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Acts

Christ. Church. Culture. Conflict.

Acts 28:1-31

June 12, 2022 • Pastor Rusten Harris • Acts 28

Acts 28:1-31 preached by Pastor Rusten Harris Big Ideas 1. Con voyage Paul was one of many prisoners present on the ship that wrecked at Malta (Acts 27:41-43). This is why, when he was bitten by a viper, the natives assumed that he was a murderer getting what he deserved. When they discovered that Paul was unharmed by the bite, they decided he must be a god. In the end, Paul healed a number of sick people on the island, and they demonstrated their gratitude by providing him with supplies for the rest of his journey. 2. Jesus, from beginning to end In the opening chapters of Acts, we saw how Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Christ from the Law and the Prophets. We saw how Stephen claimed that the entire history of Israel was fulfilled and realized in Jesus. Now here, in the final chapters, we find Paul seeking to persuade his countrymen that Jesus is the Messiah, arguing from the Law and the Prophets. From beginning to end, the Bible is about Jesus. 3. Unhindered Acts begins with a promise and ends with a proclamation. In the beginning, Jesus promised his people that they would be his witnesses, receive power from the Holy Spirit, and that the Gospel would go from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Now, in the final chapter, we see that promise being fulfilled. Not only did Paul complete his mission by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, but the good news of the Gospel continued to spread without hindrance. Study Questions 1. Despite Paul’s circumstances, there always seemed to be an opportunity to witness to or serve others. Whether it be soldiers, prisoners on the boat, or the superstitious and fickle people of Malta, Paul always had an audience and an opportunity to bless. What can you learn from Paul’s example? 2. Throughout this study, we have emphasized how the early Church, and specifically the Apostles, preached the Gospel from the Old Testament. How has your understanding of the Gospel and the Old Testament changed or grown because of this study? What questions do you still have about the Old Testament and Jesus? 3. Acts concludes with the Gospel continuing into the world, transforming lives, and saving sinners. How might this encourage you in evangelism, church ministry, and specifically church planting?

Acts 27:1-44

June 5, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 27

Acts 27:1-44 preached by Pastor Jon Needham Big Ideas 1. Acts is history It is not uncommon for people to imagine the Bible as a collection of stories with a moral to be identified and applied; while the veracity of the story may be in question, the moral is not. Acts 27 destroys this faulty way of thinking. From beginning to end, Luke records, and intends for us to read his work as actual history. In fact, Luke is not simply retelling a story he heard from someone else. He’s telling the story that he personally witnessed (Acts 27:1) These events actually took place, and it is because they actually took place that they matter so much. 2. Storms and sovereignty Storms seem to be a somewhat regular occurrence in the Bible. Whether it be Jonah who was running from God (Jonah 1:4), Jesus who was busy taking a nap below deck as the waves raged on (Luke 8:23), or Paul and the other 275 passengers, sometimes God’s people find themselves in storms. In every instance, it is clear that God is the God of the storm and has power over it. He can call up storms, and he can calm them. He can also sustain us in their midst. 3. The promises of God In a life-threatening storm, Paul possessed a rare confidence. This confidence was not just prideful arrogance or foolish ignorance. Rather, it was confidence in the promises of God. Once again, Jesus appeared to Paul in a dream and promised him that he would stand before Caesar and that neither he nor any of the other men on the ship would lose their lives. God had promised it, and Paul could be confident that God keeps his promises. Study Questions 1. What if Acts was not history but just a collection of stories meant to inspire you? How would that impact the way you read Acts? How does understanding that Acts is history change the way you read it? 2. God’s sovereignty did not mean that Paul would avoid suffering and storms. Rather, God’s sovereignty meant that Paul had hope in the midst of his troubles. How does the sovereignty of God change the way you relate to your own struggles? What if God was not sovereign? How would that impact the way you understand difficult times? 3. To the eye, it looks as if certain death is coming to the ship and all aboard. But Paul did not assess his situation based on what he could see but on what God had promised him. He chose to walk by faith and not by sight (Hebrews 11:1). Do you tend to walk according to what you see or what you believe? How can you grow in walking according to the promises of God?

Acts 26:1-32

May 29, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 26

Acts 26:1-32 Big Ideas 1. It’s about the resurrection The physical resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of all Christian hope and faith. Christians believe that Jesus is the Christ because Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4). This is not only the heart of Paul’s preaching, but it is the primary thrust of Paul’s apologetics. Every Jew knew and believed that God was able to raise the dead. Any “God” who could not do that was not much of a god. Therefore, according to Paul’s argument, no Jew had any reason to reject the claim that God could have raised Jesus. The question was not, “Can God raise the dead?” The question was, and is, “Did God raise Jesus?” If so, he must be Lord. 2. Which “felt needs?” It is not uncommon to hear preachers appeal to the felt needs of their listeners. People have needs, and Jesus meets those needs. Preachers will claim that if you want your needs to be met, you need to come to Jesus. Of course, there is some truth to that. However, that is not how Paul presents the Gospel in this text. Instead, Paul refers to the resurrection of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, the defeat of Satan, and salvation, to name a few. It is important, when communicating the Gospel, to not confuse the benefits of the Gospel with the Gospel itself. 3. A Christian nation? It is clear from this text that Paul’s desire was not a pluralistic society in which Christianity, secularism, and other religions could occupy space and co-exist until the end of time. No, Paul wanted everyone to become Christian, even the king and the governor (Acts 26:28-29). While many today might be embarrassed by this, and even argue that it is inappropriate for those in power to govern in light of their Christian convictions, Paul was unapologetic about his desire to see all come to faith. Study Questions 1. How central is the resurrection of Jesus in your conversations with others about your faith? Why should the resurrection of Jesus be primary in our evangelistic conversations? 2. How can felt needs be a distraction from the Gospel? What is the difference between the Gospel and the blessings we receive from the Gospel? 3. Is it appropriate to call our leaders to repentance and faith in Christ? Is it appropriate for leaders to govern according to their Christian convictions? Why or why not?

Acts 24:1-27

May 15, 2022 • Rusten Harris • Acts 24

Big Ideas 1. Lies, lies, and more lies Paul had to deal with at least three false accusations made against him by Tertullus. First, he was accused of stirring up riots, which, in fact, were stirred up by the Jews, not Paul. Second, he was accused of leading an uprising against the Jews. Though there were a number of rebellions against the Jews, Paul had no interest in leading one. Third, he was accused of profaning the temple by bringing a Gentile into the inner court. Each accusation was an attempt to destroy Paul’s reputation and undermine his ministry. 2. Paul’s defense Each accusation leveled against Paul was patently false. He was guilty of nothing. But he was not content to simply argue his innocence. Paul argued the continuity between what he believed and what the Pharisees believed, identifying their shared faith in the God of Abraham, belief in the Law and the Prophets, and the resurrection of the dead. In making his case this way, Paul was not simply refuting their false accusations but was also exposing that they were out of step with their own Jewish faith. 3. Going there John the Baptist was a prisoner of Herod because he spoke out against Herod’s immorality and adulterous marriage (Mark 6:18). As a result, he was imprisoned, and though Herod was curious about John, he ultimately beheaded him. Paul’s story follows a very similar arc: imprisoned by an immoral, adulterous king who is intrigued by Paul’s message and teaching. Luke shares that Paul spoke to Felix about righteousness and self-control, things Felix knew little about. Additionally, Paul spoke about the coming judgment, something that would have been deeply troubling to Felix, given his rampant immorality. It was clear that Paul cared more about the truth of God and the salvation of Felix than he did about his own freedom. Study Questions 1. Have you ever been the victim of false accusations? How did you respond? What did the accusations reveal about your accuser? 2. Throughout the book of Acts, Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the Jewish people, not a break from it. In what ways did Jesus fulfill the Old Covenant and the Old Testament story and expectations? 3. There are times when witnessing to the truth of Jesus will put you in very uncomfortable situations. How can Paul’s bold witness to Felix encourage you in bold witness?

Acts 23:12-35

May 8, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 23:12–35

Acts 23:12-35 preached by Pastor Jon Needham Big Ideas 1. Narrow escape Whether it be Moses being rescued from the river, the spies being protected in Jericho, or Jesus escaping Herod’s massacre, narrow escapes are everywhere in the Bible. Here, Paul narrowly escapes an assassination conspiracy. While these escapes may be narrow, they are never coincidental or dumb luck. Rather, these are examples of God’s divine providence. God was not done with Paul, and nobody was going to kill Paul until he was. 2. Strange supporters One cannot read this text without seeing the great and sad irony. Paul was a Jew who believed in Christ, and yet his own Jewish brothers were conspiring to kill him, even vowing not to eat until they took his life. It is the Gentiles who come to Paul’s rescue, protecting him from the Jews’ murderous conspiracy and transporting him safely to Caesarea via military escort. God is always full of surprises! 3. Luke, the historian Acts is not a myth or wishful thinking. Acts is history and Luke, the author, is a historian. In this text, we find a great example of how thorough Luke’s investigation was. Beginning in verse 26, we have a summary of the letter from Claudius Lysias to Governor Felix. How Luke got this document or became aware of its contents is unclear. What is clear is that Luke did the necessary heavy lifting to get ahold of such information. Acts isn’t just a story; it’s true history. Study Questions 1. Life can be full of close calls and narrow escapes. But God is sovereign over all of it. What are some of your close calls and how did God protect you during those moments? 2. Sometimes we are surprised by who opposes us and who supports us. Have you ever been caught off-guard by the opposition or support you received from an individual? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? What did you learn? 3. When reading the amazing stories in Acts, it’s easy to forget that these are real stories about real people. Acts is not just some fairy tale meant to inspire us; it is the true history of the early first-century Church. How does seeing Acts, and the rest of the Bible, as history change the way you read it?

Acts 22:30 — 23:11

May 1, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 22:30—23:11

Acts 22:30 — 23:11 preached by Pastor Jon Needham Big Ideas 1. Living in all good conscience Paul narrowly escaped an unlawful beating, but he was far from being out of trouble. Wanting to know more about the accusations that were brought against Paul, the Roman tribune called together a meeting with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Paul begins his address by declaring that he had lived his “life before God in all good conscience up to this day” (Acts 23:1). While Paul’s good conscience did not protect him from false accusations and brutal treatment, it did give him the confidence to trust that, whatever man may say about him, he was innocent before God. 2. Paul’s apology Like Jesus when he was unlawfully arrested, Paul was punched in the mouth. This act of aggression violated the law, and Paul called it out. Paul apparently did not know that the High Priest had ordered that punch. Speaking against the High Priest was a violation of the Law, and, when it was brought to Paul’s attention, he owned his mistake. This humble action powerfully demonstrated that Paul was not opposed to the Law of Moses, but deeply committed to it (Exodus 22:28)! 3. A little diversion The Pharisees and Sadducees both opposed Jesus, but for different reasons. The same was true about their view of Paul. But Paul knew that these groups disagreed vehemently over the issue of resurrection. The Pharisees believed in it, while the Sadducees did not. In what appears to be a stroke of brilliance, Paul ignites a heated debate between these two groups, making their disagreement the focus. As a result, Paul once again escapes. Study Questions 1. Dealing with false accusations can be devastating. However, a good, clean conscience before God is a blessing that can anchor us when we are falsely accused. How is your conscience before God? Are there any areas of unconfessed or unrepented sin in your life? What would need to happen for you to have a clean conscience? 2. Apologizing to someone can be the most difficult and humiliating experience, especially when that person has hurt you, as was the case with Paul. Yet, being hurt or offended does not negate our responsibility to apologize when we have sinned against someone else. Are there any people in your life to whom you need to apologize? 3. Jesus told us that, among wolves, we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Many people find this instruction to be confusing, but, in this text, Paul becomes an example of this for us. What can you learn from the way Paul evaded trouble in this text? How was he wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove?

Acts 21:1-36

March 20, 2022 • Pastor Brandon Johnston • Acts 21:1–36

Acts 20:17-38

March 13, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 20:17–38

Acts 20:17-38 preached by Pastor Jon Needham Big Ideas 1. Biblical eldership Knowing that he would never again visit the Ephesian church, Paul offers his final instruction and encouragement to the elders, whom he charged to shepherd the flock (Acts 20:28). This model of Church leadership is consistent throughout the entire New Testament. Local churches are to be governed by a plurality of biblically qualified men entrusted with their oversight (1 Timothy 3:1-7). 2. The whole counsel of God’s Word It is not uncommon for Christians to think that the Old Testament is not for them. After all, isn’t Christianity a New Testament thing? Well, yes and no. Jesus does show up in the New Testament, but the Old Testament from beginning to end testifies to Jesus (John 5:39). This is why Paul was committed to teaching the entire Old Testament to the early Church. The whole Bible is for the whole Church. 3. Beware of the wolves Paul knew that wolves—false teachers pretending to be Christians—would attack the Church, attempting to teach erroneous doctrine. This is exactly what happened to the Ephesian church, which lead Paul to write 1 Timothy (1 Timothy 1:18-20). The Church must always be on guard against wolves. This begins with elders who are deeply committed to sound biblical theology and unafraid to call out false teachers and teaching when necessary. Study Questions 1. What is the biblical model for Church leadership in this text? How is it similar to or different from other models of Church leadership you are aware of or have experienced? 2. What parts of the Bible are most confusing or intimidating to you and why? What does this text teach you about those parts of the Bible? 3. What is a wolf and what do they do? What wolves or false teaching is threatening the Church today?

Acts 20:1-16

March 6, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 20:1–16

Acts 20:1-16 preached by Pastor Jon Needham Big Ideas 1. Teaching, teaching, and more teaching Paul was a prolific teacher. In this text, he provided teaching and instruction for believers, through the night and well into the early morning hours. Even after one person fell asleep and fell from a window, narrowly escaping death, Paul continued. Not only was Paul a teacher, but the Church had an appetite for and commitment to biblical teaching and instruction. 2. The necessity of encouragement When we think of Paul, we tend to think of writing, teaching, preaching, and church planting. Of course, he did all of those things, but in this text, we are also told about how he encouraged Christians. While sound doctrine and proper theology are absolutely vital for the life of the local church, we also need a consistent diet of encouragement. 3. Kids and Church We do not know how old Eutychus was, but we do know that he was young and present for Paul’s late-night teaching marathon. Many of us grew up believing that “Church” was for adults and that the kids belonged in a special age-appropriate ministry environment. These “environments” follow individuals well into their college years. What we know from this text and others such as Ephesians 6, is that kids were present for worship with their families and were expected to participate in weekly worship. Study Questions 1. Why is Bible teaching so important for the Church? How have you grown through biblical instruction? 2. How have you been blessed by the encouraging words or presence of a friend? How can you encourage those around you? 3. What, if any, experience did you have as a kid in the Church? Why is it important to include kids in weekly worship? What reasons exist for not having kids present for corporate worship on Sundays?

Acts 19:11-41

February 27, 2022 • Rusten Harris • Acts 19:11–41

Acts 19:11-41 Big Ideas 1. Naked and ashamed In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote that we battle “against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is real. Demons are real. The battle is real. However, Jesus is Lord over everything, even dark spiritual forces. The demons actually know that (James 2:19)! This truth is powerfully demonstrated in the text. Those who seek to confront dark spiritual forces in their own power and for their own personal gain will only be left naked and ashamed. Apart from Jesus, we have no power over or protection from demons. 2. Jesus, idols & riots Because the Gospel proclaims the absolute lordship of Jesus over everything, it always draws a line and brings division (Luke 12:51). It doesn’t just call us to believe something privately in our hearts. It calls all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Some believe and repent, while others dig in their heels. In this text, the transformation taking place in the city turned people away from idolatry, which was a lucrative business. In other words, Christianity was hurting the bottom line of those who profited from idolatry. Consequently, those who lost business stirred up a riot in an effort to intimidate the Christians. 3. Unavoidable conflict Conflict is a constant theme throughout the book of Acts. It always arises because of preaching and teaching the Gospel. This conflict is not initiated by the Church. Rather, the rebellious world reacts to the Gospel with disdain, opposition, intimidation, and sometimes riots. This kind of conflict is unavoidable. Many of us have been taught to avoid all conflict at any cost. We assume that a lack of conflict is the greatest sign of Christian maturity. The book of Acts invites us to rethink how we understand and relate to Gospel conflict. Study Questions 1. Why were the sons of Sceva powerless against the evil spirit in this text? 2. What do you think motivated the riots at Ephesus? To what were the people truly devoted? 3. How do you relate to conflict? What is the difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict? What will avoiding conflict cost you?

Acts 19:1-10

February 20, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 19:1–10

Acts 19:1-10 preached by Pastor Jon Needham Big Ideas 1. John’s baptism This can be one of the most confusing texts in all of Acts. But it doesn’t need to be. John’s baptism was a baptism of preparation (Matthew 3:1-3). It marked turning from past sins toward the Christ who was to come. However, baptism in Acts is baptism into Christ and his Church (Romans 6:3, Ephesians 4:4-5). It wasn’t about what God was about to do, but rather about what he had already done through Christ. Now, because of Jesus, our atoning sacrifice, we can receive the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:31-33). 2. Speaking boldly Luke refers to the Apostles and the Church as speaking boldly numerous times throughout Acts. It’s one of his favorite adjectives to describe their preaching. It emphasizes the confidence, clarity, and conviction of the speakers. They knew what they believed and understood why it mattered. They were willing to pay the price for their boldness, as they often did. But regardless of the outcome, they would not be silenced or discouraged. 3. Protecting the flock It was Paul’s regular practice to reason with Jews in the synagogue about Jesus and his Kingdom wherever he went. Some were convinced, but others remained skeptical. However, in this text, the situation became unhealthy as skeptics began speaking evil of the believers. In an effort to protect the flock, Paul removed himself and his converts from the synagogue and found another place to gather for instruction. Though the attacks would have been nothing new for Paul, they would have created an unnecessary burden for the new believers. Study Questions 1. Why is baptism so important? Have you been baptized? Why or why not? How is John’s baptism different from other baptisms recorded in Acts? 2. Talking about your faith can be intimidating, especially in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christianity. How can you grow in clarity and confidence around sharing your faith? 3. Do you think Paul was right to remove himself and his converts from the synagogue? What principles might you take away from his decision?

Acts 18:18-28

February 13, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 18:18–28

Acts 18:18-28 preached by Pastor Jon Needham Big Ideas 1. Evangelism and discipleship There were two primary elements to Paul’s ministry. The first was evangelism, in which Paul proclaimed the Gospel to people who did not yet know Jesus; the goal of evangelism is conversion. The second was discipleship, which is the ongoing biblical teaching and instruction of Christians. The goal of discipleship is maturity and growth in obedience. Both of these are important tasks and neither can be ignored. 2. We never stop learning In this text, Luke introduces us to Apollos, a gifted and passionate teacher. However, his gifting and passion did not negate his need for ongoing growth, instruction, and theological development. Through Aquila and Priscilla, God provided the instruction that Apollos needed to continue growing and maturing as an effective Bible teacher so that others could be encouraged and blessed by his ministry. 3. New gifted leaders are not a threat Paul has occupied much of Luke’s attention in the recent chapters of Acts. He has been the leading evangelist and teacher, traveling from city to city, preaching the Gospel and establishing new churches. But in this text, Luke mentions Apollos, another gifted and powerful teacher, who, like Paul, effectively proved that Jesus was the Christ. Rather than seeing Apollos as a threat, Luke commends him as a gift to the Church. Study Questions 1. The Church needs both discipleship and evangelism. Which do you feel more equipped for and why? How are you using your gift to benefit others? 2. Disciples never stop learning. How have you experienced personal growth over the past year? In what areas of your life would you like to grow over the next year? 3. How do you feel when another individual who is gifted in similar ways shows up at your work, your community group, or in any other sphere of your life? What would need to happen in order for you to see them as a gift to be encouraged?

Acts 18:1-17

February 6, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 18:1–17

Acts 18:1-17 preached by Pastor Jon Needham on February 6, 2022. Big Ideas 1. Jesus and the Old Testament...again Whenever Paul attempts to reason with the Jews that Jesus is the Christ, he always argues from the Old Testament. Always. Why? Because the Old Testament, with all of its types, antitypes, shadows, and promises, is all about Jesus. He is not an add-on to the Old Testament. Rather, he is the very foundation—the heart and soul of it. To reject Christ is to miss the entire point of the Old Testament. 2. Protection promised, protection provided Paul did not live an easy life (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Nearly everywhere he traveled and preached he faced opposition, riots, personal attacks, and physical violence. Yet God was gracious and merciful to him and his suffering was not endless. God knew Paul’s suffering and the limitations of his finitude and promised Paul protection for a season of approximately 18 months as he contended for the Gospel (Acts 18:9-11). 3. Protection from the magistrates Throughout Acts, some Jews incite trouble for the Apostles. At times they did this by stirring up the local magistrates (Acts 17:6 & 18:12). However, in this text, Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, refuses to participate in the Jews’ opposition to Paul, because their issue with Paul was theological, not legal. In doing so, God provided protection for Paul from the Jews through the local magistrates who are God’s servants (Romans 13:4). Study Questions 1. How does rejecting Jesus change the way we understand the Old Testament? In what ways is Jesus prefigured and promised in the Old Testament? 2. Sometimes we just need a break. How has God provided you with seasons of rest during difficult times in your life? 3. God is sovereign over all, even godless magistrates. How might this truth encourage you during a time of political turmoil?

Acts 17:16-34

January 30, 2022 • Pastor Rusten Harris • Acts 17:16–34

Acts 17:16-34 preached by Pastor Rusten Harris Big Ideas 1. Provoked by idols G.K. Chesteron is believed to have said, “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in everything.” When we reject the Creator, we end up believing in myths. This was certainly the case in Athens. Paul observed the overwhelming religious devotion of the people. They were, however, devoted to idols: false, empty, and powerless gods. It was their vain hope in these false gods that provoked Paul to preach the Gospel of the true and living God. 2. Our God is not needy Seeing an altar that was dedicated to an unknown god, Paul takes the opportunity to declare the one true God. Unlike the false gods that were worshipped throughout the Roman Empire, the God revealed to us in scripture and through his Son Jesus is not needy. He does not need us to give him a temple nor does he need anything else from anyone, for he alone is the self-sufficient triune creator of all things. In every way, he is infinitely superior to the false gods represented at the Areopagus. 3. The God who pursues Nothing is coincidental. Not the times we live in, the families we are born into, nor our zip codes or addresses. God determines all of this with the intention of drawing us to him. He has determined a day of judgment and has appointed his Son, Jesus, to be both judge and deliverer for all who put their trust in him. Study Questions 1. Paul was provoked by the vain things that the people were trusting. Though our culture doesn’t erect statues and idols, we do put our hope in things that cannot save us. What are some of our cultural idols? What are some of yours? 2. Read Psalm 115. List the ways that God is superior to idols. 3. In this text, Paul claims that God has arranged our lives in particular ways in order that we might find him. In what ways has God arranged your life specifically to bring you to him?

Acts 17:1-15

January 23, 2022 • Pastor Jon Needham • Acts 17:1–15

Big Ideas 1. Women and Jesus Twice in this text, Luke mentions that powerful and influential women were coming to faith in Jesus through the ministry of Paul. These simple details contradict many misrepresentations of the Gospel and Christian theology. First, the Gospel was attractive to both men and women, rich and poor. Second, these leading, influential, and financially independent women did not see the Gospel or the Church as a threat to their womanhood. Rather, many of them enthusiastically embraced the Gospel and a Christian worldview. Far from feeling repressed, these women of high standing were compelled by the Gospel. 2. An ad hominem compliment When an individual engaged in a debate can no longer defend their position or overcome their opponent’s argument, they often resort to personal attacks. It is essentially an admittance of defeat. These sorts of attacks are not uncommon in Acts. Paul had clearly demonstrated from the Old Testament that Jesus was the Christ. When his opponents could not disprove his argument, they sought to discredit the character of his team by causing a public uproar. This is the ad hominem compliment. 3. The political Gospel We are often told that the Gospel is not political. That, however, is a misrepresentation of the Gospel and would have made no sense to the early Church; Luke highlights this fact for us in the text. The Church was rightly accused of claiming that Jesus was King and that Caesar was not. The implications of such a claim “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). It was not a simple misunderstanding but rather an accurate assessment of the Gospel which commands every knee to bow to him and all tongues confess that he alone is Lord, not Caesar. Study Questions 1. How do the numerous influential women coming to faith in this text contradict modern objections to Christianity? 2. What is an ad hominem argument? Have you ever been on the receiving end of such an argument? How might you respond in the future when you find yourself being accused? 3. What does this text teach us about the political nature and implications of the Gospel?

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