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Weekly Prompts for Thinking Through Scripture Covering Acts 19 - 20


Day One

Read Acts 19:1-10

· V. 3 – Christian baptism wasn’t the first use of baptism. Back in the day baptism was a common way of entering a new religion/worldview. Bonus fact: baptism means “immersion.” Literally. The decision to translate the word into its cognate – Greek baptizo into baptize – rather than its meaning (again, immersion) has plagued the church since.


· V. 5 – From here we have grounds for two practices: #1 – to be re-baptized if the first baptism wasn’t legitimate. #2 – to be baptized only after understanding the truth of Jesus, and not before.


· V. 6 – At the very start of the church, sometimes the event of the arrival of the Holy Spirit was separated from the “event” of belief/baptism. At some point, those merged and became two components of one event. Why this difference? Perhaps so that, for a time, the importance of the coming of the Spirit is highlighted by it being singled out.


· V. 6 – When in doubt, assume references to “tongues” is to actual foreign languages into which the new believer was endowed with supernatural fluency (for a time?). The Spirit-given ability to speak in tongues signified the Gospel’s relevant for all peoples.


· VV. 9, 10 – Lecturing in a hall – sounds a lot like college/ seminary. Most of the time in the earliest church Christian education occurred within a church setting, but not always.


Day Two

Read Acts 19: 11-20

· V. 11, 12 – Ok, so maybe the age of miracles is behind us. But still, there’s a principle here. A person filled with the Presence of God’s Holy Spirit is objectively beneficial to those he/she is around. In other words, even when the man/woman of God isn’t conscious that he’s accomplishing anything, he might very well still be bearing fruit.


· V. 13ff – Warning: Ministry attempted in the name of Christ by those who don’t know Christ is not only ineffective, but also __________________ - (what word would you use?)


· V. 18 – An awakening of the church that came as a result of a successful demonic attack on fraudulent Christian ministers – you couldn’t make up this stuff if you tried!


· V. 19 – Is there anything you need to throw into the fire, to get out of your life for the sake of following Christ? Even if it will cost you – do it!


Day Three

Read Acts 19: 21-41

· V. 24 – So far in Acts, antagonism to Christianity is fueled by either jealousy or financial worries. Even to the 21st century ear, that sounds about right.


· V. 24ff – Demetrius knows how to stir up the crowd: persuade them that their culture is being attacked. Still a technique today?


· VV. 30, 31 – To have friends who will sometimes hold us back from good-hearted recklessness!


· V. 32 – There’s a phrase in this verse that describes 99% of mobs/riots of all time. What do you think it is?


· V. 33, 34 – I’m not sure who Alexander is or what he was trying to accomplish or why he was rebuffed when it was discovered he was Jewish. Perhaps the crowd sensed that they wouldn’t get much pro-Artemis material from a monotheist. Perhaps antisemitism was already a thing.


· VV. 35ff – A government official making sense. See, there are such creatures, perhaps even a lot of them. Christians have no biblical basis for sweeping denunciation of government.


· V. 37 – An extremely helpful observation that the town clerk makes. For all his “gospeling,” proclaiming one Lord over the world who offers the only way to God, Paul wasn’t in the habit of mocking or savaging other faiths. We shouldn’t be either.


Day Four

Read Acts 20: 1-6

· A short passage, but packed with a lot of helpful things.


· V. 1 – Encouraging and farewell – be sure to do both as you gather weekly as a church. Throw in “welcoming” too.


· V. 2 – More attention to encouragement. Brothers, be kind. Be humble. Don’t be snarky and don’t be known for sarcasm (though a little sarcasm is fine). Say a good word to someone this Sunday. Hug your family members. Try to greet everyone personally.


· V. 6 – Paul and the early Christians continued to celebrate the ancient Hebrew feasts. They saw Christianity as a continuation of the story that began with the call to Abraham. Do you?


Day Five

Read Acts 20: 7-16

· Notice that Paul preached for a long time. [Let the reader understand.] Notice how one’s life is imperiled when he falls asleep during the sermon. [Let the reader understand.] And beware: if you fall into a deathly sleep during Colin’s message this Sunday, there’ll be no apostle on hand to see to your resuscitation!


· V. 8 – Mentioning lamps might be to explain the drowsiness. A warm, oxygen deprived environment. Zzz…


· V. 9, 10 – In the service of the Lord, sometimes bad things happen. Accidents, with little or no ‘moral to the story’ to come away with. Sometimes these stories have a happy ending. Sometimes throughout. No guarantees of what will happen or how things will turn out, which means you should keep a level head. STAY CALM (he writes in all caps). One thing’s for sure: with God’s power, there are always possibilities!


Day Six

Read Acts 20: 17-38

· A rich passage, worthy of a couple of days’ reading. As you read this passage, remember that Paul had spent years with these folks.


· V.18, 19 – Here, Paul reminds the Ephesian elders how he behaved around them. Parents, does your conduct before your children give credibility to the message and mindset and lifestyle you’re wanting to pass down to them?


· V. 23 – The only thing Paul knew for sure about his future is that there’d be plenty of pain. And still he moved forward. Courage is easy to rhapsodize about, but oh so hard in the moment.


· V. 24 – Wow. We had to memorize this verse in my ministerial training. “If only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received…” I say again, wow. If just a dusting of Paul’s pluck lands on us, we should be able to handle just fine the trials that land on us. Oh God, give us courage to complete our mission. Or if applicable, give us courage to take up again the task that we’d abandoned for lack of heart.


Day Seven

Read Acts 20: 17-38

· VV. 25, 26 – Paul won’t see these people again. But that fact’s sentimental aspect isn’t nearly as important as is the question of whether he’s discharged his duty to proclaim Christ to them.


· V. 28 – Another verse I had to memorize. It contains a great truth: we care for people’s souls by first paying careful attention to ourselves. (2 Timothy 2:6 and 1 Timothy 4:16 say the same thing. Parents, mentors, teachers: is your soul enriched? Are you filled with God’s Spirit? If not, what will you carry to your charges?


· VV. 29, 30 – Paul is speaking to people, knowing that some of them will one day turn against the truth. So Jesus invested time into Judas. You don’t decide to minister to people because you know for certain that they’ll turn out as you hope.


· V. 31 – What’s the train of thought? What’s the force of Paul’s reasoning here? What is the therefore there for (the preacher’s old saw!)?


· V. 32 – Here Paul calls his total message the “word of [God’s] grace.” Just in this passage, what are some other phrases he uses to summarize his life’s message? (A helpful investigation)


· VV. 33-35 – At the conclusion of his talk, Paul returns to the topic of his conduct, this time to provide an example. So, he is leaving these elders not simply with a message, but with a portrayal of a lifestyle. Hard work was part of that lifestyle. Parents, do your children see you working hard in the work of the Lord? If they don’t, what are the chances of their taking Christianity seriously? Best case answer: greatly reduced.






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