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Detailed Observation 1

Detailed Observation: Acts 20:17 – 26:32

General Materials: Narrative/History

This section highlights the third journey of Paul. While in Miletus Paul calls for Ephesian

elders and he reveals to them the fact that he must go to Jerusalem “not knowing what will

happen” him (Acts 20:22). Paul’s only assurance is that “prison and hardships” await him

wherever he would go and that he would never again see these elders (Acts 20:23, 25). After his

lengthy speech to the elders (20:17-35) he knelt down and the Ephesian elders prayed for him.

Even though they were saddened at what was to be they took Paul to his ship and sent him off

(20:36-38). From this point Luke records a summary of Paul’s journey back toward Jerusalem

where the elements of Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders would be realized (Chapters 22-26).

Specific Chapter Titles:

Chapter 20. Setting Out for Macedonia and Pressing Toward Jerusalem.
Chapter 21. Arrival and Arrest at Jerusalem.
Chapter 22. Paul Speaks to the People (21:37-22:29)
Chapter 23. Paul Speaks to the Religious Leaders Who Plan His Death (22:30-23:35)
Chapter 24. Paul On Trial Before Felix.
Chapter 25. Paul On Trial Before Festus.
Chapter 26. Paul’s Apologetic to Agrippa.

Outline: (Outline From My Acts Book Survey and Expanded. The third journey of Paul actually

begins in Acts 18:23 but we are picking up in the middle based on the assignment).

I. Paul’s Third Journey (20:17 – 21:36)

a. Meeting with the Ephesian Elders Then Through Tyre Toward Jerusalem (20:17-
38 - 21:1-14)
b. In Jerusalem (21:15-36)
i. Arrival and Report to the Elders (21:15-25)
ii. Paul is Arrested (21:26-36)
II. Paul Speaks to the Crowd (21:37- 22:29)
III. Paul Speaks to the Religious Leaders (22:30 – 23:35)
IV. Paul’s Trial (24:1 – 26:32)
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Structural Relationships:

I. Paul’s Third Journey (20:17-21:36)

a. Meeting with the Ephesian Elders Then Through Tyre Toward Jerusalem (20:17- 21:1-14)
b. In Jerusalem (21:15-36)
i. Arrival and Report to Elders (21:15-25)
ii. Paul is Arrested (21:26-36)

I.a. serves as a long summary preparation of Paul’s travels through Tyre to Jerusalem.

More importantly Luke records Paul’s speech to the elders of Ephesus wherein he prepares them

for the possibility of him being imprisoned and having hardships no matter where he goes.

The mood of this journey seems to be in contrast with the previous two journeys. Paul’s

first journey (Acts 13:1-14:28) begins after having been sent by the Antioch church after prayer

and fasting. By all appearances this was an upbeat moment not only for Paul but the Antioch

church as well. The second journey (Acts 16:1-18:22) begins with a division between Paul and

Barnabas but the mood lightens as Timothy joins Paul and then revival breaks out in Philippi. In

contrast the third journey begins with Paul calling together the elders to prepare them for the fact

he will never see them again.

The latter part of this third journey (20:17- 26:32) does not record any conversions of

either Gentile or Jew and neither is there another church planted by Paul. This stands in stark

contrast with the first two journeys where people are converted and churches are planted.

Questions: How does this section prepare us for what would happen to Paul in the next

section? How does the summary of Paul’s travel help us to understand what is on the

horizon for Paul? What do the contrasts between the journeys imply about Paul’s future

ministry? What do these contrast suggest about the evolution of the church? How do

these contrasts show Paul in a different light? Why are these differences important to the

narrative as a whole?
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I.b. is the realization of the preparation of I.a. Here Paul arrives in Jerusalem and gives a

report to the Jerusalem elders (Acts 21:15-25). This could be viewed as a comparative structural

relationship in the book of Acts. The first report was in Acts 15 caused a certain group to

demand a position be taken on circumcision of Gentiles. This was the first time the Jerusalem

church began to openly express their acceptance that the Gentiles were receiving the message. If

you compare the report of Acts 15 to 21 there seems to be a similar reaction.

Comparisons/Contrasts of Acts 15 Acts 21

Audience Jerusalem elders Jerusalem elders and James
Report by Paul Paul
The report of “…everything God had done “…what God had done among
through them” (v. 4) the Gentiles through his
ministry” (v. 19)
Dispute over Circumcision (the Law) Circumcision (the Law)
Reaction by the elders To discuss the issue and write To make Paul follow the law
a letter of their decision. and go through purification
and give offering.
After the reaction Paul and others are sent to Paul is accused of false
take the letter to the Gentiles teaching and bringing a
Gentile into the Temple. This
caused a riot

As we saw in I.a. Paul prepared the elders of Ephesus for his possible imprisonment and

hardships. In section 1.b. we see the beginning of the realization of this preparation. After

having given his report and obeying the demands of the Jerusalem elders a problem arises. Luke

records some Jews stirred up trouble by saying Paul taught against the Law; and he had brought

a Gentile into the Temple (Ephesians 21:28-29). This was cause for a citywide riot resulting in

Paul being nearly killed. In the end, a Roman commander who takes advantage of the confusion

rescues Paul but eventually Paul is allowed to speak to the crowd (Section II).

Questions: How do the reactions of the Jerusalem elders differ? How does this shed light

on the ministry of the Jerusalem elders? Why would they make Paul fulfill a Mosaic

command now that they are followers of Christ? What are the implications on the
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evolution of the church? Does this realization impact or change the message of Paul?

II. Paul Speaks to the Crowd (21:37- 22:29)

This section can be compared/contrasted with another event in the life of Paul and the

hostile crowd in Ephesus like so…

Ephesus Jerusalem
Instigators of the riot Silversmiths (Gentiles) Jews because of the Temple of
because of the Temple of God
Was it a citywide riot Yes Yes
Was there confusion in the Yes (but the speech is given Yes
crowd before the speech by the city clerk not Paul)
Was there resistance to Paul Yes (for the sake of safety) No
speaking to the crowd
Was Paul introduced to the Yes No
crowd before speaking
Who does Paul address No one –as he does not speak The angry Jews
What is the end result Paul went to Macedonia Paul declares his Roman
citizenship and stays in

Paul when addressing the angry crowd offers his testimony of conversion for the first

time. This will be repeated in similar terms in Acts 26 but with some differences we can

compare them like this…

Acts 22 Acts 26
Audience Jewish crowd King Agrippa
Mention of ethnicity Yes Yes (vv. 4-6)
Mention of adherence to Yes Implied (vv. 4-8)
Law and his training
Mention of the resurrection No Yes (vv. 7-8)
Admission of persecution of Yes Yes (vv. 9-11)
Mention of who authorized Yes Yes (v. 12)
the persecution
Time of Day mentioned About noon About noon (v. 13)
Flash of light mentioned Yes Yes (v. 13)
Jesus’ language mentioned No Yes (Aramaic v. 14)
What did Jesus say “Saul! Saul! Why do you Saul, Saul, why do you
persecute me?” persecute me? Is it hard for
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you to kick against the

goads?” (v. 14b)
Paul’s response to Jesus Who are you Who are you? (v. 15)
Jesus response to Paul I am Jesus I am Jesus, stand up, I have
appointed you as a servant and
witness of what you have seen
of me and what I will show
you. I will rescue you from
your own people and from the
Gentiles. I am sending you to
them to open their eyes and
turn them from darkness to
light and from the power of
Satan to God, so that they may
receive forgiveness of sins and
a place among those who are
sanctified by faith in me. (vv.
Paul’s response to Jesus What shall I do, Lord N/A
Jesus response to Paul Go to Damascus and there I N/A
will tell you all you need to do
Who led him to Damascus His companions N/A
Where did they go To Ananias N/A
Mention of trance Yes No
Mention of praying in Yes No
Temple after conversion
Mention of Stephen Yes No
Mention of Paul’s part in Yes No
murdering Stephen
Mention of God’s direct Yes (v. 21) Yes (vv. 15-18)
command to go to the

The major contrast between these two testimonies is that of audience and description of

what Jesus said to Paul. In the speech to Agrippa there is an emphasis on what Paul is called to

do for the Gentiles. In the speech to the Jews there is an emphasis on Jewish people, ideas,

language (i.e. God of our fathers) and customs.

There is also causation at the end of this section (Acts 22:22-29). That is, Paul declares

his Roman citizenship.

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Questions: What do the differences in Paul’s speeches show us about him? What are the

implications of Paul giving his testimony in two different ways? What are the major

differences and why are they highlighted? What is Luke trying to show the reader by the

similarity of events between Ephesus and Jerusalem? What are the implications of Paul

staying in Jerusalem but leaving Ephesus in the midst of persecution?

Definitional Question: Why do the translators put an exclamation point after the

word “Saul” in Acts 22 but not in Acts 26?

III. Paul Speaks to the Religious Leaders (22:30 – 23:35)

This section opens with substantiation leading to causation. Because Paul has declared

his Roman citizenship the commander is now keen to find out “why Paul was being accused by

the Jews” (Acts 22:30). This then has the cause of Paul being sent to the Sanhedrin. Then Luke

records a list of cause and effect relationships between Paul and the Sanhedrin. Paul declares to

them that he has “fulfilled” his duty “to God in all good conscience” (Acts 23:1). The high priest

orders someone to strike Paul (Acts 23:2). Paul harshly rebukes the high priest (Acts 23:3). Then

someone rebukes Paul for rebuking the high priest (Acts 23:4). Paul asserts he was not aware this

was the high priest and then mentions he is a Pharisee and asks if he is on trial for having “hope

in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6). This causes a “great uproar” and a violent dispute

between the Jewish sects causing the commander to take Paul away. This leads to Paul being

visited by the Lord who encourages him and also informs him he will testify in Rome (Acts

23:11). All of this uproar has the effect of more than 40 men plotting to kill Paul. But the plot is

foiled when it is discovered and Paul is transferred to Caesarea (Acts 23:12-23) where he is then

kept under guard at Herod’s palace (Acts 23:24-35).

Questions: How do each of these cause and effect elements work to Paul’s advantage or
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disadvantage? How do they fit into the big picture of Paul’s realization that he would be

imprisoned and suffer hardships? What do each of these elements mean to the story of

Paul’s situation? Why does Luke give us this detail? What is implied about the

Sanhedrin; about Paul; about his Roman citizenship and his calling upon it? What does

Jesus speaking to Paul about Rome suggest about Paul’s future ministry?

IV. Paul’s Trial (24:1 – 26:32)

This section summarizes the events of Paul’s trial(s) before Felix, Festus and Agrippa.

There are also a number of causational relationships that carry the reader through the summary.

Because Paul is sent to Caeserea (Acts 23:23-35) he is able to plead his case before Felix (Acts

24:1-23) as well as witness to him about Christ (Acts 24:24-26). Because Felix made no decision

in the matter Paul then is held over until Festus can come and hear the case (Acts 25:1-11).

While speaking to Festus Paul appeals to Caesar. This could also be viewed as the beginning of a

realization of Acts 23:11. But before Paul goes to Caesar he has an audience with Agrippa who

had asked Festus to hear Paul (Acts 25:13-22).

See the chart of Paul’s testimonies in Section II concerning Acts 25:23-26:32

Key Themes:

1. Context determines how the message of Christ is presented.

2. Ministers must seek to understand the culture(s) to whom they are speaking.

3. Obedience to the call of God may come with hardships but Christ is with us.

4. Both the religious and secular will confront those who boldly and without shame

proclaim the gospel.

5. God will make a way for his message to be preached in every sphere of society.