Studies in the New Testament
The Book of Acts
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How does the Wave Sheaf offering foreshadow the actual events of Jesus’ resurrection?
A. Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, Nisan 14, the day the Passover lamb was to be slain. Placed in the grave right at sunset, three days and three nights takes us to Saturday at sunset. Shortly after sunset ending the Sabbath the wave sheaf was cut from the ground as the first of the firstfruits of the barley harvest. None of that year’s crop was to be eaten before the firstfruits were offered, waved, before God in the Temple. The sheaf was prepared Saturday evening before being offered the next morning. When Mary came to the tomb, Jesus told her not to touch him or detain him because he had not yet ascended to the Father. Shortly after he saw Mary, he must have ascended to the Father as the first of the firstfruits of the dead. Then he freely allowed his disciples to touch him.
2. What do Scriptures indicate Jesus’ feelings were toward Judas after the betrayal? Support your conclusion with Bible references.
A. Nothing can so thoroughly crush the spirit of a man or woman as being betrayed by someone trusted. Everyone needs someone they can take for granted. Someone they can talk to and tell anything in the world and know that person would never do anything to hurt them.
The last night of his life on earth, Jesus was betrayed, forsaken and denied by his friends.
But the unkindest cut of all came from Judas. In the words of the psalmist: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9 KJV). “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company” (Psalm 55:12-14) (Ronald L. Dart, Christian Origins).
Judas is a tragic figure, made all the more so by his remorse when he saw the results of
his betrayal. He was sorry, but he could not undo what he had done.
3. How many days following his resurrection was Jesus seen alive by witnesses?
A. Jesus was seen alive by witnesses following his resurrection over a period of 40 days (Acts 1:3).
4. Use Bible references to show how many times Jesus ascended to heaven after His
A. The Bible specifically mentions Jesus ascending into heaven three times: His first ascension after he was seen by Mary Magdalene, where we can deduce that Jesus ascended into heaven between the time Mary saw him and was admonished not to touch him, because he was going to the Father, and the time he appeared to the disciples, later, without prohibiting them from touching him (John 20:17-29). A second ascension is mentioned in Mark 16:19 and Luke 24:51, and a third and final ascension in Acts 1:9-11.
5. Calculate what likely day of the week Jesus finally ascended to heaven following his
A. With a Tuesday night arrest and a Wednesday crucifixion, Jesus would have been in the grave Wednesday night, Thursday, Thursday night, Friday, Friday night, and Saturday. He would have been resurrected on Saturday at the end of the day. Yet the next morning, early, he told Mary Magdalene he had not yet ascended to his Father (John 20:17). Later the same day, at evening, he appeared to the disciples with no admonition that they not touch him (John 20:19). Therefore, he must have ascended to his Father in heaven on that day, Sunday.
6. Jesus was seen after his resurrection by many witnesses. How did this impact the acceptance
of the Gospel in the early days of the church?
A. With so many to say they had personally seen Jesus after his death and resurrection, it made it easier to believe.
7. What were the two final commands of Jesus?
A. He told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive power from on high, and to go to all the world to preach the Gospel, teaching people what Jesus had taught the disciples (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8). The disciples were expecting a restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. Their upbringing, knowledge and belief system predisposed them to think of the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of the Kingdom as inextricably linked (Micah 5:2). These men had no idea what to expect. Jesus told them they would receive power—the power to be witnesses of him. They were familiar with Jerusalem and Judea, predominately a Jewish area. Because of this, it would have been easy for them to picture themselves witnessing there. Samaria was undoubtedly a surprise, but it was at least nearby and Jesus had traveled there. Then Jesus went even further, and included the “uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Consistently Jesus expressed his intent that the Gospel was to go to the whole world—to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
1. If Jesus had told the Apostles that the restoration of the Kingdom was at least 2000 years
ahead, how might this have impacted them?
A. They would surely have been disappointed. Much of the excitement of the early church seems to have been created around the Apostles’ and disciples’ belief that Jesus would soon return to earth. The fact that he gave them no indication of the time of his return permits each successive generation to retain that excitement, for when in history have believers not felt that the last days were upon them?
2. What did the Apostles and disciples expect in a Messiah? Support your conclusion with
A. They expected a king (Zechariah 14:9; Micah 5:2) who would be a warrior (Zechariah 14:2-3; Micah 5:4) capable of restoring the Kingdom to Israel (Micah 5:2).
3. If the expectations regarding a Messiah were similar among the Apostles’ and disciples’
fellow countrymen, what does that tell you about why Jesus was rejected?
A. These people were expecting a Messiah to restore the Kingdom to Israel. It seems probable that when Jesus was arrested and put to death, most of those who had followed him simply concluded that he was not the Messiah, were disillusioned, and turned away from him completely.
4. To what specific place on earth does the Bible indicate Jesus Christ will return?
A. The Bible indicates Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east (Zechariah 14:4).
5. What five things will happen upon his return at that location?
A. At Christ’s return, there will be a great battle. The mountain will be split in two. A great valley will be created that reaches from the mountain to Azal. There will be an earthquake. It will be light at evening time (Zechariah 14:3-6).
1. What were the specific requirements to be met by anyone chosen to replace Judas?
A. Anyone chosen to replace Judas had to have been in company with Jesus and the other disciples from Jesus’ baptism by John until the day that Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:21-22).
2. Out of the group of 120 disciples, how many do you think met the requirements you
identified in question one?
A. Apparently only two (Acts 1:23).
3. Why were only two men chosen upon whom lots were cast?
A. These must have been the only two out of the 120 who met the requirements.
4. List three times in a year when all males are commanded to appear before God and what they
are to bring.
A. All males are commanded to appear before God at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. They should not appear before the Lord empty, but bring an offering (Deuteronomy 16:16-17).
5. Give at least two Bible verses providing evidence that Gentiles were to keep the holy days.
A. 1 Corinthians 5:8 is directed to a church in Corinth, which was a Gentile church in Greece. In that verse, Paul implores the Corinthians to keep the feast (of Unleavened Bread) with sincerity and truth. In Exodus 12, Moses declared that under the Law of God, a stranger (a Gentile) could keep the Passover, so long as he and the males of his family were circumcised (Exodus 12:48-49). “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Exodus 12:49).
1. Why were the Apostles and disciples together on the day mentioned in Acts 2:1? Where were
they? What day was it?
A. The Apostles and disciples were together to celebrate Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks. The account says that they were all together, in accord, in a house (Acts 2:1-2).
2. Describe in your own words what it might have looked like, sounded like, and felt like when
the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and disciples on Pentecost.
A. The question asks you to describe in your own words what it might have looked like,
sounded like, and felt like as the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and disciples at Pentecost. The account describes a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind that filled the house (Acts 2:2). A tornado’s sound? The account further describes divided tongues of fire sitting upon each person present (Acts 2:3). Did the room seem to shimmer like a mirage in a desert or on hot pavement? As to how it must have felt, the account is silent. Spend some time meditating about this, to come up with possibilities of your own. The purpose of this exercise is to appreciate the spectacle and wonder of this miracle, and the power and grace of God, who did not leave his servants comfortless or powerless.
3. About what did the crowd hear the disciples and Apostles speak?
A. The crowd heard the disciples and Apostles speak about “. . . the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).
4. What is different about the miracle of languages on Pentecost compared to what happens
today in some churches?
A. The men who were speaking on the Day of Pentecost had a message to deliver. They were
speaking known and identifiable languages to people who spoke the very same languages. The message was understandable to the people who were there. At least one man was present from the part of Libya near Cyrene, which had a different dialect than other parts of Libya, yet the man heard them speaking in his particular dialect! (Christian Origins.) In many churches today that practice “speaking in tongues,” the language used is unknown and no one present can understand what is being said. The message, if there is one, is not understood.
5. Identify on a map the country or area where each language that was miraculously given on Pentecost was spoken.
A. The languages are not identified linguistically, but geographically. Some of the regions given are speculative today, while others remain identifiable. As best as can be determined, the following identifies the locations mentioned in Acts:
∙ Parthians, from the area south of the Caspian Sea, in the area of northeastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran;
∙ Medes, also from the area south of the Caspian Sea, but more toward north central Iran;
∙ Elamites, also from the area of southwestern Iran, in the area north of the Persian Gulf;
∙ Mesopotamians, from the area contained between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which includes the modern city of Baghdad;
∙ Jueaeans, from the area around Jerusalem;
∙ Cappadocians, from central Turkey, north of Tarsus;
∙ Pontians, also from Turkey, near the southern part of the Black Sea;
∙ Asians, possibly from the Asian part of Turkey, east of the mile-long Bosporus strait that divides modern Istanbul today;
∙ Phrygians, from the area of southwest central Turkey, including the area around Laodicea;
∙ Pamphylians, from the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey;
∙ Egyptians, from Egypt;
∙ Libyans, from Libya, west of Egypt, on the northern coast of Africa;
∙ Cyrenians, from the coast of Africa, west of Libya, on the Mediterranean coast;
∙ Romans, from Rome, Italy;
∙ Cretes, from the Greek island of Crete in the Mediterranean; and
∙ Arabs, which may have included those from modern-day Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
6. In what way is the gift of languages related to the last commands of Jesus to his disciples that
you identified on day one for question number six?
A. The gift of languages made it possible for the Apostles and disciples to spread the Gospel to people of all nations, because they could speak to them in their own languages. This made it possible to fulfill Christ’s commission to teach all nations and baptize them.
1. What is the theme of Peter’s sermon?
A. Peter’s theme was that Jesus is Lord (exalted by God) and Christ (the Messiah) (Acts 2:32-36). The effect of the closing statement upon Peter’s audience was enormous. It is difficult today to appreciate just how much impact it had on his listeners. Peter was speaking to the house of Israel, to people either of Jewish extraction or one of the tribes that stayed with Judah through the captivity. Expectations of the Messiah were running like a fever. The rumors and stories about Jesus, his works during his ministry, and his resurrection were still circulating. Many suspected they were true. What Peter said struck home. The power of God through the Holy Spirit was there that day and working in the hearts and minds of people (Christian Origins). They wanted to know what they should do.
2. Imagine that you are in this audience, that you were present more than a month earlier and
had cried out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” as Jesus was condemned. Read Peter’s sermon again. Write down the feelings you experience.
A. It’s important that you take time to meditate on this.
3. What personal responsibility do you bear for Jesus’ crucifixion even though you were not
there? Find two Bible verses to support your conclusion.
A. Had any one of us been the only person who ever sinned, it would have required Jesus’ death to pay the penalty for our sin, or we would be doomed to eternal death. Each of us bears personal responsibility. All have sinned (Romans 3:21-23). Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
4. From what Peter said about David, where do you conclude Peter believed David to be? What do you believe? Support your position with Scripture references.
A. Peter believed David was in his tomb, in death (Acts 2:29). Everyone who has died is asleep as David is (1 Corinthians 15:12-23).
5. Identify differences between the state Peter attributes to David and that which he attributes to Christ. What can you conclude about the resurrection of the dead from these differences?
A. Peter says that David is dead, buried, and in his tomb. David is not in heaven (Acts 2:34). Peter says that Christ did not see corruption of his body (Acts 2:27). Christ’s body was not in his tomb (Luke 24:3). He was loosed from the pains of death [resurrected] (Acts 2:24, 32), and is seated at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 2:34-36). Therefore, we can conclude that David is dead, while Christ is alive! David’s body decayed, Christ’s did not; David’s bodily remains are in his tomb, Christ’s are not; Christ has ascended into heaven, David has not (Acts 1:9-11). From this we can conclude that the dead will remain in their graves until the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
1. What did Peter tell his audience they must do?
A. Peter told his audience to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38).
2. What must you and others do today because God so loved the world that he gave his only
Son for our sins? Find at least two Bible verses to support your conclusion.
A. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God sent by God to save the world, repent of our sins, and be baptized (Matthew 28:19; John 3:16-18; Romans 5:6-11). Peter pointed out under inspiration what he probably had not consciously understood as yet: that the promise of the Kingdom of God is to the Jews and also to the Gentiles. Three thousand people were baptized on the Day of Pentecost. That morning there had been about 120 disciples; that evening there were 3,120! Such an increase is bound to lead to administrative headaches. And they baptized more every day (Christian Origins).
3. If the newly converted remained in Jerusalem in large numbers, what did they do there?
A. They fellowshiped with the Apostles and disciples, ate together, and prayed together. They spent this time learning the story of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and teachings (Acts 2:41).
4. Why didn’t the Apostles and disciples immediately leave Jerusalem to go to the “uttermost
part of the earth” with the Gospel message?
A. There does not seem to be a Scripture that explains this. It does seem that so many things were happening so fast, the disciples overlooked Jesus’ admonition to take the Gospel to the whole world.
5. How many people were baptized this day?
A. Three thousand people were baptized (Acts 2:41).
6. Calculate the possible number of people the average disciple would have had to baptize on Pentecost. Do you think that women may have baptized women? How young do you think some could have been who were baptized?
A. If there were 120 total disciples upon whom the Holy Spirit fell, and 3,000 were baptized that day, then each disciple would have had to baptize 25 people. It is sheer speculation whether women baptized other women, perhaps so. Even though this was a Jewish crowd and bar mitzvah is for Jewish boys who have reached the age of 13, there is nothing in the Bible to support a child having to be 13 before he or she can be baptized. Jesus was in the Temple teaching the teachers of the Law when he was 12. We simply don’t know how young some of the people may have been on that Pentecost when they were baptized. It is not for us to set an age for baptism. At the same time, it could be dangerous to indefinitely delay baptism. The YEA materials say a child should be baptized as early as maturity will allow.
1. Calculate the total number of disciples as the day drew to a close based upon the figures given in Acts.
A. There were approximately 3,120 disciples as Pentecost drew to a close.
2. How do the events of this day of Pentecost reflect the meaning of the holy day called the Feast of Firstfruits?A. "Pentecost was not a stand alone festival. It was the fiftieth day of the harvest that had begun seven weeks ago . . . The harvest metaphor is very strong in all of Jesus’ teaching, and it is also strong in the holydays of the Bible. The firstfruits of Wave Sheaf Sunday and Pentecost are especially meaningful to Christians. . . The season of the grain harvest was Jesus’ chosen metaphor. There were two major harvest seasons in Palestine. The grain harvest in the spring, and the fruit harvest in the autumn. The spring harvest, which started with barley and ended with wheat, took place between Passover and Pentecost. Pentecost is also called the Feast of Firstfruits because the season begins and ends with an offering of the firstfruit harvest—the first, barley, the second, wheat. So it is only natural that Jesus would use the harvest as an analogy for saving people" (excerpts from The Thread, God’s Appointments With History, by Ronald L. Dart). Jesus Christ was the first of the firstfruits. These firstfruits are converted, baptized people who follow Jesus Christ and will either meet him in the air or be resurrected from the dead at his return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
3. What could have been the purpose of the disciples’ remaining in Jerusalem and breaking
A. Their staying in Jerusalem did serve one very important purpose. Large numbers of people were able to hear the Apostles’ and disciples’ stories again and again, and commit it to memory. Telling the story over and over again firmly planted the details in the minds of the tellers, as well as in the minds of those who heard. Thus, the story of Jesus Christ, of his ministry, his message, his death, his resurrection, and his return was internalized in those early days. Without a written copy of the Scriptures, what we now refer to as the “Old Testament” (as the New had not yet been written), the Apostles and disciples had to rely upon their memories to spread the message of the Gospel to the world, as Jesus had commissioned them (Christian Origins).
The breaking of bread in this context simply means eating together; it is not talking about
the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. Eating together is a way of bonding, and it is easy to imagine the people gathering, some in one house, some in another, to have a meal together and hear again the wondrous story, to ask questions, and learn from the Apostles.
4. Why were so many able to believe at Pentecost who had not been able to believe before?
A. So many more were able to believe now who had not before because the power of the Holy Spirit was present and at work.
5. How much time had passed from the time of Jesus’ last ascension until this day? How do you know?
A. Ten days had passed since Jesus’ final ascension into heaven. Acts 2:3 says he was seen by the disciples for 40 days. Acts 2:1 says the day of Pentecost was fully come; this is the same day as is called the Feast of Weeks in Leviticus 23:15-16.
6. What impact will this lesson have on your life and what changes will you make because of
the things you have learned?
A. Each person must answer this for himself. It is important that you make a commitment to incorporate this lesson into your life.
1. What time of day did Peter and John go to the Temple? Why did they go?
A. Peter and John went to the Temple at the ninth hour. Romans counted the hours starting at 12 midnight, as we do today. Hebrew reckoning begins at 6:00 a.m., with 7:00 a.m. being the first hour. By that reckoning, the ninth hour would be 3:00 p.m. They went to the Temple because it was the hour of prayer.
2. Where did they enter the Temple? Locate this area on a map of the Temple.
A. They went in at the gate called Beautiful. This gate is believed to have been the front gate.
3. How long had the lame man been disabled?
A. The lame man had been disabled all his life, from birth.
4. Why do you think Luke mentions so many details about the lame man?
A. The more details mentioned about any event, the more believable becomes any retelling of the event. Luke wanted Theophilus to know that this was not a fabrication. Including so many details made it less likely that it was made up.
5. Identify at least three ways in which this healing was especially dramatic.
A. This miracle was staggering from many points of view. Just making a person’s feet and ankles whole is not all that is required for a person to walk. The man who was healed had never been able to walk. His muscles were undeveloped for walking, neither was his brain developed to control the muscles required for walking. A person has to learn to walk; it is not just a matter of physical strength. So for this to take place, the miracle involved giving the man the necessary musculature, neurological pathways, strength, and coordination (Ronald L. Dart, Christian Origins).
6. What did the lame man expect to receive from Peter and John?
A. The lame man expected Peter and John to give him money.
7. What part did faith play in the healing of the lame man? Whose faith was at work?
A. Peter says that the man was healed through faith in the name of the Prince of life, Jesus Christ (Acts 3:15-16). The lame man’s faith was not required—he was hoping to receive money from Peter and John. The faith at work was Peter’s and John’s faith.
1. To whom did Peter say the prophecy of Moses (vv. 21-23) referred?
A. Peter said the prophecy referred to Jesus Christ (Acts 3:20).
2. What similarities do you see between this sermon by Peter and the one he delivered on the
Day of Pentecost?
A. Peter called upon the people to repent in both sermons. He spoke of Jesus Christ being the fulfillment of the prophecies of old. He spoke of the people’s responsibility for having Jesus put to death. He spoke of Jesus being glorified and exalted and ascending into heaven. He called for the people to repent.
3. Why did Peter accuse these people of delivering Jesus to be crucified?
A. Peter accused them because Pilate had been prepared to let Jesus go. It was the people who cried out to give them Barabbas instead.
4. How did Peter link Jesus to the healing of the lame man?
A. Peter told the people that the lame man was healed in the name of the same Jesus Christ whom they cried out to Pilate to put to death.
5. Why do you think Peter directly linked Jesus to the healing?
A. Peter directly linked Jesus to the healing because he wanted to demonstrate the power, authority, and omnipotence of Jesus Christ, and Jesus as the Messiah.
6. What calls to repentance did the Jews receive from Pentecost up to this point?
A. The Jews received two calls to repentance which are described in Acts. One on the day of Pentecost and the one from Peter in the account in Acts 3.
7. Why was Peter at such pains to call upon the Jews to repent?
A. Peter went to such lengths to call upon the Jews to repent because they were his people, and they were the chosen people of God. He loved them.
8. What might have resulted had the Jews repented at this time? Support your response with at
least two Bible passages.
A. If the Jews had repented, the Apostles might have spent their time preaching only to the Jews. Everyplace the Apostles went, they went into the synagogues. The Jews threw them out, or rejected the message, and the Apostles turned to the Gentiles. This was what gave the Gentile world the opportunity for salvation (Hosea 2:23; Acts 13:46-47; Romans 11:25).
1. How does the response of the people to the miracle differ from that of the priests, the captain
of the Temple, and the Sadducees?
A. The people repented, and praised God. The priests, the captain, and the Sadducees just wanted to suppress Peter’s and John’s preaching.
2. After the baptisms that followed the healing, what was the approximate number of disciples?
A. The approximate number of disciples after the baptisms on this day was 8,120.
3. Why did the priests and the Sadducees arrest Peter and John?
A. Peter and John were preaching that Jesus had been resurrected. This might not have been such a problem had their adversaries been Pharisees, but the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. This particular day, the captain and priests seem to have been mostly Sadducees, and they did not like Peter and John preaching about someone who had been resurrected. Especially not the one who claimed to be the Messiah.
4. If you were scheduled to appear for trial the next day, as Peter and John were, how would you
know what to say? Support your answer with a Bible verse.
A. God promises to be with you and give you the words you should speak (Mark 13:9-11).
1. Which group did Peter and John appear before the next day?
A. Peter and John appeared before the Sanhedrin.
2. Who were Annas and Caiaphas?
A. Annas was the High Priest (Acts 4:6). Caiaphas had been the High Priest when Jesus was crucified. Annas was Caiaphas’ father-in-law (John 18:13).
3. In what way did Peter maximize this opportunity?
A. Peter didn’t just answer their questions. Peter maximized this opportunity by re-emphasizing the healing, which permitted him to re-emphasize that it was done through the name of Jesus Christ. This gave him the opening to preach Jesus to them as resurrected from the dead, and again showed the omnipotence of Jesus Christ. It could not have escaped the religious leaders that great power was required to produce a miracle such as they had witnessed.
4. What was the theme of Peter’s sermon to the assembled rulers, elders, and scribes?
A. Peter’s theme is consistent: the Messiahship of Jesus Christ.
5. In what ways was this sermon similar to, or different from, Peter’s sermon to the people the
A. Peter was consistent in that he laid the responsibility for Jesus’ death upon his audience. He was consistent in testifying that Jesus had risen from the dead. He showed Jesus’ omnipotence by means of giving him the credit for the healing. Peter distinguishes that the miracle didn’t happen under the administration of Moses, or by the authority of the current administration at the Temple. Peter laid it all under the authority of Jesus Christ. In the culmination of his sermon to the Sanhedrin, Peter showed that it was Jesus who was referred to in Psalm 118:22, and he called them to be saved.
6. Is it sufficient for salvation that a person believe in God? Why or why not?
A. It is not sufficient for salvation to believe in God. The Pharisees and Sadducees believed in God. Yet Jesus plainly said they were not entering the gates of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 23:13). James says that the devils also believe there is only one God (James 2:19-20).
1. Why do you think the rulers, scribes, and elders made no attempt to deny that Jesus was
A. Considering the 3,000 who were baptized on Pentecost, and the 5,000 who were baptized this day, there were more than 8,000 people who believed that Jesus had been resurrected. The priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees were always afraid of the people (Acts 4:21).
2. Why do you think the rulers, scribes, and elders made no attempt to deny the healing of the
A. The rulers, scribes, and elders did not try to deny the healing because they could not. The man was standing healed in their midst, and everyone knew he had not been able to walk since he was born.
3. What made the rulers, scribes, and elders think that Peter and John were unlearned men?
A. They could probably tell just by looking at them, as well as by listening to them speak. The rulers, scribes, and elders could tell by their speech and clothing that they were not from the upper classes who, during those times, had almost exclusive benefit of education.
4. What single word describes the disciples’ primary emotion immediately following Jesus’ arrest and execution?
A. The disciples’ primary emotion immediately following Jesus’ arrest was fear (Matthew 26:56).
5. What emotion was evident in Peter and John as they appeared before the Sanhedrin?
A. Boldness was evident in Peter and John (Acts 4:8).
1. What was the Sanhedrin’s admonishment to Peter and John?
A. The Sanhedrin admonished Peter and John not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18).
2. What effect did the Sanhedrin’s admonition have on Peter and John?
A. Peter and John told the Sanherin they had to obey God, not men (Acts 4:19-20).
3. Compare Peter’s response to Jeremiah’s in Jeremiah 20:7-9 and Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 9:16.
A. Jeremiah referred to his inability to keep silent, because God’s Word was like a burning fire shut up in his bones (Jeremiah 20:9). Paul described his need to preach the Gospel as a necessity which was laid on him (1 Corinthians 9:16). Peter made no reference to any compulsion to preach, only that he was determined to be obedient to the commission given by Jesus Christ (Acts 4:19-20).
4. Compare Peter’s and John’s responses with their actions and those of the other disciples on the night of Jesus’ arrest.
A. One might get the impression Peter and John actually relished the danger they had found. These two men, who had been fishermen before Jesus called them, were right in the middle of the power politics of the day, and were acting with tremendous power from the Holy Spirit. They seem to have been excited and exhilarated by the danger. The night of the betrayal, they and all the disciples fled in fear (Ronald L. Dart, Christian Origins).
5. What explanation can you offer for Peter’s and John’s response to the Sanhedrin’s threats?
Support your explanation with Scripture.
A. The power of the Holy Spirit gave them courage and boldness (Acts 4:8, 29).
1. With what punishment did the Sanhedrin threaten Peter and John? What do you think Peter
and John thought might happen to them?
A. There is no record of any specific punishment, only that they were threatened (Acts 4:21). Peter and John might reasonably have expected to be put to death at one extreme, or scourged, if they were to get off lightly.
2. Why were Peter and John not punished by the Sanhedrin?
A. The Sanhedrin was afraid of the people (Acts 4:21).
3. Identify how the Sanhedrin’s restraint could have been related to the number of people being
A. The effect on the religious community and Jerusalem as a whole was enormous. Over 8,000 people were now believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, and evidently not keeping silent!
4. How did the people glorify God?
A. They probably sang psalms of praise to glorify God.
5. How old was the man who was healed? Does this information change your description of the miracle in answer to question number five for day one?
A. The man who was healed was more than 40 years old (Acts 4:22).
6. What one thing have you learned from this lesson that will impact your life? What changes in your life will you make because of what you learned in this lesson?
A. Each person must answer this for himself. It is important that you make the commitment to incorporate what you learn from this lesson into your life.
1. What did the disciples do when Peter and John told them what had happened to them?
A. The disciples began to pray when Peter and John told them what happened to them (Acts 4:24).
2. What did the disciples pray for on this occasion?
A. They prayed that they could speak with boldness, that God would heal and show signs and wonders in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:29-30).
3. What evidence can you find in their prayer that the disciples were coming to understand that Jesus’ death had been part of God’s plan all along?
A. They cited Psalm 2:1-3 in their prayer, which talks about the rulers gathering against the Lord and against his Christ. This is a reference to the prophecy that rulers would actually resist and fight against the Messiah.
4. What parallels can you see between the use of “gather” in Acts 4:26-27 and other uses and translations of the Greek in the verses identified in Matthew?
A. The Greek word for “gathered together” is used for the gathering of the harvest in Matthew 25:24, 26, and includes the meaning of gathering of a group, such as the gathering of those who were determined to put Jesus to death, in John 11:47. The same meaning is used of a gathering of the chief priests in Matthew 26:3, 57, and of the band of soldiers in Matthew 27:27 (Scofield, C.I., The Scofield Study Bible, 2003, Acts 4:26, note).
1. What evidence is there that God heard the disciples’ prayer?
A. He shook the building they were in, and the disciples experienced another infusion of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31).
2. Compare this evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit with other occasions.
A. Power begets power. The shaking of the building was a manifestation of God. This is not to say that God actually reached out and shook the building. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit had the effect of physically shaking the building—there was that much power. The Bible contains other examples of how the Holy Spirit actually interacts with this world and how it affects things physically. Some of those examples were given in the Background to this lesson and in the Conclusion to Lesson One. It is clear that the enormous power connected with the Holy Spirit sometimes manifests itself physically (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 4).
3. Did the disciples who were present already have the Holy Spirit? Provide a Scripture to support your answer. Why would God have filled them again?
A. The disciples present already had the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). But we can see from the examples we’ve studied that the power is not a constant. It surges and wanes over time. At this time in the formation of the church, God wanted to be sure that the Apostles and disciples had the confidence they needed to continue in the face of threats they were receiving from the religious establishment. He wanted to top off their tanks with power (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 4).
4. How can we know that God still hears our prayers today? Support your conclusion with Bible references.
A. There are many instances in the Bible where men are advised to pray. Take a look through your concordance, and note how many times prayer is recommended. We have confidence that he hears our prayers because he tells us he does in 1 John 5:14-15.
1. How could new believers who did not live in Jerusalem maintain themselves while they remained away from their homes, businesses, flocks, or fields?
A. Many had traveled to Jerusalem to be present for the Passover season. They were prepared for a visit of fixed duration. But the account indicates that many remained in Jerusalem instead of returning home. It was at least partly to provide for those who remained at Jerusalem, away from their own homes, that believers who lived in Jerusalem began to share their possessions. It seems they basically pooled what they had to take care of everyone. It serves to illustrate the unity of their hearts and spirits during this time.
2. Describe three aspects of the communal sharing being practiced by the church at this time.
A. It was voluntary—no one made any demands, nor is there any record of any accounting being kept. It was done during a time of persecution and of need. It appears to have been restricted to the believers in Jerusalem. There is no evidence of aid coming to them from other areas; at this point, there were no churches established in other areas that we know of.
3. Who was seeing to the distribution of the money to any who had need? Why might this be a problem?
A. The Apostles were seeing to the distribution (Acts 4:35). This was a problem because it quickly became more than they could handle. There were more than 8,000 people to attend.
4. What message were the Apostles preaching?
A. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33).
5. What is grace? Support your conclusion with Bible references.
A. Grace is the unmerited love and favor of God toward mankind. Grace is the “the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man . . . not by works of righteousness which we have done . . . being justified by his grace” (Titus 3:4, 5, 7). By grace, God attributes righteousness to man (Romans 3:21-24; Philippians 3:9).
1. What did Barnabas sell to get the money he brought to the Apostles?
A. Land that he owned (Acts 4:36).
2. Compare and contrast what Barnabas did with what Ananias and Sapphira did.
A. Barnabas sold land that he owned. Ananias and Sapphira also sold land (Acts 5:3). Barnabas brought all the money from the sale to the Apostles (Acts 4:37). Ananias and Sapphira brought only part of what they received to the Apostles (Acts 5:2). Further, Ananias and Sapphira purposely conspired to lie, saying they were giving all the price of the land away (Acts 5:2, 8). They lied about what they received for the land, and they did it deliberately (Acts 5:2).
3. What do you think was the personal motivation behind Ananias’ and Sapphira’s deception?
A. It appears that they were looking for the honor that came to Barnabas as a result of his gift, so they pretended to do the same thing.
4. Did God require Ananias and Sapphira to sell their property? Support your conclusion with a Bible reference.
A. No (Acts 5:4).
1. To whom did Peter say Ananias and Sapphira lied?
A. Peter said they lied to the Holy Spirit and to God (Acts 5:4).
2. Discuss why you believe lying to a church authority today is or is not the same as what Ananias and Sapphira did.
A. Each person must answer for himself, but it is probably safe to say that lying to a church authority today does not carry the identical consequences. It is not likely anyone would be struck down on the spot. But lying is a sin, no matter to whom the lie is told. It is as much a sin to lie to one’s wife as to the minister. For Ananias and Sapphira, their destruction appears to have come more from lying in the presence of the enormous power of the Holy Spirit that was present during those times (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 5).
3. Consider what you have learned about the power of the Holy Spirit. What does that tell you about who or what killed Ananias?
A. It does not appear that either Peter or God killed Ananias and Sapphira. No one hit the “smite” button. It was the presence of the power of the Holy Spirit. When they lied in the presence of that power, it was too much conflict for their human bodies to bear (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 5).
4. Do you think Peter anticipated the death of Ananias?
A. The Scripture does not say.
5. What does God want us to give?
A. God wants from us a broken spirit, a contrite heart (Psalm 51). He wants us to follow his ways (Proverbs 23:26). God wants us to exercise judgment, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). He wants us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick and imprisoned (Matthew 25:31-46).
1. What period of time passed before Sapphira came to where the disciples were?
A. Sapphira came three hours after her husband (Acts 5:7).
2. Which of these reasons do you think she came for: recognition, to find her husband, or some other reason?
A. Each must answer for himself, but it’s safe to say at least one reason was to see what happened to her husband. The account does not record the reason that she came. Might she have wanted to see what honor had come to Ananias for his “gift”?
3. Who did Peter say Sapphira and her husband had tempted?
A. Peter said they tempted the Spirit of the Lord (Acts 5:9).
4. Compare the usage of “tempt” in Acts 5:9 with related usage in James, Genesis, Psalms, and Luke.
A. In James 1:14, the Greek word is peirazo, meaning to test, discipline, or examine. In Genesis 22:1, the Hebrew is nacah, meaning to test. In Psalm 11:5, the Hebrew word is bachan, meaning to investigate or to prove. In Luke 22:28, the Greek is peirasmos, meaning putting to proof by experiment, discipline, or provocation.
5. Why do you think Peter says in one place that Ananias lied to God, and in another that Sapphira tempted the Spirit of the Lord?
A. The Greek word translated “tempt” in verse 8 is peirazo. It has the meaning of putting to proof by experiment, as well as to test, discipline, or examine. Each person must answer this for himself. A variety of explanations could be suggested. An obvious explanation is that lying to God and tempting the Spirit of the Lord amount to the same thing.
1. What was the purpose of the miracles?
A. The miracles were directed at this point toward Israel to give the nation a last chance to repent, and to authenticate the Gospel of a crucified and risen Christ (Unger, Merrill F., Unger’s Bible Handbook, 1966, p. 571).
2. What made some people afraid to join the disciples?
A. There were at least two reasons: the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira would be one reason, and the opposition by the religious authorities another.
3. Were some afraid of Peter? Need they have been? Why or why not?
A. Yes, people were afraid of Peter. It was before him that Ananias and Sapphira had died. People had no way of knowing that Peter himself didn’t strike them down. They need not have been afraid of him. No one knew better than Peter himself that he had denied Christ three times on the night of Christ’s arrest. Peter was fully aware of his own weaknesses and need for compassion, which must have enabled him to share that compassion with others (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 5).
4. Compare what happened with the Apostles’ healings of the sick to the healings of the multitudes who were brought to Jesus.
A. Acts 5:15 speaks of the people bringing the sick into the streets, and the impression is one of throngs of people. The same thing happened during Jesus’ ministry. In one case mentioned in Luke 5:18-19, one man was let down through a hole in the roof because his friends could not get through the crowd to bring him to Jesus. On one occasion 5,000 people followed Jesus in order to hear him speak (Luke 9:11-14). On another, Jesus fed a crowd of 4,000 which had followed him for three days (Mark 8:1-9).
5. How would you describe the response of the people to the healings they were witnessing?
A. They were joyful and praised God.
6. Compare the response of the people to the response of the Jewish leadership.
A. The people were joyful and praised God. The Jewish leadership threatened the Apostles and told them not to teach in Jesus’ name any more.
7. Identify one thing from this lesson that most impacted your life or way of thinking. What changes in your life are you inspired to make as a result?
A. Each person must answer this for himself. It is important that you make a commitment to incorporate what you’ve learned from this lesson into your life.
1. What was the response of the religious leaders to the Apostles defying their orders?
A. They were filled with indignation (Acts 5:17), and arrested the Apostles and threw them into prison (Acts5:18).
2. If you had power to heal the sick as the Apostles demonstrated, how would that affect you?
A. Each person must answer this for himself.
3. What kind of responsibility would be yours if you had such power?
A. A person of power must also be disciplined (Ronald L. Dart, Christian Origins).
4. How did this power affect the disciples?
A. They appear to have been made confident and they were exhilarated (Christian Origins).
5. Who was put into the prison?
A. Peter, and other Apostles who are not identified, were put into the prison (Acts 5:18).
6. Why do you think God sent an angel to release the Apostles this time, while on other occasions, he did not?
A. There is no answer to this provided in Scripture, so any answer is speculation. There could be many reasons. Perhaps God knew that this time, the High Priest was so angry that his wrath would have meant the death of those who had been arrested. The miracle that released the Apostles and sent them to preach to the people served to make the public aware of the High Priest’s actions. As public opinion favored the Apostles, this worked to protect them from the full wrath of the religious leaders.
7. What did the angel command the Apostles to speak about?
A. The angel told them to speak “all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20). Titus 2:13-15 seems to indicate that the “words of this life” are the glorious appearing of the great God and our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself to redeem us from sin, make us pure and zealous to do good works.
1. When the officers went to the prison, did they find the doors open or closed?
A. They found the doors closed (Acts 5:23).
2. Is there any evidence that the keepers of the prison witnessed the Apostles’ escape?
A. There is no evidence from this account that the keepers of the prison witnessed the Apostles’ escape. It seems that they did not. See Acts 5:23—the keepers were still standing before the doors.
3. What feelings do you think the religious leaders experienced when they learned that the Apostles were no longer in their prison and yet the prison was secure?
A. The religious leaders may have experienced consternation or anger. Fear does not seem to enter their hearts, as is evidenced by their denunciation of the Apostles as soon as they were brought back to the council (Acts 5:28).
4. Why did the captain and officers bring the Apostles back to the council without violence?
A. They feared the people, just as the High Priest and the council members did.
1. What charge did the council bring against the Apostles?
A. The council charged the Apostles with continuing to teach in Jesus’ name (Acts 5:28), ignoring the council’s orders.
2. What did the council mean by saying the Apostles intended to bring Jesus’ blood upon them?
A. The Apostles’ message was that the people and the rulers had called for Jesus’ death (Acts 2:22-23, 3:14-15). In Matthew 27:25, the people accepted Jesus’ blood upon their own heads; if the people repented now, that would leave Jesus’ blood upon the heads of the unrepentant religious leaders.
3. What did Peter tell them in response?
A. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
4. Compare Peter’s message to the council on this day to his message in Acts 4:5-12. What was Peter’s consistent theme?
A. In Acts 4, Peter gave credit for the healing to Jesus, and pointed out to the council that they had dismissed Jesus, but that there was no other name under heaven whereby men could be saved. On this occasion, he accused them outright of crucifying Jesus, which he had not mentioned the previous time. But this time, Peter assures his audience that although they condemned Jesus to the most ignoble death, God exalted him and set him at his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior.
Peter’s consistent theme is that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies, the promised Messiah to bring repentance and forgiveness of sin to Israel.
5. How did the council respond to Peter’s message?
A. They wanted to kill him and the Apostles (Acts 5:32).
1. Who was Gamaliel?
A. Gamaliel was a highly regarded Pharisee, a doctor of the law, with a good reputation among the people (Acts 5:34) and a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a rabbi.
2. What advice did he give the council of religious leaders?
A. He advised them to leave the Apostles alone, because if their work was not of God, it would come to nothing without them having to do anything. But, Gamaliel also said that if the Apostles’ work was of God, and they took action against the Apostles, the council could find it was fighting against God himself (Acts 5:39).
3. Use Scriptures to explain the religious leaders’ stubborn refusal to acknowledge the possibility of God’s hand in these events.
A. They did not want to lose their power, influence, and prestige over the people (Matthew 23:1-7; Mark 12:38-39). They were also concerned about whether the movement would cause problems with the Roman Empire, for under the Romans, religious leaders were granted much power (John 11:47-48).
4. What action did the religious leaders take against the Apostles at this time?
A. The religious leaders threatened them again, and let them go (Acts 5:40).
5. Where did the Apostles and disciples teach and preach daily?
A. In the Temple and in houses (Acts 5:42).
1. Why did the Apostles rejoice?
A. They rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name (Acts 5:41).
2. Consider the numbers of disciples who had been added to the church. What effect did the Apostles’ and disciples’ daily activities have upon the religious leaders who were opposed to this movement?
A. The rapid growth in the number of believers had to be frightening to the religious establishment.
3. Over what issue did the tension mentioned in Acts 6:1 arise?
A. The tension arose because widows of the Grecians were being neglected—apparently, they weren’t receiving the same distribution as the widows of the Hebrews. Remember, this distinction between Grecians and Hebrews has more to do with lifestyle and language preference than national origin. Everyone involved in this was probably Jewish.
4. What did the Apostles say should be done to solve the problem?
A. The Apostles said that men should be appointed to oversee the business of making the daily distributions to the needy (Acts 6:3).
5. What qualifications did the Apostles require of the men chosen to serve as administrators and who was to choose them?
A. Those chosen were to be men with a reputation of honesty, full of the Holy Spirit, and full of wisdom (Acts 6:3).
6. What tasks did those qualifications suit these men to perform, in addition to those stated in the passage?
A. If the task of the men chosen was simply to take care of any money, food, and necessities to be distributed, they would need be careful only to chose honest, reliable men. But the Apostles required more than honesty and reliability. Wisdom and the Holy Spirit would qualify these men to encourage, lead, and help the church. These men needed to be full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit because they would be spiritual leaders in God’s church (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 6).
1. Contrast the expressions “laid their hands” as used in Acts 6:6 (epitithemi: to impose, lay upon) to its use in Acts 5:18 (epiballo: to throw upon with force) .
A. The laying on of hands in Acts 6:6 was done to consecrate these men for a special service. In Acts 5:18 there was force, if not violence, involved.
2. How many were chosen to serve as administrators?
A. Seven men were chosen to serve as administrators (Acts 6:5).
3. How do the responsibilities of the men chosen compare with those of a modern deacon?
A. The men chosen were to be spiritual leaders to encourage and help the church (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 6). The qualifications established by the Apostles hint that these men would be doing more than merely waiting tables. Theirs was a ministerial task—to take care of those things the Apostles did not reserve to themselves—the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4).
4. Why was it a good idea to let the general membership choose the men?
A. Each person must answer for himself. Consider, however, that if these men were to have control over the distribution of food, clothing, and possibly money, they should be men the people they are serving could trust. Thus, by permitting the people themselves to choose them, trust was built-in. “Because of the very close way in which these men would be working with the church, it was extremely important that the people of the church trust them” (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 6).
5. What do you think made it possible for the Word of God to increase, so that even “a great company of the priests believed”? Did it have anything to do with the seven men who were chosen?
A. Power often creates chaos, and it takes time to bring order to it. Directions needed to be sorted out, goals clarified. In this case, as things settled down, the result was not a slowing of the progress of the church, but an acceleration (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 6).
6. What is a proselyte?
A. In this case, a proselyte is a non-Jew who has been converted to the Jewish faith.
1. Before what group was Stephen taken?
A. Stephen was taken before the council, the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:12).
2. What accusation was brought against Stephen?
A. False accusers were found who testified that Stephen blasphemed against the Temple and the Law, and said that Jesus of Nazareth would destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses delivered to them (Acts 6:13-14).
3. What were his accusers referring to when they said that Stephen claimed Jesus of Nazareth would change the customs Moses delivered to Israel?
A. His accusers must have been referring to Jesus’ rejection of the Oral Law, the traditions of the elders, which the members of the Sanhedrin and many of the people, held in esteem. The Pharisees in particular regarded the Oral Law as part of what had been delivered by Moses, and equal to the Written Law. Jesus consistently rejected that view.
4. How does Stephen’s treatment by the council compare to what happened to Jesus at his trial?
A. Stephen was treated much the same. False witnesses were also used to convict Jesus (Mark 14:5-58).
5. What did the council members see on Stephen’s face?
A. His face looked like the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). It must have been glowing.
6. What was implied by the transformation of Stephen’s face?
A. Moses’ face glowed when he came down from Mount Sinai because he had been in the presence of the power of God (Exodus 34:29-30). We may infer that Stephen was also experiencing an infusion of power from the Holy Spirit. Stephen was speaking under inspiration as he gave his defense. Was this inspired as God has promised (Mark 13:9-11)?
7. What have you learned from this lesson that will impact your life? What will you do about it?
A. Each person must answer this for himself. It is important that you make a commitment to incorporate what you’ve learned in this lesson into your life.
1. What does Stephen’s response in Acts 7:2-5 have to do with the accusations that had been made against him?
A. He rehearsed the history of Israel and God’s promise to Abraham to establish his common heritage with his judges and accusers. He began to build the foundation to prove Jesus Christ’s identity to them. He wanted to show that the original faith predated Moses by many years, going all the way back to Abraham (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 7).
2. Who was the ultimate seed of Abraham through whom blessings have come to the whole earth?
A. The ultimate seed of Abraham through whom blessings have come to the whole earth is Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16).
3. Why did Stephen go through such detail about Abraham and Jacob while making his defense?
A. See answer to #1. He wanted to gain their attention and interest so that he could complete his message. They could all agree about these points. “[H]e is laying the groundwork for the progress of their religion from Abraham, through Moses and finally to Christ” (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 7).
1. What did Stephen want to demonstrate to his audience with his example of Moses’ early efforts to help the Israelites?
A. Stephen wanted to demonstrate that Moses was sent to deliver them, but the Israelites did not recognize him. Just as Jesus was sent to deliver them, but they did not recognize him (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 7).
2. What is the “recompense of the reward”?
A. The glory of eternal life in the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Hebrews 13:14).
3. In what way are Moses and Abraham alike?
A. They both had faith in God. They acted on their faith. They both looked for the city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-10, 23-26).
1. This was not the first time the council heard a connection drawn between the prophet mentioned by Moses and Jesus Christ. What was the other occasion?
A. Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Acts 3:22-23) was the other occasion the council heard a connection between Jesus Christ and the prophet mentioned by Moses.
2. The story of the wonders God showed his people in Egypt and in the wilderness were well known to Stephen’s audience. Why do you think he rehearsed it for them?
A. Stephen rehearsed the story of the wonders God showed his people in Egypt to show that their fathers were faithless and refused to believe. They tempted God by making more and more demands and not believing that God would take care of them. Stephen was able to demonstrate that his audience was also faithless and unbelieving. He recounted example after example of how their fathers resisted God, and implied that their generation behaved the same way (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 7).
3. What do you think was Stephen’s point in mentioning the story of the golden calf?
A. Stephen’s point in mentioning the golden calf was to show that the Israelites turned away even while God was delivering the Law to Moses. He wanted to point out that the Law in which they placed so much faith was not able to keep them from idolatry (Ronald L. Dart, Christian Origins).
4. Was Stephen wise to accumulate so much evidence as an indictment of his judges?
A. If he were merely trying to save himself; obviously not. Therefore, his goal, and God’s, must not have been to save Stephen.
5. Outline Stephen’s argument in his defense. Compare his defense to that of Peter in chapters four and five, noting both similarities and differences.
A. Both Peter and Stephen reminded their audience that Jesus’ coming and rejection had been foretold (Acts 4:11, 7:37, 52). Both accused their audience of killing Jesus (Acts 4:10, 5:30, 7:52). Both spoke of Jesus’ resurrection and glory with God (Acts 4:10, 5:31, 7:56). Stephen spoke about how their fathers received the Law and broke it and claimed that his audience was doing the same (Acts 7:53). Stephen’s defense included the long retelling of the history of Israel beginning with Abraham; Peter’s did not. By mentioning Abraham, Stephen reminded his audience that Jesus Christ was the seed of Abraham.
1. How long did it take Solomon to complete the Temple?
A. It took seven years and six months to complete the Temple (1 Kings 6:38).
2. What is the significance of calling the council members “uncircumcised”? Why did this make them so angry?
A. Calling the council members “uncircumcised” made them angry because it was a denial of their identity as the special people of God.
3. What explanation can you offer for the fact that Stephen’s hearers were moved to kill him, while Peter was let go on two occasions?
A. Stephen’s argument was much more pointed, specific, and forceful; Peter was somewhat more gentle. Stephen drew parallels between his audience and their fathers, who persecuted the prophets and resisted those sent to deliver them. Then he said they did the same thing when they rejected Jesus, whom he had just shown to be Abraham’s seed and the prophet spoken of by Moses. People don’t display this kind of hatred for fools. This kind of hatred only arises when people feel threatened in their innermost being (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 7).
4. If God inspired Stephen’s defense, what was God’s purpose in such a dramatically unsuccessful outcome?
A. It fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy about the very judges who convicted Stephen, and who also convicted Jesus. In that prophecy, Jesus said that they would kill the disciples (Matthew 24:9).
5. What did Stephen see as they dragged him away to stone him?
A. He saw the heavens opened, and Jesus Christ standing at God’s right hand (Acts 7:56).
6. Why do you think God showed this to Stephen at this time?
A. Each person will have to answer for himself. One reason would be to give Stephen encouragement and as a testimony.
7. What similarities can you find between the sentiment displayed by Stephen toward his executioners, and that of Christ toward those who put him to death?
A. Stephen prayed for forgiveness for those who were stoning him, as Christ did for those who put him to death (Luke 23:34).
1. What explanation can you offer for the sudden upsurge in violence against the church?
A. The answer to this can only be speculation, but it seems that a dam had burst. In killing one man, they broke through a barrier that was holding back the persecution of the church. Prior to this, the religious leaders circled and snarled like dogs, but had been hesitant to actually kill anyone. All that changed once they had actually done it (Christian Origins).
2. How was the persecution used to advance the Gospel?
A. As the disciples fled from Jerusalem, they took the Gospel with them. Many of them were people who had homes to return to in other areas. They had originally come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost), and had remained there after their conversion. They had homes and established lives in areas remote from Jerusalem. Not all who fled were simply refugees (Christian Origins).
3. What explanation can you offer for the fact that, while many disciples and believers were scattered by the persecution, the Apostles were able to remain at Jerusalem?
A. Any answer to this would just be speculation on the circumstances that existed at the time. The account does not explain this, but it is a curious fact.
4. What was the emotional impact of Stephen’s death upon the disciples?
A. He was the first man to die for the faith since Jesus (Christian Origins). The account in Acts simply moves right into the persecution that followed, and does not describe how the disciples felt. We can imagine that they were stunned. No more stories of bold confrontations with the Sanhedrin follow Stephen’s death.
1. Who was Simon? Why did he want the Holy Spirit? What was he willing to do to get it?
A. Simon was a magician. He had been deceiving the people of Samaria into thinking he was a powerful man of God (Acts 8:9-10). Simon was willing to pay money to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18-19).
2. After they believed, what was the first thing these new converts did?
A. They were all baptized after they believed (Acts 8:12).
3. What evidence can you find in the Scriptures that Simon’s faith may not have been real?
A. He offered money to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18-19).
4. What was the first thing Peter and John did upon arriving in Samaria?
A. Upon arriving in Samaria, Peter and John prayed that those baptized might receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15).
5. Why hadn’t the baptized converts received the Holy Spirit?
A. The Scripture doesn’t actually tell us. We do know that there was a rivalry between the people of Samaria and Judea regarding religious matters. This was highlighted in the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20). Perhaps it was God’s intention to show the Samaritan believers that they were, indeed, connected to Jerusalem and to the original 12 Apostles by sending Apostles from Jerusalem to lay hands upon them before granting them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
6. Why do you think Simon offered the Apostles money to have that power for himself?
A. Simon had probably been making money with his sorcery, as a charlatan. Because his own motive for the use of power was money, he naturally thought that would motivate the disciples as well. Therefore, he offered them money. He may also have believed that with the great (and legitimate) power the Apostles demonstrated, he could make even more money for himself (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 8).
7. What did Peter tell Simon he should do?
A. Peter told Simon he should repent and pray that God would forgive him (Acts 8:22).
1. What was the Ethiopian reading?
A. The Ethiopian was reading a scroll of the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 53:6-8).
2. What did the Ethiopian ask for?
A. The Ethiopian asked to be baptized (Acts 8:36).
3. What is the significance of Philip’s response in Acts 8:37?
A. Philip’s response shows that belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is required for baptism. While the Ethiopian’s repentance is not mentioned, Philip may have seen evidence of repentance as Philip and he talked. Nothing more than repentance and belief seems to have been required for the Ethiopian to be baptized.
4. What happened to Philip after he baptized the Ethiopian? Where did he go?
A. The Holy Spirit carried Philip away, evidently to Azotus (Acts 8:39-40).
5. What can you learn that is necessary to your own faith, keeping in mind the Ethiopian’s situation following his baptism?
A. The Ethiopian went home alone. He is at this point in time the only convert from his nation that we know of. Out of this one man may have grown the Ethiopian church. He needed his repentance and he needed his belief to keep him close to God, who was able to keep him faithful (2 Timothy 1:12; Jude 1:24-25).
1. Identify at least three motives that drove Saul to ask for letters of authority from the High Priest to bring Christians to Jerusalem for trial and punishment.
A. Saul was a Pharisee, faithful to the entire Law, both Oral and Written, as encompassing the Law of God. The disciples of Jesus were abandoning the Oral portion of the Law, and teaching others to do so. Secondly, he was frightened by this threat to his religion: he was unable to explain the phenomena—the healings, the miracles, Jesus’ resurrection—all of which were an acknowledged demonstration of power, when he could not believe that God could be behind it. After all, these people were not conforming to tradition. Finally, Saul was challenging God. As a student of Gamaliel, Saul probably incorporated his mentor’s wisdom in recognizing that any man fighting against God must fail. Saul may have purposely thought to try to destroy the new faith as proof that God was not behind it (Ronald L. Dart, Christian Origins).
2. What do you think caused such vicious hatred in the heart of Saul?
A. Saul’s fear led him to hate (Christian Origins).
3. What area did Saul target first?
A. Saul first targeted Damascus, in the then-Roman province of Syria (Acts 9:2).
4. What gave the High Priest authority in Damascus, about 200 miles from Jerusalem?
A. The jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin varied at different periods of history. Judea was annexed to the Roman province of Syria in about 6 A.D. Under the Romans, the Sanhedrin was controlled by the Roman procurator of the region. During this time, the Sanhedrin was the supreme authority of the Jewish people as a kind of appeals court. The Sanhedrin had exclusive authority in all religious matters, and in all civil matters not the subject of Roman authority (Sanhedrin, newadvent.org). “The great Sanhedrin claimed over the Jews in foreign cities the same power, in religious questions, which they exercised at Jerusalem” (Conybeare, W. J. and Howson, J. S., The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, 1962, p. 67).
5. In what way did Saul’s actions actually help to spread the Gospel, before he was converted?
A. Saul’s persecution of the church helped cause the disciples to flee. This dispersed them into the world, as God had originally intended.
1. How did Saul know who was speaking to him?
A. Saul knew who was speaking to him because he saw Jesus (Acts 9:17), and Jesus told Saul who he was (Acts 9:5).
2. What did Jesus mean when he said it was hard for Saul to “kick against the pricks” (per the King James Version)?
A. Saul was in denial, despite all the miracles he must have seen the Apostles and disciples perform. The miracles tended to support the claims of the Apostles and disciples, but Saul’s rage and fear would not permit him to accept what his intellect could not deny. The goads, or pricks, used to drive oxen, are an appropriate metaphor, because the “ox rebels in vain against the goad” (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 74). The implication is that Saul was driven either by his own conscience or by God, kicking against the goad of the truth. So Saul’s rebellion was in vain (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 9).
3. How was Saul persecuting Jesus by the things he did?
A. Jesus taught that whatever we do to even the least of his brethren, we do to him (Matthew 25:40).
4. What caused Saul’s immediate change of heart?
A. Saul’s simple response shows that he knew the truth. He seems to have known or suspected already the truth about Jesus, his identity, and his resurrection (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 9).
5. How would you feel if you suddenly realized you were waging a battle against God?
A. Each person must answer this for himself.
6. What did those who were with him see and hear? How does the experience of Saul and his companions compare to what happened to the Israelites when God spoke with Moses and the people from Sinai?
A. Those who were with Saul evidently heard something, but could not make out any words. They saw the great light, but did not see Jesus himself (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 74). The Israelites with Moses saw lightning flashes, heard the thunder and the trumpets, and heard a voice (Exodus 19:16, 20:18; Deuteronomy 4:9-13). Paul later said that those who were with him did not hear the voice (Acts 22:9).
Scriptures to read: Acts 9:8-16; Deuteronomy 7:6; Luke 6:13; John 15:16; Romans 9:11, 11:5-6
1. What do you think went through Saul’s mind as he waited?
A. Each person will have to answer this for himself. We do know that the account says he did not eat, and he was blind. Perhaps he lay in the dark and faced the fact that his life was a shambles. He must have realized that the people he had killed had been honest, truthful people. His conscience must have been tearing him apart.
2. While he waited for Ananias, what did Saul do?
A. He did not eat or drink (Acts 9:9).
3. Who spoke to Ananias?
A. In a vision, the Lord spoke to him (Acts 9:9-11).
4. Ananias was by no means eager to confront Saul; he asked questions and raised objections. Do you think he was wise to do so? Why or why not?
A. Every person must answer this for himself. “It is interesting how often men of God in the Bible, instead of merely following orders, ask questions and raise objections. It is an insight into the nature of God that he expects and even encourages this kind of interaction (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 9).
5. Compare the use of “chosen” in Deuteronomy 7:6 with the New Testament references given in the Scriptures to read above, and in this passage of Acts.
A. “Chosen” in Deuteronomy 7:6 is the Hebrew, bachan, which means to select or choose.
“Election” used in Luke 6:3, Romans 9:11, and Romans 11:5-6 is the Greek, eklegomai, and also means selection or chosen.
6. What might your response have been to the directive given to Ananias? Why?
A. Each person has to answer this for himself.
1. Who baptized Saul?
A. Ananias baptized Saul (Acts 9:18).
2. How was Saul able to immediately begin preaching Christ in the synagogue when there had been little opportunity to teach him or relate Christ’s story as the disciples had done for one another in Jerusalem?
A. As discussed in the Conclusion of Lesson Six, Saul had probably investigated the claims of Jesus’ resurrection, and the claims of his Messiahship by the disciples and Apostles. Saul may have been present in Jerusalem for some of the events of Jesus’ ministry. Additionally, after his baptism, the Holy Spirit would have been working in him, showing him Jesus’ Messiahship from the Scriptures that were already so familiar to Saul—the Old Testament writings that prophesied of Jesus Christ (Christian Origins).
3. When someone truly repents of a sin, is it necessary to continue to ask God to forgive that sin? Support your answer with Bible references.
A. Once a person has asked for forgiveness, it is not necessary to ask repeatedly (Isaiah 43:25). Saul committed heinous acts against the disciples. His writings reveal a deep remorse. But he does not write of repeatedly begging God to forgive him. Rather, he says that God’s grace made him what he is, speaking of his Apostleship (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).
4. Compare the speech of Peter on Pentecost to the preaching of Saul described here and identify what aspect of Christ each was emphasizing. What explanation can you offer for the difference?
A. Peter’s sermon preached the resurrected and exalted Christ. Paul’s emphasized proving that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah. Peter was preaching to devout Jews gathered for Pentecost immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Saul was preaching to Jews of Damascus in their synagogue, immediately following his dramatic conversion. Although their messages are very much the same, Saul’s emphasis that Jesus really was the Son of God may have been due to the things that were said to him on the road to Damascus by the Lord.
1. Why did Saul’s preaching anger the Jews?
A. Saul’s preaching angered the Jews for much the same reason that Saul himself had been angry. For the same reason that Stephen’s sermon angered them. Acts 9:22 says Saul confounded them, proving that Jesus was the Christ. They didn’t want to hear it; they didn’t want to know it; they didn’t want to change their beliefs or traditions. Again and again those who resisted the truth resorted to violence when argument failed them (Christian Origins).
2. What did the Jews want to do to Saul?
A. The Jews conspired to kill Saul, and watched the city gates day and night to catch him (Acts 9:23-24).
3. How did the Christians in Damascus show love for Saul?
A. The Christians in Damascus helped Saul escape the Jews who were trying to kill him by letting him down outside the city wall in a basket (Acts 9:25).
4. What kind of welcome did Saul receive from the Christians in Jerusalem?
A. Saul was not welcomed by the Christians in Jerusalem; they were afraid of him (Acts 26).
5. How much time may have elapsed between Acts 9:25 and Acts 9:26?
A. Three years elapsed between Acts 9:25 and Acts 9:26 (Galatians 1:15-18).
6. Where was Saul during that time and what was he doing?
A. Saul was in the desert in Arabia, and then in Damascus (Galatians 1:17). Christ was teaching him (Ephesians 3:3-4).
1. In what way was Barnabas an encouragement to Saul?
A. He accepted him, when the other disciples and Apostles would not.
2. How did Barnabas convince the Apostles to accept Saul?
A. Barnabas told them Saul had seen and spoken with Jesus as he journeyed to Damascus. He told them Saul had preached Jesus in the synagogue at Damascus (Acts 9:27).
3. To which of the Apostles did Barnabas present Saul?
A. Barnabas presented Saul to Peter, according to Galatians 1:18.
4. How do you think you would have responded if Saul had presented himself in your congregation during this time?
A. Each person must answer for himself. Christians are admonished not to hate their brother (1 John 2:11).
1. With what group did Saul find himself in dispute? Why do you think this group is specifically mentioned?
A. Saul found himself in dispute with the Grecians in Jerusalem. Although the Scripture does not say so, it is possible that these “Grecians” are the same group of people who killed Stephen. Saul may have been speaking in the same Hellenistic synagogues that conspired against Stephen. He may have been trying to show them that he had reversed his attitude toward the faith that Stephen had told them about. Saul may have hoped that his example could be used to bring these Jews to repent (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 86).
2. What did the Jerusalem church do to protect Saul?
A. The Jerusalem church sent Saul away to Tarsus by way of Caesarea to protect him from those who were trying to kill him (Acts 9:30).
3. What was the church’s motivation for sending Saul to Tarsus?
A. The church was motivated by a desire to save Saul’s life. They may also have thought that stopping Saul’s bold preaching and disputing in the synagogues might bring them some peace. They would have been correct, for after Saul’s departure, the churches in Judea and Galilee had peace (Acts 9:31).
4. What length of time since the Day of Pentecost might have elapsed by this time? Support your answer with Bible references.
A. At least three years, and possibly eight to ten years passed, for we know that Saul spent three years in Arabia after his conversion before going to Jerusalem (Galatians 1:15-18). If Stephen’s death is placed in the mid to late 30s A.D., then Saul’s conversion had to have been sometime during that period. That would place his earliest return to Jerusalem in the late 30s to early 40s A.D. We know that Saul made a second trip to Jerusalem with aid sent from Antioch about the time of Herod’s death mentioned in Acts 12:23. The year of Herod’s death is believed to be about 44 A.D. Therefore, Saul’s first trip to Jerusalem after his conversion occurred before that date. The year in which Jesus was crucified cannot be firmly fixed, but may have been about 33 A.D. From 33 A.D. to approximately 40 A.D. is seven years.
5. What places are mentioned in Acts up to this point as being places that had a Christian assembly?
A. There were Christian churches in Azotus, Lydda, Joppa, Caesarea, Samaria, Jerusalem (Acts 8:40, 9:32), and Damascus (Acts 9:2).
1. How long had Aeneas been bedridden?
A. Aeneas had been bedridden for eight years (Acts 9:33).
2. What was his illness?
A. He was paralyzed.
3. How might this illness have impacted his life and living in that day and time?
A. He would have been unable to work in that society, living as a beggar, basically. He was probably very poor.
4. Why did Peter heal this man? What was the outcome of the healing?
A. The miracles that were done during this time served to authenticate the message of the Gospel. Peter may simply have wanted to show what the power of God could do. The outcome of the healing was that all who lived in Lydda and Saron turned to the Lord (Acts 9:35).
5. Identify the ways in which Aeneas’ circumstance is a metaphor for the condition of all persons outside of Christ.
A. Aeneas was without hope for a better life, as those who are not in Christ are without hope for a better life (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
6. In what ways does the healing of Aeneas differ from so-called “faith healings” as typically seen today?
A. The healing of Aeneas differs in at least four ways from “faith healings” typically seen today. It was immediate, without fanfare, no payment required, and God was given the glory.
1. What was Tabitha well known for doing?
A. Tabitha was well known for making garments and coats, good works, and almsdeeds (Acts 9:36, 39).
2. Why was Tabitha so well loved by the brethren?
A. Tabitha was well loved because of those same deeds.
3. What example did Peter have to follow in his efforts to help Tabitha?
A. Peter had Jesus’ example, described in Mark 5:35-43, where he restored to life the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue. Peter was one of the three Jesus permitted to go with him, including James and John.
4. What do you think might have resulted if Peter’s prayer for Tabitha had been recorded?
A. If either Jesus’ or Peter’s prayers had been recorded, people would probably have tried to use the prayers as “magic words” to raise the dead.
5. What happened as a result of the restoration of Tabitha to life?
A. It became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. It served to authenticate the message of the Gospel (Acts 9:35).
1. Who was Cornelius and what was his nationality?
A. Cornelius was a Roman centurion—probably Italian, since he commanded the Italian band.
2. What had brought Cornelius to God’s attention?
A. His alms and good deeds brought Cornelius to God’s attention (Acts 10:4).
3. How did Cornelius demonstrate his faith in God?
A. He acted on what God told him—he did as God instructed.
4. Whom did Cornelius send to ask Peter to come to him?
A. Cornelius sent some of his household and one of his soldiers who was in the faith to ask Peter to come to him (Acts 10:7-8).
1.Why did Peter hesitate to obey the voice that told him to “arise, kill, and eat”?
A. Peter hesitated because the Written Law of God forbade eating unclean things (Leviticus 11:41-47). Peter knew better than to obey a voice, even from heaven, if it conflicted with the Written Law of God (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
2. How can you reconcile Matthew 15:16-20 with Leviticus 11:41-47?
A. The discussion in Matthew is about eating without washing your hands; it is not about eating unclean meat.
3. Using a Scripture reference, state the purpose of Peter’s vision.
A. The purpose of the vision was to show Peter that no man was common or unclean and that the Gospel and salvation was open to non-Jews (Acts 10:28). This vision took place long after Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection. If it had been Jesus’ intent to do away with the Law regarding foods that may be eaten, surely by this time Peter would have known it. Yet Peter did not interpret the vision to be about foods, but about people (Acts 10:34).
4. How did Peter know this vision was not meant to give him permission to eat unclean meats?
A. Peter knew this vision was not meant to give permission to eat unclean meats because it conflicted with the Written Word of God (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
5. What did the unclean creatures in the vision symbolize? How do you know?
A. Initially, Peter saw them in literal terms, and he declined to even think of eating the unclean animals. Later, God showed Peter that the significance of the vision was that he should call no man common or unclean (Acts 10:28).
1. Who went with Peter to Caesarea to see Cornelius?
A. Jews who were with Peter, brethren from Joppa (Acts 10:23).
2. What did Cornelius do as soon as Peter came into the house? What was Peter’s response?
A. As soon as Peter came in to the house, Cornelius bowed down to him in worship. Peter refused to let Cornelius worship him, got Cornelius up, and told Cornelius he was also just a man.
3. How did what Peter said in Acts 10:28 show that he was still having a hard time separating the Oral Law and traditions from the Written Law of God?
A. Peter referred to a provision of the “Law” that said it was unlawful for a man who is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation. He didn’t say that he used to believe it was unlawful to keep company; he said it was unlawful, as if he still believed that it was. There is not one word in the Old Testament to suggest that it is unlawful for a Jew to keep company with a Gentile. It was unlawful in the prevailing sects of Judaism, not in the Law of God. To the contrary, see Leviticus 19:33, Numbers 15:13-16, Deuteronomy 10:17-19, and Ezekiel 47:22 for what the Written Word of God says about this issue. Without the vision, it is doubtful that Peter would have gone to see Cornelius (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
4. What does the Written Law say about the treatment of those of other nations? Use Scriptures to substantiate your answer.
A. The Written Law instructs that those of other nations should be treated as your brothers, but they must do the same as your brothers. “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Exodus 12:49). “If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34). Also see Numbers 15:13-16 and Deuteronomy 10:17-19 to support these ideas.
5. How did Peter interpret the vision?
A. Peter interpreted the vision to mean that God has people in every nation who fear him and are accepted by him (Acts 10:34).
6. What did Cornelius mean when he said he was fasting?
A. Fasting means no eating or drinking (2 Samuel 12:16-17; Ezra 8:21; Esther 4:16).
1. Explain how Peter’s vision and the events detailed in this account brought Peter to the exclamation he made in Acts 10:34.
A. He finally understood what the vision was trying to tell him—he really got it, in his heart. Without the vision, he may not have gone to see Cornelius (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
2. What is meant by the expression “respecter of persons”?
A. God doesn’t care whether you are rich or poor or what race or nationality you are: no one is excluded from his offer of love and mercy. “He isn’t the God of the Jews, the Israelites, the Americans or the British” (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
3. Peter acknowledges in Acts 10:37 that his audience knew the events he was about to relate. Why did he go on to tell the story?
A. Peter told them the story because they hadn’t heard it from an eyewitness (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
4. How did Peter confirm that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in Christ?
A. Peter’s reference in Acts 10:38 described actions by Christ which fulfilled the prophecy.
1. How did God confirm that these Gentiles were accepted by him?
A. God poured out his Holy Spirit upon these Gentiles to show that they were accepted by him. Peter and those who were with him heard the people speak in tongues and magnify God (Acts 10:45-46).
2. Who were “they of the circumcision” as referred to in Acts 10:45?
A. “They of the circumcision” is probably a reference to a party of believing Pharisees who could not give up the idea that circumcision and keeping the Oral Law as well as the Written Law were required for salvation. See Acts 15:15.
3. Why were they astonished?
A. They were surprised that an uncircumcised person could receive the Holy Spirit. They still did not understand that the Gospel was for everyone—not just for the Jews (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 11).
4. How did Peter and those with him know Cornelius and his household had received the Holy Spirit?
A. Peter and those with him knew Cornelius and his household had received the Holy Spirit because they spoke in tongues (Acts 10:46).
5. Why were Cornelius and his household baptized if they already had the Holy Spirit?
A. Baptism was commanded by Christ (Mark 16:15-16). It is necessary to become part of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12).
6. How did Peter’s vision and his response to it change the direction the church was moving?
A. Up to this point, the Gospel had gone to the Jews. In the various cities where the disciples and Apostles went, they preached in the synagogues to the Jews. The transition they were having to make was no simple matter. It is easy from our perspective to think they should have understood, or should have seen more quickly, but we are not in their shoes.
They had grown up in a religious system, and they were having to make major adjustments in their thinking. Having grown up in the system, the most natural way to interpret the Written Law was in accordance with the Oral Law. The problem was, the Oral Law was in conflict with the Written Law in far to many ways. This is encountered again and again in Jesus’ ministry. The Apostles had to be convinced that the direction of this movement away from being an exclusively Jewish church had to continue. Peter’s vision and his response to Cornelius was a very important part of God’s effort to show the Apostles that he really meant “all the world” (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
7. What have you learned in this lesson that will result in a change in the way you look at the Law of God?
A. Each person must answer for himself.
1. What accusation did Peter face when he returned to Jerusalem?
A. Peter was accused of going into the home of uncircumcised Gentiles and eating with them (Acts 11:3). He had broken their tradition, the Oral Law. The Written Law of God does not contain any prohibition against eating with Gentiles (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 10).
2. Who accused Peter?
A. They who were “of the circumcision” (Acts 11:2). Their attitude is typical of the attitude and custom of the church up to this day (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 11).
3. How did Peter defend himself?
A. Peter described all that happened to him from the beginning, in the order it happened. He told them of the vision, of the great sheet that was let down three times, while he heard a voice that commanded him to eat, even though the sheet held four-footed beasts, fowl, and creeping things that the Law says are unclean. He told them how he refused and how the voice told him, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 11:9). Peter told them of the three men coming, of the return to Cornelius’ home, and of all that happened. Peter also told them how the six brethren who accompanied him had seen all that happened at Cornelius’ home. Peter told them that when the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and those of his house, he did not feel he could withstand God, and went ahead and baptized them (Acts 11:4).
4. Why do you think the sheet of unclean creeping things was shown to Peter three times?
A. Each person must answer this for himself. The Scripture does not explain this. Peter himself offers no explanation that is left for us today. We can note that things seemed to happen to Peter in threes. He denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:34); Christ asked him three times for affirmation of his love (John 21:15-17). In the vision Peter is commanded three times to eat; three men came to his lodging seeking him.
1. How did Peter describe the Holy Spirit coming to Cornelius and those in his house?
A. Peter said the Holy Spirit fell on them as it had on the disciples and Apostles “at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). Whether this means that the Holy Spirit also appeared as fire is not stated specifically, but the account does say that Peter and those with him heard these people speak in tongues and magnify God, which the Apostles and disciples had also experienced on Pentecost.
2. What was significant about the way the Holy Spirit came to Cornelius and those in his house?
A. According to Peter it came the same way as it did to the disciples and Apostles on Pentecost. But these were Gentiles who were uncircumcised. Circumcision to the Jews was a sign that a person had entered the covenant with God. Their religious system required it. The Holy Spirit coming to those who were uncircumcised was completely unexpected to these people (Reflections on Acts, Chapters 10, 11).
3. What event convinced the disciples at Jerusalem that God had granted the Gentiles repentance, as it had convinced Peter and those who were with him at Cornelius’ home?
A. The event that convinced the disciples at Jerusalem of the Gentiles’ repentance was the fact of the Holy Spirit being poured out on these Gentiles, evidenced by the fact that they spoke in tongues (Acts 11:17-18). That was what also convinced Peter and those who were with him at Cornelius’ house.
4. Who brought the Jew and Gentile together to form the church?
A. Christ Jesus brought the Jew and Gentile together to form the church (Ephesians 2:13-18).
1. The scattered disciples were preaching only to which group of people as Acts 11:19 opens?
A. They were preaching to the Jews only.
2. Which groups of people were not hearing the Gospel?
A. Because the disciples were preaching to the Jews only, the Gentiles were not hearing the Gospel.
2. Why were the men of Cyprus and Cyrene interested in preaching to the Grecians?
A. Cyprus and Cyrene had strong Greek influence in their history, so these believing men from there may have had particular empathy and relationship to other Grecian or Hellenistic people.
3. Provide evidence to show that these Grecians were probably true Greek (Gentile) proselytes.
A. Acts 11:19 includes Antioch when it says that those who were scattered by the persecution were preaching only to the Jews. If the Grecians mentioned in Acts 11:20 were also Jews, there was no need to make the distinction. These Grecians were apparently Gentiles.
4. How did God show his grace at Antioch?
A. By helping the efforts of the men who were preaching to the Grecians, so that a great number of them believed.
5. What did Barnabas find when he went to Antioch?
A. Acts 11:23 says that Barnabas saw the grace of God when he came to Antioch by the great number of believers.
6. How long did Barnabas and Saul remain in Antioch?
A. One year is mentioned in Acts 11:26.
1. Why were prophets from Jerusalem coming to Antioch?
A. The Scriptures do not say why the prophets came to Antioch. However, God needed to provide for those still in Jerusalem and Judea in preparation for the famine coming there. These men with the gift of prophecy appear to have been sent to bear the message of the coming famine.
2. In what way did the believers at Antioch demonstrate their conversion?
A. They showed love for the brethren in Judea by sending them relief (Acts 11:29-30).
3. Keep in mind that persecution had failed to pry the Apostles from Jerusalem. What concerns, other than lack of food, might have motivated the believers at Antioch to send aid to the brethren in Judea?
A. They would have known that many of the Apostles were still in that area, and might have wanted to provide something for the eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ ministry, because their witness was so important.
4. What evidence does the Bible provide to show that Jesus was concerned with people’s physical needs?
A. Jesus’ miraculous provision of food for 5,000 people and 4,000 people is recorded in Matthew and Mark. Mark 8:2 actually says Jesus had compassion for the people because they had not eaten. Part of God’s grace is that he provides for us (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).
5. What are you willing to do to help others in need?
A. Each person must answer this for himself.
1. What might have motivated Herod Agrippa I to persecute the church?
A. He was evidently making an effort to placate the Jews, the predominant people who populated the territory he had been given by Caligula and Claudius. Caligula had attempted to force the Jews, along with the rest of the Roman Empire, to worship him as a god. Herod Agrippa, a friend to Caligula in his youth, tried to dissuade him from attempting to force that worship on the Jews. Caligula died before the matter could be put to the test (Conybeare, W. J. and Howson, J. S., The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, 1962, p. 92). It is possible that Herod Agrippa was simply trying to ingratiate himself with the people who were predominant in his territory as a means to preserve peace and order.
2. Who was the James who was executed by Herod?
A. The brother of John (Acts 12:2). Not James, Jesus’ brother.
3. What motivated Herod to arrest Peter?
A. He pleased the Jews when he executed James. He thought he could please them again by executing Peter.
4. What measures did Herod take to ensure that Peter would not escape?
A. Herod put Peter in prison and set four quaternions of soldiers to guard him. A quaternion is a squad of four soldiers. Peter was bound inside the prison with two chains, and slept between two soldiers (Acts 12:6).
5. Did Peter expect to be freed from the prison?
A. Apparently, Peter did not expect to be freed from the prison. He couldn’t believe it until he found himself outside the prison. Acts 12:9 says that he thought it was all a vision.
6. We know that Peter was sleeping soundly, for the angel had to prod him to wake him. How was it that Peter was able to sleep so peacefully the night before his scheduled execution?
A. The Scripture does not say, so we are left to imagine how Peter felt. If he was sleeping soundly, he must have trusted God to deliver him. Perhaps he meditated on Psalm 4:8 or 37:5.
7. What was the church praying for?
A. The church was praying “without ceasing” for Peter (Acts 12:5). They must have been praying that Peter would not be executed by Herod as James had been.
1. At what point did Peter realize he had been released from prison? What did he do?
A. Peter did not realize he was actually out of the prison until after the angel left him on the street perhaps a block away (Acts 12:10). Peter went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12).
2.Discuss reasons why you believe there was or was not a battle on a spiritual plane just as the disciples and Apostles fought to preserve and expand the Gospel on the physical plane.
A. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us there was a spiritual battle. Elsewhere in the Scriptures, Peter described Satan as a roaring lion, seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Perhaps this close call with his own execution impressed that lesson upon him.
3. Since the church had been praying for Peter’s release from prison, why didn’t they believe Rhoda when she told them he was at the gate?
A. We are inclined to think of the first Christians as paragons of faith. We believe that when they prayed, they believed and expected to receive what they asked for. This account informs us that they were not that much different than we are. They, too, doubted even as they prayed. When confronted with the evidence of their answered prayer, they still couldn’t believe it (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 12)!
4. What did Peter tell the assembled disciples to do?
A. Peter told them how he escaped, asked them to tell James and the other brethren, and then Peter went away (Acts 12:17).
5. Where did Peter go?
A. The account does not say where he went, or that he told those assembled where he planned to go (Acts 12:17). This may have been wise, as he must have known that Herod would be looking for him.
1. How do you think the guards tried to explain their missing prisoner, when all the prison doors were locked and the guards were at their places?
A. The account does not say. Acts 12:18-19 describe “no small stir” among the soldiers, and relates that they were put to death. They would have known this was the punishment for losing a prisoner, and no doubt they turned the vicinity upside down looking for Peter.
2. Why were the guards put to death?
A. Death was the customary punishment for losing a prisoner.
3. Keep in mind that Herod’s trip to Caesarea was during the time of the famine. What did this have to do with the efforts of those from Tyre and Sidon to obtain Herod’s favor?
A. Herod would have had control of any provisions that might have been available to distribute to a region suffering from the famine. They may have sought his favor to gain food for their cities (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, pp. 105-106).
4. What was Herod’s sin, for which the angel of the LORD smote him?
A. He permitted the people to call him a god, and did not give God the glory or the credit, for his gift of oration, or for his wealth of royal apparel.
5. How did Herod die?
A. Acts 12:23 says that Herod was eaten of worms. Josephus says that he experienced heart pains and pain in his stomach (Ibid., p. 106).
6. Whom did Barnabas and Saul bring with them from Antioch?
A. They brought John Mark (Acts 12:25).
7. What one thing can you take from this lesson that will change your life?
A. Each person must answer this for himself.
1. What work did the Spirit call Paul and Barnabas to do?
A. The Spirit called them to the work of preaching to the Gentiles (Romans 9:15). Paul knew
what his commission was from his own conversion experience (Ronald L. Dart, Christian Origins).
2. Who went with Paul and Barnabas?
A. John Mark went with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:5).
3. Why did Paul and Barnabas preach in the synagogue?
A. The synagogue was always the starting point for the Apostles and disciples. There is a certain logic to it, because those of the synagogue had a background knowledge of the Scriptures. It also seemed necessary to take the Gospel to the Jews first (Acts 3:26). Because there were Gentiles present in most synagogues, they made their first inroads to the Gentiles in the synagogues as a result of these same Gentiles spreading the word to their community (Christian Origins).
4. What did Paul’s admonition to Elymas mean?
A. Paul called Elymas the “child of the devil,” the father of lies (John 8:44). Elymas was a sorcerer the same as Simon Magus of Acts 8, deceiving others with false works of wonder. He wanted to conceal the truth of his own status as an imposter and hinder Paul and Barnabas from their audience with Sergius Paulus (Conybeare, W. J. and Howson, J. S., The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, 1962, pp. 119-120). Elymas was a Jew. Paul admonished him for perverting the “right ways of the Lord,” which Elymas would have known.
5. Why did Paul choose temporary blindness for Elymas?
A. The account does not say why temporary blindness was chosen as the punishment for
Elymas. It is interesting to note that Elymas was attempting to blind the deputy from the faith by withstanding Paul and Barnabas. As he tried to blind others, he himself was blinded.
6. What was the effect of this miracle?
A. The deputy, Sergius Paulus, saw what happened, and he believed Paul and Barnabas (Acts
7. Why does Saul also use the name “Paul”?
A. Saul is his Hebrew name, Paul is his Roman name (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, pp.
39, 108). Interestingly, “Paul” is always used from the time of his departure on this journey to preach to the Gentiles through the end of his ministry. “Simultaneously with his active occupation of the field in which [Paul] was called to labour, his name is suddenly changed” (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 120).
1. Provide evidence that Paul didn’t approve of John Mark’s decision not to continue with Paul and Barnabas.
A. It appears that Paul did not approve of John Mark’s decision not to accompany them because when Barnabas wanted John Mark to come along on a later journey, Paul was so opposed to the notion that he and Barnabas went their separate ways (Acts 15:38-39).
2. Where did Paul and Barnabas go to preach when they reached Antioch in Pisidia?
A. Paul and Barnabas went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day when they reached Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14).
3. Why did Paul detail so much history in his message?
A. This is a sample of the message Paul preached when speaking to a Jewish audience. He gives the history to lead straight to their expectations of a Messiah (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter13).
4. Why did Paul’s history lesson to his audience stop with David?
A. The thrust of the history lesson was to bring his audience to King David. Every Jew knew the Messiah was to be a “son of David.” Paul’s point was that God’s promise of a messiah of the seed of David was fulfilled in Jesus (Reflections on Acts, Chapter13).
5. How was Paul’s declaration in Acts 13:26 similar to Peter’s statement in his sermons of Acts 2:39 and 3:26?
A. Paul’s declaration is that the word of salvation was sent to children of the stock of Abraham. Peter described the promise, salvation, as being to his audience, who were the sons of Abraham—Jews. Paul included “whosoever among you feareth God,” and Peter included his audience’s children and “them that are afar off” (Acts 2:39). Peter and Paul included both Jews and Gentiles in God’s promise of salvation.
1. In what way did Paul aim his message directly at the Jews?
A. Paul aimed his message directly at the Jews by calling them the children of the fathers in Acts 13:33. He spoke directly to their expectations of a Messiah.
2. What proof did Paul offer to them of Jesus’ identity?
A. As proof of Jesus’ identity Paul showed that Jesus fulfilled what was foretold about the Messiah in the prophets (Acts 13:29).
3. What proof did Paul offer to them of Jesus’ resurrection?
A. As proof of Jesus’ resurrection Paul reminded them of the psalm that said God’s Holy One would not see corruption (Psalm 16:10), and affirmed that Jesus was seen after his resurrection for many days by witnesses.
4. What fact did Paul appear to assume his audience already knew about the Law of Moses and salvation?
A. Paul appears to assume that his audience knew that the Law could not justify them (Acts 13:39).
5. What do John 3:16 and Acts 13:39 have in common?
A. The requirement of belief for salvation is common to John 3:16 and Acts 13:39.
6. What day of the week did these events take place?
A. These events took place on the Sabbath day, Saturday, the day the Jews met in synagogue (Acts 13:14).
1. Why didn’t Paul and Barnabas speak to the Gentiles the next day?
A. Paul did not tell the Gentiles who asked to hear him the next Sabbath that they could come back to assemble tomorrow, on Sunday. Paul and Barnabas did not assemble again with the Gentiles until the next Sabbath. At this early time, the church had not made, and did not appear to be making, a transition to Sunday worship. The believers were still observing the Sabbath on the seventh day, right along with the Jews (Christian Origins).
2. Why were the Jews envious? What did they envy?
A. The Jews were envious of the multitudes so eager to hear more of what Paul and Barnabas had to say, for almost the whole city had come together to hear the Word of God (Acts 13:44). The Jews were jealous of their special relationship with God (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 143). To the Jews, their relationship with God was exclusive. To enter that relationship, in their minds, certain forms had to be observed (Christian Origins). The Jews did not want to see Gentiles admitted to fellowship who were free of all the requirements the Jews had observed for centuries. So the Jews’ response to the Gospel was to deny it; the Jews preferred their exclusivity over the revelation of God. This response was in keeping with God’s plan, as he said in Isaiah 29:10 that he closed their eyes and covered their ears (Ronald L. Dart, Weekend Bible Study, Romans 9).
3. Why did Paul say it was necessary for the Gospel to have been first spoken to the Jews?
A. Throughout the Bible, the Scriptures support God’s first outreach being always to the Israelite people (Isaiah 49:6, Romans 2:5-10). Jesus sent the disciples to the Jews first during his life on earth (Matthew 10:5-7; Luke 10:10-11). “ . . . [I]t seems to have been necessary to take the Gospel to the Jew first. Since there were Gentiles in most synagogues, they made their first inroads to the gentiles in the synagogues” (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 13).
4. What is meant by the expression, “as many as were ordained”?
A. The Greek word used here is tasso and includes the meaning “to arrange in an orderly manner” or “appoint.” This is not to imply that those “ordained” were specifically and individually predestined, but rather that this event complies with God’s foreordained plan, affirmed in Hosea 2:23.
5. What is meant by the expression, “shook off the dust of their feet against them”?
A. This was in compliance with Jesus’ instructions to the disciples during his ministry (Luke 10:11). It served as a token of God’s judgment upon willful unbelief. (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 145).
6. Where did Paul and Barnabas go next?
A. Paul and Barnabas went next to Iconium (Acts 13:51).
1. Where did Paul and Barnabas go first upon their arrival in Iconium?
A. Upon their arrival in Iconium, Paul and Barnabas first went to the synagogue of the Jews (Acts 14:1).
2. What happened to make the Gentiles at Iconium think evil of the believers?
A. Unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles to make them think evil of the believers (Acts 14:2). What was said or done to stir them up is not stated. The account does say in Acts 14:5 that their rulers were with them. Coneybeare and Howson, in their The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, speculate that the unbelieving Jews, anxious to put a stop to the spread of the Gospel, complained about Paul and his preaching to the civil authorities. They may have claimed that he was disturbing their households by his sorcery, or troubling the city and turning people away from the traditional gods, as happened later to Paul at Philippi and at Ephesus (Acts16:20, 19:26) (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, pp. 146-147).
3. What did God do to confirm the preaching of Paul and Barnabas at Iconium?
A. God granted signs and wonders to be done by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:3).
4. What groups took part in the effort to kill Paul and Barnabas?
A. The Gentiles and some of the Jews with their rulers took part in the effort to kill Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:5).
5. In what region were the cities of Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe located?
A. These cities were located in Galatia (Ronald L. Dart, Reflections on Acts, Chapter 14).
6. What book of the Bible was later written to these churches?
A. The Book of Galatians was later written to the churches in Galatia by Paul (Reflections on Acts, Chapter 14).
1. What significance do you attach to the failure of the writer to mention a synagogue in Lystra?
A. No synagogue was mentioned because there was not a synagogue at Lystra. Perhaps there were so few Jews there that no synagogue had been formed (Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 150).
2. Contrast the description of the crippled man’s faith to the account of Peter and John healing the Jewish lame man in Acts 3.
A. The man healed at Lystra had been listening to Paul as he preached. Paul saw the man watching him, and “perceiv[ed] that he had faith to be healed” (Acts 14:9). There is no record of any faith at all on the part of the lame man healed by Peter in Acts 3.
3. Identify similarities between this man and the lame man in the account in Acts 3.
A. Both had been lame since birth. The miracle performed was much the same, in that both men who had never walked in their lives were able to get up and walk immediately.
4. To what did the people attribute the miracle of the healing of the crippled man?
A. The people thought that Barnabas, as Jupiter, and Paul, as Mercury, had come in person and performed the miracle (Acts 14:11-12).
5. Compare the response of these heathen people to the healing of the crippled man to the response of the Jewish populace to the healing of the lame man in Acts 3. Why did their responses differ?
A. The Jews of Jerusalem who witnessed the healing of the lame man attributed the miracle to God and praised Him for it. Those at Lystra were heathen people. Their city was dedicated to Jupiter, with a temple to Jupiter at the front of the city gates (Acts 14:13). Common mythology of that time period considered it possible that Jupiter himself would visit, in person, a city dedicated to him (Life and Epistles of St. Paul, p. 150). Therefore, they explained the healing as a miracle by a god they knew.
6. How did what happened in these Gentile churches fulfill Old Testament prophecies?
A. The prophecy in Hosea 2:23 shows that God would receive to himself a people who were not his own people—Gentiles. The Jews would not accept the Gospel, but the Gentiles did believe.
1. Where did the Jews come from who turned the people against Paul and Barnabas?
A. The Jews who turned the people against Paul and Barnabas came from Antioch and Iconium (Acts 14:19).
2. What explanation can you offer for the sudden change of heart by these people who previously wanted to declare Paul and Barnabas gods?
A. The Scripture does not offer an explanation, and any attempt to do so is only speculation. But Paul and Barnabas had told the people that the explanation the people wanted to believe was wrong. Therefore, human nature being what it is, the people were willing to accept a new explanation. Did the Jews from Antioch and Iconium try to convince these people that the miracle was done by the power of evil? (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, pp. 154-155).
3. What did the people do to Paul?
A. The people stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, believing he was dead (Acts 14:19).
4. Where did they stone him?
A. He was still within the city walls (Acts 14:19).
5. How did the failure to remove Paul from the city before stoning him show the emotions that drove the people?
A. Their emotions must have been high, for ordinarily a person would be removed from the city before stoning. Even as angry as the mob was that stoned Stephen, they took him outside the city gates (Acts 7:58).
6. In what way were Paul’s actions after the stoning consistent with Jesus’ instructions to his disciples?
A. Jesus told his disciples, “[W]hen they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another . . .” (Matthew 10:23). He also told them to “shake off the dust of your feet” when leaving any city where the people refused to believe (Matthew 10:14).
7. Who can you trust to keep you true to your faith?
A. Jesus Christ (Acts 14:23; 2 Timothy 1:12).
1. Where did the events mentioned in Acts 15:1 take place?
A. The events mentioned took place in Antioch (Acts 14:26-28).
2. Who were these men? Where were they from?
A. The men were from Judea (Acts 15:1). They were examples of those who still believed that circumcision was necessary for salvation—that converts had to make all the moves to become a Torah observant “Jew” in order to even enter the Christian community (Ronald Dart, Christian Origins).
3. What were they teaching?
A. They were teaching that a man could not be saved unless circumcised (Acts 15:1).
4. Why did these men strongly believe that circumcision was necessary for salvation?
A. They believed that God was exclusively the God of Israel (Ronald Dart, History and Prophecy). In their case, that meant he was the God of the Jews. To their minds, a convert would have had to subscribe to all practices of Judaism, including circumcision, to be accepted by God.
5. What did Paul and Barnabas decide to do? What evidence can you find in the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit suggested their course of action?
A. Paul and Barnabas decided to go to Jerusalem to take up the question with the Apostles and elders. Paul said in his letter to the Galatians that he “went up by revelation” (Galatians 2:1-2).
6. Write in your own words what the “Pharisees which believed” wanted the Gentiles to do.
A. You should have enough information from the Background and Conclusion as well as the Scriptures provided to do this.
7. If a person met the requirements you identified in question six above, what could he do?
A. If a person met the requirements, God would accept him and he could enter into fellowship in the Christian community (Christian Origins). Those who thought circumcision was required for salvation also thought a person could not fellowship with believers or be accepted by God without it.
1. What did Peter mean by a yoke that even the Jews had not been able to carry?
A. Peter meant that the works of the Law could not give salvation. The Jews kept the Law of Moses (the whole Law, Oral and Written). The Jews were all circumcised. But the issue facing the church was not right or wrong conduct. The people who wanted to require circumcision thought it was a matter of salvation. Peter was trying to show that salvation is not a matter of works, but of grace (Christian Origins).
2. What was Peter referring to in Acts 15:7?
A. Peter was referring to his calling to take the Gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile.
3. What arguments did Peter make to show that God accepted the Gentiles?
A. He said that God himself was the witness for the acceptance of the Gentiles, because he gave them the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:8).
4. How did Peter say both Jews and Gentiles will be saved?
A. Peter says that salvation is by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 15:11).
1. What was Paul’s and Barnabas’ purpose in retelling all the things God had done among the Gentiles through the two of them?
A. Paul and Barnabas also wanted to show how God demonstrated his acceptance of the Gentiles by telling about all the things that God had done among the Gentiles through them.
2. What events might Paul and Barnabas have included which could have persuaded their audience of God’s acceptance of the Gentiles—uncircumcised and all?
A. The uncircumcised Gentiles had received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52). God had done many miracles to confirm them (Acts 14:3).
3. What truth about God’s covenant with Abraham was revealed in Romans 4:9-11?
A. In God’s covenant with Abraham, justification (salvation) was by faith even for him, who received the promises before he was circumcised. Paul shows an important point in Romans: Abraham was counted as righteous even before he was circumcised (Romans 4:9-10). He was circumcised afterwards, and became the father of the faithful, both circumcised and uncircumcised (Romans 4:11).
4. What is James talking about in Acts 15:14?
A. James said that God chose Abraham out of all the nations, or Gentiles. And he referred to Scriptures to support his argument (Amos 9:11-12). In this way, the Apostles and elders could be sure that not only were their arguments against requiring circumcision for Gentiles well founded according to logic and reason, but also agreed with the will of God as revealed in Scripture and supported by the miracles and signs the Holy Spirit gave (Christian Origins).
5. How did the reference James used help decide the question of circumcision?
A. The reference in Amos 9:11-12 that James cited specifically referred to heathens being called by God’s name.
6. Who went with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem?
A. Titus went with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-5).
1. Why did James suggest that the Gentiles be warned only against the things enumerated in Acts 15:20?
A. These things were special problems in the Gentile world of that day (Christian Origins). Therefore, James wanted to include these specific things in the letter.
2. The reference to Moses in Acts15:21 was meant to refer to what?
A. The reference to Moses refers to the reading of the Law in the synagogues.
3. What evidence was there that James didn’t mean to suggest that the Law of Moses did not apply to the Gentiles?
A. Acts 15:21 is a specific reference that they can hear the Law and the prophets read in the synagogues. It was not necessary to enumerate in the letter what the Law of God required of the Gentiles, because they could hear it read in the synagogues (Christian Origins).
4. Who made the decision recorded in the letters mentioned in Acts 15:23?
A. The Apostles, elders, and brethren made the decision (Acts 15:23).
5. How do you reconcile Acts 15:24 with your answer to question number three above?
A. The reference in Acts 15:24 to “the law” was a reference to the Oral Law. The Apostles followed Jesus’ example, and rejected the Oral Law, which would have been an attempt by man to control access to God—the Oral Law was made up of the Jews’ traditions. There was no rejection of the Written Law of God (Christian Origins).
1. Why did the Apostles, elders, and brethren send Silas and Judas Barsabas back to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas?
A. The account does not say why they were sent back with Paul and Barnabas. The requirement to establish all by the testimony of two witnesses could have been a reason. That way, no one could say Paul and Barnabas were misrepresenting what happened at Jerusalem.
2. Why were the Gentiles instructed to abstain from meats offered to idols?
A. The Gentiles were instructed to abstain from meats offered to idols because they had universally been idol worshipers before they were converted. They had believed in the power of other gods all their lives. While some might be able to eat of flesh which had been offered to, or blessed by, a false god, another might not be able to reconcile it with his conscience. So as not to lead a weaker brother to stumble, all were instructed to steer clear of meats offered to idols (Coneybeare, W.J. and Howson, J.S., The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, 1962, p. 172).
3. Why were the Gentiles instructed to refrain from things strangled?
A. For the same reasons given in number two. Additionally, it may have been a consideration for the sensibilities of the Jews, because the new Gentile converts would be attending with them in the synagogues. Staying away from the old practices would have been an effective way to sever ties with their old ways of life (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, 1962, p. 172).
4. What Gentile city received the Apostles’ letter first?
A. Antioch received the letter first (Acts 15:30).
1. What do you think this message meant to the Gentile Christians at Antioch?
A. Each person must answer for himself based upon what has been learned so far.
2. Who stayed behind at Antioch instead of returning to Jerusalem?
A. Silas appears to have stayed in Antioch, because he was there and accompanied Paul on his next journeys (Acts 15:40)
3. Estimate the total length of time Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch at this time.
A. Paul did not go to Jerusalem to see Peter until three years after his conversion (Galatians 1:18). He preached there for two weeks, and the church sent him to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). Next we learn that the church sent Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 11:22). Barnabas went to Tarsus to bring Paul back to Antioch with him (Acts 11:25). Paul says in his letter to the churches in Galatia that it was 14 years between the time he saw Peter in Jerusalem after his conversion until his return at the time of the Jerusalem conference (Galatians 2:1). If the time spent on the first missionary journey is included as having been spent at Antioch (because that was their point of origin), Paul and Barnabas could have been as long as 14 years at Antioch by the time of the Jerusalem conference.
4. What was the immediate significance to Titus of the decision at Jerusalem?
A. Titus did not have to be circumcised.
1. Who, in addition to Silas and Judas, may have accompanied Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch?
A. John Mark may have returned to Antioch, because he was present when Paul and Barnabas started talking about making a trip to visit the churches where they had preached before (Acts 15:36-37).
2. What mistake did Peter make when he visited Antioch?
A. Peter had been eating with the Gentiles, but when some Jews from Jerusalem came, he separated from the Gentiles, and went to sit with the Jews (Galatians 2:11-14).
3. Why was Paul so quick to correct Peter publicly to his face?
A. By separating himself from the Gentiles, Peter was giving in to a fear of men—of what these Jews from Jerusalem might think of him. Worse, in Paul’s eyes, was he appeared to put some difference between believers who were circumcised and believers who were not. The issue of circumcision was still a difficult problem for the church. Paul had to act to make sure that such a perception was quickly reversed (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, pp. 177-178).
4. Use Scriptures to explain if this started a rivalry or dislike between Peter and Paul.
A. Peter continued to speak of his love for Paul (2 Peter 3:15), so it doesn’t seem that this caused any problem between them.
5. What happened to split Paul and Barnabas?
A. Paul and Barnabas split because they could not agree whether to take John Mark with them on a visit to the churches they had established in Galatia (Acts 15:39).
6. How did God use their disagreement to further his plan?
A. Because of Paul and Barnabas splitting, God now had two missionary teams working to spread the Gospel.
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