Romans – Chapter 3

Verse 1 – What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?

Verse 2 – Much in every way! chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.

The Hebrews heard God speak the Ten Commandments directly to them through Moses. Then through a long series of prophets, God’s words came to them. No other people on earth had that privilege.

Verse 3 – For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?

Even if some of the Jewish people did not believe, God was still faithful to His covenant and will bring His promises to fulfillment.

Verse 4 – Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged.”

Let God be true – let God be esteemed true and faithful, whatever consequences may follow. The rest part of this verse is a little confusing because of the way it is written, but here is what David said in Psalm 51:4: Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight – that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. That should explain what Paul said.

Do people question God’s judgement? Yes, all the time. Have you ever told God, “This is not right?” We think what God has allowed to happen is wrong to us at times. But He is a just God and sees the end from the beginning.

Verse 5 – But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.)

Verse 6 – Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?

Verse 7 – For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?

Verse 8 – And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”? – as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.

If God is shown to be in the right by man’s sin and error, then God is honored by our shortcomings. How then can God punish us when we have helped display His righteousness? But Paul answered that as a matter of principle. God’s judgment of sin is always righteous. People who think otherwise deserve condemnation, for their true focus is not on glorifying God but on giving free rein to their sinful desires.

All Are Guilty Before God

Verse 9 – What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

Are we Jews better that he Gentiles? Paul had previously told the Jews that they had preference or advantages in some respect, but he now affirms that those advantages did not make a difference between them and the Gentile about justification.

Verse 10 – As it is written: “There is none righteous, no not one;

Verse 11 – There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.

Verse 12 – They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”

Paul is referring to Psalm 14:1-3, meaning no one is innocent. No one can earn righteousness because no one can be good enough.

Verse 13 – “Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips”;

Verse 14 – “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

Verse 15 – “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Verse 16 – Destruction and misery are in their ways;

Verse 17 – And the way of peace they have not known.”

Verse 18 – “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Paul cited Bible passages that show the extent of corruption. As Jesus taught, “from within, out of people’s hearts come all sorts of evil.”

Verse 19 – Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God.

Some may argue that these previous verses are not written to the Jews, but to pagan nations. However, everything in the Hebrew Bible is first addressed to the Jews for their instruction so they can learn about sin’s power. All people from every nation and ethnicity are sinners, and God will judge the whole world in God’s court. Everyone will be speechless.

Verse 20 – Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

No person can earn justification by being obedient to the law’s requirements. The law was never intended to be a means to Salvation. The primary purpose was to reveal man’s sin.

Verse 21 – But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

Verse 22 – even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

Jesus came and magnified the Law, He did not abandon it. He showed its true meaning and purpose. Justification could not be obtained through personal obedience, so justification had to be obtained some other way.

Verse 23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

There is not one person who walked on this earth void of sin, except One, Jesus. Everyone falls short, and we still do. However, there is a remedy which is being washed in Christ’s blood that was shed for our forgiveness.

Verse 24 – being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Justified means that Christians are declared righteous by God’s grace and mercy through belief in His Son. We didn’t deserve it nor did we pay the price for it, Jesus did on the cross.

Verse 25 – whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

Verse 26 – to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Old Testament believers looked forward to the coming Messiah. Paul shows that all sin was forgiven by God at the cross. They believed in God, His written word, and His prophets, so they too are under the blood. Our part in all this is to repent, accept, and receive.

Verse 27 – Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Verse 28 – Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Paul states again that no one can brag or boast about their good deeds to earn justification. It can’t be earned. We could never be good enough. Justification comes through the work Jesus did and  believing in Him.

Verse 29 – Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,

Verse 30 – Since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Paul said this because Jews were the circumcised and the Gentiles were the uncircumcised. By faith or through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ.

Verse 31 – Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary , we establish the law.

Does faith wipe out everything Judaism stands for? Absolutely not! When we understand the way of salvation through faith, we understand the Jewish religion better. We know why Abraham was chosen, why the law was given, and why God worked patiently with Israel for centuries. Faith does not wipe out the Old Testament. In the next chapter Paul will explain all this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Romans – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

The majority of scholars see the Jews as the subject throughout chapter 2. Judgment and condemnation follow sin. Not all people commit the same sins, but all show by their judging and criticism that they do not live up to the moral law they know. The Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are to judge ourselves before looking to someone else’s sin.

Verse 2 – But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.

Outwardly people might appear well to others, but God searches the heart and sees the secret as well as the open deeds of people. Those who practice secretly what they openly condemn, can not expect to escape the righteous judgment of God. No amount of protests  or opinions will matter in that day. God’s truth will be the judge.

Verse 3 – And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

Death in the life will not prevent anyone from standing before God’s judgment seat. All human beings, great and small, rich or poor, will be raised to stand before God.

Verse 4 – Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

God’s mercy and patience is not approval for our sin. He is patient and longsuffering in waiting for all people to recognize He is a good God. Has God been good to you? Should you have been dead by now because of things in your past that you’ve done? If not for the grace and mercy of God, I would have been dead a long time ago.

Verse 5 – But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

An unrepentant heart becomes hardened and on the day of judgment, God’s wrath will come like flood waters that have suddenly been released.

Verse 6 – who will render to each one according to his deeds:

Our conduct, motives behind what we do, and how we treat others, does matter, not just for the Christian, but all people.

Verse 7 – eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;

Our good deeds is a response to what God has done. This is not referring to a person doing one single act of kindness. This is talking about a continual life-style of doing good for others.

Verse 8 – but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath,

Verse 9 – tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;

Verse 10 – but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jews first and also to the Greek.

Verse 11 – For there is no partiality with God.

This is referring to the verses before. Jew or Gentile will all be judged by the same justice principles.

Verse 12 – For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law

Verse 13 – (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;

The Jews saw the Mosaic law as key in the difference between Jews and Gentiles. Paul teaches that the law can’t save people, but only reveals their sin, because no one can keep the law perfectly. However, those (Jews) who live by the law only, will be judged by the law and condemned by it.

Verse 14 – for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,

Verse 15 – who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)

The Gentiles do not have the Mosaic law in which we live by, but have an inner law, the conscience, that informs us. Our conscience will either accuse us of wrong doing or excuse it.

Verse 16 – in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

God has appointed His Son to administer judgment. He shall bring every work done openly or in secret, to judgment by His truth and righteousness. And then Paul states, according to the gospel he preaches, “my gospel.”

Verse 17 – Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God,

Verse 18 – and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,

Verse 19 – and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

Verse 20 – an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.

Jew was the name given to people who returned to Judea from exile, but later it was extended to cover all Hebrew people wherever they lived. Paul listed eight grounds on which Jews rested their senses of moral superiority over the Gentiles. True enough, and yet Jesus taught, “Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.”

Verse 21 – You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?

Verse 22 – You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

The Jews had learned the law so well, that they had learned to excuse their own actions while criticizing others. Jesus pointed out that even withholding what rightfully belongs to someone else is stealing. (Think about that one for a moment. And not telling the whole truth is the same as lying.) Too many are not willing to take an honest look at themselves, before criticizing another.

Verse 23 – You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?

Do our actions line up with what others hear us speak?

Verse 24 – For “The name of God is blasphemed among Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

Jewish sin resulted in God’s name being dishonored among the pagan nations when the Jews were defeated and exiled. To the pagans, Yahweh seemed powerless since He didn’t protect His people. What do people think if God, by watching you?

Verse 25 – For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. (Circumcision of the heart is useless without true faith. Abraham was faithful long before he was ever circumcised.)

Verse 26 – Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?

In other words: A man shall be treated as if it were so; that the lack of circumcision shall be no bar to acceptance. God judges things as they are; and as the man, though uncircumcised, who keeps the law, ought to be treated as if he had been circumcised, so he who believes in Christ agreeably to the divine promise, and trusts to His merits alone for salvation, ought to be treated as if he were himself righteous. Through God’s Son, they are accepted.

Verse 27 – And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?

Shall not a pagan man who has none of your external privileges, if he keeps the law, condemn you who are Jews, although you have the letter and circumcision, are nevertheless transgressors of the law?

Verse 28 – For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh;

Verse 29 – but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but God.

The design of circumcision was to be a sign of separation from the pagan world, and of consecration to the holy God. This implied the renunciation and forsaking of all sins; or the cutting off of everything that was offensive to God. This was a work especially of the heart. The work is to take place in the soul, and not in the body only, an internal spiritual work done by the Holy Spirit.

 

The Book of Romans Chapter 1

Introduction: Paul’s greatest work, is placed first among his thirteen epistles in the New Testament.

The good new’s of Jesus Christ is more than facts to be believed; it is also a life to be lived – a life of righteousness befitting the person “justified” freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (3:24). According to this epistle, Gentiles were predominant in the church at Rome.

Paul wrote Romans in A.D. 57, near the end of his third missionary journey. It was evidently written during his three-month stay in  Greece, more specifically in Corinth.

Now contrary to what the Roman Catholic Church has maintained that this church was founded by Peter, in this entire epistle, there is no mention of Peter at all! Isn’t it incredible that if Peter had been there at Rome, and had founded the church there, and was invested as authority over it, that Paul would have mentioned Peter’s name? Peter was still in Jerusalem in the 9th or 10th year of the reign of Claudius (Acts 15:6). Nor is there any mention of him ever being in Rome, or with Paul. However, he could have come to Rome after Paul, but the church was already established.

The Book of Romans is not an easy book to understand: One reason being because we are unwilling to admit the plain doctrine which it teaches. The heart is by nature opposed to it, and only comes to belief with great reluctance. Our feelings and opinions do not change what is written. Society and how the world lives and what they accept, does not change God’s word.

The best way to understand this book is to read it with a humble, repentant heart, knowing that it was inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, and it is TRUTH!

Chapter 1

Verse 1 – Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

Verse 2 – which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,

Verse 3 – concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,

Verse 4 – and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead,

Paul is writing to Jews and Gentiles. Keep in mind, they did not have the four Gospel’s in print, but did have the first five books of Moses. Paul states that Jesus Christ is the direct descendant of King David and therefore fulfills the prediction that the Messiah would come from David’s line.

Verse 5 – through whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,

Verse 6 – among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

Christians belong to Jesus by calling. This calling is not an empty invitation. It is a sovereign summons that results in salvation as people respond in faith to God’s calling. Paul reminds the Roman believer that God took the initiative in saving them.

Verse 7 – To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 8 – First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ, for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Verse 9 – For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Verse 10 – making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

God did make a way, as we saw in the last chapter in Acts, even though Paul was a prisoner. To do God’s will doesn’t mean it will always be a comfort. We simply have to be obedient, as Paul was.

Verse 11 – For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established –

Verse 12 – that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Our mutual faith gives us a common language and a common purpose for encouraging other Christians.

Verse 13 – Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.

Verse 14 – I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.

Verse 15 – So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

Verse 16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Even after Paul had been despised, persecuted, and driven from place to place, he wasn’t ashamed or afraid to preach the good News of Jesus Christ. Don’t ever be ashamed to be associated with Christ, even though it might mean persecution.

Verse 17 – For in it the righteousness of God is revealed form faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

The phrase “righteousness of God” is equivalent to God’s plan of justifying people through His Son Jesus, acquitting them from punishment of sin. Man cannot be justified by his own works, it is by faith man is justified.

Reason for Gentile Guilt

Verse 18 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

All those who are unrighteous, lost, unsaved, suppresses the truth by telling themselves, God’s truth about sin is not any concern of theirs. They ignore their sin. There is one standard God expects from everyone, and that standard comes from Him. A person’s sin is only covered by Christ’s blood.

Verse 19 – because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

God as Creator has disclosed Himself in creation. The heavens declare His glory and proclaims the works of hands. This verse shows that so much might be known of God as to prove that man has no excuse for not believing in His existence and His justice, or His determination to punish sin.

Verse 20 – For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

Mankind’s problem is not that he doesn’t know the truth. It is simply to oppose God’s will. The very universe contains an exhibition of God’s power and wisdom – omnipotence.

There are Bibles, preachers, and teachers of the gospel all over the world, but even if one person alive today didn’t have access to any of these, they can look at creation and know there is an all-powerful Creator.

Verse 21 – because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

People have the means to know God and to acknowledge Him for His goodness and be thankful. They also have the ability to know what is right. But do they glorify Him, honor Him, reverence Him? Sinners are not willing to give honor to God as God. They feel that they don’t need a perfect God, so they become absorbed with “self.” They give indulgence to their own sinful desires. Unwillingness to thank God for His mercies is one of the causes of a hard heart.

Verse 22 – Professing to be wise, they became fools,

Sinners are often referred to as fools in Scriptures. Applied to them as void of understanding, or as idolaters, and as wicked – corrupt conduct.

Verse 23 – and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.

Paul warns that loss of knowledge of the true God resulted in the worship of images resembling mortal man. Even today we see dictators worshiped as a god, and the Bible says this sin will be repeated climatically in the end times.

Verse 24 – Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lust of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,

Verse 25 – who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever Amen.

These people chose to reject God, and God allowed them to do it. We all have a free will to choose whether or not to follow God or the lusts of our own hearts. Scripture says, “God gave them up;” He abandoned them to do as they pleased. That’s a sad state to be in.

Verse 26 – For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.

Verse 27 – Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

Homosexuality is to change or abandon natural relations of sex, and was as widespread in Paul’s day as it is in ours today. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Scripture (Leviticus 18:22). Society does not set the standard for God or His people! People have convinced themselves that they were born with these desires, not so. Desires are developed and one who gives in to these desires will reap corruption.

I make no apology for what God’s word says or what is written. People have deceived themselves into believing God accepts any life-style and that is simply not true.

Verse 28 – And even as they did not like to retain God in knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do things which are not fitting;

As you read these verses, do you see how many times Paul writes that “God gave them up?” The result of rejecting God is for God to give them up to a reprobate mind. A reprobate mind is a mind destitute of judgment, the consequences of their headstrong passions, their determination to forget God. So He leaves them to a state of mind which is evil, and which He could not approve.

Verse 29 – being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness, they are whisperers,

Verse 30 – backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

Verse 31 – undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;

If you ever wonder what we need to repent of, here’s the list. God doesn’t take sin lightly. Anyone who calls themselves a Christian “does not have these characteristics.” No, we are not perfect but if you have been truly born-again, you know to do any of these things it is sin. Call it what it is. It is not a little mistake!

Verse 32 – who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

If there is any confusion, re-read these verses. They are all offences worthy of death. And not only that, but those who approve of them that do these things.

I’m only going to mention a few, which are the most prominent in our society today, where people will set up marches in the streets to promote. The first one that comes to mind is “Abortion!” This falls under “Murder!” Women take to the streets and shout that it is a woman’s right to kill her unborn child. Whether they have actually done it or not, if they stand in agreement with those who have and have not repented, Scripture says you are guilty.

The next one that comes to mind is the parades of homosexuals. Those who pass legislative for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman will not be held guiltless! We either believe the Bible entirely or we don’t. We do not pick and choose which parts we agree with!

 

 

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 28

Paul’s Witness on Malta

Verse 1 – Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta.

Verse 2 – And the natives showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.

Verse 3 – But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

Verse 4 – So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow him to live.

Notice that the Scripture says, “Hanging from his hand.” It doesn’t say it bit him and held on. The snake didn’t bite him. But for a venomous snake to not bite when threatened is a miracle all by itself.

Verse 5 – But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.

Verse 6 – However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

These natives were very superstitious and believed in many gods. They had watched Paul for a while to see if he was going to be swollen or die. When they saw that the viper hadn’t even bitten him or it bit him and he wasn’t affected, they presumed he must be one of the gods.

Verse 7 – Now in that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days.

Verse 8 – And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.

Publius’ father may have suffered from drinking impure goat’s mile.

Verse 9 – So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.

What can we understand from pagan idolaters’ being healed? Do you have to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, to be healed? These people on this island had been kind to Paul and all who were with him. When God healed these people through Paul, it opened the door for the Gospel of God’s kingdom. Sometimes we have to meet others physical needs and then they are more apt to listen to what we have to say about Christ.

Verse 10 – They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.

Verse 11 – After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island.

Verse 12 – And landing at Syracuse, we stayed there three days.

Syracuse was the capital of the island of Sicily, on the eastern coast. It was a direct course from Malta to Rome.

Verse 13 – From there we circled round and reached Phegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli,

Puteoli was a major port in southern Italy. It was a shipping harbor for transporting grain from Egypt to Rome.

Verse 14 – where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.

Verse 15 – And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appi Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

Paul had written his letter to the Romans before he arrived in Appi, so there were Christians there. Appi was about 56 miles from Rome.

Verse 16 – Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

Verse 17 – And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to hem: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,

Verse “who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.

Verse 19 – “But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation.

Verse 20 – “For this reason therefore I have called for you to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

It kind of sounds like Paul was constantly chained to this one soldier, literally.

Verse 21 – And they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you.

These Jews knew nothing of the accusations against Paul. After all, Paul had been acquitted successively by Lysias, Felix Festus, and Agrippa, so perhaps they thought it useless to pursue it any further.

Verse 22 – “But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”

Verse 23 – So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.

Verse 24 – And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.

The Book of Roman’s written ten years earlier, reveals the ongoing dialogue that Paul had with the Jews in Rome.

Verse 25 – So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,

Verse 26 – “saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive;

Verse 27 – for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and return, so that I should heal them.”

Paul is literally telling those who did not believe, that the Jews would reject the coming Messiah, and they had, even though it was foretold by the prophets.

Verse 28 – “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”

verse 29 – And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.

Verse 30 – Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,

Verse 31 – preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

The Book of Acts, ends abruptly. Paul wrote letters at this time to the Ephesians, Colossians, and to the Philippians. He also wrote letters, such as the one to Philemon. Historians say, he was released and then arrested again and while in prison was beheaded, but what a testimony and a man of God he was while he lived!!

 

Acts – Chapter 27

Paul’s Witness During the Shipwreck

Verse 1 – And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.

By the word “we,” it shows that Luke is also going to Italy with Paul. They were accompanied by other prisoners and about 100 soldiers.

Verse 2 – So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.

Verse 3 – And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care.

Sidon was about 67 miles north of Caesarea. Julius was the centurion who showed Paul respect and allowed him to see his friends.

Verse 4 – When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. (They sailed close to land because of the wind.)

Verse 5 – And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

Verse 6 – There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.

Verse 7 – And when we sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone.

Verse 8 – Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Verse 9 – Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,

Verse 10 – saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”

Verse 11 – Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than the things spoken by Paul.

Verse 12 – And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phonenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

Even though Paul warned them that this was not the best time to set sail, the pilot and the owner of the ship didn’t want to spend the winter in Lasea.

Verse 13 – When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, putting out to sea, they sailed by Crete.

Verse 14 – But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.

This wind was like a hurricane. The name Euroclydon is from two Greek words – euros, “wind,” and “a wave.”

Verse 15 – So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.

The helmsmen couldn’t direct the ship so he let it just go with the wind.

Verse 16 – And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty.

This is a small island 20 miles southwest of Crete, where they hugged land, hoping the island would break the wind. The skiff was a small boat attached to the ship they were trying to save.

Verse 17 – When they had taken it on board, they used cables to under-grid the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.

The measures they took to survive included passing ropes under the ship to hold it together. Syrtis was on the northern coast of Africa.

Verse 18 – And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.

Verse 19 – On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands.

Verse 20 – Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

Verse 21 – But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.

Verse 22 – “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.

Paul had warned them not to set sail. So would they believe him now when he told them no one would lose their life? How many affirmations do you need to prove God’s word is true? Did not God tell Paul he would go to Rome?

Verse 23 – “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God, to whom I belong and whom I serve,

Verse 24 – “saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought to Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’

The lives of the wicked are often spared because God intercedes to save the righteous.

Verse 25 – “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.

Verse 26 – “However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

Verse 27 – But when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land.

Verse 28 – And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms and when they had gone a little further, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms.

Soundings were made by throwing a weighted marked line into the water. When the lead hit the bottom, sailors could tell the depth of the water from the marks on the rope.

Verse 29 – Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

Verse 30 – And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow,

Verse 31 – Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”

Some of the sailors were going to get in the skiff and try to get to shore, but Paul told the centurion, unless he prevented them from doing this, lives would be lost. Why, because the soldiers knew nothing about keeping the ship from wrecking or sailing and they needed the sailors.

Verse 32 – Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of he skiff and let it fall off.

Now the sailors wouldn’t take off. The centurion is finally listening to Paul.

Verse 33 – And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing.

Verse 34 – “Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.”

Verse 35 – And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat.

Even this storm couldn’t make Paul forget that God was still in charge. By giving thanks in front of these non-Christians, he more or less was telling them, “God’s mercy has allowed us to live!”

Verse 36 – Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.

Verse 37 – And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.

Verse 38 – So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.

Verse 39 – Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible.

Verse 40 – And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.

The only way to make it to shore was to ground the ship, since the skiff was gone.

Verse 41 – But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

With the bow jammed fast in the offshore sandbar, the ships took a beating by the incoming waves.

Verse 42 – Now the soldier’s plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim to shore.

This is proof that people can still be cruel while experiencing the tender mercy of God.

Verse 43 – But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and set to land,

Verse 44 – and the rest, some on boards and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped to land.

Here’s where faith has to take action: Are we going to believe God’s promises, or are we going to let our circumstances dictate our response? Our actions have to line up with what God says, not what we see happening all around us. The others thought that the storm was going to take their lives, but Paul believed what God said about him standing before Caesar and acted accordingly. Shouldn’t we?

 

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 26

Verse 1 – Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:

Verse 2 – “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews,

Verse 3 – “especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

Paul flattered the king by telling him it was a privilege to stand before such an expert in Jewish customs. It’s always better to start with what you agree with on with the other person, before witnessing to them. People seem to perk up when kind words are spoken first.

Verse 4 – “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.

Paul was born in Tarsus; but was sent to Jerusalem at an early age, for his education.

Verse 5 – “They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Verse 6 – “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.

Paul is referring to what was written concerning the coming Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.

Verse 7 – “To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hopes’ sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

Verse 8 – “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

Paul was not only addressing King Agrippa, but Festus and those who stood in that great hall. This question could also be asked of us: Why should we regard it absurd that God, who has all power, who is the creator of all, is the author of humans, should again restore man to life for an eternal existence?

Verse 9 – Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Paul thought it had been his duty to oppose the claims of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.

Verse 10 – “This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority form the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

These chief priests read the Scripture in the synagogues, time after time. How could they not know the coming of the Messiah – Jesus. It was as plain as day, even down to whom would come preach before Him – John the Baptist.

Now for today: How often do you hear a message on the Second Coming of Christ, which is clear as day all throughout the Bible? Even with all the historical evidence, some choose not to believe.

Verse 11 – “And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Verse 12 – “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from chief priests,

Verse 13 – “at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shinning around me and those who journeyed with me.

Verse 14 – “And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

Verse 15 – “So I said, “Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Verse 16 – ‘But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

Verse 17 – ‘I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,

Verse 18 – ‘to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

This reminded Paul’s audience that the Gentiles have an equal share in God’s inheritance. This inheritance is the promise and blessing of the covenant God made with Abraham.

Verse 19 – “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

Verse 20 – “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

Verse 21 – “For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.

Verse 22 – “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come –

Verse 23 – “that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

Jesus rose to return to death no more! And He thus secured an ascendancy over death and the grave, and by the way of eminence, first among those raised from the dead.

Verse 24 – Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

Isn’t that what those which don’t believe say about those of us who do?

Verse 25 – But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.

Verse 26 – “For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.

Verse 27 – “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

King Agrippa was also a Jew and believed in the prophets. Paul loss no opportunity on pressing the truth on every class of people.

Verse 28 – Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuaded me to become a Christian.”

So many come so close, but don’t follow through. How sad. This king could have had a huge influence on those around him.

Verse 29 – And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and together such as I am, except for these chains.”

We as Christians, should have such a strong desire to see others come to Christ, that it overrides our own circumstances and desires!

Verse 30 – When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them;

Verse 31 – and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing worthy of death or chains.”

Verse 32 – Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

But Paul had to appeal to Caesar or they would have just continued to hold him without ever  convicting him. And one other thing; God wanted Paul to go to Rome. So now Paul would have to be discharged by Caesar himself!

 

Acts – Chapter 25

Paul Is Tried Before Festus

Verse 1 – Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

Felix is out and Festus takes his place. Festus goes down to Jerusalem to make himself acquainted with the affairs of the nation.

Verse 2 – Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,

Verse 3 – asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem – while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him.

Verse 4 – But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly.

Verse 5 – “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.”

Verse 6 – And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought.

Paul has been kept for more than two years. He went through one trial with Felix and his accusers, and now it is going to start all over with Festus.

Verse 7 – When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove,

Verse 8 – while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”

Verse 9 – But Festus, waiting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things.?”

Verse 10 – Then Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know.

Verse 11 – “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

These accusing Jews kept forgetting that Paul was a Roman citizen and would be treated as such. Paul knew after being tried by Felix and Festus, and finding he had done no wrong, that it would be impossible to get justice with the Jews in Jerusalem. And it was Paul’s right, as a Roman citizen, to appeal to Caesar.

Verse 12 – Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”

Verse 13 – And after some days king Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus.

Verse 14 – When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix,

Verse 15 – “about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him.

Verse 16 – “To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’

Verse 17 – “Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in.

Verse 18 – “When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed,

Verse 19 – “but had some questions against him about their own religion and about one, Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

Verse 20 – “And because I was certain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.

Verse 21 – “But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.”

Verse 22 – Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” Tomorrow,” he said, “You shall hear him.”

Paul Is Tried Before Agrippa

Verse 23 – So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.

King Agrippa, accompanied with his sister Bernice, all the people of influence, civil officers, and military officers, were all gathered in the place where judges sat and trials were conducted.

Verse 24 – And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer.

Verse 25 – “But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus (Caesar), I decided to send him.

Verse 26 – “I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write.

Festus couldn’t just send Paul to Caesar without a letter of why he was sending him. He had to have some kind of formal charges that would explain why Festus, himself, wasn’t able to handle it. So perhaps after hearing Paul, himself, the king could think of something for which Festus could charge Paul with.

Verse 27 – “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”