NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: Acts 23:1-24
— How do the characteristics Paul demonstrated in his trial help us as we share the gospel in our culture today?
— What are some ways we can reveal the reality and power of the resurrection to others?
Food for Thought:
Read Acts 23:1-10. While it may have seemed as if the Sanhedrin held all the power that day, Paul had a secret weapon. As he stood there staring down a gathering of Sadducees and Pharisees, two opposing religious and political parties who had many more reasons to disagree with each other than to agree, he knew that the concept of resurrection was especially volatile.
The Pharisees believed in resurrection, but the Sadducees denied it (see Matthew 22:23 and Acts 4:1-2). In a brilliant move, Paul implemented an age-old military maneuver: divide and conquer.
Paul succinctly proclaimed the core reason for his arrest and trial — hope in the resurrection — and appealed to the Pharisees, reminding them he was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. With that, a wedge was driven into the assembly, separating Pharisee from Sadducee. A dispute erupted.
We should not confuse Paul’s shrewdness with deceit. The reason Paul was arrested and stood on trial was his firm belief, his unwavering hope, that Christ was resurrected. Paul believed he and all others who trust in Christ would one day be raised to life as well. It was this resurrection hope that fueled Paul’s confidence in Jesus and gave him strength to face persecution, beatings, shipwreck, starvation and opposition. It was this resurrection that removed the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:55) and freed Paul from the pressure of preserving his own life.
But the resurrection of Jesus also fuels division. Jesus promised as much. One day, He will divide sheep from goats, wheat from chaff, saved from lost (Matthew 3:12, 25:32). Those who have placed their hope in Jesus Christ will spend eternity with Him, but those who reject Christ’s free offer of salvation will be thrown “into the blazing furnace [of hell] where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).
This is what the Sanhedrin was truly arguing about, even if they didn’t realize it. The doctrine of the resurrection, broadly of people and narrowly of Christ, condemned both the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/gospelproject.