Bringing Tongues Of Fire From The Sparks Of Faith…
ACTS 1 – PART 2
By Rev. G. E. Newmyer
ACTS – CHAPTER 9:
1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
From the death of Stephen to the opening in Samaria, to the eunuch, now it was time for a man called before he was born to enter his conversion, opening the way for the “uttermost parts of the world”. If anyone knew about predestination, it was Paul (Rom 8:2939). This Christian killer who went about doing all he could to destroy the Christian faith is faced with the Protector of the Body, Jesus Christ. Did Paul know he was called? Not until he received the calling. Did Paul understand his calling? Not until he was trained by the Holy Ghost in the calling. Predestination doesn’t mean we know, it means God has a plan for us, God knows, God calls, God trains, but it also shows God doesn’t make our choice. Jesus takes the attacks against the Body and Church personal, thus an attack against the Body, or Church is an attack against Jesus, even if the attack comes from within the Body.
Saul’s (Paul’s) conversion is a prime example of Jesus moving in to protect the Body. However, it also confirms the verses in Mark 16, here a serpent is being lifted from darkness to light. Saul was a Jew, a man of authority, but a man confused about the authority over him. What Saul did, he did in ignorance; however, there are some who know what they are doing, but do it anyway. There is a vast difference, Saul was a Jew, but Paul was a Christian. It would be much different if Paul the Christian allowed the stoning of Stephen. Under the circumstances Saul (Paul) made a wise decision. Jesus knew Paul (Saul) would repent, but Paul didn’t until he came face to face with the Glory. The scales of his Pharisaical attitude came to the surface, he became a living example of the Book of James. Jesus didn’t put the evil in Saul’s heart, but He did expose it. No one can tempt God to do evil, thus God will never tempt us to do evil, but the Spirit will expose the lust in our hearts to save us from using evil. If we say we have no sin, we are liars, yet in the same confession we know if we are Born Again we can’t commit sin, since in order to commit sin one must enjoy the doing of sin. The Seed of God will convict us, at the moment we know what we’ve done, then we repent. Those who continue in “sin” love the feeling they get from slanderous speaking, or they love the feeling of pride, or enjoy the feeling of religious conceit. Those who make mistakes, hate those feelings, thus they have not “committed sin”, they made a mistake of ignorance. The Spirit is in the process of cleaning the stains of unrighteousness from us by the Blood of Jesus, there are times when the stain will appear as sin, but the forgiveness of our sins has removed the power and authority of sin from us, thus sin can no longer deceive us. When we say we have no sin, we are deceived, since we are still in the flesh, but it doesn’t mean sin must rule, or deceive us; neither does it mean the flesh has power over us. At the same time we know Greater is He in us, thus our sinless condition is based on the Greater He, not “the me”.
This experience of Paul isn’t strange, all of us have come face to face with the Glory of the Lord when we saw ourselves, as we were seen. In this case the men with Saul heard a sound, but saw no one. Later this becomes very important when Paul is faced with the accusing Jews in Jerusalem. Saul heard the voice, he knew it was directed at him; he also knew he had to make a decision. We don’t read where the man said, “Lord, forgive me”, but when Paul said, “what would you have me do?”, it was an act of submission as he gave himself into the service of the Lord. To the Jew it was an act of repentance, thus repentance must include our vow to enter the service of the Lord. Simon Magus wanted the Lord to enter his service, much different.
As Jesus was three days and three nights in the earth, Saul would spend three days looking into his old earthly heart, but he was unable to see with his physical eyes. Saul did make it to Damascus, but the purpose and result changed. Saul’s story is an incentive, if God picked this one man to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, surely God can use us.
Ananias was a disciple, not an Apostle. At first Ananias was reluctant, after all this same Saul was doing much evil against those of the Body and Church. Ananias then heard the Lord say, “Go your way”, then Ananias obeyed. Ananias only needed to hear “chosen vessel”, whatever Saul did prior didn’t matter, what mattered was the purpose of the Lord. The Lord didn’t show Saul the calling at first, the baptism had to take place before the man would know his calling. Paul asked, “what would you have me do?”, the Lord told him to do wait. Paul was faithful in this little matter, becoming ruler over much. Later Paul will tell us what the calling entailed, but for here we find a man who came against all Jesus stood for thinking he was doing God a service, found he was not, in a split second his entire life changed. Did the Lord know it? Yes, did Paul? Not until his time. Not only did Ananias water baptize Saul, but he laid hands on him saying, “be filled with the Holy Ghost” (v. 9:17). This dispels any notion of only an Apostle able to present someone to be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Prior we found Philip had the ability, but here Ananias laid hands on Saul for presentation. Neither Philip or Ananias were Apostles, we are told Ananias was a “certain disciple” (v. 10). If Paul received the Holy Ghost, what else did he receive? The Seed, Paul was removed from the power of the world, by having the precious Gift of God, the Holy Spirit by the Holy Ghost. However, we also see it was after the Spirit came then Saul was water baptized (v. 9:17-18). The order isn’t important, entering the entire Doctrine of Baptisms to complete the One Baptism is.
As wise as Saul was in the Scriptures he still needed the Logos and Rhema to interpret the Bible for him. The man Saul was very intellectual, he studied under some of the most renown Jews of the time, yet he really didn’t understand the mysteries of the Bible. Paul is an example of one who is intellectual, but not able to see the mysteries until he obtained the Spirit; after he obtained the Spirit he considered his past intellectual endeavors trash. Some of us assume someone must be intellectual to understand the Bible, not so, one must have the Spirit. Of course one must also allow the Spirit to remove imaginations and strongholds, or the mysteries will end as fables. There are those who do gain a revelation of the Scriptures, there are others who make them up. Paul didn’t make up his revelations, they came to him through the interpretation by the Holy Ghost. Paul didn’t change Scripture to fit his thinking, he didn’t come up with “another translation”, yet his training wasn’t over night. He knew the letters of the Scriptures, but he didn’t know why they were written. However, Paul had to be trained, as do we.
Paul went to the same synagogues where he preached against Jesus, only now he is preaching Jesus as the Son of God. He had to face all those people he once taught to hate the Way, this isn’t a formula, it’s merely the method the Lord used to begin Paul’s training. One thing is very clear in this lesson, we are looking at the Acts of the Apostles, not their Ways, thus the Lord uses several methods to train His own. Paul would face the same stubborn religious conceit he held prior to his conversion. Even after Paul was delivered from religious conceit, the real test would come when he faced it in others. As he moved through the various tests, his Strength in the Lord increased as his faith grew. His training may not have looked good to the naked eye, but it was Very Good. What good could come from this type of experience? Much, we apply more longsuffering knowing “we’ve been there, and done that”.
Just as Saul set out to kill the Christians, the Jews are now setting out to kill him. Saul is gaining a lesson no school could provide, he is facing his past attitude of religious conceit. The best lessons are the lessons of experience, the word Understanding means By experience, thus knowledge without the Experience is void of Understanding. In the face of danger God has many avenues of escape, in this case Saul was lowered in a basket from window. He then went to Jerusalem, but was rejected an audience. Barnabas then took him before the Apostles, wait if the Apostles were so Spirit filled, how is it they failed to see Saul was Spirit filled? Verse 26 tells us the Apostles were “afraid” of Saul, thus fear removed them from hearing the Lord. Their fear also blinded them to the point where they couldn’t see the Spirit of the Lord was among them. Don’t forget Peter was there, he was the one who saw the hearts of many by the Spirit, thus we find if we allow the past of someone to bring us fear, we won’t see who they really are. This shows the man Saul had a reputation, one making even the saint consider, Could God turn this person around?; however, the evidence shows God did. This is a real hope for us, when we come face to face with a hard hearted person who tosses slander around like mud, we have to keep in mind, this is still the Day, even the most hard hearted can be turned around. They could be a “jerk” today, but a “brother” tomorrow.
The Acts continue to show us these people were people, not gods of stone. The only one who never makes a mistake, is the one who does nothing. These same Apostles who received Great Power and Great Grace allowed fear to enter, causing their faith to be subdued. Yet, God provides the voice of faith, when they heard Barnabas speak of the change, they knew God can change anyone, even a Christian killer. All this encourages us, some of us make giant mistakes, some of us use fear, more than we do faith, yet God hasn’t left us, He hasn’t forsaken us. He is still working with us, He still has a plan for us. We tend to make one mistake, then either beat ourselves half to death, or allow others to. Repentance still brings us back, when we pray our prayer of faith, we know the Lord is faithful to forgive us. “Well, don’t you think the person should do something to make up for their mistake?”. Wouldn’t it be self-righteousness? Yet, self-righteousness negates the Righteousness of Jesus. We don’t earn God’s Love, we receive it. We don’t earn God’s forgiveness, we receive it. On the same note, we don’t continue to walk around the same tree, causing us to repent for the same mistake day after day. The purpose was to stop us from doing the same thing again and again. Therefore, it’s not a matter of doing something to make up for the wrong, but a matter of submitting to the Spirit to keep from continually doing the same wrong.
After being received by the Apostles, Saul was able to speak boldly “in the Name of the Lord Jesus”. The Name of Jesus has more than Power, to Believe in the Name, goes much further than believing in the Power. The Name of Jesus stands for Mercy, Grace, Love, Light and the Faith of Jesus. The Name will work regardless if it’s used by a good fish or bad, as Matthew 7:21-23 points out, but it’s only beneficial when we couple the Ways with the Acts. One can use the Name to do many things, yet preach based in their envy and strife, placing people in bondage, yet another can preach from Love bringing the people to a place of freedom and liberty.
In his letter to the Galatians Paul (Saul) tells us how he received the Gospel by the Revelation of Jesus Christ, but it doesn’t mean he received the wording of the Gospel, rather it means he received the intent and purpose of the Gospel for the Gentiles when Jesus was revealed to him by the Spirit (Gal 1:12). Saul was Taught the Gospel by the Spirit in him, as he experienced the Mercy and Grace of the Gospel in his own life. Then he went to Jerusalem after three years, one year for each day he sat in the blindness. After speaking with James, the half-brother of Jesus, who is also the writer of the Book of James, Saul gained boldness. Then he went about preaching for fourteen years then he came back to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus (Gal 1:18-2:1). In this section of Acts Barnabas took Saul to the Apostles, but Titus wasn’t with them, thus the fourteen years is after this first meeting with the Apostles.
The churches all gained, they were edified, they walked in the fear of the Lord, in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, as they multiplied. The “fear of the Lord” includes three things, it’s a total respect for the Name of Jesus, it’s a fear of knowing God must bring Judgment, thus it’s not a fear of what God can do, it’s a fear of knowing what we can do, lastly it’s knowing God is always God, allowing us to know who we are without Him. Verse 31 is the sound of the door opening to the Gentiles, the churches throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria were edified, the Holy Ghost had expanded to reach the first half of the call in Acts 1:8, the next step would be “the uttermost part of the earth”.
From Saul’s experience with the Lord to Peter’s experience. This will show the Fear of the Lord is not a Red light, but a caution, or an awareness to enter the Lord’s will to bring about results beyond the ability of natural man. The “fear of the Lord” also entails using the Name of Jesus as intended, as was the case when Peter saw a man sick with the palsy for eight years. Peter didn’t ask the man what sin he committed, he didn’t tell the man to repent, although the healing will bring repentance, he simply used the Name of Jesus as intended, the results proved the effectiveness of the Name, thus the purpose was to show those outside the kingdom the Power of Christ. Here we will find Tabitha is dead, what would we ask her? Did she sin, she isn’t saying. Did she do something terrible, she isn’t saying. What to do? The sign followed Peter, he didn’t follow the sign, but the people saw the sign and believed, thus signs are given to bring the unbelieving into a position of believing. Those who reject the signs are not believers or unbelievers looking to believe, they are unbelievers looking for excuses to remain unbelievers. Tabitha was full of good works, but she didn’t have the Holy Ghost, but her works of Mercy did speak for her. Tabitha is a type and shadow of one in Jesus, but lacking Christ, as those who sleep in Jesus. Before Peter raised her from the dead, he prayed to determine the will of the Lord. Raising the dead is not a matter to be taken lightly, it takes prayer to know when, who and how. This same Peter didn’t raise Ananias or Sapphira, rather he watched them die. Clearly two different events, each marked by works, with Ananias and Sapphira it was evil works, with Tabitha it was her good works. Again the sign brought people to a position to believe, indicating the purpose of signs. Peter tarried Many Days in Joppa in the house of Simon a tanner, the purpose would soon be revealed to Peter.
ACTS – CHAPTER 10
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,
18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.
33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Until this time no Gentile had received the Spirit, the eunuch was water baptized, but the Scriptures do not say he received the Spirit (v. 8:37-39). This would turn the handle on the Door for the Gentiles, yet Peter would not be picked to bring the Gospel to the nations of the Gentiles. This doesn’t mean Philip wasn’t able to lay hands on the eunuch, rather it confirms the concept of baptizing anyone in water takes their confession of belief, as far as being baptized with the Holy Ghost it was not time, until Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius. Peter knew Jesus was sent to the Jews, he also knew the disciples had to maintain the Law in order to witness to the Jews, this didn’t mean they did the Law to impress God, or gain favor from the Law, rather it was a means to gain entry into the Jewish community. However, Peter would hear something going against his religious background, he would either have to yield, or fight the Lord. The perfect plan of the Lord is always perfect. One planted, another watered, but God brings the increase. There will be many Three’s in this experience, all of which would remind Peter of the three questions in John 21:15-19. Prior Jesus didn’t say, “feed the Jews”; rather He said, “Feed My sheep”, going further than the Jews. Peter would be told what to do, he would tell Cornelius about the vision, then he would tell the other disciples after the fact, all adding to the various Three’s. The vision would come three times, there would be three men seeking Peter. Cornelius didn’t pay Tithe or Tithes, he gave alms to the people, and prayed, thus he knew of God. Much to the surprise of the Jew, this gentile not only prayed, but God heard him, if not the Lord would not have told Peter about the alms and prayers. Nonetheless we find Cornelius will not hear from the Lord, but from an angel. The prayers and alms of Cornelius were a Memorial, the word Memorial means something in the position of the person telling us something about the person.
After the vision Cornelius called for two of his servants and a soldier, thus included in his house was some of the military company. Cornelius was a man of authority, yet a man under authority, he knew if the angel told him to do something, he had to do it. The only promise he had was a person from God would come and tell Cornelius and his house about the Lord; seemingly it was all Peter was told to do as well.
The next day after the angel told Cornelius what to do, Peter had his vision. The “great sheet” is like unto a table clothe with all manner of beast given for Peter to eat. The Church at this time was still Jewish, although they were not under the Law, they still preached to those who were. Regardless of the product, What God has cleansed, we don’t call common; the word Common means Worldly. Our senses are natural in nature, until we reach full age where our senses are exercised in spiritual matters (Heb 5:14). Common Sense is the use of the natural mind to determine events by worldly reasonings, or the being guided by the five senses. If God is calling our souls clean, we don’t use common sense, we don’t trust in anything still common, rather we respond by the Spirit. Peter gives us an aspect of Theocratic Government; for review, a republic is where we elect people to speak for us, a democracy is where we speak for ourselves, a dictatorship is where one person runs the country as they desire. A Theocratic form of government is when God speaks, we obey. In another lesson we will cover Theocratic rule in detail, but for some reason we think “voting” is Theocratic, it’s not, it’s a “republic”.
Peter didn’t run to the other disciples to determine if this was okay for him to leave, neither did he have to get a “witness” to determine if it was God. Here God was telling him something appearing to go against the teachings God gave his forefathers, yet he knew it was God. Peter knew the Lord, he knew it was time to move from the “words once spoken” to the “proceeding Word of God”. This one move to reach out to the Gentile in the home of a Gentile would be the biggest change since God said, “Light Be”. Jesus came for the Jews, He was crowned the King of the Jews. Was Peter about to break all traditions? How did Peter know this was the Lord? How did Peter know it wasn’t the devil tempting him? Peter was facing his Abraham faith experience, the command went beyond the norm, beyond what he assumed was the case, yet he knew the voice of his Lord and obeyed.
The four corners of the Sheet represented the entire world, yet to the Jew the Gentile was a Goy, or not of the Promise. Not only was the Sheet representative of the world, but there was all sorts of unclean beasts. To Peter it would seem more of a test, everything unclean was set before him, then the command, “rise, kill and eat”. However, clarity makes all the difference, what God has cleaned, never call common. The example was Paul, God took Saul, cleaned him to become Paul, what God has cleaned. The same is true for us, even for a son of perdition who repents and receives the cleaning of the Water by the Word is no longer Common. Peter did well in obeying, but the Lord knew he would obey before the foundation of the world; however, the test was for Peter. Verse 38 is a key, Cornelius heard, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with Power, who went about doing good”. Then Peter preached the Resurrection, all this still relates to the Sheet, showing how Peter knew the Resurrection entailed the forgiveness and remission of sins. Signs follow those who believe, to Peter this was a quest of giving information. Peter didn’t lay hands on Cornelius, neither did he water baptize him before speaking. When Jesus baptized Cornelius with the Holy Ghost, the sign of the Spirit speaking through Cornelius and the others of his house who were also baptized had to shock Peter, as well as the other Jews with him. Peter was not by himself, there were some in the group with Peter who were of the circumcision, they were also astonished, but they didn’t run in fear, nor did they yell out “it’s the devil”. They knew the difference between the Acts of God, and the works of the devil. Since we haven’t been given the spirit of fear, it stands if we operate in fear, we are not operating in the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of fear has two edges, one is the fear we feel, the other is using fear to dominate people. If we move or react based in fear we are not in the Spirit, if we use the spirit of fear on others we are not of God. The Astonishment went further than the Holy Ghost appearing, rather the Holy Ghost planted the Seed in these Gentiles, God has called them Clean. Could this be a mistake? Could it be the Holy Ghost missed with His aim? No, the call included the Gentile, it was merely the time and timing of God meeting the time of man.
Tongues always magnify God, it’s the interpretation making the difference, not some carnal translation. Water baptism didn’t cease, Peter looked for water after the Holy Ghost came, thus the Doctrine of Baptisms is the teaching of the One Baptism which has parts. Peter saw Jesus accept these people, he knew the importance of accepting them into the Body. Peter didn’t say, “Oh well, got the Spirit hey? No need for water baptism”, rather his concern was just the opposite, it was so necessary he demanded water so they could be baptized in water, in order to accept them into the Body.
God didn’t tell Peter “after you preach, hang around with the boys”, thus Peter is going to have to answer as to why he stayed. What was the harm? The call was still to bring the Jews in, the primary purpose didn’t change from Jew to Gentile at this time. It does later, this experience didn’t mean the Jew was forgotten, rather it shows at this time the primary subject was the Jew, the secondary the Gentile, later the casting of the Net into the Sea will become the primary; the Sand of the Sea the secondary.
This was not an evangelist experience, rather Peter went as an Apostle, his goal was not to bring the Gentiles into the Body, or make members for the local church. He went there to teach and preach, thus adding the aspect of Teacher, which of course added another aspect to the Doma Offices. James would lead the church in Jerusalem, bringing about the Pastoral role, yet we will find the Apostles submitted to James, James to the Apostles, thus a Leader is one given a gift among equals. The misconception of one position being greater than the others leads some into the prideful thinking assuming if they are called to be an Apostle they can dominate others, or they don’t have to listen to anyone else. Not so, the Book of Acts shows how Peter listened to James, as well as Paul submitting to others. Pride takes a Godly appointed position then twists it into an ungodly assumption thinking they can dominate to control, not so, Offices are provided as positions of service.
ACTS – CHAPTER 11
1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,
5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
The test would soon follow. When the brethren heard how Peter spent three days with the Gentiles eating their food, the contention started. Would Peter question what he did? The problem wasn’t the Holy Ghost falling on the Gentiles, but Peter remaining and eating with the Gentiles, it could affect the ministry to the Jews. Did Peter make a mistake? Yes, so will the boys take his papers? Peter wasn’t told by the Lord to spend the extra days, thus he produced his own trouble, yet it involved three days, one for each part of the vision. It wasn’t a violation of the Law of Moses, rather it was the effect on the witness to the Jews. The Gospel to the Gentiles had yet to take effect, the Gospel to the Jews was still in effect, yet the Everlasting Gospel is appointed for the Night. This shows three Gospels, two centered in the Gospel of Peace, the Everlasting Gospel is purposed for the Night. Paul will later show us how the Jew came out of the Law of Moses by faith, but the Gentile came around the Law of Moses by faith, thus it wasn’t two different Gospels of Peace, but one for the Jew, one for the Gentile, but both centered in faith.
Peter “rehearsed” the matter, this doesn’t mean he ran the events over in his mind, rather it means he started from the beginning of the story without leaving out any detail as he told the events to the leadership. When Peter saw the Holy Ghost fall on the Gentiles, he remembered, “John indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost”. This defines the experience for us, it was the baptism with the Holy Ghost, it was Peter who baptized them in water. The phrase didn’t restrict the experience to the Jew alone, thus when Peter saw the Holy Ghost plant the Seed, he knew it was God. By recalling the baptism of John, Peter also brought to mind how the Holy Ghost planted the Seed in the Gentiles. Peter makes it a point, he didn’t lay hands on these Gentiles, the Holy Ghost accepted them, granting them the Gift, who was Peter to contend with God?
When the brethren heard it connected to the Holy Ghost, they glorified God. Theocratic government is not a form of government giving us control, it gives God control. Peter never went to the brethren to gain permission to speak to Cornelius, he didn’t send for confirmation, he did tell all of the experience, which convinced the brethren God was involved; God was fully able to take care of His own. Why change so quickly? When they heard Jesus by the Holy Ghost baptized Cornelius, who were they to deny the man entry into the Body? If Jesus accepted the man, surely they had to. This is the complete opposite of Simon of Samaria: Jude helps us in this matter; as he says we save (Sozo) people from the world by pulling them, a metaphor (of course), relating to us in the Body bringing others into the Body (Jude 22-23). On some we have compassion making a difference, which would correlate to Cornelius. On others save (Sozo) with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh, correlating to Simon of Samaria.
Another lesson in this experience is how a man, even a devout man can slip. Cornelius was told to Listen to what Peter had to say, but as soon as Peter entered the house, Cornelius worshiped Peter (vs. 22 & 25). Peter immediately stopped it, bringing the focus back to the Lord. A step of order, thus Cornelius was no longer looking at Peter as Lord, but was listening to what he had to say. Worship of the people of God, regardless of who they are is still idol worship. If Peter was a false apostle, then he would have allowed the worship, the false may even encourage it. The false seek self-glory, the evidence of their folly is when they seek the praise of men. Peter did not, his mistake was not to do wrong, he wanted to remain with those who received the Spirit. In truth it would seem correct, he taught, watered baptized, then taught the more. The problem, if any was in appearance, yet the rest of the Apostles had no idea the Lord baptized a Gentile.
Peter also gives us a theological doctrinal tenet, in verse 16 Peter defined what happened as “the baptism with the Holy Ghost”, thus the experience is defined for us. So to find what the “beginning” entails Peter refers back to the experience of Cornelius. As Peter was talking the Gift of the Holy Ghost came, they spoke in other tongues and magnified God, the very same thing happened on Pentecost. Therefore, the baptism with the Holy Ghost is when we receive the Gift of Grace, the Seed (Word) of God, the Spirit, the Greater He who saves our souls. This clears us many issues, the Ingress Aires was not the baptism, since the signs were not there, but it did grant them the ability to remit the sins done onto them, it also granted them permission to receive the Holy Ghost when the Holy Ghost came on Pentecost. The requirement? “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 11:17).
The story changes to the scattering, but we find those who left still preached only to the Jews. Others from Gentile areas then preached to the Grecians, thus the Door was beginning to Open. God confirms in many ways, but its still God who confirms, man only affirms. Barnabas was sent to encourage and exhort those who were preaching to Jew and Gentile. It was now time for Saul to enter the scene again, thus Saul (Paul) didn’t become an Apostle immediately, he had his wilderness experience, his cave time, as well as his training to endure. We can hear “you’re called to be….”, then assume the word Called means Confirmed. We jump over the training attempting to be sent, yet the Training must take place. There are two types of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers and Pastors, they are either Good or false, it depends on how they receive the training.
The Holy Ghost still tells us things to come, He told of a great dearth throughout the world. The first cause of action was always the Body. We are told the prophet’s name is Agabus, a name we will see two more times. Here the prophecy is received and acted upon, later we will see the same prophet will give a prophecy, yet it won’t be acted upon, thus we find the prophecy must be received and acted upon for us to gain from it. Many times the prophecy, or word comes showing God will begin to train us into the prophecy, or word, rather than thinking it has come to pass. God is telling us where the training is taking us, our position is to join with God to see it come to pass. This prophecy is a warning of something yet to come, it was time to prepare, the dearth would happen, thus it’s directional, it is not delivering doctrine, but still a role of a Prophet in the Office. Why didn’t they enter spiritual warfare and come against the dearth? It would be coming against God, the prophecy said it would happen. The dearth would seem to be something evil, it doesn’t say God would bring it, the prophecy merely says it will come. The warning is the point, God did give them a route of escape, He didn’t give them permission to stop it.
The disciples didn’t send food and money to Claudius Caesar, they gave to the brethren in Judea. At this time we find Barnabas and Saul were Elders, but they are not yet ordained as Apostles.
ACTS – CHAPTER 12
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.
19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.
21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
The food and blessing came to Judea, but so did the test. This test would be great, one which tested the faith of the disciples to determine if their faith was 100 percent in God, or partly in God. James the brother of John was beheaded, this is not the same James who wrote the Book of James. The James who wrote the Book of James is also known as James the less, or James the half-brother of Jesus. This event was different from the death of Stephen, here is one of the “three” of the Apostles who was termed the inner core. This man was with Jesus, sat at the table, he was among the three who were allowed to be trained of Jesus, yet a Jew appointed by the civil authorities killed him. Herod was a Jew seeking to be honored among the Romans, thus he was a man pleaser. Herod was responsible to God, based on his Jewish roots, he was called, as were all Jews, he was placed in authority by God, thus he rejected the responsibility of the calling, he will face the consequences. God places people in positions to punish the evil, yet if the person is evil, they produce the proof of their evil agenda, sealing their course, as did Pharaoh, now Herod, this is not the Herod who killed his wife, but the son of Herod who is attempting to make a name for himself among the Romans.
The “days of unleavened bread” would be Passover, connected to the feast of Unleavened Bread. Peter had another sign, he was ready to die for Jesus this time, much different from the Passover many years prior when he denied the Lord three times. Others prayed for Peter, the combination of Peter’s courage in the Holy Ghost and the prayers, are examples of true spiritual warfare. Cursing the darkness is not spiritual warfare, it’s fear warfare. We are the Light, we dispel darkness, we don’t run into the darkness to determine how dark it is, we bring the Light to dissipate the darkness. Love, Grace, Faith, Mercy and the Power of His Christ are weapons no amount of darkness can fight against.
Peter’s faith was like unto the faith of the three Hebrew children. “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us” (Dan 3:17); “If not, be it known unto you, O king, we will not serve your gods” (Dan 3:18). Peter didn’t know if he would be delivered, or not, nonetheless he was ready to be delivered, or die for the Lord. When Peter least expected it, the angel of the Lord came; when the brethren least expected it Peter came knocking at their door. The house of “Mary the mother of John” is the same house the disciples were in on the Day of Pentecost.
The James noted in verse 17 is James the half-brother of Jesus who was now the pastor (leader) of the church at Jerusalem. Herod’s plan went amiss, the people who followed him were also man pleasers, everything still produces after its own kind. As soon as Herod the Jew thought he was a god, his life was ended as “the Lord smote him”. Coming against the anointed of God is still a very dangerous move on anyone’s part, even if the one being antichrist is called a king. While Herod was laying dead on the floor, the worms began to eat him. The worms didn’t enter until death came, the man made his own death bed, God merely removed any and all protection, since Herod took it upon himself to inflict pain on the Body of Christ, his consequences came to him in the form of maggots.
The ministry of Barnabas, Saul and Mark begins after Herod is dead. The continual movement from victory to test, from test to victory is the story of the Book of Acts. We also find a change in names, Paul from Saul, and Mark from John, giving us a type and shadow of how Jesus changes people. This in no way means when we come to the Lord we change our name, rather it shows the change of Authority into the Name of Jesus. These people were not using their faith to jump from mountain top, to mountain top. They had faith in the valleys, faith on the mountain tops, faith on the way up the mountain and faith down the mountain to the valley. If we walk by faith, then each step demands faith.
ACTS – CHAPTER 13
1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.
10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
23 Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.
28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
30 But God raised him from the dead:
31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
The calling of Barnabas and Saul didn’t come in Jerusalem, this is another aspect of the faith of the men of God. Until this time the place where the Apostles had been residence in Jerusalem, yet here Saul and Barnabas are in Antioch, a Gentile city. Unlike the events prior to Pentecost, there is no casting of lots, the Holy Ghost Said, they knew it. We also find the grouping of prophets, thus the wording came from one of the prophets, it was up to the men to receive, or reject the calling. This would be several years after Saul’s (Paul’s) experience on the road to Damascus; he was called, had his training in the wilderness, found his calling in the cave, then was called as the Apostle unto the Gentiles. Paul’s heart was toward the Jews, but God called him to the Gentiles, thus we don’t pick our calling, we receive it. Did Jesus know how Paul would long for the Jews? Yes, but He also knew how the Jews viewed Paul as a rebel, thus the Jews wouldn’t receive Paul or his words, which became evident. Paul was granted the authority to go out and preach, he now has the office to bring Commandment, and to establish bodies where there were none. This is a change from appointed by leadership, to receiving the gift of leadership. This is still the Holy Ghost doing the appointment, not men. This area defines the differences between the Holy Ghost appointing to the Offices of the Lord, and leadership appointing to helps.
This is very important, if Paul was out there doing all this preaching, yet he wasn’t called until now, what was he doing? This is a perfect example of “how shall they go, lest they be sent”. Today we want someone to lay hands on us and say, “so saith the Lord, you will do great things for Me, you will preach and not be afraid, and go where no man has gone before”; however, when Paul had hands laid on him it was based on the Lord telling Ananias, “I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (v. 9:16).
For some it would have been a “no thank you”, but for Paul it was “where shall I go?”. Right after Ananias laid hands on Paul, Paul received the Holy Ghost, thus the “doctrine of laying on of hands” was known to Paul before this calling, thus he submitted to it here. Ananias was a “disciple” (v. 9:10); we’re all disciples, so does it tell us anything? Yes, we listen to the Lord, then do as He says. Ananias wasn’t real happy about laying hands on Paul, but he did it anyway. From the laying on of hands to preaching, yet Paul at the time was Saul the disciple, thus he was a disciple in training to become an Apostle.
From all this we found the Apostles were named first, then came the Prophets, then Philip opening the role of the Evangelists, then Peter teaching, then James as the Pastor in Jerusalem. However, the first and only mention of Teachers in the Book of Acts is found here in the grouping of Prophets and Teachers, showing the Teachers were established at this time (v. 13:1). The Doma is completed, the offices are set. It doesn’t matter how many people Jesus puts into them, we find the purpose is showing the Operations are still in full force and effect (I Cor 12:28). Here we find Prophets and Teachers listening to the Holy Ghost confirming the Apostles, all three positions must be in order before the Operations of God become effective in the Gentile Church (I Cor 12:28).
Their purpose was to minister to the Lord, in so doing the Lord ministered to them. The separation was unto the Holy Ghost, not unto theology. The Holy Ghost Called, then Separated, then put into use, yet both men spent several years in training prior to the actual calling. The concept of being called two days after we receive the Lord causes us to produce Ishmaels, rather than Isaac’s. It’s also evident Saul and Barnabas were Apostles, but wait, if there were eleven in the upper room then they made Matthias number twelve, this event would make too many. Wait, I’m sorry, of course James the brother of John was killed by Herod back in Acts 12:12, but it would make thirteen (14 less 1). Wait, even if Matthias was voted in by man, not God, thus if we remove him it ends up being twelve. However, we also know others died off, so who filled their posts? If the Apostle Office was to die off, surely Barnabas wouldn’t be called, or ordained. It’s an Office, not a person, the person fits the office, not the other way around. Each of the twelve positional offices had duties, we know Paul said he was sent to the Gentiles, Peter to the Jews, yet we also know Paul preached to Jews, and Peter to Gentiles. What gives? Don’t they know their own duties? No, the office is the office, the person the person, like Stephen one can preach, but they do the duties of the Office when called for. The word Apostle simply means “sent one”, or “one who is sent”. We honor the people of God, we don’t make idols out of them, or their offices. If the appointment of Matthias was according to the will of the Lord, why didn’t the Holy Ghost say, “Separate unto Me Matthias”? Two reasons, the Lord didn’t approve of the calling, and the Holy Ghost was not yet given. Doing something before the time and timing of God always leaves doubt, thus voting is based on doubt. These verses separate the Helps from the Governments, no human has the authority to appoint anyone to the Offices of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher, confirm the calling by the Holy Ghost yes, appoint no. However, leadership does appoint to helps, and appoints elders. It doesn’t make one less than the other, it means there is an Order established by God.
Instead of determining where they would begin, they heard from the Holy Ghost and obeyed. The test would come shortly, not only for Paul and Barnabas, but for Mark as well. Mark was called to be the minister to Paul and Barnabas, or one who is sent to help, and serve the called of God, whether he would continue or not became his test. The word Minister is the Greek Huperetes meaning a Servant, Subordinate or Attendant, thus this was Mark’s test to learn how to serve. Before a leader can lead, they must learn to serve, this doesn’t mean serve their self-interest, it means serve the leadership, in order to learn how to serve the people. This is the same Mark who gave us Mark’s Account, yet it would appear as if he failed his test (v. 13:13). According to many this would be around 45 AD, Mark’s account was written around 50 AD, some five years later; therefore, it’s not passing or failing, but learning from the test.
Sergius Paulus wanted to hear the Word, but a sorcerer wanted to stand against the Word. Elymas the sorcerer is not an example of a son of perdition, since he was not in the Body, rather he is a symbol of the battle between the called of God who hold to the powers of darkness. Elymas was a Jew in darkness, a sorcerer, but he was not in the kingdom, thus this battle isn’t even close to spiritual warfare, it’s a matter of Light over darkness. We can’t consider casting out devils spiritual warfare, since the disciples cast out devils before the Cross which was before they were spiritual; thus casting out devils comes with the same authority granted us to water baptize.
The blindness of his physical eyes was merely a manifestation of the darkness of the heart of Elymas coming to the surface. When God begins to expose we have three choices with two results. We can receive the exposure by admitting the evil was not something God gave us, rather it was something hidden in our hearts which God is exposing to save us. We can ignore the exposure, then have it become manifest on the outside. We can give the devil credit, then have the exposure become iniquity so obvious, all will know the real secrets of our hearts. The last two are not elements we are looking for, the first is. Elymas had the same opportunity to hear the Word as Paulus, but Elymas made his own decision, suffering the consequences. If there was Light in the heart of Elymas then the result would have been different, but since he was full of darkness, it was darkness coming forth. Also we know Elymas was a Jew, meaning he had the prophets and Scriptures to enlighten him. Although it would appear this event was not Good, it still brought Paulus to the Lord with many others. Mark (John) departed from Paul going back to Jerusalem. Later Paul will refuse to allow Mark to go with him, yet later he will seek Mark, thus the two will be restored.
From the Gentiles (Paulus), to the Jews in the synagogues. Verse 40 points to the Time of Comfort, as the prophets of Old provided more than enough words to warn the Jews of the pending danger of being found in God’s Judgment. Verse 41 points to the prophets, showing the work was beginning, a work their minds were incapable of believing, thus in order to truly believe in the Word, one must make the decision to believe.
Paul had a very hard time with the Jews, but saw great things among the Gentiles. Paul will be our example of a man of God, but nonetheless a man. The request was made by the Jewish religious leaders to hear; Paul took advantage of the opportunity. The first place we find Saul as Paul is in verse 9, then Saul ceases to exist in verse 16. The only other references to Saul will be when Paul talks about the experience on the Road to Damascus (vs. 22:7, 22:13 & 26:14). Experience is still the best teacher, Paul had to find his calling by preaching to the Jews. He was rejected by his own, truly a prophet is without honor in his own country or among his own countrymen. Paul keeps saying “we go to the Gentiles”, but we keep seeing him come back to the Jews. His anointing and calling were specifically for the Gentiles, not the Jews, it would take a hard experience to settle it in his heart. Lesson? Yes, in all this we find the Comforter is with these men, yet they are humans, suffering from like passions as we do. The difference? Paul was willing to see others saved, regardless of what it cost him, yet Simon Magus, like the others of the same mindset want something for the self, no matter who it hurts, much different.
Paul relates how seven nations were destroyed (v. 19), thus he brings in the end times to shock the Jews into considering the prophecies pointing to those who reject the Lord of Glory. Paul shows how God was in control, although the people demanded a king, God used the opportunity to train His man. Man only assumes he is in control, God has all this well in hand. We do fight the good fight of faith, but we begin at home. Blaming the devil for the evil in our own hearts or in the world isn’t going to prepare the temple to be the Tabernacle. Paul shows how John’s baptism was unto repentance, not remission, ending when John was cast into prison, thus John’s baptism didn’t grant one entrance into the Body, or heaven (v. 13:24).
Paul uses the same verses Peter used on Pentecost, so is he copying him? Perhaps using the tape to make gain by? No, the words of Truth become seed, no human owns a sermon, revelation, or the knowledge of God. Both Paul and Peter used Scripture, thus no one has a right to limit the use of the words of God, whether prophesy, or in any translation of the Bible. The words produced from the anointing are not the property of man, they are granted by the Holy Ghost, granted to those who are Teachers, or any of those called by the Holy Ghost to preach the Good News. Of course if it’s an attempt at private interpretation, then we don’t want anything to do with it.
Some believed, but there were the Jews filled with envy who rejected and attacked. Envy is the desire to have something someone else has, but without the desire to pay the same price to get it. Since envy refuses to pay the price, it will attack those who do have it, then claim it wasn’t worth having to begin with. The Jews wanted the promise, but they wanted it their way, not God’s way. The test of belief came, both Paul and Barnabas told the Jews it was necessary for the Word to be delivered to the Jews, but it was necessary for the Jews to receive it, before it became effective for them. Merely hearing the word with our physical ears doesn’t mean Faith is received, it means Faith came. Whenever the knowledge of the Lord is spoken, Faith comes, but after Faith comes it must be received. Ears hearing sounds are as common as sand, ears hearing and obeying the Word are rare indeed. The Gentiles heard and believed, but the Jews rejected the Word, they went about to stir up the devout and honorable against Paul and Barnabas. Any of us can be pulled from the Truth; however, the sign of being pulled in the wrong direction seems to surface as envy. If their goal is to destroy anyone, regardless of who they are, it’s the wrong spirit; Jesus came to bring life, not destroy it. Conversion based in the ministry of reconciliation is based on refusing to impute sins on others (II Cor 5:18-21); here they were attempting to place undeserved sin on the called of God.
Did the disciples retaliate? Justify themselves? Attack? Call down fire from heaven? Pray down the elders of Israel? Pray out the high priest? Hold a board meeting and vote out the Jews? Not at all. They prayed for those who persecuted them, then shook the dust off their feet by forgiving, then moved on. It does little good to move on with the dust of pain still on our feet. While the unbelieving Jews were making plans of destruction, the disciples were praying Mercy. This is another example of a premise and example; we tend to grab the premise and make up our own example, then go about rendering evil for evil assuming we are doing the works of God. We never, under any circumstance use the works of the devil, against the works of the devil. The Jews were left with their own bitterness, the disciples were filled with Joy by the Holy Ghost, the latter is better. Since the attack was against the spiritual position of the disciples, showing there are times when a good battle is fought by walking away.
ACTS – CHAPTER 14
1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,
6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
7 And there they preached the gospel.
8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:
9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.
25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.
In Iconium both Jew and Gentile believed, thus the test in Antioch gained victory in Iconium. When they left Antioch they shook the dust off their feet, when they came to Iconium they had a fresh vigor, rather than approaching those in Iconium with the pain from Antioch. However, another attack came when the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles. The warfare was from city to city, it didn’t stop, but where do we find any of the disciples cursing the devil? Where is the example? What is the example? The disciples understood warfare, they remained speaking Boldly In The Lord. However, speaking boldly about the Lord and speaking boldly In the Lord are different. The disciples spoke as the Holy Ghost moved them, rather than voice theological opinions regarding the Lord. They knew the concept of warfare; they applied Mercy and Grace, they defeated the hate by Love, not by words of corrupt communication.
Godly division often becomes the result of Truth, as Light removes the darkness. In the Beginning the darkness covered the earth, but God brought Light, a division took place. The darkness did not have power or authority over the Light, it was the other way around. Whenever Light came on the scene the darkness had to bow, it hasn’t changed. The absence of division means the people are either in Light, or in darkness; the disciples brought Light dissipating the darkness. Those who remain in darkness don’t know what spirit they were of, until the Light came, then the darkness was evident in their attacks against the Light, yet we find many moved from the darkness to the Light.
There are times when the Lord says, Stand, times when the Lord says, Run. It’s not the standing or the running, but obedience making the difference. In this case it was run to Lystra and Derbe. The victory was still a victory, they preached the Gospel more.
After the experience in Iconium comes the victory, when an impotent man who was crippled from his mother’s womb was healed. A healing brings a wounded or effected element of the body back to its original condition. In this case it would have left the man in the same state of being impotent, since it was from the womb; therefore this would be classed more of a miracle coupled to a healing to bring the man to a state he should have been.
This also shows some are born into conditions, but it also shows the purpose is for the works of God to manifest in the miracle. This miracle brought the man to the condition God intended, thus it was much like the blind man who was born without eyeballs. Also much like the blind man, this test produced a sign to the religious rulers. The man didn’t sin, neither did his parents, his body was subject to the fall nature; the flesh being flesh is subject to unrighteousness. The flesh of man holds impurities since the fall, some are physical, some produce mental conditions, but all hope is found in the Name of Jesus. Here is an example of the manifestation of faith (I Cor 12:9), if we give a word to another, would it also mean we speak so they can gain faith? Yes, here is our example as Paul was speaking to the man when faith came to the man’s ears, then he received. Paul saw the man had the faith to be healed, then the healing came. This doesn’t mean the man had the faith all the time, rather it shows Paul spoke, then the man was willing to receive. The same faith was presented when Paul preached to the Jews, but they failed to receive it; therefore the words of victory came, but we must be willing to receive.
Some tend to think the use of a loud voice is not Biblical; however, Paul used a loud voice, the man was healed. Right after the healing comes the test; the people assumed their idol gods just manifested. The same idol gods destroyed by God when He brought His children out of the wilderness were now being used by the people to steal God’s Glory. The people gave heathen idol names to Paul and Barnabas, it’s one thing to have God change our name, another to have man do it. The trick of the devil was to make the people give idols the glory, then make gods out of the two men of God. Paul and Barnabas discerned the intent, then immediately entered warfare to stop it. The question in verse 15 points to the intent, “Why do you do these things?”, truly Why do we do many things? Witchcraft is nothing new, these disciples faced more witchcraft than most of us, yet their concept of warfare was Christ based, they had victories; whereas the misused principle of warfare sees some success, but hardly a victory. The same Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians, saying we don’t fight with, or against flesh and blood, rather our warfare is against things known as principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness (Eph 6:12).
The same Greek word translated for Principalities is translated as Beginning in Mark 13:19, as Magistrates in Luke 12:11, as Beginning in John 1:1 and 8:44, all pointing to the beginning of something, or the place from which a prince is known, making a principality a place. Magistrates begin a process known as justice, but do we fight the Beginning of the Gospel? Hardly, we fight the urge to remain in the Beginning, yet we retain the Cross and Lessons we received. We Remember, but we also move on by faith. The word Power here means Authority, Jesus Has delivered us from the power (authority) of the darkness, but there are other powers placed in authority by God (Col 1:13). Discernment is always a key to knowing what to fight, and how to fight it.
ACTS – CHAPTER 15
1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.
After giving their witness about the great works of God, they found certain of the Jews believed, but still held to certain rites of the Law. Their reasoning sounded good, but it was very dangerous, they believed, but were holding to a past principality. Circumcision was long before the Law of Moses, but it was incorporated into the Law of Moses, becoming a part thereof since. Circumcision was the token, or sign for the Abrahamic Covenant, not the token for the Law of Moses, although it was incorporated therein. These Jews wondered how one could be “of the Seed of Abraham”, yet not of the circumcision. Later Paul will talk about the danger of “the circumcision”, a True Jew is circumcised of the heart without hands. Which brings up the terms, Jew, Hebrew or Israel. Israel is the land, an Israeli is one who lives in Israel. A Hebrew is a sojourner, one who has a kingdom, or is promised one, but is wandering to find it. A Jew is one who is accounted to a covenant with God, the term comes from the tribe name Judah, but came to mean any Hebrew who had the token to enter a Covenant. Circumcision did not mean one entered, it means one has a right to enter. The Gospel went to the Jew first, thus these Jews felt one had to be a Jew by rite. Later the Holy Ghost will show how the Jew came out of the law by faith, the Gentile around the law by faith. However, this issue was very important, many in The Way were Jews, this one question could have split the Body right down the middle. After all the Scriptures say Jesus was circumcised according to the eight day provision in the Law (Luke 2:21). Of course Jesus came for the Jews, yet we find the argument sounded right, it had Scripture, it was within the confines of entering a Covenant. However, it took one back to a principality of the flesh, by taking them from the Faith of Jesus.
This Change would be the Second Great Change to come to the Body, it didn’t split the Body, since all these people were seeking one thing, to please God by faith. This change would give the Gentile the evidence to show they moved around the Law by Faith, rather than having to be Jewish to come from the Law by Faith.
Theocratic government at work is when the elders and apostles discuss the matters by the Holy Ghost, not when they discuss the matters through their carnal thinking, nor is it when they have to go to the Body to find out what God wants. When a leader has to ask the Body, it’s clear they are not hearing from God. The context points to the evidence of the Holy Ghost as the Guide and Teacher of the Church, the Holy Ghost as the Comforter speaks to Another Comforter as the leaders listen to find the Will of the Lord. The question, recalling how Jesus gave the Holy Ghost to the Gentile, yet didn’t require Cornelius or his house to be circumcised, had to be the answer. If the requirement was to be circumcised, why then did Jesus give the Gentiles the Spirit? We must be careful not to place rules above the evidence God has provided. It’s through Grace by faith, not the Law of Moses one becomes saved. Grace is the Gift, Salvation the goal. We are clearly told “have faith in God”, turning our faith into a self-based tool for our self-desires is dangerous. Once our faith begins to accomplish matters outside of its intended realm, our trust in God will turn to a trust in our faith, a dangerous realm to enter.
Circumcision of the flesh doesn’t give us the power to cast out devils, lay hands on the sick, or pray in the Holy Ghost, but circumcision of the heart is the time when we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, then we can do the things of the Spirit, by the Spirit.
One thing is very clear, the Comforter was among them, all these men and women of God were just like us, except for the one difference separating natural from spiritual, the New Man, Another Comforter, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit, the Greater He allowing the Holy Ghost to teach spiritual (Holy Ghost) to spiritual (Holy Spirit). Our natural intellect isn’t going to do it, our mind power isn’t going to do it, only the New Man can bring us into the saving of our souls. What a great and wonderful time to be alive, it is the Day, a time when we can be Born Again.
The multitude heard of the miracles and the wonders God wrought among the Gentiles, thus producing the proof of the matter. If circumcision, tithing, or keeping a day was a requirement, why did God do miracles? This James is the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was also the half-brother of Jesus, and brother of Jude.
The subject turns to the tabernacle of David, but David neither had a Tabernacle or a Temple, what then could be the subject matter? The Tabernacle was last heard of before David came on the scene, the Temple wasn’t built until after David left the scene. Could this be a sign of the Son of David? Or perhaps a reference to the House of David? The quote comes from Amos 9:11 which reads “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old”.
The word Residue in verse 17 is seen as Remnant in Amos 9:12, but it’s not the Remnant of the House of David, but the Remnant of Edom, indicating the heathen which are called by the Name of the Lord. This is opens the call to those outside of Israel, the Tabernacle of David in this case refers to the Booths made out of green boughs, the same use found in Amos. In Isaiah 16:5 the word for Tabernacles in the phrase “Tabernacle of David” is a different Hebrew word than the one used in Amos, thus Amos is pointing to the Gentile Age, up to this time the Jew was the central figure, but now it’s the Gentile who is becoming the central figure. This chapter gives us two roles defined, one of the differences between an Apostle and Evangelist is seen here. An Evangelist goes out to bring converts in, an Apostle also goes out, but instead of bringing converts into established churches, they begins bodies where there are none, and bring Commandment. Paul brought Commandments, as did John and Peter (as their letters show), here James the Less with Paul and Peter are giving Commandment. The Prophets will deliver the Commandments as their words will bring comfort and guidance to the Gentile. We as Gentiles are not to do the Law of Moses, or seek after the Abrahamic Covenant, we are to seek ye first the Kingdom of God and All His Righteousness.
The letter contained four items, which are points of separation from the world, but none of which pertained to keeping the sabbath or circumcision. Abstaining from pollutions of idols means to stay away from idols, or the appearance of being an idol worshipper. Not so much for the person, but what it might represent to those outside. This also helps us understand why the disciples did points of the Law, not to impress God, but to gain entry into the synagogues. Things strangled refers to choking something, in this case it was not hindering anyone from entering in, or causing them to choke out the Word, which would be telling them they had to do the Law of Moses. Whether circumcised of the flesh or not isn’t the issue, being circumcised of heart is. The reference to Blood is a reference to spilling the blood of others, yet the Law of Moses was based in the blood of animals, this denotes staying away from giving sacrifices, rather become a living sacrifice unto the Lord based on the one true Sacrifice of Jesus.
Verse 21 shows how Moses was preached in all cities, thus the letter is not for the Gentiles to follow some rites to impress God, but to keep from causing a stumblingblock before the Jews in the various cities. The purpose was to keep the door open for others to preach to the Jews, while not giving the impression of being a heathen. We can take the same requirements and form a tradition, presuming if we follow these we are holy, not so, these requirements were presented so the converted Gentile would not offend the Jew. Later there will be another change, but for here the Command was still Jerusalem first, then the uttermost part of the earth (v. 1:8).
As noted, the Apostles didn’t deliver the Letter, it was given to the Prophets to bring forth. One of them was Silas who accompanied Paul, the other was Judas Barsabas, the same one noted back in Acts 1:23. Jude the brother of James according to Church history was also a prophet, as he was also an Apostle, thus like Paul he carried more than one position. However, Silas and Judas Barsabas are noted prophets, they were the ones to deliver Doctrine, a function of the Office of Prophet. Paul and Barnabas continued in Antioch preaching and teaching, but then came the testing over Mark. Paul didn’t want to contend with Mark again, but the context shows this John who was surnamed Mark was a changed person. Later Paul will seek out Mark, to repair the dispute. The lesson shows any of us can make mistakes, or we can fall into areas of the flesh, yet God is still fully able to save us, while bringing about a lesson from which we can gain. The change from John to Mark is akin to the change from Simon to Peter, or Saul to Paul, thus John was being tested prior, now he is in the stage between being the old John to the new Mark. If Paul is Spirit filled, why didn’t he see how Mark was beneficial? The Lord did a great work here, Barnabas and Paul had been together prior, it was time to break the dependency on each other, it was also time for Silas to move on with Paul.
Paul took Silas, and Barnabas took Mark, but this doesn’t mean there was a “split in the Body”. They agreed to move into two areas but maintain the same Godly direction, thus the Lord is expanding the effort, not decreasing it. The men may not have known what the Lord was doing, but we have the advantage of the words written. The Book of Acts will now focus on Paul’s ministry.
ACTS – CHAPTER 16
1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
After the event with Mark, Paul would make a mistake causing him problems with the church of Galatia. These things are written for us, as warnings, or points to consider in order to stop the battle before it begins. These men and women made mistakes, we can judge them by the mistakes, or learn the lessons, only the latter is Godly.
The letter gave four points, none of which pointed to circumcision, but Paul would hear the words of certain false brethren, then have Timothy circumcised. The purpose was to bring Timothy into the synagogues in order for Timothy to preach, but Timothy was not sent to the Jews, rather he became a leader of a Gentile Church in Ephesus. This overwhelming desire to reach the Jews was a weakness in Paul, later the it became an excuse for the Galatians to ponder circumcision, or to keep the sabbath as a means to impress God (Gal 4:10-11). What can appear to be a Godly purpose can result in an ungodly adventure. Paul would have to explain to the Galatians how circumcision was wrong, yet he also had to explain what he did is not an excuse for what they are doing. The difference is Paul was tricked, the Galatians are being warned. To know, then do, is much different from being tricked into doing.
It seemed Good, Timothy’s father was Greek, but his mother was a Jew making Timothy a Jew, thus he had a right to enter the temple, all he needed was circumcision of the flesh. What was the big deal? Paul would have to face the error knowing this was a weakness used by others against him. By his weakness he could nonetheless gain through the humbleness admitting the wrong. The Galatians were not Jewish in any sense of the word, they were Gentiles, no Gentile was afforded the Abrahamic Covenant, thus for them it would have ended in witchcraft. Paul didn’t look at this as a matter of following the Law of Moses, rather it was a ticket to get Timothy into the Temple so they could preach Jesus, but it backfired. This is clear when we find in verse 4 how they delivered the decrees, yet the decrees came to dispose of the requirement of circumcision, which Paul required of Timothy.
After the circumcision of Timothy, Paul would enter Galatia, this one act of circumcision almost caused an entire Body to fall from grace. Paul’s weakness in the flesh wasn’t his eyes, it was his desire to do most anything to win the Jews. The Spirit was still guiding Paul, repentance puts us back on the right path immediately. The Holy Ghost stopped Paul from going to Asia, then kept them from going to Bithynia. Here Paul had no trouble in hearing and obeying the Holy Ghost, yet later he will hear No, but he will say Yes. This also shows any of us can have our minds so set on doing something, we will ignore the voice of the Lord. Did the Holy Ghost warn Paul about having anyone circumcised? Yes, wasn’t it the problem producing the Letter? Yes, thus his intent was not to have Timothy go back to the Law, then come out by faith, rather it was for Timothy to gain entry into the various synagogues. Does it mean Paul deliberately disobeyed the Holy Ghost? No, Paul did not require Gentiles to be circumcised, Timothy was a Jew by birth, Titus was not, thus when it came to Titus being circumcised Paul said No, in no uncertain terms. The Letter was sent to Gentiles, without the division one would think Paul was a hypocrite, but he was not, he was still a Jew to the Jews, a Gentile to the Gentiles. Since he too had the same parent kinship as Timothy, Paul’s mother was Jew, his father was not, just as Timothy, thus the reasoning was there, but it nonetheless turned out to be an error coming back to Paul in a nightmare.
Their direction was Macedonia, where the city of Philippi was located. Philippi would later become the benefactor of Paul, it would be the one church to hear, “my God shall supply all you need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus” (Ph’l 4:19).
Paul’s attitude toward women has suffered much at the hands of carnal man, but we find he took the time and effort to preach just to women. The lesson here is also found in two women, one followed God, the other attempted to be her own god. Lydia loved the Lord, she was also a seller of purple, or a seller of royal garments; not only did Paul preach to the women, but received a woman who was running her own business as well.
The Greeks and Romans used women in various ways, many of which were wrong, here Paul is staying in the house of Lydia, but shortly we will see how some evil thinking men would use a demon possessed woman.
Paul set the demon possessed free, the point is, we have two women, both of which were in “business”, Lydia making an honest living, the other being used to make a dishonest living. Therefore, it wasn’t gender Paul was concerned about, in many cases he used Jewish metaphors, some of which became misunderstood.
This second damsel was possessed, yet she gave a factual statement. This is another area where discerning the intent is very important, the intent of this damsel was to destroy the ministry, the intent of Lydia was to help the ministry. One key word here is “grieved”, which is the Greek Diaponeo, although there are many synonyms for Grieved, this word indicates troubled or grieved as a result of labor, thus Paul had been fighting the attack of the damsel for some time. Nonetheless Paul, Silas and Luke were men of God, their goal was to preach salvation by the Holy Ghost. The damsel used words seemingly close, yet a statement can be factual, but nonetheless based on a lying intent. A counterfeit fifty dollar bill is factual, but a lie. The statement of the damsel regarding the men was an attempt to build their ego, then use her mind power to invade their souls causing the men to preach her concept of God. These men pointed to God, they were not the Door to God. The word Divination tells us where this damsel was from, as well as the means she was using. She was possessed with a python spirit from the Delphi temple, the same type of spirit threatened the Corinthians (I Cor 10:17-21). The python spirit spoke through another, we get our English word ventriloquism from the manner in which this evil was done. Delphi was across the bay from Corinth; the treasury of Corinth was kept in the city of Delphi. The Delphic oracle is a matter of history; the people would sacrifice sheep, goats, bears, pigs or other animals in order to gain entrance to the Delphic oracle. After they entered a shrine room, they would find various idols, with the main idol being Apollo (not to be confused with Apollos, the aid to Paul). The Pythian games were held in Delphi to honor the Greek god Apollo; the Isthmus games were also held in Delphi to honor the Greek god Poseidon on the Isthmus of Corinth. The Delphic temple had an outer court with the Adyton or inner court, much like the Jewish temple, but no women were admitted in the Adyton. The people would write questions on a clay tablet then hand them to the oracle, who would in turn ask the question to the “pythia” or priestess. The priestess was the only woman allowed in the Adyton, she became the priestess or pythia through a series of events, all of which are counterfeits of the Christian baptisms. The woman had to be over fifty years old, or mature, she was washed in the Castalian fountain, then drink the water from the Kassotis, which was known as drinking of the spirit of the water from Kassotis. She would then eat a laurel leaf, then sit on a tripod which was over a chasm, where intoxicating fumes from other drugs would overtake her. After the woman was intoxicated she would be asked various questions, she in turn would make incoherent sounds which were interpreted by the oracle. The training of the priestess involved many forms of witchcraft, the damsel who faced Paul was possessed with the same type of spirit seeking to control the minds of others, in order to speak through them.
The counterfeits of speaking in other tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and the such were so close the Corinthians made the mistake of casting out the baby with the bath water. The Delphic spirits were many, but Paul said, the Spirit we have is One Spirit, our Spirit is joined to the One Spirit of God, making it One Spirit all in all. The devil always uses many idols and demons to counterfeit the one God, thus proving the One God is more vast in nature than any amount of idols and demons. It’s clear Paul will cast the devil out of this damsel, but why didn’t he cast the devil out of Elymas the sorcerer? (vs. 13:8-10).
Paul did say Elymas was a “child of the devil”, what made the difference? Elymas was not demon possessed, the devil didn’t have to possess him, his mind was ready to do the devil’s work; whereas, this damsel was being controlled by a demon. Discernment made the difference, both were involved in witchcraft, one willingly, the other being controlled. Elymas was controlling another, thus Paul set Sergius Paulus free of the invasion of demonic influence of Elymas. Here the damsel is being controlled by a devil, her masters used her for gain, thus Paul set her free; the Mercy in both cases was extended to the victim.
Since the damsel was promoting the men, it was obvious to Paul the statement may be have been factual, but it was nonetheless a lie coming from the pit of hell to boost n the egos of the men, rather than the Grace of God. This is different from those who “lie in wait to deceive”, this woman was using witchcraft, without any regard for Paul’s concerns, desires, or purpose. Her focus was on the men, not God, it was the men who received the honor, it was the men who came to save them. This same spirit seeks to exalt the person above measure. Respecting the person and boasting in them to the point we attempt to make them greater than God are different. The error of the Pharisees was promoting the Law of Moses over God.
The masters of this damsel made much money from her demonic prophecies, and future telling. Once the devil was cast out of her, her ability became moot, the future telling business was bankrupt. The woman remained in one place, but when Paul spoke from the Light, the darkness left her. She was bound, but became Loosed and free.
There is a difference between the attacks coming from those who have authority, and those who don’t. As unbelieving as some of the Jews were, they nonetheless were granted authority through the Law of Moses; however, this damsel and her masters used the authority of darkness. The Jews accused Paul of teaching against the Law, here the accusation is teaching against Roman idol worship. The Jews claimed Paul was an outcast, here they claim Paul is a Jew (v. 20). The basis for the persecution in the early church stemmed from the Romans claiming the Christians were atheists, since the Christians refused to worship the Roman gods and goddesses. Both Paul and Silas were beaten, then jailed; however, when they began to praise the Lord, the bondage of the heathen Roman magistrates was broken.
Both Paul and Silas knew the Power of Praise, yet Praise is a means to Thank God. They were in jail, yet they were thanking God, but we find not only were they set free, but the victory came when the jailer and his house were saved. When the magistrates heard how Paul and Silas were Romans as well as Christian the pressure changed from Paul and Silas to the Romans. The type and shadow of this prison experience shows us how praising God opens the prison doors. We also find an earthquake as a symbol of the Rapture, the Door opened, they went through it by the Spirit, a sign of the Rapture.
After it was discovered how Paul and Silas were Roman, the real problems began for the accusers. They had to admit their error, no one was allowed to beat a Roman, yet Paul and Silas were already beaten. The law of the Romans provided both Paul and Silas could have demanded for the accusers to be beaten. Neither Paul or Silas suggested or contemplated the thought, they applied Mercy, overcoming evil with Good. Paul and Silas then went back to the house of Lydia, the seller of purple. The test, victory, more testing to bring more victory continues as the story behind the story.
ACTS – CHAPTER 17
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Paul and Silas move on to Thessalonica where they preached in the synagogue. It seems prior Paul said he was leaving the Jews for the Gentiles, but here he is again in the synagogue of the Jews (v. 1). From this we find Paul did keep some of the points of the Law of Moses, not to impress God, rather he maintained those points to gain entry into the Jewish synagogues. If we are keeping points of the Law of Moses to gain entry into the Jewish synagogues, then our purpose is correct, but if we are attempting to impress God, or consider ourselves holier than the rest of the Body, we error. Some of the Jews believed, but a Great Multitude of the Greeks believed. Paul’s anointing was for the Gentile, but his heart was for the Jew. Paul was still a Jew, yet even a Jew who doesn’t keep the Law can’t get into a synagogue. They were very restrictive in this area, Paul would later be arrested based on the false accusation of bringing a Gentile into the temple. At the time Paul had no intention of preaching, or teaching, or doing anything but go to temple, yet there were those who lie in wait to deceive. So then, why didn’t the Holy Ghost warn Paul? Don’t forget the Holy Ghost did warn Paul, more than once.
However, the test came, some of the Jews who failed to believed came against the house of Jason, a follower of Christ and coworker of Paul and Silas. From the context we know Paul and Silas were staying in the house of Jason (v. 17:6). When the unbelieving failed to find Paul and Silas, they took Jason. The accusation was a Truth, these Christians were turning the world upside down, but the intent of the people made the statement a lie. They used the truth to attack, not bring life, thus anytime we use the Word of God to kill, we are of the wrong spirit. These were Jews, yet they held Caesar, a Roman to be greater than Jesus a Jew. Even if the Jews didn’t consider Jesus Lord, they nonetheless knew He was a Jew, thus they were selling out their own to the world.
Paul and Silas went their way to Berea, the people of Berea not only heard, but checked the Scriptures daily to determine if the things preached by Paul and Silas were so. The people of Berea were not searching to find error, but to confirm Truth, there is a difference. Searching the Bible to prove ourselves right, or to prove others wrong is based on the wrong intent. Searching the Bible to find Truth, or to support Faith, or to mediate to build our belief are the right Spirit. Making the Bible bow to us is demonic, bowing to the Bible is Godly. Many Greeks believed, the anointing of Paul toward the Gentile was working, because he was allowing it to work. We don’t make the anointing work, we allow it to work through us.
The test came again, the unbelieving Jews came from Thessalonica to find fault, they also brought their stones of theological abuse. Not only was Silas and Luke with Paul, but we also find Timothy was in their company as well (v. 17:14). Paul was sent on to Athens, the center of idol worship in all of Greece. Surely he heard wrong, would God send this man of faith into a place full of idols? Yes, Athens was still Gentile, still a place in the Sea, it does little good to cast the Net on dry land. The Jews had lived around these idol worshipping centers for years, but the Jew was also under the impression they alone were the called of God. They considered all Gentiles idol worshipers by nature, yet there is Paul walking to a hill named after an idol.
Paul will answer the long asked question, “If God loves everyone, surely He also loves those who seek Him through idols, or images, or other forms of religion”. Along with the question, “I know he didn’t believe in God, but he as a good man”. The latter question is really the easiest one, James says even the devils believe in one God, so what? In this case we’re talking about someone who doesn’t even believe in God, yet they think they are “good”. There are tons of nice people, those pleasant to be around, but it doesn’t mean they are “good”. A human’s “goodness” must match God in order to be classed Good, thus Jesus said “there is none Good, but God”. Being a nice person, and being Good are different.
The Christian has a command to “go ye”, but the Authority is limited in duty, it depends on “tarry ye for power from on high”. Authority without power is frustration in the making, but power used outside of the authority is witchcraft. Jesus gave us Authority to “go ye”, then He made sure we would have the Power to prove our quest. However, it’s still up to us to “go”, thus Paul and others went, but did they go where they wanted to? Not hardly, Paul desired to preach to the Jews, but it’s not where God sent him. Although Paul was sent to the Gentiles, we also find there were places where the Holy Ghost said “nay”, some where He said “yea”. Faith comes by hearing, if we haven’t heard, we’re not in faith. A step of faith is dependent on several things, first the authority, then the power, then hearing. Jesus gave us the Authority, the Holy Ghost gives us the Power, but we must hear from the Holy Ghost before we “go ye”.
The first question regarding “God loves everyone”, is answered when Paul goes to Mar’s Hill, where he sees idol after idol, but he never said, “Oh it’s okay at least you reaching for the big guy in the sky”. Neither did he consider the worship they were doing toward idols Godly. Even if they used the term “God” it would not make their worship appropriate, or accepted by God. It’s very important since we find some, yes even some who call themselves Christian holding to the false concept of “they believe in one God”. If one believes in One God, they will accept the One Son of the One God, which is the point James makes. The misconception of Jesus kneeling down with the Hindu while the Hindu worships images, or with the Muslim who believes Jesus and Mohammed were equals, or the Buddhist who holds to the soul of man as the dominate force of man, or any of the other religious entities which do not submit to the Name of Jesus would be foolish on the part of Jesus. If Jesus felt that way, why did He tell us “Go ye”? Why didn’t He say, “Leave them alone, they seek Me”? Because they weren’t seeking the Son of the one true living God. The Gospel has gone out to the entire world several times, yet there are some who are born into the world who have never heard the Gospel. No Hindu ever died for the sins of mankind, no Muslim, not even Mohammed ever died for the sins of mankind, only Jesus, only Jesus has all the Authority on earth and in heaven. None of the others have the God granted Authority to speak of God by the Spirit, no other has the Authority to preach of God, no other has the Authority to impute the flesh dead in order to gain the Spirit which is of God, spiritual things are still foolishness to the natural mind.
What do we do with the Images? Whatever Jesus tells us to do, He told us to make disciples out of the humans so they can be saved from idols. When we place a human equal to Jesus, we just made the human an idol. When we hold any element, even a religious concept equal to Jesus, we made the religious concept an idol. All things are under the feet of Jesus, they are subject to Him, none are equal to Him, yet we are His Body. We can’t be image breakers, yet we can’t ignore the call, we can’t presume all dogs go to heaven. Paul will face the idols of all idols, the very presence of a nation who believed the gods and goddesses were supreme, some felt they were descendants of the gods. These were not crystal poppers, or New Age herbs specialists, these were people who felt the very gods and goddess had such great power they controlled mankind. To support their foolishness they had many books and stories from their “learned men” telling of the great feats of their gods, the flying horses, men who captured giant lions, or fought off armies with a single bounce, or was that superman? Oh well, mankind has its heroes, some of the idols were named after humans, then made into gods, but only God can say He is God, only Jesus as the Word took on flesh and blood to save mankind. Our best weapon is the same Paul used, Preach the Truth in Love by the Power of the Holy Ghost, within the granted Authority Jesus gave us. Athens was the home of Mars’ Hill, a location with idols of all sorts, it was also the center of philosophy. The people of Athens held what was known as “venerable deities” or a place for all of the known and unknown gods and goddesses. The god Zeus was one of the leading gods in Athens. Both Athens and Olympia were the two areas where the majority of idol worship was conducted. Paul was not in his company, but alone and surrounded by witchcraft and idol worship. If Paul talked about healing, the Romans held out their goddess Hera. If he talked about prosperity or peace they held out Bellerophon, but when it came to the Resurrection, the Romans were at a loss. They had gods of the underworld, but to be raised from the dead? Who has heard of such a thing?
The Greek sculptor Phidias craved the 40 foot tall statue of Zeus around 435 BC, some 500 years before Paul would show up on the scene. The statue stood on Mount Olympia, the purported home of the gods. It was perhaps the most famous sculpture in ancient Greece, Phidias made the robes and ornaments for Zeus out of gold, then carved the body out of ivory. They set idols up everywhere, then worshiped them on the spot. It was more than a nature, it was habit. No matter what town Paul went to, there were some idols on display. It still shows how natural man will seek to make his gods, so he can control them. The same error as trusting in the intellect of man, we pick our scholars, those we like, then we think we’re not responsible for their words when we use them. Wrong, we are just as responsible as they are, if they promote unbelief, yet we use their unbelief, we are unbelievers. If they are “doubters”, yet we quote their doubtful sayings, we too are doubters. It doesn’t mean using scholars is wrong, just make sure they are Spirit filled Believers.
If one knows about these various gods and goddesses, they also know they were suppose to use man as a type of toy when they would war one against the other. Paul preached the Peace of Jesus, telling them how God does not war against God. Very different, the counterfeit should never scare us to the point we run in fear, forgetting we were sent to preach. Of course if we are listening, and some Whacko begins to talk about some space ship picking us up, or they are one of the Two Witnesses, or some other fable, then we do leave in all haste. If there is no door, make one. The point being, there is a difference between Paul being sent to preach, and sitting there listening. Not only did Paul face these idols in Rome, but when he visited the Greek cities he found the same idiotic forms, but often with different names. Instead of Diana, he found himself facing Artemis, same idol different name. A good majority of these gods and goddesses were adopted by the Romans around the 3rd century BC, when the Roman and Greek cultures mixed. For instance we know the Greek god named Eros is the god of physical love, but in Rome he is know as Cupid, the name most of us know him by. This cute little angel, is a lustful, flesh filled, pornography seeking symbol of the flesh of man running wild. His mother was called Aphrodite, the goddess of a self-based love, so selfbased was her love it was mixed with envy. Eros or Cupid is not really the type of figure we would like adorning our local churches.
GREEK NAME – ROMAN NAME ROLE IN MYTHOLOGY:
Aphrodite, Venus, Greek: goddess of beauty and sexual desire, Roman: goddess of gardens and fields
Apollo, Apollo, god of prophecy, medicine & archery (in late Greek-Roman mythology the god of the sun)
Ares, Mars, god of war.
Artemis, Diana, goddess of the hunt (late Greek-Roman mythology goddess of the moon.
Asclepius, Aesculapius, god of medicine
Athens, Minerva, goddess of arts and crafts and war; helper of herpes (late Greek-Roman mythology goddess of wisdom.
Cronus, Saturn, god of the sky, ruler of the Titans (Roman mythology god of agriculture).
Demater, Cares, goddess of grain
Dionysus, Bacchus, god of wine & vegetation
Eros, Cupid, god of love
Gaea, Terra, mother earth
Hephaestus, Vulcan, god of fire, blacksmith of the gods
Hera, Juno, goddess of marriage and childbirth; protector of married women; queen of the gods.
Hermes, Mercury, messenger of the gods; protector of travelers, thieves & merchants.
Hestia, Vesta, guardian of the home.
Hypnoe, Sommus, god of sleep
Hades, Pluto, god of the underworld, lord of the dead
Poseidon, Neptune, god of the sea & earthquakes
Rhea, Ops, wife of Cronus/Saturn; mother goddess
Uranus, Uranus, god of the sky, father of the Titans
Zeus, Jupiter, ruler of the gods
The temple of Diana was not some three room building, or some old stone store on a back street, rather it was a monster of a structure. To the Greek the greater the building, the greater the god or goddess. The misconception is almost correct, of course their error was thinking the greater the works of their hands the greater the god or goddess, thus they felt the greater their work, the more the god or goddess would honor them, the heart of self-righteousness. We know it’s the works of God, not the works of man determine the greatness of God. Of course before the Cross the disciples looked at the Temple and were impressed, but Jesus told them it was merely a building, it would fall like any building. Then there are some of us who make the same mistake, the greater the building, the better the service. Wrong conclusions, wrong thinking, wrong source. Each god or goddess had something for everyone, but not one idol who could cover it all. Not one name among them was a name above names, rather they seem to have these great wars from time to time determining who would be “god for a day”. Apollo is not to be confused with Apollos, Apollo was a god connected to the temple in Delphi, as was his sister the goddess Diana. We know about Alexander the coppersmith made idols of Diana. Rhea was another goddess, she was seen with a “lion”, or controlling a lion. As Paul looked about he saw many things blaspheming God, yet he didn’t jump all over the people, he used something already there to preach Jesus. Since Paul preached by the Holy Ghost, it would also mean the Holy Ghost used these events to bring the Truth. Don’t run in fear, peach the Truth in Love by Faith.
Before Truth, Grace and Light came in Jesus, the Father “winked” at the various foolishnesses of man, but since Jesus came the wink became the Eye of God looking for repentance. The Day of the Lord is an appointed Day, it’s not something to be, it’s a Day as now. The Power of the Resurrection is the same Power bringing us the New Birth. If we truly believe God raised Jesus from the dead, then we have the same Spirit, making us free from the wrath of God, also proving the Resurrection is real.
Verse 25 would almost sound as if all have the breath of Life, but it shows the Breath of Life is presented. In verse 27 we find it must be sought after and obtained, thus they didn’t have it, but they had the opportunity to have it. Paul limits the concept to We, showing those who did seek, did find.
Division came, some believed, some mocked. The truth was presented, it is our place to preach the truth in love, but we cannot make decisions for people, neither can we believe for them, but we can present the evidence in a Holy Ghost convincing manner.
ACTS – CHAPTER 18
1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,
13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:
15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.
16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.
17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
Paul enters Corinth where he finds Aquila and Priscilla, the husband and wife preaching team. The context about Aquila and Paul working as tentmakers is two-fold; it would be the first time Paul came to Corinth, yet he refused to take money from them, lest they think they owned Paul (II Cor 11:1-8). Paul did in fact work, but what was his purpose? Paul had many in his team following him, among them Luke, Timothy, Silas, Dionysius, a woman named Damaris and others (v. 17:34), thus he provided for them by working, but not for himself. He makes this clear in his letters, he worked with his hands to give, then trusted in God to meet his need. It’s wise to refuse money from carnal bodies, they tend to think they are buying a service, rather than giving to the people of God. We also find a type and shadow in the word Tents, Paul used the labor to show how he was providing the Truth for the Tabernacles of God.
Again we find Paul Reasoned in the Synagogue, but he didn’t debate the issues. To Reason or Persuade means to point the people to the Cause, to Debate means to pull people into our opinions. Paul presented the evidence, allowing the people to make up their own minds. Paul testified how Jesus was the Christ, the same reaction took place, the unbelieving Jews rejected the Truth. Verse 6 shows Paul again saying “from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles”, but back in 13:46 he said “we turn to the Gentiles”, thus his weakness is the same we find in Romans chapter 9:1-4, he was willing to give up his position in the First Resurrection for the Jews; however, he will find it’s not easy. In Paul’s case it wasn’t giving up his position in the First Resurrection to gain the power of the world, it was to bring more into the kingdom for the sake of Jesus. Although he made the decision, it didn’t mean Jesus would allow it, yet we know Jesus won’t interfere with our choices, what gives? Grace is a Gift, it belongs to Jesus, the position of the Bride comes from the Church, which Jesus builds. The sons of perdition have tossed away their position to hold to the he in the world, much different from Paul’s intent. In his letter to the Philippians he comments on the two Resurrections, he desired to be part of the First Resurrection, but if not he knew he would be among those Resurrected unto Life (Ph’l 3:10-11).
During the trials of Jesus the people said, “His Blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt 27:25). As strange as it may seem, the Blood of Jesus is presented to all, but in Matthew the people were stating how the guilt of His Blood would be on them and their children. Paul tells the Jews, “Your blood be upon your own heads” which is different from Matthew 27:25. In Matthew it was the Blood of Jesus, in Acts it’s the blood of the people, thus belief places us under the Blood of Jesus, unbelief puts our own blood on our heads. The Truth was presented, they rejected it, thus Paul was free of their guilt, the same is true in his letters to the Corinthians. Paul began in First Corinthians by telling them they were void of spiritual understanding, then he spent several chapters talking about spiritual matters, why? To take their blood off his head. Even if we know they won’t receive, we still obey and give them the Truth in Love. Faith will still generate, but it needs to be received.
All was not lost, Justus believed as well as the chief ruler of the synagogue. The call to all Christians is “fear not, but speak”. In Paul’s case the added wording of “hold not thy peace” insured him Jesus did have people in the city who would listen. The unbelieving have loud mouths, it does seem as if they out number the believers; however, if we endure we will find the believers are waiting to hear Truth.
Paul preached for 18 months in Corinth, one would think they would be spiritual in nature, yet his first letter dated some five years later shows the Corinthians were still carnal in nature (I Cor 3:1-3). It’s understandable to find a babe in Christ being carnal, we all were, but some five years after being with Paul? Hard to think it could be, but it was. The Corinthians made a big mistake, they wanted to be Christian and carnal at the same time. Won’t work, the carnal side is still natural and worldly, it will resist the Christian nature. Simply being baptized with the Holy Ghost, or having a great intellect doesn’t insure us of being spiritual, we must Walk in the Spirit to reach the position. The Holy Ghost will give us the Seed, the ground is prepared by Mercy (water), the growth is dependant on our willingness to be spiritual in nature.
After the victory, comes the test. The Jews assumed Paul was telling them to worship God contrary to the Law, when in fact he was teaching them how to worship in accordance with the Law of the Spirit. Before Paul could say a word the deputy spoke up.
Verse 17 shows the Greeks took Sosthenes the chief ruler of the Synagogue and beat him. Back in verse 8 we find the old chief ruler, Crispus by name, believed and joined the Body, thus the new chief ruler was new, yet full of envy. He was the one who was coming against Paul and Crispus, yet found himself facing the whip.
Paul left Corinth and “shorn his head” in reference to Vow: the Vow had to do with his covering (I Cor 11:1-7). If Paul’s companions would have shaved their heads, it would mean Paul was void of the covering, but Paul making his vow was showing he was seeking the covering. He had a purpose in mind, something he wanted to do. Paul was still a Jew, his action to any Jew would show he had made a Vow. Verse 19 shows Paul went back into the synagogue to reason with the Jews, he just couldn’t leave it alone, a man like Paul did have a weakness. All this isn’t to show us Paul was weak, it shows us he was a human being, a man with passions like us, yet a son of God by the Spirit; Paul was not The Son of God; a man, not an idol; a person, not a mentor to be worshiped.
Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. One would think he would want to be there on Passover, the day of the Cross, but the granting of the Spirit was the purpose for the Cross. After leaving Syria, he went to Caesarea, Antioch, Galatia and Phrygia, thus returning to the various churches to encourage them. At first the purpose was to deliver the gathered money to Jerusalem in reference to the dearth, but his weakness will pop up and change the course of history. Although Jesus knows it, although Jesus will use it to benefit Paul and us, it was nonetheless a weakness in Paul. It would be after the fact when Paul would discover his weakness was a place where Christ could be strong.
We now meet Apollos, yet all Apollos knew was the baptism of John, which said the people should believe. The husband and wife team of Aquila and Priscilla instructed Apollos in the Way of God “more perfectly”. Apollos didn’t teach heresy, rather he had a truth, but not “more perfectly”. It’s here we don’t want to confuse Apollos with the god Apollo. Apollos wanted to know more, he didn’t restrict his knowledge to the baptism of John alone. After being instructed Apollos became Mighty in the Lord, as he convinced the Jews by showing Jesus is the Christ through the Scriptures. Didn’t Paul do it? Yes, but we find the anointing of the Office is the issue, when Paul preached to the Jews he did so as Paul the saint, not Paul the Apostle. Warfare is within, we can guess how Paul felt, this Apollos was a Jew, who was able to gain Jews, but Paul a Jew wasn’t; however, Paul didn’t attack Apollos, or allow envy to enter, he thanked God and continued on his course.
Since Apollos was using the Scriptures, it stands Aquila and Priscilla used the Scriptures to convince Apollos. Opinion never brings us into the Truth, rather it leads us into heresy. Whenever one has Scriptures (rather than one Scripture) they have a base, If the intent is unto Salvation; however, we all know some can have Verses, but twist the intent into self-exaltation, or make their works seem holier than the rest of the Body, or have some element elevating them higher than the rest of the Body. Ego in the Body is a dangerous enemy, it thinks it’s higher than the highest, but it’s so low it’s below the feet of Jesus; self-exaltation is not holy in any regard.
After the healing and preaching, comes the Jews from Antioch and Iconium to attack the disciples. It is perhaps this experience of Paul being stoned and appearing dead he refers to in II Corinthians 12:1-5, wherein Paul said he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven. After the experience comes the victory, they went about confirming and exhorting others to continue in the faith. We must go through much tribulation to enter into the Kingdom of God, most of which is internal against the flesh. The violent take it by force, here we see what the phrase means; we hear with open ears, we are ready to be taken into the Kingdom by the Energy of the Holy Ghost, ye the flesh will rebel. If we presume we can be “violent” as the world is, yet take the world by force, we have misused the concept; this is not taking the “world”, it’s taking the Kingdom. Taking the world would be backward from the proper direction. This also shows the Gift of the Holy Ghost has the ability to take and hold the Kingdom of God, all He needs is for us to join Him, rather than fight Him.
ACTS – CHAPTER 19
1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7 And all the men were about twelve.
8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.
22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
Paul finds some disciples who knew only of the baptism of John, as we recall John did one type of baptism, but preached another. Prior we saw Apollos knew only the baptism of John, thus many Gentiles were baptized under John’s baptism, yet John’s baptism didn’t grant anyone entrance into the Body. These verses help us understand an aspect to the Doctrine of Baptisms, as well as why we see “the Name of Jesus”. John’s Baptism was centered on Repentance, adding the people Should believe, rather than Believing. John’s baptism was in his name, thus it was called “John’s Baptism”, it ceased when he was cast into prison, it became ineffective by the Cross. After the Cross baptism changed to include repentance, a statement of belief, and acceptance into the Body by someone of the Body doing the baptizing. John was not a member of the Body, he did not join the ministry of Jesus, yet his ministry was vital.
This issue was so important Paul re-baptized these people in water by the Name of Jesus, thus we find several things; first the baptism of John became void at the Cross, evidenced by Paul re-baptizing these people. Next the “meeting” in Acts 1 to select a replacement based on the requirement of the person coming from the baptism of John was out of order; especially when we find Paul being selected by the Holy Ghost later. Next is the permissive concept of “should believe” under John’s baptism, showing belief was not a requirement. During John’s baptism the “kingdom was at hand”, not “in” hand. The primary purpose of John’s Baptism? To wash the sacrifice of God, and prepare the people to receive Jesus. The disciples of Jesus did baptize in water, but not under the authority of Jesus, rather it was still repentance, plus the people should believe (Jn 4:1-2). However, there is no record of anyone being baptized in water from the time John was cast into prison until Jesus said for us to go in His Name.
Paul explained the baptism of John by saying, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people they should believe..” (v. 19:4); there is a vast difference between Should believe, and Believing. Paul then speaks of a baptism In The Name Of Jesus, which is still a Water Baptism, yet we find these disciples believed before, so why “re-baptize” them? If water baptism doesn’t mean much, why do it? It was vital, John was not Born Again, he was not with the ministry of Jesus, he did not hear, “all power has been given to Me”, he didn’t operate from within the Body, he did not have “the Name of Jesus”. Paul knew the command, “believe and be baptized”, related to being in the Body. These people didn’t have the Holy Ghost, but they were disciples, thus John’s baptism did not grant anyone the Spirit, but John “preached” Jesus would baptize the people with the Holy Ghost and fire. Here they had not heard if there was a Holy Ghost, thus information is important. How shall they call on Him if whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10:14). They needed to be inducted into the Body, with their Token to prove it. Then Paul laid hands on them, the same procedure John and Peter used in Samaria as presentation for the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
Clearly we have three baptisms noted here, perhaps the fourth of fire. The teaching separates John’s baptism from the water baptism we perform in the Name of Jesus, thus explaining the phrase “in the Name of Jesus only”, separating it from John’s baptism. We also have the added advantage of being able to lay hands to present people for the baptism with the Holy Ghost and Fire. The group was about twelve, after they received the Spirit they spoke in tongues and prophesied. What about Pentecost and the Three Thousand? Paul only had twelve here, but if there was only one, even an Ethiopian Eunuch God would send one to teach and baptize. Was it all necessary to make sure these twelve were water baptized in the Name of Jesus and receive the Spirit? Yes, their statement “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost” shows they weren’t denying the Baptism, they simply didn’t know. In the case of Cornelius, Peter preached about the Holy Ghost, then the Gift of the Holy Ghost was poured out, thus they were able to learn by listening (v. 10:45-46).
The water baptism received them into the Body, this would fit with “faith without works is dead”. We can have faith by the bucket loads, but unless we are in the Body, and applying faith in God, the same faith is dead. What was the requirement for water baptism? Beside the water; “since you believed” (v. 2). Again we find the one requirement of Belief, not faith. Faith is the Now confidence for some future hope, but Belief is a Now confidence based on something of the past, whether information, experience, or someone preaching about something which has happened. Belief is the springboard for faith, some of us work for days to “build our faith”, yet do nothing to for our belief; we must be balanced to be equal.
Paul was still on his way to Jerusalem, but whenever the need came for someone to hear of Jesus, his plans stopped, as the plan of the Lord took over. The victory, then the test, some were hardened, they believed not (v. 9). The test for Paul kept him from falling for the false impression of God being so impressed with Paul He couldn’t help but use him. Paul knew he was a servant, but he also had his weakness, one of which was regarding his brethren the Jews. Paul goes right back to the synagogue, again he finds great opposition, why? His Office anointing was for the Gentile, just prior all who heard, received, but in the synagogue? (v. 8-9). Paul then moved from the synagogue to the school of Tyrannus. History indicates Tyrannus was a proselyte to the Jewish faith, he offered his school to Paul, which in turn established churches in Asia, later to be known as the seed-plot of Christianity.
God brought Special Dunamis to Paul, but why? Why did Peter’s shadow heal, and not John’s? If John was to outlive them, it seems to make more sense for John to have the healing shadow with special power ministry. However, at times when things seem to make sense to us, we are wrong. Paul was about to face the most horrid of all events, cast into prison, all sorts of people who called him “brother” would say “we would see a sign of Christ in you”. He was going to need something to hold onto, Peter was no different, he was going to Rome where he would face a horrid death, he too needed something to hang onto. If you want this Special Power, consider the Why first. Prior in 4:33 the disciples were granted Great Power (Authority), here Paul receives Special Power (Dunamis), yet this same Paul said, God is no Respecter of persons. This is a good point to look at the phrase, “God is no Respecter of Persons”. If we presume it means since God did something for Paul, He must do it for us, we’re in trouble. God will treat us all the same, whether Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, we all gain our first step of faith at the Cross. God loves us all in the Body equally, He treats us as children void of any partiality (James 3:17 & 2:1-4). Jesus had His three, so was He partial? He treated the religious leaders different than the people, was He partial? No, being Partial means we treat someone special based on the benefit they can give us (James 2:2). God is not Partial, He will not treat us special because of our personality, or having more money than someone else, being smarter than others, or having a talent, ability or gift. We don’t earn God’s love, we receive it. The term means God will not reject the Gentile for the Jew, or the Jew for the Gentile, thus there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ Jesus. Like most cases, after the special power granted people freedom, there would come certain “exorcists” which took upon themselves to copy Paul’s works; however, they failed to go to the source where Paul obtained his power. The word Exorcist doesn’t mean these men cast out devils, rather it means they were able to bind the devil in the person. Merely placing control over the devil for a period of time doesn’t set the person free.
The seven sons of Sceva are types and shadows of those who desire the power, but refuse to enter the Body to get it. They were not in the Body, so when they attempted to use the Authority, the devil didn’t know who they were. Nonetheless they wanted to display power, but they didn’t want to go to source to obtain the power as did Paul. Instead of casting out the devil, the devil came against the seven sons, stripped them naked, made a show of them, then cast them in the street. Their experience is not to cause us think, “gee maybe casting out devils is bad idea”, rather it shows how much power and authority the least in the Body of Christ has. The newest member in the Body has authority to tread on serpents, cast out devils, and water baptize others. This is a division to show another division, thus we find the seven sons were attempting to copy Paul, but they weren’t even close to having the “Name”. John the Baptist never cast out one devil, never laid hands on people, yet he was filled with the Holy Ghost. The disciples before the Cross were not filled with the Holy Ghost, yet they cast out devils, and laid hands on the sick. The difference? The disciples were of the Rock, John was not; thereby showing the weakness in the baptism of John as compared to the one we do by the Authority of Jesus by being in the Body of Christ.
The people took their books from which they made a living in witchcraft, then burned them. Paul didn’t demand for the books to be burned, rather his preaching brought the result. There is a vast difference between someone wanting change, and forcing change on the people. These were books, not some icon, they were the means from which the people sought devils, or the means of their employment in witchcraft. These items had nothing to do with anything of the Body, or the Jews, they were strictly used for witchcraft, we also find not all the people used “curious arts” only some did. Some tend to toss out everything based in fear, whereas these people removed only those items which pointed to their curious arts. These items were not merely symbols of witchcraft, but items used to promote witchcraft, there is a difference. The wording Curious Arts means Works of Magic, it doesn’t mean pictures or paintings, rather it points to those things of darkness one uses to promote the darkness. Here it was books, on Mars’ Hill it was the idols, thus there are idols connected to witchcraft. Zeus and Leto are two such idols, they were suppose to be able to control “serpents” and “power”.
The key verse here is 21, in this verse we find Paul has made his decision, he is Purposed in the Spirit, the word Purposed means To lay aside, or Lay on the table, thus he was now willing to lay aside the Spirit so his brethren the Jew could gain entry. He is going to Jerusalem, although it’s now approximately three years later.
Paul sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia; Erastus was also a Chamberlain referring to one being an Apostle, metaphorically it referred to Apostles, the base meaning was someone trusted with household, or a treasurer (Rom 16:23).
The early church was called The Way, the word Way is the Greek Hodos meaning A path or Manner of life. However, there were those who made their living from idols. Ephesus was the center for the worship of the goddess Diana (v. 24). Those who make their living from idols, whether idols of stone, gold, silver were offended by the Truth of Jesus. The Truth was presented to these idol makers, but money was their god, from their love of money came their rebellion. When idol makers enter the scene, so does confusion. Being of “one accord” has two sides; here the idol makers were of one accord, when the Jews killed Stephen they were also of one accord (v. 7:57). One accord means one purpose, one goal, with one method to reach the goal, but a group can be in one accord with an evil purpose, an evil goal, and an evil means to reach the goal. Just as they can have a Godly purpose coupled with an evil goal, or a Godly purpose with a Godly goal. We can have a Godly purpose, a Godly goal, yet use an evil means to reach the goal, making it evil. We can have a Godly precept, but make up our examples, ending with an evil method; although the precept was Godly. In order for the result to be Godly, all three aspects of purpose, goal (example), and result must be Godly. We have all heard of “Cupid”, some use the image as some “child angel”, but Cupid is the same as the god Eros, the idol of a flesh based love. We’ve all ready studied how Eros and Psyche were lovers, becoming the personification of the flesh and soul united in devilish activity. There was another aspect of Cupid though, one Paul was fully aware of, one the Greeks held in high esteem. Accordingly Cupid could tame lions with music and poems; one of the early statues of Cupid was based on this very concept. The deception was how the flesh could calm the Lion from the tribe of Judah with music. Not so, we please Jesus by faith, not the flesh. Paul felt as we do, what is the use in bowing to an idol made by the hand of man? If man is the god of his god, what good does it do for a man to worship the product of the hand of man? In this case, Paul was ready to respond to the idol makers, but wise counsel prevented him. This is shortly after Paul Purposed, thus there will be some slight changes to take place the closer he gets to Jerusalem. There are times when it’s wiser to allow evil to destroy itself, rather than jump in the middle of it. Paul didn’t preach against Diana, he preached Jesus. There was no evidence of any disciple speaking against the goddess
Diana, thus spiritual warfare doesn’t include speaking against idols, it includes speaking for Jesus. A riot without caused the idol makers to lose power, thus the riot in Ephesus faded into the darkness from which it came. Alexander the coppersmith became a concern for Paul, Alexander was a Jew who turned to idol making, he also spoke on behalf of idol makers (vs. 33-34).
ACTS – CHAPTER 20
1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.
2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,
3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.
4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.
6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.
9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.
14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.
15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.
16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,
38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
After the uproar Paul encouraged the disciples, after the encouragement, Paul found the Jews waiting for him in Greece. This is also the first time we find Trophimus, who later will be noted in a letter to Timothy (II Tim 4:20). Trophimus was from Ephesus, Timothy was the Elder and Pastor of Ephesus, why would Paul tell Timothy Trophimus was “left sick” rather than telling Timothy to pray for Trophimus because he was sick? This Trophimus will play a very important role in the events yet to come, regarding the Gentile Paul supposedly brought into the Temple. The wording in II Timothy 4:20 tells us much, the wording “have I left” is the Greek Apoleipo meaning To leave, but it also means to Desert or Forsake, meaning Paul deliberately left Trophimus in his condition for a reason. Verse 6 gives us a time element, the Days of Unleavened Bread is connected to Passover, which is fifty days before Pentecost, Paul desired to be in Jerusalem at Pentecost, which relates to the Birth of the Church, thus Paul did celebrate certain holidays in respect to the Church.
The First Day of the Week is Sunday, not Saturday, rather Saturday is the Last Day of the Week. We find as early as this time the Church was gathering on Sunday, for many reasons. Since Sunday is the First Day it refers to the opening of the Day, but the Sabbath being on Saturday shows the Closing of time, thus the Jew keeps the weekly sabbath day, since they are appointed the Night, we keep the First Day, since we are appointed the Day. Not only is Sunday the First Day, but it’s the day of Discovery of the Resurrection of Jesus, the basis for us to Remember, making it a symbol of the New Beginning unto the New Man in the New Covenant.
Paul was a preachers preacher, he preached well into the night, don’t get mad at sermons over an hour. A Holy Ghost preacher begins when the Holy Ghost begins, and ends when the Holy Ghost ends, not when the traditions of man begin or end. The young man fell from the Third Loft, which would be about three stories. Paul didn’t run to the young man, he didn’t raise him immediately, rather it wasn’t until the “break of day”. Paul discerned the young man’s life (soul) was still in him (v. 10). Paul is still attempting to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost. Paul’s purpose is to deliver the gathered funds to Jerusalem, but in his heart was the same old desire to preach to the Jews.
Paul acknowledges his calling is to the Greeks, he knew the Jews were laying in wait to cause him many troubles. Here Paul is showing how the ministry in his mind is complete, he taught them all he could, even from house to house (v. 20). Paul really had no problem with the civil government until his capture in Jerusalem, rather his problems came from the religious minded Jews who kept coming against him. Paul then shows the importance of Water Baptism as well as the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. Water baptism is our Token or physical symbol displaying our Belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus, it also reminds us of the Cross in those times of struggle. It’s a physical sign we can put our minds on and say “No, I refuse to enter unbelief, I have vowed to God to believe”.
Verse 23 shows how the Holy Ghost had already said, bonds and affliction were waiting Paul in Jerusalem. This is the Holy Ghost warning Paul, not some mystic. Paul was ready to give it up his place in the First Resurrection for his brethren of the flesh, Paul knew the end times, thus in his mind nothing stood in the way of the Rapture. He also knew there would be a Remnant of the House of David, they weren’t his concern, his concern went to those who would become lukewarm, tossing everything away for the pleasure of wealth. If only he could convince some of them, it would be worth it. We must keep in mind, Paul’s concern is for others, not himself. The only reason he was suppose to go to Jerusalem was to deliver the gathered funds to James the Less, the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
God is warning Paul, thus God will never allow us to step off the Way without many warnings. Paul is not giving away his life to the Beast, nor for his own personal gain, his concern is still for others, no greater love has a man, than to give his life for his brethren. Paul shows the Anointing goes before us, we don’t take it with us. He understood this from prior events when the Holy Ghost closed one door, but opened another, thus Paul followed the anointing, he didn’t think the anointing followed him, yet in this case when the Holy Ghost says, “No”, yet we say “Yes”, we will find a loss in power and authority. Paul’s calling was to preach the Gospel, but it was restricted to preaching in the areas of the Gentiles. It was Peter’s calling to preach to the Jews, which Paul would recognize later (Gal 2:1-8). Clearly the Holy Ghost is speaking of things to come, this is not the “spirits of the prophets”, it’s the Holy Ghost, the Seed deliverer, the same one who said, “Separate unto me”.
Then we read Paul did no man wrong, but did he do no man wrong? What about Stephen? This same Paul was none other than Saul the Christian hunter, yet he now claims to have done no wrong? Did he forget? No, the man Saul died on the Road to Damascus, so Paul could live. Whatever Paul did as Saul was forgiven by Jesus, thus Paul didn’t hold his past against himself, rather he was free indeed, a lesson for us.
Paul warns the Elders how Truth preached will also draw those who come to attack the Truth. If no one attacks us, we’re not preaching Truth. There is a difference between being attacked for false theology, and attacked for speaking the Truth, just as there is a difference for being attacked for holding to the Truth, and being attacked for holding to a self-based fable. The Jews were never able to prove Paul wrong by Scripture, they used traditions, dogma, rites without merit, or opinions. False doctrine is always exposed and confronted by sound Scripture; however, the false also use twisted Scripture, or twisted statements, thus we must discern. We then find Paul telling us in verse 35 Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give then to receive”. The only problem is, where do we find Jesus saying it? No where in the Scriptures, so was Paul forming a “tradition”? Was he testing this group to see if they would notice there is no Scripture? No, this is a “teaching” linking the concepts and sayings of Jesus, yet not using the exact wording Jesus used. Clearly Jesus said, “freely you have received, freely you give”, with “give and it shall be given unto you”, we know Jesus talked about “receiving”, but He spoke more on giving than receiving, becoming Paul’s teaching point. Freely Paul received, freely he gave making verse 35 his goodbye verse, he is showing he ran the course, now he was willing to give up his Life to bring some into Life.
ACTS – CHAPTER 21
1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:
2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
16 There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.
34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.
35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.
36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.
37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,
The warnings continue, the word of the Holy Ghost now changes to “you should not go”. These disciples didn’t give their opinions, rather they spoke as the Holy Ghost gave them utterance. Paul’s mind had changed from, “perhaps I will preach to the Jews”, to “I will most certainly go”. Clearly this warning is not “watch yourself in Jerusalem”, but “he should not go”, but we find the Mercy of God in the wording, it was not, “you shall not go”, but Should Not, which still gave Paul a choice. This is very important, it indicates how Paul’s Decision was still seen by Jesus, but Paul is presented “choice”, although he will make the wrong choice, he will nonetheless learn a lesson to benefit us.
Verse 8 is the only place where we find anyone called an Evangelist. This Philip is the same one noted in chapter 8, he is not the one who is noted as Philip the Apostle. Clearly this Philip is “one of the seven” not one of the twelve, or eleven. Verse 8:40 shows Philip the Evangelist, one of the Seven going to Caesarea, now Paul comes to Philip’s house in Caesarea.
Some seem to think Agabus missed the prophecy, but it’s not the cast at all. This is the same Agabus who spoke in verse 11:28 about the dearth, which came to pass. It was Paul who sought help from other churches to support Jerusalem based on the prophecy. Agabus said the Jews in Jerusalem will bind Paul, yet we know the Romans bound Paul; however, it was the actions of the Jews causing the Romans to bind Paul, thus the prophecy was accurate. Paul admitted he was told prior not to Go to Jerusalem by the Holy Ghost, now we have the written evidence of the warning from the Holy Ghost (v. 21:4), through the prophet (v. 21:10-11), now the third witness of Paul’s own companions warning him not to go (v. 21:12). Interesting point, although the Book of Acts uses the title “Holy Ghost” more than any other document, from Acts 21:11 to 28:25 we don’t see the title used. Paul made a choice, Jesus wasn’t done with him by any means, neither did Paul blaspheme the Holy Ghost, but he did place himself in a position he would not soon forget. However, Jesus being Jesus would use the same situation for the benefit of the Body of Christ. In all this we find Paul was not giving up his position in the Body, rather he was willing to give up his position in the First Resurrection (Ph’l 3:10-11).
Like Peter, Paul had three separate warnings, and like Peter, Paul will find God knows all things, just as he finds God is able to turn those things to good as well. The best determination is “the will of the Lord be done”, it was. This in no way says Paul was any less a saint, nor does it give us an excuse, rather it shows these people were people, just like you and I. Ahh, the purpose, don’t make them gods, they did a job, they had the same Spirit as you and I, they followed the same Lord as you and I, they all began with the measure of faith, as you and I.
Paul did deliver the funds first, as he reported to the church in Jerusalem all God had done among the Gentiles. The wording “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe…” was all Paul needed regarding his desire to preach to the Jews. However, then comes the warning, “they are informed of you”. Paul wanted all of us to know this lesson, not to belittle him, or add to his bondage, but to know the Greatness of God. Paul spoke of the things God was doing with the Gentiles, then heard what God was doing with the Jews, his desire overcame him, he was now convinced to preach to the Jews, after all many did receive, perhaps many more will. Here is the precise reason for the Holy Ghost telling him how he should not go, the desire would overcome his better judgment. However, the warning told him the Jews would not receive him, rather they would bind him. Paul is under the impression the Anointing is the Anointing; however, he will find our Anointing is governed by God, not our desires; nonetheless a counterfeit of the anointing is emotionalism, lasting about as far as the parking lot. The Jews still held to the Law of Moses, but the Gentiles were under no such obligation. Paul decided to purify himself in order to present himself to the Jews; however among his company was Trophimus, a Greek. Whether Trophimus entered the temple or not, isn’t the question, the Jews felt he did, if they felt he did, they had some evidence, perhaps now we see why the man was left sick. Based on the reasoning of the Jews, Paul’s plans were dashed asunder. Prior Paul took a Vow, now he joins to others to take another Vow to show the Jews he is still a Jew, but his purpose is more than showing the Jews, he is still a Jew. His own words “from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (v. 18:6), are about to fall on him.
It took almost seven days, but if we add Paul’s comments to Timothy we find Trophimus became the Judas of Paul’s ministry. Therefore, Trophimus was turned over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so the Spirit of the Body might be saved. Paul knew better than to take a Gentile into the temple, why then did the Jews assume Trophimus entered their temple? Paul went so far as to have Timothy circumcised, why would he make a mistake like this? If he didn’t, where did the Jews get their information? The prophecy of Agabus was coming to pass; Trophimus a Greek plus the Jews with their assumptions caused Paul to be bound by the Romans. Where was this Trophimus when the accusation came? Why didn’t he speak up, or say he was never in the Temple?
Paul still wanted to preach by giving his testimony; this same Paul taught thousands of Greeks, he had “special power”, even escaped the hands of the Jews many times, what made this venture so different? From this time on we don’t read anywhere where Paul’s Special Power working, in fact it appears as if he lost it over this incident. Not one Jew came to the Lord as a result of Paul’s preaching, but we can’t forget some very important facts here, Paul was not tossing away his call to preach, he was willing to give up his position in the First Resurrection in order to see his brethren of the flesh (Jews of the flesh) come to the Lord. Paul was willing to take a chance on the last resurrection, thus he wasn’t giving up Salvation (Ph’l 3:10-11). This is a self-less act, it’s not the same as someone saying, “I give up, it’s all over, I’m going back to the world”. Not at all, this same Paul was still going to preach Jesus, he knew he had a position in the last resurrection, yet the man was willing to give up his place in the Bride for others, this self-less act is not the greatest, since the greatest would be the self-less act of Jesus on the Cross, but it was nonetheless self-less, since it was self-less we find Jesus will intervene. Jesus wasn’t about to allow Paul to toss away his position; Paul’s desire was still pointed to the Lord, we find even this great man of God made a mistake. Did he sin? After all the Holy Ghost said “No”, yet Paul said “Go”. No, the choice was still in the hands of Paul, he didn’t come against the work of the Holy Ghost, rather he was attempting to further the work, but now he is on his own. Sin is predicated on the intent, Paul’s intent was centered on God, thus he made a Mistake. Paul’s lesson is written for us, not for us to say, “even Paul blew it”, but for us to consider our own salvation and calling, or how willing are we to give up our position as the Bride for others.
Paul making a mistake caused the Corinthians to demand a sign of Christ speaking through him, but they were carnal, thus the man’s mistake became a lesson for many. It caused some to preach Christ out of envy and strife, it was seen in his comments to Titus regarding his bonds. It did have its ill effects, but to those who were spiritual they saw the heart of Paul, they knew this man wasn’t tossing away God, he was giving up something of his benefit, for the of benefit others. However, the news went out, some took it as a means to disregard all Paul taught them, but their thinking was based in the wrong intent; carnal minds think on carnal things. The Corinthians had a warning from Paul, but their reasoning? “If Paul didn’t obey the Holy Ghost, why should we obey Paul? Well brother, it looks to me as if Paul is being punished by God”. Entirely wrong, God is turning this event around to Good, from the experience Paul will become one who knows the Grace of God by an experience no money could buy. This act of Paul’s could be taken by the carnal mind to be “self-based”, but the spiritual see it as “self-less”. Jesus did come to Paul, thus Paul wasn’t forsaken, what appeared to some to be punishment by God, was in fact training by the Holy Ghost to bring the man into a position to write letters regarding the greatness of Jesus. Although he had to live with the thought of his error for a couple of days, Jesus still appeared unto him.
We all have a tendency to make idols out of men and women of God, this incident is God’s method of warning us: men and women of God, are Godly, but nonetheless men and women. This has nothing to do with making self-based choices, but it has everything to do with God’s protection when we make the wrong choice. This one act of Paul’s shows we can make the wrong choice, we can even hear how it’s the wrong choice, but as long as we are still “denying the self”, the Lord will protect us.
ACTS – CHAPTER 22
1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.
25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?
26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.
28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.
29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
Paul’s experience doesn’t make him any the less a man of God, rather it will make him a better man of God. It started with the accusation of Paul bringing Trophimus into the temple, but we don’t see Trophimus coming to Paul’s aid in this entire matter; like Judas, Trophimus ran off to protect himself, but on the other hand we find Paul defending himself. This shows Paul was not at fault, but trapped by those who lay in wait to deceive. If Paul was so spiritual why didn’t he see the danger? The second step in this lesson, the choice may be self-less, but it’s still saying No to the warning of the Holy Ghost, when we do; we cut off communication. Paul found even a self-less choice made against the Decision of the Holy Ghost can leave one in a corner, separated from the communication with the Spirit of Truth. Paul will learn when we don’t hear from the Lord, we will revert back to a old thinking to justify ourselves, or defend ourselves, but in the process we make the event worse. Many statements made by Paul during this time will conflict with those written prior, not because those written are in error, but to show us how self-justification causes us to forget, it centers on the escape, but digs the hole deeper.
Paul begins by telling the Jews how he used to be one of them, how he was a close associate of the high priest, which is an important issue when Paul faces the high priest later. From this we can see how Paul’s communication is cut off, he is now moving to an area of self-justification. A sin? No, the result of a wrong choice. This is an important issue, Paul is not speaking by the Holy Ghost at this point, nor by the Spirit; the only mention of the “Spirit” in these verses is in the division between the Sadducees and Pharisees regarding Paul’s prior preaching on the Resurrection (Acts 23:8-9).
There are some very interesting remarks by Paul in his testimony. In verse 9:7 we find the men with Paul on the Road to Damascus heard a voice, but saw nothing, but here Paul says the men with him Saw the Light. Paul begins to add to his testimony, thus the Anointing is not with him, he is in a place where any of us know we stand alone. When the communication is cut off, so is the anointing, yet the man made a self-less choice, but it was still saying “Go”, when the Holy Ghost said “No”. This is made clearer when we read, “the night following” Jesus came to Paul, this is not the night following the arrest, but the night following the trial by the Romans (v. 23:11). Paul was naked and open, without a covering (anointing), anyone who has the anointing knows the feeling of being without it. His intent was to see the Jews come to the Lord, he went to Jerusalem, he preached Jesus, yet no one came to the Lord, not one Jew, or Roman. Prior when he praised the Lord the keeper of the jail came to the Lord, now no one. Was his effort in vain? Did he give up his position for nothing? Is it all lost, if so now what? Since no one came to the Lord, it stands he didn’t give up a thing, based on the intervention of the Lord. However, panic sets in, wanting to say something, anything sets in, then the soul moves in to do the work. It doesn’t take but one of these experiences to convince us to keep our mouths shut unless we have the Unction to speak as an oracle of God. Someone took something you said in order to help them, yet they twisted it to the point they slandered you to the bone, but if you make the decision to justify yourself, it only makes the matter worst: the best solution is to pray for those who persecute you.
Here is our lesson, Paul didn’t hear, yet he spoke.This is not against the man, but the lesson obtained from his experience helps us. When the Lord hasn’t given us something to say, then don’t say anything. The Jews heard, “depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles”, they were outraged. As far as these Jews were concerned, Paul rejected them he had no place in their Temple. In essence they claimed the Gentile was a real Gentile, but we find they are accusing Paul of being a Gentile, since he associated with the “Goy”. The Romans assumed Paul was a Jew, until Paul says, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?” (v. 22:25).
Wow, now what is going on, this guy tells the Jews he is one of them, now he says he is a Roman. The last time Paul made the statement the Romans released him, this time they don’t. What is going on? Isn’t the Lord with him? Was the Lord with Joseph? Ahh, a lesson to be gained. The chief captain now calls for a trial to find if there is just cause to release Paul, or keep him bound. Last time he was released and people came to the Lord, now he is still in custody, and no one is coming to the Lord. What if someone wanted to come to the Lord? There are many disciples and apostles still in the city, yet we don’t see them coming to Paul’s aid: could it be the lesson is just for Paul, yet to benefit us? We have knowledge of the how the Roman guards looked, the temple guards didn’t wear armor, they wore the same dress as the other temple workers, but the Romans were of a different class, their mere appearance could send chills down the spine. The Romans were trained to look mean, they used presence of force and domination to control the masses. However, dealing with the Romans was easy, dealing the Jews was a different story. Paul’s offending comments called for the Jews to repent, then be baptized. Even in this circumstance Paul is still reaching out to the Jews, but not one came to the Lord, for if one would have, Paul would have bartered his position in the First Resurrection away. Truly God is Good, He wouldn’t allow Paul to give up a place when Paul had no authority to either give it up, or possess it. Our place in the Bride is based on Christ in us, not our works, or lack thereof. This also points to Hebrews 10:38-39, Paul found he was bought by a price, his soul was not his to bargain with. His nature and character were changed by Christ in him, not by something he did, thus the Lord would not allow him to do something he lacked the ability to do.
ACTS – CHAPTER 23
1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.
15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.
18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?
20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.
22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.
23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;
24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:
26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.
28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.
31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.
32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:
33 Who, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.
34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;
35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.
The same high priest who caused the death of Jesus is now facing Paul, prior Paul said he knew this high priest (v 5). Paul now retorts and slips in his behavior. Paul’s natural mind is fighting against the will of the Lord, all because of a desire to preach beyond his calling. Paul now sees some in the group are Pharisees and some Sadducees, he assumes he can use the division to his advantage. This is another sign of Paul now being on his own, this is something he never fell back on before, he always stood for Jesus, rather than cause a dispute. The scribes of the Pharisees say, If an angel or spirit talked to Paul, he should be released, but they still refused to admit it was the Lord who spoke to Paul. This brought more fear to the chief captain.
The night following the Lord did come to Paul, showing the Lord was not with Paul during the few days prior. Did Jesus tell Paul, “well now you’ve done it, you are no longer a brother to Me, look at the mess you made!!!! It will take fifty prophets, six apostles, and I don’t know how many teachers to fix this mess”? No, neither did he take Paul’s papers, or his office away. We know the office remained since Paul will soon speak as a prophet and apostle declaring the Gospel in many of his writings after this experience. Paul will go to Rome, but the Lord didn’t tell Paul to make a plea to stand before Caesar. Does this mean Jesus didn’t know Paul would make his plea to stand before Caesar? Hardly, the Lord knew, Paul didn’t, but the Lord still had it all in hand, all the things were still working together for Good, not only for Paul, but for us as well.
Although Rome was in the plan, Paul didn’t know it until after he got there, but neither did he sit around and yell, “I’ve been framed!”. Whatever Jesus had for him, he would accept. His lesson is for us, it just shows he was a man of God, but nonetheless a man with like passions as we.
Although Paul was in jail, the Lord wasn’t done with him, thus no plan could take effect for us, lest it be the Lord’s plan. This entire matter shows how the Lord is in control, although the event may not appear so, it doesn’t matter, the Lord has a plan. Faith begins with the Belief of God is, although there are times when our souls think not. Some of the Jews now form a plan to kill Paul; this is the only place we find Paul had a sister, or sister-in-law (v. 16). Paul didn’t tell his nephew, “the will of the Lord be done”, rather he called a centurion in order to have his nephew tell the chief captain about the plot. Although the Scriptures don’t say it, Paul had to be married at one time to hold his position as a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin, perhaps this is how he was able to say, “if the unbeliever goes, let them go, we are not under bondage in such cases”.
There were forty subjects who made the conspiracy, forty just so happens to be the number of wilderness (v. 3). The chief captain sent a letter with Paul, the letter said Paul was “taken of the Jews” thereby showing the prophecy of Agabus was not the slightest bit wrong. The Romans held Paul, but the cause was based on the Jews accusation (v. 23:28-29). Often the prophecy may seem out of place, but if we just wait we might see it’s on target, God is never wrong.
ACTS – CHAPTER 24
1 who informed the governor against Paul.
2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.
17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.
20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,
21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
Five more days would pass before the hearing, Tertullus speaks on behalf of the Jews, laying out all the good the Jews have done for the providence, thus using manipulation to please the court, making it appear as if this trial could change the well being of the Jews toward the Romans. This is “man pleasing” showing the Romans how the Jews were submitting, but they were submitting to get their own way. This matter would appear as if evil wins, but the war isn’t over yet, there is yet work to be done.
The intent of the manipulation is simple, Find the man innocent, and we will make it hard for you, find him guilty, even if we don’t have the evidence, and we will please you the more, after all what is one man in the overall picture? It was a great issue to Jesus, since Paul became Paul because Jesus sought out this one man.
Tertullus method is based on the ways of the world, not the ways of God. Paul is accused personally of being a “ringleader” among the Nazarenes. The Church was called The Way, then Christian, now it’s a certain sect called Nazarenes. The title is three fold, first it refers to the place where Jesus was raised, next it points to a separation, lastly the Jews held a Nazarene was one who followed Jehovah. To the Jew the term Nazarene means Separated, the main meaning of the word Church means separated as well, whereas the word Synagogue means Gathering, thus to the Jew the word “Church” meant Paul has separated himself from them, if he did, why not kill him? This goes back to tradition, the Jew considers a “brother” another Jew, and a Gentile a “Goy”, now they look at Paul as Goy. By their words, they are joining to the Romans (Goy), yet they know they would never allow one of the Romans into their Temple, thus this is one big mind game. Tertullus isn’t accusing all the Body, rather he is bringing the accusation upon Paul alone, the presumption is to get rid of Paul, he is a danger, which shows how effective Paul was. The great power was prior to this, why not use a napkin and heal someone? The anointing is stayed, the great power was no longer, his position was changing, but not his office. At this point in time Paul is answering for himself, or taking a position of self-justification. This would lead Paul to make a statement causing his bondage unto Rome.
Twelve days have now passed since Paul went to Jerusalem “to worship”, we find he really had no intent to preach at first, but then he was moved by the events of the moment. Anyone who is called to preach knows the feeling, the opportunity comes, so does the preaching. If the dog will sit still long enough, we’ll preach to it. Recalling how Paul went to the temple to worship, then he was accused, shows he really wanted to stay away from preaching to the Jews, but his desire was such it overcame him. We know how many times prior he went into the various temples, yet was rejected, then said, “I go to the Gentiles”, yet he kept coming back to the Temples. His desire was not evil, but one wherein he wanted others of his nation to know the glory of the Lord as he did; however, they are now disowning him as a member of their nation.
When the Jews took Paul they find him saying one thing, yet they accused him any way. Paul was in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the Jews took advantage of it. We also find Paul’s purpose for coming to Jerusalem was to bring the gathered alms to the church in Jerusalem (v. 24:17). Paul asks for the violation from those who were at the temple, not those who say they have second hand information. Where are the witnesses? Prior it was having a Gentile in the temple, now Paul says it’s based on his stand on the resurrection. Ahh, Paul was willing to give up his position in the First Resurrection, but he still held to the last resurrection, knowing he would be stood up, but it still doesn’t take away from the self-less act, it only adds to it. Paul was willing to serve the Bride, rather than be the Bride for his brethren, yet it was his brethren accusing him.
Paul uses the phrase Just and Unjust, but Jesus called it Unto Life and Unto Damnation, why did Paul use these terms? The Just live by Faith, referring to the First Resurrection; whereas the Unjust would refer to those judged according to their works of mercy at the last resurrection. Paul is talking about what they believe, the Jews combined the Resurrection of the Just into the Unjust, but Jesus is the Just One, those who partake of His Resurrection are Just by Him. We also find it wasn’t the Jews in Jerusalem, but the Jews from Asia who were bringing all this about, they were the same ones who came against Paul in Thessalonica. Paul’s preaching to the Gentiles caused these evil minded people to lay in wait to deceive, when the saw their chance, they moved. Did Jesus leave Paul? Not at all, it was in the plan, even the evil of these accusers will be worked into the plan to benefit all who love the Lord. Paul is in jail, but at least his friends can visit him.
Paul now moves to a witness about Christ in front of Felix and Drusilla. Felix was the brother of Pallas, Drusilla was the sister of Agrippa; however, she was not married to Felix at first. Drusilla was first married to Azizus, but Felix saw Drusilla and fell in love with her. Felix used the magic of a Jew by the name of Simon a Cypriot (not related to Peter) to entice Drusilla, thus Felix had a secret in his closet as well. Here these people are judging the man of God, how could this be? The time element now advances to two years; this wasn’t a two or three week ordeal, this matter lasted a considerable length of time. For some reason when it comes to the upper room we think it took days to “break through”, but in matters like this we think it took about an hour or two. The upper room took an hour or two, this is now years later.
ACTS – CHAPTER 25
1 Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
5 Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.
7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:
15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.
16 To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
17 Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.
18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.
21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.
22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.
24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Festus now comes on the scene, but he first heard from the high priests. The plan of the high priests was to cause Festus to bring Paul back to Jerusalem, where they would kill him on the way, these are the same who took a vow not to eat until Paul was dead, yet it’s two years later. Vows of anger, or revenge are short timed, ending in confusion, bitterness, or defeat, if they had not eaten, they would be dead, thus they broke their vow.
Festus makes the decision to go to Paul, rather than have Paul brought to him, which is not a routine venture. Festus like the others, would command the accused to be brought to them, but Festus for some “unknown reason” made a decision to cast away tradition by going to Paul. All the complaints against Paul were without evidence or proof, thus the case would fall apart in front of Festus. Festus now asks Paul if he would go to Jerusalem, this causes Paul to fall on the “seat of Caesar”. There was no chance of going to Jerusalem now, it was off to Rome to stand before Caesar’s court.
Before Paul goes to Rome, Agrippa and Bernice will come to Caesarea. Recalling Drusilla is the sister of Agrippa, now with the addition of Bernice, who was known to be an envious woman. Prior Bernice was married to Herod, who was both her husband and uncle. Bernice then married Polemo, but it didn’t last long either. She forsook both the Jewish religion and her matrimony to Polemo. Bernice is not the wife of Agrippa, but his mother. Festus rehearses the matter, advising Agrippa how the accusers of Paul have yet to show up, but when certain sent by the accusers did show they merely brought opinions and superstitions as their evidence. Before Festus can send Paul to Rome, he must have something to charge him with, there must be something to write about, something to justify the arrest to begin with, thus he uses this as an opportunity to involve Agrippa into the event. This is another act of self-justification, only here the man knew Paul was innocent, but Festus didn’t want to anger the Jews. He was a man pleaser, rather than a truth seeker.
ACTS – CHAPTER 26
1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers:
7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
Verses 1 and 2 show Paul was answering for himself, rather than allowing the Spirit to answer for him. This in no way takes anything away from Paul, but it does give us a clue to how any of us can move outside of our anointing finding ourselves facing the Agrippas. The Holy Ghost said Don’t go to Jerusalem, Paul’s choice was to go anyway, thus the communication would cut off until the Lord was ready to speak. There are times when we don’t hear from the Lord, but the choice is still before us. Do we make our choice based on what is good for us? Or do we make it on based on the will of God? This experience for Paul opened a whole new area into the Ways of God, Paul’s Acts were great, but he had to learn a deeper concept regarding the Ways of God. Not for himself, but for us, the majority of the letters had to be written, the New Testament had to be complete, yet no one can learn the Ways of God without the experience. Paul needed a place of confinement in order to hear, so he could write. From his confinement we have the majority of the New Testament letters, thus he did give so others could gain, the desire in his heart was completed. Many would read his letters gaining the knowledge they needed to believe, as they would win many Jews to the Lord. Paul wanted to preach to many, his letters have been preaching to many for nearly two thousand years.
Instead of Paul proclaiming the Way, he begins by showing his past, thus he is justifying himself. Paul goes back to the resurrection, but the accusation was not based on the resurrection, but Paul bringing a Greek (Gentile) into the temple. Later in verses 20 and 21 Paul will show the envy of the Jews from Asia was based in Paul’s preaching on repentance, not the Resurrection.
Paul then goes into his conversion indicating the change in his life, now he begins to speak for Jesus. The biggest evidence of the Christian is the change in the person; religion can change one’s habits, but not their nature. If they were nasty in the world, they are nasty in their religion, but a Christian gains a New Nature, with great and wonderful benefits unto the saving of their soul.
The story of the conversion changes from the last; prior Paul said those with him saw the Light, now he places the center of the event on Jesus (v. 22:9). Paul shows his calling was for the Gentiles, not the Jews. Prior in chapter 9 we found Paul would be told what he must suffer, here we find the addition of what Jesus told Paul. Clearly in verse 17 the call is to the Gentiles alone, we find five areas of the calling: 1) to open their eyes from darkness to Light; 2) from the power (authority) of Satan unto God; 3) they May receive forgiveness of sins; 4) to enter the inheritance; 5) to be sanctified, then the basis; for those who have Faith in Jesus (v. 18). Didn’t Jesus tell us to have Faith in God (Mark 11:22)? Here it’s faith in Jesus, could it be one and the same? Yes, we have faith in Jesus to reach the Father. Each step is a progression of events, one doesn’t receive the inheritance then have their eyes opened. Paul refers to this as a Heavenly Vision, the Pharisees believe in angels and heavenly visions, the Sadducees do not. The Sadducees rejected the vision based on their concepts of no angels, no spirits, no resurrection. Many days prior Jesus taught the Sadducees about the resurrection, but they rejected the teaching as well (Mark 12:18-27). Merely having the Truth presented to us isn’t going to free us, it’s when we receive the Truth freedom comes.
Paul shows his teaching is based on what Moses and the Prophets already wrote. This helps us understand why Paul told Timothy to study, to make himself approved (II Tim 2:15). What was Timothy to study? Timothy didn’t have the King James, tapes on Paul’s preaching or Paul’s commentaries, he had the Old Testament as the Jewish Scriptures. The Scriptures will give us Doctrine (not doctrines), the Scriptures will reprove us, correct us, give us instruction in righteousness (II Tim 3:16). Using the Bible to beat someone half to death is not reproving them, it’s killing the just. The Bible Instructs in Righteousness, it doesn’t give us Righteousness. We preach the Word and allow the Bible to do the reproving, rebuking and exhorting, thus reproving and rebuking without exhorting is not preaching the Word (II Tim 4:2). There is only one doctrine of Christ, coming from the Holy Ghost, Lord and Father of all (I Tim 4:1, Eph 4:3-7 & Heb 6:1). Whenever or wherever we have many doctrines, we are yet carnal, or blown about by every wind of doctrine. In reference to II Timothy 2:15 the word “show” as in “show yourself approved” as the Greek Paristemi from the Greek Para (near) and Histemi (to place), metaphorically it means To stand or To cause to Stand, relating to being able to stand. It also means to be able to Prove, although the classic Greek used it in reference to the ability to debate, we can see how Paul used it in reference to being able to withstand attacks. We also find this Greek word with the added Greek Hoi showing an ability to stand in a Friendly manner.
Jesus is the First Born from the dead, thus His Resurrection is the First. The First Resurrection isn’t done unto the Rapture, thus the Rapture is not a separate resurrection, but the completion of the First. The same Spirit who raised Jesus, will raise us. Therefore, being Born Again is having the Resurrection power within, but Jesus being the First Born doesn’t mean He was Born Again, rather it shows what He did made it possible for us to be Born Again (v. 26:23). In the Book of Revelation we find those who are partakers of the First Resurrection leave before the 1,000 years. Paul’s doctrine concerning the First Resurrection is also seen in his letters; the day will come when the Last Trump is sounded as the dead in Christ, along with those of us who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air, there we will remain with Him forever, thus we won’t remain on the earth forever (I Thess 4:16-17, I Cor 15:20-23 & 15:51-52). We find Paul understood the premise, yet he was willing to give up his position in the First Resurrection, to join those who sleep in Jesus, but as we find, it’s not up to us, it’s up to Jesus.
As Paul was “speaking for himself”, Festus claimed Paul was beside himself. Paul tells Festus the Words (Rhema) are Truth brought in Soberness (soundness of mind). Paul reminds Agrippa how the Prophets foretold these events, as well as Agrippa believing the Prophets, thus he should also believe Paul. Agrippa was “almost” converted, but again Paul found no one involved in this incident came to the Lord. This is so important, it shows the great love Jesus has for us. The seed was planted in Agrippa, Jesus wouldn’t allow Agrippa, or anyone else involved in this mess to receive the Lord based on the words of Paul, since it would cause Paul to give up his position. However, God’s knowledge is far above ours, those who desire the Lord will find someone, don’t forget the Apostles with many disciples were still in the area. We are “servers” not “saviors”, we can’t bind the strongman in someone else, we can’t force them to believe, we merely deliver, as we serve up the Bread of Life. Neither can we forget Agrippa was a Jew (Acts 26:3), therefore if Agrippa would have received, repented and converted, Paul would have his desire, he would have given up his place for the brethren. The only time Paul was in a location for any length of time and no one came to the Lord was here in Jerusalem. We know the Lord is longsuffering and willing for none to perish, but will some? Yes, from II Peter 3:9 and other verses we see how the Lord is willing for all to have the opportunity to repent. We can also see from Acts 26:27 how Agrippa believed the Prophets, so he was on the right track, at least he believed the prophets. If he was serious, Jesus would make sure he had an opportunity, but not at the risk of presenting danger to Paul.
Whenever we assume the Anointing follows us, we will end facing the Agrippas of the world. If Paul would not have “appealed to Caesar” he would still have gone to Rome, but he interjected his rights as a Roman. Although the Lord knew from the foundation of the world these events would take place, Paul didn’t. Paul’s best letters and teachings come after his arrest and imprisonment, the result was Good for the Body of Christ.
ACTS – CHAPTER 27
1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.
2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.
3 And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.
4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.
7 And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;
8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.
11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;
28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.
34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.
35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.
39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.
40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.
41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.
Paul didn’t lose his Grace or Mercy, but we don’t find the use of Special Miracles again (v. 19:11-12). We find in the letter to the Philippians (which was written after Paul had been imprisoned in Rome for some three to four years) how he was happy when Epaphroditus recovered from an illness (Ph’l 2:26-27). Paul also notes how Epaphroditus recovered based on Mercy, not Grace or Special Miracles (Ph’l 2:27). Although Paul lost his ability in Special Miracles, he nonetheless gained. The remaining amount of Saul died in this experience, so the fullness of Paul could give us letters without the old Saul entering therein, thus the benefit goes to the children of God; thereby invoking Agape Love in this experience, rather than Phileo.
Paul was still able to visit his friends, many assume these visits are equated to Paul’s freedom, thus bringing about the concept of many imprisonments; however, Paul was not released then re-imprisoned, rather this imprisonment would continue until his death at the hands of Nero. The Lord still spoke to Paul, still instructed him; therefore, if we slip we may lose some elements of Special ability, but we will gain in other areas to help many.
The Emperors of Rome would have their images put on the coins, when Nero started his persecution the Christians began to meet in catacombs under the city. Paul had no idea what he would run into in Rome, neither did he know there was be a change in direction of the Body from the Jew to the Gentile as the primary focus. When Paul faces Nero, he will face a very self-centered, arrogant, brute of a human. The Romans in general were paranoid over secret groups, Nero would use the paranoid to his advantage; not only would he set fire to Rome, but he blamed the Christians, he was also instrumental in starting rumors of the Christians were really cannibals, thus he twisted the “Communion” of the Body and Blood to the lie of the Christians stealing and eating babies, then drinking the blood of babies. We know about the catacombs, and how the Christians were not cannibals. However, Nero heard the Gospel, rejected it completely, then went out of his mind, beginning a reign of terror lasting through different Emperors.
Back to Paul and the trip to Rome, Paul perceived danger to their lives, but we find no one lost their life in the shipwreck. Paul has the perceived feeling, but fear is also entering therein, the mixture of fear into faith brought about the addition of “but also of our lives” (v. 27:10). Paul was told many days prior, he would go to Rome, but here it appears as if he wonders if they will make it (v. 23:11). When Paul was told not to go to Jerusalem, he went anyway, here he is telling the men not to venture into the sea, yet they are going anyway, thus Paul now feels what the Lord felt when Paul turned his ears from the Holy Ghost to his own desire (vs. 20:22-25, 21:4, 21:10 & 21:12-14).
The Storm cometh; when the south wind started, they assumed their plans were approved, thus they sailed off. Not long thereafter came a tempestuous wind called Euroclydon meaning a Storm from the east, or a Storm from the south-east, which always means a great storm. They started by using helps, or ropes to tie around the hull of the ship to keep it from falling apart. This was a common method of seamanship to use large ropes to hold the outer planks of the ship against the inner struts in storms, but in this case it didn’t seem to help much. The Second Day they lightened the load by casting off many items. They started by attempting to save everything, they tied the outer planks in order to keep the ship afloat, then they lighten the load, things were not getting better. We tend to do the same in the beginning of the storm, we set ourselves to save everything, then we find many things we were attempting to save, are not worth saving. All those soulish traits we held as treasures are cast over the side, the more we cast off, the lighter we feel.
The Third Day they tossed the tackling over, the tackling would include the sails, masts, or other elements to promote the sailing of the ship. James tells us we use the helm of the ship to guide it through the water, yet the helm is a small thing compared to the ship, likewise our tongues are a small item compared to the rest of our bodies, yet it guides us into all sorts of things, some good, some bad (James 3:4-10).
The Third Day is past, one would assume God would surely deliver them, after all the third day was a sign of the Resurrection, surely the Lord would deliver them from the storm; however, they had many more days to face the storm before the Word of the Lord would come. Waiting is a storm as the soul yells out Do something, yet the Spirit is saying Wait on the Word from the Lord. This Storm is a summary of the Book of Acts, testing then blessing, blessing then testing, with the storms coming wherein it appears as if God has left us, when He has never left us, nor forsaken us. After it appeared there was no hope, hope came. After we have attempted everything to save ourselves, or it appears as if all hope is gone, then comes the Voice of the Lord with hope in hand. Paul could now say, The word of the Lord came unto me saying. They fasted for many days, then Paul stood and proclaimed how an angel of God told him “Fear Not” (vs. 27:23-24). Why would the angel say Fear Not, if Paul didn’t have a fear? Paul was a man of God, but nonetheless a man who suffered from like passions as we. Lying about our faith, and having it are different. There are times when all of us fall into fear, we need the Rhema to secure us in the Logos. Paul puts his soul under submission to the Spirit as he recalls the words, “You will go to Rome”, the decision is made, now it’s the doing.
It was fourteen Nights later, around midnight the shipmen found the bottom of the sea going from twenty fathoms to fifteen, thus land was near, but fear entered as well as they assumed the rocks would kill them if the storm didn’t. There is also a vast difference between a Fear of God, and a fear of evil coming from God. God is the absolute power, all Power is in His hands, Jude says the false ones lack a fear of God (Jude 12). A Fear of God is not based in Terror, but in knowledge of God’s integrity and Power keeping us on the path of righteousness. Therefore, a fear of God is part of our faith, as faith knows God’s Love is the Greatest of all the Fruit, without it we lack the premise to hold a Godly respect for God. The reference to Fear Not means don’t hold a fear of evil, causing one to vacate their fear of God. Paul moved in faith this time, he took Bread, blessed it and gave. When the bottom is coming up, or the rocks of destruction appear ahead, we need to run to the Rock of our Salvation at the Table of the Lord. After they took Bread, good cheer came, as peace and faith entered where fear once ruled. The ship went to pieces, but the men didn’t.
All the men were saved, thus showing Paul’s earlier comments regarding the loss of life were not based on prophecy, but the prophecy of damage to the ship and the storm was of the Lord. We can have a sound word from the Lord, yet mix a few soulish areas in, thus producing fear where faith should reign. There were 276 souls on board, when they entered good cheer with their rescue in hand.
At first the soldiers thought to kill all the prisoners, but Paul’s prophecy from the angel was “you must be brought to Caesar: and, lo, God has given thee all them that sail with thee” (v. 27:24). If they kill Paul, they end killing themselves, again we find Jesus is in control. The prophecy was spoken, it must come to pass, all Paul had to do was believe into the prophecy. When we kill the prophecy, we kill the purpose of the prophecy.
Paul wrote First Thessalonians in 64 AD, some four years after he landed in Rome, in the letter he told the Thessalonians to Rejoice evermore, to Pray without ceasing: in Everything give thanks; for this is the Will Of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things: hold fast to what is good (I Thess 5:16-21). The word Despise means Bring to zero or Bring to naught. We can hear the prophecy, yet fail to believe in it, making it come to zero in our lives. The soldiers had their own lives in their hands, it depended on how they treated Paul. The Centurion was a man of authority, but a man under authority as well, by his concern and willingness to save Paul, he was also willing to save all. Those who could, swam to the shore, others on the broken pieces of the ship, but all reached land. This is an area where a heathen was moved by compassion, thus even this heathen did the law of faith, without knowing it. There are times when God will give us a plank, other times when we walk, whatever He tells us to do, we do. Paul had a word of encouragement, they were going to be Safe, all would be safe if they listened to the words of the prophet.
ACTS – CHAPTER 28
1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:
10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.
12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.
13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:
14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.
15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.
19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.
20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
As soon as the Centurion made the decision to save Paul, some serpent made the decision to stop Paul. By now Paul had the word firm in his heart, he was going to Rome, the shipwreck didn’t stop him, this serpent wasn’t going to stop him either. As Paul was reaching for the Wood (a symbol of the Cross) the serpent attacked, but Paul didn’t panic or run, he knew his purpose was now secure. God has delivered him from the storm, from the wishes of the Jews who wanted to kill him, he was going to Rome. Although faith is future tense, it holds a present tense conviction, but it gains it’s information from our belief. Paul knew he was going to Rome, Jesus said so, thus some serpent couldn’t stop it, if the storm of storms couldn’t. Our faith may entail a Word from the Lord, but our belief is based on information gained from prophecies, experiences, or Scripture. Belief and Faith are partners, yet fear forgets the past, as it attempts to manipulate the future. Not only did Paul benefit from his faith, but those on the island also benefited. This experience has nothing to do with Mark 16:18, since two different Greek words are used for the word serpents: in Mark it points to malicious people, here it’s a viper. Mark’s context refers to malicious people being saved in the net, it has noting to do with picking up vipers, thus Paul didn’t pick up this viper, it attached itself to him.
The healing of the sick is still an act of Mercy, after Three Days it came to pass the father of the chief of the island fell sick. Now the Three Days does come into play, thus showing we must discern the metaphor. Prior the Three Days came and went and there was no change, here there is a change. Paul prayed, laid hands on the man and “healed him” (v. 28:8). Wait what about the Special Power? Why pray? Many times prior Paul laid hands on many and they were healed, here he first goes into prayer. Why didn’t Paul simply lay a napkin on the man? Why didn’t he simply say, “Raise up”? This would be the first time Paul would operate under his calling since he was arrested in Jerusalem. He knew God was with him, but was the Anointing? God first healed Paul of the snake bite, then came the healing for others. Once Paul was healed, he knew freely he received, freely he could give. The verses show Paul did the healing, but we know it was by the Mercy he received.
After three months they left in another ship, landing in Syracuse. They tarried another Three Days, each of the Three Days reminded Paul of the Three prophecies about Jerusalem. We recall how Peter was told Three Times about the denials, yet both Peter and Paul were converted (turned around again), then they were able to strengthen their brothers in Christ. Paul found brethren and remained with them seven days. The brethren came from all around, as Paul gained courage from the visitations. They didn’t come to Paul saying, “Well Paul, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten yourself into”, or “Paul if you would have only listened”; rather they came to encourage the man of God. Paul needed to be Restored and encouraged, not rebuked and rejected.
When this arrest coupled with the plea to appear before Caesar began when Augustus was Caesar (Acts 25:21), but when Paul finally gets to Rome Nero is Caesar. Nonetheless, after they arrived at Rome, Paul was given a house, but with a guard, thus he could have anyone visit him, but he was still restricted to the house. Was God still in control, Yes, by all means. History tells us after the Book of Acts was finished Luke was hung on a tree by idol worshiping priests. The Book of Acts stops by showing Paul was in the house for two years; however, it doesn’t show any other trips by Paul, or Paul being released, thus the concept of Paul being released is based in misunderstanding the event. Paul held out hope of being released until the very end, but it doesn’t mean he was released.
Paul will prophesy a change in the course of the Body, showing how we are able to be free of the Law of Moses, as well as how the Gospel to the Jews ended, showing the change in the Letters Paul wrote after this event. True, there appears from the context of Acts it was required by some to follow the Law of Moses, but they were Jews who entered through faith, not By faith, they also had the Gospel to the Jews.
After Three Days Paul called the chief of the Jews from Rome. Paul’s letter to the Romans was written around 60 AD, some two years prior to Paul being housed in Rome, but the Letter to the Romans came when Paul was still imprisoned in Jerusalem before Ananias in 60 AD (vs. 23:1-5), thus he felt he would be released, or able to visit some of the churches. He was also moving to vacate any use of the Law of Moses for any purpose, thus changing the course to Faith alone. The earliest of Paul’s letters would be the letter to the Galatians in 58 AD, then First Corinthians in 59 AD, the only two written before his arrest in Jerusalem. In both of those letters he makes mention of visiting them, then in many other letters he holds out hope of visiting, but it doesn’t mean he did, in Second Corinthians it shows his letter was a visitation (II Cor 13:1-2).
Paul goes over the events in Jerusalem with the Roman Jews, but they had neither letter or word regarding Paul, thus they were not going to stand in judgment of him in front of Rome’s civil authorities. However, they did want to hear more about this Way which was spoken of. From Paul’s first visit to Rome when he stood on Mars’ Hill to this point in time, some seven years had passed. These Jews were not standing with, or among the Romans who stood on Mars’ Hill, the context of verses 17:22-34 shows it was the “men of Athens”. Paul did dispute with the Jews in the synagogue at Athens, but the context shows his main endeavors were among the common folk in Athens (vs. 17:16-18). Whatever the case, he was now talking to the Jews about the Way. When Paul talks to these Jews he found some believed, some didn’t, which caused Paul to speak as a Prophet. Paul by the Holy Ghost now changes the course and direction, there was only one Gospel for all, Jew or Gentile (vs. 28:28). Paul continued to preach the Kingdom, as he taught the things concerning Jesus, many of which were written for our edification. Acts 28:30 refers to a hire house, under Nero people had to pay for their keep, it doesn’t mean Paul rented his own jail cell.
The letters of Abdias tell us Nero sent an order to have Paul executed, by having two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius carry out the work, then bring back word of Paul’s death. When they came to Paul, he was preaching to the people and commanding for them to be water baptized at his sepulcher. After Ferega and Parthemius took Paul out to behead him; it was reported when Paul’s head fell to the ground, bounced three times bringing forth three springs of water, known today as the Three Fountains Of Paul. Paul died before the destruction of the temple, but nonetheless he wrote much concerning the temple, all of which will be examined in lessons to come.
By Rev. G. E. Newmyer – s.b.i.les17Rev11/ © 2003