International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday November 22, 2015
Purpose: To enlarge our vision of where we can confidently share our faith
Bible Lesson: Acts 17:1-4, 10-12, 22-25, 28
Background Scripture: Acts 17:1-32
Key Verse As I was walking through town and carefully observing your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown God.’ What you worship as unknown, I now proclaim to you. (Acts 17:23)
Acts 17:1-4 (CEB)
(1)Paul and Silas journeyed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, then came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. (2) As was Paul’s custom, he entered the synagogue and for three Sabbaths interacted with them on the basis of the scriptures. (3) Through his interpretation of the scriptures, he demonstrated that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. He declared, “This Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.” (4) Some were convinced and joined Paul and Silas, including a larger number of Greek God-worshippers and quite a few prominent women.
Acts 17: 10-12 (CEB)
(10) As soon as it was dark, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas on to Beroea. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. (11) The Beroean Jews were more honorable than those in Thessalonica. This was evident in the great eagerness with which they accepted the word and examined the scriptures each day to see whether Paul and Silas’ teaching was true. (12) Many came to believe, including a number of reputable Greek women and many Greek men
Acts 17: 22-25 (CEB)
(22) Paul stood up in the middle of the council on Mars Hill and said, “People of Athens, I see that you are very religious in every way. (23) As I was walking through town and carefully observing your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown God.’ What you worship as unknown, I now proclaim to you. (24) God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples made with human hands. (25) Nor is God served by human hands, as though he needed something, since he is the one who gives life, breath, and everything else.
Acts 17: 28 (CEB)
(28) In God we live, move, and exist. As some of your own poets said, ‘We are his offspring.’
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week’s lesson continues Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke and others missionary journey, usually referred to as Paul’s second missionary journey.W
It does not do the story justice when Paul and Silas’s experience in Philippi is omitted. Paul and Silas had been arrested and jailed in Philippi after encountering a soothsayer.
After a miraculous escape and conversion of the Philippian jailer, Paul insisted on an apology for being arrested and jailed as a foreigner when he and Silas were Roman citizens. On his way out of town Paul stopped by the home of Lydia and encouraged those that were meeting in her home.
In Thessalonica Paul continues his practice of going to the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath and teaching about the Messiah, who had come as promised, was crucified, dead and buried but rose again as the prophets had said.
Paul was so convincing that some members of the synagogue thought Paul was stealing their congregation. This angered some to the point of framing Paul and Silas with trumped up charges brought by some hired thugs. This forced Paul to leave and go to the next town.
In Beorea, they found a more understanding group. They were hungry for God’s word and loved to study. But when the Jews back in Thessalonica heard about Paul’s success in Beorea they went there and created such a disturbance that Paul had to be escorted all the way to Athens.
While in Athens Paul became angry with all of the statues to pagan gods and began to preach the good news of Jesus to the crowds. Athens was a center for philosophy and freethinkers. Almost everyone had a philosophy to share and an idol or pagan god to worship. Eventually Paul was brought before the local council and stood on Mars Hill and proclaimed what he had seen. He noticed there were altars erected referring to “The Unknown God.” Paul’s words were “what you refer to as unknown, I now proclaim to you that I know that God.”
Paul was never shy about sharing the gospel, and he suffered many times for doing so. Today, when there is little that should scare us and there are no threats to us we are too timid to admit we are Christians.
I think there is one old hymn that best tells both the story of Paul and the Beoreans, “I Love to Tell the Story.”