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Sabbath Bible Lessons

The Life of Paul

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Lesson 5 Sabbath, August 3, 2013

Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens

“As we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

“The messengers of Christ must arm themselves with watchfulness and prayer, and move forward with faith, firmness, and courage, and, in the name of Jesus, keep at their work as did the apostles. They must sound the note of warning to the world, teaching the transgressors of the law what sin is, and pointing them to Jesus Christ as its great and only remedy.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 86.

Suggested Reading:   The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 228-242

Sunday July 28

1. TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES

a. What victories for Christ were achieved through Paul upon his first arrival in Thessalonica, another Macedonian city? Acts 17:1–4.

b. What should we learn from the way some unbelieving Jews made trouble for the believers? What accusation was brought against the apostles? Acts 17:5–8; 1 Peter 4:12–16.

“Those who preach unpopular truth in our day meet with determined resistance, as did the apostles. They need expect no more favorable reception from a large majority of professed Christians than did Paul from his Jewish brethren. There will be a union of opposing elements against them; for however diverse from each other different organizations may be in their sentiments and religious faith, their forces are united in trampling under foot the fourth commandment in the law of God.

“Those who will not themselves accept the truth are most zealous that others shall not receive it; and those are not wanting who perseveringly manufacture falsehoods, and stir up the base passions of the people to make the truth of God of none effect.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 86.


Monday July 29

2. THE NOBLE BEREANS

a. Despite the false claims against him, how did Paul describe his actual manner of preaching the gospel in Thessalonica? 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8. Why could his time in that city be considered a success? 1 Thessalonians 1:5–10.

“Paul was an Adventist; he presented the important event of the second coming of Christ with such power and reasoning that a deep impression, which never wore away, was made upon the minds of the Thessalonians.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 83.

b. What observation was made about the Jews in Berea, the city to which the brethren sent Paul and Silas away by night? How can the Bereans be an inspiration to us today? Acts 17:10–12.

“The minds of the Bereans were not narrowed by prejudice, and they were willing to investigate and receive the truths preached by the apostles. If the people of our time would follow the example of the noble Bereans, in searching the Scriptures daily, and in comparing the messages brought to them with what is there recorded, there would be thousands loyal to God’s law where there is one today.”—Ibid., p.88.

“Like the noble Bereans, we should search the Scriptures carefully, prayerfully, to become acquainted with the utterances of God. We should inquire, not what the minister, the church, or some personal friend may say, but what the Lord says.”—The Signs of the Times, November 26, 1885.

c. Hearing that many of the Jews of Berea were deeply impressed by the truth, what action did the unbelieving Jews of Thessalonica take? Acts 17:13.

“The unbelieving Jews of Thessalonica, filled with jealousy and hatred of the apostles, and not content with having driven them from their labors among the Thessalonians, followed them to Berea and again stirred up the excitable passions of the lower class to do them violence. The teachers of the truth were again driven from their field of labor. Persecution followed them from city to city.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 88.


Tuesday July 30

3. INTO THE REGION OF ACHAIA

a. Because of the persecution in Thessalonica, what did the brethren decide to do with Paul? Acts 17:14, 15.

“The faithful apostle steadily pressed on through opposition, conflict, and persecution, to carry out the purpose of God as revealed to him in the vision at Jerusalem: ‘I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles’ (Acts 22:21).”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, pp. 88, 89.

b. How did Paul feel, waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens? Acts 17:16.

“The city of Athens was the metropolis of heathendom. Paul did not here meet with an ignorant, credulous populace, as at Lystra; but he encountered a people famous for their intelligence and education. . . .

“As Paul looked upon the beauty and grandeur surrounding him, and saw the city crowded with idols, his spirit was stirred with jealousy for God, whom he saw dishonored on every side.

“His heart was drawn out in deep pity for the citizens of that grand metropolis, who, notwithstanding their intellectual greatness, were given to idolatry. . . .

“As he saw the magnificence of the city, with its costly devices, he realized its seductive power over the minds of the lovers of art and science. His mind was deeply impressed with the importance of the work before him in Athens. His solitude in that great city where God was not worshiped was oppressive; and he longed for the sympathy and aid of his fellow laborers. As far as human fellowship was concerned, he felt himself to be utterly isolated. In his Epistle to the Thessalonians he expresses his feelings in these words: ‘Left at Athens alone’ (1 Thessalonians 3:1).

“Paul’s work was to bear the tidings of salvation to a people who had no intelligent understanding of God and His plans. He was not traveling for the purpose of sightseeing, nor to gratify a morbid desire for new and strange scenes. His dejection of mind was caused by the apparently insurmountable obstacles which presented themselves against his reaching the minds of the people of Athens.”—Ibid., pp.89, 90.

c. What challenge did Paul face before these highly philosophical Greeks? 1 Corinthians 1:22.


Wednesday July 31

4. LOGIC AND REASONING

a. Why was Paul a source of curiosity in Athens? Acts 17:17–21.

“Some who prided themselves upon the extent of their intellectual culture entered into conversation with him. This soon drew a crowd of listeners about them. Some were prepared to ridicule the apostle as one far beneath them, socially and intellectually. . . .

“The Stoics and the Epicureans encountered him; but they, and all others who came in contact with him, soon saw that he had a store of knowledge even greater than their own.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, pp. 91, 92.

b. What reasoning did Paul use in his appeal? Acts 17:22–31.

“Inspiration has given us this glance at the life of the Athenians, with all their knowledge, refinement, and art, yet sunken in vice, that it might be seen how God, through His servant, rebuked idolatry, and the sins of a proud, self-sufficient people. The words of Paul become a memorial of the occasion, and give a treasure of knowledge to the church. He was in a position where he might easily have spoken that which would irritate his proud listeners and bring himself into difficulty. Had his oration been a direct attack upon their gods and the great men of the city who were before him, he would have been in danger of meeting the fate of Socrates. But he carefully drew their minds away from heathen deities, by revealing to them the true God, whom they were endeavoring to worship, but who was to them unknown, as they themselves confessed by a public inscription.”—Ibid., p.97.

c. Describe the response of nearly all the hearers, and the result. Acts 17:32, 33. Who were two of the exceptions named? Acts 17:34.


Thursday August 1

5. SHUNNING INTELLECTUAL VANITY

a. Why couldn’t the Athenians understand Paul? 1 Corinthians 2:12–14. What principle did Jesus explain in this regard? John 7:17.

b. As ancient Greek values and philosophies still permeate today’s social and educational systems, what must we keep in mind? 1 Corinthians 3:18–20; 8:1; Jeremiah 9:23, 24.

“Christian knowledge bears its own stamp of unmeasured superiority in all that concerns the preparation for the future, immortal life. It distinguishes the Bible reader and believer, who has been receiving the precious treasures of truth, from the skeptic and the believer in pagan philosophy.

“Cleave to the word, ‘It is written.’ Cast out of the mind the dangerous, obtrusive theories which, if entertained, will hold the mind in bondage, so that man shall not become a new creature in Christ. The mind must be constantly restrained and guarded. It must be given as food only that which will strengthen the religious experience.”—The Review and Herald, November 10, 1904.

“Study not the philosophy of man’s conjectures, but study the philosophy of Him who is truth. Other literature is of little value when compared with this.

“The mind that is earthly finds no pleasure in contemplating the Word of God; but for the mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, divine beauty and celestial light shine from the sacred page. That which is to the earthly mind a desolate wilderness, to the spiritual mind becomes a land of living streams.”—The Signs of the Times, October 10, 1906.


Friday August 2

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1. What sad result must be expected by all who proclaim unpopular truth?

2. How are the noble Bereans to be an example for us today?

3. In what ways are the ideologies of Athens repeated in our time?

4. Explain the caution of Paul while addressing the Athenian idolaters.

5. What is to be our safeguard in today’s era when paganism is so rampant?

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