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Sabbath School Lesson Texts

These text files are prepared by Laurelbrook staff member James Brenneman for his personal use and for those who wish to see the Bible texts in the adult Sabbath School lesson in possibly a new light.

September 15-21, 2018 (Lesson 12 - Confinement in Caesarea)


Memory Text: Acts 26:29 New Living Translation Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”


Sunday – Before Felix

Acts 24:10-19 New Century Version 10 When the governor made a sign for Paul to speak, Paul said, “Governor Felix, I know you have been a judge over this nation for a long time. So I am happy to defend myself before you. 11 You can learn for yourself that I went to worship in Jerusalem only twelve days ago. 12 Those who are accusing me did not find me arguing with anyone in the Temple or stirring up the people in the synagogues or in the city. 13 They cannot prove the things they are saying against me now. 14 But I will tell you this: I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way of Jesus. The others say that the Way of Jesus is not the right way. But I believe everything that is taught in the law of Moses and that is written in the books of the Prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God that they have—the hope that all people, good and bad, will surely be raised from the dead. 16 This is why I always try to do what I believe is right before God and people. 17 “After being away from Jerusalem for several years, I went back to bring money to my people and to offer sacrifices. 18 I was doing this when they found me in the Temple. I had finished the cleansing ceremony and had not made any trouble; no people were gathering around me. 19 But there were some people from Asia who should be here, standing before you. If I have really done anything wrong, they are the ones who should accuse me.

Acts 24:12 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY No one could say he had seen Paul doing any of the things of which his enemies were accusing him. Paul’s statements were also capable of proof. There were no witnesses who could prove that Paul had spoken or otherwise conducted himself in an offensive way.

Acts 24:16 Good News Translation And so I do my best always to have a clear conscience before God and people.


Monday – Before Festus

Acts 25:1-5 Contemporary English Version Three days after Festus had become governor, he went from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 There the chief priests and some Jewish leaders told him about their charges against Paul. They also asked Festus 3 if he would be willing to bring Paul to Jerusalem. They begged him to do this because they were planning to attack and kill Paul on the way. 4 But Festus told them, “Paul will be kept in Caesarea, and I am soon going there myself. 5 If he has done anything wrong, let your leaders go with me and bring charges against him there.”

Acts 25:9-12 New Living Translation 9 Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?” 10 But Paul replied, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. 11 If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!” 12 Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!”

Acts 25:11 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY The emperor was the final court of appeal from all subordinate tribunals throughout the empire… It has been suggested that by appealing his case to Caesar, Paul purposed not only to secure a decision in his own case, which had come to a standstill, but also, perhaps, to secure at least a measure of recognition for Christianity as a legal religion in its own right. This might well be expected to afford the ambassadors of the cross greater freedom wherever they might go, and to overcome local opposition the more readily.


Tuesday – Before Agrippa

Acts 25:13-22 New English Translation 13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 14 While they were staying there many days, Festus explained Paul’s case to the king to get his opinion, saying, “There is a man left here as a prisoner by Felix. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met his accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the accusation. 17 So after they came back here with me, I did not postpone the case, but the next day I sat on the judgment seat and ordered the man to be brought. 18 When his accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the evil deeds I had suspected. 19 Rather they had several points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a man named Jesus who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive. 20 Because I was at a loss how I could investigate these matters, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. 21 But when Paul appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of His Majesty the Emperor, I ordered him to be kept under guard until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I would also like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he replied, “you will hear him.”

Acts 25:13 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Festus would naturally turn to Agrippa II for counsel concerning the handling of Paul’s case. Agrippa had custody of the Temple treasure and the privilege of appointing the high priest. He was therefore in a sense a religious colleague of the Roman governor, and in a position to give sound advice with respect to the case.

Acts 25:23-27 Easy-to-Read Version 23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came to the meeting with great show, acting like very important people. They entered the room with military leaders and important men of the city. Festus ordered the soldiers to bring Paul in. 24 Festus said, “King Agrippa and all of you gathered here with us, you see this man. All the Jewish people, here and in Jerusalem, have complained to me about him. When they complain about him, they shout that he should be killed. 25 When I judged him, I did not find him guilty of any crime worthy of death. But he asked to be judged by Caesar, so I decided to send him to Rome. 26 However, I don’t really know what to tell Caesar that this man has done wrong. So I have brought him before all of you—especially you, King Agrippa. I hope that you can question him and give me something to write to Caesar. 27 I think it is foolish to send a prisoner to Caesar without making some charges against him.”


Wednesday – Paul’s Defense

Acts 26:1-23 God’s Word Translation Agrippa said to Paul, “You’re free to speak for yourself.” Paul acknowledged King Agrippa and then began his defense. 2 “King Agrippa, I think I’m fortunate today to stand in front of you and defend myself against every charge that the Jews brought against me. 3 I say this since you are especially familiar with every custom and controversy in Judaism. So I ask you to listen patiently to me. 4 “All the Jews know how I lived the earliest days of my youth with my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They’ve known me for a long time and can testify, if they’re willing, that I followed the strictest party of our religion. They know that I lived my life as a Pharisee. 6 “I’m on trial now because I expect God to keep the promise that he made to our ancestors. 7 Our twelve tribes expect this promise to be kept as they worship with intense devotion day and night. Your Majesty, the Jews are making accusations against me because I expect God to keep his promise. 8 Why do all of you refuse to believe that God can bring dead people back to life? 9 “I used to think that I had to do a lot of things to oppose the one named Jesus of Nazareth. 10 That is what I did in Jerusalem. By the authority I received from the chief priests, I locked many Christians in prison. I voted to have them killed every time a vote was taken. 11 I even went to each synagogue, punished believers, and forced them to curse the name of Jesus. In my furious rage against them, I hunted them down in cities outside Jerusalem. 12 “I was carrying out these activities when I went to the city of Damascus. I had the power and authority of the chief priests. 13 Your Majesty, at noon, while I was traveling, I saw a light that was brighter than the sun. The light came from the sky and shined around me and those who were with me. 14 All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice asking me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me? It’s hard for a mortal like you to resist God.’ 15 “I asked, ‘Who are you, sir?’ “The Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus, the one you’re persecuting. 16 Stand up! I have appeared to you for a reason. I’m appointing you to be a servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from the Jewish people and from the non-Jewish people to whom I am sending you. 18 You will open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan’s control to God’s. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and a share among God’s people who are made holy by believing in me.’

19 “At that point I did not disobey the vision I saw from heaven, King Agrippa. 20 Instead, I spread the message that I first told to the Jewish people in Damascus and Jerusalem and throughout the whole country of Judea. I spread the same message to non-Jewish people. Both groups were expected to change the way they thought and acted and to turn to God. I told them to do things that prove they had changed their lives. 21 For this reason the Jews took me prisoner in the temple courtyard and tried to murder me.  22 “God has been helping me to this day so that I can stand and testify to important and unimportant people. I tell them only what the prophets and Moses said would happen. 23 They said that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to come back to life and would spread light to Jewish and non-Jewish people.”


Thursday – Paul Before the Leaders

Acts 26:27-28 New International Reader’s Version 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”  28 Then Agrippa spoke to Paul. “Are you trying to talk me into becoming a Christian?” he said. “Do you think you can do that in such a short time?”

Acts 26:30-32 Modern English Version 30 When he had said this, the king rose, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them. 31 When they had gone aside, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing deserving death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Acts 26:31 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Nothing worthy of death. Paul might be “mad” (vs. 24, 25), but he was not dangerous. Festus and Agrippa were apparently willing to concede that Paul was sincere, informed, and afire with zeal for God.

Acts 26:24-28 New International Version 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” 25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Acts 26:26 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Paul did speak freely, partly because he had in King Agrippa an informed listener, and perhaps partly because he realized this was probably his final hearing in Palestine. Much depended upon it, both for himself and for his listeners.

Acts 26:27 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Agrippa realized that all Paul said was true, but, for him, knowledge and conviction failed to produce action


September 22-28, 2018 (Lesson 13 - Journey to Rome)


Memory Text: Acts 27:24 New Century Version The angel said, ‘Paul, do not be afraid. You must stand before Caesar. And God has promised you that he will save the lives of everyone sailing with you.’


Sunday – Sailing to Rome

Acts 27:9-12 New Living Translation 9 We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it. 10 “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” 11 But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. 12 And since Fair Havens was an exposed harbor—a poor place to spend the winter—most of the crew wanted to go on to Phoenix, farther up the coast of Crete, and spend the winter there. Phoenix was a good harbor with only a southwest and northwest exposure.

Acts 27:9 PEOPLE’S NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY sailing was now dangerous. On account of the season of year. In the winter, not only the storms, but the clouds and darkness, interfered with navigation. Mariners, in the absence of the compass, needed the sun and stars to direct their course.

Acts 27:9 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Winter was approaching. Navigation on the Mediterranean was attempted only in favorable weather.. It was now probably the latter part of October, and severe storms were to be expected.

Acts 27:9 COMMENTARY THE FOURFOLD GOSPEL 9-12. The voyage, thus far, had been so tedious that winter was approaching, and it was deemed unsafe to attempt to complete it before spring. It became a question, however, whether they would spend the winter where they were, or seek a more desirable winter haven.

Acts 27:21-26 New English Translation 21 Since many of them had no desire to eat, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not put out to sea from Crete, thus avoiding this damage and loss. 22 And now I advise you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship will be lost. 23 For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously granted you the safety of all who are sailing with you.’ 25 Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be just as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”


Monday – The Shipwreck

Acts 27:30-44 Easy-to-Read Version 30 Some of the sailors wanted to leave the ship, and they lowered the lifeboat to the water. They wanted the other men to think that they were throwing more anchors from the front of the ship. 31 But Paul told the army officer and the other soldiers, “If these men do not stay in the ship, you will lose all hope of survival.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes and let the lifeboat fall into the water. 33 Just before dawn Paul began persuading all the people to eat something. He said, “For the past two weeks you have been waiting and watching. You have not eaten for 14 days. 34 Now I beg you to eat something. You need it to stay alive. None of you will lose even one hair off your heads.” 35 After he said this, Paul took some bread and thanked God for it before all of them. He broke off a piece and began eating. 36 All the men felt better and started eating too. 37 (There were 276 people on the ship.) 38 We ate all we wanted. Then we began making the ship lighter by throwing the grain into the sea. 39 When daylight came, the sailors saw land, but they did not know what land it was. They saw a bay with a beach and wanted to sail the ship to the beach if they could. 40 So they cut the ropes to the anchors and left the anchors in the sea. At the same time, they untied the ropes that were holding the rudders. Then they raised the front sail into the wind and sailed toward the beach. 41 But the ship hit a sandbank. The front of the ship stuck there and could not move. Then the big waves began to break the back of the ship to pieces. 42 The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners so that none of the prisoners could swim away and escape. 43 But Julius the army officer wanted to let Paul live. So he did not allow the soldiers to kill the prisoners. He told the people who could swim to jump into the water and swim to land. 44 The others used wooden boards or pieces of the ship. And this is how all the people went safely to land.

Acts 27 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY – Part of an article by Lieut. Edwin Smith, a minister of the Avondale Presbyterian church of Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, who served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean in 1918 and 1919. In the Homiletic Review for August, 1919 (Vol. LXXVIII, No. 2, pp. 101–110), Lieutenant Smith explained the shipwreck narrative of Acts 27, in terms of his experience and observations as a naval officer on duty in the Mediterranean. Paul opposed moving the ship to a better harbor. “Paul had been in this ship some weeks already; they had had a hard beat to windward in working down to Crete, and in those weeks Paul had made some observations and indulged in some reflections. He noticed, for example, that the ship was leaking considerably, and when the squalls blew hardest, he also noticed that, she strained and worked in a manner far from reassuring…. The ship was caught in a typhonic gale which blew with such force that they could not face it and were compelled to run before it. We know that it blew them out of their course toward the island of Clauda about twenty-three miles W.S.W. from Crete…St. Luke tells us that they frapped her [used ropes to undergird her] after she had gone only twenty-five miles—a sure indication that she was straining and leaking badly. It would not be difficult to multiply instances where this mode of strengthening ships has been put in practice in comparatively modern times, but in every instance it has been where the ship was old and weak, or, in consequence of having sustained some damage…. I wish to point out here, what nearly all the commentators have failed to recognize, which is, however, of the utmost importance, viz., that the real danger before the ship in which Luke and Paul sailed was the danger of foundering in mid-ocean owing to the leaky condition of the ship, and that if they had not providentially made the land, and been thereby enabled to save their lives by running the ship ashore, she must have foundered at sea, and all on board perished.”


Tuesday – In Malta

Acts 28:1-10 Contemporary English Version When we came ashore, we learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The local people were very friendly, and they welcomed us by building a fire, because it was rainy and cold. 3 After Paul had gathered some wood and had put it on the fire, the heat caused a snake to crawl out, and it bit him on the hand. 4 When the local people saw the snake hanging from Paul’s hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer! He didn’t drown in the sea, but the goddess of justice will kill him anyway.” 5 Paul shook the snake off into the fire and wasn’t harmed. 6 The people kept thinking that Paul would either swell up or suddenly drop dead. They watched him for a long time, and when nothing happened to him, they changed their minds and said, “This man is a god.” 7 The governor of the island was named Publius, and he owned some of the land around there. Publius was very friendly and welcomed us into his home for three days. 8 His father was in bed, sick with fever and stomach trouble, and Paul went to visit him. Paul healed the man by praying and placing his hands on him. 9 After this happened, everyone on the island brought their sick people to Paul, and they were all healed. 10 The people were very respectful to us, and when we sailed, they gave us everything we needed.

Acts 28:8 PEOPLE’S NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY Dysentery was the disease. Paul, by prayer and laying on of hands, healed him. This miracle naturally was followed by others, and it is not strange that Paul was honored, and that the people "laded them with all things necessary" for their further voyage.

Romans 1:18-20 Common English Bible 18 God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodly behavior and the injustice of human beings who silence the truth with injustice. 19 This is because what is known about God should be plain to them because God made it plain to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—God’s eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through the things God has made. So humans are without excuse.


Wednesday – Paul in Rome, Finally

Acts 28:17-22 God’s Word Translation 17 After three days Paul invited the most influential Jews in Rome to meet with him. When they assembled, he said to them, “Brothers, I haven’t done anything against the Jewish people or violated the customs handed down by our ancestors. Yet, I’m a prisoner from Jerusalem, and I’ve been handed over to the Roman authorities. 18 The Roman authorities cross-examined me and wanted to let me go because I was accused of nothing for which I deserved to die. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal my case to the emperor. That doesn’t mean I have any charges to bring against my own people. 20 That’s why I asked to see you and speak with you. I’m wearing these chains because of what Israel hopes for.” 21 The Jewish leaders told Paul, “We haven’t received any letters from Judea about you, and no Jewish person who has come to Rome has reported or mentioned anything bad about you. 22 However, we would like to hear what you think. We know that everywhere people are talking against this sect.”

Acts 28:22 New Living Translation But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.”


Thursday – The Victory of the Gospel

Acts 28:24-31 New International Reader’s Version 24 Some believed what he said, and others did not. 25 They didn’t agree with one another. They began to leave after Paul had made a final statement. He said, “The Holy Spirit was right when he spoke to your people long ago. Through Isaiah the prophet the Spirit said, 26 “ ‘Go to your people. Say to them, “You will hear but never understand. You will see but never know what you are seeing.” 27 These people’s hearts have become stubborn. They can barely hear with their ears. They have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes. They might hear with their ears. They might understand with their hearts. They might turn, and then I would heal them.’ (Isaiah 6:9,10) 28-29 “Here is what I want you to know. God has sent his salvation to the Gentiles. And they will listen!” 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in a house he rented. He welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He preached boldly about God’s kingdom. He taught people about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one could keep him from teaching and preaching about these things.


Friday – Further Thought

Romans 1:14-15 New Life Version 14 I must help the people who have had a chance to hear the Good News and those who have not. I must help those with much learning and those who have never learned from books. 15 So I want to preach the Good News to you who live in Rome also.

Romans 1:14 COMMENTARY FAMILY BIBLE NOTES Greeks and Barbarians--wise and unwise; polished and rude, learned and ignorant. When Christ imparts to any one the blessings of his grace, it lays him under peculiar obligations to do good as he has opportunity; especially to promote the spiritual good of all his fellow-men.


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