Day 16

The Early Church - cont.

Paul’s second missionary journey

[Acts 15:36-18:22] Some days later, Paul suggests to Barnabas that they visit the churches planted on their first journey. Barnabas is determined that Mark should go with them, but Paul refuses because Mark had left them at Pamphylia. Not being able to agree on this, Barnabas leaves for Cyprus taking Mark with him. Paul chooses Silas to go with him and they first head for the churches at Derbe and Lystra. It is in this area of Iconium that Paul meets Timothy who is respected amongst the churches. Paul chooses Timothy to join him and Silas, but, as Timothy is the son of a Jewess and a Greek father, decides it would be prudent to circumcise him first. The letter from the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem is delivered to the churches as they pass through the different cities, and they are urged to follow their instructions. They find that the faith of the churches is stronger and their numbers are continuing to increase. During their travels, Paul wants to divert to preach the word in new places, but is twice deterred by the Spirit and directed to Troas. Here Paul has a dream in which a man begs him come over to Macedonia to help us. Luke has now joined Paul and Silas and they sail to Samothracia, then Neapolis, and from there they go to Philippi, a major city in that region of Macedonia. There is no synagogue in this city, but a group of worshippers is found by the riverside where Paul and his group then sit and speak with them. Here, a woman named Lydia accepts Paul’s teaching, and she and her household are baptised. She offers her hospitality to the group enabling Paul and his companions to lodge with her. For a few days, a young woman with a spirit of divination, used by her masters for financial gain, follows the group until Paul finally gets upset with her and exorcises the spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. Her masters, finding their income is now lost, make accusations against Paul and Silas and they are both beaten and imprisoned. At midnight, while Paul and Silas are praying and singing praises to God, an earthquake suddenly shakes the prison, the doors open and all the prisoners’ chains fall free. The prison keeper awakes to find the prison doors open, assumes the prisoners have escaped and is about to kill himself (for death would have been his punishment if they had escaped) but is prevented by Paul. The event results in the conversion and baptism of the prison keeper and his household. The next morning the magistrates order Paul and Silas to be released. Paul asserts his rights as a Roman citizen, causing alarm amongst the magistrates for, as a Roman, he had been treated unlawfully. Consequently, the magistrates personally come to release Paul and Silas, but suggest they should leave the city. From the prison they go to Lydia’s house, comfort the brethren and then go on their way taking Timothy with them, but Luke stays in Philippi. They pass through Amphipolis and Apollonia and arrive at Thessalonica. Here they preach the gospel on three successive Sabbath days, producing many converts, some Jews, many devout Greeks and a few women. Amongst the converts there is a man named Jason whose house they stay at. Some unbelieving Jews are moved by envy to incite a mob, which then goes to Jason’s house to seize the disciples. Not finding them there, they take Jason and some of the brethren to the city rulers, accusing them of crimes against the state. Being satisfied with the defence offered by Jason, they are released. The brethren then decide they should send Paul and Silas away at night, and they head for Berea taking Timothy with them. At Berea, Paul and Silas preach in the synagogue where the word is received and the scriptures searched daily by the Bereans to verify the good news. There are many converts made here, both Jews and Greeks. The Jews at Thessalonica get to hear the word is now being preached at Berea and go there to incite a persecution against Paul and Silas. Consequently, Paul is sent away by sea accompanied by some brethren, but Silas and Timothy remain at Berea. Paul arrives at Athens and the brethren return with a message for Silas and Timothy to join Paul as soon as possible. While he is waiting for them, Paul recognises the whole city is given over to idolatry and disputes with Jews at the synagogue, also with devout people and some others in the market place. He is encountered by some philosophers who debate with him and invite him to explain his doctrine. When they hear of the resurrection of the dead, some mock him, some are hesitant and some believe. Among the converted are Dionysius, a member of the council, and a woman named Damaris. Paul leaves Athens and goes to Corinth where he meets with Aquila and Priscilla. They are tentmakers, which is also Paul’s trade, and he is invited to stay with them. As is Paul’s custom, he goes to the synagogue each Sabbath, reasoning with and converting some Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy join him from Macedonia, Paul is encouraged in  the Spirit to testify all the more to the Jews that Jesus is Christ. They oppose him, and so he ceases to preach in the synagogue and uses a neighbouring house owned by a believer named Justus. From here he continues to preach, converting and baptising many Corinthians, including Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue. Paul has a dream one night in which he is greatly encouraged by God, and consequently remains in Corinth for eighteen months. The Jews rise against Paul and take him before Gallio, the deputy of Achaia, in an attempt to have him convicted. However, their cause is dismissed as it is solely a Jewish concern. Sometime after this, Paul takes his leave of the brethren and sails to Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila as far as Ephesus from where they return to Corinth. Here, at Ephesus, Paul reasons with the Jews in the synagogue and is asked to stay with them, but he chooses to go to Jerusalem for Passover and promises to return at a later date, if it be God’s will. Paul then sails from Ephesus to Caesarea where he visits the church before continuing to Antioch.

Paul’s third missionary journey

[Acts 18:23-21:16] After spending some time back at Antioch, Paul again leaves and travels through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Meantime, a Jew named Apollos comes to Ephesus. He is an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures and had been initiated in teachings concerning Christ, but only as far as John’s baptism and not the events that followed. After hearing him preach, Aquila and Priscilla take him aside and instruct him more fully in the gospel. Apollos then goes to the church at Corinth where they receive letters of commendation concerning him from Ephesus. Here at Corinth, Apollos teaches in the synagogue, converting many Jews to Christ. While Apollos is at Corinth, Paul arrives at Ephesus and perceives there is something still lacking with twelve of the disciples there. It appears they know only the baptism of John, so Paul completes their teaching and baptises them in the name of the Lord Jesus. He then lays hands on them and they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and prophesying. Paul then preaches in the synagogues for three months, but many speak against him. He then leaves the synagogues, taking some disciples with him, and spends the next two years preaching daily in the school of Tyrannus. From here, the news of the gospel spreads throughout Asia to both Jews and Gentiles. During this time, Paul works many miracles. Some vagabond Jews attempt exorcisms in the name of Jesus, but an evil spirit turns on them saying, I know Jesus! And I have heard about Paul. But who are you? They fear Jesus and Paul, but not these Jews. This becomes known, resulting in many being converted who then burn their books on magic. After these events, Paul decides he should now go through Macedonia and Achaia, then on to Jerusalem. However, having sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia, he is able to continue a little longer in Asia. Growth of the Christian church in Asia has greatly impacted the living made by people whose trade is dependent on worship of the goddess Diana. Demetrius, a silversmith of Ephesus and maker of silver shrines for Diana, incites a less than peaceful demonstration against Paul. Things begin to look dangerous for Paul and his companions, but the town clerk intervenes and the crowd is appeased. Paul calls his disciples together to take his leave of them before journeying to Macedonia. Passing through Macedonia, preaching along the way, he travels on to Greece and spends three months there. Paul then intends to sail to Syria, but hearing that Jews are laying in wait for him, he travels back through Macedonia accompanied by several companions. They travel ahead of Paul to Asia while Paul waits for Luke. Paul and Luke then sail from Philippi, and in five days reach Troas where they meet with the brethren from Asia. They stay there for seven days. The day before Paul intends to leave, the disciples gather together to break bread, after which Paul preaches to them at some length. At around midnight, a young man goes into a deep sleep, falls from the third floor and is killed. Paul restores him to life before continuing to talk to the disciples until daybreak, then leaves for Athos by land. Luke and his companions go by sea, meeting with Paul at Athos from where they all travel together to Mitylene, eventually arriving at Miletus. Intending to go to Jerusalem as soon as possible to be there for Pentecost, and not wanting to be delayed at Ephesus, Paul sends for the Ephesian church elders. He spends some time talking about his ministry and, knowing he will not see some of them again, warns them of dangers that might come their way before commending them to God and kneeling with them in prayer. Because they are not likely to see him again, Paul’s leaving is very sorrowful. They accompany him to a ship in which he sets sail with his companions for Caesarea, travelling via Patara and stopping at Tyre where they stay for seven days with some disciples. While they are at Tyre, the disciples warn Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, they continue on their journey and sail to Ptolemais where they stay for a day with some brethren before going on to Caesarea. At Caesarea they lodge with Philip, one of the seven deacons, where they stay for many days. During their stay with Philip, a prophet by the name of Agabus comes from Judaea to see Paul. He warns him that he will be bound by the Jews at Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles. All those with Paul try to persuade him not to go on to Jerusalem, but he insists he must go, saying he is prepared to die there for the name of the Lord Jesus. And so they go to Jerusalem, along with some of the disciples from Caesarea. Amongst them is an older disciple by the name of Mnason, whom they will be lodging with at Jerusalem.

Paul’s imprisonment in Jerusalem

[Acts 21:17-23:35] The day after arriving at Jerusalem, Paul and some of his company go to see James and the elders. When Paul tells them of the things accomplished by God in his ministry to the Gentiles, they glorify God. Yet there is still disquiet amongst the Jewish believers who consider that Paul preaches against Moses. They suggest he joins four men in a purification process they need to undergo concerning a Nazarite vow. This would show that Paul is fully compliant with Moses’ law, and the things they heard concerning him are of no real concern. Paul agrees and goes with the four to the temple. Seven days later, at the end of the purification process, some Asian Jews raise an insurrection against Paul because of his teaching, and their assumption he had taken one of his Gentile friends into the temple. Paul is dragged from the temple and the people are of a mind to kill him when the chief captain, responding to the uproar, brings soldiers and has Paul bound and taken to the castle. Paul requests he be able to speak to the people. Permission is given and he addresses them in Hebrew, which encourages them to listen. He gives them an account of his birth and education, his early prejudices against Christianity, and of his miraculous conversion and call to discipleship. When they hear Paul say that God sent him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, they become outraged and want to take his life. The chief captain orders Paul to be taken and examined by scourging, but Paul pleads his rights as a Roman citizen and escapes the torture. The next day, the chief captain orders the Sanhedrin to assemble and hear Paul’s case. While offering his defence before the Sanhedrin, the high priest orders Paul to be smitten on the mouth. Paul sharply reproves him and is in turn reproved by one of the high priest’s attendants, and so he has to account for his words. He notices the council is comprised of both Pharisees and Sadducees and splits their opinion by asserting that it was because of his belief in the resurrection that he was called in question (the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection). In fear of Paul’s safety in the tumult that follows, the chief captain has him brought into the castle. That night, Paul is comforted by a dream in which the Lord says he will also be a witness in Rome. The next morning, more than forty Jews conspire with the Sanhedrin to have Paul brought before them again, intending to lie in wait and kill him. Paul’s nephew hears of this and ensures the plot becomes known to the chief captain. Consequently, arrangements are made for Paul to be sent to Caesarea with a large escort, and a letter sent to Felix the governor explaining the circumstances of his case. When Felix hears that Paul is from the province of Cilicia, he agrees to give him a hearing, but only when his accusers are come. Meanwhile, he is to be held in Herod’s judgement hall.

Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea

[Acts 24-26] After five days, Ananias the high priest, the elders and Tertullus, an orator, come to Caesarea to accuse Paul. After Tertullus’ oration, Paul is beckoned by Felix and gives his defence. Having heard both the case against Paul and his defence, Felix decides to wait to hear the testimony from the chief captain. Meantime, orders are given for a centurion to take charge of Paul, but to allow him his liberty and access to his acquaintances. After some days Felix, with his wife, Drusilla, sends for Paul to hear from him concerning the faith. Felix is greatly affected, and suggests he would hear Paul again at a later date. He hopes that by keeping Paul in Caesarea he might receive some money in exchange for his liberty, but in the meantime sends for Paul more often to converse with him. After two years Felix is superseded by Porcius Festus. In order to please the Jews, Felix leaves Paul imprisoned, but now in Festus’ charge. As Festus is now governor of Judea, the Jews again try to get Paul brought to Jerusalem for trial, intending to lie in wait to kill him. Festus refuses, saying that his accusers must come to Caesarea. This they do, but again fail to prove anything against Paul. Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asks Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there. Paul refuses and appeals to Caesar, as is his right as a Roman citizen, which Festus acknowledges. Sometime later, Herod Agrippa and his wife, Bernice, come to Caesarea to pay respects to Festus and are told about Paul, the accusations against him, his trial and his appeal to Caesar. Agrippa wants to hear Paul for himself, so an appointment is made for the next day, which is turned into an occasion of pomp and ceremony with the chief captains and principal men of the city present. Festus opens proceedings with an account of Paul’s situation, as given to Herod the previous day, and his hope that, following Agrippa’s examination, he may then have something favourable to write when he sends Paul to Rome. Agrippa invites Paul to speak for himself, which he begins to do, but first pays a compliment to Agrippa, perhaps to secure a favourable response. Paul gives an account from his youth to his miraculous conversion, and his consequent preaching of the resurrected Christ. King Agrippa interrupts Paul, declaring him to be mad from all his learning, to which Paul defends himself with an appeal to Agrippa’s own belief in the prophets. Agrippa confesses himself almost converted by Paul’s words, before rising and discussing Paul’s situation privately and declaring his innocence. Agrippa then tells Festus that Paul could have been set free had he not appealed to Caesar.

Paul’s perilous voyage to Rome

[Acts 27:1-28:15] It having been determined that Paul must be sent to Rome, he is handed over to Julius, a centurion. Accompanied by Luke, they embark on a ship of Adramyttium and the next day arrive at Sidon. Here, Paul is permitted to go ashore to see some friends. From there they sail past Cyprus, Cilicia and Pamphylia and come to Myra where they transfer to an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy. They then sail past Cnidus, Crete and Salmone, and come to the Fair Havens where unfavourable conditions for sailing force them to take shelter. Paul warns against sailing any farther at this time, but the centurion prefers the captain’s advice and wants to head for Crete to winter there. Having had favourable winds, they sail past Crete, but are then caught in a tempest and struggle to keep the ship afloat. They are also now unable to navigate by either sun or stars because of the storm. One night, Paul has a vision and is able to tell them all they will survive and be cast on an island. After being tossed around on the sea for many days, they are finally shipwrecked on the island of Melita with the whole crew surviving, able to make it to shore on broken fragments of the ship. The local inhabitants take care of them, making a fire to keep them warm. A viper comes out of the bundle of sticks used for the fire and fastens onto Paul’s hand, which the locals perceive to be a sign that Paul is a murderer pursued by some kind of divine vengeance. But when Paul shakes off the snake and is unharmed, they then change their minds and say he is a god. The crew is courteously received by Publius, the island’s governor, and all are able to lodge with him for three days, during which time Paul miraculously heals Publius’ sick father. News of this brings others on the island to come to be healed, and Paul’s company is consequently honoured and presented with many gifts. After three months on Melita they embark on a ship for Alexandria, then land at Syracuse where they stay for three days before setting off again. They sail past the straits of Rhegium, landing at Puteoli where they find some Christians with whom they tarry for seven days before setting off for Rome. On the way to Rome, they are met by Christians at Appii, and then at the Three Taverns. Paul thanks God for these meetings and is encouraged by them.

Paul’s house arrest in Rome

[Acts 28:16-31] At Rome, Paul is delivered to the captain of the guard who permits him to live by himself, but attended by a single soldier. After three days, Paul calls for the chief Jews and states his case to them. They tell him that no letters had been received and no ill spoken of him, but Jews had spoken against the Christian faith and they want to hear from Paul about it. An appointment is made for the next day when Paul speaks to them at length from the law and the prophets concerning Christ. Some believe and some do not, to which Paul informs them that it is because of their unbelief that the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles. Paul remains under house arrest for two years, during which time he is able to preach the gospel unhindered to all who come to him. Nothing further is written in Acts concerning Paul’s mission and his death.
30-Day Reading Plan This is a 30-day reading plan based on an average of 15 minutes per session - a total read time of 7½ hours. The actual read times vary from 12 to 20 minutes to accommodate for practical read session end points. If the reading times don’t suit you, then simply go at your own pace and note where you finished. Please select your reading day below
New Testament History Books -
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10   11
Old Testament History Books -
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12 13 14 15 16 17
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New Testament Epistles -
The Prophets -
The Poetry Books -