Acts of the Apostles
Lesson 13 w/AnswersActs 15:1 - 16:19
In our last lesson we looked at how Paul and Barnabas went about spreading the Gospel, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. We saw that once their mission was complete, they returned to their home church in Antioch and gave a full report. They continued in Antioch for a "long time with the disciples" according to Acts 14:28. It is believed that Paul wrote the book of Galatians during this prolonged stay in Antioch. If you have the time, reading the book of Galatians in conjunction with both the last lesson and this one will give you a deeper understanding of both of these lessons and of Paul’s life as a servant and teacher of the Gospel.
Our study for this lesson finds Paul and Barnabas in Antioch and continuing to teach, just as Paul had been called by the church in Antioch to do many years earlier.
Read Acts Chapters 15:1 through 16:19 and consider the following.
- Read Galatians 2:12, Exodus 12:48-49 and Genesis 17:14. How do they relate to Acts 15:1-2?
- ANSWER: Paul and Barnabas are coming face-to-face with those who are teaching that you must be a Jew in order to be saved through Christ. It is likely that these were the same critics that Paul refers to in Galatians 2:12.
- In Acts 15:3-5 we see Paul, Barnabas, and other witnesses who were traveling with them, passing through Phoenicia and Samaria. As they go, they tell everyone about the conversion of the Gentiles. How is this news received? In particular, how is it received in Jerusalem?
- ANSWER: The news was well received by everyone, including Jerusalem. However, some of the believers who were also Pharisees wanted the law of Moses applied, i.e., that all believers would have to be circumcised. The interesting piece here is that some of the Pharisees were now believers—but they were holding onto their belief in being saved by works.
- Wisely, the Apostles and Elders held a meeting and you can imagine the discussion that took place. List the reasons Peter uses to argue for no circumcision? (see Acts 15:6-11)
- ANSWER 1: He refers to an event that occurred "some time ago". It is actually covered in Acts 10:1-11:18—the conversion of Cornelius, which had occurred approximately 10 years earlier.
- ANSWER 2: He cites that in Cornelius@rsquo; conversion, God gave the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, just as he did the Jews. (see Acts 10:44-46)
- ANSWER 3: Therefore, God made no distinction between the believing Jews and Gentiles—all were accepted by faith.
- ANSWER 4: He beseeched them not to place the yoke of the Law on the Gentiles—a yoke that even the Jews are unable to bear.
- ANSWER 5: We are saved by grace just as the Gentiles are, not by works.
- James supports Peter’s reasoning with scripture, Amos 9:11-12. Following this, what instruction does he suggest be given to the Gentiles? (see Acts 15:12-21)
- ANSWER: He suggests that they abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood.
- In Acts 15:22-29, it is recounted that the Church in Jerusalem sent Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with a letter detailing their decisions. They also sent along Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas as well. Why?
- ANSWER: As witnesses of the events and discussions with the council of Apostles and Elders, their role was to make sure that the communication was clear and understood by everyone.
- As we close our study of Chapter 15, what happened between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41?
- ANSWER: A sharp dispute arose over taking Mark with them. It was so disrupting that Paul and Barnabas parted company.
- Why did Paul believe Mark was not ready to go on another mission trip? (see Acts 13:13)
- ANSWER: He believed this because Mark had deserted them previously in Pamphylis.
- What relationship was Mark to Barnabas? (see Col 4:10)
- ANSWER: Barnabas was a family member, a cousin to Mark.
- In Acts 15:39-41, how did God use the dispute?
- ANSWER: Two missionary trips were accomplished instead of one. Barnabas and Mark went to preach the gospel in Cyprus, and Paul and Silas went back through Syria and Cilicia.
- Paul is now traveling with Timothy, Luke, and Silas; and he is preparing to preach to many towns inhabited by Jews. Before they journey to these towns, Paul circumcises Timothy. Why would he do that? (see Acts 16:1-5)
- ANSWER: Note that Timothy is from a mixed marriage. His father was a Greek Gentile and his mother was Jewish. He could not reach the Jews as a Jew if he were not circumcised. We can see from verse 5 that this strategy worked, as it states that "the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers."
- Paul is led in a vision to take his team to Macedonia, as described in Acts 16:6-10. On the Sabbath, while they are in Philippi, who do they speak to? (see Acts 16:11-15)
- ANSWER: They speak to Lydia, a wealthy woman, a seller of purple dye. It is also apparent that her conversion affected all of those in her household, as they were all baptized.
- In Acts 16:16-19, Paul and Silas also come into contact with another woman who stands in stark contrast to Lydia. Who was she, and what did they do to her?
- ANSWER: She was a fortune teller, possessed of an evil spirit. Paul cast out that demon, and the woman could no longer be a fortune teller.
This lesson provides us a lot of insight into how the Apostles, and those who followed their teachings, went about reaching both the Jew and Gentile for Christ. We also see that in spite of occasional disagreements, Christ prevailed as the Holy Spirit led the Church through its early days and the gospel was taken to foreign lands. Demonstrating their strong faith in Christ, Paul and his companions face many challenges, but through them all, the gospel prevails and Christ is glorified.
Thanks again for studying with us, have a great week everyone!