Acts 19:1-10 - What's Up With All These Baptisms

Acts 19:1-10 – What’s Up With All These Baptisms?
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 19:1-10

The title is drawn from the 2 baptisms encountered in today’s text.
Specifically, we will explore the Baptism of John and the Baptism of Jesus.


Verse 2 - And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Verse 3 - And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.”

The Encounter:
Paul, through God’s direction and divine appointment, encountered these 12 men.
In the course of their conversation, they must have hinted at a similar faith to Paul’s.
So Paul, in an effort to get to the heart of the matter, asked them some telling questions.

The Preacher’s Commentary magnifies Paul’s logic and line of questioning as follows:
What happened to you when you were baptized?
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you confessed your belief in the Messiah and repented with a water baptism?

Their answers reveal that they responded in faith to John the Baptist’s call for repentance for remission of their sins.
However, their answers also revealed that they did not know the whole story – Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
More than likely, they were gone during Christ’s ministry, death, burial and resurrection.

Summary of Point 1:
Paul, out of love, sought to determine exactly where these men were spiritually.
What he found was that these men were in a curious position regarding their salvation a transitional state – OT saints.
And to understand the transitional state they were in, we must understand a few things.

POI – Apollos was in a similar state of transition when he met Priscilla and Aquila.
Acts 18:25 - He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
This means, of course that he did not know the baptism of the Holy Spirit.


To understand how these men found themselves in this peculiar transitional state, we first need to understand what was John’s Baptism of Repentance.
We will first look at Baptism and then look at Repentance.

The Baptism in the Baptism of Repentance:
Baptizo is to immerse or submerge in water.
It is not a sprinkling and is not to be confused with the similar word bapto.

James Boice, a great commentator on Scripture, says the following:
The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptized’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptized shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!

The question is what pickles us (spiritually speaking) – the faith that leads us to baptism, the baptism or something else?
Like any good pickling process, there are a number of ingredients needed.
And this leads us to one of them, the repentance in John’s Baptism of Repentance.

The Repentance in the Baptism of Repentance:
Repentance is one of those ingredients.
And John the Baptists baptism was all about repentance (among other things).

Mark 1:4-5 - John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Acts 13:23-24 - Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

What is Repentance?
Metanoia means a change of mind which results in a change of life.
And of course we are all familiar with the “turn around” and “change direction” definitions
These definitions sound like anybody can repent by sheer determination, will power or even out of fear.
And if you are talking about repenting from bad habits or behavior – drugs, drinking, overeating, not enough time with the kids, etc. – this is of course true.
We see this in the world all the time – change we can believe in!
And this is why I believe all of these definitions fall miserably short of a definition for repentance.
Like Biblical Unity and Biblical Humility, we need to learn what Biblical Repentance is.

What is Biblical Repentance?
Romans 2:4 - Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 - I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Acts 5:31 - He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 11:18 - When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Hebrew 12:16-17 - that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
If you are on your throne, there is no room for repentance and Esau is a case study of this fact.

It is clear from the verses above that Biblical Repentance is characterized by the following:
Biblical Repentance is an experience that one is brought to because of God’s kindness.
Biblical Repentance is an experience only obtained in a state of Godly Sorrow.
This Godly Sorrow is the will of God.
Biblical Repentance leads to salvation (look at the 12 in today’s text)
Biblical Repentance is not “being sorry”, “regret”, or “guilt because you got caught”, etc.
Biblical Repentance is granted by God.
Biblical Repentance cannot be granted to the proud, even if they seek demonstrably via action or tears.

Isaiah 6:5-7 - And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Isaiah gives us a great example of Biblical Repentance.
In God’s kindness and grace, he showed Isaiah his glory.
The result is that Isaiah quickly recognized who he was and how he stood before a Holy God.
And in this act of confession and repentance, God took his guilt away.

An observation for us concerning repentance:
Do you ever dream of being a better Christian?
Do you sin and then imagine yourself doing better next time?
And as you imagine how victorious you can be over this or that, do you then determine or intend that you will do these better things next time?
But inevitably, the next time comes around and we fall short of our glorious intentions and imaginings.
And then we are only left with shame and regret – NOT REPENTANCE.
Sadly, our imaginings, intentions and regrets are not repentance.
At best they may be hoping for repentance.
The only way to break this cycle is to get off the throne and let God have his way with us.
Only he can produce within us the Godly Sorrow that will lead us to Biblical Repentance and make pickles!

John’s Baptism Looking Forward to Christ:
Verse 4 - And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.

John’s Baptism of Repentance was similar to Paul’s OT Gospel sermon in Acts 13, his sermon at Lystra and his Mar’s Hill Sermon.
Just as Paul’s sermons demonstrated how his listeners’ experiences pointed to Christ, John’s Baptism of Repentance was pointing to a completion and fulfillment in Christ.

So Paul, with these words, underscores 3 important things.
First, John in his Baptism of Repentance, taught that Jesus the Messiah was the point of his ministry not the baptism.
Matthew 3:11 - “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Acts 13:25 (from Paul’s OT Gospel sermon) And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Second, this Jesus has come, was crucified and rose from the dead.

Third, this Jesus, the Messiah, left us a gift.

Paul was revealing the final ingredients needed to complete the pickling process of these 12 men.
With this, we arrive at the Baptism of Jesus.

Summary of Point 2:
John’s baptism of repentance was an experience of a person who, through God’s power, was convicted of his sin, then in faith obeyed John’s call to ceremonially wash the sin away through water baptism and walk in faith.
Biblical Repentance is possible to us because of what God does not what we do.

The 12 had participated in this experience – faith, repentance and baptism.
They were no longer cucumbers because of their faith and God-fueled repentance.

However, they also were not yet pickles because they were still missing 2 crucial ingredients in the pickling process.
So this was their curious state alluded to earlier – being pickled but not yet pickles (Christians).
And they were in this state because since their Baptism of Repentance the J-Bomb had been dropped.
John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.


Verse 5 - On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Pentecost – the Holy Spirit Seals
Acts 1:5 - for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Acts 2:38 - And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 11:16 - And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The Baptism of Jesus is a Water Baptism, Baptism of Repentance and a Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is best described by Paul in Ephesians 1:13-14:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

And so the 12, on hearing this news from Paul and believing in Jesus, were fully pickled.
In Christ, the Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles and now OT saints were ushered into Christ’s church – J. Mac.
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
As Piper points out, we should know we have been baptized in the Spirit not just because we know doctrine, but because we have a experiential relationship with the Spirit of God!

Summary of Point 3:
So we find these 12 men in a weird state of transition.
But we take heart that the God that led them to repentance would lead them to Jesus and a baptism of the Holy Spirit.
For surely what God started he would finish.
Philippians 1:6 - 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Final Summary:
We can be encouraged that those who have responded in faith to God’s revelation will also encounter someone who will reveal the truth of Jesus Christ.
And this brings us back to the title of Point 1 – God was going to complete his work and used Paul to do it.


Acts 18:18-28 - Biblical Humility

Acts 18:18-28 – Biblical Humility
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 18:18-28

The title is drawn from the actions of Paul, Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos before the Lord and the truth of scripture.

Worldly humility, while having some overlap with biblical humility, falls short of the humility outlined in scripture.
And it is this biblical humility that God wants for us.
In our text today, we have insight into just what this biblical humility is.

Dictionary Humility:
Humility is typically seen as reserved, working behind the scenes, taking no credit, and being mousy and shy.
Dictionary.com defines the verb humility as:
The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.
lowliness, meekness, submissiveness.

And as an adjective:
Having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.
Low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.

As a heads up, one major difference between humility and biblical humility is the nature of our relationship with God’s word.

We talked briefly about humility during our lessons on Biblical Unity:
In Philippians 2:1-8, Paul speaks of being of the same mind and of one mind.
The Greek word for mind in each instance is the same, phroneo.
The words meaning, in this context, relates to humility – this is hinted at in verse 3.
It is often defined as not letting one’s opinion of himself exceed the bounds of modesty.
In Romans 11:20, the word is translated as do not become proud when speaking to the grafted in gentiles.
In Philippians 4:10, the word is translated as concern when speaking of the church’s concern for Paul.
In Romans 15:5-6, the word is translated as to live in such harmony when referring to glorifying God with one voice.
In 1 Corinthians 13:11, it is translated as thought in the phrase thought like a child.
It is here we got the following BUP:
Setting our minds on others and Christ not on ourselves and the world is essential to Biblical Unity.


Verse 18bAt Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.
We know that Paul was well aware of the futility of the law and works for salvation.
Why, then would he make a vow with God and what kind of vow was it?

What was the vow?
Numbers 6:2-5
“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.
5 “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

Most believe the vow was a form of this Nazirite vow
Shaving his head indicated Paul had fulfilled his vow of thanks to God.

Why the vow?
The speculation is that Paul wanted to give thanks to God for bringing him safely through his time in Corinth.
What better way to give thanks than to humble himself in sacrifice before God.
And I also believe Paul was expressing the below truth.

Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
The biblically humble know that God’s word is the giver, sustainer and creator of life.

How can we humble ourselves before God demonstrating to him we understand who provides and sustains?


Accurately and More Accurately:
Verse 25bAnd being fervent in spirit, he spoke accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Apollos described as:
A smart and eloquent man
A stranger
From a foreign country
Knew the Scriptures
An accurate teacher
A bold speaker

But in spite of all these attributes, Priscilla and Aquila explained (set forth, declare, expound) to Apollos where he was incomplete in his knowledge.
I suspect most of us would shy away from correcting such a man.
In fact, we might even justify our silence as humility.
However, to be humble before God’s word requires that we honor it by lovingly correcting those in error.

What scripture has to say about seeking and surrendering to the truth of scripture:
Daniel 10:12Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.

The biblically humble set their hearts on understanding God.
And if one has humbled himself and set his heart on understanding the truth of God’s word, then they, and we, should welcome correction!

Isaiah 66:2All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

The biblically humble are contrite in spirit and revere and honor God’s word.
And this reverence and trembling before God’s word should translate into a desire to see it preached truthfully and not be idle when it is warped for whatever reason.

Being taught by a woman:
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

It is interesting to point out here that Apollos was taught by Priscilla, a woman.
Given the Middle Eastern baggage he must have grown up with concerning women, and Priscilla being a stranger at that, his willingness to learn the truth reflects his humility before God’s word and his desire to seek and apply its truth.

Proverbs 11:12When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
If Apollos had let his pride reign, he could have missed out on receiving deeper insight into Jesus’ baptism.
The biblically humble are able to overcome the pitfalls of pride and make God honoring judgments despite of our baggage.

POI – So what is the deal with women teaching?
1 Timothy 2:12 – I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
This letter was written to Timothy while he was in Ephesus; the very city where Priscilla explained to Apollos.
Most understand Paul’s words to be referring to exercising authority as a pastor or elder.
Our text today clearly demonstrates that a woman can teach a man in private and in small group gatherings.

POI – Apollos knew most of the Gospel, but not the whole story.
We can find ourselves in a similar position as Apollos.
Except, in our case, we concentrate more on the NT instead of the OT, and so are also prone to make mistakes in our theology.


The biblically humble speak the Gospel:
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Verse 28 – for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

We are called to speak the Gospel and Apollos was obedient to that calling
Apollos is an example of why speaking the Gospel is not predicated on a complete knowledge of Scripture.
And I would argue that our laziness, apathy or dissatisfaction with our walk is also no excuse.
If we had enough biblical humility to be born again, we have enough to speak the Gospel.

What scripture has to say about biblical humility and speaking the Gospel:
Philippians 2:8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Zephaniah 2:3 – Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands
The biblically humble are obedient to God’s word.

2 Corinthians 11:7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?
The biblically humble speak the Gospel.
Speaking the Gospel both humbles the speaker and exalts the listener!

POI – Biblical humility is linked to a spirit of fervency.
Verse 25bAnd being fervent in spirit, he spoke accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
To be fervent in spirit, there can be no thought of self.
A preoccupation with self will drown our fervency.


This is a bonus point not directly related to our text.
God expects his humble children to respond to sin in a certain way.

What scripture says about this response:
Leviticus 26:40-42“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
The biblically humble confess their sin and repent seeking to not walk contrary to God.

2 Chronicles 7:14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Psalm 149:4 - For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. The biblically humble repent and are forgiven and saved by God.

Zephaniah 3:11“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. 12 But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord, 13 those who are left in Israel…”
A characteristic of a biblically humble and lowly people is that they seek refuge in God.
The biblically humble don’t just repent, but seek God.


Acts 18:1-17 – Jesus Comforts & Encourages

Acts 18:1-17 – Jesus Comforts & Encourages

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 18:1-17
The title is drawn from Christ’s words to Paul at a point in his ministry we he was afraid and frustrated.


Verse 6 - And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

This is not the first time the Jews opposed and reviled Paul.
Reviled is elsewhere translated derided and blasphemed – the idea being they spoke evil of Paul.
This sentiment is further captured when the Jews accuse Paul in verse 13 of, “persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
In essence, the Jews were characterizing as evil the very truth the law taught – a truth they would not acknowledge.
Our previous lesson on the Thessalonian Jews can give us insight into why they would do this.

Short history of Paul’s interactions with the Jews:
Acts 13:45 & 50 – Antioch in Pisidia
45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.

Acts 14:2 – Iconium
2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them…

Acts 14:19 – Lystra
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.

Acts 17:5 – Thessalonica
But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.

Acts 17:13 – Berea
But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.

Acts 18:12-17 – Corinth
From today’s text the Jews made a united attack on Paul.

What’s up with the garment shaking in Verse 6?
Verse 6 - And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

The Jews’ reviling and opposition led Paul to make this emphatic declaration.
To gain insight into its meaning, we will look at some other examples.

Acts 13:46 & 51 – Antioch in Pisidia
46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.

Matthew 10:14-15 – Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Luke 9:5 – Lukes account of Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.

Luke 10:10-11 – Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

So what was Paul saying to the Jews?
He spoke the truth to them – Jesus is the Messiah and only He saves.
And he bears no responsibility because he was obedient to speak the Gospel and declare to them the Special Revelation of Jesus Christ – he did his job.
Remember, he had shared with the Jews for 3-4 years now.
And to demonstrate that they are now under the Judgment of Jesus Christ, he shook out his garments and told them that their blood is on their own heads.
Shaking out the garments was something Jews typically did with Gentiles, so the fact that a Jew was doing this to a Jew was both insulting to them and underscored the depth of feelings Paul had about their rejection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus and the prophet Ezekiel sum it up nicely.
Matthew 7:6
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Ezekiel 33:9
But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.


Acts 18:9-10
9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

Jesus words comforted and encouraged Paul in three ways:
He assured Paul that he would not be physically harmed while in Corinth.
Paul, however, knew that there would be a physical price to pay for his obedience.
Jesus had often discussed in the Gospels the cost of discipleship and in Acts 9 said Paul would suffer.
Given the history we just discussed, this assurance of not being harmed was an enormous comfort.

He also assured Paul that his speaking would not return void.
How is it that Jesus could give Paul this assurance?

He also assured Paul by telling him, “I am with you.”
This is the ultimate comfort and encouragement for Paul.

What does "I am with you" it mean?
Joshua 1:5 & 9 – Gods message to Joshua at his succession of Moses
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you…. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
We see that 2 ways God’s presence manifests itself is that He will not fail us and He will not forsake us.

2 Timothy 4:17-18
17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Paul’s own words, this presence of God indicates there will be a future reward; Paul was safe for eternity.

And most importantly, the word With means in the company of – it is a marker of association.
Jesus is a person as well as our Savior.
There is a relationship to be had with him, He is not just one to have faith in, to understand, or to have a knowledge of.
A.W. Tozer says we are to experience God not just positionally but actually.
When Jesus says he is with us, it means we can have a relationship with him just like we have with your _____.

The reason Paul needed comforting and encouraging was that he was compelled to unashamedly share the Gospel.
And this obedience put him in a position of physical danger and being rejected.

Do you speak the Gospel as you should?
What is it we are afraid of?
How can Jesus’ encouragement to Paul encourage us?


Acts 17:16-34 - God Made a Bridge

Acts 17:16-34 – God Made a Bridge

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 17:16-34

The title is drawn from an examination of the “unknown god” altar and Greek philosopher quotes that Paul used as an inroads to his Epicurean and Stoic audience.


Verse 23 – speaks of an altar to an unknown God.
Providentially, this was a bridge, or inroads, God provided ahead of time so that Paul could make a connection with them.

What was this altar to an unknown god? Actually, there were many of these in Athens. Six hundred years before Paul’s time, Athens had been stricken with a terrible plague. Hundreds were ill and dying, and the city grew desperate. A famous poet from Crete named Epimenides devised a plan to pacify whatever gods were causing the plague. He went to the Areopagus and turned loose a flock of sheep. The plan was to let the sheep roam the city freely. When the sheep lay down, they were to be sacrificed to the god of the nearest temple. The assumption was that the angry gods would draw the sheep to themselves. When the sheep were turned loose, however, many of them lay down in places with no temples nearby. Epimenides decided to sacrifice the sheep anyway and erect altars wherever they lay down, just to make sure no unfamiliar deities were overlooked. Since these were nameless gods, the people simply erected altars and shrines “to an unknown god.” It was undoubtedly one of these altars Paul spottedJohn MacArthur.

No doubt, God may have used these altars for other things throughout those 600 years.
Clearly, however, to provide a way for Paul to bridge from the altars to the living Jesus Christ was primary.

Don Richardson’s account of the New Guinea tribal concept of a Peace Child.
A tribes scape-goat concept of sin-bearing.
A tribes new birth rituals.

So we too must look for the bridges that God provides.
God knows where we are and the type of person with whom we are to speak the Gospel.


Paul demonstrates how important it is to know your audience.
He uses the obvious – idols and altars – and even busts out some indigenous quotes.

Verse 22 – He perceived they were religious.
Verse 23 – Observed objects of worship.
Verse 23 – He saw and used the inscription found on the altars – “to the unknown god”.
Verse 28 – He quoted Epimenides who 600 years earlier was referring to Zeus.
His point was that through history, a creator is evident.
And even Epimenides understood that.

Romans 1:19-20
“That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.”
This verse is also a relevant in our discussion of the Times of Ignorance from verse 30.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

The rational mind demands an eternal cause for the effect of creation. – John MacArthur

Verse 28-29 – He quotes the Greek Poet Aratus.
His point was that if Aratus knew we were God’s offspring – His creation – then God cannot be a man made idol or art - God is a living God.
Paul was telling them that a man made object is not God, but a misguided counterfeit.
Epimenides and Aratus were on the right track so you guys surely can recognize this also.

So Paul crossed the bridge via his familiarity with Greek culture and via God’s sovereign planning.

POI – We get even further insight into Paul’s familiarity with Greek culture in Titus.
Titus 1:12
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Paul was giving reason for the necessity of rebuking the Cretans so they can be sound in faith.


Verse 23 – proclaim to you who this God is – General Revelation to the Special Revelation of Jesus Christ.
From our discussion on the times of ignorance in Verse 30, Pauls was making clear to them that what Epimenides and Aratus understood from God's general revelation is now being made known to them as Jesus Christ.
Verse 24 – creator of the world and everything in it - CREATOR
Verse 24 – Lord of heaven and earth
Verse 24 – Does not live in man made temples
Verse 25 – Needs nothing from man – OUTSIDE OF MAN
Verse 25 – Gives life and breath and everything to mankind – ALL POWERFUL PROVIDER
Verse 26 – Made from Adam every nation and set their boundaries – SOVEREIGN RULER
Verse 27 – Man is made to seek God – GRACE
Verse 29 – So if His offspring then God is no idol – GOD IS LIVING.
Verse 30 – It is time to repent
Verse 31 – The judgment is coming by Jesus who was raised from dead.
The concept of a bodily resurrection was somewhat vile to the Greek philosophers.
They saw the body as a prison – and many even saw suicide as virtuous.

How does this Gospel message the same and differ from Paul’s Chapter 13 Gospel message?
In both he deals with God as creator, Jesus as raised from the dead and in Jesus is the forgiveness of sins.
In both there was no use of I’s and Me’s.
Who spoke the Gospel with I’s and Me’s?
Obvious differences are that to the Jews, Paul referenced Abraham, Moses, David, the law and prophets and how all of these pointed to Christ.
With the Athenians, Paul referenced the general revelation that there own teachers spoke of and how it all pointed to Christ.
Why was Paul’s differing approach with the Athenians not a watered down sell out?

So Paul unashamedly steered the message to God as creator and to Jesus as the risen Savior.
He made clear that repentance was necessary because judgment was at hand because Christ has risen.

POI – After Paul, in verse 31, declared that Jesus was raised from the dead there were 3 responses.
Some sneered – This is a rejection.
Some wanted more discussion – This is a love of argument and ultimately most likely a rejection.
Some believed – This is God opening hearts and ears!
This is an amazing thing that Greek Epicurean and Stoic philosopher judges believed on the Lord Jesus!
When we share the Gospel, we should expect nothing different.

What bridges has God given you in speaking the Gospel to your friends or coworkers?
When shopping, you are asked if you would like the stores credit card – you can then say, “No thanks, I don't like debt, but speaking of debt..."
God may desire that your unique experience in life be the bridge you use to speak the Gospel to those around you.

Please be aware, however, that because God opens the hearts and ears, a bridge is not necessary.
A bridge is not the Gospel – the Gospel must still be spoken.
The Gospel message straight up is more than enough.


Acts 17:1-15 - The Gospel - Warp It or Examine It

Acts 17:1-15 - The Gospel - Warp It or Examine It
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 17:1-15

Paul preached the Gospel message to both the Thessalonians and the Bereans.
The title is drawn from a comparison of the responses of the Thessalonian Jews with that of the Berean Jews.


Explaining (open) in verse 3 is the same word that appears in:

Mark 7:34-35
And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened
Jesus healed the deaf man, gave him ears to hear and the words to speak.

Luke 24:32
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures”
Jesus explained the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:45
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
Jesus explained to the disciples how the Christ should suffer and then rise from the dead.

Acts 16:14b.
God opened Lydia’s heart to receive the Gospel.

We can look back to Acts 13 to get a very good idea of the message Paul OPENED.

Old Testament Gospel Message – Recap of Chapter 13 – Jesus Is:

In Isaiah 8:14 Jesus is a “rock of stumbling”.
In Isaiah 53:3 we see the Messiah as the rejected man of sorrows.
In Romans 11:7-8 Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10 in relation to Israel’s rejection of Jesus.
In Zechariah 12:1-14 we learn that the people of Jerusalem will mourn over the Messiah they pierced.
And by inference, a pierced Messiah is a rejected Messiah

In Genesis 12:7 we find the promise; “To your offspring I will give this land.”
In Genesis 22:16-18 we get an elaboration of the promise in relation to obedience to God’s voice.
(As opposed to a position of offspring based on birth, as we will see.)
In Genesis 28:14-15 we get even more on the promise.

It is not a reference to Jesus’ physical birth, but to his resurrection.
In 2 Samuel 7:14, we see the association of the Messiah with Sonship, and Sonship in the Davidic line.
In Psalm 2:7, written by David, we see again the association of Messiah and Sonship.
Paul, knowing the truth, rightly associates this Psalm with the Sonship of of Jesus Christ to God the Father.
In Psalm 89:27, we see the Sonship and Kingly associations in Messianic prophecy.

Diaphthora – Translated as “corruption” or “decay” means destruction to the body through decay or decomposition after death. In the OT, it refers to the “pit” meaning the grave or a “pit of corruption” meaning a grave filled with a decaying body (a mass of organic, putrid liquid).
Paul, in Acts 13:36-37, contrasts David fulfilling his purpose, dying and then seeing corruption, with Jesus, “whom God raised up did not see corruption.”
Paul also says again the God raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul mentions Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his not seeing corruption 4 times each these 8 verses.
1 Kings 2:10 states the obvious concerning David, to which Paul alludes in Acts 13:34.
From Psalm 16:10, however, Paul tells us that the Holy One will not see corruption.
So if David died and saw corruption, Jesus, by His resurrection, is the one to whom the Psalm refers not David.
And this again is a reminder that because of this, Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy and he has “the holy and sure blessings of David”, as quoted from Isaiah by Paul.

Range of Sin:
- In 1 Kings 8:46, Solomon tells us “there is no one who does not sin.”
Thoroughness of Sin:
- Job 25:4 asks how a man can be right before God and how can a man born of the flesh be pure (child of promise/flesh).
The heart is ground zero for Sin:
- In 1 Samuel 16:7, we see that “the Lord looks at the heart”.
- In Psalm 95:10 God frames the sin problem has a heart problem, “people who go astray in their heart.”
- Isaiah 44:20 speaks of a “deluded heart.”
- Jeremiah 7:24 speaks of “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
- Ezekiel 20:16 speaks of a disobedience that is rooted in a heart that strays.
The heart can be victorious over Sin:
- Proverbs 4:23 shows that from the heart flows “the springs of life.”
- Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 10:16 that the heart requires a circumcision.
God provides the victory over Sin:
- Psalm 79:9 cries out to God for atonement and salvation.
- And in Psalm 85:2 we see that God does forgive and cover sin.
- Isaiah 6:6-7 illustrates, again, that God forgives and atones.
- Isaiah 43:25 reveals that not only does God cover the sin but He does it for his sake!

What is the Law:
The Law (nomos) generally refers to the first five books of the Bible written by Moses (Torah or Pentateuch) – Matthew 11:13; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 28:23.
The most well known part of the Law is, of course, The 10 Commandments.

The Law and Freedom:
In Galatians 5:3-4, Paul says if you embrace freedom under the law, you are obligated to keep the whole law – to be perfect.
The problem is, however, that Hebrews 7:19 reveals the sad truth that the law makes nothing perfect.
As a matter of fact, disobedience of the Law is death; Proverbs 19:16 (NASB) says, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
Galatians 3:10-12 echoes this in that it says that no one is justified before God by the law.
And without justification, you face God’s judgment and wrath.
This is what Paul means when he says “from which you could not be freed from the Law of Moses”.
Paul is telling us that using the Law/works as a means of salvation brings death not freedom.


Warp Message with a ME Agenda:
Verse 5 – …the Jews were jealous…

The implications of Paul’s message are not the message.
However, an unbelieving Jew that just lost a number of fellow Jews to this Jesus Message can do 2 things:
1) Respond like the Berean Jews, which we will examine shortly.
2) Make it all about themselves. Dwell on the implications and not the message.
Verse 5 makes clear which way these men went.
Instead of considering the historical and Scriptural truth of Paul’s message, they made it all about themselves.
They became jealous because many joined Paul and Silas.
Paul’s message was not about jealousy or how many followers one has.

So we see that if you focus on yourself instead of the message, the truth of the message is warped by the implications it has on your life.
The message is warped because the implications become the message.

POI – Jesus faced the exact same response during His ministry.
Luke 23:2
And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.

Warp Message with a YOU Agenda:
Verse 6 – …turned the world upside down…
Verse 7 – …acting against the decrees of Cesar, saying there is another king, Jesus.
Verse 8 – And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things.

Again, the implications of Paul’s message are not the message.
Paul’s Message is unchanging; the implications vary based on culture and peoples’ conditions.
Implications are the collision of these 2 realities with the message.
Paul’s message was not political, though it could have political implications.
Thessalonica was a “free city” run by the Politarchos in step with Roman law.
The unbelieving Jews wanted Thessalonica to believe that the Jesus of Paul’s message was a king in a political sense.
This was to stir up fear and hatred of Paul, Silas and the new converts.
The freedom Thessalonica enjoyed would be in jeopardy if King Cesar had a competitor and so this is how the message preached by Paul was portrayed.
This is why, in Verse 8, the people and authorities were TARASSO - disturbed, troubled, stirred up, agitated and terrified.
And this TARASSO is why, in Verse 6, their world was turned upside down.

So we see that if you make the implications of a message challenge the status quo of somebody, you can trouble the listener and bring him to action on your behalf.
And often, to get the implications you desire, like the Jews, you have to warp and manipulate the message.

POITARASSO is same word used in the following 2 examples:
Acts 15:24
“Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions…”
Here, troubled is the same root word used to describe the work of the Judaizers in Antioch.

Matthew 2:3
“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…”
Here, troubled is also same root word.
It is used to describe King Herod’s reaction to the birth of Jesus.


Leonardo Da Vinci
“The noblest of pleasures is the joy of understanding.”

Verse 11 - …these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

The word noble refers to open-mindedness.
Open-mindedness here is a willingness to search out the truth without regard for ones self and the implications of the truth or message to ones self.
It is not tolerating sin.

The Berean Jews were not afraid of getting to the truth.
They examined the Scriptures and did so with an eagerness or readiness of mind.
And this examining involved questioning, discerning and judging.
It is a picture of examining evidence in a court room.

However, one caveat in this examination is that without the noble, open-mind of a Berean, a mind free from the threat of self-implication, the Scripture would all seem folly.
1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

So, we see that when we free ourselves from concern over how a message will affect us personally and simply confirm its truth and act on that truth, we grow.
We become spiritually discerning.

POI – Responsibility to examine and search Scripture and the quality of our life if we do not.
Isaiah 8:19-22 – (A section on how to fear God. This is just before a prophecy on the birth of Christ.)
And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

One reason why your walk may not be as fulfilling as it should be is that you do not inquire of the teaching and testimony of God – Scripture – as much as you should.

Isaiah 34:16
Seek and read from book of Lord
This is a pretty clear exhortation!

When you hear a message or exhortation in Church, how are you most likely to react?
Evaluate it based on its implications on your current circumstances.
Or is your inclination to first search the Scriptures to discover if it is true or not and then seek to apply it to your life, without regard for its implications?
Which of these 2 is more in line with the BU Principals?
How have you ever warped or manipulated a message to make it all about you or those you wish to rally to your side?

If I were to suggest we make the Deacons all about service, and elect 5 Elders based purely on the direction of the Word of God, how would you respond?

If I were to suggest we bring women back to this class, how would you respond?

Just because the implications of a message appear to impact you negatively, that does not necessarily mean that the message is not true and should not be followed!

The only way to know if a message is true is to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES, not evaluate its implications.
If Scripture is not clear on the subject, the implications to doctrine then must be considered to evaluate the messages authenticity.
But to do so discerningly, we must surrender our self-interest!
Again, which BU Principals does this line up with?