The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 18:18-28 – Week 31 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 18:18-28

Week 31

Rob Covell
Introduction – In this Session we will complete Acts Chapter 18. As we close Chapter 18, Paul will end his Second Missionary Journey and start his Third Missionary Journey. This is an interesting section of Scripture because there is so much culturally relevant information implied in the text, it easy to read this with American eyes and miss the context of the culture and truth found between the lines.

In this Chapter we see Paul leave Corinth and travel with Priscilla and Aquila to Ephesus. We are introduced to Apollos, Paul visits Jerusalem, and returns to the mission base at Antioch, and then venture out on his Third Missionary Journey. This is rich end to his First Missionary Journey. So for the sake of time let’s jump into the text. Our time stamp is approximately AD51 – AD54. Again I will reiterate that our time stamp is loose here because Luke does not use a strict chronological approach as he writes Acts. He moves the narrative forward and then fills in details to add clarity.

Acts 18:18

a) Cenchrea – This town was a wealthy suburb of Corinth. It was located about 4.3 miles from Corinth. Cenchrea was an amazing suburb of Corinth in Paul’s time. It had a deep water harbor surrounded by sea walls, an aquarium, water front temples of idolatry to Aphrodite, Isis, Poseidon, and few other idols. There was a Roman Naval base there and the area was surrounded by fertile land. The name Cenchrea means “the head”. Many wealthy Corinthians had second homes in this beautiful beach town. It would have been natural for Paul to have come to Cenchrea on his way back to Antioch because of the merchant shipping industry there. It is interesting to point out that Phoebe, the female leader in Cenchrea mentioned in Romans 16:1 apparently had a travelling ministry because Paul commends her to the Church in Rome.

b) Paul stayed in Corinth about a year and a half strengthening the Church along with Priscilla, Aquila, Timothy, Luke, and Silas. This was the leadership team that was helping establish the Corinthian Church. Paul Aquila and Priscilla to travel with them, but in verse 19 we see a change of plans and this husband and wife team stay in Ephesus to minister. We will fill in this blank later on in Acts 19.

c) Before Paul departed from the area he shaved his head because of a Nazirite vow of consecration. See Numbers 6. It seems that Paul spiritualizes the demands of the Nazirite (Consecrated) vow because he found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. According to the vow he would have had to shave his head at the Temple in Jerusalem and present his hair, a ram, and a basket of unleavened bread as a peace offering to the Lord. In this instance we see Paul shaving his head in Cenchrea to end the vow as he completes his missionary journey.

d) Spiritual truths in the Nazirite vow: 1 – Anyone could set themselves apart for the Lord. He loves relationship. In the midst of the Law, God made a way for the
hungry to be close to Him. 2- No cutting the hair or shaving the face. This is symbolic of humility. Becoming unfashionable as a sign of coming close to God. 3 – No alcohol/wine, no grape juice, no raisins – Grapes were the symbol of feasting, worldly joy, and celebration. The Nazirite found his or her enjoyment in the Lord, and not in the party spirit. 4 – No touching the dead – This is symbolic of being separated from that which is corrupted by sin. Death in Jewish culture was seen as the consequence from the Fall. Therefore, the Nazirite vow focused on holiness and purity.

e) Paul definitely took a Nazirite vow sometime in Corinth. Probably as a response to the hedonism of Corinth, in thankfulness to the Lord, and in response to the encouraging vision that the Lord gave Paul in Corinth. Our take away here is that the Lord is always willing to partner with us in seasons of special consecration.

Acts 18:19-21

a) Paul continues according to the pattern he had so much success with by ministering to the Jews and coverts to Judaism first in the synagogue. This was Paul’s pattern for the following reasons: 1 – Paul was a Rabbi and Pharisee taught by a very respected teacher Gamaliel. 2 – Paul took advantage of his position that allowed him to speak. All men educated in the Scriptures were given time to speak freely at the end of their gatherings. 3 – Paul would have been able to use the prophetic power of the Scriptures to present Jesus as the Messiah to them. Silas would have been a viable witness because he was from Jerusalem. In this they appealed to the Law in Deuteronomy 19:15 as they presented the truth of Jesus Christ. 4 – The Jews were living with an expectation for Messiah to come. Undoubtedly many knew about John the Baptist, but did not know the details about Jesus Christ because of the geographic distance. Paul would have been able to fill in the gaps.

b) In verse 19, Luke fast forwards the narrative and then fills in the gaps. We can see the Providence of God’s leading here as Paul leaves Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus because a short time later Apollos comes to Ephesus and the Lord needed to straighten out his message and empower him as an apostle through Aquila and Priscilla discipling Apollos.

c) “If it is God’s will” – Clearly there is an open door to Paul in Ephesus, but remember that the Holy Spirit prevented Paul from ministering in the Province of Asia in Acts 16. The Lord expressly directed Paul to Macedonia. Paul made that statement because he still needed clarity if he was to minister in Asia. As we move forward in Acts, we can see that the Lord reserved the Ephesian revival for his Third Missionary Journey. In Ephesus we see the greatest city wide revival and reformation in Church history.

Acts 18:22

a) Paul departs from Ephesus and travels by ship to Caesarea. We were introduced to this port city in Acts 10, were Peter ministered to Cornelius. Caesarea had a sizable Christian Community by now, and Paul would have been a welcome visitor.

b) Verse 21 does not expressly say Paul went to Jerusalem. However, it is implied
in the text that Paul travelled from Caesarea to Jerusalem to meet with the Church leaders and give them a report. Many theologians point out that in Acts 19, we see demonstrative increase in power and anointing in Paul’s apostolic ministry in Ephesus. Many conclude that Paul met with James and was imparted to and encouraged to continue and grow in his ministry. c) Paul returned to Antioch which was the Apostolic launching point for the gospel to reach the Roman Empire. By this time the revival in Antioch had matured and the Christian Community there was reaping the benefit of staying committed to revival culture.

Acts 18:23

a) Paul begins his Third Missionary Journey in verse 23. We can assume that Luke, Timothy and Silas continued with Paul as he set back out to strengthen the Churches he planted.

b) We will notice that Paul shifts from the apostolic missionary role to the role of an apostolic father/pastor. He is visiting churches he planted to strengthen them, work with leadership and to father them through their unique situations.

Acts 18:24-26

a) We are introduced to Apollos in verse 24. Paul mentions Apollos multiple times in 1 Corinthians and in Titus 3:13 in the context of “one who waters the church”. Here we find an immature Apollos who is fired up for the Lord, but lacking knowledge.

b) Aquila and Priscilla disciple Apollos into the full revelation of Jesus Christ as Messiah. Apollos receives the fuller revelation, and moves on into Achaia to Corinth because 1 Corinthians shows us he had a very influential ministry, so much that the Church divided between Paul and Apollos. Church history tells us that the division in the Corinthian church was so deep at the time that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, that Apollos left Corinth to Crete with Zenas the Lawyer mentioned in Titus 3:13. After the division was healed he returned to Corinth and continued his ministry there.

c) It is interesting to note that Apollos was not appointed to the apostolic role from the Jerusalem Church or Antioch. In Apollos we see a minister who simply responds to the leading of the Holy Spirit and moves out in faith. We must never discount those who respond, but need more training. The Lord was faithful in keeping Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus so they could intercept him, disciple him and launch him back out with greater revelatory truth about Jesus.

Acts 18:27-28

a) While Paul was strengthening the Churches in Galatia and Asia, Apollos and Paul missed each other as Paul arrived in Ephesus and Apollos left for Corinth.

b) The Church in Ephesus wrote letters of recommendation for Apollos so he would be received as one was proven in ministry. This was how the Early Church recognized those who were safe to receive so the Church could avoid false teachers and prophets.

c) Scripture tells us that Apollos was skilled in the word, but lacking in the power
ministry of the Holy Spirit. As we move into Acts 19, we see the disciples of Apollos in Ephesus believing, but not being activated by the Holy Spirit. Apparently Apollos was not familiar with the baptism into Jesus and the filling of the Holy Spirit. See Acts 19:1-5 d) Lastly, many scholars hold the position that Apollos may have authored Hebrews because of his command of the Scriptures. I personally believe Paul or Barnabas wrote it. But it is an interesting thought supported by many respected theologians, including the great Reformer, Martin Luther.

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The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 18:1-17 – Week 30 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 18:1-17

Week 30

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will begin Acts 18 and see Paul recover from his ministry fail in Athens and return to his former ministry approach by using the Scriptures and displaying power of the Holy Spirit. 1 and 2 Corinthians give us an intimate view into Paul’s ministry style, his presentation of the power of the Holy Spirit. In Corinth we see a city wide revival and the persecution that follows the apostolic gospel of the kingdom. As we learn about the dynamic ministry style of the Apostolic Church era, we should be encouraged to seek the same results of the transforming power of God on cities and people groups.

We will divide Acts 18 into 2 sessions so that we can take our time to understand the culture of ancient Corinth, and the environment that the Corinthian Church was planted in. This is a very dynamic chapter, so for the sake of time we will jump right into the text. Our time stamp is approximately AD51 – AD54. The time stamp gets loose here because Luke does not use a strict chronological approach as he writes Acts. He moves the narrative forward and then fills in details to add clarity.

Acts 18:1

a) Corinth, located in modern Greece was inhabited from the Bronze Age. Corinth came under Roman Rule in 44BC under Julius Caesar and in Paul’s time Corinth was very large city, about 90,000 people. Since Corinth was major sea port and commerce hub, and linked by Roman roads, it was a very prosperous city since that was known for having wealth since the Greek era. The Corinthians enjoyed a very wild and luxurious lifestyle. In Corinth, the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was host to at least thousand temple prostitutes that charged high fees to engage in the immoral worship of this idol. The Corinthian lifestyle was widely criticized in the ancient world and was known as an epicenter of worldly living. There are 2 ancient criticisms of Corinth I would like to mention; “to act like a Corinthian was to practice fornication”, and “”none but the tough could survive” (Horace). Just like Hollywood and Las Vegas, cities like these will eat your life up and leave one hollow. Paul directly addressed their culture and compromise in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16.

b) Paul wrote 1 & 2 Corinthians a few years later to the Corinthian Church. These are the most corrective letters that we have in the whole New Testament. We can conclude from the content of these letters that Paul was correcting the effect of the common culture in Corinth that the Church was in compromise with.

Acts 18:2-3

a) Emperor Claudius – AD41-AD54, Claudius was a known as womanizer and a man of low intellect. He is the adoptive father of Nero, who would be nicknamed the Beast by the Roman Senate. Our time stamp for the expulsion of the Jews from Rome is approximately AD52. The reason for the expulsion is the Jewish protest against the debauchery and idolatry of Rome and their occupation of Judea.

b) Aquila and Priscilla – They are mentioned in Romans 16:4, 1 Corinthians 16:19, and 2 Timothy 4:19. They become a husband and wife ministry team that pastored and guided the church in Corinth and Ephesus. Church history is full of their contributions to the Early Church as teachers, missionaries and pastors. Church history records them as dying as martyrs in Ephesus. They model the potential of husbands and wives who partner with God and each other to accomplish great things for the Lord. Church history commends Priscilla and more is written about her influence in the Early Church than Aquila. We must realize that the Early Church readily accepted women into roles of influence and leadership. Christian feminism is the true expression of equality because we relate in terms of equal children of God, and as brothers and sisters in the Lord, possessing the same Holy Spirit and identity in God.

c) Paul shared a common trade with them and teamed up to support himself. The ministry support from Philippi had stopped temporarily and Paul’s extended stay in Athens and Corinth made it necessary for him to earn a living. This was a criticism that the Corinthian Church made against Paul concerning his decision to self-support. They viewed Paul as a lesser Apostle. See 1 Corinthians 8 for further details. Being a tentmaker was synonymous with being a leather worker.

Acts 18:4

a) After Paul’s ministry fail in Athens, he returns to his former pattern of ministry of word and deed. We know from 1 Corinthians 12-14 that outline the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church that the Corinthian Church really moved in power and revival. See 1 Corinthians 1:20-24.

Acts 18:5-6

a) Paul shifted from self-support to full time ministry when Timothy and Silas came from Macedonia. Timothy and Silas probably spent close to 2 years building up the churches in Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. In Corinth they meet up and bring Paul provision. By this point Paul was probably being supported by Aquila and Priscilla as well as the Philippian Church giving him support (2 Corinthians 11:8-9).

b) We see another showdown with the spirit of religion and the wrestling between 2 Covenants as Paul leaves the synagogue. See Luke 10:10-11.

Acts 18:7-8

a) Titius Justus – Titius was probably a Gentile proselyte member of the synagogue who was wealthy because he has the resources to host the house church. He begins to host the house church next door to the synagogue. Later in Acts 18:12
we can see that this “next door” arrangement stoked the persecution of the religious spirit to the point of the synagogue bringing a law suit against the Church.

b) Crispus the synagogue ruler believed in Jesus as Messiah and further exacerbated the attack from those who rejected Jesus as Messiah. They clung to the Old Covenant and denied their promise of Messiah in Jesus Christ. A form of religion is a deception because it robs faith. Faith demands relationship and trust, and religious works demand a form of religion. Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 1:14 that he baptized Crispus.

c) We see wide spread revival by the number of people who believed. We should always have an expectation of increase when the gospel of the kingdom is preached.

Acts 18:10-11

a) Paul’s night vision is a testimony to the Lord’s commitment to comfort and strengthen those He loves. Paul’s vision gives us the following encouragements. 1 – Paul was afraid and the Lord confirmed that he did not ever need to be afraid. 2 – Keep on the task of his assignment as Apostle. 3 – The Lord Jesus was with Paul and would defend him from attackers. 4 – The Lord was committed to Corinth and loved the people there. Paul did not have to worry about whether the Corinthian culture would ruin the church there.

b) Paul partnered with the encouragement and directive of the Lord and sowed into the Corinthian Church. One might wonder if he was feeling the pressure of persecution, the disappointment of the compromise of the Corinthians, and was considering moving on. Even great Apostles needed encouragement and deliverance from their fears.

Acts 18:12-13

a) Gallio – Roman Senator who was selected by Claudius to be the Proconsul of Achaia. He served from AD50-AD54. Gallio’s brother was the famous philosopher Seneca who served as a tutor to Nero. Gallio committed suicide after being accused of corruption and conspiracy.

b) The case against Paul was not only to stop the spread of Christianity in Corinth, but to use Gallio’s decision to stop Christianity in the whole region of Achaia. This case would support the precedent that Christianity was illegal in the region and therefore could be illegal in the whole of the Empire. This would be similar to a state supreme court decision today. The case against Paul is a religious case and not a political case like he faced in Philippi. We see the spiritual warfare against Paul being manifested in the natural realm as they accuse Paul in a court of law.

Acts 18:14-17

a) The Lord defended Paul and confirmed the vision that He gave to Paul. The Lord always comes through for His people. His promises are always good. Isaiah 54:17 – No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of
the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.

b) Gallio makes the correct decision and thereby legitimizes Christianity in that regional area. This is a huge victory for Christianity in the region of Achaia. This would have opened up a legal defense that the Church could stand on that would help it grow.

c) Apparently, Sosthenes replaced Crispus as the synagogue leader. It appears that the Jews with him beat him for losing the case. In the context of spiritual warfare, the enemy is defeated, and the anger of demon defeat is poured out on Sosthenes. The Corinthian Church celebrates a great victory and is protected for a season.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 17:16-34 – Week 29 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 17:16-34

Week 29

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will complete Acts 17. In the second half of this chapter, we see a unique opportunity to contrast the results of an intellectual assent to the gospel, versus a proclamation and power presentation of the gospel. As Paul is left alone in Athens with Luke, Paul is invited to Mars Hill to address the highest minds in ancient culture. This would be modern equivalent of being asked to preach Jesus at Princeton, Yale or Harvard today.

As Paul departs from the apostolic gospel in Athens and presents an intellectual approach to spiritual truth, even going as far as quoting pagan philosophers, we see an epic ministry fail in Athens. Everywhere Paul has traveled has resulted in mass revival, confrontations and riots. However, in Athens, Paul’s soft approach yields very little harvest in terms of people. In fact, it took another 500 years before Christianity actually gained a significant presence in Athens. Athens is a warning to the Church in the modern era to never be ashamed of Jesus Christ or the power ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 17:16

a) Athens – There is so much rich history concerning Athens that we do no not have time for an in depth introduction. However, I want to mention that Athens was founded in about 1400BC, and through history became the epicenter for culture and the birthplace of Democracy. In Athens, Cleisthenes (510BC) gave the radical concept of democracy to the people, and since then people all over the world have benefitted by participating in their own self-rule. Athens is located on the coast and the Areopagus being a great military defensive position helped Athens prosper and thrive because of its political stability from self-rule and its schools of philosophy. Athens is still a thriving city today. When the Apostle Paul arrived, Athens was under Roman rule, but enjoyed local autonomy, and Athens was a very rich and prosperous city. Lastly, Athens was not only known for its excellent schools of thought, but it excelled in mathematics, arts and science. This city was the stronghold of the intellect/human wisdom in the ancient world.

b) Paul was rightly concerned about the idolatry in Athens. Idolatry distorts the real revelation of God, steals His majesty and glory, and debases and condemns whole people groups. Paul’s response was not one of rejection for those separated from God, but one of concern for the people. Jonah 2:8 – Those who regard worthless idols, Forsake their own Mercy. See Romans 1:18-32

Acts 17:17

a) Notice the subtle change in Paul’s approach in presenting Jesus as Messiah. The Greek text gives us a clue that Paul moved away from a proclamation/demonstration style of presenting Jesus, to an intellectual approach to the gospel. Greek – Reasoned – DIALEGOMAI – to think different things with one’s self, mingle thought with thought, to ponder, revolve in mind, to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss. Many theologians regard Paul’s intellectual assent to the knowledge of Jesus as his greatest apostolic fail. There are a few plausible reasons for Paul’s change. 1 – Paul was tired of the persecution and essentially alone. He had Luke, but Luke was a classical learned Greek, and a new believer who was still being developed. 2 – The peer pressure of Athens being the center of education in the known world, would have exerted pressure on Paul to conform to a “debate style” presentation. 3 – Paul was experimenting and learning and engaged in the process of discovery. We know for certain that Paul abandoned this approach in Corinth because he mentions his return to the power/demonstration ministry in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and even contrasts the wisdom of philosophy to the wisdom of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16.

b) Again we have a mention of the Agora being the center of civic life.

Acts 17:18

a) Epicurean Philosophy (307BC) – This was a philosophy that completely based on materialism. The concept of the atom was presented by Epicurus and his brand of materialism presented that the spiritual was existent, but did not influence or interact with humanity; essentially the spirit world was passive. This philosophy promoted asceticism, simplicity and control of the body to reach peace. It promoted celibacy, and the total control of all human urges, so that one might find peace. Paul directly refutes this philosophy in Colossians 2:20-23.

b) Stoicism – Founded by Zeno (333BC) Stoicism promoted that god(s) was everything and in everything, and taught that control of human emotions versus passions brought dignity. It taught its adherents to overcome emotions, and accept all situations, either good or bad equally because they were from god(s). It taught an indifference to pleasure or pain. Stoics denied an afterlife which brought their objections to Paul promoting a resurrection.

c) A babbler – Greek -SPERMOLOGOS – a scavenger bird/picking up seed, lounging about the market place and picking up a substance by whatever may chance to fall from the loads of merchandise, hence, beggarly, abject, vile, (a parasite), getting a living by flattery and buffoonery, an empty talker. The philosophers were held in such esteem that Paul would have been viewed as an amateur or an unschooled person. This same distain between humanists and theologians exists today.

Acts 17:19-21

a) Areopagus (Mars Hill) – This was an open aired court where the citizens of Athens discussed and directed their city by their own self-rule. Solon founded this place. There a council of citizens and was made of 9 archons/judges who in elected office as well as ex-archons who served well. This was a place that was the seat of government in Athens. It where we get the idea of City Council. Mars/Ares is the God of War.

b) Paul was invited to share the gospel to the highest levels of culture and government in Athens. This was definitely a missed opportunity.

Acts 17:22-23

a) Paul’s mention of the unknown god is a historical reference. About 600 years before Paul arrived in Athens, the city suffered a terrible plague. A man named Epimenides said that a flock of sheep should be let loose in Athens. Wherever a sheep lay down, they would sacrifice the animal at the nearest pagan altar. If there was no altar nearby, they would sacrifice the sheep to the unknown god.

b) Paul is going to depart from his usual presentation of Jesus according to the prophecies in the Scriptures and take on a distinctly intellectual gospel, Paul also departs from a demonstration of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 17:24-27

a) Paul presents Scriptural truth, but does not make a direct reference to the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

b) Paul presents God as Creator of all, Creator of Adam, Author of destinies, and the Creator who is near and ready to relate to His creation. Biblical truth that is devoid of the witness of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, possesses no power.

Acts 17:28

a) Paul quotes 2 Greek philosophers in verse 28, Epimenides the Cretan (approx. 600 BC) and Aratus (310BC). Paul quotes Epimenides in Titus 1:12. Paul was trying to build a culturally relevant bridge to his hearers.

Acts 17:29-31

a) Paul continues his address to the Areopagus and continues to bring truth to them from a posture of intellect.

b) Paul points out the greatness of God in that if He is Creator, then why would we present Him to resemble the created? Paul points to God’s mercy and patience by pointing out to the Athenians the common grace that God has shown all people.

c) Paul does not directly preach the cross of Jesus Christ in his speech on Mars Hill. Some scholars say that Paul preached the cross because by implication for one to be raised from the dead, one must have died. However, some scholars point to 1 Corinthians 2:2 as proof that Paul’s experimentation with the gospel of the kingdom failed because he did not directly reference Jesus Christ by Name or directly reference the cross. 1 Corinthians 2:2 – For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. In Corinth, Paul definitely resorted back to his mode of proclaiming from the Scriptures and demonstrating it to be true with a display of Holy Spirit power as we will see in the next chapter.

Acts 32-34

a) We can see from the number of those who believed that Paul’s attempt to present an intellectual gospel failed. This whole second missionary journey we have seen from Scripture that Paul released revivals and riots from Philippi, Thessalonica, to Berea. We can see that God still showed mercy and some fruit came from the Athens event. But compared the net results in Paul’s earlier experience, we can clearly see the failure of the intellectual approach to presenting the gospel of the kingdom. In Corinth, which is the next stop, we see another city erupt in revival and rioting as Paul returns to the original message.

b) We should not judge Paul too harshly for his departure from the gospel of the kingdom. He was tired, alone, and trying to relate in an intellectually hostile high minded environment. But we should heed the result of that type of gospel preaching and return to an apostolic gospel of proclaiming Jesus from the Scriptures and demonstrating supernatural power that proves our message.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 17:1-15 – Week 28 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 17:1-15

Week 28

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will begin Acts 17. We will break this chapter up into 2 Sessions so that we can take our time to understand the context and the culture as the Gospel continues to go thermonuclear in the European continent.

As we continue on in Paul’s second missionary journey, we continue to see the strategy of God in reaching specific regional power centers, reaching a wide cross section of society that will fuel the establishment of the Church on the European continent. Acts 17 will give us a clear picture of the power of revival and reformation that breaks out when we preach an Apostolic Gospel. I believe we are in a season of the Lord reawakening His Bride so that we release another Great Awakening in our nation. As God’s kids who are filled with the Holy Spirit, know their identity, and are established in their message; these one will see a massive sea change in Christianity to bring a reformation that will lead to the Church disciplining our nation.

Acts 17:1

a) Luke does not record any ministry activity as they traveled to Thessalonica. We can assume that the Holy Spirit was moving them forward because these cities were seemingly unimportant and that the Lord wanted Paul and his group to concentrate on the major city of Thessalonica. As we look at the back story of Acts, we can see that God is into maximum impact when it comes to front line missions.

b) Thessalonica (victory of falsity)– Founded in 351BC by Cassader the Macedonian. Thessalonica was conquered and came under Roman rule in 41BC when it was overthrown by Marc Anthony. At the time the Roman empire was divided into 10 toes (Daniel 2), Thessalonica became the capitol city of that region. This was important population center because it was the seat of government in that region. This was a strategic city that the Lord targeted with His love. He could see that the gospel of Jesus Christ could go viral from this major population center and penetrate the greater European continent.

c) There was a Jewish synagogue because this was a major economic, and governmental city. We could expect a significant Jewish population in a city like Thessalonica. As we learned before Paul, Silas and Timothy would have been readily accepted by the synagogue because of Paul being a rabbi/Pharisee who studied under Gamaliel and Silas being from Jerusalem.

Acts 17:2-3

a) Paul reasoned with them from the Scriptures. It was a common expectation for the Jews to be waiting for Messiah. Paul would have pointed to the prophesies that Jesus fulfilled, His miracle ministry in Judea, His death, resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost fulfilling Joel’s prophecy. Paul would have
pointed them to Jeremiah 31:31 as well many other Scriptures in Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. We can also assume that Paul demonstrated the power of God to them to confirm his message. See 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

b) It is important to note that Paul was in Thessalonica for only 3 weeks. It is an incredible demonstration of the transforming reformation power of God to covert people, plant a church that lasted over 600 years, cause a riot, and release sons and daughters to preach and proclaim in 3 weeks. We must not minimize the power of our message, but let it recapture our hearts. Paul wrote these people 2 Epistles that are preserved for us an eternal encouragement.

Acts 17:4

a) Verse 4 teaches us that Paul and Silas had overwhelmingly defeated dark powers and principalities that had people’s hearts locked up. They reached Jews, Greek converts to Judaism, and prominent women (businesswomen). See 1 Corinthians 10:3.

b) It is important to mention that the Philippian church sent Paul and his team a financial gift to help continue their missionary attack against the dominion of darkness. See Philippians 4:15-16. Lydia being a successful businesswoman, rallied her house church and supported this team in Thessalonica.

Acts 17:5

a) Jealousy and rioting seems to be the mode of attack against Paul by the religious spirit. Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn in the flesh, which was the persecution he received from the Jews and Gentiles. See 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 & 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

b) We can see that Jason was the local leader of the house church in Thessalonica, the demonically inspired mob rushed Jason’s house to persecute Paul and Silas. The religious spirit uses lies about the gospel to fuel hate and violence against God’s people. The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy. These people are producing the fruit of their father.

c) The marketplace here is similar to one in Philippi. This would be the Agora where all commerce, banking, buying/selling and dispensation of Roman Law would have been located.

Acts 17:6-7

a) Jason is dragged to the court and accused as a political enemy of Rome. The charge was that Paul and Silas were preaching another King or Kingdom; the King Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

b) When the gospel of kingdom is preached, the power structures of the dominion of darkness begin to be turned upside down. In 3 weeks the gospel had assaulted the economy, the political realm, and challenged the religious power structures. The message of Jesus Christ and the message of His love re-colors society and heals systems. This riot is a response to that effect.

c) Notice the reputation of those who carry an apostolic gospel. They were having “world impact”. Greek – OIKOUMENĒ – the Roman empire, all the subjects of the empire

Acts 17:8-9

a) The crowd was thrown into turmoil because the Romans were known for unleashing the Legions on cities that were rebellious to the Caesar.

b) Jason had to post bond/pledge not to incite anymore riots. This would have been money posted as a down payment and the promise to obey the Roman Law.

Acts 17:10

a) Berea (well watered) – This ancient city was major fruit producing region where pears, apples, and peaches were grown. It was a wealthy city because of the abundance of the agriculture industry. It was founded in the 400BC’s by Greeks. There is little known about Berea and its founding, other than it seemed to have been occupied from very ancient times because of its rich land.

b) According to their pattern Paul and Silas reach out to their countrymen the Jews at the synagogue. Every time we see the mention of a synagogue we can assume a significant population of Jews in that city.

Acts 17:11-12

a) Luke describes the Bereans as more noble of character than the Thessalonians. He mentions this because they actually listened to Paul and Silas, examined their claims and received the truth of Jesus Christ readily.

b) Notice the impact of the gospel and the cross section of society that it reached. We continue to see the Lord being strategic in His reach prominent people who had the ability to finance and continue the mission. If we take some time to look at the map, we can see a “rounded” strategic beachhead being formed that will release the gospel west towards greater Europe.

Acts 17:13

a) We see the continued assault of the demonic religious spirit against Paul again in Berea. The religious spirit robs God of His true nature and character. It is the most wicked demonic attack because it implants lies into the minds of those who are made in His image and distorts His Person. In its worst manifestation it leads people to hell. In its mildest manifestation it immobilizes Christians from living in true freedom of identity and immobilizes the effect of the gospel in their cultures.

b) When we preach the Word of God, we are preaching the message of His nature and character, His gift of Messiah to the world, and our reconciliation to God through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Acts 17:14-15

a) Paul and Luke probably left to Athens, and Scripture tells us that Timothy and Silas stayed in Berea. The time stamp here is AD50. It seems from Church History, that Paul stayed in Athens 2 years, while Timothy and Silas strengthened the churches in Macedonia. Paul was not just interested in making converts, he was a master builder who wanted to be sure to establish churches that would last generations. Paul gave Silas and Timothy instructions for building them up.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 16:16-40 – Week 27 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 16:16-40

Week 27

Rob Covell

Introduction – As we complete Acts 16 in this Session, we will cover a spiritual battle of epic proportion. The battle starts as a contest of spiritual power and peaks into a full blown manifestation in the natural realm in a riot, the beating of Paul and Silas and God’s victory in an earthquake.

Philippi (lover of horses) – Established in 350BC by Phillip of Macedon. It is located in modern Greece and the ruins of Philippi are preserved as a World Heritage site. This city was established as transfer place for gold that was mined in the area and at time of Paul’s visit, Philippi was still an important wealth transfer city. It was located on the Via Egnatia road. At this time, it boasted a huge agora (marketplace), coliseum, and a large population of people. This was a very prosperous city, in fact today there are many Latin inscriptions in the ruins that testify to its wealth. This city became vastly Christianized by AD 160, and the early church father Polycarp wrote them a letter. In 343 the Christian community built a church dedicated to Paul. We have the wonderful letter to the Philippians from Paul who wrote that letter to their community. Our time stamp at the beginning of Acts 16 is AD49.

Acts 16:16

a) The place of prayer is where they met Lydia as mentioned in Acts 16:13. We can see that Philippi was distinctly Gentile because it did not have a synagogue.

b) The slave girl with the spirit – PNEUMA PYTHŌN – Greek – The spirit of the dragon, divination, or the spirit that protected the oracle of Delphi. – The Greek text tells us that she profited her masters by prophesying, giving oracles and acting as a seer.

c) We learn the following about the oppression of the devil/demons from verse 16. 1 – the demonic realm is attracted to captivity. 2 – unjust gain is an attraction to the demonic realm. 3 – The demonic realm uses people with no regard to their wellbeing.

Acts 16:17-18

a) The spirit operating in the slave girl was mocking Paul and his team. This spiritual warfare is being waged in the open, as she mocks the gospel. Notice that she is mentioned as one being used by the spirit of python. Her identity is separate from the spirit that is operating in her.

b) Notice that Paul spoke to the spirit in the of the Name of Jesus Christ. This is very simple demonstration of the authority of the believer. Luke 9:1 – And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.

c) When use the Name of Jesus it implies 3 truths. 1 – We know Jesus Christ
intimately. 2- We know our identities in Him as kingdom enforcers. 3 – We know that spiritual power always re-images the works of Jesus.

Acts 16:19-21

a) Now the spiritual warfare shifts from the unseen to its manifestation to the natural realm. We can see this by the citizen’s arrest of Paul and Silas and them being dragged to the magistrates.

b) The place where they were taken was the Agora. In the Agora, all of the business from legal contracts, legal decisions, grocery shopping, clothing, etc. was conducted at the Agora. Revelation 13:16-18 is direct reference to the Agora.

c) Paul and Silas are accused of two crimes. The Jewish religious crime of monotheism in the context of Roman culture. The political crime of not worshipping Caesar. These men were being judged by their Jewish appearance, and these magistrates assumed they were not Roman citizens.

Acts 16:22-24

a) The Agora would have been full of people who would have heard the charge against Paul and Silas. They would have easily been inspired to cooperate with their accusers. The spiritual warfare against Paul and Silas is being animated in the crowd.

b) Stripped and beaten – Paul and Silas would have been stripped naked, restrained, and beaten with thin wood rods bound together with straps. This would have massive contusions on their bodies and large welts and open wounds. See 2 Corinthians 11:23 -27

c) They were place in stocks. These were wooden yokes on their ankles that would inflict great discomfort in their legs.

d) The inner dell – basically the lowest place in the prison where all of the muck and filth of the prison gravitated towards.

Acts 16:25-28

a) Worship is our warfare and breakthrough. This spiritual attack was defeated by prayer and praise.

b) God responded by a supernatural earthquake that unhinged the prison doors and caused them to fly open.

c) The jailer was personally accountable for each of his prisoners. Life for life..

d) Paul prevents his death. It would have been easy for Paul and Silas to figure that since God opened the cells, and with the death of the jailer, they could have easily walked out. But Paul rightly loves life and spares this man a death from his own sword.

Acts 16:29-30

a) The jailer asks for salvation. Prayer and praise release supernatural power of God and release souls into the kingdom of God. Paul and Silas display courage, bravery because they chose to partner with the greater reality of God’s kingdom.

b) Saved – Greek – SŌZŌ – to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from
disease, to make well, heal, restore to health, to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment.

c) The work of salvation is to believe in Jesus Christ by faith.

Acts 16:31-34

a) Paul was moving in the prophetic when he prophesied the whole salvation of the jailer’s household.

b) Spoke the word of the Lord – The message of Jesus, Messiah, the gospel. c) It is interesting that the one who was put in charge of their punishment, became the one who was caring for them.

d) Joy is the result of relationship with Jesus Christ.

Acts 16:35-36

a) Paul and Silas were probably only sentenced to an overnight stay in the Philippian jail. They had not committed a crime under Roman Law that required an extensive incarceration. They were given the order to be released.

b) If Paul and Silas were going to be freed the next day, why did the Lord send an earthquake? It was not to break them out, but to display His power and save the jailer and his family. God was being strategic and establishing His church in Philippi.

Acts 16:37

a) During the chaos of the accusations of the crowd the magistrates did not administer due process to Paul and Silas. If they had administered the Roman Law properly there would have been an opportunity for an accusation and a defense. Because Paul and Silas were identified as Jews, they judged on appearance.

b) Paul does not back down and demands his rights as a Roman citizen. It is OK for Christians to require authorities to comply with due process according to the laws of the land. Paul demanded they exonerate them by escorting them personally out.

Acts 16:38-40

a) Like most politicians they want to hide their injustice and failures in office. They were alarmed because they had committed a huge offense in regards to Roman Civil rights. However, in this instance, they were humbled by the situation and were forced to own their offense.

b) Lydia is hosting the house church that been established in Philippi. Notice now that the church has grown from Lydia’s household, the ladies, and now the jailer’s household. From this core group (approx. 30), the Philippian church would last over 600 years.