Acts - Lesson 11
Paul in Macedonia and Greece
- The student can trace on a map the course of Paul's second missionary journey.
- The student can describe the opposition to the church during this period of time.
- The student can explain the nature of Paul's preaching in Thessalonica and Berea.
- The student can explain the nature of Paul's preaching in Athens.
- Have access to a map.
- Have the Written Review ready to distribute.
- Have the Notes/Review sheets ready to distribute.
- Bibles and pens as needed.
As Paul works to spread the gospel to new places, he always centers his preaching on Jesus but his approach is adapted for the nature of the audience.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 10 minutes)
- Check the roll, welcome visitors, make necessary announcements.
- Prayer and songs as desired: Christ for the World We Sing; Send the Light (Macedonian call).
- After the Jerusalem meeting, Paul and Barnabas go back to Antioch to continue their work with that church (15:35). Then Paul suggests they go back to where they had gone on their previous journey to "visit the brethren” (15:36).
- Q: Over what did Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement? (Taking Mark with them—15:37) Q: How did they resolve this dispute? (Barnabas would take Mark and go to some of the places and Paul would take Silas and go to others. Notice the difference did not cause either to leave the church or diminish his work for Christ.) The story in Acts 16 and 17 follows where Paul went.
Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)
- Visiting Existing Churches.
- Q: According to 15:41 and 16:1, where does Paul first go on this journey? Q: What is the primary nature of this work? (Strengthening existing churches.)
- Q: When Paul reaches Lystra, whom does he decide to take with him? (Timothy.) Q: What do we know of Timothy's parents? Q: What does Paul ask Timothy to do? (Be circumcised.) Q: Since Paul is taking with him a letter from the Jerusalem church (16:4) that makes it clear that Gentiles do not have to be circumcised, is Paul not going back on his principles here? (No. He does this "because of the Jews who lived in that area.” Since it was known that Timothy's father was a Greek but his mother was a Jew who had become a Christian, the question would likely arise as to whether Timothy had been circumcised. Since Timothy was Jewish by birth, Paul thinks it will help Timothy's acceptance by the Jewish communities where they will be for him to be circumcised. On the matter of principle, Paul stood firm. As an expedient, Paul sought to exercise good judgment. As a parallel today, a missionary might teach that it is not required that a woman wear a covering in church but might ask his wife to wear one if they were working in Africa where such were a social custom. Thus, they would have more open doors without getting sidetracked on a less-important issue. c. Q: What two areas does the Holy Spirit direct Paul away from? Q: Where, then, does he go? Q: What happens there? Q: What change occurs in the writing of Acts at this point? (The author (Luke) changes from third person to first person, indicating that he his now traveling with Paul's company (16:10).
- Preaching in Macedonia.
- Q: Where in Macedonia does Paul first preach? (Philippi)
- Q: What two groups does Paul convert here? (Lydia and her household and the jailor and his household. Since these two conversion stories were part of an earlier lesson, they may be touched on only briefly here.)
- Q: What causes Paul and Silas to be put in jail? (Casting out an evil spirit. If you have time, you may wish to explore the question of what is an evil spirit. In brief, an evil spirit appears to be an angel who rebelled with Satan and who was, therefore, dismissed from heaven when Satan was. Such an angel would, therefore, an agent of Satan. While we know that Satan and his angels work against Christ and the good angels in the spirit realm, it seems that during the time of Christ and shortly after, when God was allowing Christ and Christians to work miracles, His sense of "balance” also allowed Satan to use powers he did not have at other times. This included sending his spirits [angels] into a person against their will and allowing the spirit to take over the person's mind and body. Jesus once said that this was allowed so He could show His superiority over the spirits ( ). While people today can voluntary submit their will to Satan and become one of his workers, the evidence would suggest that Satan can no longer take over a person against their will. As this age of miracles is winding down, Paul finds this woman and exorcises the demon from her, meaning that this angle who works for Satan can no longer take her over and do as he wishes.)
- Q: After their release from jail by the magistrates, what do Paul and Silas do? (Encourage the brethren and leave for Thessalonica.) Q: Describe Paul's preaching in Thessalonica? (Goes to Jewish synagogue, reasons from the Scriptures, explaining and proving Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. Q: What was the outcome? (Many joined Paul and Silas.) Q: What charge did others bring against Paul and Silas? (Caused trouble all over the world. They defy Caesar's decrees saying there is another king, Jesus. Luke wants to show that these charges are false.
- Q: What do the brethren do? (Send Paul and Silas away to Berea.) Q: For what are the Bereans praised? (v. 11). After some come from Thessalonica and stir up trouble, the brothers send Paul away to Athens.
- Preaching in Athens.
- Q: What distresses Paul? (Seeing so many idols and temples to idols.) Q: Where were many such temples and idols located in ancient Athens? (The Parthenon of Athena and other idols were located on the Acropolis. The marketplace also contained many other idols and temples.) Q: What two places does Paul go to spread the message about Jesus? (Synagogue for Jesws and the marketplace for Gentiles.) Q: What does Paul tell them about? (v. 18).
- Those Athenian philosophers who want to hear more, bring Paul to the Areopagus or Mars Hill where they can visit. Think of a triangle standing on its tip. The market place (Agora) is at the bottom tip, the Areopagus is at one top angle and the Parthenon at the other. From the Areopagus, then, one can look down on the marketplace and up to the Parthenon.
- Q: As Paul begins to speak, for what does he commend them and what does he take as the theme of his comments to them? (Being very religious and having idols to many gods, he will tell them about a god "unknown” to them.) Q: In what way is this an effective opening? (He compliments them, starts with something familiar to them, and is conciliatory. Although he will clearly contrast his God with their many gods, he will do so as un-offensively as possible.)
- Q: Looking at verses 24-29, let's make a list of the qualities Paul attributes to this "unknown God.” (Creator of all, does not live in man-made temples, does not need the help of humans, gives to all life, made all nations from one (Adam), determines the boundaries of nations, wants a relationship with humans, not far away, since humans are his children, God as their father cannot be gold, silver, or stone. Notice how these qualities are in contrast to the Greek gods. As Paul says this, he is within sight of the Acropolis where the Parthenon and other temples are. Athena, the goddess of the Parthenon is an idol made of ivory and gold. Around the Parthenon is a frieze depicting the procession made every four years to bring to Athena what she needs. She lives in a temple made with hands and gives life to no one.
- Q: What does this God now command those who have worshipped other gods to do? (Repent—change their ways.)
- Q: What does Paul give as the primary reason for making this change? (He will judge the world.)
- Q: What proof has He given that such judgment is coming? (By appointing someone by whom He will judge and He has certified this judge by raising Him from the dead.)
- Q: What response does Paul get? (Some sneered, some wanted to know more, and some became believers.)
- Q: Relate the story of Paul in Macedonia and Athens to our five key words: Savior, Salvation, Spirit, Spread, and Sanctified. (Christ, savior, is the focus of the preaching. Salvation is offered. The Spirit is leading. The church is spreading. And groups of the sanctified are being left in many places.)
- Q: What can we learn from this lesson about how each one of us can spread the gospel? (Be willing to talk with anyone, even those of different views. Stand for your convictions but be as complimentary of others as you can. Do not be ashamed of the gospel as if it cannot stand among the philosophies of the world.)
- Be ready for the Written Review that will be given in the next class period.
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