Read Acts 7: 1-53
· A long passage, but sermons should be absorbed in one reading.
· What were the points of this sermon? What does Stephen demonstrate happened over and over in the history of Israel? (vv. 35 & 37 & 52)
· VV. 44-50 – why this little rabbit trail about the “house of God”? Here’s a clue: will the dwelling place of God always be the Jerusalem Temple?
· This sermon… isn’t very encouraging. Even at the end, the high, positive note never arrives. Not every sermon can be positive.
Acts 7: 54-60
· V. 54 – “Gnashed their teeth” – was this a voluntary or involuntary expression of rage? In either case it’s clear that Stephen’s sermon hit home.
· V. 55 – Most of the time in the NT we hear of Jesus sitting at God’s right hand. What does it mean here that He’s standing?
· VV. 56, 57 – If they weren’t already, this mention of the Son of Man next to God really sets off the Sanhedrin. Do you have any idea why? Look over at Daniel 7 for help.
· V. 58 – Our first exposure to Saul/Paul.
· V. 60 – “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” - A Christian request.
Read Acts 8: 1-25
· V. 1 – Look at the conditions under which the words of Acts 1:8 are fulfilled. Sometimes the bad news is the springboard for good news. What we might expect with a Resurrection at the center of our faith.
· V. 2 – What does this tell us about the Christian’s view of death/ funerals?
· What words would you use to describe the character of Simon? You might know that from this passage we get our term “simony.” Look it up.
· V. 23 – Simon is “full of bitterness” – did you see that one coming? Where does his bitterness show up?
Read Acts 8: 26-40
· V. 26 – Amid productive ministry, Philip is directed… to the desert! How impractical of God.
· V. 27 – Why was this man from Ethiopia worshiping in Jerusalem?
· V. 31 – Hyper-Protestantism – laypeople should read the Bible for themselves and don’t need preachers to explain; Hyper Roman Catholicism – the Bible is too complicated for laypeople…leave that stuff to the experts. Now give a well-rounded reflection on this:
· V. 37,38 – One of the reasons we think baptism should be by immersion (as opposed to sprinkling etc) is that the baptisms in the Bible appear to be immersions.
· V. 39 – The Spirit “carries away” Philip to another place; but to arrive there (vv.26, 30) Philip had taken the normal means. The common and unfamiliar, both useful to God.
Read Acts 9: 1-19a
· Who are some modern-day parallels to Paul, persons you’d never think would submit to the real Jesus Christ?
· V. 4 – What did Jesus mean by “persecuting me”?
· Saul became physically blind when his spiritual eyes were opened.
· VV. 13, 14 – Sometimes we need to clue in God as to what exactly will happen if we do what He’s ordering us to do. Or…?
· V. 16 – what a statement!
· V. 17 – Damascus Roads (where the Lord speaks directly) are highly unusual. Normally he speaks through his servants.
· V. 19 – These little details, seemingly unnecessary to state. Why are they helpful? They’re little reminders that we’re embodied creatures and that food and rest are still crucial to our well-being.
Read Acts 19b-
· V. 25 – What a difference a week or so can make. At the beginning of the week Paul is striding toward Damascus with authoritative letters. And now, at night, he’s on the city wall hiding in a basket, cautiously being lowered. God can change things pretty quickly. Do you have any experience with this?
· V. 27 – Barnabas takes a risk on someone. Won’t be the first time. Thank God for the Barnabases.
· V. 23, 24, 29 – “Kill…kill…kill” – Sometimes we get a glimpse of the gravity of the situation. The opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ runs deep.
· V. 34 – Not just “rise,” but …
· V. 36 – “Full of good works and acts of charity” – the beautiful life of a genuine disciple
· VV. 35, 42 – “and they turned to the Lord”…”many believed in the Lord” – miracles got people’s attention, but that’s only good if it ends with their coming to the Lord.