Theme: Biographical — New Testament Notables
God has chosen to work through the agency of men. It certainly isn’t because He is in need of what man provides. As Paul told the people of Athens, God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). Still, He has sought human engagement and participation.
Consequently, many people have played important roles in the biblical record. The “Biographical” theme in this year’s reading plan has allowed us to focus attention on several of these. From the Old Testament we’ve read about Abraham, Moses, and David, as well as some notable kings and great prophets. In the New Testament we spent time with Peter and Paul. This week our attention will focus on several important figures in the New Testament whom God used in significant ways in the work of the kingdom.
Readings and Introductory Comments:
Matthew 4:21-22; 20:20-28; Luke 9:51-56; John 13:21-30; 19:23-27; 20:1-10; 21:20-25; Acts 3:1-11; 8:14-25; Revelation 1:1-20
Second only to Peter, John plays a primary leading part in the ministry of Jesus and life of the early church. He along with his brother James and Peter formed an “inner circle” among the apostles. They, by the Lord’s invitation, were allowed to witness certain events others did not (transfiguration, raising of Jairus’ daughter, going further into Gethsemane). Even beyond that, John seems to have been even the closest of the apostles to Jesus. He is designated as the disciple whom Jesus loved and the one to whom Jesus committed the care of His own mother.
John also is author of five New Testament books; the Gospel of John, the epistles 1, 2, & 3 John, and the book of Revelation—that is second in number only to Paul. He also appears to be youngest of the apostles, and according to legend lived to be quite old and was the only apostle not to die a martyr. It’s believed that his books are among the very last New Testament books penned, some likely even being written in the final decade of the first century.
Acts 4:36-37; 9:26-28; 11:19-30; 12:24-25; 13:1-3; 15:1-2, 12, 25-35, 36-41; Galatians 2:1, 7-10
A better Christian than Barnabas would be hard to find. As a matter of fact, so impressive is this man’s Christian character that we know him best by the nickname given him by the apostles—which means son of encouragement–rather than the name given to him by his parents, Joseph. Whenever the apostles sought out someone of unassailable reputation and spiritual maturity it is Barnabas to whom they turned. In large part it was Barnabas who played such critical role in the transition of Saul, the converted former persecutor, to Paul the respected and tireless preacher of the gospel. Barnabas has so much to teach us all.
Acts 6:1-15; 7:51-60; 18:24-9:7; 1 Corinthians 3:1-6, 21-23; 4:6-7; 16:12; Acts 18:1-4, 18-21; Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19-20; 2 Timothy 4:19
Several other key individuals rise to the top in the pages of the New Testament, especially during the early days of the church and its spread throughout the world. Our readings will touch on Stephen, Apollos, and Aquila and Priscilla.
Other names are found frequently as well, especially in connection with Paul’s work. Profitable time could well be spent in also tracing the contributions of Timothy, Silas, Erastus, Aristarchus, Epaphroditus, Tychicus, and others.
- What was John doing when he was called by Jesus?
- What request did John’s mother make? (v. 21)
- How did the other apostles feel about this incident? (v. 24)
- What did James and John want to do in response to the inhospitable Samaritans? (v. 54)
- Where was John situated at the meal in the upper room? (v. 23)
- Who prompted John to ask Jesus a question? (vv. 24-25)
- Who was standing by the cross of Jesus during His crucifixion? (v. 25)
- How did Jesus refer to John to His mother? (v. 26)
- Which male disciple reached reached Jesus’ empty tomb first? (v. 4)
- What mistaken idea began to circulate about John? (v. 23)
- Where did Peter and John go, and when? (v. 1)
- What did the lame beggar want from them? (v. 3)
- Whom did the apostles send to Samaria? (v. 14)
- What did they do for the converted Samaritans? (v. 15)
- How did God make known to John what He wanted His servants to know? (v. 1)
- Where was John when he received his revelation? (v. 9)
- Who gave Barnabas his name? (v. 36)
- Who introduced Saul of Tarsus to the apostles following his conversion? (v. 27)
- Whom did the church in Jerusalem send to Antioch? (v. 22)
- Whom did Barnabas recruit to help him in Antioch? (v. 25)
- Whom did Barnabas and Saul bring with them when the returned to Jerusalem?
- Who identified Barnabas and Saul to singled out for a special work? (v. 2)
Acts 15:1-2, 12
- Why were Paul and Barnabas sent to Jerusalem? (v. 2)
- Who, along with Paul and Barnabas, were selected to deliver the letter from the “council” in Jerusalem? (v. 27)
- What did Paul and Barnabas do upon returning to Antioch? (v. 35)
- Whom did Barnabas want to take when he and Paul decided to revisit the congregations established on the first missionary journey? (v. 37)
Galatians 2:1, 7-10
- What did Paul receive from James, Cephas, and John? (v. 9)
- What were the qualifications of the men to be selected? (v. 3)
- How is Stephen described? (v. 5)
- With what was Stephen full and what did he do? (v. 8)
- How did Stephen’s face appear? (v. 15)
- Where did Stephen gaze and what did he see? (v. 55)
- What request did Stephen make of God? (v. 60).
- How is Apollos described? (v. 24)
- Who taught Apollos better? (v. 26)
- To where did Apollos go from Ephesus? (v. 1)
1 Corinthians 3:1-6
- Who are Apollos and Paul? (v. 5)
1 Corinthians 4:6-7
- What were the Corinthians to have learned from Paul and Apollos? (v. 6)
1 Corinthians 16:12
- How did Apollos respond to Paul’s request?
Acts 18:1-4, 18-21
- From where were Aquila and Priscilla? (v. 1)
- What brought Paul together with this couple? (v. 3)
- Where did Aquila and Priscilla stay after leaving Corinth? (v. 19)
- What had Priscilla and Aquila done for Paul? (v. 3)
1 Corinthians 16:19-20
- Who sent their greetings along with Aquila and Priscilla? (v. 19)
What position must one hold in order to serve the Lord?
How many locations do we find Aquila and Priscilla? What can we learn from this?
Stephen was such a powerful voice and defender of the faith, what are your thoughts about the fact that God allowed his death during the church’s infancy?
“When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” (Acts 11:24)