Lesson 1--Introduction

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We will study Paul’s life chronologically as presented in the book of Acts together with his epistles considered within their historical context.

Our basic presupposition as we approach our study is that the Bible in its entirety is God’s holy Word. That means the Bible is verbally inspired and without error. Therefore, if we meet with seeming contradictions, our assumption is not that there is a flaw in God’s Word, but rather that there is a flaw in our understanding either of God’s Word or the historical situation in which that Word was written ( 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13; John 17:17 ).

Purpose: The purpose of our study is expressed in 2 Peter 3:14-18 and in Ephesians 4:11-16. Peter urges us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ in order that we might remain faithful to Him. Paul urges us to grow in Christ in order to accomplish the work of our personal ministries and so to help build up our fellow Christians.

The Acts of the Apostles: The purpose of the book of Acts is expressed in Acts 1:8; 6:7; 12:24; and 19:20--to record the growth of the gospel message! It can easily be outlined: Part I: The growth of the gospel message in Jerusalem and Samaria (Chapters 1-12); and Part II: The growth of the gospel message throughout the Roman Empire (Chapters 13-28).

An Outline of Acts 1-7:

Chapter 1 - Jesus’ Ascension and Gospel Message Commissioned

Chapter 2 - The Day of Pentecost--the Gospel Message First Proclaimed

Chapter 3 - The Lame Man Healed--the Gospel Message Confirmed

Chapter 4 - Peter and John Imprisoned--the Gospel Message Challenged

Chapter 5 - Ananias and Sapphira--the Gospel Message Defended

Chapter 6 - Seven Deacons Chosen--the Gospel Message Spread

Chapter 7 - Stephen Martyred--the Gospel Message Persecuted

Discussion Topics:

1. According to 2 Peter 3:14-18 and Ephesians 4:11-16 our study of the Bible is always to have both personal and corporate goals. Identify those goals and discuss ways by which we as individuals and as a group can more effectively reach these goals.

2. While most people today, both inside and outside of the church, tend to measure success in terms of the growth of institutions, St. Luke measured the success of the early church in terms of the spread of God’s gospel message. What lessons can we learn from this as we approach the ministry God has entrusted to us today?

This study has been prepared and is being presented at Immanuel by Pastor Paul D. Nolting.