The Book of Acts

Acts 1

Luke begins by referring to his former history of Christ now known as the Book of Luke and a short reminder of its contents.

Luke and  Acts were written as historical letters to Theophilus a man of Greece [judging by the Greek name]. Theophilus must have shared these two letters with others and they began to circulate in the Ekklesia being made part of the cannon of scripture later at Pella.

Acts 1:1 The former treatise [the book of Luke] have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they [All the disciples not just the 10+1 [Judas being dead and Thomas not being present on that Sunday] who had already  received the Holy Spirit on the Wave Offering Sunday or soon after.] should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Luke then bears record that they are commanded to preach Christ to all nations and that he is helping to do that by writing these historical letters.  In doing this he passes on the commandment of Christ to spread the word to all nations and Theophilus would have taken this cue, to spread these letters from Luke.

The principle point of the true Gospel is the message of warning, repentance and SALVATION through Jesus Christ.

1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons [In the first century], which the Father hath put in his own power. 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

This was the last command of Christ as he ascended into heaven to be with God the Father until the time of the restitution of all things at the resurrection to spirit of the chosen.

1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 1:10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

The ten apostles [and later Thomas] had already received the Holy Spirit from Christ at the end of Wave Offering Sunday, however they were to wait at Jerusalem until all the disciples had God’s Spirit poured out on them and a public demonstration was made of the Spirit of God being poured out on some people, as an example of what would come after the day of the Lord (Joel 2:28).

The indication here is that Christ ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives; the very place where he will soon descend to.

1:12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.

The eleven [Thomas now present] living together in Jerusalem, discussing the teachings of Christ and the scriptures, prepared themselves for the momentous events of Pentecost.

1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the [several] women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Peter then brings up the subject of replacing Judas; for it is written that each original apostle shall rule over a tribe of Israel in the Kingdom.

1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 1:17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

The end of Judas explained

1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; [He hanged himself and when cut down] and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 1:19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

The others agreed that Peter was consistent with the scriptures and undertook to choose a twelfth apostle.

1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 1:22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

They then chose two disciples with had been with them since John Baptist, by the criteria of their loyalty to Christ and their godliness, and who had been with Jesus from his baptism by John.

1:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

Then the twelfth apostle was chosen by lot from among the qualified.  Almighty God chooses his own apostles!  Men falsely proclaiming themselves apostles without the fruits of an apostle;  does not make them an apostle.

1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 1:25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

 

Acts 2

Acts 2 now goes directly to the Feast of Pentecost in 31 A.D.  All of the disciples had been waiting from Christ’s ascension to heaven on the fortieth day after his resurrection, for ten so days; coming to the fiftieth day after Christ’s resurrection on Wave Offering Sunday; which is the Feast of Weeks called Pentecost.

The twelve and many hundreds of other disciples and tens of thousands of  people that had been scattered abroad; came from across the known world to the Temple for Pentecost.

2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Holy Spirit is poured out on the disciples of Christ as a demonstration of God’s approval before all the Jews and as a partial demonstration of what would take place after the day of the Lord; when God’s Spirit will be poured out on ALL flesh (Joel 2:28).

2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Glossa: 2) a tongue a) the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations

2:5 And there were dwelling [staying for the Feast] at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

The tongues were the languages of men from the various nations, and not vain emotionally ecstatic babble.

2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

2:7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?  2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

The disciples spoke by God’s power, languages not native to themselves. 

2:9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 2:10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

These people were astonished and groping for an answer as to how this could be.

2:12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 2:13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Then Peter stands up and begins to preach

2:14 But Peter, standing up with the [the other 11 plus Peter meaning the whole 12 were present] eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them,

Peter’s sermon could well be an example of the sermons preached to people all over the earth as God’s Spirit is poured out on all flesh and the Kingdom of God is established by Jesus Christ and his bride on a near future Pentecost.

Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 2:15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour [9 am] of the day.

2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 2:19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Let me ask:  Was 31 A.D. the “last days”?  Was God’s Spirit poured out on ALL flesh in 31 A.D.?   Did the heavenly signs quoted by Peter take place in 31 A.D.?    Was the day of the Lord in 31 A.D.?

NO!  However Peter by quoting Joel, was inspired to reveal that the events of 31 A.D. were a precursor of the events to come on the future day of the Lord and immediately afterwards; when the people would repentantly welcome the coming of Christ with his saints, and God’s Spirit would be poured out on all flesh on a future day of Pentecost!

The Feast of Pentecost was the start of the Theocracy of physical Israel at Sinai:  and IT WILL BE the beginning of the Theocracy of the Kingdom of God at Jerusalem!

The resurrection will come on the sixth day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread; to be followed by the marriage supper in heaven while the seven last plagues are poured out on the earth!  To be capped off by the coming of Christ with his saints to rule the earth in righteousness, and then the pouring out of God’s Spirit on all flesh when the very day of Pentecost comes! 

Brethren, Peter preached the true Gospel on that first century Feast of Pentecost, as it will be preached to all nations and peoples on a soon coming future Feast of Pentecost!!

2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, [a Davidic prophecy of Jesus Christ] I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 2:26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 2:28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of [eternal] life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

Peter speaks of the resurrection of Christ

2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his [Christ’s] soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

2:32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Peter proclaims that the things they had seen on that Pentecost were the evidence of the Holy Spirit falling on the sincerely repentant through the death and resurrection of Christ.

2:33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 2:35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus [Hebrew: Yeshua], whom ye have crucified, both Lord [Adonai (Lord), the title given to Messiah] and Christ [Messiah,  Mashiach:  the Anointed One].

The people were taken aback by the flames and signs, and by the preaching of Peter were moved to repentance and asked what they should do.  Even so when Christ comes with his chosen elect and with many signs and wonders, people will be humbled and greatly impressed and ask what they should do to be saved.

2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Did Peter say:  “Don’t worry Christ will overlook your sins” as long as you attend some corporate group?

Or did he proclaim:  Sincerely REPENT and sin no more?

The way to salvation is to believe the scriptures, repent and make a baptismal commitment to SIN NO MORE, and then the blood of Christ will be applied to you, blotting out sin and bringing the gift of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit!

2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God [God the Father] shall call.

This is only a condensed version of Peter’s sermon

2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward [a) perverse, wicked b) unfair, surly, forward (stubborn, self willed)] generation.

2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

On a future Pentecost these things will be expanded, as all nations repent and welcome the establishment of the millennial Kingdom of God; and God’s Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh so that even the wild animals are tamed (Isaiah 11).

2:42 And they [the disciples who remained at Jerusalem after Pentecost] continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

2:43 And fear [reverence for God the Father and Jesus Christ] came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the [power of God in the]  apostles.

In the coming Kingdom of God is to begin on Pentecost in the very near future, Jesus and his chosen elect who have been resurrected to spirit will do mighty miracles and the whole earth will turn to live by every Word of God. 

Revelation 20:1  And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 20:2  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled:

Then the disciples believing that the end was close at hand, shared all that they had with one another: for the book of Revelation had not yet been given to John, and they thought the Kingdom was at hand.

Acts 2:44 And all that believed [in Jerusalem] were together, and had all things common; 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

The disciples in Judea gathered to Jerusalem and the Temple, and with James the Lord’s brother, were UNITED IN ZEAL for LEARNING and  KEEPING the Word of God!

2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat [food] with gladness and singleness of heart, 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Then as James died and Judea headed towards the Roman wars, the belief that the Kingdom was at hand reached a crescendo.  Fleeing from Jerusalem and Judea to Pella, because of the warnings of Matthew 24 and the many other warnings, they would have been absolutely convinced that at the end of the siege of Jerusalem as written in Daniel:  The Kingdom was at hand.

God the Father and Jesus Christ have TESTED and TESTED their called out in every generation; to judge their loyalty and fitness to become a part of the chosen collective bride of the Lamb of God.

Brethren, the apostles did NOT FAIL their TEST!  Although doubtless many others did fail. 

It was a huge TEST of loyalty and perseverance when the Kingdom of God did not come after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and the first century apostasy began to creep into the fellowship, frustrating Paul and the other apostles and leaders.

It was about this time that the Book of Revelation was written and the apostles and leaders fled to Pella in c 66 A.D., as the siege of Jerusalem began; and the apostles canonized the New Testament scriptures at Pella.

Brethren, we are now at the end of the age and the tribulation is fast approaching,  we are still being TESTED as to our LOYALTY to Christ, as opposed to any loyalty to false traditions and idols of men and organizations.

God’s called out will be TESTED many times and in many ways, to determine if their loyalty and faithfulness to Christ is absolute, uncompromising and unchanging!

Remember the kind of bride that Christ wants, and always seek him with all your hearts in passionate love for all that he is and does!  which is to do God the Father’s will!

Run to him like a deer runs upon the mountains; cleave to him with your whole heart, allowing NO willful compromise or sin to defile us; allow NOTHING to separate us from our Beloved! 

Would you chose to marry someone who loves another and follows them and not you?  Neither will Jesus Christ accept anyone who prefers others to him!

 

Acts 3

The True Gospel is Preached

Mark 16:17   And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

16:18 They shall take up [not be harmed by deadly creatures] serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Those are some of the signs of Christ’s disciples; today we lack such power because we have turned from Christ into the error of idolizing men and corporate organizations; we have become lax and lukewarm for the practical application of the teachings and commandments of Christ in our lives. 

We have quenched God’s Spirit by calling his Sabbath and High Days “HOLY” and then polluting them; we have rejected the Biblical Calendar of God for the unscriptural Babylonian calendar of the Rabbinate, and many elders are selfish of personal advantage instead of being humble before God to DO HIS WILL.

The list of our sins reaches to high heaven, and then we think ourselves righteous and spiritually rich and spiritually in need of nothing.

We have quenched God’s Spirit and the signs of discipleship are no longer with us.

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour [3 pm, the hour of prayer being the lead in to the Daily Evening Sacrifice at sunset].

3:2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3:3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

3:4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 3:5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Peter and John must have seen this man many times and perhaps heard of his conduct. This is an example of the power of the Holy Spirit in these men who were filled up with zeal for God and God’s Word. It is those who are zealous to please and obey Christ who shall have God’s Spirit poured out on them as his disciples. 

The wisdom of the Word of God is of infinitely more value than the gold that men lust after.  

What is a man beside God? Who are we to question his Word? The Greatness of God is seen in his Magnificent Law.

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul [men are converted from sin (and death)through living by the Word of God]: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple [giving knowledge of life to the ignorant].

19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Why do we desire gold and the perishable things of this world, shamefully going to law against our brothers; and have not cleaved with all our hearts and all our strength, to the Commandments of our God?

19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned [away from sin and the consequence of evil deeds]: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

There is no error in God or in his commandments.

19:12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret [from every hidden sin which I may not see] faults.

19:13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [brazen, impudent, pride and self will]  sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Acts 3:7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 3:8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

This open miracle was better advertising than all of today’s media efforts and quickly brought a crowd around Peter and John.  If one is faithful to the Word of God; they will be a light of example which cannot be concealed.

3:9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 3:10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. 3:11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

Peter immediately used the situation to teach the Gospel of Salvation.

3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 3:13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he [Pilate] was determined to let him go.

Peter tells them that this man was healed through the name of the one that they had rejected.

3:14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 3:15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 3:16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Peter tells the people of the prophecies that Christ must suffer, and calls them to sincere repentance from sin.

3:17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 3:18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Peter explains that “That Prophet” is Jesus Christ, who is the Mediator of the New Covenant as Moses was the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant.

Deuteronomy 18:15   The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

18:16 According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.

18:17 And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.

18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

Peter quotes Moses that “That Prophet” is Jesus Christ!  For this Moses was the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant and Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant.

18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Acts 3:22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me [A mediator of a covenant]; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Peter teaches Christ from the prophets

3:24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

Christ first went to the lost sheep of Israel, and was not sent to the Gentiles, yet later he did go to the cities of Samaria and Lebanon.

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 15:23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

Jesus heals the Canaanite.  This an analogy that in the kingdom and the resurrection to flesh even the Canaanites will have their opportunity to come to Christ and to receive the spiritual healing of salvation. They like all humanity will be delivered from bondage to Satan through the salvation of the Lamb of God in their proper time.

15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

15:27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

This is one of the most moving examples of humility and faith before Christ; that I have ever heard. Imagine this conversation taking place in this era of racial pride. Imagine if you were this woman being rejected because of your race; what would your attitude be.

You, who reject the commandments of God today, because they are inconvenient to you; imagine this humility before God.

This woman is truly stunning in her love, faith and humility.

Oh, that there were even a small grain of such faith and humility in the Ekklesia today.

15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. 

For her faith and her absolutely amazing humility and importunity her request was granted.  Notice that Jesus did not need to be physically present to heal the lady. 

Acts 3:25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, [God] saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 3:26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

Peter and John are arrested for Christ.

 

Acts 4

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees [priests], came upon them [teaching in the Temple, without the priests consent], 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 4:3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

Many did believe, and the religious establishment was inflamed with jealousy and would not repent, therefore they forbade the truth of Christ to be preached. 

Five thousand had been converted to Christ by their preaching the true Gospel and the wicked were incensed, because not being willing to repent themselves they saw the truth of Christ as competition against themselves.  It is the same today as leaders not willing to repent themselves and see the preaching of the truth as competition, and seek to squelch the truth of God from being taught.

4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

The religious establishment [the Church Of God of that day] gathered to condemn Peter and John for teaching the truth.

4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 4:6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

They demanded “by what authority do you teach these things”?

4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Peter then declares that they do this by the authority of the one who they had crucified.  Peter does not hold back, but boldly proclaims the Gospel of Salvation.

4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 4:9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Peter quotes the prophet and declares Jesus Christ the ONLY name by which men can receive salvation.

4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The leaders acknowledge that Peter and John had been with Christ and were astounded at their bold and erudite teachings.

4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men [That is, they had no Rabbinic education as Rabbi’s; except as they had been educated by Jesus], they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 4:14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

4:15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 4:16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

The religious establishment of the day commanded Peter and John to stop their teachings.

4:17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Peter and John then answered boldly like Daniel’s; and refused to obey men above obedience to God.

Why is it that so many elders and brethren LACK the courage to speak the truth of God today? To remain in good standing with some apostate organization?  That is choosing lies over truth and the god of this world [the father of lies] over the Eternal Almighty One; who IS truth!

4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Then the religious establishment sought to punish Peter and John but found no cause because of the obvious miracle done in the name of Christ.

4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.  4:22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

4:23 And being let go, they went to their own company [the brethren], and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

Then the apostles and disciples in the area petitioned God the Father to INCREASE their boldness and strength to peach the Gospel of Warning, Witness, Repentance and Salvation through Jesus Christ!  They did not back away from proclaiming the truth;  NO!  They redoubled their efforts.

Brethren, let us REPENT of our laxity and lukewarmness and fear of men, and turn to a zealous enthusiasm for God our Father.  Let us pray along with the first century disciples for the zealous desire to do God’s will, and to proclaim his ways with boldness and strength.

The prayer of the true faithful; lovers of God the Father and Jesus Christ:  Let this be our prayer also!

4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said,

Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 4:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 4:30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

God the righteous Father answers such prayers, if we are zealous in our KEEPING of all the teachings, instructions and commandments of Christ;  One of which is to preach the Gospel of Salvation by Jesus Christ! 

The Almighty God the Father, King of the Universe, hears and approves of this kind of prayer!

4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled [They already had God’s Spirit, this was a special additional inspiration to action by God’s Spirit.] with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul [pneuma; one mind, one spirit]: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.  [They shared with each other, they did not give everything to one man.]

4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace [repentance and forgiveness and God’s spirit] was upon them all.

The disciples taught Jesus Christ was the Son of God and the resurrection of Christ; they taught  the way of salvation and eternal life, and the Kingdom of God, is to live by every Word of God!  That is the true Gospel!  

Remembering that they thought the Kingdom was imminent as the events developed towards the Jewish Roman wars: The apostles and elders did NOT enrich themselves and live like oil potentates!

They used the income to preach the Gospel and NOT to build extravagant edifices as is done today.  They used only what was necessary for their basic needs and the preaching of the Gospel, and dispersed to each person as he needed.

4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

This does NOT justify false prophet’s demanding all the worldly wealth of the brethren.

There is a vast difference between extorting wealth with clever talk and the freewill giving of offerings.

4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

When doctrinal diversity from the Word of God is tolerated; sin, heresy and false teachings are tolerated; and the unclean is added to the clean;  making the whole lump leavened with the uncleanness of false heretical teachings.

The wicked who turn away from rebuking sin; and turn towards tolerating heresies and forbidding to: Stand on sound Biblical doctrine, shall be greatly corrected in tribulation, and if they remain unrepentant will be destroyed in the final fire.

Those who deny this should compare the attitude and sermons today with those of Peter and the apostles and disciples from Acts 2, onward.

Do NOT mistake permissiveness for godly love: 

Do NOT mistake asceticism for humility: 

Do NOT mistake a large volume of false words for truth:

Do NOT mistake love of man; for a love of God!

It is the love of God to live by every Word of God; that is the first priority.

Love for man comes second to love for God and the KEEPING of the Word of God, which IS Godly love!  NOT the other way around.  Many have their priorities backwards!

ALL the major religions are apostate from Christ and sound doctrine, because they reject any zeal for learning and keeping the teachings and commandments of Almighty God. 

 

Acts 5

Ananias, and Sapphira lie to the assembly and lie to God.

Acts 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?  5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 

The issue was not the land or the price which both belonged to Ananias and Sapphira; the issue is that they lied about the sum to deceive and impress the brethren and lied before God. 

Those organizations and elders which try to deceive the brethren today should take notice of God’s position on that matter.

5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 5:6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 

God has delayed his judgment of the corporate church groups in patient love, but the time of our correction is drawing near.

5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

When God’s judgment of great tribulation is come upon the wicked in our midst; the brethren will learn to fear God and to seek God’s will.

5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

This event requires some comment.

From time to time I receive messages telling me that I should not rebuke sin and should not cry out because Christ forgives and we are to overlook sin.

This is a primary FALSE teaching which is being used to teach tolerance for sin and the introduction of heresies into the congregations.

We are commanded to rebuke all sin and to eject willfull sinners and those who are heretics who will not tolerate sound doctrine.

We are to reject false doctrine:  NOT tolerate any false thing and so encourage heresy.

Titus 3:10   A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 3:11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

We are to cleave to and teach sound doctrine; and NOT allow and tolerate false doctrine and false teachings within the midst of the congregations.

Titus 1:9   Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Titus 2:1   But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

2 Timothy 4:1   I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and [the true Doctrine of God’s Word] doctrine.

2 Thessalonians 2:15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions [of God] which ye have been taught, whether by [the apostles direct words and teachings] word, or our epistle. 
 
What traditions are we to keep?  The false traditions of men?  or the teachings of the Apostles which are canonized in the Holy Scriptures?

Now consider this Jesus, who after covering the people with the lamb’s blood and leading them out of Egypt baptizing them in the sea:  DESTROYED those who were willing to turn back into Egypt!

Consider how Jesus Christ is a great warrior and WILL destroy the armies of the earth at Jerusalem on that appointed day. 

No, he will not wave his hand and wink at sin:  HE WILL DESTROY THE UNREPENTANT REBELS!

Consider how this Jesus will DESTROY all of the unrepentant wicked at their appointed time:

Revelation 20:12    And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books [the scriptures] were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books [scriptures], according to their works [according to their obedience and zeal for the commandments and teachings of Christ].

20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works [actions in KEEPING all the teachings and commandments of Christ].

20:13 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

ONLY those who live by every Word of God shall be in the resurrection to spirit and eternal life.

Revelation 22:14   Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

22:15 For without are dogs [A man of impure mind, an impudent man, in the sense of Nicolaitanes preying on their fellows,], and sorcerers [This is rebellion against God], and whoremongers [Spiritually following idols instead of following our Husband; spiritual adultery], and murderers  [Including the spiritual murder of turning people away form their zeal for God], and idolaters [serving the false traditions of men], and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.  [Including lying by omission and by deception.]

Brethren telling a partial truth to deceive about the whole truth is LYING 

There are very many LIARS among the leaders and elders; and yes even some of the brethren, in the Ekklesia today.  Such men will NOT be in the resurrection to spirit unless they repent.

Jesus Christ is not some effeminate pansy who will overlook sins and let us do as we please!  He is a Mighty Warrior who went before Joshua and threw down the walls of sinful Jericho!  He is the one who will throw the beast and false prophet alive into the fire and who will destroy ALL unrepentant sinners at the judgment!

Jesus Christ is burning with zeal for God the Father and his Father’s house [the Ekklesia], and is determined that no uncleanness shall pollute his people!

Jesus Christ would NEVER tolerate sin, false doctrine or any uncleanness in his Father’s  Ekklesia.

Tolerate false doctrines?  Tolerate false teachings in the congregations?  Mix God’s Word with the abominations of the unconverted [heathen]?  NEVER!  NEVER!  NEVER!  The men who do this are worthy of eternal death in the lake of fire; if they do not repent quickly.

Ananias, and Sapphira are examples of what Christ will do to those who lie, or who pervert his teachings of sound doctrine, or break any part of the Word of God. 

The apostles were mighty to preach the TRUTH of God and to fight all false teachings, heresies and error!

Acts 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch).

The religious leaders resisted the disciples, but many people did believe the truth of their preaching.  These called out folks did not retain their own heresies; NO they repented and followed the sound doctrines of Jesus Christ and the Word of God the Father!  False teachings were NOT TOLERATED!

5:13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 5:15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Because they taught the true sound doctrine of the Holy Scriptures without compromise or tolerance for heresy and because they spoke the truth; they offended the ministry of the day and were cast into prison.  Just as those who teach or seek the truth of God today, are persecuted by today’s ministries.

5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) [the Sadducees are here identified as the priests] and were filled with indignation, 5:18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

Jesus Christ delivered them because of their love, loyalty and zeal for him and all his words!  Did they then flee away or compromise with their Outreach?   NO, they immediately went to the temple to teach all the people!

What is this fear of men today?  Where is the fear of God in the Ekklesia today?  Those men obeyed God and not any man; they taught the truth, regardless of what those in ecclesiastical power commanded.

5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 5:20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life [the words of life are to live by every Word of God] .

In the morning the high priest sent to the prison to have the disciples brought for judgment and when they heard that the disciples had left the prison and gone to teach in the temple, they called a meeting of the Sanhedrin [The Seventy].

5:21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council [Sanhedrin] together, and all the senate [Sanhedrin] of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

Now consider that these men were escaped out of prison without the guard knowing, as if the angel had blinded their eyes to these men.

5:22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told, 5:23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

The religious leaders became concerned as to how this could be and how it would work out if they could not find the disciples.

5:24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

Then the disciples were found in the temple, and they came before the leaders without resisting when they were called.

Brethren, if we have set a good example and diligently taught and kept the truth of God, without any compromise and in dedicated zeal; we need not fear men, for our Deliver is coming with his reward for the faithful.

On the other hand if we compromise and tolerate sin and false teachings; then we most assuredly need fear  God, for God’s judgment is sure.

5:25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. 5:26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

The religious leaders again commanded the disciples NOT to preach the gospel of truth.

5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 5:28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s [the guilt of Christ’s death] blood upon us.

What zeal for God the Father and Jesus Christ!!!   Where is our zeal today?  Is it not swallowed up in complacent compromise and spiritual IDOLATRY for the traditions of men?

5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Peter and the disciples then witnessed about Christ and the sound doctrine of God’s Word, to the religious leaders of the day.  How very far Peter had come from denying Christ out of fear of men at the crucifixion!  May we all learn such a lesson of overcoming, faith and courageous zeal for our Mighty Eternally Beloved One! 

Personally, I believe that many in today’s Ekklesia who deny Christ by rejecting the Word of God to follow idols of men; will deeply and sincerely repent in the tribulation and become like Paul and Peter and the other apostles and disciples in a new found zeal; to learn, keep and teach the whole Word of God!  Those who are in denial today will quickly repent when the correction of the tribulation comes upon them and will remember these warnings and teachings. 

5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

God ONLY gives his Holy Spirit to those who live by every Word of God and obey Him.

I know that the same attitude of animosity exists among many today, for these things and those who respond.  They should hear the counsel of Gamaliel and not be attacking the zealous among them.

5:33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. 5:34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

5:35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. 5:36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. 5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Being commanded once again to refrain from preaching the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ, they were released, and rejoiced that they had been allowed to witness to the Council and to suffer abuse for their zeal! 

Will God’s two servants stand before the Boards and Councils of today’s spiritual Ekklesia and others to give them a warning from God in power and miracles before the tribulation begins; so that these men will have absolutely NO excuse for rejecting the Word of God for their own false traditions?  I would think so, but we shall soon see.

5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

The apostles rejected the commandments of men and went right back into the temple to teach the teachings, commandments and sound doctrine of God the Father and Jesus Christ!

5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Oh, that every person in the faith had the love of God and his Word that Peter, Daniel, Paul, John, James, Noah, Moses and the many ancient Mighty People of God had!

Read again Hebrews 11: and run to your God, Oh [spiritual] Israel!!!

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Nineteen hundred years ago Paul spoke of physical things being made from the invisible things; which was confirmed by E=MC2 which means that energy is mass times the speed of light squared or multiplied by itself.   The opposite is also true that mass consists of energy.  The Creator God who was spirit [pure energy] made matter by converting energy to matter! 

Paul understood this by faith; which thing is today confirmed by discovery of the facts.  Matter is energy concentrated into matter.  Just like ice is a form of water and water is a form of vapor! 

11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

That is Abel is dead and yet he is spoken of to this day, and he will be raised up in the resurrection.

11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

How can we obey God if we do not believe that He is?  and how can we please God [obey Him] if we do not believe he exists?

11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is [exists], and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, [believed God and] prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world [which would not believe the warnings], and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

This is a lesson, that in the same way; those in the Ekklesia of the called out, who do not believe the warnings and turn to God in sincerity and truth will also be destroyed.

11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles [The Feast of Tabernacles requires that we dwell in temporary shelters to make the very point that if we are called of and faithful to God we are strangers in the world] ] with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God

We are to be focused on the spiritual things of the whole Word of God as Abraham was; and we are to be built on the whole Word of God; which is the Writings, the Prophets and the Apostles [the Holy Scriptures] with Jesus Christ being the Chief Stone of the foundation:  All of which were inspired by God!

Abraham believed God and therefore he acted on what God told him to do. To believe God is one thing; to actually act on what God says and to obey him, is something else.

We must believe before we can obey, but if we believe and do not start obeying, there is no sacrifice for your sin and there is no reconciliation with God for us.

As long as we continue to reject living by every Word of God, we can believe all we want and it won’t do us any good at all. We must believe and then we must act on that belief and start doing what God tells us to do.

Our reconciliation with God and our relationship with Him depends upon us keeping His commandments, and one of those commandments is to honor thy mother and thy mother.

In order to keep that commandment, we must be willing to do anything that God the Father tells us to do. Was there any law that said Abraham had to move to a different land? Was there any law that told Noah: by law you have to build this ark? No, there wasn’t.

The law is: Obey God in ALL things. We are obligated by the commandment do what our Father tells us to do, and He told Abraham to leave that land and He told Noah to build that boat. We are to obey God our Father in whatever He tells us to do. This concept of obedience goes far beyond just the commandments. Yes, we are to keep all of His commandments but we are also to love Him with all our hearts, to serve Him with all our strength and to try and please Him in every way; and that means doing whatever He says; always, always, always, at all times.

11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. [Where was there any faith in Sarah regarding this promise?   She gave herself to her husband Abraham in her old age, truisting that God would give her a son!] 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Out of Sarah and Abraham came a son by God’s promise; out of Abram who was a very old man as “many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore enumerable. Now, if they in their great age had not believed that promise, and not added the works of faith to their belief and had not come together; the promise would have been of no effect!  The birth of Isaac was by faith in the promise of God, coupled with the works of faith!

Notice they all DIED: which means that Enoch also died. These all died in faith. Enoch was translated that he should not see death; in other words, he was moved from one place to another so that he would not be murdered or killed for his faith.  But later on he died;

11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth

Those who reject worldliness for godliness, are making a clear statement that they are not of this world and that they seek another and godly nation, the Kingdom  of God;  and if any turn aside from their zeal to keep the whole Word of God, which is the constitution of the Kingdom of God, and go back into worldliness; they are become worldly again.

11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.  11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

And that is what dwelling in tabernacles or  temporary structures at the Feast is all about. To teach us that this flesh is temporary and that we are seeking a better promised land; an eternal spiritual future.

It is to remind us that we are temporary sojourners and foreigners in this society and we must be seeking a better society and a better and spiritual Promised Land, which is found in the Kingdom of God. We are really just temporary sojourners in this flesh; and we should all be looking forward to a better and more permanent place to dwell, a change to spirit and the promise of eternal life. Which is the gift of God for all those who sincerely  repent, who turn from sin and commit to sin no more, who are reconciled to God the Father and given His Spirit.

Those who endure and overcome may then be given Eternal life in a new spiritual body at the resurrection when they are changed to spirit. However, right now we are living in this flesh, which is temporary, transitory, it will die. It will decay and we need to find a better way, and that better way is offered by God through Jesus Christ.

11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them [the faithful who believe and have the works of faith] a city [the New Jerusalem].

Abraham had received promises that Isaac would be the father of countless descendants yet not understanding the command to kill Isaac with those promises, Abraham obeyed.

11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Figuratively speaking, he received Isaac back from the dead because he was about to kill him and God delivered Isaac.

11:20 By faith [in God’s promises] Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 11:21 By faith [in God’s promises] Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.  11:22 By faith [in God’s promise that he would bring Israel out of Egypt] Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

Who? Moses esteemed who? Paul showing here that he KNEW that Jesus Christ was the God who was an Husband to Israel under the Mosaic Covenant declares:

By faith in the promise of God, Moses chose to reject Egypt and follow the God of his father Abraham.

11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Moses obeyed the call of God from the burning bush in Sinai and by faith Moses believed God and killed the Passover in Egypt.  It Moses had said I believe and had not had the works of faith in commanding the killing of the lambs; what would have happened to Israel? 

11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. 

What if Joshua had said I believe you can do it LORD; and then did not demonstrate his faith with the works of faith and did not march around Jericho?

11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

What if Rahab had not saved the spies and what if she had not tied the scarlet ribbon [a red ribbon like the red blood of the lambs in Egypt, representing being under the protection of the Lamb of God] to her window?  have you ever wondered why a scarlet ribbon?  The red ribbon was a type of being under the protection of the blood of the Lamb of God!

11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 11:33 Who through faith [and the works of faith, doing mighty deeds in obedience to God] subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.

11:34 Quenched the violence of fire [Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego], escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

All of these faithful called out over the past 6,000 years, who were FULL of the works of Faith died, and now wait in their graves for the promise of the resurrection to eternal life in the Promised Land of eternity!  Yet today, so many of the Ekklesia are afraid to take a stand to question and prove the words of men by God’s Word; afraid to learn and to keep the whole Word of God; afraid to take a stand against the deceivers and idols of men!

11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

All of these ancient called out people [and very many more since Paul] mentioned by Paul through faith did things. They didn’t say, “Oh, I’ve got faith. Praise the Lord,” and then do nothing. They had the FAITH to be DOERS of the Will and the whole Word of God!

No watering down, No compromise, No dimming of their light of example, to appease the world!

They were valiant people, courageous people, godly people, and they were made strong by the power of their belief in God and the power of God’s Spirit dwelling within them; which God gave to them because of their belief and their willingness to ACT on that belief and be full of the works of faith, to put Almighty God first and to act and do whatever God wanted them to do.

They had faith. Abel believed God and acted on that belief having the works of faith. These people acted on their faith and they did what God wanted them to do. They kept His commandments and they did whatever He told them to do.

Faith without works is dead.

They did not fear to take a stand, nor did they love this world; they looked forward to another and a better world; being willing to give up their lives in this world to follow the whole Word of God to attain that better world. While most today would not even give up a meal in a restaurant on Sabbath!

Like Esau the church of God today has sold its birthright for a bowl of pottage; for the pleasures of this world and for fear of trials.

 

 

Acts  6

In the sharing of goods the Greeks in Judea felt neglected and it was deemed necessary to have an official overseeing of what had been, until then, an unsupervised sharing.

Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Many elders reject this lesson today and spend an inordinate amount of time supervising summer camps, sports and other activities which should properly be left to deacons.  It is because of this that serious study of the scriptures are often much neglected by the ministry.

6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. [Elders are to be deeply in the scriptures at all times; and if their social club duties distract from that; they need to STOP doing such things and get back into the Word of God!]

6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

The principle is the same; let the good elders serve in diligent open minded study of the Word of God so that they can rebuke sin and teach the brethren.

It is NOT an elders job to organize sporting events or Winter Weekends, or even Feasts; that is for deacons.  Let the elders be diligent in the Word and in preparing to address the brethren and let the deacon’s do their job of serving in physical things!

2 Timothy 4   I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

4:3 For the time will come when they [many of the brethren] will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves [false] teachers, having itching ears;

Paul tells Timothy that the brethren will apostatize if the elders are not diligent to rebuke and reprove all sin, and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.  Today the Ekklesia is full of apostasy because the elders have not been doing their jobs.

4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Acts 6:4 But we will [that the elders] give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

When the apostles and elders dedicated themselves to study, prayer and preaching the Word; “be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine,” God blessed them with much increase in knowledge and brethren.

It is not by watering down doctrine that the assembly is blessed, but by a dedicated love for Christ and the KEEPING of every Word of God.  And even if God withholds physical blessings for a time; remember Joseph who was an example of long suffering faithfulness for us all.  Joseph was faithful and endured in love for God and became the leader of a great nation; is that not an allegory of the called out who will be made kings and priests IF they endure in faithfully living by every Word of God? 

6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

See how the faithful deacons can do mighty works in pleasing God, setting an example for the people and preaching the salvation of Christ, and by closeness to God do mighty things!

6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

A synagogue of people from North Africa were convicted in their hearts by Stephen, and they resisted the truth and not being able to answer the sound doctrine of truth; they being pricked by the truth and rejecting it, they rose up to contend with the messenger and attacked the man who brought the message!

6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 6:12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 6:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

The face of Stephen shone as he preached sound doctrine to the leaders of the people and the gospel of salvation to his judges and accusers!   This man was a true Daniel and a man like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

WHERE is the courage of faith today?  Oh how far are we fallen from our forefathers in our love of Christ and God the Father!

Daniel 3:16   Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful [are not afraid] to answer thee in this matter.

3:17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

3:18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Acts 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

 

Acts 7

Then the high priest asked for Stephen’s defense, and Stephen preached the gospel to his accusers in the face of a cruel death.

Acts 7:1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so?

Then Stephen responded by preaching the sound doctrine of the gospel with authority; which is NOT done in these relatively easy times today.

7:2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran [Haran on the Euphrates], 7:3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.

7:4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran [Haran, Harran]: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.

Abram WAS obedient to God; to the point of leaving his family, home and possessions:  IF only we would be as fully dedicated and obedient as Abram was, we the supposed spiritual children of Abraham!

7:5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.

Abraham died not having received the promises of inheriting the land in which he sojourned. The events of Egypt are clearly an allegory of the plan of salvation; for God could have delivered them from even having to go to Egypt in the first place, yet these things were told to Abraham hundreds of years in advance.

7:6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7:7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.

Brethren we are to circumcise our children on the eighth day; which is an allegory of spiritual circumcision [conversion].  Only adult converts who are already circumcised in heart and are more than eight days old are not required to be physically circumcised.  In the millennial kingdom there shall be no uncircumcised person of Israel or of the Gentiles, allowed to enter the temple.

Ezekiel 44:9    Thus saith the Lord God; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger [Gentile] that is among the children of Israel.

Acts 7:8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.

Like Joseph, it is through the affliction of learning to live by EVERY Word of God, that we may become kings and priests in the Kingdom of God

7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 7:10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

7:11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.

7:12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn [grain] in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

7:13 And at the second time [the sons of Jacob went to Egypt]  Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.  7:14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

7:15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 7:16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.

7:17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 7:18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 7:19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.

7:20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: 7:21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 7:22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.

7:23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.

Moses knew that he was to be the deliverer of his brethren; and yet he was to be humbled by trial in the wilderness for 40 years before he was ready for his task.  Here we find a little more on Moses who knew that he was raised up to deliver Israel, and wanted to do so at the age of forty.  Later an older and wiser Moses was reluctant to do so when he was called by God at the age of 80. 

7:24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 7:25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.

7:26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one [Moses would have united the people] again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 7:27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 7:28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 7:29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.

7:30 And when forty years were expired [in the wilderness, making Moses 80 years old], there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina [Stephen reveals that Moses saw the burning bush at Mount Sinai] an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

7:31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the LORD came unto him, 7:32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.

7:33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.

7:34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

Moses becomes became the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant, as Christ became the Mediator of the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31.  This Moses who was rejected, became the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant, and Jesus Christ who was rejected became the Mediator of the New Covenant.

7:35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 7:36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

Now, Stephen comes directly to Christ in his narrative; having rehearsed a long introduction of Israel’s history to make Christ plain to them.

7:37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear

Those who today claim to be “that prophet”, are full of themselves, presumptuous and ignorant.

7:38 This is he [Moses as a type of Christ], that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 7:39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,

7:40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 7:41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

The people committed themselves to a Marriage Covenant with Jesus Christ at Sinai on Pentecost, and quickly broke that Covenant in the wilderness. 

This is just like us who have made our baptismal covenant of espousal to Jesus Christ, only to fall away and begin idolizing men and corporations, following them; instead of diligently following our Lord by diligently studying HIS Word and KEEPING HIS teachings and commandments.

Now Stephen interjects that the reason for the captivities of Israel and Judah, and Judah being taken away to Babylon; was their continual rebellions against God.

7:42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. 

Stephen then says that before his human birth, Jesus was the God that led Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land of Canaan; which statement must have enraged the Sanhedrin.

7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with [brought into Canaan by Jesus the God of Israel] Jesus [the name Jesus is from the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua; BOTH being from the Hebrew Yeshua] into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 7:46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

7:47 But Solomon built him an house.

Stephen than teaches of the temple and finally sharply rebukes these unrepentant sinners. 

Stephen knowing that his life was in the balance did not shrink back from rebuking sinners.  Yet many elders today, would not dare to teach the true Gospel in their outreach program or to even rebuke sin in their own congregations, and the brethren love to have it so.

In the Ekklesia today,  leaders, elders and brethren; love the easy way of compromise with sin, just like ancient Israel!  And they shall face most powerful correction, for they not only love permissiveness, they persecute the zealous.

7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 7:49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 7:50 Hath not my hand made all these things?

Brethren, this is not just a rebuke of some people in the first century; it is a most terrible rebuke of all those who do the same things today!

7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed [prophesied] before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Like them, many of today’s Ekklesia are enraged at being told they need to turn back to sound doctrine, so they attack the messenger because they cannot refute the message from the scriptures.

7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

Then Stephen was given a vision, that his zealous rebuke of sin was most acceptable to God the Father and to Jesus Christ.

7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 

When Stephen said that he saw Jesus fulfilling the prophecy and sitting in heaven with God the Father, it  was the final straw for these wicked men

7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s [Saul who was later called and changed his name to Paul] feet, whose name was Saul.

7:59 And they stoned Stephen, [who] calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Stephen entrusted himself to God the Father and Jesus Christ in death, and forgave the ignorant men who were killing him.

7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for our fear of men and our Business Model outreaches!

We should be ashamed for our disgraceful refusal to rebuke sin; and teaching to tolerate sin and doctrinal heresy, for the sake of organizational unity.

We call ourselves God’s people while we compromise with the teachings and commandments of Christ; to exalt our traditions, organizations and men ABOVE God the Father and Jesus Christ. 

How dare we think that such actions are acceptable to our Master!

 

 

Acts 8 

This killing of Stephen resulted in a great general persecution; which served to spread the gospel widely throughout Judea as many disciples left Jerusalem to go back to their homes in other places. Yet the apostles and many others remained at Jerusalem through this time.

This story of Saul and his repentance and conversion to Christ, may soon be replayed; as today’s Laodiceans, who now reject sound doctrine; sincerely repent like Paul on their personal  ”Road to Damascus” in the tribulation.

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

As Saul and many others attacked the Ekklesia, the gospel was spread; and the more the zealous were attacked, the more the gospel was spread.  So it is today.

It was often the brethren as well as the apostles, who spread the gospel by their example and by teaching others!

8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Since the apostles remained at Jerusalem, it appears that this Philip was the deacon Philip who did such mighty works through God’s power in Samaria.  This is the first instance of the disciples preaching directly to the Gentiles, as Samaria was a Gentile city.

8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.

Simon Magus the Pater or leader of the Babylonian Mysteries in Samaria, later went to Rome and was misidentified with Peter; and he being jealous of Philip, sought to infiltrate the Ekklesia.

8:9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

This Simon was very like many church leaders today, who pretend to be some great one as they lead the brethren astray.  Simon was also like the final abomination who is to come deceiving the people by his miracles and smooth words. 

A final miracle working pope is soon to come on the scene and be set up in the Vatican, deceiving the world into viewing him as some ultimate moral authority to follow him away from God.

8:10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 8:11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries [astonished them with miracles].

8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

8:13 Then Simon himself believed [but was not converted only seeking personal power and  being unwilling to follow the teachings and commandments of Christ] also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Peter and John go to Samaria to continue the work begun by Philip the deacon.

8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Simon who like many today, equate the blessing of God with money; showed his true colours and was cast aside by Peter:  Even as those who love wealth and power more than the Word of God will be rejected by Christ today.

1 Timothy 6:3   If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

6:13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 6:14  That thou keep this commandment [to treasure godly things and not lust after worldly wealth] without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  [Seeking personal gain and not the ways of God]

Let the elders repent of seeking personal gain; whether it be in wealth, power or the adulation of the brethren.

8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness [jealousy], and in the bond of iniquity.

Simon then tried to save face before the people

8:24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

Peter and John then went back to Jerusalem through Samaria preaching as they went.

8:25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans [as they travelled back to Jerusalem].

The deacon Philip is then sent to Gaza in the south

8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

God sent Philip to explain the scriptures to the Ethiopian.  Again an example of teaching the Gentiles before Peter and Paul.

8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

The reading was about Christ in Isaiah and opened the way for Philip to teach of Christ.

8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 8:33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

8:34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Then the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized by Philip the deacon.

8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.

And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

This is not the end of the Ethiopian’s story for he was undoubtedly called by God to spread the gospel of Christ in Ethiopia.  Someday in the Kingdom we may find many who were converted from the spreading of the Word by this Ethiopian brother who was called  by God and not ordained by any man.

8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Philip then worked his way up the coast as far as Caesarea

8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

The true Gospel is that which was taught by Jesus and the apostles and disciples in the first century.  Yes, it was about the Kingdom of God, but was not limited to a coming physical kingdom!  The true Gospel is about the way of Salvation through the Lamb of God!

 

Acts 9

Saul appears to be one of the chief organizers of persecution against the Ekklesia, seeking them out relentlessly.  This was because of his zeal for the traditions of his sect.  Saul was zealous for his sect, having been deceived into thinking that those traditions were the truth of God.  

Many today are doing the same thing,  equating their ungodly traditions with godliness and persecuting the zealous for God, having been deluded into thinking they are doing God a service

Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

These acts of persecution only spread the Word further and Saul in ignorance was actually acting against himself rather than harming the Ekklesia by his persecutions.  Later Saul would be asked by Christ: why  insist on kicking thorns in sandals, doing damage to yourself by fighting that which is of God?

I ask the Ekklesia:  Why do you fight against and resist the Word of God, to cling to your false traditions?  The traditions of men are not the Word of God; therefore OPEN the BOOK and study with an open mind to seek out the truth that God has promised to increase in these last days (Dan 12).

9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Saul was shocked and astonished to see Jesus Christ whom he was persecuting, revealed as a light brighter than the sun.  He immediately realized his error and submitted to Christ. 

Even so, many persecutors of the zealous for God in our time will find themselves in the great tribulation.  They will be shocked awake and they will see their error; and will quickly repent as Saul did, and will embrace their Lord with all their hearts in true wholehearted repentance to live by every Word of God.

There is tremendous HOPE for today’s unresponsive Laodiceans!  Many of the called of God the Father who insist on their own ways today, WILL learn their lessons and many WILL yet become Paul’s during the tribulation.

9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

This is fascinating as the men with Paul saw nothing, yet Paul both saw a tremendous bright light and also heard the speech.

9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Saul’s eyes were opened in the spiritual sense; yet physically he was blind.

9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man [He was blind]: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

Saul waited fasting in Damascus

9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

A brother named Ananias; not an elder or apostle but a humble brother, was visited by Jesus Christ and told to go to Saul and heal his eyes and teach him of this way.  A similar vision was given to Saul. For from time to time as needed, God does indeed give visions to show repentant called out men what they could not otherwise know.

9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Ananias questions Christ based on the facts as he knew them

9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

Christ then tells him to proceed and Ananias goes to Saul

Brethren, there are many who will respond and turn to sound doctrine and our Lord now;  yet there are also many Laodiceans ,zealous for their traditions and neglecting the practical application of the Word of God, who will wake up in great trials and will suffer many things, yet they will find a great zeal for our God and his Word as did Saul.

The Master Builder is doing a marvelous work for he has set out to save ALL the Ekklesia; NOT just the present pillars of God’s way!

9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Thick scales were formed on Paul’s eyes by the bright light of Christ and these fell off when Ananias laid hands on Saul.  

9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Saul then broke his fast and remained in Damascus learning of this way for some time

9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

Then Saul began to teach in the Damascus synagogues the very thing that he had rejected and persecuted the Ekklesia for!  The true Gospel of Salvation was preached in power by one who had persecuted it!

9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

This astonished the people; and Saul was able to speak and witness, proving the truth from the scriptures; and convincing many. 

Even so many repentant Laodiceans will do the same in the tribulation; doing a powerful Pauline work of personal witness for the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ and every Word of God the Father!

Like Saul, they are now deceived to cleave to false traditions:  Later when they are humbled in great tribulation many will admit their error, and will turn in true humble contrition to their LORD and take a stand for Holiness!

9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

The leaders of the synagogue sought to kill Saul, but some of the faithful discovered the plot and warned Saul.

9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

The disciples helped Saul to escape

9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

Sometime later Saul went to Jerusalem to be with the apostles.   Saul fills out the timeline in Galatians

Galatians 1:15   But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 1:16  To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Saul does NOT say that he spent three years in Arabia.  He says that after an unrevealed time in Arabia he returned to Damascus and spent three years in Damascus.

1:17  Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Saul then goes to Jerusalem to see James and Peter.

1:18  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 1:19  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

1:20  Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

Barnabas introduces Saul to the apostles

9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Saul preaches Christ at Jerusalem boldly for fifteen days

9:28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

Saul also disputed with the Hellenized Pharisees who came to Jerusalem; refuting their Hellenized reasoning’s about the scripture.

9:29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

Saul was then sent to Tarsus by way of the port of Caesarea

9:30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

After Paul left Jerusalem there was peace for the Ekklesia in Judea for a time

9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

Peter evangelizes in Judea

9:32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 9:33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. 9:34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

Notice how this repeatedly worked 

First a miracle usually of healing which caught the attention of people; then the preaching and the repentance of the people; which often brought persecution from the religious leaders who did not want to repent and were jealous of losing their constituencies.

9:35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

Tabitha is restored to life by God at  the hand of Peter at Joppa [immediately south of modern Tel Aviv].

9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

9:37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 9:38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

9:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

9:42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

These men did not try and build some corporate church by their own strength.  No, they were of little strength and relied on the lead and power of God’s Spirit.

I wonder what would happen if we dedicated ourselves to love our Lord enough to do what he teaches and commands; if we humbled ourselves to turn away from false traditions and embrace our Beloved with a passionate love and zeal like the first century apostles.

Do you think that maybe the heart of God the Father would be turned back to us, as our hearts are turned to HIM?

Do you think that we would become rich in the true spiritual things of God and life eternal, if we sought out those spiritual things, instead of seeking after physical wealth and advantage?

9:43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

 

Acts 10

God teaches Peter that the way of Salvation is open to the Gentiles.  God the Father chose to call Cornelius because of his faith and  fear of God!  The fear and love of God, is the willingness to live by every Word of God.  

God gave this revelation to the apostles in Judea in tandem with the same revelation to Paul. God chose Peter for this revelation because Peter was a person of note who was well known to be zealous for the Law of God

Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour [3 pm] of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

Cornelius OBEYED the message!

10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

The vision given to Peter

10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour [12 noon]: 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

Peter resisted the vision as false and contrary to the Word of God

10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10:16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Yet, Peter thought on what this vision could mean

10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 10:18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

Peter goes out to meet those sent of God and asks them their business

10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

The situation was explained to Peter and he went to Caesarea the next day

10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. 10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Cornelius in faith that his own vision was true, had called all his family and friends together to meet the man of God.

10:24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

Cornelius bowed before Peter which Peter immediately rejected and corrected:  Unlike so many elders in the Ekklesia today who delight in the adulation of men; while perhaps using a different method than bowing, like seeking high titles and authority; yet it amounts to exalting and worshiping men just the same.

10:25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 10:26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 10:27 And as he talked with him [the initial greeting], he went in, and found many that were come together.

Peter explains that it was considered unlawful by TRADITION, that a Jew could enter the home of a non Jew for fear of contracting some uncleanness; even if the Gentile was converted. Peter then shows that he finally understood what the vision meant.  Then Peter entered this man’s house and asked why they had sent for him.

10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 10:29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Cornelius then tells the story to Peter.

10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 10:31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 10:32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

Cornelius IMMEDIATELY OBEYED as soon as he had understood!   Peter also IMMEDIATELY OBEYED! 

Let me point out that Peter’s summoning to  Caesarea; had nothing to do with keeping any commandments; except to honour one’s heavenly Father and OBEY all things desired by God the Father.  Our commitment to obey God goes far beyond the law and includes obedience to Everything that God the Father might want us to do!

10:33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Peter then responds with an acknowledgement that salvation is clearly come to the Gentiles also.  Even though this was clearly demonstrated earlier by the Ethiopian, and the preaching in Samaria, Peter must have still had his doubts.

10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Does Peter then preach some vague things about the kingdom of God?  NO he preaches Jesus Christ and all that Christ himself taught.

10:36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 10:37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 10:40 Him God raised up the third day [the weekly Sabbath], and shewed him openly; 10:41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

The apostles and disciples are commanded to preach Jesus Christ to the world!

10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

God then gave these folks his Spirit directly to dwell within them; as a further and final proof to Peter of the will of God that the Gentiles are also called into spiritual Israel.  This was needed for Peter’s sake, for Peter was in doubt and often gave way to certain Judaizers on this subject.

10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

The Jews were astonished at this object lesson meant to teach them that the Gentiles are also called into the New Covenant of spiritual Israel!

10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The evidences of the Holy Spirit on these Gentiles were identical to the evidences of the Holy Spirit given to the Jews at Pentecost!

10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

These Gentiles were then baptized and Peter remained with them teaching them for a time.

10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

 

Acts 11

Some of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea resisted and rebuked Peter for entering the house of a converted Gentile.

Peter then explained the whole series of events to them

Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.  11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

Then the whole story repeated and expounded to the Jews at Jerusalem 

11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John [Baptist] indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Peter’s vision of the blanket of creatures has nothing with making unclean creatures fit to eat. The vision only used the animals as an allegory referring to people of all races being called to Christ.

A Great Persecution

From the persecution and scattering of the brethren the gospel was spread abroad by the brethren, who preached the Word of God and of Christ our Salvation.  Wherever the  faithful zealous brethren of the Ekklesia  went they boldly entered the synagogues and taught Christ as the Messiah.

This will happen similarly very soon as the corporate churches will be destroyed in the tribulation and the brethren will awaken to zeal and will be a strong witness for Christ at that time; just like Saul.  Then those who awaken to zeal for the teachings and commandments of God will be an example to their neighbours and in the darkest hour of persecution many will be converted.

11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 11:20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus. 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

The Jerusalem Ekklesia then sent them help to Antioch by Barnabas, that Barnabas should go as far as Antioch.

11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

Barnabas taught them all to cleave unto Christ their espoused Husband; as a loving bride cleaves to her Beloved Husband.

11:23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 11:24 For he [Barnabas] was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Barnabas then sought out help from Saul

Saul means “desired”  while Paul means “small, little one.”   There was no recorded official change of name for Saul; the name Paul was taken by Saul and not given to him by another; reflecting his new found humility before Christ. 

God gave Israel the kind of king the people desired

The man Saul was the kind of man desired by the leaders of Judah, but God humbled him and made him fit to be a man of God, and so Saul changed his name from “Desired” of the people;  to a contrite humble “Little One of God.” 

11:25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Yes, there were and will again be New Testament prophets

11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

Whenever God is going to personally do something, he reveals it to the people by his servants the prophets

Amos 3:7   Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

In this case a worldwide famine was prophesied

Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

The brethren then sent relief to Jerusalem and Judea by Saul and Barnabas

11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 11:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

 

Acts  12

Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.  [c 63 A.D.]

12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Easter is a mistranslation of the Greek word “Pascha”  which means   “Passover”] to bring him forth to the people [After Passover and the first High Day of Unleavened Bread].

The brethren prayed for Peter continually while he was imprisoned. 

Historically James the brother of Jesus had died and these things happened about three years before the Ekklesia fled Jerusalem for Pella.

12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Then Christ sent an angel to deliver Peter

12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth [to make a show of  him to the priests and enemies of this way], the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

The angel told Peter to get dressed and follow him

12:8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

Peter did so thinking himself dreaming

12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

Peter then went to the house where the apostles and disciples were praying for him

12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

Rhoda in her excitement runs to announce Peter, forgetting to open the door for him

12:14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. [It is a spirit]

Peter is finally admitted and tells his story

12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. [Peter tells his friends to go and tell the others, while he goes away] And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

12:18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

 Herod kills the men tasked with guarding Peter and goes to Caesarea; seeking Peter

12:19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

The people of Tyre and Sidon desired peace with Herod

12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.

This man was then killed by God for his arrogance and persecution of the Ekklesia: For exalting himself above God; Just as many today exalt their word above the Word of God. 

Our own correction is not far off.

How is it that there is no fear of God in the Ekklesia today?

12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 12:22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms [usually a term for maggots], and gave up the ghost.

This miraculous death of Herod Agrippa 2 and the end of that cycle of persecution in Judea brought even more converts

12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied. 

Then Barnabas and Saul visited Jerusalem after their ministry at Antioch; and upon leaving Jerusalem took John Mark with them.

12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

 

Acts 13

The apostles and leaders gather at Antioch.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch [a tetrarch was the ruler of a forth part of Herod the Great’s kingdom], and Saul.

Barnabas and Saul were sent out by God’s inspiration and they immediately responded positively to that “still small voice” which directed them.  How many would do so today?  How many today are responsive to God’s Spirit?  How many who are convicted and feeling ill at ease over buying on Sabbath, just ignore God’s Spirit and go along because “the corporate church leaders say so”?

Brethren, such sin quenches the Spirit of God!  You will receive spiritual understanding in direct proportion to your zeal to learn and to keep the Word of God..

13:2 As they ministered [worshipped, prayed] to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Barnabas and Saul [Paul] preached in Cyprus first

13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 13:5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John  to their minister [Helper].

John Mark assisted Paul and Barnabas on their first journey in Cyprus: Acts 12:25And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark;” but then returned to Jerusalem; causing the later controversy over taking John Mark on another journey, which led to Paul and Barnabas parting ways, with Barnabas taking Mark back to Cyprus 

A popular sorcerer calling himself the “Son of the Saviour” to deceive, but his name was Elymas meaning sorcerer. 

13:6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus [son of the savior]: 13:7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

Saul rebukes the sorcerer and strikes him blind for a time

13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 13:11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

The government official seeing this demonstration of the power of God against the false teacher, listened to the preaching of Saul and believed. 

Will this happen again?  Will God’s two servants confront the false apostles of today; rebuking them like Paul did in verse 10, before all the brethren?

13:12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

From Paphos – a port on the west coast of Cyprus – they went to Perga in Pamphylia is in modern Turkey, almost directly north of Paphos.

13:13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John [Mark] departing from them returned to Jerusalem. 13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

They finally returned to Antioch and attended the synagogue where they expounded the Word of God

13:15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

Paul preaches the gospel of Christ as Messiah and the ONLY way to Salvation; the ONLY Mediator between humanity and God the Father.

13:16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said,

This sermon is just as true today as it was in the first century and IS FOR US TODAY!

Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

When we lived in sin, God the Father called us out of spiritual Egypt of slavery to this world’s sins and its god-king Satan.  We were delivered by the  Mighty Arm of our Deliverer through his perfect sinless life and sacrificial death as OUR PASSOVER LAMB!

13:17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

God delivered Israel out of bondage in Egypt, and God delivers his called out from bondage to sin; yet we, like ancient Israel have turned away from our Deliverer.

13:18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

Only those who overcome and vanquish the bondage to sin by the power of their Mighty One [Jesus Christ], will enter the resurrection to spirit where they will receive their inheritance.

These histories happened and were recorded for OUR EXAMPLE AND INSTRUCTION.

13:19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

The Canaanites were symbolic of the judgment of the unrepentant wicked, who exalt false traditions, false teachings, idols [and idols of men] and corporate entities above the Word of God. 

13:20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 13:21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis [Kish], a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

Then David was raised up; beloved of God, for his zeal for the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ.  David was a man after God’s own heart, because David admitted his sins and quickly whole heartedly sincerely repented when he became aware of his sins.

If we are to become men after God’s own heart, then we must have a attitude of desiring with all our hearts to be ONE in FULL UNITY with Jesus Christ and God the Father so intensely; that we will always quickly and sincerely REPENT like David did when we find ourselves in error or sin.

Some have said that because David sinned we may sin also, for David was a man after God’s own heart.  THIS IS IGNORANCE!  It is an abominable twisting of scripture to justify sin!  Sin is rebellion against God and is NEVER justifiable!  David was a man after God’s heart because he REPENTED of sin, in a true humility and contrition of spirit before God!

True godly humility is to love and submit to Jesus Christ and God the Father, by obeying the Holy Scriptures.

Asceticism without obedience to God: IS NOT HUMILITY!   It is merely a show or appearance; without the substance of true godly Davidic contrite sincere repentance from sin and humble obedience to God!

Operating charities, or washing feet, or using humble sounding words; WITHOUT CONTRITE REPENTANCE AND WHOLEHEARTED OBEDIENCE TO GOD, are only put-on’s and frauds; and do NOT constitute godly humility.  If there is no zealous obedience of God, mere words or appearances are meaningless deceptions!

13:22 And when he [Christ] had removed him [king Saul], he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

Why has the greater Church of God corporate and independent entities NOT LEARNED from the Judges and Kings; that it is NOT our physical organizational systems that matter with God?  It is our personal faithfulness to Jesus Christ, God the Father, and to live by every Word of God that matters.

The true Ekklesia consists of everyone who is zealously faithful to God the Father and Jesus Christ!  There is NO SUCH THING as a corporate Ekklesia; or a corporate true Church of God!

The very name: Church of God when applied to a corporate entity is a fraudulent statement claiming that such an organization is the Ekklesia when it is NOT!  At the very best a corporate entity has some of the Ekklesia in it, mixed with many thorns, thistles and tares.

Jesus [Hebrew: Yeshua]  is revealed as the Christ

13:23 Of this man’s seed [David] hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: 13:24 When John [Baptist] had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 13:25 And as John [Baptist] fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

The Gospel of the Salvation of Christ is taught in the Antioch Synagogue

13:26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 13:27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them [the scriptures]  in condemning him. 13:28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

The resurrection of Christ  was witnessed by many

13:29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 13:30 But God raised him from the dead: 13:31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses [Those who are converted today, are also to be witness of the resurrected Christ and his salvation] unto the people.

13:32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, [God the Father said]  Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

The resurrected Christ has been given eternal life,  he will never again see death in a physical body.

13:34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.  13:35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

The body of David is turned to dust, but Christ is resurrected into a spirit body of eternal life.

13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 13:37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

Salvation comes from belief and obedience to God the Father and Jesus Christ

13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 13:39 And by him all that believe [and act on that belief, marrying faith with the works of faith which is obedience to God] are justified from all things, [the law cannot justify our PAST sins, it can only keep us from wickedness in the future; and  if we obey the law, repenting and going forward sinning no more; we shall be justified for our past sins by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  This does NOT justify remaining in sin.] from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Jesus Christ will NOT apply his sacrifice and justify the unrepentant sinner.  He will NOT overlook willful sin.

Romans 2:13   (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified [by Christ].

Acts 13:40 Beware therefore, lest that [destruction for sin] come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 13:41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye [the wicked] shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

The fame of this teaching of the Gospel of Salvation was spread throughout the whole city

13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace [repentance bringing forgiveness] of God.

13:44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

The evil monster of jealousy and envy creeps in among the religious leaders who do not want to repent and yet want their positions of honour and leadership.  Are we today, really any different?

13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting [resisting and fighting against sound doctrine] and blaspheming [through presenting false teachings as if they were from God] .

Paul and Barnabas boldly rebuked the envious elders, and left their synagogue to teach the Gentiles and the repentant Jews.

13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

Saul [Paul] then reveals that Christ will be a light to the Gentiles

13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee [Jesus Christ] to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

The unrepentant Jews resisted and stirred up dissent against Paul and Barnabas, persecuting them, throwing them out of the synagogue and out of the city.  Even as many  cast out the zealous for God today.

13:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

Far from being discouraged, the apostles and disciples only redoubled their efforts and rejoiced before God; going forward and onward to preach the true Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ.

13:51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

 

Acts 14

The situation is repeated in Iconium.  The apostles go first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, when the Jews reject them.

 Acts 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

The unrepentant resist and stir up the brethren against the truth being presented to them.  So it is today.

14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

This situation continued for a long time, and the people were divided.

14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 14:4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews [and unrepentant Gentiles], and a part with the apostles.

The unrepentant Jews and Gentiles then plotted to murder the apostles and teachers.

14:5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,

The men of God escaped and continued their preaching of the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ, in other cities.

14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 14:7 And there they preached the gospel.

Paul heals a repentant crippled man; which provides an opportunity for him to preach the Gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ

14:8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: 14:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

The superstitious people thought that some of the gods had come down among them

14:11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

Paul and Barnabas ran to teach the people about Christ and God the Father; to turn them away from the pantheon of vanities.

14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 14:16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

Very soon now the time of the nations to do as they think right, will pass away; as Jesus Christ comes with the armies of his angels and his chosen resurrected elect; to take the kingdom’s of the earth and to rule and teach the righteousness of God to all flesh.

14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 14:18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.

Enemy agents came from Antioch and Iconium to stir up the people in Lystra against Barnabas and Paul.   Then those who had so recently considered Paul a god; stoned him and left him for dead.

14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city [of Lystra], supposing he had been dead. 14:20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Barnabas and Saul [Paul] preached the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ in Derbe and then courageously returned to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch.  What a sight for the persecuted in these cities to see such faith and courage in the leading men of the faith!

Truly this way is not easy as Satan works to attack the called out.  Yet it is NOT God’s way that is difficult; it is the persecution of Satan, which is designed to make God’s way APPEAR difficult; so that the brethren will be tested and some will be enticed to compromise and turn away.

14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they [very courageously] returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

As they taught and people repented, it was expedient to seek out elderly men of wisdom and deep conversion and understanding to help their brethren; so that Paul and Barnabas could move on to other cities.  These elders were not ordained for corporate loyalty, or overt talents; they were ordained for their depth of conversion and loyalty to Christ and God the Father.

They were not ordained to exalt themselves or dominate others; they were ordained to set an example, to teach truth and rebuke sin; and to watch over the flock, feeding them strong spiritual meat in season and out of season.

2 Timothy 4:2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and [sound scriptural] doctrine.

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Continuing their journey they returned to Antioch and there told the Assembly [Ekklesia] all the news of their long journey.

14:24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 14:25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: 14:26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

Many of the leading apostles remained in Jerusalem and Judea until about 66 A.D., while Antioch was the home base of Paul and Barnabas, and other apostles traveled to far off nations as God led them.

14:28 And there [in Antioch] they abode long time with the disciples.

 

Acts 15

Certain Jews then came to Antioch demanding that Paul and Barnabas circumcise the repentant adult Gentiles;  This from the law concerning Gentiles who entered PHYSICAL Mosaic Israel:

Exodus 12:48    And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

Paul then arose to go to Jerusalem to sort out the matter of circumcision; for that circumcision law was to enter the Mosaic Covenant; while circumcision of heart and not of the flesh is necessary to enter into the New Covenant of spiritual Israel (Jer 31)!

At that time there was a division between physical and spiritual Jews, over the issue of circumcising repentant adult Gentiles: however in the Kingdom of God the whole earth will be grafted into a spiritual New Covenant Israel and all people will be required to be circumcised in both flesh and heart. Circumcised in heart because God will pour out his spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28) and circumcised in the flesh because all males will be circumcised in the flesh on the eighth day of life as the law of God demands.

Today sincerely repenting ADULTS need not be circumcised in the flesh since they are already circumcised in heart; however the repentant converted must obey all the commandments of God and must circumcise all their males on the eighth day of life – as a fore-type of their future spiritual circumcision of heart – as the law requires.

Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Taking advantage of the trip, they preached and brought news to the Ekklesia as they traveled

15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.

They then declared the news of their ministry to those in Jerusalem

15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

They then began to discuss circumcision and the keeping of the law

15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

Peter rose up and brought to their remembrance the events concerning the Gentiles and how that the Gentiles could also to be called of God

15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

Peter says that these Gentiles had been approved of Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit without being circumcised in the flesh; showing that those Gentiles were circumcised in their hearts already.

15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Peter then speaks of the yoke of sin and false tradition that was impossible to bear; and of the liberation of Christ from sins and false traditions

15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

After Peter’s introduction to the subject, Paul and Barnabas explained their work among the Gentiles and presented their understanding, being the apostles to the Gentiles

15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

After Paul and Barnabas had completed their oration; James the Lord’s brother, and considered the leader because of his tremendous zeal for all the teachings and commandments of the Whole Word of God; gave his opinion.

15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 15:14 Simeon [Peter] hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

James agrees that Peter was correct in reaching out to the Gentiles when he was called to do so, and presents the scriptures concerning the calling out of the Gentiles

15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

Then James the brother of Jesus, famous for his zeal for the law; gives his decision

15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them [do not force Mosaic circumcision of the flesh on repentant Gentile adults], which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:

James then commands that the Gentiles be specifically taught about those things commonly done by the Gentiles which are forbidden by the Word of God

15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

James then declares that the things of Moses were well known; clearly meaning that the Word of God delivered through Moses should be obeyed; as Jesus had commanded them to teach in Matthew 28 and Matthew 4:4, and also focus on the specifically mentioned problems of the day.

15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

The leaders at Jerusalem then sent men with letters from them on these things to Antioch

15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner;

The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.

15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law [of the Mosaic Covenant circumcision and the unscriptural Jewish traditions]: to whom we gave no such commandment: 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 15:26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.

15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater [further] burden than these necessary things; 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from [eating] blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

The Gentiles then rejoiced that the Mosaic circumcision dispute was ended and an official position had been taken.  Nevertheless true Christians are to live by every Word of God which including circumcising our sons on the eighth day.

15:30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 15:31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

Judas returned to Jerusalem while Silas remained at Antioch with Paul and Barnabas

15:32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. 15:33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. 15:34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they do.

Barnabas breaks with Paul over John Mark. 

It is important not to try and read into this more than what is said. 

15:37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

Barnabas and John Mark went out on their journey, while Silas accompanied Paul.  And by this splitting up they made two teams and were able to reach twice as many people!

15:39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 15:41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

 

Acts 16

Paul meets Timothy.

Acts 16:1 Then came he [Paul] to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 16:2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

Paul had Timothy circumcised so that he would be accepted by the Jews there, and allowed to enter the synagogues to preach; for the Jews would allow no uncircumcised person to enter their synagogues.

16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

They taught the Gospel of Salvation by Jesus Christ and to live by every Word of God (Mat 4:4, Mat 28).  Which commandments were; to KEEP the whole Word and will of God the Father! 

16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

The Holy Spirit communicates in very strong biblically sound inspiration to do good; in visions and dreams and sometimes in a still small voice in the mind.  We must test such things by the scriptures to prove them godly or false; and then follow that which is good and consistent with every Word of God.

16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

God obviously had a different field for Paul, in Asia Minor and southern Europe; while others went into Asia proper.

16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.  16:10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we [The writer Luke himself, was apparently with Paul at the time because of the “we,”  unless that is a translators gloss.] endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

16:11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 16:12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

Apparently there was no synagogue or assembly there and certain repentant faithful resorted to a peaceful place by a river to meditate and pray.  Paul being led by the Holy Spirit went to that place.

16:13 And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

A certain godly woman heard Paul discussing the scriptures with his friend, probably Silas; and she went up to them and heard the Word of God; being ready for baptism with her whole family.

16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

The apostles go to stay in Lydia’s house.  She being hospitable and no doubt wanting to hear more from Paul.

16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

The apostles proclaimed as true by a demon.  Yes, demons can speak the truth and often do, however this is only to gain one’s confidence before they slip in the false.  Always check everything by the Word of God.

16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

A persecution arises, which brings Paul to the attention of the whole region

16:19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

Paul and Silas were beaten and placed in the most secure part of the prison, also being locked in stocks.

16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

The prisoners hear them praying and singing praises to God, and an earthquake opened all the locks; deeply impressing the prisoners.

16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

Paul saved the life of the warden and the warden is brought to repentance.  This has been a common story through history as very many persecutors and tormentors have repented at the example of the elect facing torture and death with faith and courage.

16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 16:34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

In the morning the judges rendered their verdict and let them go

16:35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go16:36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.

Paul having been illegally treated, demanded the justice of their laws.

This was not some kind of spiteful act of vengeance as some might think.  This was to put the fear of the law into the magistrates and authorities, for the sake of Lydia and the brethren, to save them from a similar persecution for a least a time.

16:37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.

16:38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 16:39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

The apostles then went to comfort the disciples before leaving.

16:40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

 

Acts 17

Paul preaches the Gospel of Salvation by Jesus Christ in Thessalonica.  I am emphasizing that the Gospel that was preached was about Salvation and the way into the Kingdom; not palliatives about how wonderful the Kingdom of God will be. 

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 17:3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

Again the words of Christ are proven true

Matthew 10:34   Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Brethren, many love their corporate entities and idols of men more than they love Jesus Christ.  They will do whatever the corporation or their idols say, regardless of what the scriptures say.

Acts 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

Paul turned the world upside down by preaching Jesus Christ as the ONLY Mediator between humanity and God the Father in Heaven; and that God in heaven was the ONLY God.  This undercut the authority of the Roman Emperor as a god, and it undercut the authority of the Rabbins as Mosaic mediators and authorities BETWEEN men and GOD!

Brethren, do not allow anyone to insert himself between you and the Great God!  As  many false elders do today!

Do NOT let anyone steal your crown by coming between you and God the Father.  Follow men ONLY as they follow Jesus Christ in living by every Word of God, and test all men by the standard of the whole Word of God; regardless of their claims of authority.

Remember the commendable first love of the Ephesians; and reject false apostles for love of the Word of God!

Revelation 2:1   Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;  2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Anyone who claims to be an apostle and tries to come between the brethren and God, and wants people to follow them away from their zeal for God’s Word is a liar and a false apostle.  Brethren, today’s Ekklesia rejects much scripture to maintain their false traditions.  They reject Nehemiah and Moses as they call the Sabbath holy while routinely polluting it; and they reject Luke to maintain their false traditions about the Passover!

Acts 17:6 And when they found them [the apostles, Paul]  not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 17:7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

The city leaders were afraid when they heard the false accusations, and taking bail of Jason, released him and his friends.

17:8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 17:9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

Paul and Silas go to Berea

17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Brethren, let us be like Bereans and also search the scriptures, proving or disproving with a repentant mind open to the Holy Scriptures and open to the lead of God’s Spirit.  Let us have the attitude of: teach me, show me, the truth; and strengthen me to DO YOUR WILL; regardless of what any man says.

17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

If we reject following false traditions and the false teachings of men like the Bereans did; turning to the truth of God and following the lead of God’s Spirit, to live by every Word of God:  We have found the KEY to salvation and a place in the resurrection to spirit!

17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

Men then came from Thessalonica to try and stir up the people of Berea against Paul and the Gospel of Salvation

17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

Paul escaped to Athens while Silas and Timotheus remained in Berea for a time

17:14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. 17:15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him [them] with all speed, they departed.

At Athens Paul again went to the Synagogues to preach Christ to the Jews many of who disputed with him

17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17:17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Then after hearing of the preaching in the synagogues, the Epicureans, and the Stoics [who originated the theory of evolution] sent for Paul to also hear his teachings.

17:18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 17:19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 17:20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 17:21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

Paul then preached the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ at their invitation; using their altar to an UNKNOWN GOD as his starting point

17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Paul condemns idolatry and false gods.  Remember that we can make an idol out of anything, even out of our corporate churches, if we begin to exalt them and their teachings above the Word of God the Father in Heaven.  Not all idols are silver and gold; anything that separates us from Word of God the Father and Jesus Christ has become our idol.

The day of God’s correction and the day of the Lord are now extremely close at hand; let us therefore repent of making idols of men, false traditions and corporate entities or social circles of friends; and turn to a passionate love of every Word of God!

17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he [God the Father] hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him [Christ] from the dead.

17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

17:33 So Paul departed from among them.

It is time for all of the called out to turn to God the Father and Jesus Christ in sincere repentance to remove every sin and appearance of spiritual uncleanness.  It is time to exalt our Beloved espoused Husband; for the time of our judgment, as to being  rejected or chosen as a part of the bride: is NOW!

Let us run like the deer to our Beloved, and cleave to him with all the passionate love of the Shulamite, DOING HIS WILL and PLEASING HIM IN ALL THINGS!

17:34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

 

Acts 18

Paul finds Aquilla and Priscilla at Corinth and they work together as tent makers.

Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought [worked together]: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Paul reasoned in the scriptures every Sabbath in the synagogues.

This being Greece, those would have included many Hellenized Jews, ancestors of the modern Rabbins.  Remember the big differences between the Mosaic Pharisees in Judea and the Hellenized Jews in the dispersion is that the Hellenizers interpreted the scriptures using the logic of Aristotle.  

Paul was continually condemned and persecuted by these Hellenizers throughout his ministry; ultimately the teachings of Paul and the apostles resulted in the Hellenized Rabbinic third century changes to the Passover and Pentecost dates and the development of the modern Rabbinic calendar [not finalized until 1178 A.D.] to fight the idea that Jesus Christ was Messiah.

18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

When Silas and Timotheus joined Paul;  Paul was encouraged and began to preach Christ even more strongly. The Jews then began to strongly oppose him and to blaspheme Christ as the apostate Rabbins do to this day.

18:5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

Paul then declared that he had warned them like a good watchman, and now they are personally responsible for their rejection of the truth.

18:6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.

Nevertheless many of the Jews did repent as well as many Gentiles

18:7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 18:8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Paul sees a vision encouraging him to preach the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ.

18:9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 18:10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

Paul then preached for 18 months with the support of Crispus the chief elder of the synagogue.

18:11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Then when an apparently new ruler came, a group rose up to bring Paul to the courts for teaching Christ. 

Junius Annaeus Gallio, the Roman proconsul of Achaia A.D. 53.

18:12 And when Gallio was [became]  the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, 18:13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

The magistrate refused to rule in the religious matters of the Jews

18:14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: 18:15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. 18:16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.

18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes [either a different name for Crispus or a new ruler], the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat [obviously Sosthenes also allowed Paul to preach]. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

Sosthenes appears to have accompanied Paul when Paul left Corinth.

I Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother [sent a letter to the brethren at Corinth], 1:2 Unto the church of God

Paul had taken a Nazarite vow.  (Num 6:1–21).

Acts 18:18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

After a short time in Ephesus, Paul went up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast

18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

Paul then preached to the brethren throughout his journey

18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. 18:23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

A man brought to repentance by John Baptist called Apollos, was traveling and evangelizing about John Baptist’s call to repentance and baptism.

18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Aquila and Priscilla being taught by Paul, fully explained Christ and the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ to Apollos

18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

The brethren at Ephesus wrote a letter commending Apollos to the other brethren in Achaia.

Neither Paul nor Apollos were ordained by any man; no not by James or even by Peter himself.  They were called of God and proven by their fruits of godliness and absolute loyalty to God the Father in heaven and to Jesus Christ.

Many who have been ordained by men, are loyal to men and not to God the Father or to Jesus Christ.  Ordination by men is no guarantee of godliness.  Remember to test even those calling themselves apostles and prophets for their complete loyalty to all the Holy Scriptures, God the Father in heaven and Jesus Christ.

Anyone who calls the Sabbath holy; and then permits people to pollute it:  IS A FALSE TEACHER AND IS NOT OF GOD!

18:27 And when he [Apollos] was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace [repentance]: 18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

 

Acts 19

John Baptist’s disciples are introduced to the teachings of Jesus Christ by the preaching of Apollos.  The issue here is that the disciples of John were baptized in repentance to the Mosaic Covenant, but were not baptized into Jesus Christ and the New Covenant. 

They had heard the message to repent of sin from John, but had not heard the teachings about the spirit and intent of the law from Jesus, or the way to salvation through the Lamb of God.

Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The laying on of hands.  Jesus did not lay hands on the eleven when he gave them the Holy Spirit, neither did the disciples have hands laid on them or anyone at Pentecost. 

However later examples show that it is appropriate to lay hands on and pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit whenever possible.

19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 19:7 And all the men were about twelve.

Paul teaches Christ, the way into the Kingdom of God at Ephesus.  The things to be preached about the Kingdom of God; are its King and the foundation of that Kingdom; which is the prophets, apostles, Jesus Christ and God the Father.   The Gospel of the Kingdom is the Gospel of Salvation!  The true Gospel is about the foundation of God’s Kingdom which is the whole Word of God!

Ephesians 2:18   For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God [Becoming the temple of God through God dwelling within us, and having a part in the coming Kingdom of God];

2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [This refers to the Holy Scriptures and those who wrote them:  Not to some latter day self appointed false apostle teaching contrary to scripture], Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 

It is this foundation of the Kingdom of God [which is: The WHOLE Word of God]:  That is the full and true Gospel of the Kingdom!  

Acts 19:8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

When Paul was resisted in the synagogue he took the repentant and taught them elsewhere

19:9 But when divers [people] were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing [discussing] daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

For two years Paul taught Christ at Ephesus and the repentant were spread abroad over the area of modern coastal Turkey.

19:10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

Symbols of anointing were brought to the sick across Asia who could not travel to an elder, and they were healed for their faith in Christ through the preaching of Paul.

19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Some unrepentant Jews try to use the power of God’s Spirit for their own gain

19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 19:14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests [at Ephesus], which did so.

Even the demons know who is repentant and zealous, and filled with God’s Spirit

19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 19:16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

19:17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 19:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed [repented of sin] their deeds.

19:19 Many of them also which used curious [sorcery] arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Paul then thought to visit Macedonia before going to Jerusalem and then to Rome

19:21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

After more than two years in Ephesus making many converts; the industry of pagan idol production was adversely affected causing some commotion

19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 19:25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 19:26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

The truth was tolerated as only one religion among many; only as long as it did not affect the powerful or the income of the powerful.

19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 19:29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

19:30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 19:31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

This was a crowd aroused by a few men

19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

The disciple Alexander sought to give them an answer but the people shouted their confession that Diana [Aphrodite, Astarte; a modern example is the American Statue of Liberty; a gift from the Masons of France to the American Masons] was their goddess.

19:33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.  [This is the same as the Statue of Liberty in New York donated by the Masonic Lodge of France; that is held virtually sacred by most Americans today]

The town clerk calms the people by putting them in fear of Roman intervention

19:35 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 19:36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

Demetrius, and the craftsmen are told to take the matter to law and sue for any losses

19:37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 19:38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 19:39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

19:40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

 

Acts 20

Paul proceeds to Macedonia.

Acts 20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

Macedonia is to the north of Greece.  Paul traveled to Macedonia and then worked his way down through Greece.  As he readied to set sail from Greece some enemies laid wait for him so he proposed to go back up through Macedonia and sail to Syria from there.

20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, 20:3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.

These brethren went ahead and waited for Paul at Troas

20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.

20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi [in Macedonia] after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

Then Paul arrived and spoke with the Troas disciples through the night, as he was only staying until the next morning.

20:7 And upon the first day of the week [Sunday], when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow [Monday morning]; and continued his speech until midnight.

20:8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. 20:9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 20:11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

I expect that this incident would have woken everyone up and that they were extra attentive after the dead was raised to life among them

20:12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

The disciples then went by ship around a large triangular point of land and picked up Paul on the other side, as Paul had cut across by foot

20:13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. 20:14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. 20:15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.

20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

Paul addresses his dear friends at Ephesus about his future trial at Jerusalem and Rome

20:18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 20:19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations [trials], which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul despises trials for the beauty of the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ; the true Gospel of God’s loving forgiveness for sincerely  REPENTED sin!

20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul preached about the law, which is the foundation of the way into the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ;  The true Gospel is much more than a simple proclamation that such a Kingdom was coming.

This is Paul’s farewell address to the repentant of Ephesus and the area of his ministry in Syria and Asia Minor

20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

Paul declares that he has warned all that he has seen to repent, and that those who have failed to do so have their own blood on their own heads.  This is a reference to Ezek 33.

20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

The commission of true elders of God

20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God [with the whole word of God], which [Flock] he [Jesus Christ] hath purchased with his own blood.

Yes, today’s spiritual Ekklesia are filled with spiritual wolves in the highest of places.

20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul gives the brethren over to the gospel of sincere repentance and the forgiveness of Christ; that is able to save and build up the spiritual UNITY between the faithful and Christ and the Father, and bring the resurrection to eternal life.

20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Paul did not seek personal wealth or advantage and was willing to support himself if the need arose.

20:33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Paul knew that he would be persecuted and attacked in Jerusalem and that he must go to Rome.  He knew by the Holy Spirit and by the prophets, as we shall shortly see  This was his last farewell to Ephesus the city of love for the gospel, teachings and commandments  of Jesus Christ.  The city of those brethren who tested and rejected false apostles and remained steadfast to the teachings of Christ, yet over history she lost her zeal and first love.

Brethren, ALL the attitudes of Revelation 2-3 exist at this time today; and the messages to the seven churches were for ALL of us today.  This self righteous selecting of the good and applying it to ourselves, while applying any criticism to others; is self justifying and a great self deception.

Let us all remember our zeal for God and for the teachings and commandments of Christ at our conversion, and seek to regain that enthusiasm for learning and applying all the things of God.

20:36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 20:37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, 20:38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

 

Acts 21

Acts 21:1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: 21:2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. 21:3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.

This does not mean that the Spirit forbade Paul to go up to Jerusalem, if that were so Paul would have never gone up to the city; rather Paul is warned to be prepared for the persecution to come at Jerusalem

21:4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

After seven days at Tyre the whole group of the Tyre disciples bade farewell to Paul as he left for Jerusalem; thinking that they would never see him again.

21:5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. 21:6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. 21:7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.

Philip was first made a deacon and then became an evangelist [One Sent] after the outbreak of persecution at the death of Stephen, when he “was sent” to the Ethiopian eunuch and then sent to preach in Samaria. 

Philip’s daughters prophesied; although unmentioned it is probable that they also warned Paul about the trial facing him at Jerusalem.  This Philip is not to be confused with Philip the apostle and one of the twelve.

21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven [original deacons]; and abode with him. 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

Then Agabus the prophet also warned Paul

21:11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

The writer of Acts, Luke and those at Caesarea, begged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem, but he knew by the Spirit that he must go up so that he could be bound over to the Romans and be taken to Rome.

21:12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Paul rebukes them and is ready to do God’s will right to the death

21:13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

The brethren then said “May God’s will be done.”

21:14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. 21:15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem. 21:16 There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.

Paul is warmly received by the disciples of Christ at Jerusalem

21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

Paul, Luke and their companions meet with James

21:18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

They declared to James and the company all the things that God had done with the Gentiles on their journey.

21:19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

James then tells Paul and his companions the false rumors about him being heard by the Jewish brethren.  Here we come to the circumcision issue.  Paul taught that those converted Gentiles, already circumcised in heart; need not be circumcised in the flesh.  However he did not teach against the circumcision of male children on the eighth day.

21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

James asks Paul to sponsor the four Nazarites at the Temple to demonstrate that he Paul does indeed preach the same thing as the other apostles.

21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing [such as failing to circumcise their children. Only that they need not circumcise adults already circumcised in heart], save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

Paul then sponsored the offerings for the four Nazarites.

21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

On the seventh day of purification the unconverted Jews raised a bedlam against Paul; falsely accusing him of teaching against the law.

21:27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought [uncircumcised] Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

The “chief of police” responds to the uproar with his soldiers

21:29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 21:30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

21:31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 21:32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

Paul is arrested until the matter can be understood

21:33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. 21:34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. 21:35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. 21:36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

Paul identifies himself as a Jew and not the rebel he was mistaken for

21:37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? 21:38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

21:39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

21:40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

 

Acts 22

Paul speaks to the mob:  This is a rehearsal of the zeal of Saul against the true way; and of his calling and conversion by Jesus Christ.

Acts 22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. 

Paul reveals that he had been taught to be a rabbi by Gamaliel in Jerusalem.  Jesus himself may have studied with Saul/Paul under the wise teacher Gamaliel, and Jesus and Saul may have known each other well. 

22:2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

22:5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

Saul had persecuted Jesus considering him an apostate for going beyond the letter of the law to teach the spirit and intent of the law; until he was struck down on the road to Damascus.

22:6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 22:7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 22:8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutes. 22:9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

22:10 And I said, What shall I do, LORD? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 22:11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

22:12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, 22:13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 22:15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

On his first journey to Jerusalem God warns Paul to depart from that city and go to the Gentiles.

22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 22:18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 22:19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 22:20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 22:21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

The mob listened until Paul said he was told by God to abandon Jerusalem and was sent to preach Christ to the Gentiles; then the  mob was infuriated and the authorities set out to examine Paul by scourging.

22:22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. 22:23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, 22:24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

Paul stands on his Roman citizenship to escape the scourging.

22:25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? 22:26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

Paul declares himself a free born Roman citizen

22:27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

Paul was the released from being scourged and held overnight for investigation.

22:29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

22:30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

 

Acts 23

Paul addresses the Sanhedrin [A continuation of the Seventy Elders which God gave to help Moses].

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 23:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

Paul rebukes the High Priest for breaking the law

23:3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 23:4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? 23:5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

Paul then divided the court by appealing to the Pharisees concerning the resurrection which the Sadducee’s [priests] rejected.

23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

The idea that the Sadducee rejected angels and spirits is due to a misunderstanding since angels and spirits are mentioned throughout the scriptures beginning with Satan himself.

The proper meaning is that the Sadducee’s did not believe in a resurrection or change of people into angels or spirits. They believed that people were already spirits trapped in a physical body and when the physical body died the spirit – which was thought to be the real person – was released to go to God or to a place of punishment. This same immortal soul belief exists today in Kabbalah Judaism and among some calling themselves Christian.

23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither  [they believed that there is no resurrection or change of men into angels or spirits, since men were already spirits [immortal souls]  trapped in a physical body.] angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. 23:9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

The guard then took Paul into Roman custody lest he be injured in the melee

23:10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

Then in the night Jesus himself came to comfort Paul and inform him of what he must do

23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

Forty men pledge themselves to kill Paul

23:12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 23:13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. 23:14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. 23:15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

Paul is informed and tells the commander of the castle

23:16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

23:17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. 23:18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.

23:19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? 23:20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.

23:21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.

 Paul is sent secretly with a large military escort to Felix the governor

 23:22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. 23:23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

The commander sends a letter to governor Felix concerning Paul

23:25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:

23:26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. 23:27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 23:28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 23:29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.

23:30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.

23:31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.

23:32 On the morrow they [the spearman]  left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 23:33 Who, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

The governor sends for Paul’s accusers so that a full hearing might be held

23:34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 23:35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.

 

Acts 24

The High Priest and the accusers of Paul arrive

Acts 24:1 And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.

Tertullus begins the hearing with the accusations

24:2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying,  Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, 24:3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 24:4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

24:5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 24:6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.

24:7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, 24:8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. 24:9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.

24:10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: 24:11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.

24:12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: 24:13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.  24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. 24:17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.

 Paul asserts that there are no witnesses against him present

24:18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. 24:19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object [witness against me], if they had ought against me.

Paul asks if his accusers, present before Felix; witnessed any wrongdoing; and says that it is for his teachings about the resurrection that he is called in question by the Sadducees [priests] accusations against him before Felix.  Paul testifies that it is for a religious issue that he is being accused and not for any legal matter.

24:20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, 24:21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

Felix then summoned the commander to appear before him and witness to these things

24:22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.

Paul was kept in the lightest custody possible

24:23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.

While waiting for the commander from Caesarea, Felix asks Paul about his beliefs, inquiring into the matter before him. 

24:24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

Felix being a magistrate is impressed by the Gospel of sincere repentance and zealous learning and keeping of the law and whole Word of God.

24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Still Felix was unrepentant and sought a bribe

24:26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

After witnessing to Felix and being imprisoned for two years; Porcius Festus replaces Felix as governor and binds Paul to please the Sadducees [the priesthood].

24:27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

 

Acts 25

Paul’s enemies again try for an order bringing Paul to Jerusalem, that they might ambush and kill him on the way.

Acts 25:1 Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 25:2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 25:3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.

The new governor Festus announces that he will hold the inquiry at Caesarea and invites his accusers there.

25:4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. 25:5 Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.

The inquiry at Caesarea

25:6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.

Various unproven accusations are made.  Remember this was two years after the incidents at Jerusalem and yet they could find no solid accusation against Paul.

25:7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

Paul gives his answer before the governor

25:8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

Paul knowing that Christ had commissioned him to go to Rome and being a Roman citizen appeals to Caesar for judgment:  Thus opening up the opportunity to preach the Gospel of warning, repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ in Rome and even to the Emperor’s household. 

Dating the Pauline House Arrest in Rome

Priscilla and Aquila were Jews of Rome who went to Corinth  when the Emperor Claudius ordered all Jews expelled from Rome. 

Acts 18:2-3: There he [Paul] met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla [because of the Claudian expulsion of the Jews from Rome], because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. 

The Roman historian Suetonius states that Emperor Claudius expelled all the Jews from Rome in 49 AD because of the interminable strife and rioting between the Jews. 

Since Paul found many Jews at Rome; it is clear that he went there after 54 AD, when Claudius died and the expulsion of the Jews from Rome was lifted.  The most widely accepted dates for Paul’s house arrest in Rome are 61-63 AD. 

Acts 25:9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? 25:10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 25:11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

Paul is sent to Caesar at Rome, but first witnesses to king Agrippa and Bernice

25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

25:13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

Festus introduces Paul’s case to the king

25:14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: 25:15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. 25:16 To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.

25:17 Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.  25:18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: 25:19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 25:20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.

25:21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.

The king requests to hear Paul

25:22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

Agrippa hears the Gospel from Paul

25:23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.

Festus officially introduces the case to the king

25:24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25:25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.

Festus asks Agrippa for help to write the indictment against Paul to Caesar for he knows Paul to be innocent

25:26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord [Caesar]  Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. 25:27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

 

Acts 26

Paul gives his defense relating his personal history and proclaiming the Gospel of Warning, Repentance and the Resurrection to Salvation through Jesus Christ

26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 26:3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

26:4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.  26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: 26:7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  26:10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.  26:11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

26:12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.  26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 26:22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Festus declares Paul mad, but King Agrippa understood the witness of Paul

26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

The king believes but does not repent

26:26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 26:29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

Paul is judged innocent of breaking any law.  Yet they chose to send him to Caesar to get rid of him, because of the Jews anger and uproar.  For surely Paul could have withdrawn his appeal if the charges were withdrawn.  This came about so that the words of Christ to Paul, that he must witness at Rome, would be fulfilled.

26:30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: 26:31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

26:32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

 

Acts 27

Finally Paul takes ship to begin his journey to Rome as a prisoner

Acts 27:1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. 27:2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

The centurion appears to have had complete trust in Paul and allows him liberty to visit his friends while the ship is in port in Sidon

27:3 And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

27:4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 27:5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 27:6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

27:7 And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; 27:8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

Paul’s warning is dismissed by the centurion because of the experience of the ship’s captain and crew

27:9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 27:10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

Because no one wanted to winter in Fair Havens they proceed alongside southern Crete

27:12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.  27:13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 

Caught in a storm, they lost everything but their lives, and Paul achieved the reputation of a prophet among the 276 people on the ship

27:14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 27:15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. 27:16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: 27:17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.  27:18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; 27:19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

They were tossed of wind and waves in a fierce storm where there was darkness [heavy cloud] over the sea.  If any of you have ever suffered motion sickness or been in a similar condition for even a few hours; you can understand the terrible suffering and fear of momentarily losing one’s  life that this must have been.

27:20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

Paul is given an understanding that they will all be saved from the storm and comforts the passengers

27:21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

Paul now regarded as a prophet, relays to them the Word of God to comfort them

27:23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 27:24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 27:25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 27:26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

They reach an island where they anchor the ship

27:27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; 27:28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. 27:29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

Paul warns the people to stay aboard the ship and is obeyed

27:30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the [lifeboat] boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 27:32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the [lifeboat]  boat, and let her fall off.

After two weeks of being unable to eat, Paul bids them eat and encourages them of their safety

27:33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. 27:34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. 27:35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

The crew cast out the last of the cargo

27:36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. 27:37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls [276]. 27:38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

They grounded the ship

27:39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. 27:40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. 27:41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

The centurion saves the prisoners from his soldiers and then saves the passengers by his wise instructions and courageous leadership

27:42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. 27:43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: 27:44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship.

And so it came to pass, that they all escaped safe to land

 

Acts 28

The local people helped the survivors of the ship grounding

Acts 28:1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. 28:2 And the barbarous [a name applied to those not civilized by Greek and Roman manners] people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

Then the local people not knowing Paul, assumed him to be a wicked man because of the viper; then their attitude completely changed when Paul suffered no ill after the bite.  This shows how God can use an apparently bad thing to further His Word.

28:3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 28:4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 28:5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.

28:6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. 

Publius hospitably lodges the 276 people at great personal expense, and God blesses his hospitality by healing his father and through this healing the Gospel is spread

28:7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.

Paul prayed and the father of Publius was healed, after which many others were also healed

28:8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. 28:9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:

The island’s people were grateful and helped them on their way; and so God blessed the inhabitants of this island.  Who knows if God had purposely brought the ship to these people?

28:10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

They wintered for three months and then departed on a ship from Egypt for Rome

28:11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.

Staying three days in Sicily they then proceeded to the port adjacent to Rome

28:12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. 28:13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: 28:14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.

The local brethren in Italy go out to meet Paul

28:15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered [allowed] to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.

After meeting with the brethren the first thing that Paul does is to call for a meeting of the leaders of the Jews!

28:17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them,

Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 28:18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. 28:19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 28:20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. 

The leaders of the Jews at Rome then desired to hear the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ!

28:21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. 28:22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

Paul then persuades many, out of the Scriptures; concerning the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ!

28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

28:24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 28:25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

After those who rejected the Warning Message of Repentance and Salvation through Jesus Christ departed; Paul quoted Isaiah concerning them.  The same could be said for very many today.  They will not respond positively to the warning message;  because they think themselves rich, righteous and increased with knowledge, needing nothing.

28:26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Paul then declares that he will teach the Gentiles

28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. 28:29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

Paul under the protection of the Emperor because he was a prisoner of the Empire; was kept under house arrest and allowed to preach freely the true Gospel of Sincere Repentance and Salvation through Jesus Christ, as the way into the Kingdom [Family] of God!

28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

Paul wrote the Epistle to the Ekklesia in Rome from Corinth during the course of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:2; Romans 16:23), in which he had expressed an intense longing to visit Rome (Romans 1:10-11; 15:22).

From Rome Paul wrote many of his epistles to the churches he had raised up, including Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon

Oh, that we would abandon the business model outreach and follow the example of Paul and the first century apostles and disciples. 

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