Acts 11 Gentile Church atozmomm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 5: Acts 11:19-30

Summary Acts 11:19-30:

Those who had been scattered when Stephen died  traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch preaching to the Jews there.  However some men from Cyprus and Cyrene began to speak to the Greeks as well in Antioch about Jesus.  As a result, many Greeks believed.

Jerusalem sent Barnabas when they heard the news to help.  Then Barnabas traveled to Tarsus to bring Saul to Antioch to help preach the Good News.  For a whole year Saul and Barnabas preached the Good News, and it was here at Antioch that the term Christians was first coined.

More prophets arrived from Jerusalem.  One of them, Agabus, predicted a severe famine for the entire Roman world (which was most know places).  The disciples decided to help their brothers in Judea during this time.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 5: Acts 11:19-30

12)  Antioch was the third-largest city in the Roman empire.  It sat at a crossroads between the Mediterranean and the eastern world.  It was a huge trading center and had a large Jewish and Greek population.  It was the first church with a large number of Gentile members and from here the first missionaries were sent out to spread the Gospel.

13) Personal Question. My answer: This blog. My work. Continue to pray for strength to continue as there are days where I am just tired.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 5: Acts 11:19-30

Another great example of the church growing and God using people to grow the church.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 5: Acts 11:19-30

The first mission to the Gentiles begins in Antioch.

Antioch was founded about 300 B.C. by Seleucus I, one of the inheritors of Alexander the Great’s empire. He named many cities after his father, Antioch, about fifteen in total. This city of Antioch was called “Syrian Antioch” or “Antioch on the Orontes.” In the first century, it was a city of more than half a million people; today it is a Turkish city with a population of about 3,500.

Antioch was about 300 miles (480 kilometers) north of Jerusalem and about 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland from the Mediterranean Sea. Many considered Syrian Antioch the third greatest city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria. Antioch was known for its business and commerce, for its sophistication and culture, but also for its immorality.

Map of Antioch and Tarsus atozmomm

“The city’s reputation for moral laxity was enhanced by the cult of Artemis and Apollo at Daphne, five miles distant, where the ancient Syrian worship of Astarte and her consort, with its ritual prostitution, was carried on.” (Bruce)

This is the plan for church growth spoken of in Ephesians 4:11-16. Leaders in the church dedicate themselves to building strong, healthy Christians. As the saints are equipped for the work of the ministry, they grow into maturity, and do their ministry, and it causes growth of the body.

Barnabas remembered the precious brother Saul, and how he was sent to Tarsus for his own protection (Acts 9:28-30). Now Barnabas went and found him.

Barnabas was probably exhausted and overwhelmed by all the work and opportunities in Antioch, and then remembering Saul of Tarsus.

To seek Saul is more literally to hunt him up. MacArthur says the original word “suggests a laborious search on Barnabas’ part.” Saul was so valuable to Barnabas that it was worth it for him to leave the work in Antioch for a season and search hard to find him.

Antioch became a center for great teaching and preaching. Antioch “had the greatest preachers – in the first century Barnabas, Paul, and Peter; in the second Ignatius and Theophilus; in the third and fourth Lucian, Theodore, Chrysostom, and Theordore.” (Hughes)

church atozmomm

The Introduction of the Name Christian

It wasn’t until these years at the Church in Syrian Antioch that the name Christian became associated with the followers of Jesus. They had previously been called disciples (Acts 1:15), saints (Acts 9:13), believers (Acts 5:14), brothers (Acts 6:3), witnesses (Acts 5:32), followers of the Way (Acts 9:2), and Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).

In Latin, the ending ian meant “the party of.” A Christ-ian was “of the party of Jesus.” Christians was sort of like saying “Jesus-ites,” or “Jesus People,” describing the people associated with Jesus Christ. Boice thinks the idea was that they were called “Christ-ones.”

Also, soldiers under particular generals in the Roman army identified themselves by their general’s name by adding ian to the end. A soldier under Caesar would call himself a Caesarian. Soldiers under Jesus Christ could be called Christians.

In Antioch, they probably first used the term Christians to mock the followers of Jesus. The believers appreciated the title so much that it stuck.

They gave according to the ability of their resources; those who had more gave more, probably referencing a proportional giving. It also means that they gave according to the ability of their faith, trusting that their gift to God’s work was a worthy investment in His kingdom, and not a loss.

Fun Fact: Luke is the only New Testament author to date his books by referring to Roman emperors. He refers to Claudius three times in the book of Acts. All of the events in Luke’s Gospel occur during the reigns of Tiberius and Augustus.

Acts 10 atozmomm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

Summary Acts 10:

A Roman Centurion (a very important man whom all Jews resented and despised) named Cornelius was living in Caesarea.  He was God-fearing and gave generously to the poor.  One day he had a vision of the angel of God.  The angel told Cornelius to send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter, which he did.

Peter had a vision that same day of a large sheet being let down from heaven with all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds on it.  A voice told Peter to kill and eat these animals.

Peter freaked out.  He couldn’t possibly eat anything unclean (as the laws for centuries have been).  The voice corrected him, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

While Peter was pondering this vision, Cornelius’ men arrived and the voice said to go with these men, which he did.

The next day when Peter arrived, Cornelius had invited all of his relatives and close friends to hear what Peter had to say.  Peter reminds everyone it is against Jewish law for Jews to associate with Gentiles but God has said otherwise through this vision.

Cornelius repeats his vision to Peter.  Peter finally understands his dream:  God now accepts every man into His kingdom; the Jews are no longer singled out as God’s chosen people.  With Jesus’ death, everyone is eligible for Salvation.

Peter explains how God chose people to be witnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection and to preach to the people and testify that God is the one and only judge of the living and the dead.

The Holy Spirit then came upon all who were listening, much to the astonishment of the Jews present with Peter.  Then they were baptized.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

6) He was a devout, God-fearing man and gave generously to those in need. He was respected by all the Jewish people. He prayed to God regularly.  He was a strong man, authoritative, and loyal to be a Roman Centurion (commander in the Roman army).  He must have been respected, admired, and a good leader.  He obeyed God and yearned to know Him more.

7a) God told Peter to get up and kill and eat, which is against Jewish law. Peter’s objection was just that — that these animals were impure and unclean so he couldn’t possibly eat or kill them. God told Peter not to call anything impure that He has made clean.

b) God confirmed His words by having Peter sent for by Cornelius and taken to Cornelius’ house.

8 ) Personal Question. My answer: Jesus’s death. All barriers.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

Profound passage as Peter finally realizes that all people are made clean through the blood of Jesus Christ. Now all will be preached to.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

Caesarea was a predominately Roman city on the shores of the Mediterranean in Judea. It was the headquarters of the Roman governor of the province of Judea. Archaeologists have discovered a stone from a building in Caesarea inscribed with the name Pontus Pilate.

Who Was Cornelius?

  • Cornelius was an officer in the Roman Army. A Jew of that day would naturally dislike or even hate him.
  • Cornelius was a God-fearer. These were Gentiles who loved the God of Israel; they were sympathetic to and supportive of the Jewish faith. Yet they stopped short of becoming full Jews in lifestyle and in circumcision. Jewish people of that time respected and appreciated these God-fearing Gentiles, but they could not really share their life and homes and food with them, because they were still in fact Gentiles and not full Jewish converts.
  • Cornelius gave generously to the poor, prayed often, sought God, and obeyed. How many of us can say the same?

It is significant that God spoke to Cornelius directly, even calling him by name. It is also significant that Cornelius responded with a healthy fear of the heavenly and holy (he was afraid). This shows that Cornelius had a real relationship with God.

Angels have limited abilities. They are primarily messengers. Note that an angel came to Cornelius to deliver a message, not convert him.

Typically, this is how God operates. He speaks to several people about a matter, not just one. Then confirmation is provided, and out of the mouth of two or three witnesses a word is established.

map of caesarea and joppa atozmomm

Fun Fact:  It is rare in the Bible for God to speak in an audible voice.

Peter had a bad habit of telling Jesus “no” (Matthew 16:22John 13:8). Compare Peter’s response to God (Not so, Lord!) with Cornelius’ response to God (What is it, Lord?). On that day, it seemed that Cornelius was more responsive to God than Peter was.

God repeated this vision three times. Peter was to regard this as important.

When the vision ended, Peter did not have it all figured out. That came in time. And so it is with us.

Previously, in Acts 10:13 and 10:15, it was simply said that a voice spoke to Peter. Now, we are told that the Spirit spoke to Peter. This was God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, speaking to Peter.

At this point, God has not told Peter that his visitors were Gentiles. Normally, a godly Jew like Peter would not associate in this manner with Gentiles. Knowing this, and knowing Peter’s previous resistance (Not so, Lord!), God simply surprised Peter with the knowledge that these men were Gentiles.

The idea that God could send and use Gentiles was entirely new to Peter. God was expanding Peter’s mind and heart.

Peter didn’t just coldly give these Gentiles visitors a room; he entertained them as welcomed guests, and he did this against every custom of the Jewish people of that day. No orthodox Jew would have invited Gentiles into his house. He would not have sat down at the same table with them. He would not have had fellowship with them. It was forbidden.

God flooded Peter’s heart with an understanding that though the Old Testament said God’s people were not to become like their pagan neighbors, it also said God wanted His people to become a light to their neighbors who didn’t know the true God.

“Centuries ago another Jew had come to Joppa with a solemn message from his God, which he was commissioned to bear far hence to the Gentiles. Jonah, the prophet, took a ship from Joppa and refused obedience to the divine call.” (Gaebelein)

Significantly, whenever in the Bible worship is offered to men or to angels (as in Revelation 19:10), it is refused. But Jesus received such worship freely (Matthew 8:29:1814:3315:2528:9). This proves that Jesus is more than a man, and greater than any angel (Luke 4:8).

Acts 10:38 atozmommConversion of Paul

Peter actually entered the house of a Gentile, something that Jewish customs and traditions strictly prohibited. By entering a Gentile’s home, Peter showed that his heart and mind had changed, and that he had learned the lesson of the vision of the great sheet.

“The principle subject of this chapter is not so much the conversion of Cornelius as the conversion of Peter.” (Stott)

Cornelius was not a Christian in the sense that he was not yet regenerated or born again, yet in this case God heard his prayers and remembered his generosity to others.

This is the foundation for Peter’s understanding that the gospel should now go forth to Gentiles. This statement goes completely against the prevailing Jewish thought at that time that God certainly did show partiality, towards the Jews and against the Gentiles. In essence, many Jews of Peter’s day thought that God loved the Jews while hating the Gentiles.

The Prejudice Against Gentiles

According to William Barclay, it was common for a Jewish man to begin the day with a prayer thanking God that he was not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman. A basic part of the Jewish religion in the days of the New Testament was an oath that promised that one would never help a Gentile under any circumstances, such as giving directions if they were asked. But it went even as far as refusing to help a Gentile woman at the time of her greatest need – when she was giving birth – because the result would only be to bring another Gentile into the world.

If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish community would have a funeral for the Jew and consider them dead. It was thought that to even enter the house of a Gentile made a Jew unclean before God.

Christianity was the first religion to disregard racial, cultural and national limitations.

When the Jews showed this kind of partiality they were not being faithful to God’s heart as revealed in the Old Testament. The idea that God shows no partiality is also stated in Deuteronomy 10:17 and 2 Chronicles 19:7For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Notably, Peter’s preaching to the Gentiles was essentially the same as his preaching to the Jews. He presented the person and work of Jesus Christ, with an emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus and our responsibility before God in light of these things.

Peter didn’t have one sermon for one group and another sermon for another. All people needed to be saved by coming to a living faith in a living Jesus Christ.

Peter’s sermon was a wonderful (if brief and perhaps condensed by Luke) explanation of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth:

  • Jesus was baptized to identify with humanity.
  • Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power.
  • Jesus was crucified.
  • Jesus was raised from the dead, resurrected in view of many witnesses.
  • Jesus commanded His followers to preach the message of who He is and what He did.

The moment of a person’s salvation isn’t necessarily when they raise a hand or come forward at an evangelistic invitation. It is more likely at the moment they surrender to God and embrace with trust Jesus in the sincerity of their hearts.

Peter allowed the Holy Spirit to interrupt his sermon. The Holy Spirit was doing the greater work in the hearts of those listening, and Peter went with the flow. He stopped and called for their baptism.

Acts 10 summary atozmomm

The First Gentile Converts to Christianity

These were likely not the first Gentiles to trust in Jesus and be born again. Gentiles had probably received salvation in the eight years since Pentecost (Acts 2). But those Gentiles were saved as they embraced Judaism as well as Christianity. Gentiles may have received salvation before this, but they were saved as Jews, not as Gentiles.

Their filling with the Holy Spirit was accompanied by the demonstration of spiritual gifts. This was a filling with the Holy Spirit in two senses: First, in the sense that He indwells and abides in every believer; second, in the sense of a special empowering with gifts and graces from the Holy Spirit.

This was unique. It was not common in the Book of Acts or in subsequent Christian experience for those who were not previously converted (born again) to instantly be born again and receive such evident spiritual gifts. Yet it was good and even necessary on this occasion, to show that they received the exact same Spirit, the exact same blessing as the apostles and first followers of Jesus did on the morning of Pentecost (Acts 2).

God would fill Gentiles with the Holy Spirit in the same manner and degree as the Jews.

God loved and blessed the Gentiles just as He loved and blessed the Jews, and He did it while they were still Gentiles.

The Old Testament looked for the day when a light would shine in the darkness of the Gentile world: Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

God promised Abraham and his descendants that the blessing that came through him would extend to all nations (Genesis 12:1-4). Here, we see Jesus – the greatest blessing from Abraham – extended to the nations.

Remember Jesus’ promise of other sheep, not of this fold in John 10:16. Jesus also promised, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself (John 12:32).

The first Gentile Jesus dealt with in His public ministry was a Roman centurion from Capernaum. When Jesus healed that centurion’s servant, He declared that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 8:5-13).

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!