Welcome to Week 7 of the Higher Hope Church 2018 New Testament Reading Plan! If you haven’t already, go pick up your 5x5x5 Reading Plan and join our private Facebook group for daily interaction and discussion. In today’s post, I will share a brief recap of of our week where we dug into chapters 15-19 of the Book of Acts.
The apostles and elders meet to determine the requirements of Gentile believers. The Pharisees believe that they should be circumcised (following the requirements of Jewish law). Peter reminds them that God gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit regardless of them being circumcised. They are saved just as they are. James speaks up, agreeing with Peter, claiming that they should not make it difficult for those turning to God. The church then sent a letter to Antioch with Paul, Barnabas, Judas (Barsabbas), and Silas. The letter encouraged the Gentile believers there. Later, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over John Mark joining them so they parted ways. Barnabas and John Mark went to Cyprus while Paul took Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia.
Paul heads to Lystra where he meets Timothy and asks him to join him and Silas on their journeys. Paul asks Timothy to be circumcised as it will help him in their upcoming missions. Paul has a vision one night to head to Macedonia. He meets a Gentile woman there named Lydia who has her household baptized after talking with Paul. Each day he passes by a slave girl who makes money by telling fortunes. She constantly yells that they are servants of God. Paul orders the evil spirit to come out of her which does not make the slave owners happy – they were making money off of her fortune telling gift. Paul and Silas are thrown in prison.
An earthquake shakes the jail, opening all the cell doors and shaking the chains off the prisoners. When the jailer sees what happened, he draws his sword to kill himself, but Paul stops him telling him that they are still there. The jailer makes a decision to believe in Jesus and invites the men to their home. The next morning, the magistrate sends word to release Paul and Silas.
Paul and his companions arrived in Thessalonica where he preached in the synagogue, reasoning with them from the Scriptures. Some Jews, Greeks, and women became believers. But other Jews became jealous and stirred up a riot. The believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. They went again to the synagogue to preach the Scriptures. The Bereans received the Word with more eagerness and examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was true. As a result, many of them believed.
The Jews in Thessalonica heard Paul was preaching in Berea and they sent agitators there to stir up the crowd. The believers sent Paul to the coast. Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. In Athens, Paul was distressed at the number of idols he saw and reasoned with the Jews and Greeks there. He talked about the God who made the world and everything in it. Some became believers.
Paul left Athens and traveled to Corinth where he met Aquila and his wife, Priscilla. Silas and Timothy joined him there and Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. When the Jews became abusive, Paul shook out his clothes in protest and proclaimed that he would now only speak to the Gentiles. Later, the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision telling him to not be afraid that no harm would come to him and to continue doing what he is doing. So Paul stayed in Corinth for another year and a half.
He left Corinth with Priscilla and Aquila and sailed for Ephesus. He stopped and preached in the synagogue but did not stay in Ephesus. He left Priscilla and Aquila there. Paul traveled back to Jerusalem and to Antioch and on to Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the churches there.
Meanwhile, Apollos arrived in Ephesus and began speaking boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him in their home and explained the Scriptures to him more adequately. Apollos then traveled on to Achaia with the blessing of the believers in Ephesus. He boldly debated his Jewish opponents, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.
Paul traveled back to Ephesus, speaking boldly in the synagogues for three months. But some became obstinate and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them.
One day, some Jewish exorcists are trying to cast out evil spirits in Jesus’ name. The evil spirit asks who they are – it knows Jesus and even Paul, but does not know them. The evil spirit attacks the exorcists, leaving them bloody. After this, many who practice magic repent of their evil ways and believe in Jesus.
Have a great week!