January 15, 2023 – Acts 20

Lesson Date: January 15, 2023

Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 20:1-38

AIM: To lead students to recognize that the Apostle Paul didn’t let anything deter him from his focus on telling people about Jesus, and to encourage them to use every opportunity to tell or teach others about Jesus.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Acts 20 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Bring a light bulb to class.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Comment on the fact that sports is a really big deal in our world today.  Regardless of whether it is football, baseball, soccer, or racing, sporting events are very popular and are very big business.

Ask the students to name a famous, athlete, coach, or sports team.  Ask: “What did it take for that athlete, coach, or team to succeed?  Did they just decide one day to be a winner?” (no, it took years of commitment, dedication, and hard work).  Tell the class that athletes, coaches, and sports teams succeed because their sport is their primary focus in life.  Besides athletic ability, the biggest difference between a star athlete and the rest of us is their focus and commitment.  Great athletes don’t try to be good at everything, they focus on being the best at their sport.

Direct the students’ attention to the light bulb.  Ask: “What is this?” (a light bulb).  Tell the class that when the light bulb is put into a light fixture and turned on, it sends out light in every direction.  Ask: “What’s the difference between a light bulb and a laser?” (the light bulb’s light goes in every direction, but the laser’s light is focused into a very narrow beam).  The difference between a light bulb and a laser beam is focus.  A light bulb can light an entire room, but a laser beam is so powerful it can cut through metal.

Tell the students in today’s study of Acts 20, we will discover that the Apostle Paul was so focused on telling people about Jesus that he didn’t let anything get him off course or slow him down.  The title of today’s lesson is Laser-Focused Ministry.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jesus Makes a Difference: the differences Jesus made in many peoples’ lives).
    • Remind the class that Paul was on his Third Missionary Journey, during which he spent a long time in Ephesus (locate on the Map).
    • Ask: “Why did the idol makers in Ephesus stir up the whole city against Paul?” (because so many people were turning to Jesus Christ and away from idols that they were afraid they would go broke).
  2. Paul’s Focus in Macedonia and Greece.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 20:1.
    • Using the Map, remind the class that Paul planned to leave Ephesus and return to Macedonia and Achaia, before going to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21).
    • Tell the students in spite of opposition and uproar (chap. 19), Paul stayed focused on the plan God had given him
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 20:2-3.
    • Ask: “What did Paul do in Macedonia?” (he traveled about, teaching and encouraging the brethren).
    • Tell the class that Paul wrote 2 Corinthians and Romans during that time.
    • Using the Map, explain that Paul planned to sail from Greece back to Jerusalem.
    • Ask: “According to verse 3, what were the unbelieving Jews doing?” (lying in wait to attack Paul before he boarded the ship).
    • Ask: “What did Paul do? Did he stop serving God?” (no, he simply changed his travel plans, traveling instead by land back through Macedonia.
    • Read Acts 20:4-5.
    • Using the Map, explain that Paul sent most of his companions ahead to Troas.
    • Summarize: Paul was so focused on teaching people and obeying the Lord that he didn’t let threats distract him.
  3. Paul’s Focus while Teaching and Traveling.
    • Read Acts 20:6.
    • Use the Map to explain that Paul sailed from Philippi to Troas where the rest of his companions were waiting for him; they stayed there a week.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 20:7.
    • Ask: “What did Paul do in Troas?” (preached to the church).
    • Ask: “How long did he preach?” (until midnight; Paul was so focused on teaching and helping the young believers that he didn’t care what time it was).
    • Read Acts 20:8-12.
    • Tell the students that Eutychus fell asleep while Paul was preaching and fell out of the third-story window to his death, but God used Paul to raise him from the dead.
    • Ask: “Did Paul let a terrible accident get his focus off teaching and helping the new believers?” (no).
    • Ask: “According to verse 11,what did Paul do after God raised Eutychus from the dead?” (continued teaching and encouraging the believers the rest of the night).
    • Tell the class that Paul did not allow fatigue to take his focus off teaching and ministering to others.
    • Read Acts 20:13-16.
    • Use the Map to describe Paul’s route down the west coast of modern-day Turkey.
    • Ask: “According to verse 16, what was the goal of Paul’s travel?” (to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost).
    • Summarize: Paul didn’t allow a deadly accident or bodily fatigue to take his focus off teaching and ministering for Jesus.
  4. Paul’s Focus with the Elders from Ephesus.
    • Read Acts 20:17.
    • Tell the class that Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem, so he didn’t return to his beloved friends in Ephesus (with whom he had spent three years); instead he sent for the elders of the church to come meet with him in Miletus (locate on the Map).
    • Paul’s Testimony:
      • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 20:18-19.
      • Ask: “What did Paul remind the Ephesian elders about?” (his faithfulness to humbly minister to them in all circumstances).
      • Ask: “Did he allow tears, temptations, or opposition to get his focus off telling people about Jesus?” (no).
    • Paul’s Teaching:
      • Read Acts 20:20.
      • Ask: “What was Paul’s focus while he was in Ephesus?” (teaching the people).
      • Ask: “Where did he teach them?” (publicly and from house to house).
      • Read Acts 20:21.
      • Ask: “What did Paul teach the Ephesians? What was the focus of his teaching?” (repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ).
      • Genuine repentance is not motivated by shame or fear of consequences, but by recognizing that we have sinned against and offended God.
      • Charles Spurgeon said, “Repentance of the evil act and not of the evil heart is like sailors pumping water out of a leaky vessel but forgetting to stop the leak.”
      • Paul’s teaching was focused on repentance and faith, the only way to come to Christ.
    • Paul’s Focus:
      • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 20:22-24.
      • Ask: “Where did Paul say he was going?” (to Jerusalem).
      • Ask: “What did he think he would face there?” (bonds and afflictions).
      • Ask: “Did he let that sway him from his focus?” (no).
      • Ask: “According to the last phrase of verse 24, what was Paul’s focus?” (to preach and teach and tell people about Jesus: “to testify the Gospel of the grace of God”).
    • Paul’s Instructions and Warnings:
      • Read Acts 20:25-27.
      • Paul reminded the elders that he had faithfully preached the kingdom of God to them.
      • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 20:28.
      • Ask: “What did Paul tell the Ephesian elders to do?” (watch out for themselves and the church because God made them overseers, and to feed the church, which the Lord purchased with His blood).
      • These elders from Ephesus had a flock to care for: their church.
      • Ask: “Who is your flock? Who can God use you to influence and teach His Word?  Your family?  Your friends?  Your co-workers?  Your children or grandchildren?”
      • God gives us influence with other people; we must use every opportunity to teach them the Bible and point them to Jesus.
      • Read Acts 20:29-31.
      • Ask: “What warnings did Paul give the Ephesian elders?” (wolves would come into their church to destroy the flock and counterfeits from within the church would draw people away into sin and false doctrine).
    • Paul’s Faithfulness:
      • Read Acts 20:32-38.
      • Paul reviewed his behavior and teaching, then prayed and said a tearful farewell.
    • Summarize: Paul’s focus was on teaching, building up, and protecting the young believers in the new churches.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention once again to the light bulb.  Remind them that the difference between a light bulb and a laser beam is focus.  A light bulb can light an entire room, but a laser beam is so powerful it can cut through metal.

Remind the class that the title of today’s lesson is Laser-Focused Ministry.  Tell them that Paul had a laser focus in life.  Ask: “How would you describe the focus of Paul’s life and ministry?” (telling and teaching people about Jesus, and building up and protecting believers).

Say: “You and I are not preachers or teachers like the Apostle Paul, but we all have opportunities to tell others about Jesus and teach them how to follow Him.”

Ask: “Who are some people God has put in your life that you can tell and teach about Jesus.”

Ask: “What are some ways we can be more laser-focused to tell others about Jesus?” (allow time for responses).

Encourage the students to use every opportunity to tell or teach others about Jesus.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Tell them to ask God to show them ways to tell others about Jesus.  Tell them to ask God to help them be more laser focused on telling people about Jesus and helping them grow in faith.  Ask them to make a commitment to God to do that.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Acts 20:28.  Tell them to look for opportunities to speak to people about Jesus this week.

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