Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Finding Spiritual Receptivity
Acts 13:16-52

warm up

When opportunities to share God's word come our way, do we always take advantage of them? Discuss the importance of watching for opportunities. 
Discuss some typical ways of knowing if someone might be interested in learning more about God's word? (What kind of questions, comments or statements, might suggest spiritual receptivity?) 
What might be some clues that a person is not open to studying more? 
wise up

    These verses contain Paul's first recorded sermon. It is a wonderful message of encouragement that can uplift the hearts of any who read and meditate upon these words. In Acts 13:15, The Synagogue leaders asked Paul and Barnabas if they had any word of "exhortation" (encouraging news) to share with the people. This was a perfect opportunity to share the "good news" about Jesus.

I. The Sermon Vs. 16-41 
    1. It is encouraging and exciting to remember what God has done: Vs. 16-22
The Jewish audience liked to hear the old stories rooted in scripture. Why do you think this would be a good starting place when it came to teaching the good news that the promises and prophecies regarding Christ had been fulfilled? 

    2. It is encouraging and exciting to know that God has sent a Savior: Vs. 23-37 Why would the fondness of the Jewish people toward the legacy of King David be an asset when it came to preaching about Jesus? How would their familiarity with all the prophecies and promises surrounding him be helpful? With joy and without hesitation Paul stated that Jesus is the promised Savior that was to come thru the "seed" or lineage of David. It is obvious that Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. (Cf., Romans 1:16.)
Not only did the coming of John the Baptist fulfill prophecy but so did the condemnation of Jesus by the rulers. How could the Jewish rulers read the prophecies each week and not realize that Jesus was fulfilling them all? What had blinded them to the truth? (Cf., Vs 41, 45). Discuss the blinding power of envy.   (Matthew 27:18.)
    Why did Paul stress the innocence of Jesus (vs. 28)? What did the resurrection prove? The "promise" made to the fathers (vs. 32) was the promise of a resurrected "savior." Cf., vs. 23, 33-37)
    Why was Psalm 16:10 used by both Paul (Vs 35) and Peter (2:25ff) as a major text? Would that text raise questions and interest? How powerful is the argument made from that text.

   3. It is encouraging and exciting to know that you can have forgiveness of sin: Vs. 38-41 Discuss the expression "all that believe are justified." (vs. 39) Doesn't belief in Jesus encompasses a lot of things? [Belief in the facts about Jesus (his birth, life, miracles, death and resurrection, etc.); Belief in the authority of Jesus; Belief in the instructions and doctrines of Jesus; Belief in the promises made by Jesus; Belief in the commandments that Jesus had given.] Belief involves knowledge, trust, and obedience. 
    Why didn't Paul conclude as Peter did in his first recorded sermon by commanding repentance and baptism for the remission of sins? (Cf., Acts 2:38). The answer may be found in verse 40. Paul's change of tone and warning indicates that some (probably the Jewish leaders) were not yet open to further instruction and study. There were no questions being asked, no indication of godly sorrow or an interest in learning what to do to be forgiven of sin. While Peter's audience had been "pricked in their hearts" (godly sorrow) this was not the case with Paul's audience. And so Paul continued to warn and rebuke. 

II. The Spark of hope Vs. 42-48 
    As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, some were curious and indicated a lingering interest in hearing more. While Paul may not have gotten the receptivity he had hoped for, at least the seed had been planted and interest was growing among some, especially the Gentiles. In vs. 43, Paul admonished those who were interested to "continue in the grace (favor) of God." All truth seekers are in God's favor.
    The spiritual receptivity among the Gentiles was expressed in vs. 48. They "glorified the word of the Lord." And as many as were "ordained (or determined - see Acts 15:2 where the same word is used) to (or toward) eternal life believed." Luke was not talking about predestination but about a receptive attitude and interest. Those who had a driving and intense interest in eternal life were far more receptive.   
    The spiritual lack of receptivity is seen in the way the Jews contradicted and blasphemed. (Cf., vs. 46) They "judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life." Again, we see personal choice, not predestination, as the reason why some remain lost and why some are saved. 
    What advantage was there to following the rule of preaching to the Jews first (vs. 46) Cf. Romans 1:16? Shouldn't the Jews have been the most receptive spiritually? Why?

III. The Shaking Vs. 49-52
    Did Paul and Barnabas leave this region of their own accord? What is the symbolism behind "shaking the dust off your feet? Discuss why did the brethren left behind rejoiced? (vs. 52).

wrap up

   1.  Paul was for salvation unto the ends of the earth (vs. 47.) What are we for? Can we be Christ-like and not be interested in lost souls? Cf., Luke 19:10. 


  Please read Acts 14 for next week    copyright 2001