Acts - Lesson 13
To Jerusalem and Rome
- The student can trace the final travels of Paul on a map.
- The student can describe the events of the turmoil that led to Paul's arrest.
- The student can list the four trials Paul had and the outcome of each.
- The student can outline Paul's defense before Felix.
- The student can show how Luke reports these events in a way that would appeal to the Roman mind.
- The student can relate the events of the sailing voyage to Rome.
- The student can show how Paul used his imprisonment to further the gospel.
- Have access to a map.
- Have Written Review ready to distribute.
- Have Notes/Review sheet ready to distribute.
- Bibles and pens for all.
Paul's deep commitment to the Lord Jesus is evident in everything he did: he went to Jerusalem despite warnings, he used his trials as a time to testify of Jesus, he used the shipwreck as a time to show his reliance on God, he used his imprisonment in Rome to spread the gospel.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 10 minutes)
- Check roll, welcome visitors, make necessary announcements.
- Prayer and songs as desired: Anywhere with Jesus (relate to Paul), Be Not Dismayed, He Leadeth Me.
Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)
- Paul's Trip to Jerusalem. (Trace the journey on a map.) Read Acts 21:3-14. Q: What mission was Paul on that he thought so important that he would risk his life? (Taking the collection to improve relationships between Christian Jews and Gentiles.) Q: How would you state Paul's philosophy of life, based on verses 13-14.)
- Paul in Jerusalem.
- Ask the class to turn to Acts 21:17-36 and from it to answer the following questions. Q: How did the church in Jerusalem receive Paul? Q: What did the Jerusalem elders ask Paul to do? (Participate in a Jewish ceremony about a vow? Q: Did this violate what Paul had been teaching about the law of Moses? (No. His principal point was that Gentiles should not be required to keep the law. The letter of Acts 15 made this clear. He did not object to Jewish Christians keeping some of the Jewish laws/traditions. These had been established by God's requirement and, while the law was officially taken away at the cross, God did not require those who had been under it to abruptly end their practices. With the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, however, keeping the law became an impossibility.)
- Q: Of what did some accuse Paul? (Of taking a Gentile into a court near the temple building which Gentiles were forbidden to enter.) Q: Was the charge true? (No.) Q: As a riot breaks out which could result in Paul's death, who rescues him? (The Romans. Ah, the good old Romans.) Q: What does Paul request to do? (Address the crowd, probably from the steps into the fortress Antonia, which was built right next to the temple area to prevent uproars just like this one.) Q: What does Paul want to tell the Jews who were about to kill him? (About his conversion and how God sent him to the Gentiles.) Q: When the Romans are about to flog Paul, what does he ask? (Are you going to beat a Roman citizen without a trial? Again, the elements of the story are used to appeal to Romans.)
- Ask the class to turn to Acts 22:30-23:10. Q: In order to find out more about Paul's case, what does the Roman commander do? (Takes Paul to the Sanhedrin. Some of them, undoubtedly remembered him from his persecuting days.) Q: To which group of them does Paul relate himself and on what basis? (Pharisees because he and they believed in the resurrection from the dead. The uproar became so great the Roman commander took Paul away.)
- Q: Who brings word of a plot against Paul and what happens as a result? (Paul's nephew. The commander takes Paul to Caesarea under heavy Roman guard to protect him. Again the Romans have done the correct thing.)
- Paul in Caesarea.
- Open to Acts 23:25-30. Q: What would a Roman reader note especially from the letter of Claudius Lysias? (No charge that Paul deserved death. Luke wants to show that there is nothing in Christianity against Roman law.)
- From Acts 24:1-26, answer the following. Q: In the trial before governor Felix, what charges does Tertullius bring against Paul? (A troublemaker, stirred up riots among Jews all over the world, ringleader of the Nazarenes, tried to desecrate the temple.)
- Q: What points does Paul make in his defense? (I was only in Jerusalem 12 days; I did not stirr up a crowd anywhere; I do follow "the way” but that agrees with all in the Law and Prophets; I have the same hope as these men of a resurrection; I brought a gift to my people; I was ceremonially clean; I made no disturbance; others stirred up the crowd.)
- Q: When Paul again spoke to Felix, what did he speak about? (Righteousness, self-control, judgment to come.) Q: How do these fit together to make a good sermon? (All are sinners and need the righteousness that comes only through Christ. We must exercise self-control to remain faithful because there is a coming judgment when all will have to accept responsibility for their lives.) Q: Why did Felix not release Paul? (Wanted a bribe)
- In Acts 25, Luke records Paul's appearance before Festus. Paul says he has done nothing against the law of the Jews, the temple or Caesar. Festus asked Paul if he would return to Jerusalem for trial and Paul, seeing he would not get a fair hearing, appealed to Caesar. This was his right as a Roman citizen. Nero was now the emperor before whom Paul would be tried.
- Q: According to Acts 27, whom did Festus ask to hear the case and where did this event take place? (King Agrippa. This was the great-grandson of Herod the Great and the son of Herod Agrippa I who died of worms in Acts 12. The place of this meeting is not certain but it may well have been the amphitheater by the sea which Herod the Great had built and where Herod Agrippa I had been stricken. It is still there and may be visited.) Q: How does Paul make his defense to Agrippa? (Tells his conversion story.) According to Acts 26:32, what does Agrippa think of the case against Paul? (Could be set free if he had not appealed to Caesarea. Again, Paul and Christianity are no threat to Rome.)
- Paul to Rome.
- From Acts 27:1 through 28:16, answer the following questions about the trip to Rome. Q: Where did the first ship they were on take them? (From Caesarea, which had a great port Herod had built, past Cyprus to Myra on the south Asian coast.) Q: From there they sailed for Italy but why did they make slow progress? (Late in the fall and winds were not favorable.) Q: Where did they put ashore? (Fair Havens on the south side of Crete.) Q: What did Paul advise? (Stay here. Too dangerous to go on.) Q: Following the advice of the pilot and the owner the left but when they had been out a few days, what happened? (A northeaster struck and blew them many days. They threw the cargo and other things overboard to make the ship ride higher in the water.) Q: Where did they eventually come and what happened there? (To Malta. Ship broke up but all 276 on board got to shore.) Q: What happened to Paul as he gathered wood for the fire? (Bitten by poisonous snake but not hurt. Recognizing the miracle, the people thought he was a god He healed the father of the chief official of the island.)
- After staying the rest of the winter on Malta, they board the third ship of this journey and sail to Italy. They land at Puteoli and go by the Appian Way to Rome. Some Christians, who have learned he is coming, meet Paul at the Three Taverns.
- Open to Acts 28:11-31 to answer the following questions. Q: Where does Paul stay in Rome and under what conditions? (His own hired house with a soldier to guard him.) Q: What group does Paul first invite to come to his house to hear him? (Jewish leaders.) Q: What is the heart of Paul's message to them? (The kingdom of God and Jesus from the Law of Moses and the Prophets.) Q: When they do not respond favorably, what does Paul do next? (Speaks to Gentiles about "the kingdom of God” and "the Lord Jesus Christ.” Apparently the Roman soldiers guarding him were also listening because the message about Jesus spread throughout the whole Praetorian (Palace) Guard [Philippians 1:13].)
- Q: What else do we know Paul did during this time? (Wrote the epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon—usually called the "Prison Epistles.”
- Q: About what date does the book of Acts end? (About 63 AD.) Q: Was Paul killed then? (Probably not. Likely he was released and traveled some more but was eventually back in Rome in prison and was executed there under Emperor Nero about 67 AD. He wrote 2 Timothy, his last epistle, during that imprisonment.)
- Read Romans 15:30-32. Q: For what four things did Paul ask the Romans to pray about? (That Paul would be rescued from unbelievers who wanted to harm him; that the offering he was taking to Jerusalem would be accepted; that he would get to come to Rome; and that while there would have rest.) Q: How did God answer Paul's four-point request? (Paul went to Jerusalem and the contribution was received. The Roman soldiers protected him from the unbelievers. God arranged an all-expense paid trip under Roman guard for the trip to Rome and while there he had his own house and guard so he might have rest to teach and write. The answers to Paul's prayer did not take any miracles. God used His providential power.)
- Q: Does God use His providence to answer prayer today? (Yes. Jesus promises that our prayers will be heard and answered according to God's will.)
- Q: What practical lessons can we see in the last few years of Paul's life.
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