Of course, nothing human is perfect, and it wasn’t long before trouble began within the early community of faith.
For starters, not everyone was pleased with the entry of Gentile believers into the early church. The disagreement was not over the concept of a Gentile mission, but over the basis on which Gentiles should be allowed to join. Some felt that faith in Jesus alone was not sufficient as the defining mark of the Christian; faith, they argued, must be supplemented [...]
October 1, 2011
Key Thought: God changed Saul’s opposition to the young church resulting in a strong ministry to the Gentiles..
1. Have a volunteer read Acts 6:9-15.
A. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
B. What was Stephen being accused of? Were these accusations true, partially true, or completely false? Share.
C. Personal Application: How do you think you would handle being partially or falsely accused in [...]
I was introduced to Galatians in Bible class many years ago. “Pauline Epsitles” was the name of the teaching unit. The lecturer was a theological academic and the students were a bunch of third and fourth-year undergraduate science students studying for London BSc Part 2 examinations. It was an interesting time. Anybody who has studied for finals for an English University knows the time and concentration it takes. So the fact that we had to take a Bible subject was [...]
Where was the first Gentile church established? What events caused the believers to go there? (Acts 11:19–21, 26). What does that remind you of from Old Testament times? (See Daniel 2.)
The persecution that broke out in Jerusalem after Stephen’s death caused a number of Jewish believers to flee three hundred miles north to Antioch. As capital of the Roman province of Syria, Antioch was second only to Rome and Alexandria in significance. Its population, estimated at five hundred thousand, was extremely cosmopolitan, making it an [...]
During Saul’s encounter with Jesus, he was blinded and then instructed to go to the house of a man named Judas and to wait there for another man, Ananias. No doubt Saul’s physical blindness was a powerful reminder of the greater spiritual blindness that led him to persecute the followers of Jesus.
The appearance of Jesus to him on the Damascus road changed everything. Where Saul had thought he had been so right, he had been dead wrong. Rather than working [...]
This map (produced in Bibleworks maps) shows the general area of Galatia, the setting of this quarter’s lessons, in what is now the country of Turkey. It is a region that forms a high plateau over 3000 ft (1000 m) in elevation and would have been more comfortable for Paul than Tarsus would have been since it is about 10 degrees cooler and a little dryer.
The red line is the approximate route that Paul took on his second missionary journey.
“And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads’”(Acts 9:5, NKJV).
Although Saul’s persecution of the early church begins rather inconspicuously (as he only holds the coats of Stephen’s executioners), it quickly intensifies (see Acts 8:1–3; 9:1, 2, 13, 14, 21; 22:3–5). Several of the words Luke uses to describe Saul paint a picture of a wild, ferocious beast or a pillaging soldier bent on the destruction [...]
Saul of Tarsus first appears in Acts as one involved in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58) and then in connection with the more wide-scale persecution that broke out in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1–5). Peter, Stephen, Philip, and Paul play a significant role in the book of Acts because they were involved in events that led to the spread of the Christian faith beyond the Jewish world. Stephen is of particular significance because his preaching and martyrdom appear to have had a profound influence on [...]
Paul’s letter to the Galatians has been compared to spiritual “dynamite,” and rightly so. Except for Romans, no other book in the Bible has sparked as much spiritual revival and reformation. One could argue that out of the pages of Galatians (along with Romans) Protestantism itself was born. It was while reading Galatians that Martin Luther first was touched with the glorious good news of righteousness by faith. “The Epistle to the Galatians,” he said, “is my epistle. To it [...]
Read for This Week’s Study:
Acts 6:9–15, 9:1–9, 1 Sam. 16:7, Matt. 7:1, Acts 11:19–21, 15:1–5.
“When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life’” (Acts 11:18, NKJV).
It’s not that hard to understand Saul of Tarsus (also known as the apostle Paul after his conversion), and why he did what he did. As a devout Jew who was taught all his life about the importance of the law and about the soon-coming [...]