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Bible Narratives Devotional, Week 48: The Gospel Moves into Europe

This entry is part 48 of 50 in the series

"Bible Narratives Devotional"

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Week 48: The Gospel Moves into Europe

Weekly memory verse:

Romans 8:38–39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Weekly hymn:

“And Can It Be” (free download)

Weekly catechism:

How does Christ’s resurrection benefit you?

Christ’s resurrection is a certain promise of my glorious resurrection.

Day 236: Paul Completes His First Missionary Journey

Reading: Acts 14:1–28, Psalm 144

Notes

Acts 14, Verse 1. Iconium. A melting pot of several cultures, including Phrygians, Greeks, Jews, and Romans.

Verse 11. Gods. Lystran folklore taught that Zeus and Hermes had visited the city in the past, and so they interpreted current events in that light.

Verse 26. Antioch. This ended Paul’s first missionary journey.

Summary

Paul and Barnabas set a standard for what a gospel missionary should be. They were evangelists, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to all who would listed. They were preachers, faithfully expounding the Word of God. And they were church, organizing new converts into establishes congregations who would continue the work of making disciples, even when the missionaries left.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Paul and Barnabas perform signs and wonders?
  2. Why did the people of Lystra think Paul and Barnabas were Zeus and Hermes?
  3. Why did the people stone Paul?

Day 237: The Jerusalem Council

Reading: Acts 15:1–41, Psalm 145

Notes

Acts 15, Verse 1. Some men. These were Judaizers, false teachers who insisted that obedience to the Mosaic Law was necessary for salvation.

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Verse 8. The Holy Spirit. This is why God delayed giving the outward sign of the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans and later to Gentiles (4:8, 31; 6:5; 7:55); it confirmed clearly that these non-Jews were accepted, even though they were not obedient to the Mosaic Law.

Verse 13. James. The lead elder of the Jerusalem church.

Verse 39. Sharp disagreement. Paul and Barnabas eventually reconciled (1 Cor 9:6), and Paul eventually forgave Mark and considered him a useful son (2 Tim 4:11, 1 Pet 5:13).

Summary

The Jerusalem Council established important principles regarding the nature of the gospel by grace alone in Jesus Christ alone by faith alone balanced with the importance of holiness once a person comes to faith apart from works. It condemned the legalistic Judaizers as heretics, but nevertheless urged new Gentile believers to live holy lives and be sensitive to the consciences of their Jewish-Christian brothers and sisters.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why was the Jerusalem Council necessary?
  2. What did the council decide about the relationship between saving faith and good works?
  3. Do you think either Paul or Barnabas were wrong in their opinions about Mark?

Day 238: Wise Words

Reading: Proverbs 23–24

Notes

Chapter 23, Verse 10. Ancient landmark. These were boundary stones that marked the borders of ancestral lands. To secretly move one was to steal land not one’s own.

Verse 11. Redeemer. This refers to a kinsman redeemer, a more prosperous near family member who would rescue one in need (see Lev 25:25).

Verse 31. Wine when it is red. This verse is one of the most direct prohibitions of drinking intoxicating beverages.

Summary

The book of Proverbs is filled with wise words. Some of the instructions given here have direct application to ancient near eastern customs, and yet their principles remain valid to this day. Other instructions have direct, if not even more powerful, application for issues in today’s society.

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Discussion Questions

  1. Why must we be careful when sitting with a powerful person?
  2. What are the negative effects mentioned that come with drinking “wine when it is red”?
  3. What should be our attitude toward our enemies?

Day 239: Paul Begins His Second Missionary Journey

Reading: Acts 16:1–40

Notes

Verse 3. Circumcised him. Clearly, as evident in the previous chapter, Paul did not believe circumcision was necessary for salvation. Yet for the sake of gospel ministry, Paul taught that we should be willing to give up our freedoms.

Verse 9. Macedonia. The region on the mainland of Greece, the first entrance of the missionaries into Europe.

Verse 10. We. This indicates the Luke joined Paul, Silas, and Timothy at this point.

Summary

Paul continued to spread the gospel and plant churches, this time clearly led by the Holy Spirit to leave Asia and begin working in Europe, on the mainland of Greece. God providentially prepared the way for the mission team, working in the hearts of key individuals who would be important founders of churches in the cities.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Paul circumcise Timothy?
  2. Why did God send the vision of man from Macedonia to Paul?
  3. What did Paul tell the Philippian Jailer when he was about to take his own life?

Day 240: Paul in Thessalonica and Athens

Reading: Acts 17:1–34, Proverbs 25

Notes

Acts 17, Verse 18. Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Epicureans were materialists and Stoics were pantheists.

Verses 22. Religious. This carried the idea of “superstitious” and would not have been considered a compliment.

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Verse 28. Your own poets. The first quote is from the Cretan poet Epimenides (c. 600 bc), and the second is from the Stoic poet Aratus (c. 315–240 bc). He quotes them to demonstrate the lack of internal coherence of their own religious beliefs.

Summary

Paul carefully considered his audience when proclaiming the gospel. With the Jews in Thessalonica and Berea, he could assume their knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures and build upon that to convince them that Jesus was the promised Messiah. For the philosophical and superstitious Athenians, Paul had to begin with proclaiming that God was the true Creator and Ruler of all. Either way, Paul relied on the sufficiency of God’s truth in proclaiming the gospel to all people.

Discussion Questions

  1. How did the Bereans prove to be more noble than the Thessalonicans?
  2. Why was Paul provoked when he entered Athens?
  3. What was the varied response to Paul’s message?
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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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