International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday November 25, 2012
Purpose: To encourage us to respond to open doors by sharing our faith with all who are receptive
Scripture Text: Acts 28: 23-31
Acts 28:23-31 (CEB)
(23) On the day scheduled for this purpose, many people came to the place where he was staying. From morning until evening, he explained and testified concerning God’s kingdom and tried to convince them about Jesus through appealing to the Law from Moses and the Prophets. (24) Some were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe. (25) They disagreed with each other and were starting to leave when Paul made one more statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke correctly when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet,
(26) Go to this people and say:
You will hear, to be sure, but never understand;
and you will certainly see but never recognize what you are seeing.
(27) This people’s senses have become calloused,
and they’ve become hard of hearing,
and they’ve shut their eyes
so that they won’t see with their eyes
or hear with their ears
or understand with their minds,
and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them.
(28) “Therefore, be certain of this: God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles. They will listen!” (verse 29 does not appear in the text because it is not from the most reliable manuscripts)
(30) Paul lived in his own rented quarters for two full years and welcomed everyone who came to see him. 31 Unhindered and with complete confidence, he continued to preach God’s kingdom and to teach about the Lord Jesus Christ.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Our lesson this week concludes our study on Paul's adventures as recorded by his traveling companion and personal physician Dr. Luke.
After spending three months on the Island of Malta ministering and healing as well as being ministered to by the local population, Paul and the entourage of soldiers, sailors and traveling companions board another Egyptian vessel from Alexandria and headed for Rome. Like the first ship they started on this was also a local vessel making stops along the way. First three days in Syracuse in eastern Sicily, then a day in Rhegium, on the toe of Italy's boot then finally in Puteoli, (called Pozzuoli today), which was Italy's primary harbor situated on the north side of the Bay of Naples.
While in Puteoli, they were met by fellow Christians who put them up for a week. Paul's new friends sent word to Rome that Paul was there and they then hosted Paul while waiting for the Christians from Rome to come down and greet him. Paul was encouraged by the group and felt he could make some headway getting this support from the house churches that had been established in Rome.
Since Paul's problem had been with the Jerusalem Jews, he thought he might have better luck with Jews that had come to Rome during the exile period. After waiting three days, resting from his journey, Paul invites the leaders of the Roman synagogue to come and hear his side of the story.
While Paul was able to persuade some, others refused to believe Paul's message. When the Jews started arguing amongst themselves Paul appears to lose his temper and gives them a good dose of what for (see verses 25-27). Paul ends the meeting by declaring that God's has extended His salvation to include the Gentiles and all who will listen and believe that Jesus was the Messiah promised long ago.
Paul remains in Rome for two years living in his own rented home and receiving all who wanted to come to listen and learn from him. Paul never stopped telling his story, and the experience of encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus. Amazingly although Paul was an excellent Jew, his ministry was to the Gentiles. The stubbornness of the Jews made salvation for the Gentiles a reality, because they listened.