From Mark Copeland... "ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Eighteen

                         "ACTS OF THE APOSTLES"

                            Chapter Eighteen


1) Examine the final travels of Paul's 2nd Journey, from Corinth back to
   Antioch of Syria

2) Review the work of Aquila and Priscilla, and Apollos

3) Observe the beginning of Paul's 3rd Journey


Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.  He found Aquila and Priscilla.
He stayed with them, as they were of the same trade, tentmakers.  Aquila
and Priscilla had left Rome because of the command by Claudius.
During this time, Paul taught in the synagogue and "persuaded both Jews
and Greeks."  Silas and Timothy then joined Paul at Corinth, coming from
Macedonia.  Paul taught the Jews that "Jesus is the Christ."  They
opposed him.  Paul told them, "Your blood be on your own heads; I am
clean.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles."  Paul then went to
Justus' house, which was next to the synagogue.  Crispus, the ruler of
the synagogue, and his household believed.  Many Corinthians believed
and were baptized.  The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, encouraging him
to be bold and to continue to speak; for the Lord would be with him.
Paul continued teaching there another year and a half.  The Jews then
took Paul before the proconsul of Achaia, Gallio, charging that he
"persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." Gallio refused to be
a "judge of such matters" and drove them away from the judgment seat. [I
and II Thessalonians may have been written.] (1-17)

Paul remained there a while longer.  Next, Paul, Aquila and Priscilla
set sail for Syria. As they were departing, Paul had his hair cut off at
Cenchrea as part of a vow.  Paul left Aquila and Priscilla in
Ephesus, as they were traveling.  Paul did not remain in Ephesus, as he
wanted to keep the feast in Jerusalem.  He sailed on to Caesarea,
greeted the church there, and went on to Antioch.  (18-22)

Paul departed from Antioch of Syria to begin the 3rd journey.  He
traveled through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples.
Apollos of Alexandria is then introduced as an "eloquent man and mighty
in the Scriptures."  Apollos traveled to Ephesus and spoke boldly in the
synagogue.  He taught the way of the Lord, but he only knew the baptism
of John.  When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him
aside and "explained to him the way of God more accurately."  Apollos
then traveled to Achaia and "greatly helped" the believers.  "He
vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that
Jesus is the Christ." (23-28)


I. THE APOSTLE PAUL IN CORINTH (continuing the 2nd Journey) (1-17)

      1. Found Aquila and Priscilla
         a. Worked and stayed with Aquila and Priscilla
         b. They were tentmakers by trade
      2. Paul taught in the synagogue every Sabbath
         a. He persuaded by Jews and Greeks
      3. Paul preached that Jesus is the Christ
         a. Silas and Timothy join Paul, arriving from Macedonia
         b. Jews opposed Paul and blasphemed
         c. Paul decided to go to the Gentiles
      4. Paul went to Justus' house (by synagogue) and taught
         a. Crispus, ruler of the synagogue, believed (and his house)
         b. Many Corinthians believed and were baptized
         c. The Lord spoke to Paul, "Do not be afraid, but speak..."
         d. Paul continued teaching the Word of God there 18 months
      5. Jews brought Paul before Gallio, proconsul of Achaia
         a. Charged that Paul persuaded men to worship God "contrary to
            the law"
         b. Gallio refused to hear the case, as it was not a "matter of
            wrongdoing or wicked crimes"
         c. Gallio drove them from the judgment seat and ignored them


      1. After the encounter before Gallio, Paul remained a good while
      2. Paul, with Aquila and Priscilla, sailed for Syria
      3. Paul had taken a vow; at the end, he cut his hair at Cenchrea
         a. Cenchrea was a port that served Corinth (approx. 8-9 miles)
         b. Upon expiration of the vow, the hair was cut off

      1. Paul leaves Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus
      2. Paul entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews
         a. The Jews asked him to stay longer
         b. Paul declined, as he wanted to keep the feast in Jerusalem
         c. Paul indicated he would return; thus he departed
      3. Paul landed at Caesarea, greeted the church, and went to
         a. Recall Cornelius and his household/friends' conversion
         b. Paul arrived in Antioch in completion of the 2nd journey


      1. Paul departs Antioch, beginning the 3rd journey
      2. He travels through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the

      1. Apollos of Alexandria was "eloquent and mighty in the
      2. Apollos arrived in Ephesus and taught the "way of the Lord"
         a. He knew only the baptism of John
         b. Aquila and Priscilla took him aside
         c. They explained "more accurately" the way of God to Apollos
      3. Apollos desired to go to Achaia
         a. The brethren wrote a letter to those in Achaia to receive
         b. Apollos helped the believers there
         c. He vigorously showed that "Jesus is the Christ" from the
            Scriptures and "refuted the Jews publicly"


1) What are the main events in this chapter?
   - Paul teaches in Corinth (1-17)
   - Paul returns to Antioch of Syria (18-22)
   - Paul begins the 3rd journey (23)
   - Apollos taught more "accurately" by Aquila and Priscilla (24-28)

2) Why were Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth rather than Rome? (2)
   - Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart Rome (2)

3) What was the common occupation of Paul and Aquila and Priscilla? (3)
   - Tentmakers (3)

4) What did Paul do every Sabbath? (4)
   - Reasoned in the synagogue (4)
   - Persuaded both Jews and Greeks (4)

5) When Silas and Timothy joined Paul, what was he compelled to testify
   by the Spirit and to whom? (5)
   - That Jesus is the Christ; to the Jews (5)

6) What was the reaction of the Jews? (6)
   - They opposed him and blasphemed (6)

7) How did Paul respond and to whom was he going next? (6)
   - "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean." (6)
   - "From now on I will go to the Gentiles." (6)

8) Whose house did Paul enter and where was it located? (7)
   - Justus' house (he worshipped God) (7)
   - Next door to the synagogue (7)

9) What resulted with the people of Corinth? (8)
   - Crispus, ruler of the synagogue believed with his household (8)
   - Many Corinthians believed and were baptized (8)

10) After the vision from the Lord, how long did Paul remain there? (11)
   - A year and six months, teaching among them (11)

11) What was Gallio not willing to be a judge over? (15)
   - Question of words and names and your own [Jewish] law (15)

12) After a good while, Paul departed.  Who accompanied him and where
    did they go? (18-19)
   - Aquila and Priscilla accompanied Paul (18)
   - They sailed for Syria (18)
   - Paul left Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus (19)

13) Why did Paul not stay longer in Ephesus? (21)
   - He was intent on keeping the feast in Jerusalem (21)

14) After his arrival in Antioch of Syria, where did Paul go? What did
    he do? (23)
   - He went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia (23)
   - He strengthened all the disciples (23)

15) In Ephesus, when Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos speak, what did
    they do? (25-26)
   - They took him aside and explained to him more accurately the way of
     God (26)
   - He only knew the baptism of John (25)

16) What did Apollos do in Achaia? (27-28)
   - He greatly helped those who had believed (27)
   - He vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the
     Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (28)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Seventeen

                         "ACTS OF THE APOSTLES"

                           Chapter Seventeen


1) To explore how Paul preached in Thessalonica and Berea, and how his
   preaching was received in each

2) To recognize how the enemies of the gospel can be relentless in their
   efforts to stop the spread of the Truth

3) To examine how Paul preached in Athens and how he found common ground
   from which to teach the Gospel of Christ in an idolatrous city

SUMMARY (Kevin Scott)

Paul, Silas and Timothy continued on the second missionary journey.  As
they departed Philippi, they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia,
arriving at Thessalonica (1).  Paul found the Jewish synagogue and for
three Sabbaths "reasoned with them from the Scriptures" (2).  He taught
them that Jesus had suffered and died, and then was raised from the
dead.  He proclaimed to them that Jesus was the Christ.  Some Jews and a
great multitude of Greeks believed and joined them. (3-4)

The Jews, who did not believe, became envious of the success of the
gospel of Christ. They set out to create a mob, and enraged them against
Paul and Silas, but they could not find them.  Thus, they took
Jason and some of the brethren before the rulers of the city, claiming
they had harbored these men who were "acting contrary to the decrees of
Caesar, saying there is another king - Jesus."  This incited the crowd
and the city rulers.  They tried to depict Paul and Silas as
revolutionaries against Caesar.  The rulers then took security from
Jason and the others, and released them. (5-9)

The brethren sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea (about 50 miles
away).  They went to the Jewish synagogue there and found the people to
be receptive to the gospel. They were willing to study the Scriptures to
determine the Truth.  Many believed.  When word got back to
Thessalonica, Jews traveled there to stir up the city against them.  The
brethren sent Paul away to Athens. Silas and Timothy remained there.
Paul requested that they quickly join him in Athens. (10-15)

Upon arrival in Athens, Paul's "spirit was provoked within him when he
saw that the city was given over to idols." Again, he went to the
synagogue to reason with the Jew and Gentile worshipers, daily.  He also
reasoned with others in the marketplace each day.  This created an
opportunity to speak with the philosophers (i.e., Epicureans, Stoics,
and others).  Some derided him, calling him a "babbler."  Others
thought he spoke of foreign gods.  They invited him to speak in the
Areopagus (also called Mar's Hill).  This was the place of the supposed
experts of philosophy and religion in Athens. (16-19)

Paul spoke to them by finding common ground from which to launch into
his gospel message.  He keyed into the inscription:  "TO THE UNKNOWN
GOD."  This is the One he proclaimed to them.  Paul also referenced a
saying of their own poets, "For we are also His offspring."  He pointed
out that since we were the offspring of God, He could not be made of
gold or silver or stone by human artists.  Paul then taught them of
repentance and judgment.  He indicated that Christ would be the judge
and that He was raised from the dead.  Some mocked Paul at this saying.
Others wanted to hear more about this later.  Some believed and joined
him. (20-34)

OUTLINE (Mark Copeland)


      1. Passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they arrive in
      2. Paul visits the synagogue and reason with the Jews for three
      3. His goal: to convince them that Jesus is the Christ who had to
         suffer and rise from the dead
      4. Some were persuaded, including a large number of devout Greeks
         and leading women who join Paul and Silas

      1. Envious Jews use evil men from the marketplace to gather a mob
      2. They set the city in an uproar, and attack Jason's house
      3. Unable to find Paul, they drag Jason and others before the
         rulers of the city
      4. Accusing them of turning the city upside down, disobeying
         Caesar, claiming Jesus as king
      5. The rulers take security from Jason and the others before
         letting them go


      1. Sent by night to Berea, Paul and Silas go to the synagogue
      2. The Jews are more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica
      3. They receive the word with all readiness, then search the
         Scriptures daily
      4. Many Jews believe, also Greeks, prominent women as well as men

      1. Hearing of their success, Jews from Thessalonica come and stir
         up the crowds
      2. Paul is immediately sent away to the sea, while Silas and
         Timothy remain


      1. Paul arrives in Athens, sends word for Silas and Timothy to
      2. While waiting, Paul's spirit is provoked by the idolatry in the
      3. He reasons with Jews and Gentile worshippers in the synagogue,
         and with people in the Marketplace
      4. Epicurean and Stoic philosophers hear him preach about Jesus
         and the resurrection

   B. AT THE AREOPAGUS (19-34)
      1. Brought to the Areopagus, the inquisitive Athenians invite Paul
         to present his doctrine
      2. Paul preaches to the men of Athens
         a. Mentioning their spirituality
         b. Especially the altar inscribed "To The Unknown God"
      3. Paul proclaims this God they do not know as the Creator:
         a. Who does not dwell in temples
         b. Who is not worshiped as though He needed anything
         c. Who gives to all life, breath, and all things
         d. Who has made from one blood all nations to dwell on the
         e. Who has determined their appointed times and dwelling
         f. Who does things so that men might seek for Him, grope for
            Him, and find Him
         g. Who is not far from anyone, for in Him we live, move, and
            exist, even as some of their own poets have said, "We are
            also His offspring"
         h. Who is not an idol, shaped by art and man's devising
      4. Paul proclaims that God now commands all men everywhere to
         a. Even though He may have overlooked their ignorance in times
         b. He has appointed a Day of Judgment
         c. He will judge the world in righteousness by a Man He has
         d. He has given proof of this judgment by raising Him from the
      5. The response to Paul's sermon, especially his mention of the
         resurrection of the dead
         a. Some mocked, others were willing to hear him again
         b. As Paul left, he was joined by some who believed, including
            Dionysius the Aeropagite and a woman named Damaris


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Preaching in Thessalonica (1-9)
   - Preaching in Berea (10-14)
   - Conversions at Philippi (15-34)

2) After passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, where did Paul's
   company arrive? (1)
   - In Thessalonica

3) What was Paul's custom when he found a synagogue in a city? (2)
   - To visit on the Sabbath to reason with the Jews from the Scriptures

4) What was his purpose in visiting the synagogue? (3)
   - To demonstrate that the Christ had to die and rise again, and that
     Jesus is the Christ

5) What was the initial reaction to Paul's teaching in the synagogue?
   - Some were persuaded, and a great multitude of devout Greeks along
     with some leading women joined Paul and Silas

6) What did the Jews who were not persuaded do? (5-6)
   - Took some evil men from the market place and formed a mob
   - Set the city in uproar, attacked the house of Jason looking for
     Paul and Silas
   - Not finding Paul and Silas, drag Jason and some brethren to the
     rulers of the city

7) What charges did they bring against Jason and those whom he received?
   - "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too."
   - "These are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying
     there is another king-Jesus."

8) Troubled by such charges, what did the rulers of the city do? (8-9)
   - Took security from Jason and let them go

9) What did the brethren do with Paul and Silas?  What did they find
   there? (10)
   - Sent them away by night to Berea; a synagogue of the Jews

10) List two ways the Bereans were more noble-minded than those in
    Thessalonica. (11)
   - They first received the word with all readiness
   - They then searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul taught
     were so

11) What was the initial response?  Who soon stirred up trouble?
   - Many believed, including Greeks along with prominent women and men
   - Jews from Thessalonica, who came as soon as they heard Paul was in

12) Where was Paul then sent?  Who initially stayed behind in Berea?
   - By sea to Athens; Silas and Timothy

13) As Paul waited for his companions to arrive in Athens, what provoked
    Paul? (16)
   - How the city was given over to idols

14) What two venues did Paul use to reason with people? (17)
   - The synagogue with Jews and the Gentile worshipers
   - The market place daily with those gathered there

15) Who encountered Paul?  Why did they think he proclaimed some foreign
    god? (18)
   - Certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers
   - Because he preached Jesus and the resurrection

16) Where did they invite Paul to speak?  Why were they willing to
    listen to him? (19-21)
   - The Aeropagus (Mar's Hill)
   - Because Athenians and the foreigners loved to hear new things

17) As Paul began to speak, what did he first acknowledge?  Why? (22-23)
   - They were very religious
   - Because of all their idols, including an altar inscribed:  "To The
     Unknown God"

18) Whom did Paul proclaim as the subject of his speech? (23)
   - The God whom they worshiped without knowing

19) What seven things did Paul first declare about Him? (24-26)
   - He made the world and everything in it
   - He is Lord of heaven and earth
   - He does not dwell in temples made with hands
   - He is not worshiped with men's hands as though He needed anything
   - He gives to all life, breath and everything
   - He has made from one blood every nation of men
   - He has determined their pre-appointed times and boundaries of their

20) What was God's purpose in all this? (27)
   - So that man should seek the Lord, in the hope they will grope for
     Him and find Him

21) What should give one hope that God can be found? (27-28)
   - He is not far from us
   - In Him we live and move and have our very being

22) To whom did Paul appeal for support in what he was saying? (28)
   - Some of their own poets, who said 'For we are also His offspring'

23) What conclusion did Paul draw from such observations? (29)
   - As God's offspring, we should not think that He is like gold,
     silver, or stone shaped by man

24) What does Paul then reveal? (30)
   - Such times of ignorance God once overlooked, but now commands all
     men every where to repent

25) Why should man repent? What evidence has God given?  (31)
   - There is a Day of Judgment on which God will judge the world in
     righteousness by a Man whom He has ordained
   - Raising Jesus from the dead

26) What reaction was there to the subject of the resurrection? (32)
   - Some mocked, while others were willing to listen again on another

27) As Paul left, who joined him? (33-34)
   - Some men who believed, including Dionysius the Aeropagite
   - A woman named Damaris, and others with them

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Sixteen

                         "ACTS OF THE APOSTLES"

                            Chapter Sixteen


1) To trace the route of Paul and Silas on their missionary journey

2) To consider whether the Spirit led Paul through impressions or some
   other less subjective way

3) To study carefully the conversions of Lydia and the Philippian jailer


With this chapter we find Paul on his second missionary journey that
began in Ac 15:40 with Paul and Silas passing through Syria and Cilicia,
strengthening churches along the way.  In Derbe and Lystra, Paul
enlisted a young disciple named Timothy who would become a life-long
fellow-worker in the kingdom.  His mother was a believing Jew (cf. 2 Ti
1:5) but his father was Greek, so with many Jews in the region Paul had
Timothy circumcised.  As Paul's company traveled through Phrygia and
Galatia, they delivered the decrees from the apostles and elders in
Jerusalem and strengthened the churches (1-5).

With the guidance of the Holy Spirit they found themselves in Troas,
where Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia asking for help.
Concluding that the Lord was calling them to preach the gospel there,
Paul's company left Troas accompanied by the author of Acts himself, as
indicated by the first person pronoun plural "we" (6-10).

From Troas to Samothrace and then Neapolis, the company finally arrived
in Philippi.  A major city of Macedonia and Roman colony, it marked
Paul's first ministry on the European continent.  On the Sabbath Paul
and his companions went down to the river where women were praying.  As
Paul spoke, a religious business woman of Thyatira named Lydia listened.
The Lord opened her heart to heed Paul, which resulted in her and her
household being baptized.  She then persuaded Paul and his companions to
stay at her house (11-15).

Paul and his company were soon followed by a slave girl possessed by a
spirit of divination that made money for her owners through fortune
telling.  For days she cried out, "These men are the servants of the
Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."  While true, it
annoyed Paul (probably because it was not of her own free will) and he
cast the spirit out in the name of Jesus.  This greatly angered the
girl's masters, who had Paul and Silas beaten and imprisoned.  At
midnight while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, a great
earthquake shook the prison and broke free their chains.  Assuming all
had fled, the jailer was about to kill himself when Paul stopped him.
When the jailor asked what he must do to be saved, Paul and Silas told
him to believe on the Lord Jesus, and then proceeded to teach him and
his family the word of the Lord.  That same night, the entire family was
baptized.  In the morning, the magistrates sent word to release Paul and
Silas, but Paul demanded a personal release as they were Roman citizens
who were beaten and imprisoned without trial.  Scared, the magistrates
came and pleaded with Paul and Silas to leave the city, which they did
after a short visit to Lydia's house to encourage the brethren.  Note
that the author's return to the use of "they" indicates that Luke stayed
behind in Philippi (16-40).



      1. Paul and Silas travel to Derbe and Lystra, where they meet
      2. A disciple, whose mother was a Jewish Christian and father was
      3. Well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium

      1. Paul wants Timothy to join him
      2. Paul has Timothy circumcised, on account of the Jews in the

      1. Traveling with Paul and Silas, they deliver the decrees from
      2. The churches are strengthened, increasing in number daily


      1. Passing through Phrygia and Galatia, the Spirit forbids them
         from preaching in Asia
      2. Nearing Mysia, they try to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit does
         not permit them
      3. Bypassing Mysia, they arrive in Troas

      1. Paul has a vision of a Macedonian man asking for help
      2. Paul and his companions conclude God wants them to go to
      3. The use of "we" indicates Luke, the author, has now joined them


      1. From Troas, by way of Samothrace and Neapolis, Paul's company
         arrive at Philippi of Macedonia, a Roman colony
      2. On the Sabbath, they meet with women gathered by the river to
         pray and Paul speaks
      3. Lydia, who worshiped God, listens and the Lord opens her heart
         to heed Paul
      4. She and her household are baptized, and persuades Paul's
         company to stay at her house

      1. On the way to prayer, Paul's and his companions are followed by
         a slave girl
         a. Who was possessed with a spirit of divination
         b. Who had brought her masters much profit through fortune
      2. She proclaims Paul's company to be servants of God, proclaiming
         the way of salvation
         a. This she does for many days, which annoys Paul
         b. Paul therefore casts out the spirit in the name of Jesus
      3. Her masters seize Paul and Silas, and drag them before the
         a. Where they are accused as troublemakers, teaching unlawful
         b. Where they are beaten with rods, then imprisoned with feet
            in stocks
      4. At midnight, Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns, the
         prisoners listening
      5. There is a great earthquake, opening the doors and loosening
         the prisoners' chains
      6. The jailer comes in, assumes all have escaped, prepares to kill
      7. Paul cries out with a loud voice to stop him, assuring him that
         all were still there
      8. The jailer asks for a light, falls before Paul and Silas, and
         asks what he must do to be saved
         a. They first tell him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
         b. They then speak the word of the Lord to him and his
         c. That same hour he washes their stripes, then he and his
            household are baptized
         d. He then takes Paul and Silas to his house, feeds them, and
            rejoices that he and his household has believed in God
      9. The next day the magistrates send officers to release Paul and
         a. When the jailer tells Paul he is free to go, Paul demands
            that the magistrates come personally, as they have beaten
            Roman citizens without a trial
         b. So the magistrates come, release Paul and Silas, and plead
            for them to leave the city
     10. Returning to Lydia's house, Paul and Silas encourage the
         brethren, then leave Philippi


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Timothy joins Paul and Silas (1-5)
   - The Macedonian call (6-10)
   - Conversions at Philippi (11-40)

2) Where did Paul go after passing through Syria and Cilicia (1; cf.
   - Lystra and Derbe

3) Who did Paul want to travel with him?  What is said about him? (1-2)
   - A disciple named Timothy
   - Son of a Jewish woman who believed, and whose father was Greek
   - Well spoken of by the brethren in Lystra and Iconium

4) Why did Paul have him circumcised? (3)
   - Because of the Jews in that region that knew his father was Greek
   - I.e., not to be saved, but to conciliate his relationship with
     other Jews (cf. w/Titus, Ga 2:3-5)

5) What did Paul's company deliver as they traveled?  What was the
   reaction? (4-5)
   - The decrees to keep as determined by the apostles and elders at
   - The churches were strengthened in number and grew daily

6) How did the Spirit guide Paul's company in their travels? Where did
   they wind up? (6-8)
   - By forbidding them to preach in Asia; not permitting them to go
     into Bithynia
   - In Troas

7) What vision did Paul have?  What did he and his companions conclude?
   - A man in Macedonian apparel pleading with him, "Come over to
     Macedonia and help us"
   - The Lord had called them to preach the gospel to those in Macedonia

8) From Troas, where did they go?  Who evidently joined them at Troas?
   - Samothrace, Neapolis, and then to Philippi, a major city of
     Macedonia and Roman colony
   - Luke, the author of Acts, as indicated by the pronoun "we"

10) Where did Paul's company go on the Sabbath?  What did they do? (13)
   - The riverside where prayer was customarily made; they spoke to the
     women gathered there

11) Who heard them?  What kind of woman was she?  What happened as she
    listened? (14)
   - Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira
   - A worshiper of God
   - The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul

12) What happened next?  Afterwards, what did she do? (15)
   - She and her household were baptized
   - She persuaded Paul and his company to stay at her house

13) Who began to follow Paul and his company?  What did she do? (16-17)
   - A slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination, who earned
     money by fortune telling
   - Followed them for many days, saying "These men are the servants of
     the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation"

14) Why do you think Paul was greatly annoyed? What did he then do? (18)
   - Her proclamation was not freely given, by compelled by the spirit
     that possessed her
   - He cast out the spirit in the name of Jesus Christ

15) What sequence of events followed this miracle? (19-24)
   - Her masters dragged Paul and Silas to the marketplace and before
     the authorities
   - They roused the multitude against Paul and Silas, the magistrates
     had them beaten with rods
   - Paul and Silas were then secured in the inner prison with their
     feet in stocks

16) What did Paul and Silas do while imprisoned? (25)
   - Prayed and sang hymns while other prisoners listened

17) What led to the jailer asking what he must do to be saved? (26-30)
   - There was a great earthquake, all the doors were opened and chains
   - The jailer assumes all escaped and was about to kill himself
   - Paul stops him, telling him that all the prisoners were present

18) What does Paul say and do in answer to the jailor's question?
   - Tells him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved
   - Speaks the word of the Lord to him and his household

19) What happened that same hour of the night? (33)
   - The jailer took Paul and Silas and washed their stripes
   - The jailer and all his family were baptized immediately

20) What else did the jailer do for Paul and Silas?  How would you
    describe his attitude? (34)
   - Brought them into his home and fed them
   - Happy that he and his household believed in God

21) When word was sent for Paul and Silas to be released, how did Paul
    respond? (35-37)
   - He demanded the magistrates appear in person, because they had
     beaten Romans without being properly condemned

22) How did the magistrates respond? (38-39)
   - With fear, then personally pleading with Paul and Silas to leave
     the city

23) Leaving the prison, what did Paul and Silas do before departing
    the city? (40)
   - Encouraged the brethren at the house of Lydia

24) Who evidently stayed behind at Philippi? (40)
   - Luke, the author of Acts, as indicated by the pronoun "they"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Is the Iglesia Ni Cristo the Church of Christ? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Is the Iglesia Ni Cristo the Church of Christ?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In 1914, Felix Manalo registered the name Iglesia Ni Cristo as a religious group in the Philippines. Since that time, this religious group has spread extremely rapidly. Currently, the group has millions of adherents all over the world. They are a zealously evangelistic group with an estimated number of 3 to 10 million adherents worldwide (though actual membership numbers are difficult to find). The group’s official Web site is http://iglesianicristo.net/#1, and its companion media site that has many videos promoting the religion is http://iglesianicristo.net/incmedia.php. Iglesi Ni Cristo produces a monthly magazine titled Pasugo.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo claims to be the only true Church of Christ.1It argues against both the Catholic Church’s claim to be Jesus’ true church and the Protestant idea of denominationalism. According to this group, if you are not a member of the Iglesia Ni Christo, as organized by Felix Manalo starting in the Philippines in 1914, you cannot go to heaven. Unfortunately, even though some of the practices of this group are biblical, there are several things about the group and its teachings that contradict the Bible’s teachings. This brief article will explore some of those errors.
The most obvious and most egregious error taught by the Iglesia Ni Cristo is that Jesus is not God. This is concisely worded in the “Beliefs and Practices” article in this way, “We do not believe that Jesus is God.” Even though the group teaches that Jesus should be worshiped, it does not recognize Him as divine. This erroneous belief alone is enough to show that the group cannot be the one true church of Christ. Jesus is divine.2 To deny that He is God is to deny one of Jesus’ primary teachings about Himself. The faith that led Thomas to declare to Jesus, “My Lord and My God!”3 is the same faith that is demanded of Jesus’ followers today. John understood this when he wrote, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”4To deny that Jesus is God is the same as denying that the Father is God.
In addition, the position of the Iglesia Ni Cristo concerning Jesus is further plagued by inconsistency. According to the group, Jesus is a man, but is worshiped.5 When we go to the Bible, those two ideas cannot be consistently maintained. The Bible reveals time and again that God alone is to be worshiped.6 The Bible also reveals that men must refrain from worshiping angels. When the apostle John fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who had revealed to him the message in the book of Revelation, the angel responded, saying, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.7 Angels, idols, and humans are all unworthy of the reverent worship that is due only to God. As Jesus reminded Satan: “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”8
Unlike good men and good angels who have always rejected worship from humanity, Jesus accepted worship. If worship is to be reserved only for God, and Jesus, the One “who knew no sin,”9 accepted worship, then the only logical conclusion is that Jesus believed that He was Deity. Numerous times the Bible mentions that Jesus accepted worship from mankind. Matthew 14:33 indicates that those who saw Jesus walk on water “worshiped Him.” John 9:38 reveals that the blind man, whom Jesus had healed, later confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God and “worshiped him.” After Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the empty tomb of Jesus, and the risen Christ appeared to them, “they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.”10 Jesus once stated during His earthly ministry, “[A]ll should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”11 While on Earth, Jesus was honored on several occasions. His followers worshiped Him. They even worshiped Him after His ascension into heaven.12 Unlike good men and angels in Bible times who rejected worship, Jesus unhesitatingly received glory, honor, and praise from His creation. Truly, such worship is one of the powerful proofs of Jesus’ deity.13


It is often the case that false religions such as the Iglesia Ni Cristo claim one thing, but in practice, do and teach another thing entirely. This is the case with the group’s teaching about the Bible. Throughout their literature, there are numerous statements that the Bible is the sole source of authority, and that there are no other creeds the Inglesia Ni Cristo follows except the Bible. On closer inspection, however, there actually is something more involved. The group states: “We believe that the Bible is the word of God, however, the Bible is not an ‘open book.’”14 What do they mean by the idea that the Bible is not “an open book”? They explain “those who strive to understand the Scriptures through their own worldly knowledge will never be able to come to the knowledge of the truth….” What can be done so that a person can understand the message? The person must go to “those who are sent by God.” And who would that be? Conveniently, it is the man who started their religion: “We believe that the late Brother Felix Y. Manalo is God’s last messenger.”15 Thus, while the group claims that the Bible is sufficient, in reality, it demands that the message of the Bible be coupled with the teachings of Felix Manalo.
The idea that Felix Manalo is God’s last messenger who must explain the meaning of the Bible in order for people to understand it properly is false. First, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Notice that this passage is describing the Old and New Testaments that were written at least 1,900 years before Felix Y. Manalo. Could the Christians in the 2nd century A.D. be completely equipped for every good work before Manalo offered his opinion on Scripture? What about in 3rd century? The 4thcentury? Thinking through this situation, if the Scripture’s completely equipped Christians from the 1stcentury onward, then the idea that Manalo’s instruction is essential to understand the Scriptures cannot be correct. Either Manalo is offering more and different Scriptures (which he is not and the Iglesia Ni Christo does not even claim he is), or his teachings are unnecessary to a proper understanding of Scripture. Indeed, Paul stated it well when he explained to the Christians in Ephesus that when they read the Scripture they could “understand” Paul’s knowledge of the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:5). The Bible does not teach that Christians need special messengers to understand the Bible correctly. If the Scriptures completely equip a person for all good works, then it cannot logically be argued that a person needs the Scriptures and the instruction of Felix Manalo.
There are many other practices and teachings of the Iglesia Ni Christo that are specific to certain areas of the world where the group evangelizes. They often host large dinner parties and sign up many families through these meals. Depending on who you ask and where the group is working, there can be a process of some six months before a “believer” is permitted to be baptized. Many of the church’s practices are strictly enforced in ways that would be cultic in their administration.


The Iglesia Ni Christo is a fast-growing religious organization that claims to be the one true Church of Christ. They have beautiful buildings and a zealous spirit of evangelism. Unfortunately, this group has veered from Christ’s teachings and it is not the Lord’s church. The group does not believe or teach that Jesus is God, contrary to Scriptures. The group maintains that in order to fully understand the Bible, a person must have more than the Bible—the teachings of the Iglesia Ni Christo’s “special messengers.” This teaching, if true, would nullify the Bible’s clear statement that the Scriptures are the only necessary source to completely equip saints for every good work. While many of the group’s teachings are accurate concerning baptism by immersion and the fact that Jesus established one true church, the group’s errant teachings prove that it cannot be Jesus’ one true church.


1 “Beliefs and Practices,” Iglesia Ni Christo Unofficial, http://iglesianicristowebsite.blogspot.com/p/beliefs.html#.VrN1vBgrJC1.
2 Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2015), “Reasons to Believe in Jesus,” https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=5192&topic=293.
3John 20:28.
41 John 2:23.
5“Beliefs and Practices.”
6Exodus 20:3-5; 2 Kings 17:34-36; Acts 14:8-18.
7Revelation 22:9; Revelation 19:10.
8Matthew 4:10.
92 Corinthians 5:21.
10Matthew 28:9.
11John 5:23; 5:18; 10:19-39.
12Luke 24:52.
13Read Revelation 5. Also see Lyons, Eric “Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Worship of Jesus, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=1481&topic=79
14“What We Believe and Why,” http://theiglesianicristo.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-iglesia-ni-cristo-doctrines.html.
Suggested Resource

Biblical Wisdom Still Relevant by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Biblical Wisdom Still Relevant

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

About 3,000 years ago, one of the wisest men to have ever lived penned through divine inspiration this statement: “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Solomon’s statement speaks to the fact that in many cases, it is the emotional and spiritual attitude of an individual that sustains his or her physical existence as much or more than physical factors. On March 28, 2006, a brief article on loneliness provided some excellent modern scientific documentation for Solomon’s sentiments.
The study was in no way exhaustive since it only looked at information from about 229 adults. But the results were quite interesting. In a nut shell, the study showed that loneliness can be a potential factor that increases blood pressure. The study further indicated that when individuals became more emotionally connected to others and less lonely, their blood pressure can decrease. In fact, the authors of the study suggested that the “magnitude of the effect of loneliness on blood pressure is comparable to the magnitude of reduction that can be achieved through weight loss and exercise” (Hawkley and Berry as quoted in Minerd, 2006). Thus, one can see that the physical factors of losing weight and exercise can potentially be matched or eclipsed by the emotional attitudes of an individual, exactly as Solomon suggested.
Drs. Hawkley and Berry noted that many factors in the culture of the United States tend to increase the opportunity for loneliness and that, “under these circumstances risk of loneliness increases, and along with it so does risk of morbidity and mortality” (Minerd, 2006). In other words, emotional distress “dries the bones.”
Solomon’s ancient wisdom is as relevant to today’s society as it was to his three millennia ago. The Bible’s timeless nature is exactly the product that what would be expected from an all-knowing God Who can declare “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10).


Minerd, Jeff (2006), “Loneliness Weighs Heavily on the Heart,” [On-line], URL: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Hypertension/tb/2947.

Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover” and Those Who Are “Without Excuse” by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover” and Those Who Are “Without Excuse”

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

In Paul’s discussion of the sins of the Gentiles, the apostle explained that those Gentiles who refused to acknowledge the existence of a higher power (one that is responsible for the origin of the natural order) had no excuse for their failure in this regard:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).
If it is the case that those who refuse to believe in God (despite evidence He has presented in the material world) are without excuse, then we would expect to learn of people who, while perhaps lacking special revelation from God, nonetheless applied their God-given rationality to develop belief in a being that is responsible for the physical world. We find just such an example in one of the most famous and important philosophers, Aristotle.
In Aristotle’s Physics, the philosopher addresses the question of motion. After a lengthy discussion on the nature of motion and the immediate causes for motion, Aristotle addresses the remote cause for motion:
If everything that is in motion is moved by something that is in motion, either this is an accidental attribute of the things (so that each of them moves something while being itself in motion, but not because it is itself in motion) or it belongs to them in their own right. If, then, it is an accidental attribute, it is not necessary that that which causes motion should be in motion; and if this is so it is clear that there may be a time when nothing that exists is in motion, since the accidental is not necessary but contingent.... But the non-existence of motion is an impossibility (1984, 1:428, parenthetical item in orig.).
Aristotle, exemplary in his philosophical quest at this juncture, simply asks himself why there is motion. His conclusion, after a lengthy discussion, is essentially this: Because it is undeniable that motion exists, then there must be a first cause for the motion—an unmoved mover, whose movement (or causing of movement) is not an accidental property of His, but rather a necessary component of His being. Whereas each item in the created order is in motion because it has been moved by a distinct mover, the unmoved mover must possess the quality of motion (or the causing of motion). Aristotle lived prior to the Christian age, and was not a Hebrew; yet in his quest to understand the natural order, he was not prejudiced against belief in the supernatural.
Thomas Aquinas would adapt Aristotle’s argument to formulate what we know as part of the cosmological argument for the existence of the God of the Bible (see Maurer, 2010; cf. Jeffcoat, n.d.):
Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another.... For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality.... It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that it should move itself. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover.... Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God (1952, 19:12,13, emp. added).
Peter Kreeft summarizes Aquinas’ argument: “Since no thing (or series of things) can move (change) itself, there must be a first, Unmoved Mover, source of all motion” (1990, p. 63, parenthetical items in orig.).
The necessity of the unmoved Mover is obvious. Yet, Paul recognized that some had become so calloused by worldly concerns as to prejudice their hearts against the Creator. So, God “gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness” (Romans 1:28-30). Despite the forceful clarity with which God has revealed Himself to His creation, some will misuse their intellectual freedom and reject Him. May we, on the other hand, willingly receive a simple, yet critical, lesson from Aristotle and Aquinas concerning the necessary existence of our Creator.


Aquinas, Thomas (1952), Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Aristotle (1984), Physics, trans. R.P. Hardie and R.K. Gaye, in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Jeffcoat, W.D. (no date), “The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God,”http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/Cosmological-Argument-for-Exist.pdf.
Kreeft, Peter (1990), Summa of the Summa (San Francisco: Ignatius Press).
Maurer, Armand (2010), “Medieval Philosophy,” Encyclopaedia Brittanica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1350843/Western-philosophy/8653/Thomas-Aquinas?anchor=ref365766.

Are Songs and Prayers Sometimes One and the Same? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Are Songs and Prayers Sometimes One and the Same?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Are songs and prayers sometimes one and the same?


Ask any five year old if there is a difference between singing and praying and you will likely receive the “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” look. “Everyone knows there is a difference between singing and praying.” A song is composed of words and music. Its words are “uttered in musical tones and with musical inflections and modulations” (“Sing,” 2010). A prayer is “an address (as a petition) to God…in word or thought” (“Prayer,” 2010; cf. 1 Samuel 1:12-13). Prayers are without musical tones and inflections, right?

Although praying and singing are often two distinct acts of worship (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15), sometimes they are one and the same. That is, occasionally (or perhaps oftentimes) petitions to God are sung to Him. The Greek word most frequently translated “prayer” in the New Testament isproseuche. It is defined simply as a “petition addressed to deity, prayer” (Danker, 2000, p. 878, emp. in orig.). In the Old Testament, the English word “prayer” is derived most frequently from the Hebrew word te pillâ. This word is found 76 times in the Old Testament. Interestingly, this word for prayeroccurs most often (32 times) in the book of Psalms. Psalms are songs that were (and are) sung (cf. Psalm 105:2; 1 Chronicles 16:9; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13). The Israelites titled this collection of inspired poems tehillim, meaning “songs of praise or hymns” (“Psalms,” 1988).

Admittedly, simply because a song contains the word “prayer” (or “pray,” “praying,” etc.) does not make the song a type of prayer. However, as Harris, Archer, and Waltke observed in their Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, “five Psalms are specifically called ‘prayers’ in their superscription (Ps 17, 86, 90, 102, 142)” (1980, p. 726). Bible publishers often add headings to each of the psalms in an attempt to help the reader easily recognize the subject matter. Thomas Nelson Publishers added the word “prayer” to the subject headings of some 25 psalms in their New King James translation of the book of Psalms. They also used prayer terminology (e.g., “a plea” or “an appeal”) to label several other psalms. Obviously, both the ancients (who gave us Psalms’ superscriptions) and certain modern-day Bible publishing companies have seen many of the psalms for what they are: prayers.

Consider a few of the psalms in which David and others prayed.
  • “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? Selah” (4:1-2). [NOTE: “Selah” is found 71 times in the book of Psalms. Although its precise import is unknown, “it is generally agreed that Selah must be a musical or liturgical sign” (Wiseman, 1996, p. 1074).]
  • “Hear a just cause, O LORD, attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips” (17:1).
  • “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You...Selah. Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry” (39:7,11-12).
  • “Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth...Selah (54:1-3).
  • “Give ear to my prayer, O God, and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me” (55:1-2).
  • “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.... I will sing praise to your name forever” (61:1,8).
  • O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah” (84:8).
  • “Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me.... Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer” (86:1,6).
  • “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come to You…. Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands” (102:1,25). [NOTE: According to Hebrews 1:8-12, the psalmist was actually speaking (i.e., praying) to Jesus, “the Son”.]
Consider also Habakkuk three. The prophet begins the chapter with these words: “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth” (emp. added). It is evident, however, that Habakkuk’s prayer is also a type of song. First, the musical/liturgical term Selah is repeated three times (vss. 3,9,13). Second, when the prayer was repeated it was to be accompanied with “stringed instruments” (vs. 19). What’s more, though the exact meaning of “Shigionoth” in verse one is unknown, commentators are confident that it has some connection to music. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown believe it is “a musical phrase ‘after the manner of elegies,’ or mournful odes” (1997). Barnes concludes that the term probably “means a psalm with music expressive of strong emotion, ‘erratic’ or ‘dithyrambi’ ” (1997).

Generally speaking, songs and prayers are distinguished by songs being uttered with musical tones and inflections, and prayers being worded without musical accompaniment. However, one lesson learned from the inspired book of Psalms, the ancient hymnbook of the Jews, as well as from Habakkuk three, is that prayers may also be sung. That is, a song that petitions our Heavenly Father and Savior is both a song and a prayer.


Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

Danker, Frederick William, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, (2000), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).

Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

“Prayer” (2010), Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prayer.

“Psalms” (1988), The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

“Sing” (2010), Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sing?show=0&t=1284488817.

Wiseman, D.J. (1996), “Selah,” New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), third edition.

Faith, Evidence, and Credible Testimony by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Faith, Evidence, and Credible Testimony

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

It might surprise some to learn that Thomas was not the only “doubting disciple” immediately following Jesus’ resurrection. Do you recall what happened when Mary Magdalene, the first person to whom Jesus appeared, went to alert the mourning apostles of Jesus’ empty tomb and resurrection? When the apostles “heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe” (Mark 16:11, emp. added). According to Luke, the words of Mary Magdalene and the women who accompanied her seemed to the apostles “like idle tales” (24:11) or “nonsense” (24:11, NASB). Later, when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus reported to the apostles how Jesus had appeared to them as well, the apostles “did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13). When Jesus finally appeared to the apostles (not including Thomas) on the evening of His resurrection (John 20:19), He questioned their “doubts” (Luke 24:38) and “rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14). Then, when Jesus appeared to the apostles eight days later, this time with Thomas present, Jesus instructed him to “not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).
Those closest to Jesus during His ministry initially doubted His resurrection from the dead and were justifiably rebuked for their unbelief. Although many of us likely would have been guilty of the same doubts, still, the apostles should have believed the witness of Mary Magdalene as soon as she testified to the empty tomb and risen Savior. Believers today, however, must be careful not to misinterpret Jesus’ rebukes of unbelief as promoting the popular notion that Christianity is an emotion-based, feel-good religion where evidence is unavailable or unnecessary.


Since the Bible repeatedly testifies that the faith of Christians is grounded in truth, reason, knowledge, and evidence (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-4; John 5:31-47; Acts 1:3; 26:25), some wonder why Jesus rebuked the apostles for doubting His resurrection prior to seeing Him alive (Mark 16:14; cf. Luke 24:38). Had Jesus expected His apostles to have faith in His resurrection without proof? And why did Jesus tell Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, emp. added)? Was Jesus commending an unverifiable, fickle faith?
The fact is, neither Thomas nor any apostle was rebuked for wanting evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. They were rightly rebuked, however, (1) for doubting the credible evidence they had already received, and (2) for demanding more evidence than was necessary for them to have solid faith in the risen Savior.


The same Man Whom Peter confessed was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16); the same Man Whom the apostles had seen raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44); the same Man Whom they saw transfigured (Matthew 17:5-9); the same Man Who had worked many amazing miracles in their presence (John 20:30); the same Man Who foretold precisely Peter’s triple denial (Matthew 26:34,75); the same Man Who accurately prophesied His own betrayal, scourging, and crucifixion (Matthew 20:18-19): this same Man repeatedly prophesied of His resurrection, even foretelling the very day on which it would occur (John 2:19; Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32). So well known were Jesus’ prophecies of His resurrection from the dead on the third day that even His enemies were aware of them. In fact, the “chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, that while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal Him away’” (Matthew 27:62-64).
So why did Jesus rebuke His apostles for their unbelief following His resurrection? Was He implying that they should have behaved like simpletons and believed everything they ever heard from anyone? (“The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps”—Proverbs 14:15.) Not at all. Jesus had every right to rebuke His apostles’ unbelief, first and foremost, because they refused to believe His Word (cf. Romans 10:17). They had seen Him raise the dead. They had witnessed His perfect life. They had heard His consistent words of Truth, including His repeated and accurate prophecies of various matters, including His betrayal, arrest, scourging, and crucifixion. They had every logical reason to believe what Jesus had prophesied about His resurrection. Everything they had ever seen and heard from Jesus was pure, right, and true. However, rather than expect a risen Redeemer on Sunday morning, such an idea “appeared to them as nonsense” (Luke 24:11, NASB, emp. added). Rather than traveling to Galilee and searching for the living Lord as soon as the Sun appeared on the third day (Matthew 26:32), they remained in Jerusalem behind closed doors “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
Jesus wanted His disciples to understand about His death and resurrection. He told them: “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men” (Luke 9:43, emp. added). He desired for them to have a sincere, strong, evidence-based faith. Sadly, fear, preconceived ideas about the Messiah and His kingdom, and spiritual blindness (Luke 9:44; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4) initially interfered with the apostles’ belief in His resurrection.

Credible Testimony

When Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29), was He condoning a careless faith? Was He advancing the idea of an emotion-driven, feel-good religion? Should we expect Christians living 2,000 years this side of the resurrection of Christ to have a reasonable faith in the risen Savior? If, unlike Thomas and the rest of the apostles, Jesus has never appeared to us, how can we expect to have a fact-based faith?
The same God Who rightly expects His human creation to examine the evidence and come to a knowledge of Him without ever literally seeing Him, is the same God Who expects man to follow the facts that lead to a resurrected Redeemer without ever personally witnessing His resurrection. No one believes in God because they can put Him under a microscope and see Him. No one can prove He exists by touching Him. We cannot use the five senses to see and prove the actual essence of God (cf. John 4:24; Luke 24:39). What we have at our fingertips, however, is a mountain of credibleevidence that testifies on God’s behalf. The very existence of finite matter testifies to a supernatural, infinite, eternal Creator. The endless examples of design in the Universe bear witness to a grand Designer. The laws of science (e.g., the Law of Biogenesis) testify to God’s existence. [NOTE: For additional information on the existence of God, see http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12.]
A reasonable faith in Jesus’ resurrection is, likewise, based upon a mountain of credible testimony. Just as credible testimony (and not first-hand knowledge) has lead billions of people to believe, justifiably so, that Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and George Washington were real people, millions of Christians have come to the logical conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead. Nineteen-hundred-year-old eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection exist in the most historically documented and accurate ancient book in the world—the New Testament. The event was foreshadowed and prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:10; Jonah 1:17-2:10; Matthew 12:40). Though very serious preventative steps were taken to keep the lifeless body of Jesus buried (Matthew 27:62-66), the tomb was found empty on the exact day He promised to arise. The body of Christ was never found (and, no doubt, first-century skeptics, especially the impenitent Jews who put Him to death, would have loved nothing more than to present Jesus’ dead body to early Christians).
The once fearful and skeptical disciples quickly transformed into a courageous, confident group of Christians who suffered and eventually died for their continual belief and teachings regarding the resurrected Lord. Hundreds of early Christians were able to testify to having seen Jesus firsthand after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Tens of thousands of once-skeptical Jews, not the least of which was Saul of Tarsus, examined the evidence, left Judaism, and confessed Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 2:41,47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; 21:20). What’s more, these same Jews changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). As with evidence for the existence of God or the inspiration of the Bible, the cumulative case for the resurrection of Christ from credible testimony lies at the heart of a fortified faith.


Jesus rightly rebuked His apostles following His resurrection. They should have believed Mary Magdalene because she was a credible witness who said nothing more than what the Son of God had previously said many times would happen: He would arise on the third day following His death. What’s more, the blessing that Jesus mentioned to the apostle Thomas (“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”—John 20:29) was not an endorsement of a blind, emotion-based, feel-good religion, but Heaven-sent support for the truthful, credible evidence that leads the open-minded, truth-seeker to confess Him as “Lord and God.”