B i b l e S t u d y
O u t l i n e s
H O M E P A G E
Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, a Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
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November 29, 2015
SCRIPTURE: Acts 18:1-11, 18-21
KEY VERSES: 9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. (Acts 18:9-10)
INTRODUCTION: As we continue our study of Acts into the eighteenth chapter we see the Apostle Paul leaving Athens, the intellectual capital of the Roman world, and coming into Corinth, the center of sensuality. These two cities are symbols of the twin evils which, in every day and every generation, trap and enslave the hearts of people: (1) intellectual pride and (2) sensual lust.
It was infested with certain strongholds of evil which the apostle describes in his first letter to the Corinthians -- places where evil was entrenched and was difficult to dislodge. Sexual license and perversion were rampant. Racial discord was prominent. There were family feuds and political tyranny. And, of course, spreading over all, was the emptiness, meaninglessness, and the lack of purpose which paganism always produces.
Corinth was so much like our own cities that today I refer to Paul's letters to the church at Corinth as his first and second letters to the “Americans.” We live in Corinthian conditions, and if there is any church in the New Testament with which we would particularly identify, it is this one. The apostle Paul arrived a total stranger, not knowing anyone, never having been there before, but confident that God would open the door. Luke tells us how he did it:
I. PAUL MEETS AQUILA AND PRISCILLA. (Acts 18:1-11)
A. The Companions Of Persistent Evangelism. (Acts 18:1-5)
1. The city of Corinth was probably the most wicked city of that day. (Acts 18:1)
(Acts 18:1) After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth.
a. It was the Hollywood and the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire.
It was the place where you could go to live it up. Sex and drink and all other sensual pleasures were there. In Corinth of 2015 one can see the remains of a great Roman bath. That is where they went to sober up. In the distance is the temple that was dedicated to Aphrodite (or Venus) in which there were a thousand so-called “vestal virgins.” They were anything but virgins; they were prostitutes -- sex was a religion. Also there were two tremendous theatres there. People came from all over the empire to the city of Corinth.
b. Paul came to Corinth on his second missionary journey and again on his third journey.
I believe it was here where Paul had one of his most effective ministries. It is my judgment that in Corinth and in Ephesus Paul had his greatest ministries. Ephesus was a religious center; Corinth was a sin center. Both cities were great commercial centers.
2. Now notice what Paul does on his first visit to Corinth. (Acts 18:2)
(Acts 18:2) And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
In the city of Corinth he found this Jewish couple (Aquila and Priscilla), recently come from Rome. The reason they had left Rome was because of anti-Semitism which had rolled like a wave over the earth. During the days of the Roman Empire this happened several times. At this time Claudius commanded all Jews to leave Rome. Among those who got out of Rome was this very wonderful couple, Aquila and Priscilla.
3. Aquila and Priscilla had come there because they were in business. (Acts 18:3)
(Acts 18:3) And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
They opened up their little shop, and one day there came to their shop a short Jew (the Apostle Paul) who had traveled all the way from Antioch. They got acquainted and they invited Paul to stay with them.
What do you suppose they talked about? Well, Paul led them to the Lord. In the synagogue there were others who also turned to the Lord. However, there was also great opposition against Paul among the Jews.
4. Paul had waited in Athens for Timothy and Silas to come, but they didn’t show up. (Acts 18:4-5)
(Acts 18:4-5) And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
Finally, Timothy and Silas come to him in Corinth and bring the report from the churches in Macedonia. When we get to the first Thessalonian Epistle, we will find that Paul wrote it during this period, after he had received Timothy’s report. Now Paul feels that he must speak out, and he testifies that Jesus is the Christ (i.e., the Messiah).
B. The Consequences Of Persistent Evangelism. (Acts 18:6-8)
1. Apparently it was at this time that Paul made the break that took him to the Gentile world. (Acts 18:6)
(Acts 18:6) And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
When the Jews oppose him, Paul turns to the Gentiles. We find now that the Lord speaks to him because he is coming into a great new dimension of his missionary endeavor.
It would seem that from this point on Paul’s ministry was largely to the Gentiles. We will find that true in Ephesus and less obviously in Rome.
2. Paul spent about eighteen months in the city of Corinth where he had a tremendous ministry. (Acts 18:7-8)
(Acts 18:7-8) And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
God blessed Paul’s ministry and many Gentiles were won to Christ. Paul still preached to Jews, but his main ministry was to the Gentiles. Paul truly was the Apostle to the Gentiles.
C. The Comforts Of Persistent Evangelism. (Acts 18:9-11)
1. The provision of God. (Acts 18:9-10)
(Acts 18:9-10) Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
Paul had already been in Corinth for quite a while, and I am sure that he was wondering about that city. I’m of the opinion that when he received this opposition, he was ready to leave and go somewhere else. However, the Lord Himself steps in and detains Paul. He tells him, “I have much people in this city.”
Note: Corinth was about the last place that you would expect the Lord to “have much people.” One preacher said this about Las Vegas: “I have been through Las Vegas quite a few times. I’ll be honest with you -- when I look at that crowd, I wouldn’t get the impression that the Lord might have people there. If the Lord were to say to me, ‘I have much people in this city,’ I wouldn’t question the Lord, but it surely would be the opposite from my own impression.”
2. The perseverance of Paul. (Acts 18:11)
(Acts 18:11) And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
After Paul had many months of ministry in Corinth, opposition again did arise. Regardless of the opposition from Satan, perseverance should characterize evangelism, whether it be from the pulpit or through personal contact. Paul was an example of a man “standing fast!”
II. PAUL DELEGATES TO PRISCILLA AND AQUILA (Acts 18:18-21)
A. The Apostle Paul Makes A Vow. (Acts 18:18)
(Acts 18:18) And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
1. There are a great many people who find fault with Paul because he made a vow.
They say that this is the man who preached that we are not under Law but we are under grace, and so he should not have made a vow. Anyone who says this about Paul is actually making a little law for Paul. Such people are saying that Paul is to do things their way.
Under grace, my friend, if you want to make a vow, you can make it. And if you do not want to make a vow, you don’t have to. Paul didn’t force anyone else to make a vow. In fact, he said emphatically that no one has to do that. But if Paul wants to make a vow, that is his business. That is the wonderful freedom that we have in the grace of God in 2015, too.
Note: In 2015 there are some “super-saints” who form little cliques and make laws for the Christian. They say we can’t do this and we can’t do that. May I say to you very candidly that our relationship is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is a love affair. If we love Him, of course we will not do anything that will break our fellowship with Him. Don’t insist that I go through your little wicket gate; I am to follow Christ. He shows me what I can and cannot do in order to maintain fellowship with Him. I can go to the chapter and verse.
If one wishes to eat meat, there is freedom to eat meat. If one wishes to observe a certain day, there is freedom to observe it. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The important thing is to do all to the glory of God. Eating meat will not commend you to God and neither will abstaining from meat commend you to God.
Let’s not find fault with Paul here. Poor Paul surely does get in trouble with his critics right in this particular passage. I want to defend him.
2. Paul is now returning from his second missionary journey.
Paul has made Corinth the limit of his journey and now he is going back to Antioch. He sails from Cenchrea, which is the seaport over on the east side. There is a canal through the Corinthian peninsula today, but there was none in that day. People would actually pull the boats overland. Pictures have been taken showing the rocks that are worn by the boats which were pulled over the isthmus (i.e., the peninsula) to the other side. Cenchrea was the port of Corinth on the eastward side. Paul goes there with Aquila and Priscilla, and they board a ship there. He is not going westward any farther; Paul is sailing for home.
B. The Apostle Paul Makes A Visit. (Acts 18:19)
(Acts 18:19) And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
You remember that when Paul started out on this second journey, the Holy Spirit would not allow him to come down to Ephesus. Now, on his way back, Paul stops at Ephesus but he does not stay there very long.
C. The Apostle Paul Keeps A Feast. (Acts 18:20-21)
(Acts 18:20-21) When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
1. Again someone may ask what business Paul has in keeping feasts.
Remember his background. Paul is a Jew like Simon Peter. He has the background of the Mosaic system. He knows a lot of his friends will be in Jerusalem for the feast. He wants to go up to witness to them. He feels that he must by all means keep this feast that is coming in Jerusalem. Remember, Paul is under grace. If he wants to do that, that is his business.
2. However, Paul did see that there was a great door open in Ephesus.
Paul has the heart of a missionary, and he wants to return to them. Ephesus was one of the great cities of the Roman Empire.
Whom Shall I Send?
By Bill Crowder
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)
As a young pastor, I served a fledgling new congregation that included my parents. My father was very active in the church’s “people ministries” -- evangelism, hospital and nursing-home visitation, bus ministry, relief for the poor, and more.
Although he had never been formally trained in ministry, Dad had a natural ability to connect with people who were in the midst of hard times. That was his passion -- the downtrodden people who are often overlooked. In fact, on the day he died, my last conversation with him was about someone he had promised to call on. He was concerned that his promise be kept.
I believe that my father’s service was one that followed the heart of Christ. Jesus looked out over the masses of the forgotten people of the world and felt compassion for them (Matthew 9:36-38).
(Matthew 9:36-38) 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Jesus Christ commanded His followers to pray that the heavenly Father would send workers (like my dad) to reach those weighed down with the cares of life.
My father became the answer to those prayers in many hurting people’s lives, and we can as well. When the prayer goes out for someone to represent Christ’s love, may our heart respond: “Lord, here am I! Send me.” -- Bill Crowder, Our Daily Bread, July 23, 2006
the task He gives you gladly,
Let His work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when He calleth,
“Here am I, send me, send me.” -- Darch
CONCLUSION: In 2015 we need desperately to return to this Book of Acts pattern of teaching and preaching the Word of God. The Lord seems to be moving the church back to this pattern. I hope we learn, once and for all, this lesson from the Book of Acts. God’s wants people to be saved!
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Let’s not be afraid to make known what God has done for us.”
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REFERENCES: References used in the Bible study are the King James Bible (KJV), Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
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