Acts – Chapter 14

Verse 1 – Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Gentiles believed.

They spoke with such power that multitudes believed. This is where Timothy became acquainted with Paul. See 2 Timothy 3:10, 11.

Verse 2 – But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.

Verse 3 – Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Do you see what was happening here? They spoke boldly in the Lord, and He, Jesus, gave them the ability to perform signs and wonders, and miracles. Though Jesus is absent in body, He still does the work through believers, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now why would this same power not be for today, as some say it’s not? I can tell you with strong conviction and witness, the same Holy Spirit that worked through these men then, is the same Spirit that does work through those that belong to Him today! God never changes.

Verse 4  – But the multitudes of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

Even after seeing miracles, some chose not to believe. Blindness and rejection of the truth lies at the root of unbelief. If you don’t believe, don’t expect to receive.

Verse 5 – And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them,

Verse 6 – they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.

Verse 7 – And they were preaching the gospel there.

Verse 8 – And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was, sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked.

Verse 9 – This man heard Paul speaking. Paul observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed,

Verse 10 – said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

I wonder how Paul knew this man had faith to be healed. I believe the Holy Spirit confirms it within our spirit. There is a certain countenance about a person that truly has faith in Christ. When we have allowed the Holy Spirit to flow, without hinder in us, He tells us what we need to know. Then the command is given, and the miracle occurs!

Verse 11 – Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonia language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”

Verse 12 – And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.

Zeus and Hermes were also known as Jupiter and Mercury. Now these people thought these two gods had come down for a visit.

Verse 13 – Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.

Verse 14 – But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitudes, crying out.

Verse 15 – And saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all the things that are in them,

Verse 16 – “who in by gone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.

Verse 17 – “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Paul responds to these people that God never leaves Himself without a testimony. Rain and crops, for example, are evidence of God’s goodness. Later Paul wrote that this evidence in nature leaves people without an excuse for unbelief (Romans 1:20).

Verse 18 – And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

Paul Is Stoned

Verse 19 – Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitude, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

Bad people will often travel further to do evil than good people will to do good; and wicked people often show more zeal in opposing the gospel than professed Christians do in advancing it.

Verse 20 – However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Was Paul dead? Why else would they have dragged his body outside the city and left him if there were still signs of life? Would they have not finished the job? Luke writes , “The disciples gathered around him,” no doubt praying, and he rose up and went back into the city, you decide.

Verse 21 – And when they had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe) and made disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,

These are the same cities where men came from, to stone Paul. They went back to Lystra, were he was stoned, and then on to Iconium and Antioch. These same men who had thought Paul was dead would see him alive and preaching!

Verse 22 – strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Paul and Barnabas returned to encourage these believers even though they were surrounded by enemies of the gospel. They needed further instruction in the truth and to establish their faith of the gospel.

Verse 23 – So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Verse 24 – And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

Verse 25 – Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

Verse 26 – From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.

Verse 27 – And when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that   He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Verse 28 – So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

Have you noticed that wherever Paul went, he preached basically the same message about Jesus Christ. The focus was always on Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. And that dear friends, is why the church was added to daily. That Gospel of forgiveness of sins, caused people to repent, be baptized in water and then baptized in the Holy Spirit. Any other gospel, will not get you saved! Everything that was created, was created, “By Him, through Him, and for Him,” Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 13

Barnabas and Saul Are Sent From Antioch

Verse 1 – Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

The prophets and teachers had both a gift of foretelling things to come, as Agabus and others, and of explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Verse 2 – As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Verse 3 – Then having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Verse 4 – So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Verse 5 – And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant (John Mark).

Controversy with Bar-Jesus

Verse 6 – Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,

Verse 7 – who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.

A proconsul was a high Roman official. Here he functioned as the governor of the island. Such leaders often kept private sorcerers. Bar-Jesus realized that if the governor believed in Jesus, he would soon be out of a job.

Verse 8 – But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

Verse 9 – Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy spirit, looked intently at him

Verse 10 – and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?

In verse 9, Saul is called Paul. Saul was a Jew by birth, his parents called him Saul but he was also a Roman citizen, and the Roman name for Saul was Paul.

Verse 11 – “And now indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time. And immediately a dark midst fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

This punishment wasn’t permanent, giving the sorcerer time to repent. There will be times when a Christian has to confront others, we just need to be guided by the Holy Spirit to know when.

Verse 12 – Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Verse 13 – Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

No reason is given for John Mark returning to Jerusalem. But later on when Paul and Barnabas are going on another trip, Barnabas suggests they take John Mark and Paul refuses.

Paul Preaches on First Sabbath

Verse 14 – But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue and sat down.

This is not the Antioch of Syria where a church was already established. This area had a large Jewish population.

Verse 15 – And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”

The ruler read from the first five books of Moses a passage, every Sabbath. A different person was chosen to lead each week. Since it was customary for the synagogue leader to invite visiting rabbis to speak, Paul and Barnabas usually had an open door when they first went in the synagogue.

Verse 16 – Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:

Verse 17 – “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it.

Verse 18 – “Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.

Verse 19 – “And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.

Verse 20 – “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

Verse 21 – “And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin for forty years.

Verse 22 – “And when He had removed him, He raised up David as king, to whom He also gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do My will.’

David didn’t take the throne until Saul was dead, but while Saul was still living God rejected him. There were many reason, but they all pointed to one offense, a spirit of pride, that Saul knew better than God.

Verse 23 – “From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up Israel a Savior – Jesus –

Verse 24 – “after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

Verse 25 – “And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’

Verse 26 – “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.

Verse 27 – “For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.

Even though the prophets words were read every Sabbath in the synagogues, they did not recognize Jesus when He came, but condemned Him to death.

Verse 28 – “And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death.

Verse 29 – “Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.

Verse 30 – “But God raised Him from the dead.

Verse 31 – “He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and who are witnesses to the people.

Verse 32 – “And we declare to you glad tidings – that promise which was made to the fathers.

Jesus resurrection confirmed that God had fulfilled His promise (citing Psalm 2:7).

Verse 33 – “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My son, today I have begotten You.’

Verse 34 – “And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken this: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David: (blessings)

Verse 35 – “Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’

Verse 36 – “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;

Verse 37 – “but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.

Verse 38 – “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that though this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;

Verse 39 – “and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

This is the “Good News” of the Gospel; that forgiveness of sins and freedom from guilt are available through faith in Jesus Christ to all people. This is something the law of Moses could never accomplish on its own, because no one could keep the law perfectly.

Verse 40 – “Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:

Verse 41 – ‘Behold, you despiser’s, marvel and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.’ ”

Paul referred to Habakkuk 1:5, as a conclusion to his preaching. Some people would scoff and refuse to believe what God was doing, even though it was explained to them.

Verse 42 – And when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.

Verse 43 – Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

Verse 44 – And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.

Verse 45 – But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

Word spread in one weeks time, to the next Sabbath. A multitude came to hear the word preached by Paul. Jealousy and envy are spirits that always show their true motives from some. These Jews were envious that Paul and Barnabas could draw huge crowds. If the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached and the Holy Spirit is allowed to flow, that small beginning of believers will grow into a massive crowd of followers of Christ.

Verse 46 – Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

Why was it so important to preach to the Jews first? God’s plan was for all the world to come to know Him through the Jewish nation (Genesis 12:3). Paul was a Jew himself, and wanted to give them every opportunity to proclaim God’s salvation. Unfortunately many Jews did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, same as today. They also didn’t want to believe that God’s plan of salvation was for everyone, Jew or Gentile.

Verse 47 – “For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

Verse 48 – Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

This verse expresses one of the greatest truths of Scripture: “All who had been appointed to eternal life believed.” This touches both on God’s elect (appointed) and the human responsibility to choose to believe.

John 6:44 – “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Verse 49 – And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

Verse 50 – But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecutions against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them form their region.

Verse 51 – But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

Verse 52 – And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

The shaking the dust off their feet was told by Jesus to do whenever a house or city would not receive their words. In other words: Those who refuse to listen or listen and then reject the word of God, shake the dust from your feet and go on to another who will accept (Matthew 10:14).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts – chapter 12

Herod Kills James

Verse 1 – Now about that time Herod, the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.

Verse 2 – Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

James and John were the son’s of Zebedee, and were two of the original disciples.

Verse 3 – And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Verse 4 – So when he had apprehended  him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

Verse 5 – Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

Peter had been preaching and doing miracles among the people, but the leaders and the king wanted him gone. Why do people plot evil against those who do good for others? Peter could have gotten discouraged and thought, “What’s the use?” But he knew what God had called him to do and he was determined to do it.

Why is it Christians give up so easy after a disappointment or persecution, now a days? To give up on what God’s called a person to do before it’s complete, is a lack of trust that God can bring it to pass. Every time a Christian goes through a difficult situation, it should make them more determined than ever to see it through. If God said it, it will come to pass no matter what happens in between!

Verse 6 – And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping; bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.

Has God ever delivered you out of an impossible situation? I’m sure He has. Do you think He will do it again and again? If you are His child, why wouldn’t He? He gave us a promise that He would never leave us. So when turmoil and discourse comes into your life, do what you can do and put the rest in His hands and go to sleep!

Verse 7 – Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” and his chains fell off his hands.

Verse 8 – Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.”

Angels are God’s messengers with supernatural power to accomplish His will. People do not become angels when they die and go to heaven, as some might think. They are beings that God created to do His will. Sometimes they take on human form when talking to us.

Verse 9 – So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.

Peter had been in a deep sleep and the angel had to strike him in order to wake him. It would be normal to think that he was still dreaming.

Verse 10 – When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gates that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

This iron gate was the outside gate to the prison. They opened supernaturally and Peter and the angel walked out and then the angel was gone. Notice none of the guards woke up. Our God is a supernatural God and can do the impossible anytime He wants.

Verse 11 – And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.

Verse 12 – So, when he considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark. His mother’s house was large enough to accommodate a large number of believers. When one of our brothers or sisters in Christ, are in need, we pray. God always answers.

Verse 13 – And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer.

Verse 14 – When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate.

Verse 15 – But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is an angel.”

Yes, they had all been praying for Peter’s safety, because they expected Herod to execute him. There’s an old Jewish tradition that Jews believe that after a person dies, their guardian angel appears as  the person. When you are praying for a salutation, believe that it has been done, and don’t be so surprised when it comes to pass.

Verse 16 – Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.

Verse 17 – But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. and he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” and he departed and went to another place.

This James, was Jesus’ brother, not John’s brother, for Herod had killed that James already. Jesus brother, James, did not become a believer until after Jesus’ resurrection.

Verse 18 – Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter.

Verse 19 – But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down form Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

The Jews considered Jerusalem their capital, but the Romans made Caesarea their headquarters in Palestine. That is where Herod Agrippa I, lived. Herod went to Caesarea, not Peter.

Verse 20 – Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.

Verse 21 – So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.

Verse 22 – And the people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!”

Verse 23 – Then immediately an angel of the Lord stuck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.

Most of all sin has a spiritual root of pride. Herod let the people praise him as if he were a god, and didn’t correct them. He took the glory that belongs to only God.

Verse 24 – But the word of God grew and multiplied.

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

 

 

Acts – Chapter 11

Peter Defends His Ministry to the Gentiles

Verse 1 – Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

Verse 2 – And when Peter came up to Jerusalem those of the circumcision contended with him,

The Jews were fine with the Gentiles being converted, as long as after they were saved they were circumcised and followed all the Jewish laws and traditions. However, most resented the fact that they were being saved in the first place.

Verse 3 – saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

Verse 4 – But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying:

Verse 5 – “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descended like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me.

Verse 6 – “When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.

Verse 7 – “And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat.’

Verse 8 – “But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’

Verse 9 – “But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’

Verse 10 – “Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.

Verse 11 – “At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent from Caesarea.

Verse 12 – “Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.

Verse 13 – “And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter,

Verse 14 – ‘who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’

Verse 15 – “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.

Verse 16 – “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

If you have not read the piece I wrote before chapter 2, go read it. It will explain that yes, there is not only a baptism with water, but a baptism in the Holy Spirit every believer needs. You would have to totally ignore Scripture to not believe this. The piece is titled, “Does the Holy Spirit Baptize? Scripture proves it over and over that you need this.

Verse 17 – “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ who was I that I could withstand God?”

Verse 18 – When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

They had to accept even the Gentiles whom God has chosen also. However, this joy over the Gentile conversion was not unanimous. This continued to be a struggle for some Jewish Christians throughout the first century.

Verse 19 – Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose after Stephen, traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.

After Stephen was stoned, the Christian Jews and other believers, were scattered for fear of the same thing happening to them. But when the Jewish Christians began to teach, they only taught fellow Jews.

Verse 20 – But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenist (Greeks and Gentiles).

Verse 21 – And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

It was in Antioch that Christianity was launched on its worldwide mission and where the believers aggressively preached to the Gentiles.

Verse 22 – Then the news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and then they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

Antioch of Syria was an important part of the early church. The first Gentile church was founded in Antioch and this is where the believers were first called Christians.

Verse 23 – When he (Barnabas) came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.

Verse 24 – For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

Verse 25 – Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.

Verse 26 – And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Verse 27 – And in these days prophets came fro Jerusalem to Antioch.

Verse 28 – Then one of them named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.

This is the gift of “prophecy” in the church. This gift has not ceased either, as some might think.

Verse 29 – Then the disciples each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.

Verse 30 – This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

There was a serious food shortage during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54) because of a drought that had extended across much of the Roman empire for many years. The people of Antioch were motivated to give generously because they cared about the need for others. Reluctance in giving shows a lack of concern for others, which is not a characteristic of a believer. But each gave according to their ability.

 

 

Acts – Chapter 10

Cornelius Sends for Peter

Verse 1 – There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,

Verse 2 – a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Cornelius was a Roman officer that had 100 soldiers under him. He had forsaken Roman idolatry and superstition and followed God, devoutly.

Verse 3 – about the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”

Verse 4 – And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” so he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.

Cornelius had been earnestly seeking God. He may have been asking for God to send him someone that could teach him about Christ. The angel let Cornelius know that his prayers had been heard. God hears every prayer of His child that is prayed.

Verse 5 – “Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.

Verse 6 – “He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”

Yes Cornelius worshiped God, but he needed to be taught in the doctrine of Jesus Christ. He couldn’t get that on his own. He needed to be ministered to by one who could instruct him fully in salvation.

Verse 7 – And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.

Verse 8 – So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter Sees the Great Sheet

Verse 9 – The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.

Verse 10 – Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance.

While the men from Cornelius are on their way to call on Peter, Peter is on the housetop  praying and falls into a trance. Sometimes we need to be isolated, with no distractions, in order to hear what God is trying to tell us. Make no mistake, if you ever fall into a trance, ordained by God, the message you receive is significant. It will not only benefit you, but others for the kingdom.

Verse 11 – And saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to earth.

Verse 12 – In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts; creeping things, and birds of the air.

Verse 13 – And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

Verse 14 – But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

According to Jewish law, certain foods were forbidden to be eaten (Leviticus 11). The food laws made it difficult for Jews to eat with Gentiles without risking defilement.

This vision was about much more than just food. This was a calling for Peter to accept the Gentiles. Peter would soon realize the Gospel was not meant for the Jews only, but every creature on earth. Christ died for all.

Verse 15 – And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

What God has pronounced clean, and lawful to be used, must have been a shock to Peter. Jesus, Himself, taught, “It’s not what a man takes in that defiles him, but what comes out of his mouth (Matthew 15:11).

Verse 16 – This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

Verse 17 – Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.

Verse 18 – And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was peter, was lodging there.

Verse 19 – While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.

Verse 20 – “Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27).” So, if you are truly a child of God, you will hear the Holy Spirit speak to you, after all, ” The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord!”

Verse 21 – Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

Verse 22 – And they said, “Cornelius the centurion a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”

Verse 23 – Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Verse 24 – And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.

When God moves powerfully in a person’s life, the natural response is to call relatives and close friends together and share the experience with them, and this is what Cornelius did.

Verse 25 – As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.

Verse 26 – But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”

Verse 27 – And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.

Verse 28 – Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Verse 29 – “Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

Peter still didn’t know why God wanted him at Cornelius’ house. We too can be sent to a certain place by God, and not find out the reason until we arrive. The key is always to be obedient to the voice of the Lord.

Verse 30 – And Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour (3 o;clock in the afternoon) I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

Verse 31 – “and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.

Verse 32 – Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’

Verse 33 – “So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

Verse 34 – Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.

Sometimes we think that it would be useless for us to share the gospel with another person who believes in another religion. Or, we think because of the person’s culture, they just won’t understand. God broke all these barriers down between the Jew ad Gentile when Christ died and rose again. The only thing that keeps a person distant from God is not believing in His Son, Jesus.

Verse 35 – “But in every nation whoever fears (worships and shows reverence) Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Verse 36 – “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is Lord of all –

Verse 37 – “that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

Verse 38 – “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Verse 39 – “And we are witnesses of all these things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

Verse 40 – “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,

Verse 41 – “not to all people, but to witnesses chosen before God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

Verse 42 – “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

Verse 43 – “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

Telling others about Christ doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. The focus is always on Christ and should be Spirit led to show the way and the truth and the life.

Gentiles Are Converted

Verse 44 – While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

Verse 45 – And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

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

Faith, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and believers baptism are again all components of conversion, although this time in a different order. The Jews that had come with Peter were astonished because they witnessed the falling of the Holy Spirit on Gentiles.

Verse 47 – “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

Now, Peter wanted to know after they had all witnessed the fall of the Holy Spirit, was there a reason why these people could not be water baptized?And let me draw your attention to this: Do you see evidence every time the Holy Spirit falls? Do you not see this is a baptism different from water? Why is it so hard for people to understand that it is necessary for a Christian to be baptized in the Holy spirit in order to live this life? It is clearly written in Scripture for all to see.

Verse 48 – And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Do you see the pattern here? There are three things that must be done. First believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The next two things do not have to be in any order. You can be baptized in water, but then you must be baptized by Jesus in the Holy Spirit. Or, while hearing the Word preached, you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, and then water baptized. If you don’t believe you need to be baptized with or in the Holy Spirit, then you will never have any power to live this Christian life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 9

Saul Is Converted

Verse 1 – Then Saul, still breathing threats, and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

Verse 2 – and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Saul had permission from the high priest to travel as far as Damascus to arrest anyone who was a follower of Christ. “The way” was what Christianity was called. Saul was a true Pharisee.

Verse 3 – And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Verse 4 – Then he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Verse 5 – And he said, “Who are You Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

When you come against a Christian, you are coming against Christ Himself. However, Saul was about to be used by the Lord in a way like no other. He had been persecuting Christians and was now trying to stop the spread of Christianity. Here is what we can learn from this: God can use anyone He wills. Your past does not control your future. And if you are persecuting a brother or sister in Christ, you are doing the work of Satan. Some conversions are not as dramatic as Saul’s , but make no mistake they are just as important to the Lord.

Verse 6 – So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” And the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Verse 7 – And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless hearing a voice but seeing no one.

Verse 8 – Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

Just as Saul was blinded, are we not all spiritually blind before coming to Christ? The only way our spiritual eyes can be opened is to recognize Jesus for who He truly is.

Verse 9 – And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

I imagine he didn’t say much either. The man was in shock. Aren’t we all when we learn the truth and are convinced that the way we were living was sinful?

Verse 10 – Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am Lord.”

Verse 11 – So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.

Verse 12 – “And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hands on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Verse 13 – Then Ananias answered, “Lord I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.

Verse 14 – “And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

Verse 15 – But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

Verse 16 – “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Anytime you might think, “That person will never be saved,” think again of Saul’s conversion. He was a murderer and wanted nothing to do with Jesus. But one encounter with Christ not only changed his life, it changed the world! We don’t have any idea what the purpose or plans are for someone else.

Verse 17 – And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Even though Ananias was afraid of Saul, he still laid hands on him and lovingly called him brother. He was obedient to the Lord’s command. And yes, it’s hard to be kind or pray for those who have openly persecuted, you, but the Lord says do it anyway!

Verse 18 – Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

Verse 19 – And when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

Verse 20 – Immediately, he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

We don’t know the number of days that Saul was with the disciples, but I’m sure they were spent learning of Jesus. Not everyone is saved one day and out preaching the next. However, if God chooses to use someone in that way, so be it.

Verse 21 – Then all who heard him were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”

Verse 22 – But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

A person’s testimony can be a powerful tool in witnessing to the lost, especially if they knew you before you were saved. These people had heard of Saul’s hatred for the Christian, but now saw a different man. Don’t ever be afraid to tell others what kind of person you were before Christ. You just might hit a nerve with someone listening that reminds them of themselves. But please remember: Your testimony has to line up with a changed life!

Verse 23 – Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.

According to Galatians 1:17, 18, Paul left Damascus and went to Arabia, where he lived for three years. I’m sure the chief priest was pretty angry, after all, Saul had went there to arrest and persecute the Christians, not become one himself.

Verse 24 – But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.

Verse 25 – Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

Saul had been in Arabia for three years and traveled back to Damascus, and this is when they tried to kill him, but he escaped with the help of the other disciples.

Verse 26 – And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

When you become a Christian, there will be some that know your past. The old opinion people have for you doesn’t just change because you say it should. You have to prove that your behavior lines up with the new you.

Verse 27 – But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

The biggest problem that new converts have is guidance from another believer to teach them. No one stands with them while they learn the ways of the Lord. However, Barnabas stood up for Saul, because he heard him preach.

Verse 28 – So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.

Verse 29 – And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenist, but they attempted to kill him.

The Hellenist were Greek speaking, Jewish Christians, which Saul had been. They had returned to Jerusalem and because Saul used to be one of them, they didn’t like it that he had changed.

Verse 30 – When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

Verse 31 – Then the churches throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit they were multiplied.

Verse 32 – Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.

Lydda was about 40 miles from Jerusalem. These Christians had possibly went there after Pentecost and set up churches there.

verse 33 – There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had become bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.

Verse 34 – And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.

Verse 35 – So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

Because of this one miracle, all turned to the Lord. When was the last time you saw a miracle like this in a church service? Or, have you ever? When the true Gospel is preached, there will always be evidence, either saved lives, infilling of the Holy Spirit, or miracles of healing.

Verse 36 – At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman who was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.

Verse 37 – But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

Verse 38 – And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.

Verse 39 – Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas (Tabitha) had made while she was with them.

Verse 40 – But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” and she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.

Verse 41 – Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

Verse 42 – And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.

Verse 43 – So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

Nowhere in Scripture do you see Peter or any of the other disciples, setting up churches with their names in lights, declaring that they had the ability to heal and raise the dead, as we see people do on mega stages today. No one possesses any one gift. The gifts belong to the Holy Spirit and He uses them at His will, through whom He chooses!

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 8

Saul Persecutes the Church

Stephen has just been stoned to death and Saul stood there watching.

Verse 1 – Now Saul was consenting to his (Stephen) death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Verse 2 – And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Verse 3 – As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Saul was a “zealot,” a Pharisee, who intensely persecuted the followers of Jesus. Saul was born to Jewish parents who possessed Roman citizenship. Saul’s family moved to Jerusalem in A.D. 10, where he began in-depth study of the Law.

Verse 4 – Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.

Verse 5 – Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

Verse 6 – And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Verse 7 – For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.

Did you read anywhere that these miracles stopped with the apostles? No, me either. Philip preached, and when the people opened their hearts to hearing the Gospel, miracles took place. Why do you think so few miracles are seen today? Do you know unbelief will stop a miracle from taking place?

Verse 8 – And there was great joy in that city.

Verse 9 – But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,

Verse 10 – to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”

Verse 11 – And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

This man’s power did not come from God. He drew his power from Satan. We still have people today who are devoted to black magic and sorcery. It’s called witchcraft and forbidden by God.

verse 12 – But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

Verse 13 – Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Please don’t ever let anyone convince you that these signs and wonders have stopped or that they were only done by the apostles. That same power is in each believer. Look at Mark 16:17, 18 – “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; (Verse 18) “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” That just about covers it. God is the power in us through the Holy Spirit!

Verse 14 – Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,

Peter and John went to Samaria to confirm the doctrine of Philip, and establish the young converts in it.

Verse 15 – who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

Again, if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed, then why would they pray for them to receive Him?

Verse 16 – For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Being water baptized was the only ordinance that had been administered to them. They had not yet received the gifts from the Holy Spirit, qualifying them for ministry.

Verse 17 – Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Verse 18 – Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostle’s hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

Verse 19 – saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

Back in verse 13, it says that Simon believed and was baptized. But Simon’s true heart is shown her, by asking to buy this power that came when the Holy Spirit comes upon a person.

Not everyone who goes through the motions of saying, “I believe,” or getting baptized in water, is truly saved. There has to be repentance!

Verse 20 – But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought the gift of God could be purchased with money!

Verse 21 – “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.

Verse 22 – “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

Verse 23 – “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

Peter saw that there was nothing in Simon but the bitter root of sin, by his words and action.

Verse 24 – Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”

Verse 25 – So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

There is no indication that Simon ever truly repented. He asked the apostles to pray for him. Look, no one can repent for you. That is something a person has to do on their own. We, as Christians, can teach, explain what it means to repent, but that is a matter of mind and will, of the individual.

Verse 26 – Now an angel of he Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.

Verse 27 – So he arose and went. and behold, a man of Ethiopia, and eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,

Ethiopia was located in Africa south of Egypt. This man was an eunuch; which means he had been castrated, who was employed to guard a woman’s living area. This man was in charge of all the queen’s treasury. He was either a Jew or had been converted. One thing is for certain though, he worshiped the God of Israel.

Verse 28 – was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.

Verse 29 – Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

Verse 30 – So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do yo understand what you are reading?”

Verse 31 – And he said, “How can I unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

When someone is wanting to understand about Jesus or scripture, it is best to start on the level that they are on. You can’t jump all over the place in scripture and expect them to understand. Start with what they know and go from there. But that will require you, being a mature Christian, to know your Bible.

Verse 32 – The place in Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth.

Verse 33 – In His humiliation His justice was taken away. And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.”

Verse 34 – So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or some other man?”

What I find ironic is that this man had just been to Jerusalem to worship God, no doubt to the temple, and he had heard nothing about Jesus. But then again, a lot of the Jews had become silent because of Stephen’s stoning.

Verse 35 – Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

Verse 36 – Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Verse 37 – The Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Verse 38 – Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

Verse 40 – But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.

This eunuch knew he needed to be baptized, as all believers should. That sprinkling you might have received as a baby, is not baptism. A person must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and a baby can’t acknowledge that.Water baptism is not a suggestion, it is commanded by Jesus because He is our example. We get baptized as a sign that the old you is dead and buried and the new you, is raised with Christ!

 

 

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 7

Stephen Preaches to the Council

Verse 1 – Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”

Are these things true that you, Stephen, have spoken blasphemous words against Moses and the law?

Verse 2 – And he said, “Men and brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,

Verse 3 – “and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’

Verse 4 – “Then he came out of a land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.

Verse 5 – “And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him.

Though Abraham had no children at that time, God promised to give his descendants land as a possession.

Verse 6 – “But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would sojourn in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years.

Verse 7 – ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge, said God, ‘And after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’

Verse 8 – “Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision, and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.

Verse 9 – “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him,

Stephen is summarizing Israel’s history. God had made a covenant with Abraham and had always kept His promises. However, time and again, Israel broke their part of the covenant.

Verse 10 – “And delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of Israel’s history, just as this council did. We as Christians, need to understand who the Jewish people are. They were and are God’s chosen people. They, even after all they went through, down through the ages, are the ones that God chose to bring the Gospel into the world. Don’t ever despise something that God has ordained.

Verse 11 – “Now a famine and great trouble came over the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance.

Verse 12 – “But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

Verse 13 – “And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh.

Verse 14 – “Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people.

Verse 15 – “So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers.

Verse 16 – “And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.

verse 17 – “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt

Verse 18 – “till another king arose who did not know Joseph.

After Israel had spent four-hundred years in slavery to the Egyptians, God was faithful to His promise by raising up Moses.

God always has a plan for each believer’s life. He is the One that is in control of that plan. It many not look like things are going to work out, but they will. Our God is faithful to His Word. God will use His children just like He did with Joseph, Moses, and Stephen.

Verse 19 – “This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies so that they might not live.

Verse 20 – “At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God’ and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months.

At that time, the Israelites were having children at a record pace. Pharaoh was afraid the Egyptians would soon be outnumbered and would be overrun with the Jews, so he sent out a decree to have all the male babies born, killed. Moses was born at this time, and hid in his house with his mother and father for only three months. Soon he could no longer be hidden from Pharaoh’s eyes and ears.

Verse 21 – “But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son.

Verse 22 – “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.

Verse 23 – “But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.

Moses life is divided into three periods of 40 years each. Forty years in Egypt, forty in Midian, and forty in the wilderness.

verse 24 – “And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian.

Verse 25 – “For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.

Moses in his heart, knew that God was going to use him as Israel’s deliverer, but the Israelite’s saw Moses actions as defiance against the Egyptians and would bring more hardship down on them.

Verse 26 – “And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one anther?’

Verse 27 – “But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?

Verse 28 – ‘Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?

Verse 29 – “Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

While in the land of Midian, Moses married Zipporah, and had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.

Verse 30 – “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.

Verse 31 – “When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,

Verse 32 – “saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look.

Verse 33 – ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.

Verse 34 – “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ‘

Verse 35 – “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be ruler and a deliver by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.

Verse 36 – “He brought then out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

Verse 37 – “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’

Verse 38 – “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us (the living oracles, the Ten Commandments),

Verse 39 – “whom your fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,

Sometimes new believers will think about what they had to give up to follow Christ instead of what they are gaining. And if they dwell on the past sin, and glamorize it long enough, they will turn back. Please, don’t ever go back to what God has delivered you from. The pleasure of sin only lasts for a moment. It will be much harder the second time to break free. Why would anyone give up an eternity with Christ for a moment of sin?

Verse 40 – “saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’

Verse 41 – “And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

Verse 42 – “Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of Prophets; ‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?

They started worshiping the deities associated with the sun, moon, stars, and planets.

Verse 43 – Yes, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’

Moloch was the god associated with child sacrifice. This act is still done today, only it’s called abortion, the god of, “Inconvenience.”

Verse 44 – “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern he had seen,

Moses built this tabernacle according to the things God had shown him on Mount Sinai. This tabernacle, according to Hebrews 8:5, was a shadow of the heavenly things…

Verse 45 – “which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,

Verse 46 – “who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.

Verse 47 – “But solomon built Him a house.

Verse 48 – “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:

Verse 49 – ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, or what is the place of My rest?

Verse 50 – Has My hand not made all these things?’ (Psalm 102:25)

Verse 51 – “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit as your fathers did, so do you.

Stiff-necked and uncircumcised heart and ears, are unbelief and disobedience.

Verse 52 – “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become betrayers and murderers,

Verse 53 – “who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”

Verse 54 – When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.

When people hear the “Truth,” the true Gospel, they have two choices to make. They can either submit to God and repent, or they will get angry and strike out at the person giving the message. These religious leaders chose to get angry and wanted to kill Stephen.

Verse 55 – But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,

Verse 56 – and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

Jesus was standing. He was about to receive Stephen, for He knew what these men were about to do. When Jesus stood, He was honoring Stephen, and he would be comforted in his death. The Sanhedrin got angry because they didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Verse 57 – The they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;

Verse 58 – and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Stephen was killed by an angry mob. This was done illegally by an enraged mob who did not have permission to do so by the Roman government. This is the same Saul, whose name was later changed to Paul and wrote many of the letters in the New Testament. Paul is a powerful example of how no one is too far gone for God to reach and change.

Verse 59 – And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Verse 60 – Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Such a forgiving response comes only from the Holy Spirit. This is a non-vindictive spirit of one who understands that his own sins have been forgiven by grace. Fell asleep, is a common expression for death in the Bible.

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 6

Deacons Are appointed

Another internal problem developed in the early church. The Greek-speaking Christians complained that their widows were being unfairly treated. The favoritism was probably due to the language barrier. To correct this situation, the apostles put seven respected Greek-speaking men in charge of the food distribution. This solved the problem and allowed the apostles to focus on teaching and preaching the Good News about Jesus.

Verse 1 – Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenist, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

Verse 2 – Then the twelve summoned the multitude of disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

Verse 3 – “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation full of the Holy spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

1 Timothy 3:7 – Moreover he must have a good testimony among those outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Verse 4 – “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Each of the seven men filled a position that later came to be reserved for deacons. They were responsible for the practical needs of the congregation.

Verse 5 – And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,

Verse 6 – whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

The laying on of hands occurs in several contexts throughout Scripture. It indicated the church’s recognition that God had called these men to a particular ministry.

Verse 7 – And the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Verse 8 – And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

As I read these verses of the early church, I see how far some of our churches today have strayed. When these believers gathered together, they prayed, worshiped, were taught the word of God by Godly men, and signs and wonders were seen. Today, we might hear one prayer done by the pastor, then a motivational speech on how to better ourselves, and no one is saved or changed. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone healed or delivered from some devastating addiction. Or how about distributions of goods to the poor? How sad our churches have become.

Stephen is Brought Before the Council

Verse 9 – Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those form Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.

The Freedmen was a group of Jewish slaves who had been freed by Rome and had formed their own synagogue in Jerusalem.

Verse 10 – And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.

Verse 11 – Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”

Verse 12 – And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him and brought him to the council.

Verse 13 – They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;

Verse 14 – “For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”

The charge against Stephen was similar to the charges against Jesus. The Sadducees, which controlled the council, only believed in Moses laws.

Verse 15 – And all who sat on the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

Stephen’s facial expression reflected his innocence and the Spirit’s role in his life.

Acts – Chapter 5

Ananias and Sapphira Lie

Verse 1 – But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold possessions.

Verse 2 – And kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostle’s feet.

No one was forced to sell anything. This was all being done voluntarily. But these two wanted to be seen as big givers as the others were doing. However, they held some of the money back for their own use, but acted as if they gave it all.

Verse 3 – But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?

Verse 4 – “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

The land was Ananias’ to do with what he wanted. No one told him to sell it or give it to the church. But because he wanted to look like a big shot, he promised to give all the proceeds to the church. However, he decided to keep some of the money for himself. The sin was that he promised God one thing and did another. He lied and Peter knew it. All lying is bad, but pretending to be something you are not, is lying to God Himself.

Verse 5 – Then Ananias hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.

Verse 6 – And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

Keep in mind, the church was just getting started and there needed to be some harsh examples set. We can learn from this though. Words and actions need to agree with each other. You can call yourself a Christian all day long, but if your actions and behavior don’t line up, you’re only fooling yourself.

Verse 7 – Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.

Verse 8 – And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, “Yes, for so much.”

Verse 9 – Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”

Verse 10 – Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.

Verse 11 – So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

Sin is very serious when it is in the open within the church. People think nothing of what they call “little sins.” Lying is a sin and so is deceiving others. Do people get immediate punishment when they sin? By the grace and mercy of God, we are given time to repent, but not always. There are consequences for lying and deceiving, even when there is repentance.

Verse 12 – And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord on Solomon’s Porch.

Verse 13 – Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.

The people reverenced the apostle’s, but kept their distance because of what had happened to Ananias and Sapphira.

Verse 14 – And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

Verse 15 – so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.

It was not Peter’s shadow that healed these people. It was the power of God. God can use any means He chooses to do His might works.

Verse 16 – Also a multitude gathered form the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

These miracles proved that the Messiah who had been crucified and risen was with His followers. Please don’t ever think that miracles disappeared with the apostles. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is His desire for us to walk in divine health.

Verse 17 – Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,

Verse 18 – and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.

The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that’s exactly what the apostles were preaching, the resurrection of Christ. They were jealous of the apostles doing miracles and the people showed them respect. Some people won’t share their faith with others because of what others will think. Are we here to please man or God?

Verse 19 – But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said,

Verse 20 – “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

They weren’t to run and hide. They were to go to the temple and start preaching again of the doctrines of the Gospel.

Verse 21 – And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to prison to have them brought.

Verse 22 – But when the officers came and did not find them in prison, they returned and reported,

Verse 23 – saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!”

Verse 24 – Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.

Verse 25 – Then one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”

Verse 26 – Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

Verse 27 – And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,

Verse 28 – saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

And that is what the Sadducees truly feared. The people would realize that this council had been the one’s which had Jesus crucified.

When man’s law conflicts with God’s law, which are you going to obey? And, just because it’s not illegal in the eyes of man, doesn’t mean it’s not against God’s laws. We obey God and trust His Word to always be true. Man’s laws are subject to change, but God’s, stays the same.

Verse 29 – Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

Verse 30 – “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

Verse 31 – “Him God exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Verse 32 – “And we are His witness to these things, ans so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Peter didn’t stutter. He was very plain and direct in telling that: All those who hearken to Christ’s Gospel, believe in Christ, and repent, will be saved and the Holy Spirit will come bringing gifts to accomplish His ministry.

Verse 33 – When they heard this, they were furious and took counsel to kill them.

Let me ask a question here: When someone tells you the truth concerning the Gospel, does it make you angry? Maybe it doesn’t make a person angry enough to cause harm to the messenger, but some don’t like it. This happens especially when the person is lost and find out God’s true standards and principles. Most sinners, the lost, don’t believe what you are telling them, because they have their own opinions. What most don’t understand is that God’s written Word overrides man’s laws and or opinions. Watch your attitude when a Christian tries to tell you the truth, because the truth does hurt sometimes.

Verse 34 – Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.

Verse 35 – And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.

Verse 36 – “For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.

Verse 37 – “After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.

Verse 38 – “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;

Verse 39 – “but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you be found to fight against God.”

This is very good advise, even for today. How do we know if God is trying to do “a new thing?” If the doctrine is sound, and the leaders life-styles line up with what they are teaching, it’s best to wait and watch. If it’s of God, it will grow, if not, it won’t last long. We shouldn’t be so quick to condemn anther’s ministry.

Verse 40 – And they agreed with him, and when they called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Verse 41 – So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Verse 42 – And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Have you ever thought of persecution as a blessing, worthy of rejoicing over? Too many times, Christians think that trials, hardships, and persecutions, are because they have done something wrong or the devil is after them. I used to think like this because of the way I was taught. You will be tested as a Christian in order to prepare you for a greater work for the kingdom of God. Trials and hardships are not punishment, they are teaching us to lean only on Jesus, making us stronger and stronger in our faith. And that, we should rejoice over!