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Moving On



Acts 18:5-11
5When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. 9And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

The Story: We note that to the Jews Paul preached “Christ” then “Jesus.” Whereas to Gentiles the message was often the reverse. Think about it. The Jews in Corinth seem to have been a bit more cosmopolitan than in Macedonia. They opposed and reviled Paul, but they didn’t whip up a mob. Yet. Paul knows when he’s worn out his welcome, but he doesn’t leave off teaching at the synagogue without a word of warning about the judgment of God. Now he will go among the Gentiles in Corinth, and to symbolize that, he changes residence. This is not a slight to Aquila and Priscilla. Having left the synagogue he needs a place to meet with Gentiles, and so the home of a Gentile is a more likely venue than that of a Jewish couple. Especially – conveniently enough – as his home was right next to the synagogue (in case any Jews might want to wander in). Paul’s leaving shocked the Jewish community as the president of their synagogue went with him, perhaps provoking the further action by the Jews, which we will see in the next section. Paul and Silas arrive from Macedonia, and the team is back to full strength. Many are coming to faith. Paul doubtless began to worry about this, given what had happened in previous cities. But the Lord Jesus appeared to Paul to encourage him in his ministry, which would continue in Corinth for a year and a half.

The Structure: Jesus had many in Corinth who were among His people. They had not all been saved yet, however, and so He willed that Paul should continue seeking those lost sheep until a sufficient number had been gathered to ensure the ongoing work of Christ in Corinth would continue. How did Jesus know those people not yet saved would in fact become His people?

Is it possible that Jesus has “many people” who belong to Him in your community? Is your church as active in seeking them as Paul was in Corinth?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Settling In



Acts 18:1-5
1
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks

The Story: This marks a change in Paul’s approach. Why did he decide to settle in with this man and woman and take up a “day job” in Corinth? Well, we don’t know, but we can assume the Lord was leading him in this way, as will be confirmed in v. 9. Paul’s ministry plans were neither so specific nor concrete that he could not be open to the Lord’s leading in some new way. Paul was not run out of town in Athens, but he decided he’d done as much there as necessary. It’s possible that Aquila and Priscilla were already believers at this point, given what we learn about the depths of their knowledge of the Gospel in vv. 24ff. Had they been in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost? Or learned the Good News while they were still in Rome from someone who had been there? We don’t know. Paul takes up with them and joins in their trade to support his work. This will continue for 18 months, as we shall see – leaving Paul not a little peeved with the Corinthians, who never seem to have understood about their obligation to the one who was ministering God’s Word to them (cf. 1 Cor. 9). Paul continued his ministry in the synagogue week by week and wherever else he could meet to reason with people, as time permitted.

The Structure: “Tent-making” is a reasonable option for Christians called to the ministry of the Word. But the fact that a man has other employment to support him in his ministry does not excuse those who are served by his labors from helping to meet his needs (Gal. 6:6).

Besides material support, what is the responsibility of a congregation of God’s people in caring for those who minister the Word to them?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
The Worldly Respond to the Word



Acts 17:29-34
29”
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but know he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed ma day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 32Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33So Paul went out from their midst. 34But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

The Story: Taking off from a quote by the poet Aratus, Paul questions the reasonableness of men imagining God as a Being Who could be reduced to some concrete, portable form. If we are God’s offspring, then when we think about God we should think about a Being rather like ourselves, only more amazing – like Jesus, for example. Men are the fruit of the imagination of God. God is not the product of the imagination of men. And in the imagination of God He has ordained the salvation of benighted men by coming in their own image to proclaim the day of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We note in Paul’s address both the promise of redemption, the offer of salvation, and the warning of judgment. Nothing philosophical here; this is pure theology. Paul’s tactic is criticized by some because he didn’t get the “results” he achieved elsewhere. Quite the contrary. Some believe. Some are piqued and would like to talk further. And some are just angry. We’ve seen this everywhere Paul has gone. Paul was as effective in Athens as he had been anywhere else, because like everywhere else, he stayed true to the Word of the Gospel.

The Structure: The ongoing work of Christ consists of replacing the sinful, benighted, unbelieving worldview of the Lie with the Truth that is in Jesus Christ. To do this we have to disassemble one worldview and carefully assemble another in its place. Reason and persuasion are the proper tools here, dressed in the garb of preaching.

How much does the idea of “worldview” factor into the disciple-making process in your church? Ask a church leader about this?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
The Word to the Worldly



Acts 17:22-28
22
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live yon all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

The Story: Luke gives us what is probably a condensed version of Paul’s message to the Areopagus. Let’s note the following: First, Paul commends the sincerity of their religion. He gives them credit as worshipers and does not chide them for their idolatry. That would have put them on the defensive and been the end of his address. He is impressed, it seems to me, by their humility in acknowledging an “unknown” deity, and Paul sees in this his entry point for the Gospel. Every worldview offers a variety of entry points for engaging conversation about the Gospel. We just need to learn how to identify those and to follow the Spirit as He leads us smoothly from their worldview to ours. Next, Paul uses quotes from two Greek poets to support his teaching, but the foundation of his message is Scripture. Every worldview provides resources for pointing beyond that worldview to the teaching of Scripture. Again, we can learn to recognize and use these to advantage. Paul compares the majesty and greatness of the God of Scripture – the God Who needs nothing from men – to the gods of the Greeks, which needed to be placated by temples, devotions, and other accouterments, lest they should fail to deliver whatever goods the worshipers hoped for from them. It is folly, Paul explains, to think that so great a God as the One Who exists beyond human knowing should be dependent upon anything from mere mortals. We can see the heads bobbing, eyes squinting, and chins being rubbed as Paul leads his audience to consider an overlooked contradiction (one among many) in their worldview.

The Structure: Paul does not need to condemn and denounce the Athenian worldview in order to expose its folly and undermine its reliability. He is a faithful preacher of the Word of God, but he is also a skilled communicator. Paul is not trying to use philosophy to reason his audience into accepting Jesus. He is preaching the Word to these worldly Athenians and using their own philosophers to show that the wisest among them have intuited the truth, to some extent, of what Paul proclaims.

Most unbelievers we know hold to a materialistic view of life: the good life consists of good things and good times. How might you both affirm this idea and show an unbelieving friend the folly of thinking this way?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Seeker of Men



Acts 17:16-21
16Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

The Story: Jesus had said that He came to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10). Paul was of that same bent. He “reasoned in the synagogue” and “in the marketplace.” In the marketplace Paul might expect to find philosophers from various schools of thought, milling about with their students, debating one another, expounding on this, that, or the other. Here he would have had plenty of opportunities to continue the ongoing work of Christ. Paul was troubled about the rampant idolatry of the city, but he did not let that keep him from his work. He might have concluded that the Athenians, given all their idols and worldly philosophers, would not be interested in the Gospel. Instead, he went straight to them, reasoning and preaching as often as opportunities allowed. The Athenians could only barely get the gist of his message – “this new teaching” – so they sent a delegation to invite him to make a formal presentation at the Areopagus. This is certainly a more courteous welcome than he’d received in any Greek city thus far!

The Structure: Paul is sometimes faulted for his efforts in Athens. Some suggest that he relied too much on reason and philosophical discussion, rather than on the Word, and that’s why the results were so meager. Nonsense. Paul was “preaching Jesus and the resurrection”, and, while he would adapt his message for the worldview of his hearers, in no way did Paul stray from the plain teaching of God’s Word, as we shall see.

What is your approach to “seeking” the lost people in your life? How about your church?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Practicing the Kingship of Jesus



Acts 17:10-15
10
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

The Story: From 1 Thessalonians 1 we know that Paul’s ministry there was effective, even though the situation made it impossible for them to remain. They moved on to Berea and, as was their wont, to the synagogue as soon as possible. There, as we have seen, they would have argued from the Old Testament Scriptures the teaching about Christ in support of their claims. Paul’s constant use of the Scriptures drove his hearers to search them for themselves, which is a good result. The living Word of God is powerful to penetrate the souls of men, but they must be exposed to it for this to happen (Heb. 4:12). We note Luke’s reference to Paul’s preaching as “the word of God”. Indeed, it was, as his epistles would be also, and not simply because they were consistent with what the Scriptures teach. Paul was inspired by the Spirit of God, and Luke seemed to recognize this even before Paul began writing. Here again in Berea Paul and Silas leave the people searching the Scriptures, wrestling with the preached Word by consulting the written Word. This is a hallmark of Paul’s ministry. He was grounded in the Word and careful not to go beyond what was written there in any of his teaching (cf. 1 Cor. 4:6).

The Structure
: It’s interesting to see how the enemies of the Gospel frequently try to get someone else to do their dirty work. Someone is always appealing to “civic order” or “custom” or “Caesar” in order to take a whack at the believers. When arguments fail and hearts remain hardened, what can you expect? Jesus promised they would hate us. He didn’t say they’d have good reasons. Or the courage to face us on the strength of their own worldview. They can always find some court or statute to shut us up. Or so they think.

Paul would remind Timothy that the Word of God is sufficient for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17), especially the work of proclaiming the Gospel, building the Church, and advancing the Kingdom of God – the ongoing work of Christ. Whenever we ignore or go beyond that Word in any aspect of this ongoing work, we stray from the path marked out by Paul and his colleagues?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Practicing the Kingship of Jesus


Acts 17:5-9
5But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. 9And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

The Story: The actual charge levied here is that Paul and his team “practiced another King, saying Him to be Jesus.” Their message, their way of life, the nature of their companionship – all these spoke to the people of Thessalonica. They were different. They proclaimed a new Kingdom and a new King, and they lived as though what they preached was really true. Jealousy has a way of showing up when leaders see their followers being drained away in devotion to something other then their cause. Jealousy can lead to lies and all kinds of nasty things. This time they couldn’t find the apostles in order to beat them, so they laid hold on Jason, who had “received them” into his house – the first house church of Thessalonica? – and extracted money from him – also a breach of Roman public policy. The fear is that these people and this message would transform the world as the Romans knew it. As it turned out, they were right.

The Structure: It’s interesting to see how the enemies of the Gospel frequently try to get someone else to do their dirty work. Someone is always appealing to “civic order” or “custom” or “Caesar” in order to take a whack at the believers. When arguments fail and hearts remain hardened, what can you expect? Jesus promised they would hate us. He didn’t say they’d have good reasons. Or the courage to face us on the strength of their own worldview. They can always find some court or statute to shut us up. Or so they think.

What are some ways that the Gospel turns the world rightside-up? How might you include such things in your Gospel presentation?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
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