Acts 17:16-34

Paul at Athens faces philosophers, who are eager to hear another man’s views in order that they may add these to their rag-bag of ideas, and who also have no background understanding of the Old Testament. See, if possible, Acts (TNTC), pp. 281-291 for a most helpful explanation of Paul’s visit.

  1. Verses 16, 21. From wha6t motives, and by what methods, did Paul proclaim the gospel?
    Do you know anything of a divine jealousy provoked by the fact that people do not give Christ the allegiance that is his right?
  2. Verses 22-34. Study Paul’s sermon and note:
    (a) how he gained the interest of his hearers (verses 22,23),
    (b) what he taught about God in relation to the universe, mankind, idols and images (verses 24-29), and
    (c) the response he argued which men needed to make to God (verses 30-34).
    Paul sought to make the Christian message relevant to the thought and background of his hearers. He had no slick phraseology. What do you learn from this about preaching today?

Acts 17:1-15

Thessalonica was the metropolis and most populous city of Macedonia, a centre for both inland and maritime trade. Berea was a smaller town some sixty miles to the south-west.

  1. What do we learn from Paul’s visits and preaching at Thessalonica and Berea about:
    (a) the places where he preached,
    (b) the features of his preaching,
    (c) his chief message,
    (d) those who believed, and € the persecution that arose?
    The same events are written about by Paul in 1 Thess. 1:1-2:16.
    Do you realize that opportunities for strategic Christian witness may last only a short time?
    What ought you to do?
  2. Verses 11, 12. How are those who attended the Jewish synagogue in Berea described, and why are they commended?
    Are these features found in your life and Bible study?

Acts 16:16-40

  1. Verses 16-24. What was he origin of the persecution, and in what way did it differ from all those hitherto recorded?
    Note the successive stages of it, as described in Luke’s very vivid account.
    Do you find yourself tempted or persecuted in new ways in your Christian life?
  2. A beating with rods (verse 22) was very severe.
    Yet Paul and Silas are calm and rejoicing.
    What caused them to triumph?
    Cf. Phil. 4:13; 2 Tim. 1:7, 8. Paul insists that a public declaration of their innocence is made (verse 37). What use would this be to the advance of the gospel?
    Are there any ways we can use public authority to help advance the gospel?
  3. What caused the jailer to believe?
    What was essential to his salvation?
    What change was immediately found in his life?
    Cf. 8:39; 13:52. Does your salvation give you the joy of the Lord?


Acts 16:6-15

A new period begins here, recording Paul’s greatest missionary effort and achievement: the evangelization of three important Roman provinces Macedonia, Achaia and Asia.

  1. Verses 6-10. By what various means was Paul guided at this time?
    Trace on a map how remarkable the guidance was.
    What indication is there from this that God does not always guide us in the way we might expect?
  2. Verses 11-15. The gospel comes to Europe. What evidence is there:
    (a) that Luke, the author of Acts, joined Paul at this time;
    (b) that the work began in a small way (with verses 13, cf. 13:14-16; 14:1, 2 and Zech. 4:10), and
    (c) that Lydia was truly born again of the Holy Spirit?
    Do you ever try to organize great work for God, rather than let God start a lasting work in a small way?

Acts 15:35-16:5

  1. What was the contention between Paul and Barnabas?
    Which was right, or were both wrong?
    Cf. John 21:21, 22; 2 Tim. 4:11. Can you disagree with another Christian without falling out with them?
  2. What provision did God make for Paul when he lost the help of Barnabas and John Mark?
    What was the keynote of their work at this stage?
    Cf. 14:21-23; 18:23. In what ways can you help a young Christian to be strong in the faith?
  3. 12:225-16:5. List the developments which took place in this fourth period (see Analysis).


Acts 15:13-34

  1. Verses 14-21. Here James, the leader of the Jerusalem church, the Lord’s brother, and probably President of the Council, sums up. What judgment does he give, and for what reasons?
    Do you think this would satisfy both Jew and Gentile?
  2. Verses 22, 23. In what ways was the decision to be made known to the gentiles, and with what results?
    From the whole debate, what principles can you draw out to guide you when there is a disagreement among fellow Christians:
    (a) on essentials of the faith and
    (b) about non-essentials and matters of individual conscience?

Acts 15:1-12

  1. The point at issue between the newly-established Gentile church at Antioch and the older Jewish church at Jerusalem was:
    On what terms can Gentiles be saved?
    What answer was given by:
    (a) Paul and Barnabas (see 14:27). And
    (b) the teachers from Judaism (verses 1, 5)?
    Write down what you think is essential for salvation.
  2. Verses 7-11. Of what three facts did Peter remind the Council at Jerusalem, and what conclusions does he draw from them?
    Is it possible for old established churches to impose upon young churches of a different culture, or for mature Christians to impose upon new converts, patterns of behavior or ceremonies that are not essential to Christianity?