- What to do with those Gentiles. Do we ever disagree as a church about issues that confront us today? Or are we in total agreement about topics such as the ordination of women, the wearing of jewelry, Sabbath observance, diet, appropriate dress, and modern music in the church service? How did feelings–and beliefs–about Gentiles threaten unity and harmony in the early church?
- Saved by faith and faith alone. Can you imagine the furor Paul raised among some Christians when they assumed he was teaching them that the teachings of Moses had little or no bearing on them? What was the Nazarite vow and how was it seen as a key mark of obedience to God’s commands? What problems did Paul stir up when he took the Nazarite vow? In what way was that a compromise with Christ’s teachings? Or was the vow a simple declaration of Paul’s desire to live a holy life? Was it seen in that way?
- Wild excitement. Imagine the stir when Paul was observed in the company of an uncircumcised Gentile. How would you have felt as a member of that church, observing what happened. Are you sure? Did Paul bring this Gentile into the temple? What was the penalty for his action, according to Jewish law? The crowd was seething with anger. When the Roman authorities approached Paul, what did they try to do? Were they successful?
- Before the crowd. Where did the questioning take place about Paul’s bringing or wanting to bring an uncircumcised Gentile into the temple? Explain how Paul was thought to be an Egyptian who had fought against the Romans. At his interrogation, why do you think Paul seemed to give in to accept a punishment of flogging? What happened when Paul explained his Roman citizenship? How could Paul be both a Roman citizen and a Jew?
- The Sanhedrin. How did it happen that Paul was able to refer the issue of his role with the Jewish people to the Sanhedrin, a Jewish ruling body? Paul wasted no words accusing the Jewish high priest of being “whitewashed.” What do you think of the possible defense that Paul might have had such poor eyesight that he couldn’t tell that it was a Jewish priest he was addressing? That night in the fortress, what message did the Lord give to Paul in a vision?
- On to Caesarea. Is it hard for you to believe that the Jewish people in Jerusalem could be so furious with Paul that his death would be a great relief to them? Imagine being surrounded by people so infused with hatred for Christianity that your life is in danger. We call that religious fanaticism. Do you and I or our families and friends in Christ have any future risk of being pursued by religious fanatics? Or, perhaps, just being misunderstood by fellow Christians?
- Felix. What kept the governor Felix from pursuing Paul immediately and bringing him to trial? How did Paul benefit from his nephew coming to the fortress where he was being retained? What was the benefit to Paul at the time of being a Roman citizen? Tell your class about the courage this story gives you as you learn about fellow Christians being pursued and harmed today.
These are Discussion Starters for Lesson 11, Sep 15, 2018