Bold Influence in Education (Acts 21:39-22:3)Rev.Silas Owiti, July 16, 2017
Part of the Bold Influence in Family series, preached at a Sunday 1st Service service
The Bible is full of education, learning and gaining knowledge; words like train, wisdom, teach, proverbs are found numerous times in scripture. The book of Proverbs is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. God is knowledge and He invites us to seek Him so as to attain knowledge. (Jeremiah 29:13-14)
Quote: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
The perfect example of those who God gave wisdom and learning in the bible are the four Hebrew boys;
Daniel 1:17 “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”
Main Text: Acts 21:39-22:3
Education in the Jewish Culture (Bible Times)
The emphasis and value of education was and still is strongly embedded in Jewish culture. The bible describes the main purpose of Jewish education, which is to know how to worship God. Therefore, Jewish parents needed to teach their children about some basic prayers and what the Torah forbids, starting from a young age.
Parents should have transmitted Jewish morals, faith, and values to their children. The Biblical teachings have important impact on Jewish education and this education is rooted in the Torah. Someone has described the Torah as that which deals with the whole existence of the human being; that which touches life at every point. Torah also connotes learning, instruction, and guidance. Jewish education was concerned with the transmission of this cultural heritage to the individual Jew from a young age.
Deut. 11:18-20 To ensure their prosperity, growth, and longevity as the people of Yahweh, Israel's mandate was one of education, diligently teaching their children to love God, and to know and obey his statues and ordinances.
Likewise, the New Testament also links the success of the church of Jesus Christ, as a worshiping community of "salt and light" reaching out to a dark world, to the teaching of sound doctrine.
The Life & Education of Paul
In Paul's world, education and teaching had already been transferred from families to society. In as much as the family was still expected to teach their children, great responsibility was bestowed upon the society to teach and train its members, through educational institutions like the rabbinical schools, universities, etc.
Paul tells of himself:
• "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city." (Acts 21:39)
• "I was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, as to the Law a Pharisee."
• “I have been a Roman citizen "since I was born."
• "The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem." And I was "taught at the feet of Gamaliel."
• In the text we read, Paul’s defense was based on his education credentials.
The Apostle Paul indeed inherited his love and responsibility for the Gentiles from his famous teacher Gamaliel. Similarly, he must have learned from his spiritual father the significance of correspondence.
We also see the boldness to interpret the Torah in new contexts in Asia Minor, like Corinth, Athens, etc. In the new "post-Messianic" context after his conversion the teaching from his rabbinical school found new expressions.
Summary of Lessons
1. Paul’s success in ministry to the Gentiles greatly influenced by his wide exposure and learning, alongside his passionate love for the crucified Christ.
2. Paul’s education allowed him to confidently and boldly engage with those who were learned at their level.
3. Paul’s education enabled him to wisely and skillful navigate through the philosophical heresies and Jewish legalism of his time i.e. the Gnostics, Colossian heresy, scholars of Athens
4. Paul’s education did not make him puffed up with knowledge but he was humble and tempered by the Holy Spirit who was at work in him.
Education in the Life of a Christian
• Paul encourages Timothy to continue in what he has learnt and convinced of
• Paul encourages Timothy to hold fast to the knowledge of Scriptures which are able to make him wise for salvation
• Paul encourages Timothy to study to show himself approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who rightly handles the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15)
Conclusion Our education and knowledge empowers us to understand our world better. On the other hand, our faith and knowledge in Christ Jesus empowers us to understand an All-knowing (omniscient) God, who is greater than all. Faith in Christ should lead us to great humility even with our learning and knowledge. This was a reality in Paul’s life, after a powerful encounter with the Lord Jesus.
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
The apostles, like Peter and John were unschooled yet they did exploits for God. Our faith in God is the ultimate pursuit of a Christian.
Some Critical Questions: 1. What is your attitude towards education? Do you consider education an important aspect of life? Have you given up on education? 2. Is your pursuit of knowledge balanced by your pursuit of the crucified Christ? Have you become puffed up with knowledge? 3. Is you education aiding you in being a bold influence for God or is it driving you further ungodly belief systems?
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