Sunday, September 20, 2020

Acts Study | Session 32 | 19:1-35

In today's study, we find Paul back in Ephesus where he meets twelve men who had only knew of the baptism of John, the sons of Sceva attempting to cast out a demon, and creating another riot because the business and religious people there felt that his teaching was going to harm their livelihood there in Ephesus where they worshipped the goddess Diana.

Chapter 19 

VERSES 1-2: 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. Paul, on his way to Ephesus, runs into twelve (v.7) men who were disciples of John the Baptist. It is apparent from the context that these men, despite the fact that Pentecost was twenty years prior, had no idea about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that happened in Acts 2. This makes it obvious that these are Jews that Paul was dealing with here. They were under the baptism of John still. 

VERSE 3: And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. It is interesting that Paul realized that they had received some kind of baptism, but just wanted to clarify. It seems from the text, at least to me, that he knew the answer before he even asked it based on their behavior. By acknowledging that they were under John's baptism, it means that they had accepted the message of repentance that John preached, but had not received the spiritual baptism that happened at Pentecost. So, they had no doubt repented, baptized, and were looking for the Messiah. 

Note: It was not the same baptism that we practice today which represents the death, burial, and resurrection and is not required for salvation. 

VERSES 4-7: 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. I have been guilty of "overthinking" these verses and arriving at a bad interpretation for years. The bottom line is that these guys had accepted the teaching of John that the Messiah was going to come, but they did not know that Jesus was that promised Messiah, so Paul took the time to explain it to them. They needed to understand that Jesus was that promised Messiah and then receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was poured out in Acts 2 as prophesied by Joel as a sign (1Cor 1:22). This happened when Paul laid hands on them as Peter and John did with the kingdom believers in Samaria with Philip in Acts 8. 

These twelve Jewish disciples of John just received the long-overdue gift of the Holy Spirit that was promised to believing Israel in the book of Joel, and in the gospels, and in the early part of the book of Acts who believed that Jesus was their Christ.

Now, with that in mind, at least to me, the text clearly indicates that Paul did not preach the Grace Gospel to these twelve men. They were Kingdom believers and they stayed that way as that there is no mention of trusting in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to these twelve Jewish believers. These were kingdom saints and they would receive the baptism with the Holy Ghost after they had repented and were baptized in Jesus' name just like Peter said they should in Acts 2:38.

Finally, just another proof text, notice that it says that the Holy Spirit came "on" them. Not "in" them like he does for the Body of Christ, but "on" them. Again, this was a time of overlap in the Kingdom offer and the beginning of the age of grace. I believe this time of overlap officially ended at the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. 

VERSE 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. Remember that Paul had already been to Ephesus in Acts 18:19-20 when they desired for him to stay longer, but he couldn't because he was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem. Now he is back for three months and still disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. Again, this can not be taught today, not even to the Jews, because that offer is no longer on the table. 

VERSE 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. But, as usual, some did not believe, and Paul left the synagogue and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 

VERSE 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. So, over a space of two years, Paul taught the word of the Lord Jesus to both Jews and Greeks. Again, it is difficult to determine what Paul preached to whom, Kingom or Grace. Again, the word for Greeks is hellen which refers to non-Jews. The assumption would be that Paul would have been preaching the Kingdom Gospel to the Jews and the Grace Gospel to the Gentiles. However, as we look through this chapter, it seems that he only taught the Kingdom Gospel.

Randy White points out a few things. First, the says clearly that he was teaching the kingdom of God (v.8), and nowhere do we see that the message changed. It would require an assumption on our part to assume otherwise. Second, he is performing special miracles which is always associated with the Kingdom, not the Grace Gospel. Third, those who responded confessed and shewed their deeds. which is consistent with the Kingdom message. With this in mind, we would be hard-pressed to conclude that Paul preached anything other than a Kingdom message to the Ephesians. 

That is not to say that he didn't also preach the other, just that the text does not support it. Gentiles were present, and they accepted the message, but again, we see no indicator from the text that he went into a Grace message with them. We have to assume that during this unique time of overlap that both were effectual. 

Randy also offers some possible scenarios. First, Paul only preached the Kingdom message, and later Timothy continued and shared the grace message. As you remember, Paul wrote to Timothy who was in Ephesus in his first letter (1Tim 1:1-3). Second, Paul did preach both messages, but only the Kingdom is emphasized in the text. 

Of course, today, most mix the two anyway and naturally see no point in our discussion right now. 

VERSES 11-12: 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. Again, these verses seem to indicate a Kingdom message  (1Cor 1:22). Of course, the signs were so that the Jews would believe. It is also obvious that later on, Paul did not have the ability to perform miracles. They were temporary because they were a part of the Kingdom message. We do know that Paul was able to perform them up until at least Acts 28:1-9 when on his way to Rome, he was shipwrecked in Melita when he healed Publius' father, the islanders, and the snake bite that did not cause him any harm. 

Of course, it was at Rome that he pinned his prison epistles with new revelations in regards to the Body of Christ. Afterward, we see no miracles from Paul. Interestingly, on this same island, later Paul was not able to heal Trophimus later (2Tim 4:20). 

I am of the opinion now, haven't always been, that the sign gifts associated with the Kingdom message ceased with the rejection of the Kingdom. The next time these gifts will come back will be Daniel's 70th Week. In the meantime, the Bible does foretell of false signs that will accompany apostasy in the latter days (Mat 24:24). 

That is a hard one to settle on since so many today swear by them. I can only conclude that they are mistaken and overcome with emotion. 

VERSES 13-14: 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. Now we are introduced to some Jews that apparently specialized in exorcisms. And when they did it, they did so by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. Among these were the seven sons of Sceva. Sceva is said to be chief of the priests in Ephesus. So this would have made him a member of the Sanhedrin there. 

One teacher puts it this way, "they were not evil men, just ignorant of what they were getting themselves involved in. Their father was a chief priest and they were all wanting to serve the Lord with what knowledge they had. They no doubt had heard that Paul was casting out demons in the name of Jesus and they perhaps thought it may work for them being fellow Jews, but something was missing in their walk with God, salvation. They did not know that being a Jew like Paul was not enough, you had to know the Jesus that Paul preached before you could call upon his name."

VERSE 15: And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?  Notice that the evil spirit said that he knew Jesus and Paul, but not them. That must have been just a bit scary I would think. The word ginosko speaks of intimate knowledge. 

VERSE 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. Well, that did not end well at all! Unusual strength seems to be the order of the day with evil spirits (Mar 9:14-29; Mar 5:1-5). The word wounded is interesting in that it means traumatized. 

Les Feldick points out at this point that Paul never addressed the issue of demonic possession; therefore, salvation is the only answer. Something to think about. I mean, all exorcisms occurred during the Kingdom offer. 

VERSE 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. No doubt, this further magnified the ministry of Paul. 

VERSE 18: And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. The result was that many believed, confessed, and shewed their deeds.  Again, this verse suggests a Kingdom response here. 

Notice that it says that they shewed their deeds. That literally means that they disclosed their deeds or openly confessed their deeds. 

VERSE 19-20: 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. Also, many who believed confessed to using curious arts. In context, the word is referring to magic and all of the accouterments associated with that. 

Historically, the city of Ephesus was ate up with magic and sorcery. History paints a picture of Ephesus as full of paganism and mysticism. One writer said, "Magic scrolls, rings, amulets, bracelets, and necklaces thought to have powers were all common in ancient Ephesus. The price of these magical documents and trinkets varied, but history tells us that there was a huge market for them in the commercial agora." It was altogether worth 50K pieces of silver. You talking about putting your money where your mouth is! This was going to lead to short term problems of course as we will see over idol worship. 

VERSES 21-22: 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. Now, Paul feels led to pass through Macedonia and Achaia to Jerusalem, and then on to Rome. This would complete his third missionary journey. I believe that Paul felt that as to the Gentiles that Rome was the golden apple as the capital of the Gentile world. 

On a side note, I find it interesting that the Devil wants everyone to believe that Peter founded the church in Rome, thus thoroughly conflating and mixing the Kingdom with the Grace gospels and diminishing the role of Paul. The Devil is in the details for sure and has been trying to mix the two programs and cause division and confusion for quite some time. 

VERSE 23: And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. Notice that way. I believe that the way or that way is always a reference to the Kingdom program (John 14:6; Acts 9:2). Therefore, it has nothing to do with the Pauline gospel of grace. 

VERSE 24: For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; Diana was the Greek goddess Artemis. She was the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. Orion was who she loved. She was worshipped as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery. Her temple in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the world at the time. Many connect her to Semiramis. 

VERSE 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. Of course, there is no doubt that Demetrius is first and foremost acting out of self-preservation, but who would really care about that. So, he makes it about their great goddess Diana. The same tactic is used today in society, i.e., make it about one thing while nothing could be farther from the truth. 

VERSES 28-30: 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. Things are have just turned ugly. 

VERSE 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. Albert Barnes says of this chiefs that they "were persons who presided over sacred things and over the public games. It was their business to see that the proper services of religion were observed, and that proper honor was rendered to the Roman emperor in the public festivals, at the games, etc. They were annually elected, and their election was confirmed at Rome before it was valid. Probably they were assembled on such an occasion now; and during their remaining there they had heard Paul preach, and were friendly to his views and doctrines." There is no indication from the text that they were believers. 

VERSES 32-34: 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. However, Alexander was, he was prepared to speak on behalf of the Jews. Some associate him with Alexander the Coppersmith in 1Tim 1:20, but that is speculation. If would make sense that a Jew would be asked to defend what was going on because Paul's Kingdom message was to and about them. However, it doesn't appear that he was allowed to speak, and even if he had, we have no idea what he was prepared to say; for or against Paul. Of course, if this was in indeed the same Alexander mentioned to Timothy, it would seem that he spoke against.

VERSE 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? The townclerk appears to be just trying to calm the situation by saying basically that everyone knows that the image of Diana fell down from Jupiter. He is saying that there is nothing to worry about from these Jews. Of course, time proved him wrong! The word worshipper in this verse means a temple keeper. 

David Guzil points out at this point that what was going on in Ephesus as a result of Paul's teaching did not please the Devil at all and it may have been why he spoke of spiritual warfare in Eph 6:10-20. When God is at work, the Devil does get busy for sure. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Acts Study | Session 31 | 18:9-28

In today's study, we find Paul receiving encouragement from the Lord, his continued ministry in Corinth, his vow, his decision to return to Antioch, ministry in Ephesus, the end of his second missionary journey, the beginning of the third. and are introduced to Apollos.

VERSES 9-10: 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. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul was beginning to grow weary in well-doing and needed some encouragement that only God could give him. He may very well have been at the point of calling it quits based on the encouragement. It reminds me of the expression, "We are immortal until God is through with us."

VERSE 11: And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Apparently, the encouragement helped! He stopped running and dug his heels in and stayed a year and six months. 

VERSES 12-13: 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. The fact that they were accusing Paul of persuading men to worship God contrary to the law makes it pretty clear that he was indeed teaching the Gospel of Grace that did not require the keeping of the Law. It is clear that the Jews saw Paul's message as contrary to the keeping of the Law. 

Now, some will say that the Jews were in the wrong here. No, not at all, what they were accusing Paul of was 100% correct. He was teaching salvation apart from works. The very acknowledgment of this fact is a nod to dispensationalism. Again, a dispensation is a given period in redemptive history that God deals with man in a certain way, i.e., Innocence (Genesis 1 -3); Conscience (Genesis 3-8); Civil Government (Genesis 9-11); Promise (Genesis 12-Ex. 19); Law (Exodus 20 - Acts 9); Grace (Acts 9 - Philemon); and Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6).

VERSES 14-16: 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. Gallio, who was apparently a part of the Roman government wanted nothing to do with this situation because Paul had obviously not done anything contrary to Roman law. He told them to handle it among themselves and threw them out from the judgment seat because he only dealt with matters of wrong and wicked lewdness. This is the word Bema that we are all so accustomed to hearing about who we will each appear before one ourselves (2Cor 5:10). 

VERSE 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. Greeks? Only the KJV uses this term. The other translations simply say something like and they all took hold of Sosthenes or then they all turned on Sosthenes. In the original, the word Greek is hellen which refers to non-Jews. Some will argue that it is actually the hellenist Jews, usually translated as Grecians, but the original does not support that in my opinion, e.g., Acts 6:1; Acts 9:29; Acts 11:20. Sosthenes is mentioned again in 1Cor 1:1. Maybe because of this event, he decided to leave the synagogue and team up with Paul? 

VERSE 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. Paul apparently stayed in Corinth in spite of the uprising a little longer and then decides to head back to Antioch. This journey would take him through Syria, Cenchrea, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, and then to Antioch. 

Notice that it says that Paul had a vow. Whatever vow it was involved cutting his hair and the only one that requires that is the Nazarite Vow which was for a time of dedication to the Lord (Num 6:1-21). Five things about this vow: 1. It was voluntary, 2. It could be done by either men or women, 3. It had a specific time frame, 4. It had specific requirements and restrictions, and 5. at its conclusion a sacrifice was to be offered.

However, this is pure speculation on our part, and yet so many preach it dogmatically. One might speculate that this is what he was doing in v.21.

VERSES 19-21: 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. Still on his way to Antioch, Paul stops briefly in Ephesus and heads to the synagogue. Remember in v.5 that he left the synagogue in Corinth to go to the Gentiles. Obviously, that was a one-time situation and not a pattern for the rest of his ministry. 

And we find, as was his custom, he reasoned with the Jews no doubt about the ministry of Christ (Acts 17:3). They obviously wanted to hear more but he was pressed to keep moving to get to Jerusalem. The KJV says that he wanted to get to Jerusalem while the others leave this phrase out. 

VERSE 22: And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. Whatever he did in Jerusalem was short. Gone up is a reference to Jerusalem because it is the only place referred to as up in the New Testament. As I stated earlier, many believe he was fulfilling the sacrifice for the Nazarite Vow. 

Upon his return to Antioch, his second missionary journey is complete. 

VERSE 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. And just as quickly as the second journey ended, the third began. We do not know how long some time there was. Again, his goal was to strengthen all the disciples just like they did on the second journey (Acts 15:35-36). 

VERSE 24: And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. Now we are introduced to Apollos from Alexandria. Again, remember that Luke is writing this account. 

Notice that he says that Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures. The word eloquent means that he was a fluent orator. So not only was he knowledgable, mighty in the Scriptures, but he had the ability to share that knowledge in an understandable way. Believe me, that is a gift that not all men possess. The bottom line is that if you must understand it to explain it. That requires study that most Christians are simply not willing to do. 

In Bible College, we had to take a pulpiteering class in which they filmed us and offered feedback. As I look back on it, it was an awesome class. 

VERSE 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. He had been instructed well in regards to the way of the Lord, was fervent, and diligent, but he only knew the baptism of John. This just means that he did not know about the Grace Gospel that had been given to Paul yet. So, it would seem that he was a Kingdom believer, just not fully aware of the mystery that had been given to Paul. 

VERSE 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. After Aquila and Priscilla heard him speak in the synagogue, they pulled him aside and brought him up to speed in regards to what God had been doing through Paul's life and ministry so that he could understand the way of God more prefectly, or more exactly. 

VERSE 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: So now, Apollos, being more fully informed in regards to Pauline Theology, shared that with the brethren in Achaia. Apollos was now more prepared to rightly divide Law and Grace, the Kingdom Gospel, and the Grace Gospel. I have found in my ministry that that ability changes everything! We will find later that Apollos was effective at it because he had quite a following (1Cor 1:12). We do the same thing today by the way. 

VERSE 28: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. Again, we are in a time of overlap that makes it practically impossible to see hard lines between the one and the other in regards to the gospels. Today, this is not the case and should not be an issue, but sadly, we still blur the lines by not rightly dividing making it more difficult than it should be. 

Note: The point of the Kingdom Gospel was to show that Christ was the Messiah, while the point of the Grace Gospel is to show that Christ is the Savior. 

Why was it so important for Apollos to understand the difference? Because one was for national salvation and the other is for individual salvation. One was going away and another was just coming in. One would no longer eventually be effective, while the other will last until the Rapture. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Acts Study | Session 30 | 17:18-18:8

In today's study, we find Paul ministering in Corinth where he accuses the Epicureans and Stoics of being too superstitious in their worship. He then begins to identify The Unknown God that they have been ignorantly worshiping and encourages them to repent of their idolatry and to turn to the one true and living God.

VERSE 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. Paul's preaching caught the ear of certain philosophers. Epicureans were people who follow the philosophy of "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die". Epicurus taught ataraxia which means living with no need and no distress. It is the basic philosophy of the West today, e.g., the first article in the Declaration of Independence says contains the phrase when it says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

On the other side were the stoics who were the exact opposite. They believed that life should be lived with logic and one should not allow themselves to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world. 

Some saw Paul as a babbler, and others saw him as a setter forth of strange gods. Babbler comes from the word spermologos which means seed picker or a gossiper or trifler in talk. 

VERSES 19-20: 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. Notice that unlike the unbelieving Jews who simply responded with violence to things that Paul taught because they either didn't understand or agree, these wanted to hear more about this new doctrine. 

The Areopagus is the same as Mars Hill (v.22).  Mars is a reference to the Greek God. The Areopagus is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. It was the location of a court and was supposed to have been the site where Ares was tried by the gods for the murder of Poseidon's son Halirrhothius.

VERSE 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.) Notice that their motivation was to hear some new thing. Like our culture today, people were always looking for the next new thing. While there is nothing wrong with being willing to listen, we must ultimately take the evidence that is presented, which requires energy that most do not have, and make sure it is accurate. If I have learned anything, it is that we are constantly being presented with new information that requires the same process. 

VERSES 22-23: 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. Notice he says that he perceives that they are too supersitious. In the Greek, it is deisi-daimon-esteros and is a compound word that means fearful of demons. Today, we would interpret it to mean simply a reverence for the supernatural. 

And as such, they even worshiped at the altar of THE UNKNOWN GOD in apparent ignorance (agnostic). In other words, they don't even know who this god is and yet they still choose to worship it. He is basically saying, you obviously acknowledge that you do not know "all" of the God's, so I am going to tell you about the one you are missing. 

VERSES 24-25: 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; Interestingly, we are going to see that Paul was not very "seeker sensitive" nor did he try to when friends and influence people as he spoke to these Epicureans and Stoics. 

The first point that Paul makes is that God made the world and all things therein. This offended the Stoics because they are pantheistic and he is declaring monotheism. This offended the Epicureans who did believe in a diety, but a distant deity that keeps man at an arms-length. And he offended them all by saying that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands because the entire city and economy revolved around temples made with hands. However, Paul is saying that this Unknown God that they ignorantly worship does not. 

VERSES 26-28: 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. The second point that Paul makes is that this God is very involved in the affairs of man. Again, offensive to both. 

Paul declares that God made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth. One blood is a reference to Adam and that all men came from him. I guess Paul didn't totally understand the science of evolution or the Christianized version called Theistic Evolution. By the way, there is only one race on earth and they are called men. The other translations omit the word blood, but the meaning is the same. 

God has also determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. This literally means that God is sovereign over man and his boundaries. The word literally means limit placing or boundary line which means that men and their habitations have a predetermined shelf life. Of course, one only needs to read the 9th chapter of Daniel to see this.  

He goes on to say that this God has done these things so that the nations of men will seek him if haply they might feel after him, and find him because he is not far from every one of us. He goes on to be culturally relevant by quoting one of their own poets when he says for in him we live, and move, and have our being. This is a quote from a popular poem of the day written by Aratus (315-240 BC), "Phenomena", which was prose that described the constellations. Interestingly, it is that that he was from Tarsus in Cilicia just like Paul, which might explain why he was familiar with his work. 

In it, he wrote, "Let us begin with god, whom we mortals never leave unspoken. For every street, every market-place is full of god. Even the sea and the harbour are full of this deity. Everywhere everyone is indebted to god. For we are indeed his offspring."

VERSES 29-31: 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. He begins to wrap up with since 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. In other words, since they all came from God via Adam, they should not try to find God in 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. Again, not being very delicate in regards to their obvious idolatry. 

He goes on to point out in v.30 that while God has winked at their idolatry done in ignorance, he now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. From the context, he is speaking to Gentiles, which God did not deal with in times past, but the nation of Israel alone, but now, He is. This speaks of the new dispensation in which now both Jew and Gentile are to repent. Repent meaning to change their way of thinking, and turn from their idols to Lord of heaven and earth (v.24).

Why? - 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.

VERSES 32-34: 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. Notice that the response to Jesus and his resurrection from the dead was either mocked or considered it. Understand that the resurrection is a key component or element of the Gospel. Under the Kingdom Gospel, had he not risen, the Kingdom could have never been legitimately offered. Under the Grace Gospel, one must believe it in order to be saved. The resurrection is essential to both. Paul spoke to this in 1Cor 15:12-19. 

In regards to those who did believe the Grace Gospel, they were Gentiles since that is the audience that he was addressing. They responded favorably just like the Philippian Jailer before. 

Chapter 18

VERSE 1: After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; Interestingly, Paul didn't get thrown out of Athens like so many times before, he appears to have left on his own accord and timing. Corinth is just south of Athens and was a very important city in that while Athens contained the academics, Corinth was the seat of government for the region. We are going to discover down in v.11 that Paul had quite a long ministry in this city. 

VERSES 2-3: 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. Here he meets to Jews named Aquila and Priscilla. It says that they were there because of Claudius had kicked them out of Rome. This is also the first time that we learn that Paul was a tentmaker. 

This skill and trade would have most likely been passed down to him from his father. There is a Jewish proverb that says, "He that teaches not his son a trade is as if he taught him to be a thief." No doubt, he made these for shepherds and soldiers alike.

Today, the term has come to refer to someone who does not receive full-time pay from the ministry and has to do something else on the side to make ends meet. 

VERSE 4: And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Again, we find him in the synagogue every sabbath persuading both Jews and Greeks. 

Note: Why does the church worship on Sunday and not Saturday today? 1. The Sabbath commemorates God's creation and provision (Exo 31:16-17). It was given to Israel under the Law. 2. Sunday, on the other hand, commemorates Grace in that Christ rose from the dead (Luke 24:1) on that day and it was the day the early church gathered (1Cor 16:2). The first commemorates God's creation while the second commemorates the Lord's resurrection. 

Kevin Sadler wrote that the "Sabbath speaks of rest after work and relates to the Law and the work required by those under the Law in Law-keeping, with the works, observation of feasts, and sacrifices that Israel was commanded to do continually by faith. The Sabbath foreshadows the rest that Israel will enjoy in her end times, in her millennial rest within the earthly kingdom.

Sunday worship on the first day of the week speaks to a rest that takes place before work and relates to Grace and the rest we, the Body of Christ, have in Christ and His finished work right up front. Having trusted that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again (1Cor 15:3-4), we are “complete in [Christ]” (Col 2:10).  Salvation is a “gift” that we receive the moment we believe; it is “not of works” (Eph 2:8-9). For most working people, our work week follows after the first day of the week. And under Grace, because we are saved, “works” follow after out of joy and gratitude for our accomplished salvation in Christ (Eph 2:10)."

Again, we see that Paul's tried and trued method was reason and persuasion. That is all that we can do today. Some will listen today, others tomorrow, and others never. 

VERSE 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. Now Silas and Timothy who he had left in Berea catches up with him (Acts 17:10). As such, Paul is pressed in the spirit. The KJV does not capitalize spirit, the NKJV does. Other translations do not use the word at all. In the end, it means that he was pressed or encouraged to teach the Word. 

VERSE 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. This is the first time that we see Paul purposely abandoning the synagogue, but we will find that this was not permanent at all (Rom 1:16). 

VERSES 7-8: And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. (18) 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. Justis was a Gentile that worshiped God but apparently had not converted to Judaism. It is then that many believe and the church of Corinth was begun. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Acts Study | Session 29 | 16:32-17:17

 In today's study, we Paul leading the Philippian Jailer to faith, being forced to use his Roman citizenship card again, and his ministry in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens.

VERSE 32: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. After the jailer asks the question, Paul begins to answer it by sharing the word of the Lord with him. 

VERSE 33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. Afterward, the jailer took them to his home and washed their stripes. Afterward, he and all his were baptized straightway. 

VERSE 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. Can't help but note that by not leaving and allowing the jailer to minister to them, they saved his life. 

VERSES 37-40: 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. Again, we see Paul playing his Roman citizenship card. Saul was both a Jew and a Gentile by citizenship. We spoke to this in regards to his calling to be the apostle to the Gentiles. He was the only one that had these certifications, but he was really the only one that needed them because the others never left Jerusalem. Only he uniquely met these qualifications that would enable him to reach the Gentiles. He uses this card again in Acts 21:37-40 and Acts 22:24-29.

Notice also that he demands justice. No where in the Bible does it say that Christians as supposed to be chumps. All of this passivism stuff comes from not rightly dividing. 

Chapter 17

VERSES 1-3: 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. Notice once again that Paul goes straight to the synagogue of the Jews in Thessalonica as his manner was and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. That means that he was trying to convince them using the Old Testament Scriptures. This is something that each of us should be able to do and the only way to get better at it is to do it (Pro 27:17).

What was he trying to convince them of? That Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. Bear in mind that he is speaking to Jews, who like many in the church today, believe that Jesus' ministry was a failure because it ended with the cross. It wasn't a failure, it was the entire reason that he came! He had to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies in regard to his crucifixion in order for the Kingdom to be offered. 

Too many in the church see it the same way in that they view the rejection of the Messiah as the rejection of the Kingdom. No! The Kingdom was not offered in the Gospels. It couldn't have been offered prior to the crucifixion and resurrection. This misunderstanding is where the birth of the church in Acts 2 comes from. 

He did this for three sabbath days. I think that anyone who teaches the Scriptures to others totally understands this. It just does not happen overnight. It takes time to convince people using the Scriptures as to the truth of the Gospel. 

Note: I believe that Paul, being Jewish, still preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jews because the full revelation of the postponement had not been made to him yet. 

VERSE 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. In the end, some of them believed, both Jews and proselytized Greeks (Rom 10:17). As a result, they consorted with Paul and Silas. That literally means to give a lot to or cast lots with.  In other words, they were all in! 

VERSE 5a: 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, Oops, here they go again! Can't just disagree and walk away. They gotta run or ruin it! Sorry, I am having flashbacks to my times of pastoring a church. Of course, troublemakers are never content to go it alone, they always precede to gather the discontented and confused around them. 

Notice that they were moved with envy. So instead of comparing Scripture with Scripture, they are just moved with fleshly jealousy against them and gathered unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort. This means that these people were easy to influence and bring them to their side to set all the city on an uproar. 

VERSES 5b-6: 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. Little is known about Jason, but he was apparently hosting Paul's party. He is also apparently mentioned in Rom 16:21. 

The accusation against Paul and Silas was insurrection. Some would say that this is proof that Paul was teaching a Kingdom Gospel here, for if it had been the Gospel of Grace which is spiritual and heavenly, this accusation would not have been laid against them. Remember that the Kingdom Gospel speaks of a future, physical, fraternal Kingdom that had been promised to the Jews. This is the only way in my opinion that they could have been accused of insurrection. An insurrection is an act or instance of  revolting against a civil government or authority. The Grace Gospel simply does not teach that. 

By the way, Jesus is exactly what Jesus was accused of (Luke 23:2). Why? Because he spoke of a Kingdom of which is is the King. The hypocrisy of it is that while accusing Jesus of being an insurrectionist, they asked the release of a known convicted insurrectionist by the name of Barabbas (Luke 23:18-19). Again, I just don't think they could have accused him of this had he been preaching simply the Grace Gospel. 

VERSES 8-9: 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. The lewd fellows of the baser sort continue to stir up the people and the rulers of the city with this accusation. 

VERSE 10: And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. Once again, Paul is sent away by night. 

Berea is modern-day Veria in Greece. Historically, the last 460 Jews were removed on May 1, 1943, by the Germans and sent to concentration camps. 150 of them were children who were then taken to Thessaloniki by the Nazis and dropped off on Math 8 at Auschwitz where every one of them were put to death.

Notice he goes straight to the synagogue as his custom was. 

VERSES 11-12: 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)  Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. A compliment is made in that these Jews in Berea were nobler than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, but also searched the scriptures daily to see whether those things were so.  

Of course, the Scriptures they used were the Old Testament. As a result, many of them believed. 

I really do believe that if people would just listen, and search the Scriptures, they will see just what these Bereans saw, that Jesus is the Messiah. As such we all must be students of Scripture. I posted the other day that every four years we get a front-row seat to see just how rampant Biblical illiteracy really is. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Notice also that once again not only did Jews respond but also Greeks. 

VERSES 13-15: 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. And, here come the trouble makers! These are the same ones that stirred up trouble in Thessalonica. They obviously found Paul's preaching to be offensive in that it by default condemned the nation for rejecting their Messiah. Silas and Timothy stayed while Paul went to Athens expecting that they would join him there which they will in 18:5. 

Notice that the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea. This seems to indicate that they did a "pump fake" to shake the Jews that were coming after him off his scent (cf. NASB). 

VERSE 16: Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. I so identify with this verse today. I too am stirred for our nation, like Athens, is truly wholly given to idolatry. The word stirred means provoked. By definition, provoked means to call forth, to stir up purpose, or to provide the needed stimulus for. 

I honestly believe that if anyone who claims to be a Christian does not fill the same way, there is a leak somewhere in their faith. If we are not careful, our passive and sinful nature can become calloused to what is going on around us. 

There is a progression to this: abhorrence, tolerance, and acceptance. I honestly believe that we go down this road naturally when we fail to not just read the Bible, but study it. I posted this yesterday, "A poor appetite or lack of desire for studying God’s word results in stunted spiritual growth, a weakened faith, and eventually disobedience to God."

VERSE 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. Notice that Paul put feet to his provocation. He did this by disputing with those in the synagogue, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. We must do the same. It is not enough to simply pray and hope. 

I can't help but notice that he began in the synagogue. I firmly believe that the downward spiritual spiral that our nation is in is because of the spiritual apathy of God's people. Our churches are complacent, lazy, and for the most part, spiritually malnutritioned, and it reflects in our society. The lights have gone out of the lighthouses. 

Notice that hs disputed with them. We need to be willing to do the same, but that requires preparation, and most Christians are simply too Biblically illiterate to speak with any compassion, let alone knowledge. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Acts Study | Session 28 | 15:32-16:31

Today in our study, we see that the council in Jerusalem thought it good that Judas and Silas be sent along with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch to verify everything that had taken place, a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas in regards to John Mark, the beginning of the second missionary journey, the circumcision of Timothy, the conversion of Lydia in Philippi, the casting out of a demon, Paul and Barnabas' imprisonment and miraculous deliverance, and salvation of the Philippian jailer.

VERSE 32: And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. Notice being prophets also. This is clearly comparing them to the last prophet spoken of in v.15; i.e., Amos. Remember that these two were sent along with Paul and Barnabas to confirm everything that was determined in the counsel. Also, it is obvious that there were prophets at this time, at least in this early stage of the church, However, I believe that this office, as well as that of the apostle, are no longer. Some would even argue that while the office themselves are closed, their functions are fulfilled in the missionary and pastor. 

VERSES 33-34: 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. Bear in mind that their entire function was to simply bear witness to the decision that had been made by the Jerusalem Council. Notice that Silas decided to stay. It would seem that this might be because he had already established a relationship with Paul which would be the subject of the contention in the next verses between him and Barnabas. 

VERSES 35-36: 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. Paul now proposes that they go back and visit all of the churches established on their first trip to see how they do

VERSES 37-41: 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. For some undisclosed reason, Paul was determined not to take John Mark. Albert Barnes comments that John Mark was the son of a sister of Barnabas. Whatever the reason, they did later reconcile (2Tim 4:11). 

Some will, erroneously, in my opinion, say that the fact that Barnabas was never heard from again is proof that he was in the wrong. That is ludicrous in my opinion. It is very difficult and dangerous to read into the Scripture. These same ones will say that they should have chosen Paul instead of Matthias to replace Judas with the same reasonings. Well, using that same reasoning, the same could be said of Andrew, Philip, and Bartholemew. 

I believe in the end, Silas was a good match for Paul for the period. Remember, at this unique time in history, there were both Jews and Gentiles, both believing, and both serving the Lord together, but under two different programs. herefore, having Silas with him was a good match. 

This is another key to interpreting Paul's writings in that he is addressing both of these people at times and that is the challenge that I have found, especially in reading books like Ephesians and Corinthians. You have got to pay attention to the audience, and many times that comes down to just being aware of the pronouns. 

Chapter 16

This chapter begins to cover Paul's second missionary journey.

VERSES 1-2: 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. Paul and Silas now come to Derbe which was the last place that Paul had visited on his last missionary journey (Acts 14:20-21). As I stated earlier, that may have been when Timothy first came under his teaching (1Timothy 1:2).

VERSE 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. Timothy's mother was a Jewess and his father was a Greek. It must be noted that if Timothy had been a Gentile, this would not have been an issue since Gentiles frequented the synagogues, but he was a Jew by his mother, therefore it was expected that he be circumcised. 

This was also another indicator that Paul did desire a ministry among his brethren even though most of the Jews had rejected him (Acts 13:46; Rom 1:16). 

VERSES 4-5: 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. We see hear that as they traveled they shared the decision of the Jerusalem Council with the assemblies which were still a mix of Kingdom and Grace believers. Remember this was a unique period in history that passed with the death of the Twelve. 

VERSES 6-10: 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. Notice that they were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. Asia referred to here would have been the province of Asia which included Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, etc. Instead, the Spirit directed them toward Europe through what is commonly referred to as the Macedonian Call. The Gospel would later be preached there, but it apparently was not the will of God for Paul and Silas at this time. Instead, the Holy Spirit pushes them into the West. This journey would take them Troas, Phillipi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens to Corinth.

VERSES 11-13: 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. Historically, Philippi was a Roman outpost. 

On the sabbath, they go down to the riverside where prayers were being made by a group of women, most likely Jewish, but the text doesn't say. Some will point out that they were by the river because there were not enough men there for a synagogue which required ten. 

VERSE 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. As Paul began to speak, a lady from Thyatira named Lydia took notice. 

VERSE 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. What I see is that in Paul's early ministry, baptism still played an important role because it was expected, but as he gains further revelation, he moves away from its importance. 

Understand that at this point Paul had not written any of his epistles. The first ones were not written until around 50 AD to 53 AD. Interestingly, those were probably Thessalonians and Galatians. Thessalonians was about the confusion around the Rapture and Second Coming and Galatians was about a false gospel. 

There is no doubt that Paul is having new revelations as he goes and pens them in his epistles (2Cor 12:1; 2Cor 12:7). It is hard to conclude that he received everything he needed to know at once, i.e., he most likely did not understand the totality of the postponement of the Kingdom. I believe that is why who still moved in both gospels. 

Either way, she believed first and then was baptized. Many say that she was the first convert in Europe. I believe that Lydia had apparently believed both the Kingdom and Grace gospels simply by the fact that she was already praying when Paul come upon her. But again, there simply is not enough text here to reach a conclusion. 

VERSES 16-18: 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, Notice how Luke inserts himself into the story in v.16 and v.17. 

This young lady apparently brought income to her masters by pretending to tell the future. I say this because the Devil does not know the future because he is not omniscient. There is no doubt that he knows more than we do. All power forever and always comes from one of two sources. 

This girl was demon-possessed. Interesting that what she was saying seems to be true, but it was getting in their way of ministry; an impediment if you will. Either way, the Devil was using her. 

On another note, Paul never gave us instructions on casting out demons in his epistles. I have seen whole ministries destroyed over an obsession with this. We are called to the ministry of reconciliation, not one of casting out demons. 

Paul realized this was demonic and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her. 

VERSES 20-22: 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. This is obviously a Gentile city under Roman authority. 

VERSES 23-24: 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. This is just one of many things that Paul would suffer in his attempt to preach the gospel (2Cor 11:16-30). And notice how Paul and Silas responded in the next verses. 

VERSE 25: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. It takes a lot of trust and courage to sing in dispair. Music is very important in Judaism and Christianity as an act of worship. 

VERSE 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. This would also be the first of many in which the Lord will miraculously deliver Paul. This was obviously a supernatural event for what earthquake also makes one's bands fall off. I really do struggle with those who constantly try to make the supernatural natural. 

VERSES 27-29: 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, Again we see the threat of life for life in regards to a Roman afraid of losing his own life for losing a prisoner. Rome was pretty tough in this area. Peter's guards were not so fortunate in chapter 12 when they were put to death upon his escape (Acts 12:18-19). 

VERSE 30: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? The pronoun "I" says everything here. Unlike the Kingdom Gospel which was for the nation, the Grace Gospel is for the individual (Acts 2:37). 

VERSE 31: And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Notice also that Paul's response was nothing like Peter's (Acts 2:38). It is not a contradiction, but a different program. God changes not, but his methods of dealing with man have. There is no way you can convince me that these are not two different gospels. Thy house does not mean that his whole house would be saved, but that they could be saved. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

ACTS STUDY | SESSION 27 | 15:12-31

We are continuing to work our way through the book of Acts verse-verse. Today we see the conclusion of the council that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised or come under the Law in any way. However, it was determined that there were certain "necessary" things that they deemed should not be done by the new Gentile believers lest they should cause a rift with their Jewish brothers.

VERSE 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. Now, after Peter's final words, Barnabas and Paul interject one more thought in regards to the work that God was doing among the Gentiles before James takes over in the next verses. 

VERSES 13-14:  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. Notice that after they had held their peace (this seems to be referring to Peter, Paul, and Barnabas since they were the last to speak), James (who seems to be the moderator of the meeting who was the half brother of Jesus) answered, saying, `Men and brethren, hearken unto me: (now he begins to recount what Peter had already said in regards to Cornelius) Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

No doubt, as we have studied through the book of Acts we have seen that the first Gentiles to be offered salvation were Cornelius and all of them who heard the word with him (Acts 10:44). 

Notice Simeon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles. Understand, context is key, James is not talking about Paul's ministry here, but further elaborating on Peter's in regards to the conversion of Cornelius.

VERSES 15-17: 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. To back up what he is getting ready to say, he quotes from one of the prophets, Amos. He is simply saying that it was always in God's plan to reach the Gentiles through the Jews (Amos 9:11-12). Amos is speaking of the Kindom that would come for both Jew and Gentile. 

If you read Amos 9:12 and Acts 15:17, you will see that Amos says remnant of Edom and James says residue of men. Why would he do that? They do not appear to be the same. Edom and Adam are the same words in Hebrew. James actually seems to have quoted it the more accurate way, i.e. residue or remnant of Adam (mankind). Either way, James is speaking of the Kingdom. 

VERSE 18: Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. In other words, he is saying that either way, through the preaching of the Kingdom under Peter, or the preaching of Grace under Paul, God knows what he is doing and the Gentiles are being reached. 

VERSE 19: Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: Now, James gives his summation about what needs to be done in regards to the Gentiles that come to faith, and it is obvious from what he says in the next verses that he is referring to the Gentiles who come to faith through the Grace Gospel because it is all about them not having to keep the Law. 

If any man could speak to this matter, it was James, considering he had already or would pretty soon written his epistle to the Kingdom believers that required them to keep the Law from the first verse to the last verse. 

VERSES 20-21: 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. James goes on to recommend these things because they were highly offensive to the Jews who were still very much under the Law of Moses, believing and the unbeliaving, and would only serve as a distraction if Paul, and those who responded to his new Grace Gospel, were to violate them in front of them. This is what Paul meant in 1Cor 8:13. There is still a principle here for all time. 

VERSE 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: First, we see a bit of a congregational style of government here. Second, we are introduced to Silas for the first time. He would become very important to Paul in his next missionary journey which would begin in v.36. 

This verse is also notable because it makes it very clear that the Twelve were in agreement with Paul and the Grace Gospel that he taught to both Jew and Gentile. This is apparently obvious in that they sent Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren with him. Barsabas and Silas were obviously Kingdom believers. 

VERSES 23-24: 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: The council denies sending out any words that indicate that the Gentiles should be circumcised and keep the Law. 

VERSES 25-27: 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. In ecclesiology class, I learned that this verse indicates the autonomy of the local church. These men that they had chosen were to be eyewitnesses for anyone who questioned Paul and Barnabas' account of events. 

VERSE 28: For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; Again, these things are not necessary for salvation, but they are, as he said in v.21, that the Jewish believers who sit in the synagogues where the Law of Moses in preached be not offended. 

VERSE 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. They include: abstaining from meats offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication. Why these? All of these would offend their Jewish brothers in such a way that it might hinder both of their ministries. In regards to meats, Paul addressed this further in 1Cor 8:4-13. In regards to blood, it was about the sanctity of life Lev 17:14. Some would say strangling is a violation of that sanctity. In regards to fornication, this spoke of all sexual sins. 

The counsel simply believed that if the Gentiles would guard against these things, it would make their ministry easier, and fellowship between the two would not be hindered. Understand, this whole conversation began over the issue of circumcision as a requirement for salvation. That was ruled out, and these burdens, v.28, were considered to be necessary so that ministry could continue. An example of this will be found later when Paul will actually ask Timothy to be circumcised in Acts 16:1-3. Not salvific, but deemed necessary that the ministry may go on. 

VERSES 30-31: 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. Upon sharing this letter with the church at Antioch, they were relieved that they were not being asked to place themselves under the Law. In the end, the outcome is that both the Kingdom and the Grace believers are confirmed (Gal 2:7). 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Acts Study | Session 26 | 14:13-15:11

 We are continuing our study through the book of Acts by looking at the necessity of general and special revelation, how worldviews affect how we interpret our surroundings, Paul's understanding of his weaknesses, church leadership, and why it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and settle the issue of the necessity of the Law for salvation.

VERSE 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. Of course, this is proof that this crowd was Gentile as the Jews never would have done this. Again, worldviews. Interestingly, when the Jews saw miracles, they pointed them to God, so too with the Gentiles. It is like we all have a default that is based on how we see the world. 

Of course, Paul encourages them to turn from these vain beliefs to the true and living God. 

VERSES 17-18: 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. When he says that God left not himself without a witness, that speaks of general revelation. Revelation speaks of a disclosing of information that could not have been known otherwise. In regards to revelation, there are two types of revelation: General and Special. General revelation is by definition, "God's disclosure of Himself in nature as the creator and sustainer of all things." It comes through nature (Psa 19:1-6), conscience (Rom 2:14-15), and history (Deu 28:9-10). 

That is what Paul was referring to when he said in vv.15-17, "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: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness". He further concluded in Romans 1:20 that as such, it leaves all men without an excuse (Rom 1:20). One writer said that general revelation is that "natural knowledge of God that is the basis for divine judgment." No one can escape it. 

However, ultimately, general revelation is not enough. While it does indeed point to God, it is insufficient to reveal the totality of God and His ultimate plan. Special revelation is when God reveals Himself to men "directly in a personal way." It is information that cannot be learned any other way, but through God (1Cor 2:14) and it must be accepted by faith (Rom 10:17). 

Swindoll and Zuck point out that it was necessary as that it would have been impossible for Adam and Eve to just look around at God's creation in the garden and have been able to surmise from creation alone what God's will and purpose for their lives was. God had to have eventually communicated with them by using words. 

The conclusion would be that the ultimate form of special revelation is the Bible itself; for it is the Bible that contains the gospel that is necessary for salvation. Thus is the urgency of getting out the gospel (Rom 10:13-15). It is only through special revelation that we are able to "learn about God that cannot be known or discovered by general revelation alone."

VERSE 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. Notice that these unbelieving Jews followed him from Antioch and Iconium to persuade the people to stone him. What virulent hatred they must have had for him! 

In regards to the stoning, most people believe that this is what Paul was referring to when sharing in 2Cor 12:1-2. The Bible speaks of three heavens: the atmosphere where the birds fly, the stars and planets, and the abode of God (2Cor 12:3-6). 

I find it interesting that Paul often put himself down. It is apparent from Scripture that his appearance was nothing to brag about and he knew that (Gal 4:12-15). As a matter of fact, he saw himself as contemptible (2Cor 10:9-10) and the least (1Cor 15:9). 

Also, look at 2Cor 12:7-8. The thorn might have been physical in that he might have been weakened by an illness such as ophthalmia (inflammation of the eye) which he might have been referring to in (Gal 6:11). 

Also, look at 2Cor 12:9. Whatever it was, God used it to keep him focused. Does God use our weaknesses to keep us focused?

VERSES 20-22: 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. I can't help but notice that he turned around and went back to the very place that he was stoned! That is a calling! cf. Burden vs. Call. The safest place a child of God can be is in the will of God. The most dangerous place a child of God can be is out of the will of God. 

My next question did Paul says, we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God? I submit two possible reasons. 1. He had not as yet received any revelation in regards to God's complete plan for the Body of Christ, e.g., the Rapture. Again, there is no doubt that he seems to be referring to a future, physical, fraternal Kingdom that had been promised to the Jews. One teacher says, "Since the revelation of the mystery concerning the rapture of the church had not as of yet been revealed to the apostle Paul the Jewish believers were still expecting the kingdom to come at any moment." 2. There is an issue with pronouns. Notice that he says we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. The point is that he might have been referring Jews only in this statement (cf. v.19). It can make sense if we understand that at this unique point in time, we have both Kingdom and Grace believers at the same time in the same place which Paul was addressing. Therefore, we could be referring to Kingdom believers only in that statement (cf. v.23). 

VERSE 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. These verses had become a bit controversial today in the realm of church leadership. Where they simply ordaining one elder in every church or multiple elders in each church? I do know that Paul when giving instructions to Timothy always referred to the singular elder, never plural. However, a pretty good argument could be made for a plurality with 1Tim 5:17. However, he did refer to deacons in the plural. 

The word ordained seems to indicate that it was done by vote. 

VERSES 24-28: 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. Here we see a precedent for churches sending out missionaries. This is one argument that I heard as a missionary against parachurch organizations assuming the responsibility of the local church. I do tend to lean that way as well because there are no parachurch organizations in the Bible.

Notice they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. My first thought is why was this such news-breaking information if Pentecost was the birth of the Body of Christ?

Chapter 15

The dating of this chapter is around 48AD to 50AD which would have been about fifteen years after Pentecost. Also, bear in mind that he had just proclaimed the Gospel of Grace for the first time at Antioch in Pisidia before the Jews stirred the people up and they fled to Iconium and Lystra where he was stoned. He then returns to Antioch to report to the church all that God had done among the Gentiles by opening the door of faith to the (14:27). Paul spoke of this in Gal 2:1-14. 

VERSE 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. These certain men were the false brethren that Paul referred to in Gal 2:4. Naturally, they were teaching observance to the Law for salvation. This was obviously in opposition to the new gospel that Paul was preaching. 

VERSE 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. Here it says that they went to Jerusalem at the determination of the assembly in Antioch, but Gal 2:2 says that he went by revelation. The issue is the wording of the KJV (cf. other translations). That means that, yes, the church at Antioch did sent him, but the subject was to be the revelation of the mystery. This, of course, will be the first time that he is sharing the mystery with the Twelve. The question was in regard to the necessity of the Law for salvation as mentioned in v.1. 

VERSE 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. The brethren here is a reference to the believing Jews. Again, we tend to clump all Jews, believing and unbelieving into one to say that they had a problem with salvation being given to the Gentile. No, only the unbelieving Jews had a problem with it (Gal 2:4). 

VERSE 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. Now they are making their way to Jerusalem and are received by the Jerusalem assembly including the Twelve and elders. They then declared all things that God had done with them. No doubt this included all that God had done during their journey through Asia Minor and more importantly the revelation that Paul had received in regards to the mystery. This will be the first time this information is shared with the Jerusalem church as we will see by the heated conversation that follows. 

VERSE 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. Here we see Pharisees which believed. The context to me is saying that these were Kingdom believers and therefore believed, correctly so, that they were still under the Law that required obedience to circumcision. They were biblically right but dispensationally wrong. They had apparently missed the part that Paul said in regards to all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39). 

VERSES 6-9: 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. What matter? That is was needful to keep the Law to be saved. The fact that there is much disputing indicates that it was a controversial subject. Of course, the Twelve taught the Kingdom Gospel that required Law and Paul was now teaching the new Grace Gospel that did not. 

Peter then reaches back in his past, a while ago, and reminded them what happened when Cornelius, a Gentile, believed and received the Holy Ghost just like they did at Pentecost and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Peter is by no means saying that he first received the Grace Gospel, but is merely pointing at that God was obviously offering salvation to the Gentiles as had happened with Cornelius through the Kingdom Gospel. 

Also, remember at that time, all of them, including Paul, preached the same gospel until he shared the new one in Acts 13:38-39. Notice also that Peter said that God purified their hearts by faith. Hearts have always been purified by faith in that works were just an expression of said faith. However, those works could never completely justify. And that is exactly where the Gospel of Grace comes in (Acts 13:39).

VERSE 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? In other words, Peter is saying that if the Law was insufficient to completely justify us, why should we try to place them under it? Of course, the immediate issue is circumcision, but it speaks of the entire Law. 

VERSE 11: But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Thus ends the reading of the word as that these are the last recorded words of Peter in the book of Acts. Again, my mind, just like in vv.14:22-23, is drawn to the pronouns we and they. He does not say they are saved the same way we are, but we are saved the same way they are. Some would say that this is Peter's way of acknowledging that there had indeed been a dispensational change (2Pet 3:14-16). It seems that Peter is saying in v.15 that the postponement of the Kingdom is salvation not only to the Jews but also to the Gentile. 

Now with that being said, there is nothing in Scripture that shows that Peter or the other Eleven ever started preaching the Grace Gospel, instead, as we will see in this chapter, they will agree not to. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Acts Study | Session 25 | 13:32-14:16

Today we see from the text that the transition from Peter to Paul, from Jerusalem to Antioch, and from the Kingdom Gospel to the Grace Gospel is continuing to take place even more pronounced as Paul presents the the gospel for the first time, the unbelieving Jews turn on him, and the Gentiles begin to respond.

VERSE 32: And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, The promises to the fathers began in  Genesis 12:1-3, but obviously the context dictates that it is in regards to the Messiah specifically and the resurrection (Psalm 16:10). This is further proven by the next verse when he quotes from Psalm 2. 

Also worth pointing out here that the promises made to the fathers is a reference to the Jewish fathers in regards to salvation and restoration of the nation. All earthly, all physical, all Israel. 

VERSE 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. Paul is referring to Psa_2:1-7 which I have come to see as the outline of the Old Testament program. 

VERSES 34-37: 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. Christ's resurrection was the proof that he was the only begotten Son of God (Romans 1:1-4). It was the power of God that raised Christ from the dead and proved that he was truly the Son of God. That is why the resurrection is the heart of the Gospel. Without the resurrection there would be no Gospel. We today walk in that power! 

Just think of Peter before and after. Before, he denied Christ before a child. After, he defied the Jewish leadership. The resurrection is the heart of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:12-17). 

VERSES 38-39: 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. Here it is! The first time in Scripture that the Gospel of Grace is taught. Previously, under the Gospel of the Kingdom, it was about keeping the Law and a baptism of repentance (Acts 2:36-38).

Just FYI, these is a slight difference between remission and forgiveness. Remission is the cancellation of a debt, charge, or penalty. Forgiveness is the action or process of forgiving, but root word forgive is to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake. 
Again, the words are similar but not exactly the same same. I am developing a strong opinion that one should not be confused and applied to the other. I believe that it is more appropriate to say remission in regards to the end result of the Kingdom Gospel and forgiveness in regards to the end result of the Grace Gospel. 

Also, notice that it says all that believe are justified from all things. First key word is all. That means everyone, not just the Jew. Second key word is justified. Peter clearly taught that justification came through keeping the law (Romans 2:13). Why? Because they were still under the Law! Examples include: They cast lots for Matthias in Acts 1:26. They still went to the temple at the hour of prayer in Acts 3:1. The receiving of the Spirit was contingent upon obedience in Acts 5:32. Ananias was a devout man according to the Law in Acts 22:11-12. Peter's vision before going to Cornelius' house proves that he was still under the Law in Acts 10:11-14. 

Paul teaches here that justification was the result of belief and belief alone (Romans 10:9). 

VERSES 40-41: 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. Paul is referring to Habakkuk 1:5. Why? Remember that context is key. When Old Testament Scriptures are quoted in the New Testament, the original meaning can not be construed to say something else. It always means what it says when it was said. In other words, unlike what many commentators say, it can not be referring to a warning against rejecting of the Gospel of Grace because Habakkuk did not know anything about that. No one did, until it was revealed to Paul (Colossians 1:25-26). 

Instead, in Habakkuk, God was warning the nation that he was coming to bring judgment down on them at the hands of the Chaldeans because of their refusal to follow him, specifically because of their injustice and idolatry. Paul is simply reminding his audience here that God is capable of bringing judgment down again upon those who still refuse to follow him which is exactly what happened to the nation when they officially rejected the Kingdom offer and the Romans brought His judgement in 70 AD just like the Chaldeans did. Again, Habakkuk is not referring to the rejection of the Gospel of Grace, instead the rejection of the Kingdom which led to the destruction. 

VERSE 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. After the Jews left, the Gentiles wanted to hear more about this Gospel of Grace. Bear in mind that before the Gospel of Grace, the Gentiles were without hope (Ephesians 2:12). 

VERSES 43-44: 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. After the service was over, they continued to persuade them, Jews and proselytes, Gentiles, in regards to the grace of God. To persuade is to convince by offering arguments are proof. Convince them of what? Forgiveness of sins to all that believe and are justified from all things that could not be justified in the law of Moses (vv.38-39).

Notice that they are still meeting on the Sabbath. Why? Still under the Law. 

VERSE 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. And here come the Jews with envy contradicting and blaspheming. Obviously, what Paul was preaching was different or they would not have responded this way. Blaspheming can be speaking against the work of the Holy Spirit or speaking evil of Paul. 

VERSES 46-47: 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. The word of God was preached to the Jew first via the Kingdom Gospel under the hopes that they would except it and be the light of the Gentiles that he desired them to be (Isaiah 49:6). 

Paul here is not twisting that Old Testament verse an effort to apply it to his own ministry and calling. Remember that we have already said that when Old Testament Scriptures are quoted in the New Testament, the original meaning can not be construed to say something else. So, there is no way that verse had Paul's ministry in mind. However, he is saying it in that be now knew that God was going use him to do what they refused to do. 

Notice that he said that it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you. Paul also stated in (Romans 1:16). It seems to me from these verses that not only was the Kingdom Gospel taken exclusively to them, but also Paul tried to take the Grace Gospel to them first as well, but they rejected that also, e.g., he went to the synagogues first. But, in the end he says that they have proved themselves as unworthy of everlasting life in that they had rejected both gospels. The nation was continuing to blaspheme the Holy Spirit which was a sin that in its truest sense, only Israel could commit. Therefore, Paul, obviously under the direction of God, says that he is going to the Gentiles from now on. 

VERSES 48-49: 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. The word ordained is not a case for Calvinism or Predestination as some would say. Instead, it just means to arrange in an orderly manner, and of course, this happens as the Word of God is taught. As that is done, people chose to believe or not believe. It is not an altar call or a sinner's prayer, just belief. It is not water baptism or speaking in tongues, just belief. 

VERSES 50-52: 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. And like clockwork, the Jews came out against him and they were once again thrown out. The shaking off the dust from their feet against them was a testimony to their rejection of the truth (Acts 20:26). 

Chapter 14
VERSE 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 (Acts 13:51).  Interestingly, from this point forward, Luke uses the term synagogue of the Jews (Acts 17:1, Acts 17:10). Even if he doesn't use this phrase, he seems to want to indicate clearly who Paul is talking to. Also, the word Greek is Hellen indicating Gentiles and not Greek speaking Jews. 

VERSE 2: But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Understand that these unbelieving Jews are not those who had accepted the Kingdom or Grace Gospels. These were religious Jews, and I can tell you emphatically, nothing is more dangerous than a "religious" person. They always move and act in the flesh because that is who they are. Again, further proof that Paul is speaking something other than the Kingdom Gospel. They no doubt saw Paul's teaching as a perversion of Judaism. 

VERSE 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. Notice that they gave testimony unto the word of his grace. This speaks of the Grace Gospel. I can only assume that the signs and wonders were for the benefit of the Jews that were present (1 Corinthians 1:22). 

VERSE 4: But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. Now that the Gentiles were excited about hearing this new message, the unbelieving as already identified were still unbelieving Jews who were still causing division in the city. They were apparently still contradicting and blaspheming just like in Acts 13:45.

Notice that it says and part held with the Jews, and part with the the apostles. The apostles spoken of here has to be referring to Paul and Barnabas. However, more are mentioned in v.14. These can't be referring to the Twelve. We all readily speak of 13 apostles including Paul for sure, but the Scripture is pretty clear that there were more. However, with that said, none existed before Jesus nor after the rejection of the Kingdom offer. Also, as per the previous verse, they also performed signs and wonders for the benefit of the Jews I believe (1 Corinthians 1:22). One mark of apostleship was the performance of signs and wonders. 

VERSES 5-7 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. On the run again. Notice the word assault. And, of course, they continue to preach the grace gospel. Timothy may have been converted on this trip (Acts 16:1). Preached the gospel literally means evangelized.

VERSES 8-10: 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. Remember back in v.3 that it said that they were granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Interesting that it says that Paul perceived that he had the faith to be healed. How he did this we do not know, but it says say that he steadfastly beheld him. Maybe it just means that Paul saw something in him as a result of his response to the other miracles that he most likely had witnessed. We just do not want to read something into the text that just is not there. 

However, I am not content with that. The phrase was often used in the Gospels: Matthew 9:21-22, Matthew 9:28-29; Luke 7:50; Luke 17:19; Luke 18:42. In regards to Mat 9:21-22, Albert Barnes said that "her faith, her strong confidence in Jesus, had been the means of her restoration. It was the “power” of Jesus that cured her; but that power would not have been exerted but in connection with faith. So in the salvation of a sinner. No one is saved who does not believe; but faith is the instrument, and not the power, that saves."

VERSES 11-12: 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. Their response is no doubt in full knowledge of the writings of Publius Ovidius Nasom, better known as Ovid who was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus, a contemporary of Virgil and Horace. He wrote the story of Philemon and Baucis, an elderly couple  who unwittingly entertained the Greek gods Jupiter and his son Mercury (also known as Zeus and Hermes to the Romans) as the only ones in their town to show them hospitality. In return they were rewarded with a wish for anything they wanted and spared the devastation of their village. 

This should also serve as a lesson to us that people always respond according to their worldview. A worldview can be defined as a collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.

VERSES 13-16: 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. Of course, this is proof that this crowd was Gentile as the Jews never would have done this. Again, worldviews. Interestingly, when the Jews saw miracles, they pointed them to God, so too with the Gentiles. It is like we all have a default that is based on how we see the world. Of course, Paul encourages them to turn from these vain beliefs to the true and living God.