December 11, 2022 – Acts 15:36 – 16:40

Lesson Date: December 11, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 15:36 – 16:40

AIM: To lead students to discover that God miraculously opened doors for the spread of the Gospel and opened hearts to receive Jesus, and to pray that God will open the hearts of their lost friends so they will be saved.


Before class: Read the notes on Acts 15:36 – 16:40 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Bring your keys to class.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Hold up your keys and ask the following questions:

“Have you ever misplaced or forgotten your keys?”

“What problems did that cause?”

“How did it make you feel to not have your keys when you needed them?”

Allow time for students to answer each of those questions and to interact with one another about the difficulties and frustrations caused by not having the keys you need when you need them.  This may yield some humorous comments or stories.  That is good; it helps the students connect.

Tell the students the only ways to get through a locked door are to either (a) have the key that opens that door, or (b) for someone to open the door for you.  If we don’t have one or the other, we won’t go through the door.

Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is Open Doors and Open Hearts.  As we study Acts 15 and 16, we are going to see how God opened doors and opened hearts to the Gospel.



  1. Review.
    • Be sure everyone has a Sunday School Member Quarterly for the new quarter.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Are Works Needed for Salvation?).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verses (Eph. 2:8-9).
  2. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 15:36.
    • Remind the students that Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch (in Syria; locate on the Map) a long time after completing their First Missionary Journey (Acts 14:28; 15:35).
    • Ask: “What did Paul suggest that they do?” (go visit the new believers they led to the Lord on their First Missionary Journey, to see how they were doing).
    • Read Acts 15:37-41.
    • Explain the following:
      • Barnabas was determined to take John Mark with them (v. 37).
      • Paul did not want John Mark to go, because during their First Missionary Journey he abruptly left and went home (v. 38; Acts 13:13).
      • Paul and Barnabas could not agree, so they parted company (v. 39).
      • Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Barnabas’ home country of Cyprus (locate on the Map), while Paul took Silas with him and travelled through Syria and Paul’s home region of Cilicia (locate on the Map; v. 39-41).
    • Read Acts 16:1-2.
    • Use the Map to show that Paul and Silas continued west to the cities of Derbe and Lystra.
    • Ask: “Who did they meet there?” (Timothy).
    • Ask: “What do these verses tell us about Timothy?” (he was a Christian, the son of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father, and he had a good reputation among the other believers).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 16:3-5.
    • Explain the following:
      • Timothy had never been circumcised, so Paul circumcised him.
      • He did that so Timothy would be free to go into the Jewish synagogues, since everyone in the region knew that Timothy’s father was a Gentile.
      • Timothy was NOT circumcised as a requirement for salvation; he was already saved.
      • As they travelled, Paul and Silas delivered the decree from the Jerusalem church about things Gentile believers must abstain from (Acts 15:29).
      • Paul and Silas confirmed and strengthened the churches everywhere they went.
    • Summarize: Paul began his Second Missionary Journey by revisiting and strengthening the churches he established on his First Missionary Journey.
  3. An Open Door for Ministry.
    • Read Acts 16:6-8.
    • Refer to the Map and explain the following:
      • Paul and Silas continued travelling and preaching through Phrygia and Galatia.
      • They wanted to go west into the region known as Asia, but the Holy Spirit did not allow them to go there.
      • They travelled to Mysia and wanted to go to Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit would not allow them to go there, either.
      • In those cases, the Holy Spirit closed doors to certain areas.
      • Paul and Silas continued west to Troas.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 16:9-10.
    • Ask: “What happened in verse 9?” (Paul saw a vision in the night of a Macedonian man begging him to come preach to them).
    • Explain that Macedonia is the northern part of Greece (locate on the Map).
    • Ask: “What did Paul and Silas do?” (they perceived that God was calling them to Macedonia, so they immediately left to go there).
    • Tell the students the word “we” in verse 10 reveals that Luke was travelling with Paul and Silas; Timothy was also with them.
    • Read Acts 16:11.
    • Use the Map to explain that they left Troas, sailed to Samothrace, and the next day landed at Neapolis.
    • Stress the fact that God opened the door for Paul and Silas to take the Gospel into Macedonia, the first time the Gospel message was taken to Europe.
    • Summarize: God directed Paul and Silas on their missionary journey, closing doors to certain regions, but opening the door for ministry in Macedonia.
  4. A Heart Opened by the Lord.
    • Read Acts 16:12-13.
    • Explain that Paul and his companions continued a few miles inland to the important city of Philippi (locate on the Map).
    • Ask: “Where did they go on the Sabbath day?” (to a riverside where Jewish people gathered to pray).
    • Explain that the reason Paul and Silas did not go to the synagogue is that for there to be a synagogue in any city, there must be a minimum of ten Jewish men living there; there were very few Jewish men in Philippi, so the women met to pray at the riverside.
    • Read Acts 16:14-15.
    • Ask: “Who did they meet there?” (a woman named Lydia).
    • Ask: “What did the Lord do for Lydia?” (opened her heart to receive the things Paul preached).
    • Tell the students that because the Lord opened her heart, Lydia and her household received Christ and obediently followed the Lord in believer’s baptism.
    • Tell them that Paul and his companions lodged in Lydia’s house.
    • Summarize: The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to the Gospel, resulting in her salvation and the salvation of the rest of her family.
  5. Open Doors that Opened Hearts.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 16:16-18.
    • Ask: “How did this demon-possessed slave girl make money for her masters?” (by telling their future for a fee).
    • Explain that while this demon-possessed girl spoke some truth, she was making a mockery and spectacle of Paul and his preaching.
    • Ask: “What did Paul do?” (cast out the demon in Jesus’ name).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 16:19.
    • Ask: “Why were the slave girl’s owners upset?” (because they could no longer make money through her fortune telling).
    • Read Acts 16:20-24.
    • Tell the class that the girl’s owners incited the city leaders to arrest Paul and Silas, beat them, and put them in the worst part of the jail, with their feet locked in the stocks.
    • Ask: “How would you feel if you were unjustly arrested, beaten, and thrown in jail?”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 16:25.
    • Ask: “How did Paul and Silas react to their mistreatment and imprisonment?” (they prayed and sang praises to God).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 16:26-28.
    • Ask: “According to verse 26, what happened?” (God sent an earthquake and miraculously caused all the prison doors to open and all the prisoners’ shackles to fall off).
    • Stress the fact that God miraculously opened the prison doors.
    • Ask: “How did the jailer react?” (he thought all his prisoners had escaped, so he was going to kill himself; the penalty for letting a prisoner escape was death).
    • Ask: “According to verse 28, what did Paul yell to the jailer?” (don’t harm yourself; we are all here).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 16:29-31.
    • Ask: “What happened?” (the jailer rushed in and asked Paul and Silas how to be saved).
    • Ask: “What did they tell him?” (to believe in Jesus; John 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10).
    • Read Acts 16:32-34.
    • Explain the following:
      • Paul and Silas witnessed to the jailer and his family, and they were all saved.
      • The jailer treated their wounds and fed them.
      • God opened the hearts of the jailer and his family.
      • The next morning Paul and Silas were released (v. 35-40).
    • Summarize: The Lord miraculously opened prison doors and used that miracle to open the hearts of the Philippian jailer and his family.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Review the lesson by reminding the students of the following:

  • God opened the door for Paul and Silas to take the Gospel into Europe.
  • He opened Lydia’s heart to receive Christ and her whole family was saved.
  • The Lord miraculously opened prison doors and shackles to free Paul and Silas.
  • He opened the hearts of the Philippian jailer and his family, and saved them all.

Read John 6:44.  Hold up your keys again.  Tell the class that just as a key can open a locked door, the Holy Spirit of God is the key to open the hearts of people to believe the Gospel and be saved.

Ask: “Who do you know that needs to know Jesus?”

Tell the students to ask God to give them an open door to talk to that person, and to open their heart to be receptive to the Gospel message.

Stress the fact that if God can miraculously open prison doors, He can open the hearts of our friends.

Lead a closing prayer, asking God to give us open doors and to give our lost friends open hearts.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize John 6:44.  Urge them to pray daily that God will give them an open door to talk to their lost friends about Jesus and open their hearts so they will be saved.

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