Paul Returns to Antioch & Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus Acts 18:18-28

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 56

Acts 18:18-28

Paul Returns to Antioch &

Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul leave Corinth and sail to Cenchreae, a port in Syria. There Paul made a vow (likely a Nazarite vow, see Numbers 6), The cutting of the hair meant his vow was completed. This vow was fine for a Jewish man to make.
  8. On to Ephesus, in Asia, modern day Turkey, where Paul visited the synagogue. Though well received Paul intended to return to his home church at Antioch so he left Ephesus. Landing at Caesarea he “went up” to “the church” most probably Jerusalem church. From there, on to Antioch of Syria. After a short time there, Paul headed north into the heart of Asia and visited churches from the first journey.
  9. Luke now interrupts the comings and goings of Paul to introduce the reader to Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, who in a way we do not know of, had been “instructed in the way of the Lord.”
  10. Apollos is described as being both “fervent in spirit” and a bold speaker. However, he knew only of the baptism of John. John announced that the Messiah was coming and to prepare the way, he called for a baptism of repentance.
  11. Priscilla and Aquila take Apollos aside and explain more about Messiah Jesus. Apollos is ready to hear and believe.
  12. Then, Apollos desires to go on to Corinth in Achaia, the “brothers” at Ephesus write a letter of recommendation for him, and he goes on to “greatly” help believers there as well as “powerfully” speak to the Jews in that area.

Paul in Corinth — Acts 18:1-16

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 55

Paul in Corinth

Acts 18:1-16

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. 46 miles from Athens, Corinth was the commercial and political center of Achaia. Rebuilt by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, it was the site of the temple of Aphrodite, which sponsored the most perverse immorality in the Roman world.
  8. The date is 51-52 AD under the proconsul Gallio. In 49 the emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews out of Rome (and Alexandria) for certain reasons that are not understood. Those Jews who were also Christians left as well and among them were Aquila and Priscilla.
  9. They, like Paul, were tentmakers; they met and later worked together. As per Paul’s custom, he spoke in the synagogues. Many Jews lived in Corinth.
  10. Silas and Timothy completing their supportive work in Philippi and Thessalonica, join Paul in Corinth.
  11. Paul continues his work and when strongly opposed virtually quotes Ezekiel 33, “your blood be on your own heads.”
  12. The ruler, or president of the synagogue, Crispus, is converted as well as many others, and were baptized.
  13. Paul now has a vision in which the Lord reassures him in preparation for trouble that is about to begin. Paul will remain in Corinth for one and a half years.
  14. Those opposing the Christian witness attempt to involve the Roman authorities who bring Paul before Gallio. At this point the Romans lump the Christians and the Jews together as a legal religion in the empire. When Gallio understands that the issue is religious in nature, he refuses to act on the matter. The new ruler of the synagogue is beaten.

Paul Addresses the Areopagus, Acts 17:22-34

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 54

Paul Addresses the Areopagus

Acts 17:22-34

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul, standing now in the ancient forum where countless preachers and philosophers presented their views to an eager audience, here composed almost entirely of Gentiles.
  8. These people were either very religious or superstitious; thought is that Paul meant religious, not a derogatory word.
  9. Inscriptions with “To an Unknown God” have been found by archeologists. The Athenians, as most people now and then, want to “cover their bases.”
  10. Paul announces that, unlike most Graeco/Romans deities, was creator of all and a personal God, not a world-soul.
  11. He is not only creator, but sovereign, and sovereign of all including nations, places, and their times.
  12. Times of “ignorance” God overlooked (no one knows what this means), but now it is time to repent, meaning to change one’s mind about who God is, since the creator God desires that people seek Him.
  13. Paul quotes well known Poets, one even a stoic, to the effect that He is actually personally present and is the reason for our very existence.
  14. The upshot is then that God is not made of an earthly material like gold or silver or stone—not an idol—and from this Paul’s hearers must turn away from. Indeed a day of judgment is coming, and the basis of the judgment has to do with a man. A man the creator God has appointed (here we see the idea of Messiah) and who died and rose again.
  15. Some mocked, others put it off, and some believed.

Paul in Athens, Acts 17:16-21

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 53

Acts 17:16-21

Paul in Athens

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul, on the run from those who opposed him in Thessalonica, travelled to Berea only to find that his enemies followed him there.
  8. The “brothers” saw to it he escape to Athens and after some period, Paul was “provoked” by what he saw there.
  9. Athens, known for its 30,000 temples to pagan gods, its great university, renown for being the home of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and where the Epicurians (founded by Epicurius some three hundred years earlier) and the Stoics (founded, centuries earlier also, by Zeno) had seen all these philosophical school degenerate into degradation and cultural and racial pridefulness.
  10. Paul already knew that behind the idols worshipped in Athens the demons lurked. In 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Paul makes this clear.
  11. It was the tradition that the proclaimers of new religions and philosophies to come to the marketplace, the agora, and announce their teachings. This had become standard for several centuries.
  12. At first the listeners thought Paul was preaching about two new gods, Jesus and the resurrection. In Greek resurrection is Anastasia, a feminine word, thus Jesus and Anastasia. These were new and strange words to the Athenians.
  13. But Paul’s words, however unorthodox, were pondered and considered by the crowds. They wanted to know more.
  14. Luke acquaints his future readers with the fact that the Athenians, and other foreigners, loved to hear the theories of the traveling preachers. Perfect for Paul.

Paul and Silas in Berea, Acts 17:10-15

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 52

Acts 17:10-15

Paul and Silas in Berea

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul and Silas, while in Thessalonica, were supported by contributions from the fledgling church at Philippi; Paul also worked as a tent-maker. This is from the letter to the Thessalonians.
  8. Upon arrival in Berea, the missionaries head straight for the synagogue, as per Paul’s practice of preaching Jesus to the Jew first and then the Greek. (see Romans 1:16)
  9. The Bereans received the Word (logon) eagerly and examined the Scriptures to learn the truth. Paul was the perfect person to present the prophetic passages to the Jewish people there as well as the Gentile God fearers.
  10. Women of high standing also were present at the synagogue. This was the era of the “new Roman woman,” a period that had developed about 100 years previous. These women of thigh standing were attracted to the high practices and teachings of the Hebrew Scripture.
  11. Word had gotten back to those in Thessalonica who had caused Paul and Silas so much trouble. They are stirred up about the preaching of the Word of God. These were able to cause trouble, which resulted in the necessity of the “brothers” sending Paul away.
  12. “Brothers” would include women, too. Luke does not use the word “sisters” but includes them in the word “brothers.”
  13. The brothers escort Paul all the way to Athens, whether by horse, by foot, or by boat—Luke does not say which.
  14. Paul “commands” that Silas and Timothy join him in Athens.

 

Paul & Silas in Thessalonica and Berea, Acts 17:1-15

GOSPEL MEDITATION #51

Acts 17:1-15

Paul & Silas in Thessalonica-Paul & Silas in Berea

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul, Silas, and company in Europe now, just having, due to necessity, left Philippi and travel on to Thessalonica some 100 miles away, and is the capital city of Macedonia, this in 51 AD.
  8. Here is a fairly large Jewish population and there is a synagogue where the missionaries spend several weeks conversing in the synagogue showing from the Hebrew Scripture that the Messiah must both suffer death and be raised from the dead. And this Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth.
  9. This would be good news to some, and the worst message to others. Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 captures the dilemma his hearers would experience.
  10. Some or these react when faced with the apostles’ message and stir up trouble; not an unusual occurrence. Here now is found the famous phrase, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”
  11. Apparently one of the early converts is Jason, a prominent citizen who is pressured to send the missionaries away.
  12. The “brothers”—meaning the church that was forming there— send Paul and Silas away, by night, to Berea, some 60 miles away. Upon arrival they to into the Jewish synagogue and proclaim the Gospel message. (see Romans 1:16).
  13. Here now there is an altogether different response; these people “received the word with all eagerness” and they did so by examining their Scriptures.
  14. But trouble arose by way of their opponents from Thessalonica, after hearing about what was taking place. Paul is sent off to Athens. Silas and Timothy remain in Berea.

The Philippian Jailer Converted Acts 16:25-40

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 50

Acts 16:25-40 The Philippian Jailer Converted

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul and Silas, having come to the attention of some prominent Philippian citizens, are severely beaten then placed in a secure inner prison.
  8. At midnight, in the dark and dungy prison, the missionaries are praying and singing hymns to God. Other prisoners are listening as well as the jailer and his household.
  9. An earthquake hits, not a coincidental event, and suddenly the prisoner’s chains fall off and the doors of the prison open. The jailer is also awakened and rushes in.
  10. Under Roman law, the jailer who has a prisoner escape pays for it with his life. The jailer is about to commit suicide when Paul loudly calls out that all in captivity are still there—no one has escaped.
  11. The jailer’s response is “What must I do to be saved?” Saved from what? Is a legitimate question. Saved from punishment by the authorities? Or saved from the judgment of a higher authority? It is likely the latter.
  12. “Believe in Jesus” is the response. From what the jailer overheard in the night must have informed him about his need. He believes (remember God opened Lydia’ heart), and is baptized along with his household, and the similarity is seen with the household of Lydia.
  13. The jailer’s household is not described, but servants for sure, and maybe others; no indication of children. The jailer is likely a retired Roman soldier.
  14. Paul refuses to leave the city without proper authority, for the sake of the church just forming perhaps.

The Conversion of Lydia & Paul and Silas in Prison

Gospel Meditation #49

The Conversion of Lydia & Paul and Silas in Prison

Acts 16:11-24

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Paul, Silas, Luke, and Timothy arrive in Europe, and stay in the Macedonian city of Philippi. They hear of and then visit a place of prayer (evidently no synagogue in the city) by a river on a Sabbath day.
  7. The missionary/evangelists speak to a group of women gathered there. One of them, Lydia from a prominent city, Thyatira (modern day Turkey and one of the 7 cities of the Book of Revelation) has her heart opened by the Lord.
  8. She is baptized, probably in that river, and also her household. (We have no details about the nature of the household.)
  9. She invites the apostolic team to her home; Paul and company eventually agree to do so.
  10. Fortune telling, divination, common in that era as centuries before, comes into view. A “slave girl” who makes big money for her handlers, follows the preachers and announce what sounds like an honorable and exalted spiritual authority and message. But Paul is annoyed.
  11. At some point, Paul commands the python spirit indwelling the slave girl to come out of her. It does.
  12. The result is she can no longer tell fortunes. Normally she would give knowledge of something in a person’s past thereby setting up a divination, which would be expensive.
  13. Now her handlers are upset and seek to punish Paul and Silas. They are stripped, beaten with rods, and cast into a maximum security part of a prison. There feet in stocks, they cannot even move.

 

The Birth of Jesus Christ, Matthew 1:18-25

GOSPEL MEDITATION

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Matthew 1:18-25

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Only Matthew and Luke give us the story of the birth of Jesus.
  8. Matthew’s account is steeped in Jewish thinking; Luke has an historical rendering that is written for the Graeco-Roman world.
  9. For Matthew, the birth of Jesus took place to fulfill the statements made by the prophets concerning the Messiah. Luke places the story in actual time and space.
  10. The Savior of the world is actually and miraculously born of a woman in a real place.
  11. Caesar Augustus (ruled 31BC to AD14) was emperor in Rome and Quirinius was governor of Syria. In 5 or 6 BC, Mary & Joseph arrive in Bethlehem to obey Roman law.
  12. Mary, nine months pregnant, made the arduous journey to Bethlehem from Nazareth.
  13. She gives birth to her first child. The birth place was perfect for them: it was private, warm, dry, away from disturbances, and safe. Jesus has a good start in life and Mary and Joseph can enjoy the great moment. The Father has seen to everything.

 

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas & The Macedonian Call

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 48

The Book of Acts # 48 Acts 16:1-10

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas & The Macedonian Call

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Timothy, his mother Eunice is Jewish; his father Greek. (Origen says they lived in Derbe.) He had not been circumcised. Paul reasons he needed to be however in light of the future ministry. (see Galatians 6:15) In that part of the world, there was a large Jewish presence.
  8. The trio of Paul, Silas, and Timothy visit the churches from the first missionary journey some years earlier.
  9. It was important to relay to the new churches the “decrees” made by the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem Church.
  10. Consult a map of Paul’s missionary tours at this point. There are points that are unclear, but most commentators think the trio headed northwest but the Holy Spirit, for reasons not known, did not want them to evangelize in that western part of Asia. At Mysia, they intended to advance northeast but Jesus did not allow that.
  11. The three then went off to Troas, where Luke probably joined them, and in the night Paul had a vision, in the Greek an arama, whereby Paul saw a man of Macedonia, the northern part of Greece, calling them to them for help.
  12. It was then concluded that God wanted them to preach the Gospel there.