God’s Message goes to All Nations

Unit 5

The Second *Missionary Journey Acts 15-18 (AD 49-52)

An EasyEnglish Study Unit (2800 word vocabulary) on the New Testament from Acts to Revelation


G. Barrie Wetherill and M. P. H. Stear

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

This commentary has yet to go through Advanced Theological Checking.


1. Paul and Barnabas disagree

The discussions about *circumcision and about *Gentiles in the church took a long time. The result was the meeting in Acts 15. Paul had established churches. Now he was now eager to go back to them. He wanted them to know more about Christ. He wanted them to tell other people, and to spread the *gospel in their areas.

Barnabas wanted this too. However, he wanted to take John Mark again. John Mark had left them on their first journey. Paul and Barnabas disagreed about this. Neither of them would change his opinion. The Bible is honest about its heroes. It tells us the truth about this argument. When they had to decide about *Gentiles in the church, there was agreement. When Paul and Barnabas had to decide about John Mark, there was no agreement. These people were men – not *angels. But the *Lord was good to them. He continued to use all three men.

Maybe it was wrong for John Mark to be with Paul again so soon. Paul was about to begin a journey, which became very difficult. Perhaps John Mark needed to be more mature first. Later, Paul was glad to have John Mark with him, (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 23; 2 Timothy 4:11). Barnabas took John Mark with him. They went to Cyprus. We do not know any more about Barnabas. There is a strong tradition that later Barnabas was a *martyr there.

Paul took Silas with him. Silas came from the Jerusalem church. This might have been useful to Paul when he had to mention the Acts 15 decision. Certainly, it seems that Silas wanted to spread the *gospel far and wide. The result of the disagreement was that there were two groups of *missionaries instead of one.

2. Paul and Timothy

Paul and Silas set off on the *Roman roads. They went through Tarsus to Derbe, Lystra and Antioch (in Pisidia). These were towns where Paul and Barnabas had established churches. Paul and Silas encouraged the Christians in these churches. Every day more people became Christians (Acts 16:5). Every day the churches grew. This *gospel was powerful. People opposed it, but still it spread. In fact, it spread because people opposed it! Read Acts. We learn that this is true. It is true also when we read church history. The more that men oppose the church, the more the church grows.

Acts 8:1, 4 ‘On that day men began to oppose the church at Jerusalem. All except the *apostles scattered through Judea and Samaria. Those who scattered *preached about Jesus wherever they went.’

Acts 11:19-21 ‘Now some people scattered because of *persecution after the death of Stephen. They travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. They told the message about Jesus only to *Jews. However, some men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch. There they began to speak to Greeks also. They told them the good news about the *Lord Jesus. God helped them. Many people became Christians.’

At Derbe, Paul met Timothy. Timothy must have become a Christian when Paul visited there before, (1 Timothy 1:2). It seems that Timothy was a very clever man. He was partly *Jewish, but had not had *circumcision. Paul used Timothy as a leader. He *circumcised him. He did not want to offend the *Jewish Christians there. This did not affect the decision in Acts 15.

Paul used Timothy in many places. Six of Paul’s letters mention Timothy in the greeting at the beginning. Paul wrote two letters to Timothy. When Paul was in prison for the second time, he was lonely. He sent for Timothy. Timothy was probably with Paul when Paul died, (2 Timothy 4:9-21).

When he *circumcised Timothy, Paul showed his determination. He believed that this was the right thing to do. But Paul also knew when it was right to give in. Sometimes he did this, to help the spread of the *gospel. (Perhaps there is a lesson there which some of us need to learn!)

Paul also knew how to involve other people in the work. He did not do it all himself. Perhaps this was a lesson that he had learned from Barnabas. In Paul’s early days as a Christian, Barnabas took him to Antioch to help in the work there.

Acts 11:25, 26 ‘Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So, for a whole year, Barnabas and Saul met with the church. They taught great numbers of people. The *disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.’

The final parts of Paul’s letters are important. They tell us about the great number of people that Paul involved in the work. They helped to spread the *gospel and to teach *converts. He did all that he could. He visited people and he wrote to them. He sent Timothy and Titus on *missions. In this way, Paul trained other people to continue the work.

The three men set out. Paul clearly knew where he wanted to go. His plan was a good one. He wanted to visit the main towns on the *Roman roads, and tell them the *gospel. But on this journey, he could not do what he wanted to do. Paul wanted to go to Asia, or to Bithynia, but he could not. This was a puzzle for him. He could not understand it. (Later he went there.) He reached Troas. Troas is about 300 miles from the Pisidian Antioch. It is in the west part of modern Turkey. We might think that Paul had wasted his time on the long journey. In fact, the *Holy Spirit controlled Paul. He had many difficulties. People disappointed him. At Troas, he understood why. God gave him a *vision. He told Paul to go over to Europe and tell the people there about the *gospel. This was very important for the spread of the *gospel.

There is another interesting detail about this journey. When Luke writes in Acts, he starts to use the word ‘we’ here in 16:10. He tells us more details about the journey. Luke was a doctor. He was probably at Troas when Paul arrived there. Luke was another man whom Paul chose to work with him. Now another man had the *vision to spread the *gospel. Luke does not mention that he had joined the group with Paul. But he also was very useful to Paul.

3. Paul in Europe

The three men left Troas immediately. They crossed the sea to Greece. They travelled to the most important town, which was Philippi. This was also a town where the *Romans were. There was no *synagogue at Philippi, so there were probably not many *Jews there. The *Jews met instead at a place by the river. Sometimes *Jews had to wash, as part of their *worship. The river would be useful to them for this.

A woman who was called Lydia had a business there. She was from Thyatira in Turkey, but she had a house in Philippi. She heard the message about the *gospel. Clearly, she was not a poor woman. She offered Paul her house for the work of the *gospel.

Paul and his companions continued to go to the place by the river, where people prayed. A slave girl interrupted Paul. She had an evil *spirit inside her. The text in Acts calls it the *spirit of python. Python is a name for a snake. Long ago, people thought that the python guarded the *temple of the *god Apollo. The girl followed Paul. She cried out that Paul and his companions were servants of God. She said that they told the truth.

Paul did not immediately do anything about this *spirit. Clearly, the girl’s shouts began to interrupt him. It was difficult for him to *preach the *gospel. We should not copy everything that Paul did. He dealt with this problem in public. This is not necessary every time that there is *spiritual *opposition. Paul had wisdom. He knew that he should wait for a little time. Then he would deal with the *spirit. He expected that there would be trouble. It would be difficult to continue with the work of the *gospel. Many people would be angry. Perhaps he worried that people would think wrong things about the *gospel. They might link the *gospel with the *god Apollo. (This upset Paul. Compare Acts 17:16. The Bible says that Paul was upset in his *spirit. Jesus was upset at the grave of Lazarus. The Bible uses the same Greek word in both places.) Paul ordered the evil *spirit to go away. He used the name of Jesus when he did this. This gave him the authority of Jesus. The result was immediate. There was no argument. There was no struggle. Everybody saw that Jesus has authority. Clearly, he has authority over other ‘gods’. The church today needs to have the same wisdom and authority over evil.

After this, the girl was no longer able to tell the future. Those people who owned the girl were angry. She had earned money for them. Now they would not have this money. (They were angry that Paul had cured her!) They gathered together a crowd of very angry men. The crowd attacked Paul and Silas. They pulled off their clothes. They hit them with sticks and put them in prison. The *jailer fastened their arms and legs to stocks. Stocks were made out of wood, and were very strong. *Jailers tied *prisoners to stocks as a punishment. Paul and Silas would have suffered much pain.

The girl had an evil *spirit, but she told the truth. It is important for us to notice this. She spoke the truth, although it upset some people. She also must have been able to tell the future. That is why people went to her. We can learn something from this. Not all events that seem to be *miracles are from God! Not all people who seem to be true witnesses are from God! The *devil’s first plan was to use the girl. Paul knew what the *devil wanted to do. As a result, the *devil’s second plan was to use force. That was why there was an angry crowd.

You might think that Paul and Silas would be very sad. They had suffered so much. Instead, they continued to praise God, even in prison. The *Lord was with them. He helped them when they suffered. Even in prison, they were winners. They did not pray that God would free them. They praised God. The *jailer, who made them suffer, slept!

At midnight, there was an *earthquake and the whole earth shook. The prison doors opened, and the *prisoners were free. However, Paul and Silas did not try to escape. The *jailer was going to kill himself. He thought that he had lost his *prisoners. The behaviour of Paul and Silas surprised him very much. He understood that they were different from other people. He asked them what he should do. He wanted to be like them. The *jailer then trusted in Christ and became a Christian. He took care of Paul and Silas.

The *jailer’s question is one of the most important questions in the Bible. It is still one of the most important questions. People today ask the question. The *jailer clearly knew that he needed to change. It was more than the fear of the *earthquake. It was more than surprise that his *prisoners had not run away. Paul’s answer to his question was short and very clear. The same Jesus who had helped the slave girl would help him. This was a powerful message. Society at that time had people from many nations and people with many beliefs. All through history, the church has tried to be true to the message of the *gospel. People have wanted the church to change the message. They want an easier message. This is still true in countries like Britain.

The next day, the town officials ordered the *jailer to free Paul and Silas. They wanted them to leave the town. Paul refused to go. (Sometimes Paul claimed his rights. Sometimes he did not.) The town officials had done wrong. They had not gone to a court. They had not asked if they could hit Paul and Silas. It was a crime to hit *Roman citizens like this.

Paul demanded that the officials themselves come to him. He wanted them to apologise. Then the officials would have to be good to the local Christians. Probably they would not give them any more troubles. Paul was a *Roman citizen. So, if Paul complained about the officials, that would be bad for them. Perhaps Philippi would no longer be a *Roman *colony.

Here at Philippi, a church began - in Europe. This church would be the one that Paul cared for most. Many times, they sent gifts to him, (Philippians 4:14-16). Paul’s letter to the Philippians shows that he loved them. He writes to them with more love than he does to other churches.

Christ told his *disciples to spread the *gospel. He did not promise that it would be easy. But he did promise to be with them. He would lead them and guide them. And the *Lord helped many people to believe and trust in him. The Bible tells us clearly that as Christians we are in a battle. The devil will fight hard. But with Christ, we will defeat him.

Luke remained at Philippi. When Paul came back to Philippi, Luke worked with him again (20:5). Luke would have been able to encourage the church at Philippi. He would help them to be strong. (If Paul had remained, there would have been trouble.)

4. Thessalonica and Berea

Paul and Silas continued to travel. They went to less important cities. They also went to Thessalonica, which is about 100 miles from Philippi. Thessalonica was one of the chief cities in Macedonia. Many people would know about a church there. Paul earned money there. He made tents, as he had done before (1 Thessalonians 2:9). He had time also to spread the *gospel. He began to *preach in the *synagogue, as he always did. He proved from the *scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Many people believed him. Many *Gentiles who believed in God believed him, both men and women. They started a church. They probably met together in the house of Jason. He was a local man who now believed in Jesus.

Other *Jews were jealous. They opposed the *gospel very much. They decided to fight it. They gathered together a crowd of angry men. Paul’s enemies always did this now. They searched for Paul, and could not find him. They took Jason instead of Paul. The Christians helped Paul and Silas to escape. They went on to the next town, which was Berea.

After men hear the *gospel, they often disagree very much. A person who becomes a Christian must *repent of *sin. This is not always easy to do. Some people understand the message, but they will not trust Christ. These people often oppose the *gospel most. When Jesus spoke, people often disagreed like this. (If everyone approves of what we *preach, perhaps we need to examine our message!)

Paul had to leave Thessalonica. He did not have time to teach as much as he usually did. He quickly wrote a letter to the church. He wanted to help them with their problems.

At Berea, Paul and Silas had quite a different experience. These *Jews really respected the Word of God. They studied the *Scriptures daily. They wanted to be sure about Paul’s message. This would make their belief strong for *persecution. *Persecution was sure to come.

The *Jews at Thessalonica heard about the new church at Berea. They sent their crowd of angry men there. They said that Paul *preached about another king, who was not Caesar. He *preached that Jesus was king. (The *Romans had also accused Jesus of this. He had said that he was a king.) This was a clever thing to say. It could be dangerous. It is a surprise that the *Jews from Thessalonica became so loyal to Caesar! Of course, this suited them now!

The *disciples at Berea quickly sent Paul to the coast. Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. The church at Thessalonica was strong for the *gospel, even when they suffered. These words from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians tell us that.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-8 For we know, brothers, that God loves you. He has chosen you. Our *gospel came to you not only with words. It came with power. It came with the *Holy Spirit and with much truth. You know how we lived among you, because of you. You copied us and you copied the *Lord. You suffered much, but you were glad to hear the message. The Holy Spirit gave you joy. And so you became a model to all who believed, in Macedonia and Achaia. You spread the *Lord’s message everywhere, not only in Macedonia and Achaia. Everyone, everywhere, knows about your *faith in God.

The *gospel can give joy and power. Even when we suffer, it can help us to win.

5. Athens

Paul arrived in Athens alone. He left Luke at Thessalonica, and he left Silas and Timothy at Berea. Athens was a very important city. It was the city where men came together to study and to discuss. But they often spoke about old philosophies. These philosophies were now out of date. Athens had many *temples and *shrines. Men had *worshipped many false *gods there in the past. Athens still had magnificent buildings. Many people came to admire those buildings.

In Athens, Paul was sad because so many people still *worshipped false *gods. The Bible uses a very strong word in the original language to tell us that Paul was sad. The Bible uses similar words to tell about Jesus at the grave of Lazarus. (Athens shows us something that is important. If we try to reach God only through our minds, we fail. We can only know God when he shows himself to us.)

Paul had not had a plan to go to Athens. There were not many *Jews there, but Paul talked to some *Jews. He also discussed with men who studied philosophy. He spoke with them in public. He spoke about Jesus and the *resurrection. Some people mistook this. The Greek word for ‘*resurrection’ is a woman’s name. Some people then thought that Paul was *preaching about two *gods. The name of one *god was Jesus and the name of the other *god was Anastasis. They thought that Anastasis was Jesus’ wife. Paul had to correct this. Some people did listen to him. They took Paul to the Areopagus. Only wealthy and clever men could meet together there.

It was difficult for Paul to give the message about Jesus here. The people did not know *scripture. Paul could not use *scripture to show that Jesus was the Christ from the *Old Testament. He had to start with what they did know. So Paul referred to an *altar there. The *altar was in honour of a god that the people did not know. Paul said that they could know the real god. This is the God who made the world. The real God is *Lord. He does not need *temples. Men cannot buy him with gifts on an *altar. An *idol cannot show what God is like. It is foolish to *worship *idols. God created men, and men need God.

Paul was very clever. He spoke about some of the Greek writers, and used some of their words. First, he showed that God is over all, but he is not far away. Therefore, men can know God. Then he showed them that their own ideas were wrong. If God made us, we are his children. It is not sensible to make *idols. It is foolish to *worship *idols (Acts 17:27-29). One day all men will see God. We are sure about this. Jesus died but then he became alive. That is the proof.

There were few results from Paul’s visit to Athens. However, one of the men at the Areopagus, whose name was Dionysius, became a Christian. That was important. But Athens now had the *gospel. A small church began. We know from church history that the church at Athens was soon to provide a number of *bishops and *martyrs.

Paul’s *ministry in Athens can make us ask questions. We want to know how to decide about the success or failure of a *ministry. If we think only about numbers, then Paul’s *ministry was not very successful. But Jesus did not think that numbers were the way to decide. It is also interesting for us to notice this. Paul listened to God. He knew when God guided him to leave a place. Many people in his audience only wanted to discuss words and ideas. When Paul realised that, he left Athens. He was there to see people come to *faith in Christ. He was not there only to discuss words.

Luke mentions that the people in Athens liked to play with new ideas. They did not want to change the way that they lived, (17:21). *Opposition did not upset Paul. He went back again, and again. But when people only pretended to be interested, Paul left them. But the *gospel was there. There would be results. Paul did not know how much he had achieved.

Paul had told Silas and Timothy to work with him. They met him at Athens. However, Paul worried very much about the new Christians at Thessalonica and in Macedonia. He sent Silas and Timothy north again. Timothy went to Thessalonica and Silas probably went to Philippi. By the time they returned, Paul had moved on to Corinth.

6. Corinth

When Paul arrived at Corinth, he was very sad (1 Corinthians 2:3). The people in Thessalonica had forced him to leave. He had escaped from Berea. There had been not much to encourage him at Athens. Men had forced him to leave new Christians. There would be *opposition and *persecution for the new Christians. Paul’s companions had not yet arrived. Corinth was on the coast, and had a port. It was a very important city. It was like many major cities today. There were people of many *faiths and people from many countries who lived there. Also, as in many modern cities, many people did not live good, moral lives. Because Corinth is so like a modern city, we can learn from Paul’s time there. We can learn from his letters to the church there. His letters can teach us, who live in the early part of the 21st century, important truths.

Paul chose to work from Corinth. It was a city with about one million people. Men had ruined the city. For 100 years, it remained a broken city. Then they built it again, in BC 46. It was an important place for business. Many people travelled through Corinth. This was a very good place to tell people about Jesus.

Paul continued to make tents. He worked with two other people who made tents. They were a husband and wife whose names were Aquila and Priscilla. They were *Jews. The *Emperor Claudius had forced them to leave Rome. Silas and Timothy came to work with Paul again. They brought news and gifts, probably from Philippi. Paul was able to stop work. He could *preach all the time (2 Corinthians 11:7, 8; 12:13; Philippians 4:15.)

Paul talked to *Jews in the *synagogue. Some of them became Christians. The *synagogue ruler and everybody in his house became Christians. But there were *Jews who opposed Paul very much. Paul left the *synagogue and met people in another house, near the *synagogue. This was a very important act by Paul. He did not only avoid problems (Acts 18:6). His actions and his words showed the *Jews something. They had heard the Good News about Jesus. They had had time to believe in Jesus. Look at what Jesus said to the *apostles in Matthew 10:14, 15. ‘If anyone will not listen to your words, leave them. Shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth. It will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of *judgement than for that town.’

The *Jews in Corinth had refused to listen to the *gospel, time after time. Now they opposed Paul and said bad things about him. They therefore would be responsible for themselves at the *judgement before God. Paul did not want them to hold up his work. He did not want to waste time with them. When you tell people the good news about Jesus, this is very difficult. You want to ask questions. How do you decide that it is time to leave? When is it wrong to continue to work with a person or group? When is it a waste of time? Paul must have been very sad about this. In fact, he was afraid. The *Lord came to Paul in a *vision. He spoke about Paul’s fears. He promised Paul that many people in the city would believe.

Paul stayed on in Corinth for 18 months. He *preached and taught people about Jesus. Many people in Corinth became Christians. However, the church there gave Paul many problems. He would have to go back to Corinth several times. The Bible is completely true. We can trust it. It is honest about some of its most important people. It shows their strengths. It shows their failures as well as their successes. Paul himself wrote to the Corinthians and spoke about ‘fights on the outside, fears on the inside’ (2 Corinthians 7:5).

While at Corinth, the *Jews took Paul to the *Proconsul Gallio, who was a *Roman official. They said that Paul did not respect their law about *worship of God. *Jews did not have to obey certain *Roman laws. They did not have to *worship the *Emperor. They did not have to work on the sabbath. (The sabbath is the seventh day of the week.) They did not have to be in the army. People thought that Christians were like *Jews. Therefore, Christians did not have to obey some of the *Roman laws.

The *Jews came to Gallio and complained about Paul and the law about *worship. Gallio sent them away. He refused to talk about these *Jewish laws. This result protected the Christians. They could have used it as a *judgement in law in the future. Gallio’s decision could have been against Paul. Then men might have used the law against Paul in every city he went to. We can notice that Paul left Corinth near the end of Gallio’s time there. Perhaps Paul wanted to avoid another attack in law before a new *proconsul.

7. Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians

Silas and Timothy seem to have met Paul again when he was at Corinth. They brought him news. The Thessalonian church was doing well, (see 1 Thessalonians 1:4-8, mentioned above). The news made Paul very happy. But the people in Thessalonica really did want to see Paul again. It was a surprise to them that he had not yet returned. In fact, Paul had tried to return. He could not. This is why he had sent Timothy, (1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5). Also, some people had said that Paul had *preached with wrong purposes. He had to deal with other problems too. Paul therefore wrote a letter. In our Bible, it is 1 Thessalonians. He deals with the subjects that Timothy had told him about.

(a) He spoke about his work and his purposes (1 Thessalonians 2:1-9).

(b) He warned them about the way that they lived. They must be moral in their sex lives. They must love one another in the church. Their lives should be good. Other people should admire how the Christians lived (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12).

(c) Paul had taught the Thessalonians about the *Second Coming. He had not been able to say everything about this. Usually he taught his churches more about it. Now he had to write about this (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11).

But Paul praises God for what God has done. Paul prayed ‘night and day’ for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:10). He asked to be able to help them.

Clearly, a reply from the Thessalonian church came back to Paul while he was still at Corinth. (He stayed there for 18 months.) Paul replied to their letter. He wrote the second letter to the Thessalonians. The *persecution at Thessalonica had become worse. The Christians could not understand why there was this *persecution. Also, false teachers had come in. They had a letter. And they pretended that it was from Paul. The letter said that the ‘Day of the *Lord’ had already happened. Paul had told them about the ‘Day of the *Lord.’ The ‘Day of the *Lord’ in the Bible refers to a time when Jesus comes again. He will defeat evil people. He will be their judge (2 Thessalonians 1:9, 10). Those who love the *Lord will be with him for ever, (2 Thessalonians 2:1-11).

The devil could not hurt the church by force. Now he tried to hurt them by false teachers. Paul explains the ‘Day of the *Lord’ very clearly. It will not come until after there is an evil ruler. This ruler will say that he is better than any *god. When Jesus comes again, he will defeat this evil ruler and all his friends (2 Thessalonians 2:8). When Paul says this, he encourages the Christians to be firm. He says that this evil ruler is a man without law. He will oppose every kind of law. He will oppose the moral law, and the laws of a country. He will oppose all *spiritual laws. He will oppose God. We do not know who this ruler is. There have been men like this since the days of Daniel. Many people have tried to discover whom Paul speaks about. We should not waste a lot of time and energy on such an exercise. This is what is important. Paul says that there will be a person of great evil. This person will oppose God. He will be far worse that anyone else in history. He will come immediately before Christ’s return.

All this shows us that Paul is a *pastor. He cares very much for his *converts. He will do anything for them. He helps them as much as he can. He writes letters to them. He visits them. He sends his friends to help them. Most important are his prayers. His prayer for them is constant, ‘night and day’. He praises God for what has happened. He asks God for *grace and strength for the Christians.

8. The return

At last, Paul left to go back to his home church. He went to Ephesus for a short visit on the way. He left Aquila and Priscilla there, and he promised to return. Paul travelled by ship to Caesarea. Paul then went to Jerusalem for a short visit. From there, he returned to Antioch.

This was a wonderful journey. God guided Paul, sometimes by Paul’s clever plans and sometimes by the *Holy Spirit. For most of the time, Paul had a plan. He wanted to go to the cities on the main *Roman roads and tell them about Jesus. Sometimes the *Holy Spirit made him change his plan. Paul listened always to the *Holy Spirit. But on the long journey through Turkey to Troas, Paul was not sure where God wanted him to go. Once God guided him by a *vision. Once, Paul needed God to encourage him. He needed special strength. Paul knew that he had to suffer sometimes. This was part of God’s plan. He was able to praise God while in great pain and in prison. After all, he was a leader in a great *spiritual battle. (The devil does not attack those who are doing nothing!) Paul’s message was powerful. People admired his *faith. They wanted to copy him. He had helped Churches in Galatia to be strong. They were growing in number. He had started churches in several important European cities. Some were ports from which ships would travel the world. The churches were being strong when there was *persecution. We do not wonder that Paul was able to say later:

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the *gospel. It is the power of God for the *salvation of everyone who believes. It is first for the *Jew, then for the *Gentile.

G. Barrie Wetherill

Michael P.H. Stear

Feb 2002


Acts does not give a full account of the journeys. We have to read 1 and 2 Thessalonians as well. Also, for the third *missionary journey, we need to read 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians 2, with Acts. Luke did not try to give a full account of the *apostles’ journeys and work. He wanted to show how God, by his *Holy Spirit, directed the growth of the church.

Word List

altar ~ a special table, on which people put gifts for God, or for a false god.

angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages to men.

apostle ~ one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to be his helpers. He chose them to teach other people about him. Christians call Paul an apostle.

being ~ a person or animal that is alive.

bishop ~ a special kind of church leader.

circumcise ~ to give a person circumcision (see below).

circumcision ~ loose skin is cut off from the end of the sex part of a boy or man; an *Old Testament act that showed that the person agreed to keep God’s laws.

colony ~ a country, or part of a country that another country rules over.

converts ~ people who have changed from one belief to another; people who have become Christians.

Devil ~ another name for Satan, the evil *being who opposes God.

disciple ~ a person who believes in Jesus and obeys him.

earthquake ~ when the ground shakes.

emperor ~ a very important king, who rules over many lands.

faith ~ belief and confidence in someone or something; trust in God and his Bible.

Gentiles ~ people who are not *Jews; people who do not know God.

god ~ an *idol; a false god, whom people *worship instead of the real God.

gospel ~ the good news for everybody that God separates people from *sin.

grace ~ a gift of God that we do not deserve and cannot earn; his help and protection.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit, whom Jesus sends to help people.

idol ~ an image of a false god; an object made out of wood, stone or metal for people to *worship, instead of the true God.

jailer ~ the person who looks after people who are in prison.

Jew ~ a person of the same big family and country as Jesus.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

judgement ~ the decision about whether something or someone is good or bad. The day of judgement is the time when God will judge the people in his world.

Lord ~ another name for Jesus, which tells us that he rules.

martyr ~ a person whom enemies kill, because of his *faith.

ministry ~ the work of a person who tells other people about Jesus.

miracles ~ wonderful events that show that God is at work.

mission ~ the work in which Christians tell people the news about Jesus.

missionary ~ a person who goes to another country to tell people about Jesus.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.

opposition ~ the actions of people who want to stop someone doing what he does.

pastor ~ a shepherd. Often a minister of a church is called a pastor. He looks after his people as a shepherd looks after his sheep.

persecution ~ very strong *opposition to someone, because of what he believes. It sometimes means that people hurt the person. Or they put him in prison.

preach ~ tell and explain the good news about Jesus to someone, or to a group of people.

prisoner ~ a person who is in prison.

proconsul ~ a *Roman official, who looked after the business of a city.

repent ~ when you are sorry that you have done wrong things. And you decide not to do them again, to please God.

resurrection ~ a return to life, after death.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the rulers at that time. That which belonged to Rome was Roman.

salvation ~ when God separates us from the results of our wrong beliefs and actions.

Satan ~ the evil *being who opposes God.

Scriptures ~ another name for the Bible.

Second Coming ~ the time when Jesus will come back to the world, as he has promised.

shrine ~ a special place, set aside for men to *worship at.

sin ~ when people do not do what God wants; wrong things that we do or say.

spirit ~ the part of us that lives when our body dies. A *being that is always alive, even without a body; the part of a person that will always be alive, even after their body is dead. There are good spirits, like God’s Spirit and his *angels. And there are bad spirits, like *Satan and his *angels.

spiritual ~ alive, but not seen. Spiritual things belong to the spirit (the part of a person which is alive, and which we cannot see).

synagogue ~ the place or building where *Jews meet together for prayer, to study the *Scriptures, and to attend other meetings.

Temple ~ the special building in Jerusalem where the *Jews went to *worship God.

vision ~ dream, sometimes a dream that comes to a person who is awake; something that a person very much wants to happen.

worship ~ to honour God; to pray and to sing his praises.

Book List

Craig Keener ~ Bible Background *Commentary NT ~ IVP

B. M. Newman and E. A. Nida ~ A Translators Handbook on The Acts of The *Apostles ~ UBS

F. F. Bruce ~ The Book of The Acts ~ MMS

Donald Grey Barnhouse ~ Acts – An expositional commentary ~ Zondervan

In the Footsteps of Paul ~ CWR (Daily Bible Readings 1988)

I. Howard Marshall ~ Acts ~ Tyndale

Campbell Morgan ~ Acts of the *Apostles ~ Pickering and Inglis

Paul Barnett ~ ‘Bethlehem to Patmos’ ~ Biblical Classics Series ~ Paternoster ~ ISBN 0-85364-874-3

Werner Keller ~ ‘The Bible as History’ ~ Hodder and Stoughton

F. F. Bruce ~ ‘Israel and the Nations’ ~ Paternoster ~ ISBN 0-85364-762-3

Also: Personal notes and material from many other sources


© 1999-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

March 2003

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.bible