December 31 ~ The Letter For Gentile Believers

Rembrandt | 1606-1669 | painter, teacher, draftsman, printmaker and etcher | St. Paul at his Writing Desk | 47 x 39 cms | 18 1/2 x 15 1/4 ins | Oil on wood | Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nord | Germany

•The Letter For Gentile Believers•
Background @ Acts 15:1-21 (the council at Jerusalem)
@ Acts 15:22
Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders – Judas and Silas. This is the letter they took with them:
Story @ Acts 15:22-35
Painting – St. Paul at His Writing Desk as an elder of the church | Rembrandt

John Singer Sargent
1856-1925
painter, draftsman,sculptor, portraitist, muralist, watercolorist and guitarist
Carolus­ Duran
116.8 x 95.9 cms | 46 x 37 3/4 ins
Oil on canvas
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Williamstown | United States

•Paul’s Second Missionary Journey•
Background @ Acts chapters 13, 14, and 15 (Paul’s 1st missionary journey)
Acts 15:36-41 (Paul and Barnabas separate)
@ Acts 16:1-3a
Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey.
Story @ Acts 16:1-5
Painting – Portrait of Carolus ­Duran, Sargent’s art instructor, as Timothy, Paul’s literary assistant | John Singer Sargent

•Lydia of Philippi Believes in Jesus•
Background @ Acts 16:1-5 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
@ Acts 16:6-10 (a call from Macedonia)
@ Acts 16:11-12
We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
Story @ Acts 16:11-15
Painting – Lady Agnew as Lydia, a true believer in the Lord | John Singer Sargent

•Paul and Silas in Prison•
Background @ Acts 16:1-5 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
@ Acts 16:11-15 (Lydia of Philippi)
@ Acts 16:16-17
One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
Story @ Acts 16:16-40
Poem – The Most High by Stacy Sweeney
Painting – Portrait of Edouard Pailleron, poet & playwright and close friend of Sargent,  as Silas, Paul’s literary assistant | John Singer Sargent

•Paul Preaches in Thessalonica and Berea•
Background @ Acts 16:1-5 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
@ Acts 16:16-40 (Paul & Silas in prison)
Acts 17:1-3
Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I am telling you about is the Messiah.”
Story @ Acts 17:1-15

Rembrandt | 1606-1669 | Dutch painter, teacher, draftsman, printmaker and etcher | Aristotle with a Bust of Homer | 1653 143.5 x 136.5 cms | 56 1/4 x 53 1/2 ins | Oil on canvas | Metropolitan Museum of Art Manhattan | United States Credit: Web Gallery of Art

•Paul Preaches in Athens•
Background @ Acts 16:1-5 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
@ Acts 17:1-15 (Paul preaches in Thessalonica and Berea)
@ Acts 17:16-17
While Paul was waiting for them (Silas & Timothy) in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
Story @ Acts 17:16-34
Painting – Aristotle with a Bust of Homer | Rembrandt

1 & 2 THESSALONIANS
Paul wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians while in Cornith, shortly after founding the church in Thessalonica (@ Acts 17:1-15). To a twenty first century reader, trained to expect story telling content, which is precisely it’s charm, I have chosen to omit Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans and other letters written by Paul, but I may refer to them in scripture reading.

•Paul Faces Opposition in Cornith•
Scripture – @ Romans 11:11-15, one of my favorites!
Background @ Acts 16:1-5 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
Acts 17:16-34 (Paul preaches in Athens)
Acts 18:1-5
Then Paul left Athens and went to Cornith. Paul spent much of the time between AD 49 and 51, during his second missionary journey, in Cornith. There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was. Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the Word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
Story @ Acts 18:1-17

•Paul Returns to Antioch of Syria•
Background @ Acts 16:1-5 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
@ Acts 18:1-17 (Paul faces opposition in Cornith)
@ Acts 18:18
Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.
Story @ Acts 18:18-23
Painting – Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes as Priscilla and Aquila, Paul’s lifelong friends | John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent
1856-1925
painter, draftsman, sculptor, portraitist, muralist, watercolorist and guitarist
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes
214 x 101 cms | 84 1/4 x 39 3/4 ins Oil on canvas
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Manhattan | United States

Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez | 1599-1660 | painter | Study for the head of Apollo | 36.3 x 25.2 cms | 14 1/4 x 9 3/4 ins | Oil on canvas

•Apollos Instructed at Ephesus•
Background @ Acts 16:1-5 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
@ Acts 18:1-17 (Paul faces opposition in Cornith)
@ Acts 18:18-23 (Paul returns to Antioch of Syria)
@ Acts 18:24
Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt.
Story @ Acts 18:24-28
Painting – Study for the head of Apollo as  Apollos | Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez

~ §tacy §weeney