Acts

Our completed Bible Study - For Future Reference

Acts 27-28: Paul in Rome! - slightly altered from IVP

Rome at last! Paul was innocent. He could have been a free man. But he had appealed to Caesar-and to Caesar he was to go. As we look at these last two chapters of Acts and complete our study of the life of this marvelous servant of God, it might be worthwhile to ask the questions Who was really free, and who were the real prisoners?

Warming Up to God

Sit quietly for a few moments, without trying to force your thoughts to move in any direction. Let silence reign in your heart before you look to Scripture.


What are some other stories in the Bible where a person or group of people go through water and it becomes a significant spiritual experience?


Read Acts 27-28

Discovering the Word

  • Though Paul had every reason by this time to become very self-centered, how do you see him continuing to minister to others throughout these two chapters (27:9-10, 21-25, 31-38, 42-43; 28:3, 8-9, 17-20, 23-31)?
  • What do you see of Paul's compassion as he ministers?
  • What do you think it says about Paul that Julius let him go see his friends (27:3)?
  • What do you see of Paul's confidence in God throughout this passage?
  • In conclusion, what from the book of Acts motivates and equips you to be a witness "to the ends of the earth" (1:8)?

Applying the Word

  • What are the situations or relationships in your life with non-Christians in which you are tempted to give up on your proclamation of the gospel?
  • What truths from this study of Acts encourage you to not give up?
  • The words "Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" (28:31) summarize not only Paul's two years in Rome, but his whole Christian life. To what degree would you like this to be a summary of your life? Explain.

  • Responding in Prayer

    Thank God for the ways that he has taught you through the book of Acts. Ask him to continue to teach you as you try to live out the lessons you have learned



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=201#ixzz3juiDHVtd

    Acts 25:13-26:32: Straight from IVP for now, for Aug 23

    Acts 25:13-26:32: Testimony Before Agrippa

    Though his innocence has been clearly stated many times, Paul remains a prisoner. He repeatedly has to face the unfair charges of the Jewish leaders. He has made his defense with integrity and power, and in return he gets only threats of death. In it all Paul's witness remains consistent. His greatest desire is that his accusers and those in judgment over him will become Christians.

    Warming Up to God

    How do you respond to the unfairness in the world around you—poverty, homelessness, the unfairness in your own life? It is difficult to assume an attitude like Paul's in the face of injustice. But God sees and knows what is right, and he understands the anger we feel. Express your thoughts and feelings to him. Let him calm the stirring in your heart with his gentle words.

    Read Acts 25:13-26:32

    Discovering the Word

    • Describe the nature and content of Festus' report to Agrippa (25:13-22).
    • What are the main points about himself that Paul presents in his defense (26:1-23)?
    • Why does Paul say he is on trial (26:6-8)?
    • Contrast the commission of the Sanhedrin (26:9-11) to the commission of Christ (26:15-18).
    • Describe Paul's final interaction with King Agrippa (26:26-29).

    Applying the Word

    • What motivates you to tell non-Christians about Jesus?
    • How does Paul's desire for King Agrippa compare or contrast with your desire for those around you who do not know Christ?
    • How might you move closer to where Paul was in this desire?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to give you the proper response to injustice and a heart that is soft toward those who do not know him.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=200#ixzz3j44xVKWN

    Comparison of Damascus Road Experiences in Acts9, 22, and 26 - Aug 16

    This week we will deviate a little from our normal format to compare and contrast the 3 accounts of Pauls conversion in acts.

    Acts 24:1-25:12: Falsely Accused - Straight from IVP for now, for Aug 9

    Warming Up to God

    Remember that today has been given to you by God and he desires to be with you as you walk through it. Let him come to you now, knowing that he will show you more of himself through his Word.

    Read Acts 24:1-25:12

    Discovering the Word

    • What are the accusations brought against Paul by the Jews (24:1-27)?
    • How would you describe Paul's defense? (Consider the content and the attitude and tone.)
    • What do you think is the significance of the fact that Felix was well acquainted with the Way (v. 22)?
    • In Acts 25:1-12 two years have passed since his trial, and Festus has become the new governor. The Jews have not given up. They continue to plot to kill Paul and ask Festus to have him transferred to Jerusalem. Festus refuses and tells the Jewish leaders to come to Caesarea for the trial. What evidence is there in this passage that Festus knows that Paul is innocent?
    • Why does Festus suggest that Paul go back to Jerusalem to be on trial?

    Applying the Word

    • When have you known someone to respond to the proclamation of the gospel as Felix did? What might this mean?
    • Describe a time you have been falsely accused because of your faith.
    • What can you learn about how to respond to accusers from the way Paul responded to his accusers?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to give you patience and a heart of love for the people who surround you—your coworkers, family—people you can show the example of Christ.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=199#ixzz3hZbGM7Rv

    Acts 23 - adapted from IVP Acts 22:22-23:35: God at Work, for Aug 2




    Being under God's protection is not a guarantee of physical safety. Being under his protection does guarantee that our Father is with us, has purpose for us and that nothing happens to us that does not come through his hands. We can live with confidence that our life on earth will not end until that purpose for us is complete. And that ultimately we will end up safe and protected in heaven. Paul was so sure of God's hand in his life that he continued to move out boldly with the message of Jesus Christ in spite of physical danger intensifying.

    Warming Up to God

    The protection of the Father's strong arms is always around us. Thank him for his mighty but unseen acts that keep you safe and secure as you walk through this life.

    Read Acts 22:22-23:35

    Applying the Word

    • What can we learn about our relationship as Christians to authority from this passage?
    • List the strange people and methods God uses to protect Paul. What can we learn about our role and the role of those around us from this?
    • Why does Paul bring up the resurrection an (issue that is really important to the Pharisees but not one he has talked much about before now)? Does this seem dishonest?
    • What do you think of the 40 men who made the oath? Who do you think is supporting them on the Sanhedrin? What does this tell us about the Sanhedrin? What do you think became of them after Paul left Jerusalem? Can almost 500 men on horse back really sneak out of Jerusalem? (This last one isn't a very theologically important question. I'm just sayin...
    • Think about God's hand in your life and ministry. How have you seen him work to protect and direct you toward his will?
    • In what ways do you need to grow in humbly acknowledging God's hand in your life?
    • How has your hope for God's will to be done in you been affected by looking at God's hand in Paul's life?

    Discovering the Word - These are all the same question - so we are going to do them all at once at the end.

    • In 23:1-10 what is the source of the conflict? How is Paul protected?
    • Why was Paul struck on the mouth for saying, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day" (23:1)?
    • In Acts 23:12-25 the Jews are frustrated because they cannot get rid of Paul through the law, so they decide to ambush and kill him on their own. How is Paul protected?
    • We have observed God's protection of Paul. How do we see God's care for Paul in a more direct and supernatural way in 23:11?


    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to show you his active hand in your life.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=197#ixzz3hJEQos00

    Acts 22 - Paul's Speech to an Angry Mob (Some of my questions and a few left over from last week - For July 26

    This week we are finishing up with Paul's trip to the temple. Some of us might want to know what it looked like so here is a link to a pic, but it won't do you much good on a phone. http://www.whale.to/c/wailing_wall.html

    • How does Paul tailor his speech specifically to the crowd that is before him?
    • What parts of the story remain the same no matter who he tells it to?
    • What is the crowds' reaction? Do you think he anticipated this? Would he have changed his actions if he had?
    • Paul reminds the guard of his rights as a Roman citizen. This is a good time for us to be reminded of Paul's unique combination of qualifications for the task that God appointed him to. Let's list them now.
    • How do you usually respond when you find yourself in conflict with others as a result of your obedience to God?
    • What have you seen in this passage that will help you become more single-minded in your obedience to God's will?

    Acts 21:1-22:21: Facing Opposition (we will probably do only 21). Mostly from IVP with a couple extra questions, For July 19)

    Acts 21:1-22:21: Facing Opposition

    Five young men sang:

    "We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
    And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
    Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing;
    We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go."We rest on Thee our Shield and our Defender!
    Thine is the battle, thine shall be the praise
    When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
    Victors-we rest with Thee, through endless days."

    as they went to their death, taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Auca Indians. Like Paul, knowing that death was a very real possibility, they did not turn aside from what they knew God wanted them to do.


    Warming Up to God

    There are times when we do not feel courageous about our faith, but question it. However, God is just as real when we doubt or fear as when our faith is strong. Let him come to you now in the midst of your fear and allow him to stretch your vision of how powerful he truly is.

    Read Acts 21:1-22:21

    Discovering the Word

    • Describe the warnings to Paul concerning going to Jerusalem (21:4, 10-12).
    • How did Paul respond to these warnings (21:5, 13)?
    • Paul arrives in Jerusalem, is greeted by the elders and reports what God has done through his ministry. What are the elders concerned about for Paul (21:20-25)?
    • How does Paul demonstrate his desire to be at one with the Jewish Christians (21:26)?
    • Note how Paul was treated with mob hysteria, assumption and false evidence (21:27-36, 38). How does he respond to all of this (21:37—22:21)?

    Applying the Word

    • Think of a person you know who is focused on obeying God. How are you affected by his/her obedience?
    • How would you feel if you returned from a long journey and had to address the sorts of concerns that Paul had to deal with when he returned to Jerusalem?
    • Do we have issues that bog us down in today's church?
    • How do you usually respond when you find yourself in conflict with others as a result of your obedience to God?
    • What have you seen in this passage that will help you become more single-minded in your obedience to God's will?

    Responding in Prayer

    Tell God of your desire to be obedient, but admit the difficulties you face because of your sin. Ask him again to cleanse you and help you run the race with fervor.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=196#ixzz3fOUtXzmd

    Acts 20:13-38: Paul's Farewell - For July 12 slightly altered from IVP.

    Acts 20:13-38: Paul's Farewell

    "I will see you in heaven." I nodded, gave him a hug and a kiss and walked away from his bedside. When I left the room, I wept. Although it was twenty years ago that I said goodby to Pop Z, the memory is still deep in my heart. In this chapter we will enter into weeping as Paul says his final goodbye to the elders at Ephesus. He knows that more hardship and prison await him in Jerusalem. And he will never see the faces of these elders again.

    Warming Up to God

    Is the busyness of the world around you crowding you as you seek the face of God? Thank God that he has given you the grace that brought you to his Word right now, and ask him to still your restless heart as he comes to sit with you.

    Read Acts 20:13-38

    Discovering the Word

    • What does Paul say about his ministry to the Ephesians (vv. 18-21, 26-27, 31, 33-35)?
    • What are Paul's priorities (vv. 22-25)? Is Paul's attitude and tone different in this passage than in other places in Acts?
    • What instructions did Paul give to the leaders of the church at Ephesus (vv. 28-31)?
    • According to verse 32, why can Paul leave them with confidence?
    • In summary, according to this passage, why would Paul be able to say with integrity and humility to these leaders, "Follow my example. Do as I have done"?

    Applying the Word

    • Who is in your spiritual care?
    • How are you preparing those that you nurture spiritually so that you can leave them with this same confidence?
    • Paul gives instructions to the elders, the leaders in the church. Some of us have positions of leadership in this church. How can we put these instructions into practice in our own church?
    • Paul and the Ephesian elders were given the rare and special gift of being able to say goodbye. What would you want to say to those in your spiritual care if you knew that you were going to die? Take time to express your hope and your love to that person in the near future.

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God for the courage to say these most important words to those you love and for whom you care deeply.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=194#ixzz3cqc7UNdG

    Acts 19-20:12 - For June 14, Heavily altered by me based on ACTS FOR EVERYONE PART 2 by NT Wright

    Acts 19:1-20:12: In the Name of Jesus

    We left Paul in chapter 18 traveling throughout Galatia and Phrygia "strengthening all the disciples." In this chapter he returns to Ephesus, where he settles for two and a half years.Great work is done there during this time, and it radiates out to other cities in the province of Asia. Luke vividly portrays the effect of Paul's ministry in just a few scenes in this chapter.

    Warming Up to God

    Often we feel that reading the Bible is our time to give to God. But he dearly wants to come to us as we study Scripture and pray. Lay aside your effort right now and commit yourself to accepting God's grace. Let God be your companion while you study the Word.

    Read Acts 19:1-20:12

    Discovering the Word

    • Scan chapter 19. Where do you see God's power revealed?
    • In 19:1-10 Paul encounters some disciples. What are they missing? Is it something our church is sometimes missing today?
    • In Verses 11-17 note 2 very different examples of supernatural power and compare them.
    • Why are verses 17-20 important? How do you think they relate to the riot that is about to take place?
    • The riot (Verses 23-40) is a very exciting scene, but what do we learn about God's power and the world's response to it?
    • Paul continued to travel and encourage believers as he preached the gospel. What effect did the episode in 20:7-12 have on the crowd?

    Applying the Word

    • What do you see in Paul's relationship with the disciples that might help you in relating to young Christians or your non-Christian friends?
    • What kind of plan for communicating the gospel would be helpful in your world?
    • How can you prepare yourself for both positive and negative responses as you are a part of communicating the gospel of Christ?

    Responding in Prayer

    Thank God for the amazing fact that he uses us, sinful humanity, to spread the gospel and advance his kingdom. Thank him for using you.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=192#ixzz3bm0buuow

    Acts 18 - (Straight from IVP for now, for June 7)

    Acts 18: Companions in Ministry

    Just recently, I visited my childhood pastor and his wife. As I left them, my heart was full of gratitude. Gratitude not only for the Wrights, but also for the others past and present who have prepared me for outreach. I am thankful for those who have prayed for me, been my friends, walked along with me, listened to me, loved me and cared about my walk with God and my service to others, who have encouraged me and corrected me. I enjoy thinking about the people who have touched my life and who have been companions in ministry. I am not alone in this need for companionship. In this study we will look at some of the people in Paul's life who were his companions in ministry.

    Warming Up to God

    Close your eyes and think about one person who profoundly affects your life. Tell God how grateful you are to know such a wonderful friend and thank God for loving you through that person.

    Read Acts 18

    Discovering the Word

    • List the people in Paul's life that you see in this passage.
    • What did Silas and Timothy contribute to Paul's life and ministry (v. 5)?
    • In verses 18-23 what do you learn about Paul's relationships?
    • Describe Apollos (vv. 24-26).
    • How was Apollos' ministry affected by his relationship with Aquila and Priscilla (vv. 27-28)?

    Applying the Word

    • When has someone encouraged you with good news of God's work elsewhere, entered into your ministry, shared themselves or their home with you, or supported you financially or in other ways?
    • What keeps you from allowing others to enter into your life and ministry in such ways?
    • As you review this passage, what ways do you recognize in which you need to develop, build and nurture relationships that will contribute to your spiritual growth and outreach?
    • Responding in Prayer

      Who are your companions in ministry? Thank God for their presence in your life as good gifts from him.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=189#ixzz3bAX9IPqy

    Acts 17 - Straight from IVP for now. (For 5/31)

    Acts 17: An Unknown God

    Only a few short decades ago, Christians in the West could assume that most people they met belonged to a church or at least based their lives on Judeo-Christian values. Today, Christians in the West face what Christians in the East have had to cope with for centuries—a wide variety of religious beliefs and practices that often have little in common with Christianity. The world's major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, are making inroads as are a variety of cults, New Age philosophies, occultic activities and even traditional paganism. How do we cope with a world that knows or cares so little about the truth of Jesus Christ? Paul left us a helpful model when he visited the world center of pagan philosophy and religion—Athens.

    Warming Up to God

    Do you often feel overwhelmed by the dismal spiritual conditions of this world? Remember and even savor the knowledge that Jesus is Lord over it all—the sin, deceit and pain around us are all subject to his will.

    Read Acts 17

    Discovering the Word

    • In this chapter Paul interacts with three cities and three different cultures. Compare and contrast Paul's ministry in Thessalonica and Berea. (What approach did he take? How was his message received by the people? What kind of results did he have?)
    • In Thessalonica and Berea, as in most places, Paul makes his contacts in the synagogues and speaks almost exclusively from Scripture. How does his ministry in Athens differ from this?
    • How do the people respond to his teaching in Athens?
    • Though Paul approaches people differently, some points in the content of his message are very consistent. Identify these (vv. 3, 18, 24-28, 30-31).

    Applying the Word

    • In his lecture in Athens, Paul mentions "the objects of your worship." What are some of the objects of worship for people in our culture?
    • In Athens Paul begins to tell them about the living God with an inscription from one of their altars—"to an unknown god." What are the "points of truth" from which you can start to communicate the gospel to those in your world?
    • What are ways that you might be tempted to compromise the message of the gospel as you communicate it to certain people?
    • How do you need to better prepare yourself to effectively communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to those to whom God has called you to minister?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to show you what you have in common with the non-Christians in your life.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=188#ixzz3b3tJoMT0

    Acts 16 - Straight from IVP

    Acts 16: What Must I Do?

    The memory is still vivid. The event was InterVarsity's Urbana Missionary Conference. The place, a dormitory room. The person, a young lady from the Bible study group that I led. I sensed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to stop by Susan's room. As I walked in to say "hi" she looked up from the booklet she was reading and said, "I would like to become a Christian. Will you help me?" This dormitory setting was not quite as dramatic as the Philippian jail. But it was just as exciting to hear Susan's words, as it was for Paul and Silas to hear the jailer's cry, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

    Warming Up to God

    Think back to the time you uttered those words, either to a friend or to God himself. Praise God for creating a desire for him in you and thank him for giving his precious salvation to you.

    Read Acts 16

    Discovering the Word

    • In verses 6-10 how is Paul directed concerning where he should go?
    • What principles of guidance do you see in verses 6-10?
    • Paul responded immediately to God's message. How was his obedience confirmed on arriving in Macedonia (vv. 11-15)?
    • The slaveowners had Paul and Silas jailed. Their response to being in jail and being beaten was to pray and sing hymns. Describe the events that led up the jailer's question "What must I do to be saved?" (vv. 23-30).
    • It is clear in the book of Acts that God is concerned about the world and the nations being reached with the gospel. But he is also concerned about reaching individuals. What individuals were affected by Paul's obedience to God's leading (vv. 14, 18, 30-31)? How?

    Applying the Word

    • How does your response to opposition to and suffering for the gospel compare and contrast to that of Paul and Silas (v. 25)?
    • Paul and Silas speak the truth of the gospel as well as living it out. How do you give both a verbal and a living witness to Jesus?
    • Is there a person or task to which God is calling you? What steps do you need to take for immediate and unreserved obedience?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to give you courage as you step in faith to obey him, to tell those around you about the good news that has transformed your life.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=187#ixzz3aOYVq300

    Acts 15 - A few edits

    Acts 15: Conflict in the Church

    In most areas of life, I think I am pretty realistic. When it comes to conflict among believers, however, I tend to be an idealist. I believe that unity is something that God requires of us. Believers should be able to talk, pray and work through conflict—just the way it was worked through by the church at Jerusalem. However, I am becoming a little more realistic about this. I have been in several situations in which I felt like I did everything within my power to bring about reconciliation—but failed.

    This seems to be the case with Paul and Barnabas. These two men who were used by God to keep a church from splitting could not resolve their own differences and ended up going separate ways. The late Kenneth Strachen, of Latin American Mission, said, "We all need to live and serve in the constant recognition of our own humanity."

    Warming Up to God

    Has there been a time recently when you were in conflict with someone? Tell God about it and let his peace and compassion wash over you as he teaches you.

    Read Acts 15

    Discovering the Word

    • Describe the conflict that arises between the Christians (vv. 1-35).
    • Also look up Galatians 2:11-16
    • Describe the spirit of those involved and the steps that were taken to resolve this conflict.
    • What were the results?
    • In what ways do you see (or can you assume) unity between Paul and Barnabas (vv. 36-41)?
    • Paul and Barnabas came to the point of "agreeing to disagree" and going their separate ways. What were the benefits of this temporary solution?

    Applying the Word

    • What principles do you observe that are vital to follow as we face conflict with others in our Christian community?
    • Which of these principles do you struggle with implementing the most?
    • Both Paul and Barnabas seemed to have strong cases for their points of view. Under what kinds of circumstances should we surrender deep convictions when they are challenged by another?
    • No matter how strongly we feel about an issue, we do not see the whole picture. How should that affect the way we respond to people with whom we are in conflict?
    • Looking at the long term results of the events in this chapter, what can we conclude about our knowledge of God's plan.

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to give you discernment as you face conflict in both the church and in your personal life.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=185#ixzz3ZdQmoJzX

    Acts 13-14: Paul's First Missionary Journey straight from IVP

    Acts 13-14: Paul's First Missionary Journey

    Peter has disappeared. We do not know where he is hiding. Luke is ushering Peter from the stage while Paul steps to the forefront. Peter, the apostle to the Jews, has played his part well and prepared the way for Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.Paul and Barnabas have completed their mission of mercy in Jerusalem on behalf of the church in Antioch (11:29) and have returned to Antioch with John Mark. In this study we will look at Paul's first missionary journey—the beginning of his master plan of evangelism.

    Warming Up to God

    Do you feel distant from God as you try to approach the Scriptures? Remember that God in his great mercy has come to us first and wants to meet us here. He longs to care for us, his little sheep, and capture us in his arms.

    Read Acts 13-14

    Discovering the Word

    • Antioch was the second greatest metropolis of the church and the mother of Gentile Christianity. What role did the church of Antioch play in Paul's first missionary journey (13:1-3; 14:26-28)?
    • Review Paul's message in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (13:16-41). What truths of the gospel are communicated?
    • How does Paul's message show sensitivity to his audience and the context?
    • List the different responses to the gospel (13:7-8, 13, 42-45, 48, 52; 14:1-5) that you see throughout this passage.
    • How did Paul respond to those who rejected the gospel (13:9-11, 46, 51)? to those who believed (14:9-10, 21-23)?

    Applying the Word

    • People today are not apt to offer sacrifices to those who bring the good news of Jesus. However, in what ways are we faced with the temptation to be "God" in another's life or to take credit for what God has done?
    • How can we help one another when in the midst of such temptations?
    • Consider the qualities you see in Paul and Barnabas that made them effective in their ministry. Which of these qualities do you want God to develop in you to make you more effective in communicating the gospel?

    Responding in Prayer

    Is there a way God wants to change you? Talk to God about it.

    Acts 12: Miraculous Escape - straight from IVP to be used on 4-26.

    Acts 12: Miraculous Escape

    Hudson Taylor, famous missionary to China, said, "Man is moved by God through prayer alone." We see the power of God demonstrated in this passage in response to the prayers of his people.

    Warming Up to God

    Recall a time when God answered one of your prayers. Thank him for the joy and encouragement you received from his gracious blessing upon you.

    Read Acts 12

    Discovering the Word

    • Describe the main characters in this passage. How do they respond to what is happening to and around them?
    • What seems to motivate Herod's actions (vv. 1-5)?
    • What does the church's response to James's death and Peter being in prison (vv. 5 and 12) demonstrate about prayer?
    • Why was Herod struck down (vv. 21-23)?
    • Contrast Herod's end with what happened with the Word of God (vv. 19-24).

    Applying the Word

    • How have you seen God respond to a group of people who were earnestly praying?
    • Why do you think the praying Christians reacted as they did to Peter's return?
    • The earnest prayer of the church significantly affected the outcome of the events of this chapter. How is your motivation to pray influenced by this truth?

    Responding in Prayer

    Think of an "impossible" prayer request or need that you have. Place it before God and ask him to give you the faith to believe that he will answer your prayer and give you "the desires of your heart."



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=182#ixzz3Xf0HritW

    Acts 11: The First Jewish-Gentile Church (untouched, straight from IVP

    Acts 11: The First Jewish-Gentile Church

    Luke set up the stories of Peter and Cornelius and Ananias with amazing symmetry. The Holy Spirit simultaneously prepared the heart of Ananias and of Saul—as he simultaneously prepared those of Peter and Cornelius. Peter questioned and hesitated, as did Ananias. Peter doubted whether he could be friends with the Gentiles, Ananias whether he could approach the enemy of the church. Both obey without hesitation when God makes his divine will known. These stories come together in today's study. Peter defends his ministry to Cornelius to the church at Jerusalem. He convinces them of God's work in the Gentiles. It is also here that Saul, the one-time enemy of the church, reappears as a minister to the church in Antioch, a church filled with both Jew and Gentile Christians.

    Warming Up to God

    In the face of change, how do you handle the need for a new perspective? Resistance? Excitement? Uncertainty? Do you face a change now? Take time to put your response, whatever it is, in God's hands.

    Read Acts 11

    Discovering the Word

    • What kind of reception was awaiting Peter when he went back up to Jerusalem (vv. 1-3)?
    • What seemed to be the final and most convincing proof to Peter of God's working in the Gentiles (vv. 15-17)? Why?
    • In the meantime the gospel is spreading to Gentiles at a tremendous rate in Antioch. What kind of care is provided for new believers (vv. 22-30)?
    • What was the reason for, and what were the results of, Barnabas's trip to Antioch (vv. 22-30)?

    Applying the Word

    • What can we learn from the way Peter responded to his critics?
    • How does our care for new believers compare and contrast to the care given here?
    • How do you see in this passage the true meaning of "Christian" being more fully discovered and lived out in a multicultural church?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to help you be more open and flexible to the changes that he desires to bring about in your life.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=180#ixzz3WgEfz4Ok

    Acts 9:32-10:48 (Straight from IVP) This will probably take us 2 weeks since chapter 10 is probably one of the most important passages in the Bible after the creation, the resurrection, and pentecost.

    Acts 9:32-10:48: Salvation for Every Nation

    Once the Berlin Wall seemed impenetrable, and communism powerful and indestructible. For seventy years Christians wondered if Christmas would ever be openly celebrated in Russia. Then, dramatically, the wall fell. Communism collapsed. Nations that had been closed to the gospel for years began to welcome Christians, their help and their message with open arms. The historic breakthrough was like the one the early Christians experienced in this passage. A seemingly impenetrable spiritual wall was broken down. In both situations we see that from God's perspective there is always the potential for reaching every person in all the corners of the world with the wonderful news of Jesus Christ.

    Warming Up to God

    Think of an impossible feat that you have seen God accomplish. Thank him and allow him to show you again that he truly is almighty.

    Read Acts 9:32-10:48

    Discovering the Word

    • How is God's power demonstrated in 9:32-43?
    • This is the first time Peter has been involved in raising someone from the dead. How might this prepare him for what happens in chapter 10?
    • How did God prepare Cornelius for Peter (10:1-8)?
    • In what ways did God prepare Peter for Cornelius (10:9-33)?
    • What evidence is there that Cornelius expected God to work (10:24-26)?

    Applying the Word

    • What lessons do we learn from Cornelius' life?
    • In summary, how do you see God's purpose, as stated in Acts 1:8, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth," being fulfilled in this passage?
    • In what ways could you grow in relating to people of other cultures and races?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to use your experiences in life and knowledge of him to bring others to Christ.

    Acts 9:1-31: Straight From IVP with one awkwardly worded addition.

    Acts 9:1-31: Saul's Conversion

    When Chuck Colson became a Christian in prison, the whole nation reacted with skepticism—Christians and non-Christians alike. Of all the leading characters in the Watergate scandal, he was one of the most notorious. Could such a calculating man sincerely come to God? Warming Up to God

    Think back to what your life was like before you met Christ. Thank God for the transformation that he has made in your life—both your instant rebirth into his kingdom and the gradual remolding of your character since then.

    Read Acts 9:1-31

    Discovering the Word

    • Review what you know about Saul (7:58—8:3). What further insights do you get about him from 9:1-2?
    • Describe Saul's encounter with Jesus Christ in verses 3-9. (What is the emotional, spiritual, physical and social climate?)
    • Ananias is the second person within three days to have a direct encounter with the Lord. Compare and contrast his encounter (vv. 10-16) with that of Saul's.
    • What is the significance of Ananias addressing Saul as "Brother" (v. 17)?
    • What is the response of both believers and nonbelievers to Saul and his ministry (vv. 19-30)?
    • What role does Barnabas play in Saul's life and ministry?

    Applying the Word

    • What do you learn about obedience to God through Saul and Ananias?
    • What does Saul's conversion teach us about those in our lives who are most likely not to believe?
    • Consider Barnabas and Ananias. They helped shape the church not so much through their own preaching, but by helping someone else do it. What are some ways we can do that?
    • Consider the people in your life who are most antagonistic to Christianity. How might God use you to bring them to Christ?

    Responding in Prayer

    Pray for the salvation of someone you consider an unlikely convert. Ask God to increase your faith.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=151#ixzz3TbHypHLd

    Acts 8 - Straight from IVP with one little addition

    Acts 8: The Power of Suffering

    Stephen is dead. When he is buried, the people mourn deeply. The church has experienced the tragedy of her first martyr. In this study we meet Philip and Saul. Saul approves of Stephen's death. He is putting all his energy into destroying the rest of Jesus' followers. In contrast, Philip is one of the seven, full of the Spirit and wisdom. His energy goes into the proclamation of the truth about Jesus. People respond. And so both the persecution and the expansion of the church continue.

    Warming Up to God

    Has there been a time recently that you were confused about God's intentions behind the events that he placed in your life? Ask him to give you his understanding and peace.

    Read Acts 8

    Discovering the Word

    • In this passage the command to be witnesses in all of Judea and Samaria (Ac 1:8) is fulfilled. What are the causes and extent of the spread of the gospel at this time?
    • Look at the story of Simon the Sorcerer (vv. 9-25). How does he attempt to get spiritual power? What is his motivation for wanting this power (vv. 18-19)?
    • In contrast, what is God's way for his people to receive spiritual power (vv. 20-23)?
    • What are the factors involved in the eunuch's coming to know the Lord (vv. 26-39)?
    • How was Philip's ministry to the eunuch the beginning of the witness "to the ends of the earth" (Ac 1:8)?
    • How can we prepare ourselves to seize rare opportunities like the one Philip had?

    Applying the Word

    • The story of Simon the Sorcerer demonstrates that becoming a Christian does not instantly resolve all problems and character flaws. What do you learn from Peter concerning nurturing young believers?
    • What principles of evangelism have you observed throughout this passage?
    • What have you learned from Acts 8 that might make you a more effective witness for Jesus?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God for the guidance of his Holy Spirit, and ask him to help you follow the model of evangelism that Philip provides.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=150#ixzz3Sr1pOejt

    Acts 6:8-7:60 - Straight from IVP, I have nothing to add

    Acts 6:8-7:60: Stephen, Full of Spirit and Wisdom

    I AM GLAD for those people in my life who make me long to know God better. God's character in them makes me hunger and thirst for him. That is what happens to me when I am exposed to Stephen. I read about him and I want to know God.

    Stephen is described as "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, full of God's grace and power." He was a gift to the early church but could not be tolerated by her enemies.

    Warming Up to God

    Think of a person that makes you want to know God better. Reflect on the qualities you see in him or her.

    Read Acts 6:8-7:60

    Discovering the Word

    • What do you learn about Stephen throughout this passage?
    • What do the accusations against Stephen tell us about why the Jewish religious leaders were so upset (6:13-14)?
    • Sometimes the speech in chapter 7 is called "Stephen's defense," although it is actually a defense of pure Christianity as God's appointed way to worship. What are the main points of this defense?
    • What did God tell Abraham would happen to his descendants, the Hebrews (7:1-7)?
    • What direct application does Stephen make concerning the religious leaders from 7:39-43 (see 7:51-53)?

    Applying the Word

    • God told Abraham what would happen to the Hebrews years before it all happened, even before he had a son. How are you affected when you see all that unfolds in history?
    • Throughout this whole passage, we see in Stephen the evidence of being full of the Spirit and wisdom. What are the evidences today of being full of the Spirit and wisdom?
    • In what aspect of your life would you like to reflect more of the Spirit and wisdom?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to fill you with the Spirit and with wisdom.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=149#ixzz3SR4DNqDv

    Acts 5:16 - 6 :7 (From IVP with some additions)

    Acts 5:17-6:7: Persecution and Expansion

    In 1956 tragic news spread across the world. Five American men—sons, husbands and fathers—were massacred by a tribe of Auca Indians. Their purpose was to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the Aucas. The opposition to this endeavor cost them their lives.

    That agonizing loss, which seemed at the time to be such a waste, has turned into great fruit for the kingdom of God. Over the years that same tribe of Indians has been transformed by the power of God. The message of Jesus was taken to them by the loved ones of those five young men. Another visible fruit of this great loss is the many who have gone into the world with the gospel, having been inspired by the lives and deaths of these missionaries. The church of Jesus Christ continues to expand today in spite of great persecution, even as it did in the day of the apostles.

    Warming Up to God

    Although we know that God is in complete control of the universe, we often forget that he also has specific plans for our individual lives. Thank him for being sovereign everywhere, including the secrecy of your own heart.

    Read Acts 5:17-6:7

    Discovering the Word

    • List the expressions and causes of emotion throughout verses 5:17-42. Group 1 - Vs 16-26, Group 2 - Vs 27-33, Group 3 - Vs 33-42
    • Describe the apostles' response, motivation and source of strength throughout this whole episode.
    • What was Gamaliel's message to the religious leaders (5:34-39)?
    • How was his influence in saving the apostles' lives an example of that truth which he spoke?
    • As the number of disciples increased, what practical needs began to present themselves (6:1-6)?
    • How did the Twelve respond to those needs (6:2-6)?

    Applying the Word

    • When have you encountered internal and/or external opposition when you have attempted to proclaim the message of Jesus?
    • Is it more difficult for you to deal with internal of external opposition? Why?
    • As you observe the work of the Holy Spirit throughout this passage, what actions do you think you and/or your church should take to ensure his ministry among you?

    Responding in Prayer

    Tell God about the difficulties and struggles you have been facing as a believer in him. Ask him to give you strength and to remind you that his ways are higher than your own.

    Acts 4:32-5:16 - Straight from IVP

    Acts 4:32-5:16: Oneness of Heart

    It was with a heavy feeling of dread and pain that I read name after name engraved on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Then I saw that next to the memorial was a statue of three men—a black, a Hispanic and a white soldier. They were standing very close together. The tour guide, a former soldier who fought in Nam, explained the significance of the statue. He said that there were more minorities fighting for the U.S. than ever before. And the reason that they were standing so close together was that in Vietnam they learned, like never before, how very much they needed each other. In this study we will see that when the battle is spiritual, our need for each other is even more critical.

    Warming Up to God

    Who has God given you that meets a need in your life? Thank God for giving you such a valuable and loving gift.

    Read Acts 4:32-5:16

    Discovering the Word

    • How is oneness of heart and mind demonstrated in 4:32-37?
    • What have Ananias and Sapphira done that is not consistent with Christian community (5:1-2)?
    • Pretend you are watching the interaction between Peter and Ananias and Sapphira (5:3-9). How would you report this incident?
    • Verse 11 states that "great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events." How do you think the church was affected by this fear?
    • What are the tangible evidences of the power of the Holy Spirit in this community in 5:12-16?

    Applying the Word

    • How does this story demonstrate the high value that God places on truth and unity within the body of Christ?
    • In what ways do we lie to each other today within our Christian communities?
    • How could you begin to help others in your church or fellowship understand what Christian community is about?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to uphold truth in his church and to help you speak the truth before others.

    Acts 4 Part 1 - Feb 1 (From IVP with only a few additions).

    Acts 4:1-31: Called into Question

    A disabled person becomes abled! And a one-time burden to society, a beggar, becomes a contributing citizen!How do the religious leaders respond to these miraculous events? Instead of expressing gratitude, they become extremely upset. The two men responsible for the healing are arrested.

    Warming Up to God

    Today, in this new day that God has created, your Savior wants to come to you. With calmness, let the distractions around you—the voices and restless thoughts—slip away. As the spirit of God comes to dwell with you, allow yourself to enjoy his presence in quietness and gratitude.

    Read Acts 4:1-31

    Discovering the Word

    • What has upset the religious leaders (vv. 1-2)?
    • Who were the Pharisees and the Sadducees? More info on that question and other groups.
    • What action did they take (vv. 3-7)?
    • Just a few weeks have passed since Annas and Caiaphas had been involved in the condemnation of Jesus. In his response to their question "By what power or what name did you say do this?" Peter is forcing them to encounter Jesus again. What does Peter say about him (vv. 10-12)?
    • In verses 13-22 what made it so difficult for the opposing religious leaders to bring this unacceptable behavior to a halt?
    • What was the reaction of the believers to John and Peter's account (vv. 24-30)?
    • What does their prayer tell you about their faith in the character, power and faithfulness of God (vv. 24-30)?

    Applying the Word

    • When has your faith been challenged by others?
    • Imagine that you had been in a group of believers John and Peter returned to and told of what had happened. What would have been your reaction?
    • "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." In what ways do you need the power of the Holy Spirit to face the world today?

    Responding in Prayer

    Ask God to fill you with the Spirit as you face constant challenge to the power for and the task of experiencing and communicating the gospel.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=146#ixzz3Q1B2qlSi

    Acts 3 - Healing Power (straight from IVP with no edits)

    Acts 3: Healing Power

    I met Anne at the hospital where I was working one evening. She was in an isolation room. She had hepatitis from using contaminated needles to take drugs. In time our relationship grew, and Anne came to know Jesus. She recovered from hepatitis and went off drugs. She worked at healing her relationship with her parents. Later, she married and established a Christian home. Anne's story makes it clear that the power of the Holy Spirit is not only demonstrated through physical healing, but also in the "complete healing" that includes every aspect of our lives.

    Warming Up to God

    Recall a time when you felt broken and in need of healing. Thank God for the ways that he has transformed and healed you since then.

    Read Acts 3

    Discovering the Word

    • How does the response of the people to the miracle in verses 6-8 contrast with the beggar's response (vv. 8 and 11-12)?
    • When Peter noticed how the crowd reacted, he saw his opportunity and talked to them about Jesus. According to Peter's message, what had God done to Jesus (vv. 13-15)? What had the Jews done to him?
    • How is the authority of Jesus demonstrated in this miracle (v. 16)?
    • How did Peter explain that all that had happened to Jesus was a part of God's plan (vv. 17-26)?

    Applying the Word

    • What healing do you need in your life?
    • How do you respond when you have opportunities like Peter's to talk about Jesus?
    • The "completely" healed man was a powerful testimony to the power of God and the truth of Peter's words. How have you seen the power of God demonstrated in your life and in the lives of others?

    Responding in Prayer

    Thank God for working so powerfully to change your life, and ask him to give you the opportunity to talk about Jesus to one person this week.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=145#ixzz3PnUHVUO1

    Acts 2 Again (Jan 18) - we will cover anything we didn't cover last wee plus the following material and questions

    Acts 2: Telling the story


    Warming Up to God
    What would you say if you had the opportunity to tell someone about God? Does the idea scare you, make you excited or both?

    Read Acts 2 - Verses 13-36.


    Here we see Peter as a dynamic leader and preacher. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that has changed this man who was once a coward who denied Jesus three times. Scripture, again, is the foundation of Peter's proclamation of truth. What message does the Old Testament book of Joel have for the bewildered crowd?


    The pattern that Peter uses to preach the Gospel here becomes known as the Kerygma.


    1. Public ministry and death of Jesus.
    2. Resurrection gives proof that he was Messiah and the speaker is often a witness to it.
    3. OT text cited as further proof that he was the Messiah.
    4. Call for repentance and faith in Jesus (usually shown through baptism on the spot).

    Acts 2 - for Sun Jan 11-Sun Jan 18

    Acts 2: Receiving the Power
    At my school a group of upperclassmen wanted to communicate the message of Jesus to the incoming class of freshmen. They realized that there was only one source to accomplish this task—the power of the Holy Spirit. So they decided to pray for all the new students by name weeks before they arrived on campus. As a result, many who did not know Jesus when they arrived graduated as maturing Christians.

    Warming Up to God
    The Holy Spirit, although at times we do not sense him, is always there to help us. Let him quiet you now and open your heart to what he wants to tell you about himself.

    Read Acts 2


    Discovering the Word

    • How do the Jews respond to the power of the Spirit which they witness (vv. 5-12)?

    • Here we see Peter as a dynamic leader and preacher. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that has changed this man who was once a coward who denied Jesus three times. Scripture, again, is the foundation of Peter's proclamation of truth. What message does the Old Testament book of Joel have for the bewildered crowd (vv. 17-21)?

    • Describe the fellowship of the believers in this young church (vv. 42-47).
      Applying the Word
      Imagine you were there on the day of Pentecost. What do you think it would have been like for you as one of the crowd looking on?

    • How has your life been affected by the gift of the Holy Spirit?

    • How does the life and purpose of your church or Christian fellowship group compare to that of this group?


    Responding in Prayer
    Ask God to make the power of the Holy Spirit come alive in your life, and pray that God will use you through that power.

    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=144#ixzz3NwVAK3qG

    Acts 1

    Acts 1: You Will Be My Witnesses
    I remember telling a friend, "If I were dying, what I would most need would be confidence that all I had believed about Jesus was true. I would want you to read Scripture to me, pray with me, and talk to me about Jesus and heaven." This confidence is not only what I need most when I am dying, but also when I am living.

    During the days between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus built the confidence of his disciples. He demonstrated and spoke truth about himself. And then he left them with a clearly defined task and the promise of the power to carry out that task. Thus, Luke was able to write with confidence to Theophilus about Jesus.

    Warming Up to God
    Have you had days when you did not feel confident, but fearful? Let God encourage you this day with the power and strength contained in his Word.

    • What do you do and who do you go to when you are desperate or afraid?

    Read Acts 1

    Discovering the Word

    • What did Luke, the author of Acts, report to Theophilus about Jesus' last days on earth (vv. 1-11)?

    • What task are they given in verse 8?

    • Put yourself in the shoes of the apostles. How would you feel if you were the first to be given the task described in verse 8?

    • How are we equipped for this task, according to the passage?

    • How did the disciples respond to all that they had seen and heard (vv. 12-26)?

    • Peter goes to Scripture immediately when he speaks. How do these words of David affect their confidence as well as give them direction (v. 20)?

    Applying the Word

    • When has your faith in Jesus Christ been encouraged by the words of others?

    • How is your hope and confidence in Jesus affected by what you learn about him in the passage?

    • How are you affected when you pray with other believers—especially as you consider your part in God's mission for the church (v. 14)?

    • How would life change if we gathered and "prayed constantly"?

    • Acts serves as a distant mirror. We will see the dynamics of the earliest church, the nature of their fellowship, the intensity of their prayer life, and their out-and-out zeal to declare the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Through this example, our own situation will be called into question. What does it mean to be the church today—and what are we to be doing?

    Responding in Prayer
    Thank God for giving you a task to carry out, and tell him about the fears and joys you feel as his servant.



    Read more: http://www.ivpress.com/bible/study.php?study=143#ixzz3Noo4hyUt

    The ones we can keep straight - Acts edition

    Ananias and Sappira

    Ananias (yup, I spelled his name wrong in the picture, cause that’s how I roll) sells a field, gives some of it to the church, but says he has given all of it. Sapphira (hers too, gotta be thorough) confirms his story. Both die for lying to the Holy Spirit.

    Barnabas

    Barnabas was the encourager (Hence the Kitty poster since drawing an encouraging face is out of the realm of my talents). He was a great supporter of the church both monetarily and spiritually, but is best known for mentoring Paul (and making sure he was accepted in the church).

    Stephen

    Stephen is one of the Hellenistic (Greek) community of Jews appointed (along with 6 others) to ensure that the widows in his community weren’t overlooked or underfed. But he showed himself to be so much more with an articulate defense of the faith before the Sanhedrin and an incredibly poised death when he became the first Christian martyr since the cross.

    The Sanhedrin

    The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jewish Nation. It was made up of Sadducees (A terrible Spelling tri-fecta for the win!!) and Pharisees, though not in equal parts. The aristocratic and practical Sadducees were very interested in maintaining the status quo and their political power. They usually favored cooperating with Rome so as not to lose what autonomy they had left. The Pharisees were a smaller group, but more in touch with the general populace, so they held greater sway that their smaller numbers and somewhat less wealthy lifestyle would indicate. They were very pious and meticulously followed rules that had been developed over centuries as an interpretation of the Levitical Laws. They accepted all of what we know as the Old Testament whereas the Sadducees only embraced the Torah (1st 5 books) and didn’t believe in the resurrection. My dad says that they way to remember this is that the Sadducees didn’t believe in eternal life and that’s what made them “sad-you-see” (cue the groan).

    Annas and Caiaphas

    Caiaphas was head of the Sanhedrin and Annas was his father in law and the former head of the Sanhedrin (one can only imagine the family dinners). They played a part in the crucifixion and sought to silence the young church from discussing it through intimidation persecution and worse.

    Gamaliel

    Gamaliel was a pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. His student at one time was Paul, but he is most famous for his speech to the Sanhedrin where he warns them that it is possible that Peter and the other apostles might not be just another insurrection and that in that case by trying to silence Peter, "you will only find yourselves fighting against God"

    Antioch

    ntioch on the Orontes was an ancient Greekcity[1] on the eastern side of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city ofAntakya, Turkey, and lends the modern city its name (/ˈæntiˌɒk/; Greek: Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ, "Antioch on Daphne"; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ Μεγάλη, "Antioch the Great"; Armenian: Անտիոք Antiok; Turkish:Antakya; Arabic: انطاكية, Anṭākiya; Persian: انطاکیه‎;Syriac: ܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ Anṭiokia; Hebrew: אנטיוכיה,Antiyokhya; Georgian: ანტიოქია Ant'iokia;Latin: Antiochia ad Orontem; also Syrian Antioch).

    Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch's geographic, military and economic location, particularly the spice trade, the Silk Road, the Persian Royal Road, benefited its occupants, and eventually it rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East and as the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of theSecond Temple period.

    As a result of its longevity and the pivotal role it played in the emergence of both Hellenistic Judaism and Early Christianity, Antioch was called "the cradle of Christianity."[2] It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. Its residents were known as Antiochenes. Once a great metropolis of half a million people, it declined to insignificance during the Middle Ages because of warfare, repeated earthquakes and a change in trade routes, which no longer passed through Antioch from the far east, following the Mongol conquests

    Ephesus (From Wikipedia) - An important and wealthy port city.

    Ephesus (/ˈɛfəsəs/;[1] Greek: Ἔφεσος Ephesos; Turkish: Efes; ultimately from Hittite Apasa) was an ancient Greek city[2][3] on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital[4][5] by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. According to estimates, Ephesus had a population of 33,600 to 56,000 people in the Roman period, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia Minor after Sardis and Alexandria Troas.[6]

    The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In 268 AD, the Temple was destroyed or damaged in a raid by the Goths.[7] It may have been rebuilt or repaired but this is uncertain, as its later history is not clear.[8] Emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths. Following the Edict of Thessalonica from Emperor Theodosius I, what remained of the temple was destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom.[9] The town was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD. The city's importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Küçükmenderes River.

    Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation.[10] The Gospel of John may have been written here.[11] The city was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils (see Council of Ephesus). It is also the site of a large gladiators' graveyard. The ruins of Ephesus are a favourite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport.