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New Testament

Week 14: Acts 18:23–28:31

1) [SLIDE 1] Introduction.
a) Last week we discussed Peter’s revelation extending the preaching of the gospel to the
Gentiles (Acts 10–11), and how the Jerusalem Council resolved the problem of Gentiles
becoming Christians without first becoming Jews (15).
b) [SLIDE 2] We also read how Saul, who became known as Paul, rose to prominence
within the Christian movement at Antioch and performed two long missionary journeys
to Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece.
c) [SLIDE 3] Tonight’s class will conclude our study of Acts by reviewing Paul’s third
missionary journey, his arrest in Jerusalem, his trials before various authorities, and his
journey as a prisoner to Rome.
2) 18:23–21:16. Paul’s third missionary journey.
a) [SLIDE 4] 18:23. Almost immediately after the conclusion of his second missionary
journey, Paul began a third one. He traveled through Asia Minor, the area of his last two
journeys, where he “strengthen[ed] all the disciples” who had been converted earlier.
b) 18:24–19:41. He came to Ephesus and stayed there for more than two years.1 [SLIDE 5]
Ephesus was the Roman capital of Asia, and home to the temple Artemis, one of the
seven wonders of the ancient world. It had a population of close to half a million at this
time.2 Paul was attracted to urban areas and major centers of commerce and politics,
perhaps because there was a larger audience. His stay here forms the background for the
letters to the Corinthians.
i) [SLIDE 6] 18:24–19:7. Correcting incomplete forms of Christianity.
(1) 18:24–28. Apollos the Hellenized Jew from Alexandria comes to Ephesus,
preaching a form of Christianity that recognizes the baptism of John. Upon
meeting Paul’s disciples, he receives correction to his partial understanding, and
then goes to Corinth in Achaia with a letter of recommendation to the Saints
there. [6.1]
(2) 19:1–7. Paul himself comes to Ephesus, and finds some Christians who, like
Apollos, have been baptized into a John the Baptist-style Christianity, but have
not been taught of or given the gift of the Holy Ghost.3
(3) These two episodes are important because they demonstrate that there were
different forms of Christianity circulating in the Roman Empire. In this case, Paul
was able to correct their misunderstanding.4
ii) 19:8–20. The gospel goes forth in great power in Ephesus.

The saints in Ephesus were the recipients of Paul’s later epistle to the Ephesians, and his later epistles to Timothy were
written to his former missionary companion who was now the head of the church in Ephesus. (There is considerable doubt that
these letters were written by Paul himself; more on that in lesson 24 and 25.)
Acts doesn’t tell us who taught and converted these disciples, but it could have been Apollos himself, prior to his
correction in 18:26.
Modern scholarship views accounts like this not as “true” and “false” forms of Christianity (as Luke and Paul do), but
rather as “Pauline” Christianity versus other forms preached by other disciples. Under this paradigm we see Paul attempting to
spread his form of Christianity by declaring other forms incomplete or in error. New Testament textual scholar Bart Ehrman
refers to “Christianities” in the plural, rather than a single form of Christianity in the first few centuries; see Lost
Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (Oxford University Press, 2003). We’ll discuss this
more in lesson 29.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Acts 18:23–28:31 Week 14, Page 2

(1) 19:8–10. Paul contends in the Jewish synagogue, and then in the town lecture
(2) 19:11–20. Paul performs great healings. Jewish exorcists known as the “Sons of
Sceva” attempt to cast out demons in the name of Jesus, but are unsuccessful.
Many people are converted, including those who formerly practiced magic.
iii) [6.2] 19:21–22. Paul resolves to visit Macedonia and Achaia again before returning
to Jerusalem and then visiting Rome. He sends Timothy and Erastus on ahead.
iv) 19:23–41. Demetrius the silversmith, who made shrines for Artemis, stirs up the
local merchants against Paul by telling them that his preaching is bad for business
and harmful to the worship of Artemis. [SLIDE 7] A large mob forms, and they drag
Gaius and Aristarchus, two Paul’s companions, to the city theater,5 chanting, “Great
is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Fortunately cooler heads prevail, and the town clerk
manages to convince the crowd that these men should be brought before to court if
they have committed an offense, otherwise the crowd will be charged with rioting.
c) [SLIDE 8] 20:1–6. Paul revisits the churches he had established in Macedonia and
Greece, and he stays six months in Corinth.6
d) 20:7–12. On his return trip he stays for a week in Troas, where he preaches to group of
Christians late into the night. A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in a
window, falls asleep during the sermon and falls three floors to his death. Paul raises
him from the dead (the second such miracle in Acts; see also 9:36–43).7
e) 20:13–38. Paul continues his journey towards Jerusalem,8 with the intent of being there
by the Feast of the Pentecost (20:16). When he comes to the city of Miletus,9 he calls for
the elders of the church at Ephesus to come meet him, where he delivers a moving
farewell message (20:18–35).10
The theater at Ephesus was capable of holding 25,000 spectators.
Acts 20:1–6 doesn’t specifically state that he went to Corinth, however his second letter to the Corinthians indicates that
he, at the time of writing, had intended to visit them a third time (2 Corinthians 12:14; 13:1), so it seems likely that his second
visit was during this time.
This event brings up one of my favorite stories from BYU professor Daniel C. Peterson:
“Having, some time back, served on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee of the Church for nearly ten
years, I would never, ever, take a Gospel Doctrine manual to be an official and binding declaration of Church
doctrine. We tried to get things right, we prayed about our work, and what we did was reviewed in Salt Lake
before publication, but it scarcely constituted scripture.
“A story: Once, the scriptural selection about which I was assigned to write a lesson included, among
other things, Acts 20:7-12, in which the apostle Paul drones on for so long in the course of a sermon that a
young man (ironically named Eutychus or “Fortunate”) dozes off and falls from the rafters. Paul has to
restore him to life. As a joke, I inserted a passage in my lesson manuscript that read somewhat along the
following lines:
Have a class member read Acts 20:7-12. Have you ever killed anyone with a sacrament meeting
speech? How did it make you feel? What steps can you take in the future to ensure that it does not
happen again?
“Members of the committee laughed, and the committee chairman sent my lesson on up, incorporating
their suggested revisions but also still including my little joke, to Salt Lake City. Where it passed Correlation.
(I can only assume that each member of the committee chuckled and then passed it on, expecting that
somebody else would remove it.) When I received the galleys of the lesson back for final approval just before
it went to press, the joke was still there. I faced one of the greatest moral crises of my life, but finally called
Church headquarters and suggested that they probably didn’t really want the lesson to go out to Church
members entirely as it stood. So the joke was removed.
“The point being that Gospel Doctrine manuals are not to be confused with authoritative divine
The original source for this has disappeared from the Internet, but it has been reported on other web sites, including
Acts 20:5–21:18 is the second section of “we” passages, where the author of Acts is apparently along for the journey.
Miletus is about 28 miles south of Ephesus, although a journey by foot was probably a little longer. Miletus is the city
where Paul left Trophimus, one of his travelling companions, to recover from an illness (2 Timothy 4:20). Because this cannot
be the same visit as Acts 20 (in which Trophimus accompanied Paul all the way to Jerusalem, according to 21:29), Paul must
have made at least one additional visit to Miletus, perhaps as late as A.D. 65 or 66.
This is Paul’s only sermon given to believing Christians in Acts.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Acts 18:23–28:31 Week 14, Page 3

i) 20:18–21. He testifies of the purity of his own conduct among them.

ii) 20:22–24. He says he feels compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem, even though
he knows by the Spirit that imprisonment and persecutions await him.
iii) 20:25–31. He commands them to keep watch over the church, for after he departs
“savage wolves will come in among you,” “distorting the truth in order to entice the
disciples to follow them” (NRSV 20:29–30).
iv) 20:32–38. He commends them to God, reminding them of his example of working to
support himself, and that they should likewise support the weak. He concludes with
an otherwise unknown saying of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”
f) 21:1–16. Paul concludes his journey to Jerusalem. Along the way, Christians in Tyre tell
him of the forebodings they’ve received from the Holy Ghost, and warn him not to go to
Jerusalem (21:4), but he is determined to go.
3) 21:17–21:39. Paul arrested in the Jerusalem Temple.
a) 21:17–25. When Paul arrives in Jerusalem, he reports to James, the leader of the church
there.12 James tells Paul that the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem have heard that he has
been teaching the Jewish converts he has made abroad not to circumcise their children
or live the Law of Moses.13 He encourages Paul to go with four other men to the Temple
and undergo ritual purification as proof that these stories are not true.
b) [SLIDE 9] 21:26–30. Paul goes to the temple and observes the purification rite. When
the seven-day ritual is almost complete, some Jews of Asia see Paul in the Temple and
seize him, shouting out that he’s been teaching against the Law and has brought a
Gentile into the inner court.
i) [SLIDE 10] These Jews had seen Paul in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile
Christian from Ephesus (20:4), and wrongly assumed that Paul had brought him
into the Temple.
c) [SLIDE 11] 21:31–39. Roman soldiers stationed at the Antonia Fortress break up the
crowd and drag Paul away for questioning. He asks the Roman captain permission to
speak to the crowd.
4) 21:40–25:32. Paul’s trials and defenses before various people and authorities.
a) 21:40–22:30. Before the Jews at the Jerusalem Temple.
i) In Paul’s speech on the steps at the Temple, he tells the crowd of assembled Jews
about how he formerly persecuted the Christians,14 but was converted when he
received a vision on the road to Damascus, had his sight restored miraculously, and
was baptized.
(1) He adds a new detail: After his conversion and visit to Jerusalem, he had a vision
of Jesus in Temple, in which he was warned to flee the city and told that he would
be sent to the Gentiles (22:17–21; compare 9:26–30).
ii) When he declares that the Lord sent him to preach to the Gentiles, the assembled
Jews go crazy. The Roman guards drag Paul away to be interrogated by flogging.

This is an important quote, because it shows that Paul (or at least Luke) had access to sayings of Jesus that were not
included in any of the four canonized gospels.
This is James, the brother of the Lord, whose decision was accepted by the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:13–21).
This was contrary to the spirit of the letter sent by the Jerusalem Council, which gave only Gentile Christians permission
to refrain from living the Law of Moses (Acts 15:23–29).
Acts again refers to the Christian movement as “the Way” in 22:4, as well as in 24:14 and 24:22.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Acts 18:23–28:31 Week 14, Page 4

iii) Paul protests that he is a Roman citizen and has not been condemned by trial, at
which point the Roman captain calls off the flogging and has Paul examined before
the Sanhedrin (the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem).
b) 23:1–23:11. Before the Sanhedrin.
i) Paul protests his honesty and is abused by the high priest. He turns the Pharisees
and the Sadducees on the council against each other by claiming to be a Pharisee
who is on trial because of his belief in the resurrection. (This claim is a half-truth:
Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion, and he does believe in the resurrection.)
ii) The Roman captain has Paul taken away under guard to protect him from violence.
iii) While in prison, Jesus appears to Paul and tells him, “Keep up your courage! For just
as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”
c) [SLIDE 12] 23:12–24:27. Before Felix.
i) 23:12–35. Paul’s nephew alerts the Roman guard to a Jewish conspiracy to kill Paul.
The captain has Paul taken immediately, under guard, to Felix,15 the governor of
Judea who resides in the coastal city of Caesarea. [SLIDE 13]
ii) 24:1–9. Paul has a hearing before Felix, where Ananias the high priest and Tertullus
the attorney (KJV “orator”) accuse him of sedition.16
iii) 24:10–21. Paul defends himself before Felix by claiming that he did nothing wrong at
the Temple, and that they have no proof of their charges nor any witnesses present to
testify against him. He bears witness of his hope in the resurrection and again claims
that he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs.
iv) 24:22–27. Felix keeps Paul in custody, with some limited freedoms, and calls for him
from time to time. Felix secretly hopes that Paul will buy his freedom with a bribe,
but this doesn’t happen. Paul remains in detention for two years, and Felix is
succeeded by Festus.17
d) 25:1–12. Before Festus.
i) After assuming office, Festus goes to Jerusalem, where the Jewish leaders ask him
for Paul. Festus holds a hearing back in Caesarea, and, wishing to do the Jews a
favor, he offers to have Paul turned over to them. Paul exercises his right as a Roman
citizen to be tried in Rome at an emperor’s tribunal: “I appeal unto Caesar” (25:11).
e) 25:13–32. Before Agrippa.
i) 25:13–27. A few days later, Herod Agrippa II and his wife (and sister) Bernice come
to Caesarea to welcome Festus.18 Festus tells Agrippa about Paul’s case, and Agrippa
asks for an audience.

Marcus Antonius Felix was the Roman procurator of Judea c. A.D. 52–58. He was cruel and immoral, and crime greatly
increased in Judea during his rule For a biography of his life and Roman service, see
A textual note: The King James Version includes a lengthy passage in Acts 24:6b–8a that is not in the earliest and best
Greek manuscripts, and is almost certainly a later addition. The spurious passage is “and would have judged according to our
law. But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his
accusers to come unto thee:” The reason for this insertion seems to be to make appear that Tertullus perjured himself during
his testimony.
Porcius Festus was procurator of Judea from about A.D. 58–62. Jewish anger over the corruption of his administration
was one of the issues that led to the Jewish revolt of A.D. 66, which resulted in the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. See
Herod Agrippa II (born A.D. 27/28), was the son of Agrippa I (whose persecutions and death are recorded in Acts 12).
Agrippa II was the seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great. See

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Acts 18:23–28:31 Week 14, Page 5

ii) 26:1–23. Paul gives one his most forceful and passionate defense of his conversion
and calling.
(1) 26:15–18. He adds a new detail we haven’t heard before: Jesus commissioned
him to preach to Jews and Gentiles.
(2) 26:22–23. He concludes with a powerful testimony of the atonement of Christ.
iii) 26:24–29. Festus accuses him of being insane. Paul forces Agrippa to decide if he
believes Paul’s witness by citing the king’s belief in the Old Testament prophets and
his knowledge of the Christian movement.
(1) 26:28. Agrippa’s famous declaration, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a
Christian” is almost certainly an overstatement by the King James translators.
Agrippa isn’t claiming that Paul has nearly converted him; he’s protesting that
Paul is asking him to convert so quickly:19
“Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?” (NRSV)
“In such a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?” (NET)
“Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
(2) 26:29. Paul’s response is forceful: “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not
only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—
except for these chains” (NRSV).
iv) 26:30–32. Agrippa and Festus agree that Paul has done nothing to deserve death or
imprisonment. Agrippa notes with irony that Paul could have been released if he
hadn’t appealed to Rome.
5) [SLIDE 14] 27:1–28:31. The last two chapters of Acts chronicle Paul’s journey to Rome as a
prisoner.20 This is Paul’s longest recorded voyage, a journey of about 2,000 miles over six
months (autumn A.D. 60–spring A.D. 61), mostly by sea under dangerous conditions.21
a) 27:1–12. The prisoners are escorted on their journey to Rome by a centurion named
Julius (27:1–2). They travel by hiring passage on two merchant ships.
i) After stopping in several cities along the way, Paul and company make their way to
the island of Crete (27:7). Although Paul warns Julius not to sail the Mediterranean
during a dangerous time of the year (September/October22), the centurion disregards
his advice and sets sail for Phoenix, a city of Crete where they can spend the winter
b) 27:13–44. A fierce storm at sea drives their ship toward Africa. The crew becomes so
desperate that they throw the cargo overboard to prevent the ship from sinking.
i) 27:21–26. After being driven by the storm for nearly two weeks, Paul tells the crew
and passengers that an angel has promised them they will survive.

The Greek text has a prepositional phrase, εν ολιγω (en oligO), which idiomatically implies a noun: “in short [measure]”
or “in [a] short [time].” Agrippa is probably joking to avoid Paul’s question of whether he believes in the prophets.
This account includes the last of the “we” passages (27:1–28:16).
The detailed account of the voyage and emphasis on and use of nautical terminology seems to indicate that the author of
Acts (Luke, presumably) had extensive seafaring experience.
The “fast” mentioned in 27:9 is probably Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement in late September. Sailing on the
Mediterranean becomes hazardous in the early autumn and, ancient, was completely stopped between mid-November and
mid-March; this explains why the Alexandrian ship Paul was on was looking for a place to winter (27:9–12).

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Acts 18:23–28:31 Week 14, Page 6

ii) After two weeks they wreck on the island of Malta (KJV “Melita”). All of the 276
passengers and crew23 survive by swimming or grabbing boards from the wreck and
making their way to the beach.
c) 28:1–10. The prisoners winter on Malta, where the natives24 show kindness to the
survivors. Paul miraculously survives a snakebite, and heals the father of the island’s
leading Roman and other native Maltans.
d) 28:11–15. After staying three months, Paul and company set sail again for Rome. They
continue their journey to Sicily and eventually arrive in the Italian port city of Puteoli
(28:13), where Paul stays for one week with Christians in the area. Paul is then taken to
Rome via the well-known Appian Way road (28:15). [SLIDE 15]
e) 28:16–31. In Rome the Paul is allowed to live by himself guarded only by one soldier
i) 28:17–28. He preaches Christ to the Jews in Rome, who are interested to hear about
Paul’s religion because “every where it is spoken against” (28:22). He tells them that
they have fallen into apostasy, and therefore God has sent salvation to the Gentiles
ii) 28:30–31. He remains under house arrest for two years, during which time he
preaches the gospel boldly to all who visit him.
6) And so Acts ends in a rather anticlimactic fashion, without telling us if Paul ever got his
audience with the Emperor, nor anything about his later travels after his release in A.D. 63.
a) [SLIDE 16] What happened to Paul after Acts? We simply don’t know, but we do have
hint from places he mentions in his later epistles; the rest is based on later writings and
i) [16.1] At the end of his third mission he intended to go to Rome and then on to
Spain (Romans 15:25–28).26
ii) [16.2] While he was under house arrest in Rome, he seems to have changed his
mind, and wanted to come to Philippi in Macedonia (Philippians 2:24) and Colossae
in Asia Minor (Philemon 2:22).
iii) [16.3] If we accept the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) as authentic
writings of Paul,27 he appears to have ministered further in Crete,28 Greece,29
Macedonia,30 and Asia Minor31—areas where he had traveled and taught during his
earlier missionary journeys.
iv) [16.4] Tradition holds that he was rearrested and beheaded in Rome during the
persecution of Christians under Emperor Nero, somewhere between A.D. 64 and 67.

See 27:37.
KJV Acts 28:2 literally translates βαρβαροι (barbaroi) as “barbarians.” In modern English this has the connotation of
savage, uneducated people, a meaning that was not inherent in the Greek. To the Greeks, foreign languages sounded like “bar,
bar, bar,” and so foreigners were called barbaroi. The usage of this word in 28:2 is not meant in a derogatory fashion.
A textual note: The King James Version includes an entire verse (28:29) that is not in the earliest and best Greek
manuscripts, and is almost certainly a later addition.
There are very early accounts that claim Paul did in fact make it to Spain. The late 1st-century Christian leader Clement
wrote that Paul came “to the extreme limit of the west” before his martyrdom (1 Clement 5:7; The
Muratorian Fragment, written in Rome in A.D. 170, refers to “the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] when he [then]
journeyed to Spain” (vv. 38–39;
There are significant reasons not to believe the Pastoral Epistles were written by Paul, but were instead written by later
disciples of imitators of Paul. We’ll discuss this more in lesson 25.
Crete is mentioned in Titus 1:5.
The city of Nicopolis is mentioned in Titus 3:12, and Corinth in 2 Timothy 4:20.
The region of Macedonia is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:3.
Ephesus is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:3 (cf. 2 Timothy 1:18), Troas in 2 Timothy 4:13, and Miletus in 2 Timothy 4:20.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Acts 18:23–28:31 Week 14, Page 7

v) When we get to Paul’s letters,32 we’ll study more of his theology and teachings.
7) [SLIDE 17] This ends our six-week study of Luke-Acts. Next week we’ll begin a four-week
course on the Gospel of John.
a) Reading: John 1:1–6:71.

See lessons 20–25.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.