybreak working in the fields performing manual labor as we have to assume Eutychus was (that’s why Paul was preaching at night because everyone worked during that day).

We are also told there were many lamps.  Lamps in Paul’s time were oil lamps and gave off a lot of smoke and fumes (unhealthy to breath).  We’re not talking kerosene here.  The fuel was most likely olive oil.  We can also assume there’s a lot of people packed into a tiny space to hear Paul before he leaves (another reason Eutychus may have been sitting on the window).

So here’s Eutychus breathing in all these fumes, probably sweating from all the people and the heat from the lamps, being lulled to sleep by Paul because he’s exhausted, and he falls out the window.  I would have too!

Why wouldn’t Paul show compassion?  What’s he gonna do?  Blame the guy?  Doubt it.  Eutychus died because he was eager to hear the word of God and couldn’t overcome his exhaustion that was not caused by any fault of his own.  It was the times he lived in.  Naps were non-existent back then for most people.

In the end, God made humans and humans require sleep.  It’s not something we can go without.  Trust me, I’ve pulled enough all-nighters in my college days to know this is horrible for the body.

I see no fault here whatsoever with Eutychus falling asleep and I believe Luke told the story either as a diligent reporter who was recording Paul’s travels or to show the dedication of believers.  I don’t think he ever intended it as a warning that “If we fall asleep in church we’re doomed to Hell.”

I don’t like the word “motive” either in Question 10 merely because this word is used almost exclusively in the US when someone commits a crime or has a hidden agenda.  In actuality, it means according to Webster’s Dictionary “moving or tending to move to action.”  So Paul’s motive overall is God and then we can break this down into spreading the Good News and encouraging his churches.

Question 10 also makes it seem as if Paul’s motive has changed when it hasn’t.  This has always been his motive since he was first called by God.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey:

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_03.htm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 3: Acts 19

Summary of passage:  Paul is now in Ephesus and he runs into some disciples who had not been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (this shows us still just how much misunderstanding and confusion abounded during these early days of the Church) so Paul re-baptized them.

Paul spoke in the synagogue there fore 3 months but left when some Jews were barring the Way.  He moved to the lecture hall (or gymnasium) of Tyrannus and spoke for 2 years to all the Jews and Greeks in Asia (what we call Asia Minor).  God did extraordinary miracles through Paul during this time and when the Seven Sons of Sceva tried to mimic him for their own personal gain, they were set upon by the evil spirit and beaten badly.

Yet God used this for when word spread of what happened to the Sons many more were converted and repented of their sorcery.  Others saw this and converted as well.

Then Paul decided it was time to move on.  He sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia while he planned to go to Jerusalem.  Before he left, a riot broke out instigated by the craftsmen who were losing business since Artemis was slowly being replaced by Jesus.  Finally, a city clerk had to quiet the crowd by saying they either bring up charges or be charged with rioting.  The group quickly disassembled.

Questions:

5)  Holy Spirit

6)  Paul began in the synagogues (as usual) and preached there for about 3 months until some of the Jews became obstinate.  So he moved his teaching to the lecture hall (or gymnasium) of Tyrannus where he preached for 2 years.  He performed miracles and spread the Word to most of Asia (Asia Minor).

Paul then decides it is time to move on to Jerusalem via Macedonia and Achaia but before that happens a riot breaks out in Ephesus, led by the craftsmen who are losing customers as more people convert to Christianity.

7)  God does not like deception and to be careful when messing around with evil spirits and the occult and spiritual warfare.  What you may think is innocent or a mere profit scheme could lead to terrible repercussions.

8a)  Those who repented backed up their words with actions.  They burned their scrolls (basically flushed money down the toilet) to show their hearts to God and so no one else could use them.  Faith is more than words.  It’s actions.  You must walk the talk.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Hurtful words.

9)  In John 19:10-11 we are reminded powerfully how God allowed Jesus to be crucified even though Pilate wanted Jesus to go free.  God is in control of all.  In Acts 16:37-9, Paul’s Roman citizenship protected him in the Roman Empire and allowed him to spread the word more freely.  In Romans 13:1-7, God has established all authority over us (which includes our parents) so if you rebel against authority you are rebelling against God.  If you do what is right, you will be rewarded.

In our passage, Acts 19, a riot threatens Paul and his journey (a riot is outside the established authority) but a city clerk finally contains the crowd enough to allow reason to prevail.  Here, Paul once again escapes the wrath of non-believers because they are outside of the law.  God used the clerk to allow Paul to continue his missionary journey despite the resistance all around him.

Conclusions:  Lots of nuggets in this passage.  I see again the message of doing what is right over what is evil (2 Thessalonians 3:13) from the riot.  The Seven Sons of Sceva felt first hand what it is like to mess around with evil spirits.  People today take this lightly (like palm-reading and contacting the dead and the occult and such) but God does not.

We learned the importance of being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and how powerful that is.  You must accept Jesus or you won’t receive the Holy Spirit and eternal life.  Anything else falls short of this.

We see mob mentality and how powerful it is.  I actually blogged about this in relation to Jesus’ death (see post HERE).  The power of people to “follow the crowd” is real and something we must always be wary of.  It is outside the confines of the government authority and therefore something we should not obey since it is not in God’s authority.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey, with a great commentary to sum up his Journey:

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_03.htm