Sabbath School Lesson for August 25-31, 2018

Outline of the Lesson

Acts 16-18 encompasses Paul’s second missionary journey. Many Bibles include maps of Paul’s journeys. It would be helpful to consult such a resource, if you have one available.

  • Sunday–After leaving Tarsus, Paul and Silas met Timothy in Lystra, and invited him to join their team. Acts 16:1-13
  • Monday–After being led by the Spirit to Macedonia (modern-day Greece), Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Philippi (which became the first established church in Europe). Acts 16 16-40
  • Tuesday–Another arrest of the apostles almost occurred in Thessalonica, but the Christians in Berea were commended for their conscientious study of the Scriptures. Acts 17:1-15
  • Wednesday–Paul addressed the Athenian population, gearing his message to their culture. Acts 17:22-31
  • Thursday–Meeting Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth led to an extended stay there of one and a half years. Acts 18:1-11


After returning to Antioch from the Jerusalem Council, one of their two friends from Jerusalem went back to Judea. Silas, however, felt impressed to stay in Antioch.

It was soon, the following year, A.D. 49, that Paul and Barnabas decided on a second missionary trip to revisit churches and expand the gospel’s reach into new areas. There was a disagreement about whether to bring John Mark with them this time. Barnabas, his cousin, was in favor of including him; but Paul, for whatever reason, was not.

Being unable to come to an agreement on this issue, the two men decided to take separate journeys. Barnabas and Mark left for the island of Cyprus, while Paul and Silas decided to travel by land to the area of Cilicia.

Many exciting experiences, including some harsh trials, awaited the pair as they made their way across the Asian peninsula, all the way to Greece. Having already tasted of the opposition they knew they would face, these missionaries summoned all their faith and zeal for Christ’s service, in order to perform their given duties as the Lord’s spokesmen.

Memory Text: ” ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ “ Acts 18:9, 10 NIV

This message from God, and other dreams and visions that were given by the Holy Spirit along the way, guided and encouraged Paul’s missionary team. We, too, must solicit the Holy Spirit whenever plans are made for evangelism or outreach in our local church communities. God is still on hand to control our movements. He still longs to bless our work, when we are ready to carry it out with fully-faithful and loving hearts.

Sunday: Back in Lystra

With Barnabas and Mark leaving for Cyprus by sea, Paul and Silas decided to head out by land through Syria and Cilicia, stopping at churches, such as Issus and Tarsus, to encourage and strengthen their congregations.

At Lystra, where Paul and Barnabas had been mistaken for gods on their first missionary journey, they met a young man named Timothy. Even though Timothy’s mother was a Jewish Christian named Eunice, and his father was a Greek, the culture recognized Timothy as a Jew, as they saw one’s identity coming through the mother’s lineage.

The missionaries noticed the good reputation of this young man. He was known and respected for his knowledge of the Scriptures. So, Paul and Silas invited him to join their evangelistic team.

It may seem odd for Paul, after fighting so hard at the Jerusalem Council to have circumcision taken off the list of requirements for being a Christian, that he would even suggest that Timothy become circumcised before traveling with them.

Remember that Paul had nothing against circumcision–for him it was a non-issue (1 Corinthians 7:19). Whether you are circumcised or not, didn’t really concern him. He only fought against it being used as a requirement for being a Christian.

In the case of Timothy, Paul must have considered it merely a practical measure, so Timothy could accompany them when they entered synagogues, which were still their main entry point for spreading the gospel to the Gentiles. Being an uncircumcised Jew would have been an obstacle in their ministry, at least when meeting in the synagogue with their Jewish friends.

Timothy, no doubt, saw the wisdom in taking this action. He seems to have agreed to it readily, so they could continue together on their journey of finding lost souls in distant lands.

Discussion Questions:

Read Acts 16:1-2 and 2 Timothy 3:15. What are some of the advantages of having young people in God’s service? Why are older people also needed? In what ways can both young, old, and those in-between accomplish more when they work together?

Read Acts 16:3, Galatians 2:3, 5:2, 1 Corinthians 7:19, and Romans 14:1, 13. How far do you go in removing stumblingblocks from your Christian witness?

Read Acts 16:4, 5. What good might have been accomplished for the missionaries to retrace their steps and revisit churches that had already been established?

Monday: Philippi

Paul’s intention was to keep heading north, farther and farther into Asia. But the Holy Spirit directed him through a vision in the night that they should instead head west toward Macedonia.

Arriving at Philippi, Paul and his team of gospel workers had some unusual experiences. From the quiet, riverside services, where they met the hospitable, influential Lydia, to the jailhouse earthquake, where a jailer and his whole family were converted. There was even a girl with an unclean spirit, following them around, causing them grief and confusion in how they should deal with the situation.

But through it all, Paul never lost his gospel roots. When the jailer asked him what he should do to be saved, Paul did not hesitate to tell him plainly: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)

Some have thought that Paul’s answer indicated a much easier route to salvation than it actually was. Certainly, one should understand more Bible truth than that, in order to receive baptism. And there is merit in that line of thinking. After all, along with baptism, Jesus did call for making disciples out of people, and teaching them all things He had commanded them.

But in this particular episode, we have no way of knowing the jailer’s background. He may have been a proselyte, a God-fearing Gentile like Cornelius, or even a Jew himself. Paul must have recognized that he was ready for baptism, and was thrilled to make it happen for him.

Discussion Questions:

Read Acts 16:12-15. Why do you suppose they were meeting by the riverside on the Sabbath? Why was Lydia’s faithfulness important for the missionaries’ decision to stay at her home?

Read Acts 16:16-19. Explain how this girl’s reputation was the real problem, not just what she was saying to the crowds. How did this event cause even more trouble for Paul and Silas?

Read Acts 16:25-34. What elements of this story indicate that the jailer already knew and believed in God?

Tuesday: Thessalonica and Berea

Two cities. Two synagogues. Two very different responses to Paul’s preaching.

Many of the Jews in Thessalonica were antagonistic when they received news of Jesus being the Messiah. There were some, however, including some devout Greeks and some of the leading women in the community, who became believers with Paul. One of them, Jason, even invited the missionary team to stay at his house.

But, eventually the unhappy Jews incited a mob to go to Jason’s house, causing Paul and Silas to have to flee the city by night and go to Berea.

At Berea, we amazingly learn that Paul and Silas once again went straight to the synagogue there. Luke tells us that here they met with more fair-minded people, who actually knew and studied the Scriptures to see if Paul’s preaching about the Christ was accurate.

Several believers in Berea were thus secured. Things would have continued to advance, but when those unfriendly Jews in Thessalonica heard of Paul’s preaching there, trouble was once again on their heels. Paul was sent by sea to Athens, without his missionary companions. Upon arrival there, he recognized that Silas and Timothy were needed and sent back word to them to come quickly to help him minister in this pagan city of Athens.

Discussion Questions:

Read Acts 17:1-4 and 18:4, 5, 28. What appears to be the main thing Paul preached about in these synagogues? Why was this message so important to Paul?

Read Acts 17:5-9 and 16:21-21. In what ways was the world being turned upside down by the Christians? What Roman laws were they breaking?

Read Acts 17:10-12 and John 5:39. What benefits are there in Bible study?

Wednesday: Paul in Athens

Athens had long been recognized as the intellectual center of ancient Greece, even when Paul arrived there. In addition, it was a highly pagan society, with many idols to gods adorning the city’s public spaces.

Paul’s strategy was once again to visit the synagogues on the Sabbath, but he was also found daily in the public square, listening and speaking about his own religious beliefs. Some of the philosophers there invited him to address their gathering, and Paul, having by now received an understanding of the culture, was quick to oblige.

Although there weren’t many converts as a result of Paul’s efforts in Athens, his speech has been seen as the most dramatic and fully recorded sermon by Paul in the Bible. It demonstrated how cross-cultural differences must be bridged, in order to work anywhere for the Lord. Paul sought to reach the Athenians where they were in the religious life, by using a “hook” that would draw their attention, and later their agreement to his message. He even quoted a pagan poet to support his argument.

Even though there were reasons for the disinterest of his listeners, such as…

  1. their prominent belief that their gods have no dealings with humans on earth
  2. their denial of a resurrection of any kind

Therefore, Paul’s last recorded statement to them was controversial to the point that they stopped listening to him. He said to them:

“because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31 NKJV

Words that needed to be said, but which would not win many converts in that audience.

Discussion Questions:

Read Acts 17:16, 17 and 2 Peter 2:7, 8. How does it feel when you see others around you falling apart and doing wrong, evil things? How does one counteract or respond to the negative behaviors of those around us? How can we make a difference in the world today?

Read Acts 17:22, 27, 30 and Romans 1:20. How does the creation point to a Creator?

Read Acts 17:24, 31 and Revelation 14:7. How does Paul’s speech to the Athenians compare with the first angel’s message?

Thursday: Paul in Corinth

After leaving Athens, Paul arrived in Corinth, an important Greek metropolis at the time. Here there were no philosophers, and the diverse population was two-thirds slaves. Despite what might seem like insurmountable obstacles, Paul was able to see a church established there and remained for a year and a half. He later wrote two of his longest epistles to its members, expressing many concerns for their spiritual welfare.

Paul was relieved to have befriended two Jews while in Corinth, who perhaps may have already been introduced to Christ, arriving in Corinth due to persecution. He stayed with Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who were also tentmakers, the trade Paul was taught in his youth. Together, they shared their labors and enjoyed a lifelong friendship, even accompanying Paul’s team on their return trip, and staying in Ephesus to support the Christians there.

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, they brought financial gifts from the churches in Macedonia, which allowed Paul to devote his entire time to preaching the gospel. In addition to many Greeks receiving Paul’s message in Corinth, even Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, was won by his witness. See Acts 18:9.

Discussion Questions:

Read Acts 18:1-3 and Romans 16:3, 4. How close was Paul’s friendship with these two tentmakers, and how did that friendship develop? What kind of work might he be referring to, when he called them “fellow workers in Christ Jesus”?

Read Acts 18:4-8. After being rejected by some of the Jews, how might it have happened that Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, became converted? Who were working with Paul on the sidelines, and why was their presence so necessary to the success of God’s work?

Read Acts 18:9-11. How was Paul’s lengthy stay in Corinth evidence that God was with Him, as He promised to be?


Three types of people heard Paul’s gospel about the Messiah. Even today, there are …

  1. those who mock us
  2. those who believe us
  3. those who put off their decision

Although we see clearly the three responses of the people to whom Paul preached, as time passes, people may be seen moving from one group to another. This is why we never stop laboring for souls. There is always hope for even the most obstinate opponents. Keep in mind that Paul was at first a member of the first group.

Next Week’s Lesson: The Third Missionary Journey (Acts 19-21)

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