Immerse: Messiah – 8 Week Bible Reading Experience

Share the Word! 📖🙏
Leave a rating and review wherever you're listening to help others find the Word of God. With one small action, you can make a big impact!

Read Through The New Testament in just 8 weeks with the NLT Bible and Immerse: Messiah
QUICK START GUIDE
3 ways to get the most out of your experience
  1. Use Immerse: Messiah instead of your regular chapter-and-verse Bible. This special reader’s edition restores the Bible to its natural simplicity and beauty by removing chapter and verse numbers and other historical additions. Letters look like letters, songs look like
    songs, and the original literary structures are visible in each book. 
  2. Commit to making this a community experience. Immerse is designed for groups to encounter large portions of the Bible together
    for 8 weeks—more like a book club, less like a Bible study. By meeting every week in small groups and discussing what you read in open, honest conversations, you and your community can come together to be transformed through an authentic experience with the Scriptures.
  3. Aim to understand the big story. Read through “The Stories and the Story” (p. 483) to see how the books of the Bible work together
    to tell God’s story of his creation’s restoration. As you read through Immerse: Messiah, rather than ask, “How do I fit God into my busy life?” begin asking, “How can I join in God’s great plan by living out my part in his story?”
4 Questions to get your conversations started:
  1. What stood out to you this week?
  2. Was there anything confusing or troubling?
  3. Did anything make you think differently about God?
  4. How might this change the way we live?
Part of NLT Immerse: The Reading Bible, Complete Set, the Winner of the 2022 Christian Book Award for Bible of the Year!
Messiah is the first of six volumes of Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience program. Messiah takes the reader on a new and unique journey through every book of the New Testament. Each part of Messiah begins with one of the Gospels, and together combine to provide the reader with enjoyable and impactful readings all centered on Jesus. The end result is a Bible developed for the purpose of being read and understood, not referred to. Messiah is a new way to interact with God’s Word.
Messiah delivers Scripture to the reader as it was originally created: without chapter or verse breaks. While references are made available for ease of finding specific Scripture references, those references do not appear within the actual text of Scripture. This makes for uninterrupted reading of God’s Word. Created with the look and feel of a paperback book, and written using the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, the most readable translation available, Messiah enables you to easily read and understand the Bible.

Currently featured in the Saddleback Church "Anchored Life Challenge." To join the challenge and read through the New Testament in 8 weeks, join at https://saddleback.com/anchored

What is Immerse: Messiah – 8 Week Bible Reading Experience?

Read (and listen!) through the New Testament in 8 weeks with your small group or on your own.

Immerse: Messiah is the first of six volumes in Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience. Messiah takes the reader on a unique journey through every book of the New Testament. Each section of Messiah begins with one of the Gospels, and together they combine to provide a life-changing reading experience centered on Jesus. This fresh arrangement of the books highlights the depth of the New Testament’s fourfold witness to Jesus the Messiah. The Son of God, who fulfills all the longings and promises of the collected Scriptures, can be experienced in Messiah through the rich variety of lenses provided by the books of the new covenant.

The Immerse Bible Series is the proud winner of the prestigious Bible of the Year award from the ECPA Christian Book Awards. Immerse: The Reading Bible is specially crafted for a distraction-free listening and reading experience, helping you dive in and get immersed in Scripture. You’ll have a great experience using Immerse by yourself. But for an even richer experience, try reading with friends.

Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience is an invitation to a different kind of community interaction with the Bible. Less like a Bible study, more like a book club.

- 8 or 16-week Bible listening plans take you through a large section of the Bible like the New Testament or the Torah
- Meet once a week for a free-flowing discussion about the text
- Wrestle with questions and celebrate ‘aha!’ moments together

Nothing impacts spiritual growth more than spending time in Scripture. Immerse removes many of the barriers that make Bible reading difficult and invites communities to become transformed together through the power of God’s word.

 Welcome to the saddleback church anchored life challenge which can also by found on the saddleback companion app or by purchasing the immerse messiah book from tyndale.

The anchored life challenge includes speakers such as Andy Wood, Rick Warren, and Stacie Wood. 
Immerse Messiah 8
===

Rick Warren: [00:00:00] Welcome to Immerse Messiah. Reading for week two, day

Stacie Wood: eight. When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned taking John Mark with them. Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas Simeon called the Black Man, Lucius from Cyrene Manion, the Childhood Companion of King Herod Anus.

Stacie Wood: And Saul, one day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Appoint Barnabas and Saul for this special work to which I have called them. So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit.

Stacie Wood: They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the Word of God. [00:01:00] John Mark went with them as their assistant. Afterward, they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos.

Stacie Wood: where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer, as his name means in Greek, interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said.

Stacie Wood: He was trying to keep the governor from believing. Saul Also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. Then he said, You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good, will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord?

Stacie Wood: Watch now, for the [00:02:00] Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you. And you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time. Instantly, mist and darkness came over the man's eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

Stacie Wood: Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. But Paul and Barnabas traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia. On the Sabbath, they went to the synagogue for the services. After the usual readings from the books of Moses and the Prophets, those in charge of the service sent them this message, Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it.

Stacie Wood: So Paul stood, lifted his hand to quiet them, and started [00:03:00] speaking. Men of Israel, he said, and you God fearing Gentiles, Listen to me. The God of this nation of Israel chose our ancestors and made them multiply and grow strong during their stay in Egypt. Then, with a powerful arm, He led them out of their slavery.

Stacie Wood: He put up with them through forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Then He destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to Israel as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. After that, God gave them judges to rule until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people begged for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for 40 years.

Stacie Wood: But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will [00:04:00] do everything I want him to do, and it is one of King David's descendants, Jesus, who is God's promised Savior of Israel. Before he came, John the Baptist preached that all the people of Israel needed to repent of their sins and turn to God and be baptized.

Stacie Wood: As John was finishing his ministry, he asked, Do you think I am the Messiah? No, I am not. But He is coming soon, and I'm not even worthy to be His slave and untie the sandals on His feet. Brothers You sons of Abraham, and also you God fearing Gentiles, this message of salvation has been sent to us. The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about.

Stacie Wood: Instead, they condemned Him. And in doing this, they fulfilled the prophet's words that are read every Sabbath. They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked [00:05:00] Pilate to have him killed anyway. When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb.

Stacie Wood: But God raised him from the dead. And over a period of many days, He appeared to those who had gone with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now His witnesses to the people of Israel. And now, we are here to bring you this good news. The promise was made to our ancestors. And God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus.

Stacie Wood: This is what the second psalm says about Jesus. You are my son. Today I have become your father. For God had promised to raise him from the dead, not leaving him to rot in the grave. He said, I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David. Another psalm explains it more fully. You will not allow your Holy One to rot in the [00:06:00] grave.

Stacie Wood: This is not a reference to David. For after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors. Transcripts provided by Transcription Outsourcing, LLC. Everyone who believes in Him is made right in God's sight, something the law of Moses could never do. Be careful, don't let the prophet's words apply to you.

Stacie Wood: For they said, Look, you mockers, be amazed and die. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it. As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism [00:07:00] followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God.

Stacie Wood: The following week, almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord. But when some of the Jews saw the crowds They were jealous, so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews.

Stacie Wood: But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. For the Lord gave us this command when He said, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth. When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for His message.

Stacie Wood: And all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. So the Lord's message spread throughout that region. [00:08:00] Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium.

Stacie Wood: And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God's message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas.

Stacie Wood: But the Apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them, some sided with the Jews, and some with the Apostles.[00:09:00]

Stacie Wood: Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia, to the towns of Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding area, and there they preached the good news. While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet.

Stacie Wood: He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, Stand up! And the man jumped to his feet. And started walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, These men are gods in human form!

Stacie Wood: They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus, and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. Now the temple of [00:10:00] Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bowls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles.

Stacie Wood: But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people shouting, Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings just like you. We have come to bring you the good news that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them.

Stacie Wood: In the past, He permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. For instance, He sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts. But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.

Stacie Wood: Then some [00:11:00] Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town thinking he was dead, but as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day, he left with Barnabas for Derbe. After preaching the good news in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers.

Stacie Wood: They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia.

Stacie Wood: They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Adalia. Finally, they returned by [00:12:00] ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them, and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too, and they stayed there with the believers for a long time.

Stacie Wood: While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers, unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved. Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.

Stacie Wood: The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told [00:13:00] them, much to everyone's joy, that the Gentiles, too, were being converted. When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders.

Stacie Wood: They reported everything God had done through them. But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted that Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses. So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows, Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the good news and believe.

Stacie Wood: God knows people's hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them. For He cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are [00:14:00] you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?

Stacie Wood: We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus. Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. When they had finished, James stood and said, Brothers, listen to me. Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself.

Stacie Wood: And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written, afterward I will return and restore the fallen house of David. I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity might seek the Lord, including the Gentiles, all those I have called to be mine.

Stacie Wood: The Lord has spoken, He who made these things known so long ago. [00:15:00] And so, my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.

Stacie Wood: For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations. 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, also called Barsabbas, This is the letter they took with them.

Stacie Wood: This letter is from the Apostles and Elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings. We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with [00:16:00] their teaching, but we did not send them. So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives.

Stacie Wood: Along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements.

Stacie Wood: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell. The messengers went at once to Antioch, where they called a general meeting of the believers and delivered the letter. And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.

Stacie Wood: Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging [00:17:00] and strengthening their faith. They stayed for a while, and then the believers sent them back to the church in Jerusalem with a blessing of peace. Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They, and many others, taught and preached the Word of the Lord there.

Stacie Wood: After some time, Paul said to Barnabas, Let's go back and visit each city where we previously preached the Word of the Lord to see how the new believers are doing. Barnabas agreed, and wanted to take along John Mark, but Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.

Stacie Wood: Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord's gracious care. Then, he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there. Paul went first to Derbe, [00:18:00] and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy.

Stacie Wood: 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. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.

Stacie Wood: Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in their faith, and grew larger every day. Next, Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the Word in the province of Asia at that time.

Stacie Wood: Then, coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia. But again, the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. [00:19:00] So, instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night, Paul had a vision. A man from Macedonia, in northern Greece, was standing there, pleading with him, Come over to Macedonia and help us.

Stacie Wood: So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the good news there. We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neopolis. From there, we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony, and we stayed there several days.

Stacie Wood: On the Sabbath, we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord [00:20:00] opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

Stacie Wood: She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord, she said, come and stay at my home. And she urged us until we agreed. One day, as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future.

Stacie Wood: She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 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. This went on day after day, until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.

Stacie Wood: And instantly, it left her. Her master's hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the [00:21:00] marketplace. The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews. They shouted to the city officials, They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.

Stacie Wood: A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape, so the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.

Stacie Wood: Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off. The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open.

Stacie Wood: He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, Stop! Don't kill yourself. We are all [00:22:00] here. The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Stacie Wood: They replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved along with everyone in your household. And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.

Stacie Wood: He brought them into his house and set a meal before them. And he and his entire household rejoiced, because they all believed in God. The next morning, the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, let those men go. So the jailer told Paul, the city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave.

Stacie Wood: Go in peace. But Paul replied, they have publicly beaten us without a [00:23:00] trial and put us in prison. And we are Roman citizens, so now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not. Let them come themselves to release us. When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens.

Stacie Wood: So, they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city. When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town. Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.

Stacie Wood: 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'm [00:24:00] telling you about is the Messiah. Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.

Stacie Wood: But some of the Jews were jealous. So they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas, so they could drag them out to the crowd. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead.

Stacie Wood: And took them before the city council. Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world, they shouted. And now they are here disturbing our city too. And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar. For they profess allegiance to another king named Jesus. The people of the city, as well as the city council, were thrown into turmoil by these reports.

Stacie Wood: So the [00:25:00] officials forced Jason and the other believers to post bond, and then they released them. That very night, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message.

Stacie Wood: They searched the scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men. But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble.

Stacie Wood: The believers acted at once, sending Paul onto the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. Those escorting Paul went with him all the way to Athens. Then they returned to Berea, with instructions for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him. While Paul was waiting for them in [00:26:00] Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.

Stacie Wood: 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. He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, What's this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he's picked up?

Stacie Wood: Others said, he seems to be preaching about some foreign gods. Then they took him to the high council of the city. Come and tell us about this new teaching, they said. You're saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it's all about. It should be explained that all the Athenians, as well as the foreigners in Athens, seem to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.

Stacie Wood: So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows. Men of Athens I notice [00:27:00] that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along, I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it, To an unknown God, this God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I'm telling you about.

Stacie Wood: He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man made temples. And human hands can't serve his needs, for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth.

Stacie Wood: He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall. And he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him, we live and move and exist. As some of [00:28:00] your own poets have said, we are His offspring.

Stacie Wood: And since this is true, We shouldn't think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. God overlooked people's ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.

Stacie Wood: When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt. But others said, We want to hear more about this later. That ended Paul's discussion with them, but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Stacie Wood: Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he became acquainted with a [00:29:00] 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.

Stacie Wood: 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. But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, Your blood is upon your own heads.

Stacie Wood: I am innocent. From now on, I will go preach to the Gentiles. Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshipped God and lived next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others [00:30:00] in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.

Stacie Wood: One night, the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, Don't be afraid, speak out, don't be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me. So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God. But when Galio became governor of Achaia, Some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment.

Stacie Wood: They accused Paul of persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law. But just as Paul started to make his defense, Galio turned to Paul's accusers and said, Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case.

Stacie Wood: But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it [00:31:00] yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters. And he threw them out of the courtroom. The crowd then grabbed Sassanese, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Galio paid no attention.

Stacie Wood: Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that. Then he said goodbye to the brothers and sisters, and went to nearby Senchria. 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. They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind.

Stacie Wood: While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. As he left, however, he said, I will come back later, God willing. Then he set sail from Ephesus. The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there, he went up and visited the church at [00:32:00] Jerusalem, and then went back to Antioch.

Stacie Wood: After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers. Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy.

Stacie Wood: However, he knew only about John's baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately. Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him.

Stacie Wood: When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God's grace, had believed. He refuted the Jews with [00:33:00] powerful arguments in public debate. Using the scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah. While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers.

Stacie Wood: Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? he asked them. No, they replied. We haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. Then what baptism did you experience? he asked. And they replied, the baptism of John. Paul said, John's baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.

Stacie Wood: As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then, when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. Then Paul went to the [00:34:00] synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months.

Stacie Wood: Arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.

Stacie Wood: God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. A group of Jews was traveling from town to town, casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, I command you in the name of Jesus, Whom Paul preaches to come out.

Stacie Wood: Seven sons of Siva, a leading [00:35:00] priest were doing this, but one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you? Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house. Naked and battered the story of what happened, spread quickly.

Stacie Wood: All through Ephesus to Jews and Greeks alike, a solemn fear descended on the city and the name of the Lord. Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire.

Stacie Wood: The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.

Rick Warren: This concludes today's Immerse Reading Experience. Thank you for joining us.