Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. What is your favorite ethnic food? How did you first discover it? What are some other products of a foreign culture (literature, clothing, entertainment, etc.) that have crossed borders into our culture?
2. What does it mean when someone says, “The world is shrinking”? What are some factors that have led to a greater globalization (worldwide interaction between people, companies, and governments)? What are some benefits and possible dangers of globalization?
Read Acts 16:9, 10.
1. Look back at verses 6-8. Find on a map the places the missionaries first intended to go and compare their locations to the region of Macedonia. What geographical barrier separated them? Knowing that crossing that geographical barrier meant crossing from Asia to Europe, why might the cultural barriers have been even more intimidating than the geographical barrier?
2. Notice the change in pronoun (they to we) in verse 10. What does that indicate? What do you know about Luke’s background (ethnicity, education, profession, etc.)? Why did his addition to the missionary party at that point make sense?
Read Acts 16:11-15.
3. Note the description of Philippi in verse 12 as a “colony of Rome.” Philippi was originally colonized with retired Roman military officers and was ruled by two military officials. Furthermore, the city was named for Philip of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) who led in establishing the Greek Empire that was openly hostile to Jews. With this in mind, what might the missionaries have been feeling as they entered this very Greek city?
4. Recall Paul’s vision that led the missionaries to Macedonia. How was the person calling for help in the vision very different from the first converts made there? What might the apparent absence of a synagogue in Philippi say about the religious climate of the city?
Read Acts 16:22-34.
5. Describe the harshness with which Paul and Silas were treated by the authorities. To what extent do you think this treatment had as much to do with who Paul and Silas were rather than simply what Paul and Silas did? See verses 20, 21. To what extent does ethnic prejudice play a role in missionary efforts to this day?
6. Faith, repentance, and baptism are common elements in the conversion accounts in the book of Acts. How were those elements present with the jailer and his household?
7. Think of missionaries you know about who are attempting to breach cultural barriers to share the gospel. What dangers do they face? Make it a point to remember them in prayer on a regular basis.
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