Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Saturday, December 17, 2022

2022.12.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 16:35–17:15

Read Acts 16:35–17:15

Questions from the Scripture text: Who sent whom in the morning to do what (Acts 16:35)? To whom does the jailer relay the news (Acts 16:36)? What does the jailer want Paul to do? But what does Paul say they have done (Acts 16:37)? And what new information does he add? What does he want them to do? To whom do the officers repeat this (Acts 16:38)? And what frightens the magistrates? What do they come do (Acts 16:39)? How do they ask? Where do Paul and company go (Acts 16:40)? What do they do at Lydia’s? Through where do they go to where (Acts 17:1)? What was there that hadn’t been at Philippi? What does Acts 17:2 note about Paul going to synagogue? How many Sabbaths does he go there now? From what does he reason? What does he explain and demonstrate (Acts 17:3)? Whom does he preach as the resurrected Christ? What happens to some of the Jews (Acts 17:4)? How many god-fearing Greeks join Paul and Silas? And not a few of whom else? What group become envious (Acts 17:5)? Whom do they enlist? What do they gather? What do they do to the city? Where do they attack? In order to do what to Paul and Silas? Why does this fail (Acts 17:6)? Whom do they drag instead? To whom? With what sort of voice do they address the rulers of the city? Of what do they accuse Paul and Silas? And of what do they accuse Jason (Acts 17:7)? What do they claim that “these are all” doing? How? What effect does this have upon the crowd and the rulers of the city (Acts 17:8)? What two things do they do to them in Acts 17:9? What do the brethren do as soon as Jason is returned (Acts 17:10)? To where? Where do Paul and Silas go when they arrive? What does Acts 17:11 note about the Jews in Berea? How did they receive the Word? What else did they do? How often? In order to find out what? What result did this have on them (Acts 17:12)? And upon whom else? Who find out what in Acts 17:13? Where do they go? What do they do? What do the brethren immediately do with whom in Acts 17:14? Who remain in Berea? Where do Paul’s guides bring him (Acts 17:15)? What command does he give them before they depart?

What can we note about the spread of the gospel through Macedonia? Acts 16:35–17:15 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the spread of the gospel through Macedonia was characterized by several common features. 

Several features of the work in Philippi continue to characterize the spread of the gospel in other cities in Macedonia. 

Paul continued to start with the Jews. Philippi hadn’t had a synagogue, but he still went where Sabbath prayer was made (cf. Acts 16:13). It was his custom to start in the synagogue of the Jews, which he did at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1–2) and Berea (Acts 17:10).

The Spirit continued to gather in especially Gentiles. Lydia had been a God-fearer, which implies a Gentile (Acts 16:14). In Thessalonica, God saves a multitude of them (Acts 17:4), and in Berea “not a few of them” (Acts 17:12).

The Spirit continues to give special attention to saving women. This had been the case in Philippi, with Lydia (cf. Acts 16:13-14), and “not a few of the leading women” in Thessalonica join Paul and Silas (Acts 17:4). Prominent women in Berea are specifically mentioned as believing (Acts 17:12).

Opposition continues to come by stirring the populace into a tumult. This had been the case in Philippi (cf. Acts 16:20–22) to the detriment of the magistrates (Acts 16:35–39). The technique is repeated by the envious Jews in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5), who even accuse the missionaries of doing that very thing (Acts 17:6). Then, when the Berean synagogue lacks such opponents, those from Thessalonica pinch hit over there as well (Acts 17:13).

There are various ways this plays out. In Philippi, where Roman citizenship is highly valued, it is a means by which they are spared (Acts 16:37–39). In Thessalonica, Paul and Silas are successfully hidden, but the hostility of the opponents is such that they attack even the missionaries’ host (Acts 17:6-7) apparently taking from him guarantee money (Acts 17:9) that they would lose if they did not send the missionaries away (Acts 17:10).

In the context of such similarity, the difference of the Bereans is plainer by contrast. The text plainly calls them more noble (Acts 17:11a). This was seen first in how they received the Word (“with all readiness,” verse 11b), then in how they followed up (searching the Scriptures daily to see that these things are so, verse 11c).

The Lord’s work, then, can clearly follow a general pattern. But His work in each congregation and each individual is still unique. Whatever happens in the work, we may be sure that just as it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise again from the dead (Acts 17:3), so it is necessary that gospel go to all for whom He suffered and died. However the Lord brings that about, even if through much opposition and suffering, we are to persist in the faith and in evangelism.

What features of God’s work in these three places have you seen in His work in other places and times?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Christ to die and rise again for us. And thank You for causing Your gospel to come to us for whom He died. And thank You for working faith in us. Grant that we would be noble and receptive and studious and diligent. And grant us to keep persisting in the work of the gospel, for we ask it in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH417 “Jesus Shall Reign, Where’er the Sun”

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