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Detailed Observation 1

Detailed Observation: Acts 13 – 20:16

General Materials: Narrative/History

This section chronicles the church’s journey to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Primarily it revolves around Paul and his missionary endeavors into the world. This section

provides the reader with the events surrounding the establishment of the many of the churches to

whom Paul would later write too in his epistles. The section is marked with numerous summaries

of Paul’s journeys with various companions but also it contains the pivotal moment of Acts as it

relates to the propagation of the gospel. That is, the decision concerning circumcision by the

Jerusalem leaders and its impact on the gospel among Gentiles (Acts 15:1-35).

Specific Chapter Titles:

Chapter 13. Barnabas & Paul: The Church’s Witness to the Ends of the Earth
Chapter 14. Reaching Out Farther.
Chapter 15. Church Problems.
Chapter 16. Paul & Silas: The Church’s Witness to the Ends of the Earth Continues.
Chapter 17. Reaching Out Farther.
Chapter 18. Reaching Into Corinth.
Chapter 19. Reaching Into Ephesus.
Chapter 20. Setting Out for Macedonia and Pressing Toward Jerusalem.

Outline: (Outline From My Acts Book Survey and Expanded)

I. The Church’s Witness to the Ends of the Earth (13:1 – 20:16)

a. Paul’s First Journey (13:1 - 14:28)
i. Missionary Commissioning (13:1-3)
ii. Mission To Cyprus (13:4-12)
1. Preach at Salamis (13:4-5)
2. Conflict at Paphos (13:6-12)
iii. Mission Antioch (13: 13-52)
1. Through Perga to Antioch and Preaching to the Jews (13:13-43)
2. Jews Reject but Gentiles Rejoice (13:44-49)
3. Jews Revile the Missionaries Ejecting Them from Antioch (13:50-
iv. Mission to Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (14:1-21)
1. Preaching and Persecution at Iconium (14:1-6)
2. Preaching and Persecution at Lystra and Derbe (14:7-21)
v. Mission Structuring for Sustained Church Growth (14:22-23)
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vi. Missionaries Return to Antioch (14:24-28)

1. Through Perga to Antioch (14:24-26)
2. Reporting to the Church (14:27-28)
b. Church Problems (15:1 – 41)
i. The pivotal question of circumcision (15:1 – 35)
ii. Ministries Divided: Peter and Paul part company (15:36-41)
c. Paul’s Second Journey (16:1 – 18:22)
i. Timothy (16:1-5)
ii. Mission to Macedonia (16:6 – 17:34)
1. The Call (16:6-10)
2. Lydia is Converted (16:11-15)
3. The Philippian Jailer is Converted (16:16-40)
4. Thessalonica (17:1-9)
5. Berea (17:10-14)
6. Athens (17:15-34)
iii. Mission to Corinth (18:1-17)
iv. Return to Antioch to Report (18:18-22)
d. Paul’s Third Journey (18:23 – 20:16)
i. Galatia and Phrygia (18:23)
ii. Events at Ephesus (18:24 – 19:41)
1. Apollos (18:24-28)
2. John’s Disciples (19:1-7)
3. Preaching to the Jews (19:8-10)
4. Miracles (19:11-20)
5. Riot (19:21-41)
iii. Furthering the Mission (20:1-16)
1. Macedonia and Greece (20:1-6)
2. Troas (20:7-12)
3. Miletus (20:13-16)

Structural Relationships:

I. The Church’s Witness To The Ends of the Earth (Acts 13-20:16)

This section begins with the commissioning and sending Barnabas and Paul. In effect

they become the first missionaries to go beyond the Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria. This section

offers the reader a contrast/comparison from the previous section (Acts 8:4-12:25).

Previously the gospel spread because of the persecution of the saints and their subsequent

scattering. In this section the reader now sees the church intentionally sending preachers of the

gospel (i.e. Barnabas and Paul). This may imply the church has recovered from its persecution;
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due in large part to Saul’s conversion, and is now attempting to fulfill the commission of Christ

given in Acts 1:8.

Questions: Why is Luke showing the comparison between the two sections? What

insight does this offer into the nature of the church in fulfilling Acts 1:8? What are the

notable differences in the church between the two sections?

I.a. – Paul’s First Missionary Journey (Acts 13:1-14:28)

I.a.i. – Missionary Commissioning (13:1-3)

I.a.ii. – Mission to Cyprus (13:4-12)
I.a.ii.1. – Preach at Salamis (13:4-5)
I.a.ii.2. – Conflict at Paphos (13:6-12)
I.a.iii. – Mission to Antioch (13:13-52)
I.a.iii.1. – Through Perga to Antioch and Preaching to the Jews (13:13-43)
I.a.iii.2. – Jews Reject but Gentiles Rejoice (13:44-49)
I.a.iii. 3. – Jews Revile the Missionaries Ejecting Them from Antioch (13:50-52)
I.a.iv. – Mission to Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (14:1-21)
I.a.iv.1. – Preaching and Persecution at Iconium (14:1-6)
I.a.iv.2. – Preaching and Persecution at Lystra and Derbe (14:7-21)
I.a.v. – Mission Structuring for Sustained Church Growth (14:22-23) – Missionaries Return to Antioch (14:24-28) – Through Perga to Antioch (14:24-26) – Reporting to the Church (14:27-28)

The reader is introduced/prepared for the sending of Barnabas and Saul through their

commissioning. This implies these men are agents of the church and as such are acting on its

behalf as they preach and establish churches (Acts 13:1-3)

Questions: How does this prepare the reader for what will happen in the remainder of the

section? What are the implications of this event for the church (then and now)?

The author particularizes as he moves from the general areas of Salamis, the Jewish

synagogues, to Paphos and to an individual named Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:4-7). As the missionaries

are preaching the Word of God to the Jews at Paphos this particular individual resists them. The

author also seems to be contrasting Bar-Jesus and his deceitful power with the power of the
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Spirit working in Paul (Acts 13:8-12)

Questions: Why does Luke move from these general places to give us detail about Bar-

Jesus and his resistance? What are the big differences between Bar-Jesus and

Paul/Barnabas? What do theses differences imply about the working of the Spirit and the

mission of the church?

Luke then summarizes where the missionaries are coming from and going to as well as

who is or is not traveling with them (Acts 13:13). He also records the words of Paul’s preaching

in the synagogue and mentions three general groups to whom Paul is speaking: Brothers,

children of Abraham and God-fearing Gentiles (Acts 13:26). Paul’s statements to these groups

introduce them to the real Jesus and the Gospel (Acts 13:27-36). Because of Jesus and the

Gospel there is forgiveness and justification for anyone (i.e. Jews, children of Abraham or God-

fearing Gentiles).

Luke also contrast/compares the Jews and the Gentiles response to Paul and Barnabas’s

preaching (Acts 13:42-52). The Jews reject and eventually eject the missionaries from Antioch

while the Gentiles are “glad and honored” (Acts 13:48).

Questions: How is Luke continuing the story by his summary and what is the implication

of John’s leaving for Jerusalem? What is the purpose of naming the general groups?

What do these groups imply about the commission of Paul and Barnabas? What are the

differences between the Jews and the Gentiles of this section? What do their responses to

the Gospel imply about the condition of their hearts?

Luke uses repetition to show how the preaching of the gospel brought persecution on the

one time persecutor (Act 14:1-21). There is also a contrasting/comparison (with causation)

between the reaction of the Lycaonian’s and the Jews after the crippled man had been healed
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(acts 14:8-10). The Lycaonian’s began to worship them as the gods Zeus and Hermes (Acts

14:11-18) while the Jews seek to stone them (Acts 14:20). Luke summarizes the events in Acts

14:21 by informing the reader that the preaching of the good news was cause for a large number

of disciples. He further summarizes Paul and Barnabas’s return to Antioch and how they had

appointed elders in order for their work to be sustained and their reporting to the church (Acts


Questions: What is the purpose of highlighting the persecution of Paul and Barnabas?

How does each of the events help the reader to understand the nature of and reaction to

persecution? Why does Luke summarize the events in such a positive way given the

persecution? What are the implications of the apostles appointing elders? What is an

elder? What does the reporting to the church suggest about the early church structure

I.b. - Church Problems (15:1 – 41)

I.b.i. – The pivotal question of circumcision (15:1-15)
I.b.ii. - Ministries Divided: Peter and Paul part company (15:36-41)

This section provides a pivot for the church at large. Luke prepares the scene by speaking

of “some men who came from Judea” teaching circumcision (Acts 15:1). This teaching is the

cause of “dispute” and “debate” (Acts 15:2) between Paul and Barnabas; and the men from

Judea. The effect of this argument was the church sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to meet

with the elders and apostles (Acts 15:3-4). Luke then particularizes as he moves from “some

men” to “the party of the Pharisees” (Acts 15:5). Luke then summarizes the decision of the elders

and apostles by recording 2 speeches: by Peter (Acts 15:6-11) and by James (Acts 15:13-21).

The effect of these speeches is that the church decides to write a letter stating the position of the

church concerning Gentiles and their inclusion in the Kingdom. These letters are to be carried by

“some of their own men” (Acts 15:19) to the believers in “Antioch, Syria and Cilicia” (Acts
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15:23). Luke then records a division between Paul and Barnabas. The cause of the separation

seems to be over who would travel with them on their journey but it also prepares the reader for

the second journey of Paul (I.c) (Acts 15:36-41)

Questions: What is the change that occurs in this section in regards to the church and

Gentile believers? What are the implications of this change? What does this pivot imply

about the attitude toward Gentiles before and after it? How is the gospel affected by this

crucial decision? Does this text imply the division between Paul and Barnabas was

connected to the decision concerning Gentiles?

I.c. – Paul’s Second Journey (16:1 – 18:22)

I.c.i. – Timothy (16:1-5)
I.c.ii. – Mission to Macedonia (16:6 – 17:34)
1. The Call (16:6-10)
2. Lydia is Converted (16:11-15)
3. The Philippian Jailer is Converted (16:16-40)
4. Thessalonica (17:1-9)
5. Berea (17:10-14)
6. Athens (17:15-34)
I.c.iii. – Mission to Corinth (18:1-17)
I.c.iv. - Return to Antioch (18:18-22)

Luke prepared the reader for Paul’s second missionary journey in the previous sub-

section (I.b.ii.) by summarizing the events preceding Paul’s departure for Macedonia. However,

Luke begins Chapter 16 with an introduction of a new character in the Acts narrative: Timothy

(Acts 16:1). Luke then enters into a series of cause and effect (causation) relationships preparing

the reader for Paul’s ministry in Macedonia (Acts 16:2-10).

The brothers speak well of Timothy (v. 2) Paul desires to take him with him (v.3)
They know Timothy has a Greek father and the Paul circumcises Timothy (v. 3)
are they are going to is Jewish (v. 3)
The need to deliver the letter issued by the The churches are strengthened and grow in
elders and apostles is the reason for their travel faith and numbers (v. 4)
(v. 4)
As Paul and companions travel they are kept They pass Mysia and go to Troas where Paul
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by the Spirit of Jesus from preaching in Asia has a vision of man in Macedonia begging him
(v. 6-7) to come and help them (v. 8-9)
After the vision they prepared to preach in The effect of this vision is realized in the
Macedonia concluding God had called them (v. conversion of Lydia and the Philippian Jailer
10) (Acts 16:11-40).

The section moves from particular people and their conversion experience to more

general audiences in Thessalonica, Berea and Athens (Acts 17:1-34). Luke transitions from

Athens to Corinth where God uses 2 means to keep Paul in Corinth: 1) the rejection of the

Gospel by the Jews (Acts 18:1-6) and 2) an audible call to stay in the city (Acts 18:7-11). His

staying in Corinth is cause for persecution by the Jews (Acts 18:12-17). His time in Corinth

would then be followed by a journey to Ephesus.

Questions: How does the vision of Paul cause the conversion of many? What does his

vision suggest about God’s will for the gospel? How do the narratives of particular

conversions give insight into the preaching of the gospel in the three cities? What is

implied about personal and mass evangelism or apologetics by these narratives?

I.d. – Paul’s Third Journey (18:23 – 20:16)

I.d.i. – Galatia and Phrygia (18:23 – 20:16)
I.d.ii. – Events at Ephesus (18:24 – 19:41)
1. Apollos (18:24-28)
2. John’s Disciples (19:1-7)
3. Preaching to the Jews (19:8-10)
4. Miracles (19:11-20)
5. Riot (19:21-41)
I.d.iii. – Furthering the Mission (20:1-6)
1. Macedonia and Greece (20:1-6)
2. Troas (20:7-12)
3. Miletus (20:13-16)

Luke introduces Paul’s third journey by summarizing his travels through Antioch to

Galatia and Phrygia having a strengthening effect on the churches (Acts 18:23). Luke shows a

parallel event happening to Paul’s travels and introduces the reader to Apollos who was an
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eloquent man and a disciple of John (Acts 18:24-25). Apollos was preaching with “great fervor”

about Jesus and Aquila and Priscilla heard him. They then took him aside and “explained to him

the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26). Apollos is left in Corinth whole Paul travels to

Ephesus where he meets with more of John’s disciples and Paul preached to them and they

responded by being baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus and with the Spirit (Acts 19:1-7).

These events lead up to another series of causation and substantiation relationships that

summarize Paul’s ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:8-20):

• (Cause) Paul enters synagogue and preaches the Kingdom. (Effect) some

obstinate Jews malign

• (Effect) Paul moves his lectures to another venue (cause) the whole province of

Asia heard the word

• (Cause) Great miracles through Paul (effect) even handkerchiefs and aprons that

had touched Paul were taken to the sick who were cured and evil spirits were

driven out

• (Effect) some Jews seeking to be like Paul try to drive out evil spirits using the

name of Jesus (cause) the spirits overpower these men and beat them severely

• (Cause) Ephesus seized with fear and the Name of the Lord was held in “high

honor” (effect) a number who practiced sorcery burned their fetishes

• (Effect) “…the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20)

• (Cause) the silversmiths lost their income because people were not buying idols

(effect) rioting by the silversmiths and the seizing of Paul’s traveling companions

• (Effect) Paul was able to preach Christ to the Ephesians in a mass scale.

Luke then records a summary of what Paul did after leaving Ephesus and his travels
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through Macedonia, Greece, Troas and Miletus (Acts 20:1-16)

Questions: Why does Luke introduce Apollos? What is the purpose of the repetitive

discovery of John’s disciples in this section? What are the common components that lead

from causation to substantiation? What do these components suggest about the preaching

of the gospel and the Name of Jesus?

Key Themes:

1. Paul and his missionary/evangelistic ministry.

2. The conversion of John’s disciples to a more adequate way.

3. The authority of the Jerusalem elders as seen in the reporting of Paul and in the decision

making of Acts 15.

4. The preaching of the gospel may bring persecution.

5. The word of the Lord and the churches are strengthened by the ministry.