Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem is momentous; we know from Paul’s own expectations (Acts 20:25) and the words of the Christian prophet Agabus (Acts 21:10-14) that the final stage of his life will likely begin when he comes full circle and returns to the city. Yet Paul will not be dissuaded, stating that he is “ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” How often are we easily swayed from our own spiritual commitments? How can Paul’s example be an encouragement to us?
His arrest and initial trials (Acts 21:27-24:26) afford him opportunities to speak and preach to large crowds, to the Jewish authorities, and to the Roman authorities. Ultimately, his arrest even allows him to reach Rome itself (Acts 23:11). Do you see God’s providence and plan, even in the midst of Paul’s suffering?
Paul retells his story of conversion twice in this section. What do you notice that is similar and different between these three accounts (Acts 9, Acts 22 and Acts 26)? Why does Luke, the author of Acts, include these minor differences? What do you notice that is consistent throughout each of the accounts? Why are these central details so important?
Acts concludes with Paul in prison in Rome, and with no mention of either Paul’s or Peters’ executions, both of which occur in Rome in the mid 60s AD. Some believe this is because the book was finished before their deaths; others believe that Luke saw their deaths as irrelevant to the story. Either way, the conclusion of the book highlights the central promise of Acts; that Jesus has come for Gentiles as well as Jews.
What aspect of the account of the early church in Acts did you find most fascinating or impactful? Why?
Ephesians addresses one of Paul’s major themes; the union of Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ.
See Ephesians 2, for an excellent summary of the gospel message! See Ephesians 5 for challenging and thought-provoking standards for marriages, and Ephesians 6 for insights on spiritual warfare. But most of all, pay attention to the incredible prayers found in this book, and consider using them in your own prayer life this coming week!
Stick with it and I’ll see you Sunday!