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Genesis to Revelation Bible Course
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Lesson No. 45—God Expects You to Know Your Bible.

LESSON THEME:—ACTS

Acts 1:1-8

  • KEY WORDWITNESS (Occurs 30 Times).

  • KEY VERSEActs 1:18.

  • KEY PHRASETHE GOSPEL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Home Readings.

Read the whole of Acts this week. It is one of the most important books in the Bible. For family altar read:

NAME—This book is by no means a complete account of all the acts, or doings of all the apostles, but rather of some of the acts of some of the apostles.

WRITER—Luke, who wrote the third gospel. The only Gentile writer of the Bible was chosen to record the giving of the gospel to the Gentiles. He was chosen to collect and carry the gracious offerings of the Gentile Christians to the church at Jerusalem, 2 Corinthians 8:18. He was the faithful, and often the only companion of Paul in his missionary journeyings and imprisonments. The Christian world owes him a great debt for his two important writings.

DATE—About 64 A. D. Period covered A. D. 32-64, 32 years.

PLACE OF WRITING—Probably Rome.

PURPOSE—To record the doings of the spirit-filled apostles and churches after the Lord Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven.

GREAT FACTS:—

  1. Jerusalem.

  2. Palestine.

  3. First Journey.

  4. Council.

  5. Second Journey.

  6. Third Journey.

  7. Arrest.

I. The Gospel Preached at Jerusalem

Acts 1; Acts 2; Acts 3; Acts 4; Acts 5; Acts 6; Acts 7.

Our Lord having promised a special imparation of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, they waited in the upper room at Jerusalem for ten days. In the meantime Mathias was chosen by lot to succeed Judas, Acts 1:26. Fifty days after the crucifixion, at the time of the Jewish feast of harvest or Pentecost, the assembled disciples heard a sound like the rushing of a great wind, and flames of fire in the shape of tongues rested above the head of each disciple. Then they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus endowed for special service. This enabled them to preach, not only with divine power, but in the different languages represented that day at Jerusalem, Acts 1:2-4. The multitude accused the apostles of being drunk, but Peter pointed out that it was only 9 a. m., before which hour no Jew would taste wine. He urged them that this was the coming of the Spirit, prophesised in Joel 2:28, told them they had wickedly put the Son of God to death, and pleaded with them to repent of their sins and be baptized. Great numbers believed. and three thousand persons were baptized, and added to the church that day. After a short period of delightful Christian fellowship this large number of converts went home to tell their countrymen how God had visited His people.

At the beautiful Gate of the Temple, Peter healed an incurable cripple which brought a great crowd of people to Solomon’s porch. This gave Peter another chance to preach that the Christ whom they had crucified was the long-promised Messiah. So powerful was the appeal that the number of converts now reached 5,000. Acts 4:4.

This so stirred up the same Jewish leaders who had crucified Christ that the Apostles were forbidden to preach Jesus, Acts 4:18. The church became so self-denying and enthusiastic that many sold their Possessions, and gave the proceeds to the Apostles for distribution according to each man’s needs. Ananias and his wife sought to deceive the apostles and God in this matter and were punished with instant death, Acts 5:4. The apostles continued their wonderful work, which again aroused the opposition of the Sanhedrin (or Jewish ecclesiastical court of 70 judges). The Apostles were beaten with rods, and prohibited to preach, but rejoicing they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ, Acts 5:42.

Seven deacons are now chosen to look after the growing business of the church, 6:3. Stephen, the leader among them, a man full of faith and power, becomes the first Christian martyr because of his heart-searching preaching.

LESSONS

  1. Note that the first period of Acts is taken up with the work at Jerusalem, with Peter as the leader.

  2. Our Lord Himself founded the church, (Matthew 16:18) out of His inner circle of baptized disciples, but the organization within the same came after Pentecost, Acts 2:47.

  3. The baptism of the Spirit must not be confused with the filling of the Spirit. Every believer is born of the Spirit, John 3:6, indwelt by the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19, and should be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 3:12.

Great Fact II. The Gospel Preached in Palestine.

Acts 8; Acts 7; Acts 8; Acts 9; Acts 10; Acts 11; Acts 12.

The death of Stephen instead of being a calamity was really a great blessing, for it scattered gospel preachers all over Judea and Samaria. In the city of Samaria, there were many conversions and great joy, through the preaching of Philippians 3:8. The Ethiopian Eunuch was converted and baptized, Acts 3:38. .The bitter but brilliant Saul was converted, and became Paul the great apostle of the Gentiles, 9:1-30. Peter, who had used the keys of the Kingdom of God at Pentecost, Matthew 16; Matthew 17; Matthew 18; Matthew 19, now uses them again in opening the gospel door to Gentiles, Acts 10; Acts 11. Persecution again conies upon the church, with the martyrdom of James, and the arrest of Peter. Peter however, is delivered by an angel, and Herod the persecutor, died a shameful death. Acts 12.

LESSONS

  1. In this section the centre of Christianity is changed from Jerusalem in Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians. The new church prove to be a worthy one for it was the first to send out missionaries to the heathen, and first to take up a collection for the mother church at Jerusalem, when it was suffering from famine.

  2. Acts 10:44 is one of the pivotal points in scripture, for it marks the Pentecost of the Gentiles. Here is no laying on of apostolic hands, and no delay but the Holy Spirit is immediately given upon simple faith in Christ. This is the normal order for the gospel age.

Great Facts III. Paul’s First Missionary Journey.

Acts 13; Acts 14.

The church at Antioch in a great sacrificial spirit now sends out the first with foreign missionaries. Barnabas and Paul, with John and Mark, (who wrote the 2nd gospel) set out for Asia Minor with the motto, “Christ for all the world, and all the world for Christ!” It is interesting to trace their progress through fourteen cities, with the aid of a map. At Perga, Mark turns back from the work and goes home to the deep regret of the apostles. The reason probably was because he objected to the offer of salvation to the Gentiles, on condition of faith alone. Two years later Paul was unwilling to try Mark a second time, but afterwards forgave him, counted him a fellow-worker, and found him a great comfort, Philemon 24.

SOME RESULTS—An imposter stricken blind, Acts 13:11. Many Jews believe, but others bitterly oppose, so that the apostles turned to the Gentile, Acts 13:43, 45-46. An incurable cripple healed and an attempt made to worship the apostles as gods, Acts 14: 8-11. Paul afterward stoned and left for dead, Acts 14:19. After full consultation with the brethren, officers were appointed in every church, 14:23.

Great Facts IV. The Church Council at Jerusalem.

Acts 15.

After Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, certain Jewish Christians urged that the Gentiles could not be saved unless they were circumcised, and kept the law of Moses. The church at Antioch therefore decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to consult with the other apostles and elders about the matter. On their arrival a meeting was called, at which the question was earnestly discussed. Peter urged that they should not put under the Law, those to whom God had given the Spirit, and James, the brother of the Lord, agreed with him. The council therefore decided that Gentile converts need not be circumcised, but should abstain from idolatry, fornication, from blood and from things strangled. This decision reaffirming that men are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus alone. Acts 15:11 was of far-reaching importance to the early churches.

Great Facts V. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey.

Acts 15:36-18:22.

Before starting on the second journey there were two disagreements among the apostles. Paul rebuked Peter for drawing a caste line between Jews and Gentiles in the church. Galatians 2:11-14. And then being unwilling to take Mark on the second journey, he himself with Silas went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches, and Barnabas and Mark went to the Island of Cyprus. At Lystra Paul finding a young man named Timothy, who was wise in the scriptures, he led him to Christ, and chose him as a companion in order that he also might learn to become a preacher of the blessed gospel, Acts 16:1. At Troas, the Holy Spirit in a vision directed the apostles to take the gospel for the first time to Europe, the starting point being Phillipi, in Macedonia. Luke has now joined the missionary party, Acts 16:10. The first convert in Europe was Lydia, a seller of purple-dyed garments. Phillipi is famous for Paul’s imprisonment, the earthquake, and conversion of the jailer. The church at Thessalonica is founded, Acts 17:4. Also the church at Corinth, where the apostles stay 18 months, Acts 18:8. At the famous city of Athens Paul found an altar to “The Unknown God,” and preached a sermon on Mar’s Hill. The apostles then return to Antioch by way of Ephesus, after an absence of three or four years.

Great Facts VI. Paul’s Third Missionary journey.

On the third tour the apostle with Timothy directed his attention chiefly to Ephesus where they stayed for three years, and where multitudes of the Jews and Gentiles of Asia heard the gospel preached. Ephesus was notorious for its luxury, licentiousness, and the worship of the goddess Diana. Enthusiastic converts burned their books of magic, and turned away from their silver idols. The silversmiths therefore stirred up a riot, and the apostles were rescued from danger only by the help of one of the city officials. At Ephesus Paul wrote First Corinthians I. for Acts 16:8. At Troas Paul preached with great success, and at Phillipi wrote Second Corinthians, He now collects money for poor Christians in Judea. Hearing that Judizing teachers were misleading the church at Galatia, he wrote the epistle to the Galatians to overthrow the errors. Three months are spent at Corinth, and the epistle to the Romans written and sent by Phebe. Paul now makes a last visit to Jerusalem where he was received kindly by the church, and much encouraged them by telling what God was doing among the Gentiles.

Great Facts VII. Paul’s Arrest and Closing Ministry.

Acts 21:27-end.

The Jews of Asia now accuse Paul of slighting the law and of bringing Gentiles into the temple. In the midst of an uproar he is arrested, and makes his defence before the multitude, and before the Roman governor, Felix at Caesarea. After two years’ imprisonment because of the wavering policy of Felix, Paul was tried again by the new governor, Festus, but Paul appealed from him to Caesar, the emperor of Rome. After a most exciting voyage, with a shipwreck off the coast of Malta, Paul arrived in Rome and was kept a prisoner for another two years, during which, soldiers and even servants in Nero’s palace were converted. In these two years the epistles to the Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians and Philippians were written. Paul is now freed, spends two years in Spain, Romans 15:28; returns to Ephesus and Crete, and finding false teachers busy, writes First Timothy and Titus. Being again arrested and hurried to Rome, he writes Second Timothy in jail, expecting any hour to be “offered up.” He is now condemned and beheaded, and his body buried in the catacombs of Rome in which other noble martyrs often hid in times of fierce persecution.

NOTE—Churches had now sprung up all over the known world. Most of the New Testament had been written. The gospel had outgrown its Jewish clothes and was seen to be the world-gospel. Jerusalem, Antioch and Rome were the early centres of Christianity.

Questions on the Lesson.

  1. Give the key word and key verse.

  2. Who was the writer and what do you know about him?

  3. Give the date and place of writing.

  4. What the purpose?

  5. Name the great facts.

  6. Give brief account of Pentecost.

  7. Tell of Peter’s two sermons and the results.

  8. Tell of the deacons, their work and preaching.

  9. Who founded the church, and when did it organize within itself?

  10. Give the relation of the Spirit to the believer.

  11. Tell the conversion of Paul.

  12. How did Peter use the keys of the kingdom?

  13. What two things did the church at Antioch do?

  14. Why is Acts 10:44 pivotal point in scripture?

  15. Tell of Paul’s first missionary journey.

  16. Give an account of the church council.

  17. Tell of the finding of Timothy.

  18. Where was the gospel first preached in Europe, and who was the first converted?

  19. For what is PhiIlipi famous?

  20. Tell of the work of Ephesus on the third tour.

  21. Why was Paul arrested?

  22. Before whom tried?

  23. Tell of his imprisonment and martyrdom.

  24. Show that the gospel churches had now mullioned.

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