And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
This week’s video is presentation 16 in our study of Acts. In this video we review the ongoing work of Christ up to Acts 18, and consider the stages by which that work proceeds. You can view it by clicking here (scroll down to Lesson 16).
Read and reflect on Acts 17.16-21.
Jesus said that He came to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19.10). Paul was of that same bent, because he, like each of us, was sent to the world as Jesus was sent (Jn. 20.21). So we’re not surprised to find him seeking lost people in all the places he might expect to find them.
1. Paul “reasoned in the synagogue” and “in the marketplace.” What does all this reasoning suggest about Paul’s approach to sharing the Gospel?
2. 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. In your community, where do people gather to talk and enjoy one another’s company? Should your church be seeking the lost in such places? Explain.
3. Paul’s “spirit was provoked within him” over 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. What idols are people clinging to in our day? Does this trouble you at all?
4. The Athenians could only barely get the gist of his message – “this new doctrine” – 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! In a public forum, Paul would be able to expound his teaching and answer questions. How might your church create such a forum in your community?
5. 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?
Paul is seeking to launch the ongoing work of Christ among the Athenians, but he’s bringing the light of truth into a very dense fog of rationalistic philosophy and pagan religion. After his visit there, we will hear no more about Athens and the few hearers converted by Paul’s ministry. Do you think Christians today are daunted in their witness by the dense fog of our secular and unbelieving age? How can believers encourage one another to seek the lost?
Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
Those who fear You will be glad when they see me,
Because I have hoped in Your word.
I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
For Your law is my delight.
Let the proud be ashamed,
For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood;
But I will meditate on Your precepts.
Let those who fear You turn to me,
Those who know Your testimonies.
Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes,
That I may not be ashamed.
T. M. Moore
Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.
Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book, The Kingdom Turn (click here).
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