Acts 28:11-30 – Persuade to Believe
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 28:11-30
The title is drawn from verses 23-27 where Paul reasoned and persuaded using the Law and the Prophets.
1) PAUL SOUGHT TO PERSUADE
Acts 28:23–24 (ESV) — 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded [unfold, solve & explain] to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
This is Paul’s sixth apologetic since chapter 22.
• He once again uses the Law and Prophets to make his case for the truth of Jesus Christ.
• Luke tells us Paul tries to “convince” or “persuade” them to believe in Jesus.
• Today, I want for us to figure out how it is possible to “persuade” someone to believe in Christ.
The Greek word for “convince” or “persuade” is peíthō.
• to persuade another to receive a belief, meaning to convince – Strongs
• to seek to win men – TDNT
• Translated in ESV as convince, confidence, trust, sure, obedience, rely, satisfy, persuade, follow
Persuasion was routinely Paul’s approach:
• Acts 17:4 (ESV) — 4 And some of them were PERSUADED and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
• Acts 18:4 (ESV) — 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to PERSUADE Jews and Greeks.
• Acts 19:8 (ESV) — 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and PERSUADING them about the kingdom of God.
• Acts 19:26 (ESV) — 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has PERSUADED and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.
• Acts 26:28 (ESV) — 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you PERSUADE me to be a Christian?”
Paul’s efforts to persuade are, like the rest of his life, worthy of our imitation.
In order to persuade, what is required of us?
• We must have belief.
• We must have understanding of God’s general and special revelation.
• We must have knowledge of God’s general and special revelation.
• To gain knowledge and understanding, WE MUST READ!
The Bible also gives us a caution concerning persuasion.
We can be persuaded in the wrong thing (words in CAPS are form of peíthō):
• Luke 18:9 (ESV) — 9 He also told this parable to some who TRUSTED in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
• Romans 2:8 (ESV) — 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but OBEY unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
• Galatians 5:7–8 (ESV) — 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from OBEYING the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
So Nurturing our ability to persuade others with our belief, understanding & knowledge can also help us to:
• guard us from being wrongly persuaded ourselves
• enable us to exhort and correct those who are straying
2) WHO WAS PAUL TRYING TO PERSUADE?
Acts 28:25–27 (ESV) — 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “ ‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
It seems that Paul had a problem in that he was trying to persuade men who apparently couldn’t be persuaded.
The Bible also makes this point elsewhere:
• Ephesians 4:18 (ESV) — 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
• 2 Corinthians 3:14 (ESV) — 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.
• Romans 1:21 (ESV) — 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
• Matthew 13:13 (ESV) — 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
• Matthew 13:19 (ESV) — 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
These verses tell us that the people Paul was trying to persuade were:
• darkened in understanding
• ignorant due to hard hearts
• minds are hardened
• futile in their thinking
• don’t hear and don’t understand the word
So what was Paul doing?
Did he believe he could convert them with his skills?
• Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Was he just wasting time sounding knowledgeable?
• 1 Corinthians 9:16 (ESV) — 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
So Paul was trying to persuade people who:
• Didn’t have the capacity to “hear” his apologetic
• Could only be saved by grace through faith, not intellectual assent to his arguments
Yet, we are told in verse 24 that though some did not believe there were those who were persuaded and believed.
How do we reconcile this dynamic between persuading and belief?
3) WHAT IS ESSENTIAL AND WHAT IS DESCISIVE – RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSUADING AND BELIEF
So how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction between persuasion and faith?
We’ll let Paul do it for us.
• Ephesians 3:4 (ESV) — 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
• 2 Timothy 2:7 (ESV) — 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
• Romans 1:16–17 (ESV) — 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
• Romans 10:17 (ESV) — 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
From the above, we see a relationship between speaking (or writing) the truth or words of Christ and hearing, understanding and believing.
Or to put another way, Paul reveals that there can be a powerful dynamic between God (belief) and the spoken gospel (persuasion).
• “Word of Christ” is first and foremost the gospel – saving news of Jesus Christ.
o But it is also the Law and the Prophets.
o And from Romans 1:19-20, his eternal power and divine nature displayed in creation
o And from Romans 2:15-16, law written on our hearts and conscience bearing witness
• Paul used all of these things to persuade.
• People can perceive, understand and hear our attempts at persuasion because God is using the “words of Christ” to bring men to saving faith in Christ Jesus.
In other words:
• The Spirit of God condescends to use it [arguments plus the gospel] in bringing certain people to Himself – William Lane Craig.
Or the dynamic between persuasion and belief can be put this way:
• 1 Peter 1:23 (ESV) — 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
• 1 Peter 1:25 (ESV) — 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
So the way God brings about the new birth in dead, unbelieving hearts is by the gospel, the good news – John Piper.
And how do people hear the gospel and the arguments for its truth?
• We have to persuasively speak it to them AND then God enables them to “hear” it.
So it is for all these reasons that persuasion and belief are bedfellows.
God’s role [belief & faith] in bringing about the new birth is decisive, and our role [reason & persuasion] in bringing about the new birth is essential – John Piper.
• Our role in speaking the gospel persuasively is essential and commanded by God.
• God’s role in using our words to bring someone to salvation is decisive.
John Piper sums it up as follows:
• But the fact that you can’t make electricity or create light never stops you from flipping light switches. The fact that you can’t create fire in cylinders never stops you from turning the car key. So don’t let the fact that you can’t cause the new birth stop you from telling the gospel. That is how people are born again—through the living and abiding word, the good news of Jesus Christ – John Piper.
Peter & Paul, as revealed in the Book of Acts, never stopped seeking to persuade and speak the gospel.
So how many light switches are you flipping?
How many car keys are you turning?