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 meditate on Acts 18.12-17.
It was inevitable. Those who could not silence Paul by reason or reviling, decided to turn the implements of government against him. We see this same thing in every age, even our own. We should not be surprised when people try to force Christians either to conform or be silent, by appealing to civil government.
1. Paul was about to explain himself, but Gallio, being a true Roman magistrate, recognized at once that this was a religious matter and should be settled within the religious community. The Romans allowed all kinds of religions in the Empire, as long as devotion to the Emperor was maintained. Each of those religions had their own forms of discipline, and Gallio wasn’t about to get involved. How do you see this government fulfilling its appointed role as a servant of God for good (Rom. 13.1-5)?
2. The problem, of course, was that the Jews’ form of discipline had failed. Paul had excommunicated himself, but he was still preaching right next door! If we are faithful and active in our witness for Christ, can we ever hope to avoid having some people be upset with us? Explain.
3. So, since the Jews couldn’t get at Paul, why not beat up one of their own? Why Sosthenes? Doubtless because he was leaning toward, if not already supporting, Paul in his mission. That beating seems only to have strengthened Sosthenes in his faith and determination to follow Paul (1 Cor. 1.1). How should believers respond to threats, intimidation, or other kinds of bullying, so that we, like Sosthenes, grow stronger in our faith through such trials?
4. The opponents of the Gospel could not win the day by reason. Christians should be impervious to slander and reviling (“sticks and stones” and so on). We should not be surprised when the enemies of the Gospel will try to force us into silence through the actions of civil magistrates. But if we’re faithful in praying for our rulers, might we not short-circuit that tactic before it comes into play (1 Tim. 2.1-8), or find the strength to persevere in spite of it? Explain.
5. What guidelines for praying for civil authorities does Paul commend in 1 Timothy 2.1-8? Do you pray for those who are in political power over us? Does your church teach and lead you to pray for civil magistrates?
We might want to say that Paul was not a very good witness for the Lord, since everywhere he went, folks got upset and tried to bash him. But this is exactly what Jesus told us to expect, and Paul certainly understood this would be the case. Nevertheless, he was undeterred in his witness, and the Lord took care of him, even though He allowed him to suffer indignities, hostility, and even violence. How can we as believers, together with our churches, prepare for such a witness – and such responses – within our own communities?
The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;
There is none who does good.
God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
Every one of them has turned aside;
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.
Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call upon God?
There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When God brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
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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