Archive for April, 2007

Acts 26:17-32 – May 6, 2007

KING AGRIPPA AND BERNICE ARRIVE – PART 3 (verses 17-32)

Each study will have an error in one of the questions. It is our duty as believers to test everything that we read or hear with the Bible. So this will be a mini exercise in testing what is being said in class.

Q1) In verse 20, what three things does Paul tell the Jews and Gentiles alike to do?

Discussion)    The three things are to repent, turn to God, and then do works befitting of repentance.

Q2) In verse 24, why did Festus accuse Paul of being crazy or out of his mind?

Discussion)    Festus accused Paul of being crazy because Festus did not know about the different prophecies of the Jewish religion nor about who Jesus is.

Q3) What is Paul’s response to Festus in verses 25-27?

Discussion)    Paul’s response was not one of belittling Festus in front of his boss (which is something that all Christians should exercise) but one of a soft answer turns away wrath.  Paul gave honor where honor was due which was that of Festus.  He also politely told him that Agrippa knew about this already and that it was nothing new to Agrippa.

Q4) With all that you now know about King Agrippa, what was going on inside of him by verse 28?

Discussion)    With everything that we talked about of King Agrippa he was now at a crossroads in his life.  He wanted to follow Jesus but the pride of what would his subjects think about him reared its ugly head.  He was almost persuaded but the pride of life came up and he decided not to follow Jesus.

Q5) Paul believed that the king and all that heard him that day would loose him and let him preach freely! Why?

Clues)    This was the trick question.  Paul knew that he was going to Rome.

Discussion)    As an extended discussion here we talked about how everyone had silently left Paul after he spoke without talking to him.  Even though he did exactly what the Lord told him to do, one could imagine that Paul felt lonely at this time and that he was forgotten by God.  Remember this for the Life Application question.

Q6) According to verse 32, does this mean that Paul made a mistake?

Discussion)    No instead it means that he was going to go to Rome now.

LIFE APPLICATION: Why is it vital that Paul didn’t give up here and now, and that he makes it to Rome – whether he’s a prisoner or a free man? How can this encourage us?

Discussion)    This can be encouraging to us by question 5.  There are times when it seems like we don’t here from God, which is what Paul felt, but we press on.

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April 29, 2007 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

Acts 26:1-16 – April 29, 2007

KING AGRIPPA AND BERNICE ARRIVE – PART 2 (verse 1-16)

Each study will have an error in one of the questions. It is our duty as believers to test everything that we read or hear with the Bible. So this will be a mini exercise in testing what is being said in class.

The class was given the following sheet about King Agrippa:

Last ruler from the house of Herod. Great-grandson of Herod the through both his father [Agrippa I] & mother [Cypros, the daughter of Salampsio], Agrippa II was, like his father & paternal grandfather, raised in the imperial household in Rome. Only 16 when his father died (44 CE), he was too young to be named king of the volatile kingdom of Judea. But six years later, the emperor Claudius put him in charge of the Lebanese kingdom of Chalcis, that had been vacated by the death of his uncle, Herod (48 CE). Agrippa’s support of Jews in their feud with Samaritans (52 CE) led Claudius to replace the procurator of Judea [Cumanus] & give Agrippa control of the Syrian provinces [Golan, Batanea & Trachonitis] that had previously been governed by his father & great-uncle [Philip]. Like his father & uncle, he retained the title of “king.” When Nero became emperor (54 CE), he expanded Agrippa’s kingdom to include Perea and the west shore of the sea of Galilee, territory that had belonged to the domain of his father & another great-uncle [Antipas]. Although his reign was the longest of any member of the Herodian dynasty, he never ruled Judea, Samaria or the bulk of Galilee. Yet, his sister, Drusilla, became wife of a Roman procurator of Judea [Antonius Felix]. Though Claudius made him administrator of the temple in Jerusalem, Agrippa himself was not a religious Jew & created scandal among Jewish subjects by continuing his incestuous relationship with another sister, Berenice. That scandal is not mentioned, however, in Luke’s account of the apostle Paul’s favorable audience before the pair on the eve of his deportation to Rome [Acts 25-26]. Since Agrippa sided with Rome in the great Jewish revolt (66-70 CE), his position was reconfirmed by Roman emperors after Nero.

Q1) In Acts 25:11, Paul appealed to Festus, but yet here we see him explain to Agrippa. Why?

Discussion)    Paul explained to Agrippa because Paul knew that Agrippa had an in depth knowledge of Jewish customs and laws.  Festus did not, so Paul just appealed to him.  

Q2) Read Acts 9:15 and then read Acts 26:2. Why do you think Paul is so happy here?

Discussion)    Paul is happy here not because he thinks that he is going to be released as some commentaries state.  Instead he is happy that after two long years of being in prison under Felix then Festus, the plan that God had of Paul going to Rome was starting to take affect.  King Agrippa was the “boss” or at least in authority over Festus, so he was the next one up the food chain that will hear about Paul’s case.  Paul was happy that this was the next step in him going to Rome and that Paul got to tell another high level official about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done.

Q3) In verse 5, Paul states that the Jews knew him from the beginning. What does this mean?

Discussion)    This means that all of the Jewish community knew who Paul was and that he was raised in the strictest ways of the Pharisees.  He had kept the Mosaic law better than most of the Pharisees had kept it.

Q4) Read Acts 13:32-34. What is the hope of the promise made by God unto the fathers, spoken of in verse 6?

Discussion)    The hope of the promise made by God was referenced by Paul in Acts 13 and it is the hope of Jesus Christs.  Paul quotes two parts of the book of Psalms in this passage, in which King David referenced the future Messiah.  This is something that King Agrippa knew about and therefore did not need explanation of the promise but was told by Paul that it was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

Q5) In verse 9-11, Paul does not tell about his life before he was converted. Why is this?

Clues)    Paul does in fact tell about his life before he was converted.  This was the trick question.

Discussion)    Paul indeed tells about his life before he was converted.  He shows with what zealousness and passion he persecuted Jesus and Christians.

Q6) Read the Agrippa sheet, then read Acts 26:4-16. Why do you think Paul is so detailed here?

Discussion)    This is a setup here by God to tell King Agrippa about who Jesus is and what He did for each one of us.  This truly was not about Paul trying to get out of prison but about the chance for King Agrippa, Bernice, and all of those in the court of this king to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

LIFE APPLICATION: Paul lived by the Mosaic Law from birth to young adulthood – became a member of the Sanhedrin – a Pharisee- a very strict Pharisee and persecuted Christians until his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus.

A) How is Paul different in his NEW life lived in Christ and why?

Discussion)    Paul is on fire for the cause of Jesus and he is not only telling others about Jesus but doing it with signs and wonders, which we need to be showing the world today.

B) How is Paul the same in his NEW life in Christ?

Discussion)    He still has zealousness, fervor, and passion for something.  It used to be about persecution but in his new life in Christ it is about reaching a lost world for Jesus.

C) How can this be encouraging to us?

Discussion)    This shows us that we can still have the same zeal, fervor, and passion after we become a Christian.  It also shows that there are times that God will have us bring up our past, even though it is forgiven, to point some to Jesus.  Remember that we are never supposed to reside in our past once it is brought up.

April 22, 2007 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

Acts 25:13-27 – April 22, 2007

KING AGRIPPA AND BERNICE ARRIVE – PART 1 (verses 13-27)

Each study will have an error in one of the questions. It is our duty as believers to test everything that we read or hear with the Bible. So this will be a mini exercise in testing what is being said in class.

The class was given the following sheet about King Agrippa:

Last ruler from the house of Herod. Great-grandson of Herod the through both his father [Agrippa I] & mother [Cypros, the daughter of Salampsio], Agrippa II was, like his father & paternal grandfather, raised in the imperial household in Rome. Only 16 when his father died (44 CE), he was too young to be named king of the volatile kingdom of Judea. But six years later, the emperor Claudius put him in charge of the Lebanese kingdom of Chalcis, that had been vacated by the death of his uncle, Herod (48 CE). Agrippa’s support of Jews in their feud with Samaritans (52 CE) led Claudius to replace the procurator of Judea [Cumanus] & give Agrippa control of the Syrian provinces [Golan, Batanea & Trachonitis] that had previously been governed by his father & great-uncle [Philip]. Like his father & uncle, he retained the title of “king.” When Nero became emperor (54 CE), he expanded Agrippa’s kingdom to include Perea and the west shore of the sea of Galilee, territory that had belonged to the domain of his father & another great-uncle [Antipas]. Although his reign was the longest of any member of the Herodian dynasty, he never ruled Judea, Samaria or the bulk of Galilee. Yet, his sister, Drusilla, became wife of a Roman procurator of Judea [Antonius Felix]. Though Claudius made him administrator of the temple in Jerusalem, Agrippa himself was not a religious Jew & created scandal among Jewish subjects by continuing his incestuous relationship with another sister, Berenice. That scandal is not mentioned, however, in Luke’s account of the apostle Paul’s favorable audience before the pair on the eve of his deportation to Rome [Acts 25-26]. Since Agrippa sided with Rome in the great Jewish revolt (66-70 CE), his position was reconfirmed by Roman emperors after Nero.

Q1) In verse 16 it sounds like Paul had not been tried before, but he had in chapters 23 and 24. Why would this happen?

Discussion)    Remember that this is the first case that Festus had tried.  He also probably did not know what Felix did in the previous court cases with Paul since there was no true transfer of power between Felix and Festus.  Even though Paul had been tried before Festus did it a new way.

Q2) Festus was in a hurry to get Paul’s case dealt with. Why?

Clues)    This is a trick question.  Festus was not in a hurry to get Paul’s case dealt with.

Discussion)    The reason we know that this is true is in two clues.  First we saw last week by secular writings that though little is known about Festus, it is known that he had wisdom.  In this wisdom he did not do things rashly and in haste.  Also, in verse 14 it states that King Agrippa and Bernice were at Caesera many days before Festus talked to them about Paul.  If Festus wanted to do this rashly and in haste that would have been the very first thing that he would have talked to them about.

Q3) Festus explained Paul’s case to King Agrippa. What two things must occur at every Roman citizen’s trial?

Discussion)    This is found in verse 16 that two things that must occur at every Roman citizen’s trial is that the accused must meet their accusers and that the accused has a chance to defend himself.  Though King Agrippa knew about this law, Festus is here reminding him about it.

We first talked about King Agrippa here.  We must realize that this is the son of the King Agrippa that had the apostle James executed in Acts 12 and then was struck down through death by God for his arrogance.  King Agrippa is coming into this ordeal with Paul with this baggage that he had witnessed at a young age.

Q4) In verses 19 and 20 Festus is uncertain of some things that Felix was certain of. What were these and what difference does it show between Felix and Festus?

Discussion)    Festus was uncertain of the Jewish religion and customs in which Felix was well versed.  We took the time to see that through his wisdom, Festus realized that he did not know how to proceed and he called for help from the authority above him, which is King Agrippa.

Q5) Verse 25 states that Festus found Paul guilty of nothing – he could find no crimes worthy of death. Why didn’t he just release Paul and let him go?

Discussion)    Paul appealed to go to Caesar instead of being let go.  Notice here a few things about the “court room” in which it was not a true court room but an auditorium in which Paul would not only speak one-on-one to King Agrippa but also to all the prominent men of the city.  Catch this part, what most people would see as an incident to humiliate a person, Paul saw as a way to tell many people at once about the love and power of Jesus Christ.

Q6) Why does the Bible show so many verses (14-21 and 24-27) explaining to Agrippa about charges of Paul?

Discussion)  This goes back to Festus and something that Christians should understand today.  Festus was showing that he did not know what to do so he “laid out all his cards” or told King Agrippa everything that he knew about the case against Paul so that King Agrippa (the authority over Festus) could rightly do his job.  In the same way, if we do not know something, we are not to make something up but to be honest and state that we do not know.  When we ask for help, we are not to keep an “ace up our sleeve” but to let the authority know everything that we do.    

LIFE APPLICATION: Read Matthew 10:16-20. Paul was not an apostle when Jesus said this to the disciples. So does that mean that this portion of Scripture is for us? Could what Paul is going through happen to us today?

Discussion)    Yes this portion of Scripture is for us today.  Soon in America we could very well go through being thrown in prison for the name of Jesus, like they are in other parts of the world.  When this happens the book of Acts has wonderful examples of what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to act.

 

April 15, 2007 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment

Acts 24:27-25:12 – April 15, 2007

PAUL FACES FESTUS THE GOVERNOR

Each study will have an error in one of the questions. It is our duty as believers to test everything that we read or hear with the Bible. So this will be a mini exercise in testing what is being said in class.

Q1) How long was Paul in prison in Acts 24:27 and why?

Discussion) It was for two years. Notice that here we see that there is a change in governorship between Felix and Festus. Since there is very few commentaries on why this change, I decided to look this information up on the internet. There is very little information about this, especially about Festus, except for what I found on a Roman Catholic site. Though I do not agree with some of the Roman Catholic teachings, they have a very good web site that tells a brief synopsis of all of their leaders from when Rome came into power until present day. We talked about both Felix and Festus here.

FELIX

A freed slave of Marc Antony‘s daughter Antonia, who rose to become the 10th Roman prefect of Judea. With his brother Pallas, Felix became a favorite of the emperor Claudius. Claudius made him governor of most of the former kingdom of Agrippa I [Judea, Samaria & Galilee], a position bolstered by his marriage to Agrippa’s sister, Drusilla. Faced with having to maintain Rome‘s dominance, Felix showed little sympathy for Jews of any rank. On the one hand, he conducted a sweeping campaign against bandits; on the other, he bribed bandits to murder the high priest who was responsible for his appointment [Jonathan bar Hanan]. He not only slaughtered the followers of a self-proclaimed prophet known as “the Egyptian”— Acts (21:27-38) dates the apostle Paul’s arrest soon after this event — he even arrested priests & sent them in chains to Rome. When Nero relieved Felix of his command, leading Jews charged Felix with misconduct. But he escaped imperial discipline since his brother, Pallas, was at the height of his power & influence. He perished in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (79 CE).

FESTUS

Not much is known about the 11th Roman prefect of Judea other than that he had a short tenure. He was sent by Nero to replace Antonius Felix (ca. 60 CE) & moved quickly to crush the Jewish bands of sicarii who hoped to win freedom through political assassinations. He also supported Agrippa II in a dispute with the temple priests.

Festus’ sudden death (62 CE) left Judea temporarily without a Roman governor. In the interim before the arrival of his successor, Lucceius Albinus, the Sadducean high priest [Hanan II] arranged the execution of Jesus’ brother James along with others on charges of Torah violations

Q2) Study Acts 23:15 and Acts 25:3. Here we have a new governor, Festus – and you would suppose, new rules – and that the Jews would have a different plot! What same thing do the Jews ask of Festus, that they asked of Felix when he was governor, concerning Paul?

Discussion) The Jewish leaders here did the same plan that they tried when Felix was governor and that was one to ambush Paul and kill him when he was being lead by the guards.

Q3) Again, God preserves Paul out of the hands of his enemies now, and by using whom?

Discussion) God used the new governor Festus to thwart the plans of the enemies of Paul. Though Festus was new to being a governor it has been said in some commentaries that he was wise and not given into crookedness like the governor before him and the one after him. Also we see that God was using Festus to show His favor upon Paul.

Q4) In verse 27 and Acts 25:9 the Word says that Festus was willing to do the Jews a pleasure. What does this mean?

Clues) This was the trick question. It was Felix and Festus. Both of them wanted to do the Jews a pleasure.

Discussion) This means that the governors wanted to appease the Jews so they would not be riled up.

Q5) In verse 10, why did Paul say, I am standing to be tried, where I should be tried?

Discussion) Even though he had every right to demand his release, he was now saying that he should be tried as a Roman citizen. Twice he had been tried as a Jew and was not found guilty of any crimes. He knows that he is going to go to Rome, according to Acts 23:11, so he demands to be tried as a Roman citizen.

Q6) In verse 11 whom did Paul appeal to and why?

Discussion) Paul appealed to Caeser. He knows that the hands of Festus are tied to send Paul to the next highest court as soon as Paul appeals to Caeser. This was not to get Paul out of trouble but was his ticket to proclaim the kingdom of Jesus Christ to the highest authorities at Rome.

LIFE APPLICATION: Read Acts 23:11:

1) What did the Lord tell Paul that he would do?

Discussion) The Lord told Paul that he would safely be able to tell those in Rome the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2) Is it coming to pass? If so, how?

Discussion) Yes it is coming to pass. Paul was on a one-way ticket to the head authorities in Rome.

3) How can this help our walk with the Lord?

Discussion) This is a promise to us that when the Lord starts something in us He will always finish it. Notice that in verse 27 of Acts 24 that Paul had spent two years in prison. Most Christians today would be declaring their freedom and their rights. Not Paul, though. He realized that the Lord was giving an opportunity for Felix to come to know Jesus as his personal Savior. The Lord is patient when wooing people to Himself. If it seems like we are going through a deep, dark time, we need to remember that God might be working on someone that will impact our lives in the future or using us to impact that person’s life.

April 8, 2007 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

Acts 24:14-26 – April 8, 2007

PAUL FACES FELIX THE GOVERNOR – PART 2 (verse 14-26)

Each study will have an error in one of the questions. It is our duty as believers to test everything that we read or hear with the Bible. So this will be a mini exercise in testing what is being said in class.

Q1) In verses 14 and 15 Paul admits he is a follower and worshiper of what, and he believes in what?

Discussion)    Paul admits that he is a worshiper and follower of the God of the Jews (Jehovah) and that he believes all the things that are written in the Law and the Prophets, which is everything that the Pharisees believe in also.  He also believes in the Way, which is Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection. 

Q2) Study verse 17. Why did Paul come to Jerusalem? What might be some other reasons Paul came to Jerusalem?

Discussion)    Paul came to Jerusalem to offer alms (money contributions) from the fledgling churches to his nation.  In the offerings part it should be included that he offered up to others the most important thing, that being of Jesus Christ.

Q3) According to verse 18, these are Jews from Rome, who accused Paul of defiling the temple, causing disorders and preaching blasphemy.

Clues)   This is the trick question.  It was the Jews from Asia.

Discussion)    Notice here that Paul interjects that the Jews from Asia were the ones that started this, so he questions to Felix of why aren’t they there to raise these accusations that they had.

Q4) In verse 22, the Word says that Felix had a better knowledge of the Way. If he isn’t a practicing Jew, how could he know about the Mosaic Law and the Jewish customs?

Discussion)    We find that his wife was a Jew.  Also he had been a governor for some time, so he knew about the Mosaic Law and what the Jewish customs were, so no one could try to trick him.

Q5) Who, according to verse 22, did Felix want to hear from?

Discussion)    Instead of passing judgment, Felix wanted to hear from Lysias the commander, since the Jews raised a point in verse 7 that he was violent in the way that he took Paul from them.   So he had Paul put under house arrest but with freedom to have people come to him and provide and minister to him.  Just put yourself in the shoes of the Pharisees.  Someone whom you had conspired against to kill is put under the most lenient arrest that there is.  The Pharisees were probably extremely upset but they did not question the rule of Felix or they would have to answer with their lives.

Q6) What is exciting yet sad about verses 24-26?

Discussion)    Instead of questioning Paul about what he had done during this dispute, Felix wanted to know more about the faith in Christ.  This was the time for Paul to minister to Felix and tell him about Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection.  Paul started to talk about things such as righteousness, self-control, and judgment, which are contrary to what Felix had done which was taking a bribe.  This pricked Felix’s heart, but yet he continued to have different sessions with Paul to talk to him about Jesus.

LIFE APPLICATION: There are millions of dishonest, corrupt, people like Felix in the world today. They hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ but haven’t accepted Jesus as their Savior – they are more interested in money, status, things, etc. How should our hearts be towards them and waht can we do for them, as Paul did for Felix?

Discussion)    Paul showed love to Felix.  Unlike John the Baptist who condemned Herod in his sin of marrying his sister-in-law, Paul showed love and mercy to Felix and met him where he was at, just like Jesus meets us where we are at.  

April 1, 2007 at 8:57 pm Leave a comment


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