Sunday, July 5, 2020

Acts Study, Session 21

Today we will be looking at Acts 9:15-38 where we see Paul receiving his sight and teaching Christ in Damascus that he is the Son of God, the three year period between Damascus and his visit to Jerusalem, and Peter's subsequent journey to Lydda and the healing of Tabitha.

VERSE 15: But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: Notice that the Lord just says, Go thy way! and doesn't even attempt to respond to Ananias' objections. This marks the beginning of the transition in the book of Acts.

Notice that he is going to go to Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. Some will contend that this is beginning of the Body of Christ with Saul's conversion, but that case simply can not be made from these verses. Saul is responding to the Kingdom Gospel in that he repented and will be baptized in v.18. As far as Saul was concerned, he was simply being chosen to take the Kingdom Gospel to the Gentiles, kings, and the house of Israel. Saul new the Old Testament prophecies about the nation being used as a kingdom of priests to the Gentiles.

VERSE 16: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. Going with the previous thought, God says, I will shew him meaning yet future.

VERSE 17-18: And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (18)  And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Now these is something different in these verses. In Acts 2, they repented, were baptized, and then received the Spirit. In Acts 8, they Samaritans repented, then baptized, and then received the Spirit at the hands of Peter and John. Here, some will say that Saul repented, received the Spirit along with his sight, and is then baptized. Or it could simply mean that he had repented, Ananius prayed over him to receive his sight, he was baptized, and then received the Spirit just as the others before. For now, I tend to go with the latter.

VERSES 19-20: And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. (20)  And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. Notice that Saul is teaching Christ, not the cross, in the synagogues. Of course, the only people in the synagogues were Jews. He was converted under the Kingdom Gospel and he taught the Kingdom Gospel at this point. Galatians 1:23 says that he preached the faith that he once destroyed.

If you think that Ananias was freaked out by this guy Saul who was coming to persecute them, can you imagine how tense it was to be in the same synagogue with him now?

VERSES 21-22: But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (22)  But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. However, in spite of their concerns, God used Saul and he increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. Notice that Paul was proving that this is very Christ. This was the same ministry of the other apostles.

The word proving in the original means to drive together, unite, infer, show, teach. He was proving from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus was their Messiah.

VERSES 23-25: And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: (24)  But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. (25)  Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. Notice after that many days were fulfilled, the the Jews took counsel to kill him. Many believe that it was after this escape that marks the beginning of the three years in Arabia that Paul mentioned in Gal 1:16-18 before heading to Jerusalem in v.26. Paul also refers to this event in 2Co 11:32-33.

Some believe that it was during these three years in Arabia that God showed him the the mystery. However, I don't lean that way. Instead, I tend to think that it was some time after Arabia and sometime during the fourteen years later that he returned to Jerusalem for the council in Acts 15 (Gal 2:1-2). I just think that if Paul had received something he would have shared it with Peter the first time that he went to Jerusalem in v.26.

Now some do believe that it might have been just after Jerusalem that he received the mystery because when Paul gives his testimony in Acts 22:17-21 he was told that he was going to be sent to far hence unto the Gentiles. And by the time, he does arrive in Jerusalem in Acts 15 (Acts 15:23) fourteen years later, he mentions that there are churches that were made up of Gentiles in Syria, Silicia, and Antioch which is where he went after leaving Jerusalem.

VERSES 26-29: And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. (27)  But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. (28)  And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. (29)  And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Time wise, this is about 38AD and three years after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus. However, it is no wonder that the disciples were still a little leary of Saul. Who wouldn't have been at this point. The dude had people killed!

This is when Barnabas, whose name means "son of consolation", steps to the plate and spoke of behalf of Saul to help remove the hesitancy that so many apparently had in regards to him. This was the beginning of ministry together. However, Saul still met tremendous amounts of opposition because of his insistence that Jesus was their Messiah. Nothing will get the dander up on a religious person more than challenging their strongly held unbiblical beliefs. Of course, their answer was to kill him.

VERSE 30: Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Here we find Saul fleeing for his life again. Not a very good start to ministry for sure. It is from here that the brethren brought him down to Caesarea as recorded in Gal 1:21. Tarsus was in Cilicia. These brethren are still those of the Kingdom Church as their is no suggestion that Paul has received anything different at this point.

VERSE 31: Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. Understand that these churches are still Messianic Jewish believers at this point. Randy White makes it a point to point out that only the KJV uses the plural churches while the others use the singular church and this is an example of them forcing their theology on the text.

VERSE 32: And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. After the introduction to Saul, there is a brief shift back to Peter who visited the saints which dwelt at Lydda. Again, so far we have seen nothing but Jews. You just can not insert Gentiles into these chapters without clearly displaying some bias. On another note, even if Saul did receive the revelation of the mystery by this point, there is no indication of it.

VERSE 33: And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. (34)  And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. (35)  And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. The palsy was a disease that negatively affected the muscles and kept him from walking for the past eight years. As a result of the healing, all that dwelt in Lydda and Saron turned to the Lord. That means that they believed the Kingdom Gospel and became a part of the way. Many refer to those of the way as Peter's little flock referred to in Luke12:32. These were simply Jewish believers in the Kingdom Gospel.

VERSE 36: Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. Joppa is a small port town close to Lydda (2Ch 2:16; Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3). Interestingly, the name Tabitha or Dorcas means gazelle.

VERSES 37-38: And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. (38)  And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. (39)  Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. (40)  But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. (41)  And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. (42)  And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. (43)  And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner. In these verses, Peter raised this woman from the dead. Again, we see the pattern, miracles followed by a belief that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. No one can honestly say that God works this way today. This was simply a different dispensation. We do not live under this apostolic dispensation today.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Acts Study, Session 20

Today in our study we cover Acts 8:26-9:14. In this portion of Scripture, we see Philip meeting the Ethiopian Eunuch and his conversion after reading the text in Isaiah 53 that speaks of the Messiah and his rejection by the nation and Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus.


Teaching Notes
VERSE 26: And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. Philip was then instructed to down from Jerusalem unto Gaza. Of course, he may not have understood why God told him to, but he was obedient to the call.

VERSE 27: And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Now, many will read this verse and immediately assume that this man is an Ethiopian; not necessarily. Just from the text, he appears to be a Jew, or a proselyte, in that he was going to Jerusalem to worship. He may have been in Jerusalem for one of the mandatory feasts.

He is working for Candace, the Queen of the Ethiopians just like Daniel in Babylon and Joseph in Egypt. After all, who better to watch your money than a Jew. They are famous for their abilities to handle money. Notice that he was a eunuch just like Daniel was. This was very common when men were placed in authority around women. However, the word could also mean that he was also an officer or counselor of state.

The name Candace does not denote a proper name, but a position. Just as there were pharaohs, there were candaces who ruled from the city of Meroe, the capital of Cush, now known as Sudan. The name itself referred to a female monarch.

VERSES 28-31a Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? It is obvious from the passage that he is reading from Isaiah 53 which speaks of the Jewish Messiah. Amazing how God purposely knew that this eunuch was going to need someone to help him understand that text. This is another reason that we need to be students of Scripture so that we can be there for those who are curious and have questions (2Timoth 4:2).

VERSES 31b-34: And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? He was looking at Isaiah 53:7-8. He wanted to know who these verses were speaking about. I have no doubt that he had heard of Jesus of Nazareth and had his suspicions. I wonder how many in the church today could 34nswer this question if posed to them.

VERSE 35: Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. Remember that the New Testament had not been written yet, let alone canonized. Philip had to rely on the Old Testament Scriptures to answer his question. Also, notice he still preached Jesus and not the crucifixion.

VERSE 36: And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? It is obvious that Philip was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to this man because he wanted to be baptized. It was the same baptism of repentance that John the Baptist through Peter preached.

VERSE 37: And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Make no mistake, the Kingdom Gospel required belief that Jesus Christ was who he said that he was. This led to repentance and baptism. Understand that faith is required for both gospels.

I can't but compare and contrast this eunuch believing with all of his heart with Simon in the previous verses whose' heart was not right in the sight of God (Acts 8:21).

VERSE 38-40: And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. There are only two baptisms mentioned in the Bible. One is by water and the other is by the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is not required today in the church under the Gospel of Grace. Anyone that teaches otherwise is guilty of not rightly dividing between the two gospels (i.e., those who teach baptismal regeneration).

Notice that as the eunuch comes up out of the water, Philip is then whisked away. The word translated caught is harpazo which is also used in 1Th_4:17 in regards to the rapture of the church. Many point to this as to how the 144,000 are going to be able to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom during the time of Jacob's Trouble fulfilling Matthew 24:14.

Chapter 9
VERSE 1: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, Remember that Saul had become his campaign against those of the Way back in chapter 7. The disciples of the Lord is simply referring to those who had embraced the Kingdom message.

VERSE 2: And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. Who were in these synagogues? Jews! Why were believing Jews still in synagogues? Because they were still Jews! The First Baptist Church of Jerusalem had not been founded yet. These were not Christians. Instead, they were only called those of The Way because they had embraced Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah (John 14:6). They were faithful Jews who had no desire to break from Judaism.

Why did Paul want to bring them back to Jerusalem? It is where the Sanhedrin was and the seat of the Jewish faith. It is where the prosecution could take place. Unlike Paul, most were not Roman citizens and could be dealt with by the Jewish authorities.

VERSES 3-4: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Oh boy! This is where everything changed for Saul! We must understand that Paul was a religious man. He thoroughly believed in the Old Testament Scriptures (Romans 11:1; Phillippians 3:4-6).

Randy White makes an interesting observation. "It is of interest that Saul is only called by this Jewish name prior to his conversion, after which he is called Paul. The use of the Jewish name could associate him with the rejection of God made by the Jewish people at the time of the selection of Saul as their first king (“they have not rejected you, they have rejected Me”). Saul represented the rejection of Jesus Christ by Israel. Graciously, God chooses the icon of rejection to become the bearer of the new Gospel to all the world."

Notice the question that the Lord asked him, Why persecutest thou me? There is no doubt that Saul knew exactly what the question meant because he was persecuting those who followed the man who claimed to be their Messiah.

VERSE 5: And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Some disagree as to who Saul is addressing here in his response. Either it was simply a term of respect or he knew that it was God. Of course, it would be hard for me to imagine that Saul didn't know that something supernatural was going on here.

And then Jesus drops the bomb on him! What does the expression it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. It means that he is working against God by failing to realize that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

VERSE 6: And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. This had to have hit Saul like a ton of bricks. The very Jesus that he hated. The very one that he thought he had to stamp out any memory of was the Jehovah God of the Old Testament! I can't help but think that he immediately knew the error of his ways. His immediate response is what wilt thou have me to do? God has a knack for taking men that are low high and men that are high low. Saul of the OT started low and went high and Saul of the NT started high and went low! Paul recounts this event in Acts 26:15-18.

VERSES 7-9: And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. Saul was blinded for three days. Some would make a comparison between Saul's three days without sight and Jonah's three days in the belly of the great fish. Both were changed men at the end with Jonah going to the Ninevites and Saul embraced the Jewish Messiah. Les Feldick makes another observation that should give a clue as to Saul's calling in that he is the only apostle called outside of the confines of Jerusalem.

Also, as far as I can tell, Saul was the only one that was a Roman citizen. These facts should be a clue that the 12 were called to Israel and Paul to the Gentiles. Saul was both a Jew and a Gentile by citizenship. Only he uniquely met these qualifications that would enable him to reach the Gentiles (Acts 21:37-40; Acts 22:24-29).

Sadly, far too many in the church today, don't see this, and even have the audacity to say that Peter got ahead of God in selecting Matthias. However, as we have discussed before, Paul never met the requirements (Acts 1:21-22). So, it had to be someone who been there during John's baptism (some would say had been baptized by John), followed Jesus during his three-year ministry, and had witnessed the resurrection (been present for the 40-day seminar). Saul came nowhere close to meeting any of these requirements! Paul was always distinct from the Twelve (Galatians 1:11-17).

VERSES 10-14 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. Now we are introduced to Ananias who was a disciple at Damascus. It can be assumed from the text that he was part of the synagogue there that Paul had received letters to arrest (Acts 9:2). With that in mind, is it any wonder that Ananias knew exactly who Saul was when he said Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem.

Paul will mention him later in his testimony in Acts 22:11-12 where he says that he was a devout man according to the law, and had a good report from all of the Jews that lived there. Again, obvious from the text that the believing Jews had not stopped temple worship. They maintained their Judaism but still had accepted the Gospel of the Kingdom. Paul also refers to this event in Acts 26:9-11.

Again, to me, these verses fly in the face of the notion that the Body of Christ was born in Acts 2. It is also important to see that this is the first time that we see the term saints mentioned in the book of Acts and it is referring to Jewish believers. This is also true when it is first mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew 27:52. In fact, the word saints, in mentioned four times in Acts and it is always referring to Jewish believers.

This important in studying the Bible. It is called the Law of First Mention and simply stated means that what is first means should be the primary meaning throughout. "The reasoning is that the Bible’s first mention of a concept is the simplest and clearest presentation; doctrines are then more fully developed on that foundation. So, to fully understand an important and complex theological concept, Bible students are advised to start with its 'first mention.'"

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Acts Study, Session 19

Today we take a look at Acts 8:1-25 where we look at why the apostles decided to stay in Jerusalem while many others were scattered as a result of the prosecution, why they message preached as simply Christ and not the crucifixion, Simon the Sorcerer, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, and why the apostles were sent to pray over the Samaritans.


Teaching Notes
Chapter 8
VERSE 1: And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. As a result of the persecution, the church that was in Jerusalem was scattered abroad, except the apostles. This begs the question, "Why?". I used to teach that God used persecution to scatter the church to take the gospel outside of Jerusalem to fulfill the Great Commission. If that is correct, the apostles were the most disobedient of them all! Also, those who were scattered, who did they preach to (Acts 11:19)? The church as we know it is not in view yet!

Of course, many have no problem today with second-guessing the actions of the apostles. I heard it all of the time in Bible College and in Seminary, e.g., they should not have chosen Matthias, Peter should not have quoted Joel 2, they should have already left Jerusalem in fulfillment of Mat 28:19 (note the works; go, teach, baptize), etc. (cf. Mar 16:15-18). And yet we have the audacity to insinuate that they were confused. I don't think so. How about taking the opposite approach of they knew EXACTLY what they were doing and you are confused because you are trying to force your theology into the text? It is only after you distance yourself from that kind of thinking that you are able to see it with fresh eyes, e.g., Matthew 24.

So, the question is, "Why were they remaining in Jerusalem?" This was by all accounts anywhere between four to five years after Pentecost. Here is the answer: they knew that before the Kingdom could come to Israel, all of Jerusalem and its leaders must repent and accept that Jesus Christ was the long-awaited Messiah. They had not done that yet. It would only be then, that God would use the nation of Israel to reach the Gentile nations as we discussed at the end of chapter 7!

All throughout the Old Testament, there is prophecy after prophecy in regards to this. Israel had to be saved first and that had to start in Jerusalem! Even then, understand, that had they accepted it, they still would have gone out only the Jew. The way I see it is that once the Jews excepted the Gospel of the Kingdom, he would then use them during the Kingdom to reach the Gentiles (Zec 8:20-23). This is when the nation would become a Kingdom of Priests!

VERSES 2-3: And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. (3)  As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. As I mentioned, Saul was not only there, he was leading it. Paul, in his conversion accounts, always mentions his horrible past in his dealings with his fellow Jews (Act 26:9-10). It seems apparent from the text in regards to Stephen's death that Rome tended to look the other way when it came to the Jews and their "religious" laws.

So why did the need Rome permission to crucify Jesus? Because prophecy required that the Gentile be involved (Psa 2:1-12; Psa 22:1-19; Joh 3:14 to name just a few. Also, the Jews would never have crucified him. Instead, they would have stoned him (Lev 24:15-16).

VERSE 4: Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Remember that they were only preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to Jews only (Act 11:19).

VERSE 5: Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. When I read this verse, I can't help but look back up to v.1 where it says, and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria. Remember Acts 1:8? Could this have been preemptive just in case Jerusalem would have repented?

Notice it says that Philip went down to the city of Samaria. Why down? It was north of Jerusalem. The Jews always referred to Jerusalem as up because it was the location of the temple of God (Luk 10:30; Joh 4:54; Joh 5:1; Psa 24:3). Jews going to Jersusalem were said to be making aliya or ascent.

It is also interesting to note that Philip, just like Peter and Stephen, preached Christ; not Christ crucified, but Christ. I emphasize that because there is a difference (1Co 1:17-18; 1Co 1:23). The focus of the Kingdom Gospel was not the crucifixion, but the person of Christ only. Subtle, but there was a difference because it predates the cross (Mat 16:15-16; Joh 11:25-27). Again, no mention of the cross; and it will continue with the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:35-37. This is the same message that Paul preached after his conversion (Acts 9:20). The Grace Gospel was not given to Paul until later.

As a final note on Samaritans, there were half Jew and half Gentile as a result of the intermarrying of the ones left behind during the Assyrian captivity. They were the descendants of the ten northern tribes and practiced a diluted version of Judaism, they were still Jews. This must be the case because the scattered Jews took the Gospel of the Kingdom to them (Acts 11:19).

Some say that it is significant that Peter and John had to lay hands on them in order for them to receive the Holy Spirit. The significance would be that they had to fall under the authority of the Jerusalem Church. Um, something to think about for sure.

VERSE 6: And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. Notice that miracles were still being used to convince the nation of the validity of the message (1Co 1:22).

VERSE 7: For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 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 are based on the Gospels.

VERSES 8-10: And there was great joy in that city. (9)  But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: (10)  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. In these verses, we are introduced to one Simon the Sorcerer who was said to be the great power of God. Sadly, any power that he did have did not come from the God of Heaven, but the god of this world. I am reminded of the magicians in Pharoah's court who responded to the miracles of Moses. They did so by the power of Satan. I believe that all power on this earth comes from and by one or the other. The Ying and the Yang is a lie though.

VERSES 11-12: And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. (12)  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Notice that they believed the preaching of Philip in regard to the things concerning the kingdom of God. Is there a difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God? Some believe that the Kingdom of God is referring to the whole sphere of God's influence, earth, and space, while the Kingdom of Heaven refers only to his earthly kingdom. However, I believe they are one and the same because Jesus used the words interchangeably (Mat 19:23-24). Also, the other gospel writers did the same. The Kingdom of God is used 68 times in 10 different New Testament books. The Kingdom of Heaven is used 32 times in only the Gospel of Matthew.

Compare these verses: Mat 11:11-12 with Luk 7:28; Mat 13:11 with Mar 4:11 and Luk 8:10; Mat 13:24 with Mar 4:26; Mat 13:31 with Mar 4:30 and Luk 13:18; Mat 13:33 with Luk 13:20
Mat 18:3 with Mar 10:14 and Luk 18:16. In each case, Matthew used the Kingdom of Heaven and the others used the Kingdom of God. They clearly are referring to the same thing.

However, there are many that believe that the Kingdom of God belongs to the church and the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the nation of Israel. The kingdoms are different, containing different subjects, and only meet in the Millennial reign of Christ upon the earth.

VERSE 13: Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Notice that Simon is drawn to the miracles and signs. Why? Two reasons: 1. That was his schtick, and 2. That was the whole reason for the miracles and signs was to draw an audience.

VERSES 14-17: Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: (15)  Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (16)  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) (17)  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. The apostles are still at Jerusalem and they received word that Samaria had received the word of God. In response, they sent Peter and John to see what was going on, upon confirmation, they prayed for the new believers that they might receive the Holy Ghost. The question is why. Why did these people need to be prayed over by the apostles themselves when no one else was?

Amazing isn’t it? Why did God withhold the Holy Spirit from these baptized Samaritans believers until Peter and John came down? Go to John’s Gospel, Chapter 4. Here we have the account of Jesus and the woman at the well, and you all know the story (Joh 4:15-20). Notice our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Notice that they drew no distinction in regards to the importance of Jerusalem.

Historically, the reason behind that mentality had been drawn years before when the nation was divided between the north and the south between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Those in the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam had established a secondary temple and felt no need to go back to Jerusalem (1Ki 12:25-33).

I believe that the whole event was about the Samaritans understanding that Jerusalem was where they were to worship. Jerusalem was the headquarters for the Kingdom of Heaven and not Samaria. I also believe that Peter had to be involved per Mat 16:19.

Kingdom Church
Another point that needs to be made in regards to this event is that this event contradicts how God works in the Body of Christ, i.e., belief is followed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. This passage alone demonstrates that this was not that. Instead, these people were believed, where baptized, but still had not received the Holy Spirit, and it would be days, if not weeks later they would in response to the prayers of Peter and John. It is obvious that something unique was going on here. Peter said, repent, be baptized, and you will receive the Spirit, but not here. Today, belief is followed by immediate filling, no baptism required.

VERSES 18-19: And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, (19)  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. By the way, this is where the word simony comes from. Webster defines it as the buying or selling of a church office. Simon was basically trying to purchase apostleship.

On that point, I believe that the office of apostle is closed. There are no apostles today. Certainly, there are people who do the work of apostleship, i.e., missionaries.

Notice back up in v.13 that Simon had already been baptized at the hands of the Philip. Does this mean that he had been truly converted? Obviously not. Interestingly, the modern church is still seeking apostolic authority and power.

VERSE 20-22 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. (21)  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. (22)  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. I believe these verses make it pretty clear that Simon's feigned belief and baptism was for financial gain for thy heart is not right in the sight of God (Rom 10:9-10). Then Peter tells him to repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. Nowhere in Scripture do we find that Simon followed this advice. Actually, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius all describe him as the founder of Gnosticism which is a counterfeit Christianity that believed they had superior knowledge over others in regards to spiritual things. The word means "having knowledge". Others reject that he was the founder, but was instead just described as one. Either way, it appears that he became an enemy of true Christianity.

VERSE 23: For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. That is not the description of a true believer.

VERSE 24: Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. I find it interesting that he asked that they pray for him. Why did he not just pray for himself? I think it was unbelief (Mark 9:24).

VERSE 25: And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. Why did they return to Jerusalem? Because they did not believe that they had a ministry to the Gentiles at this point until the King and the Kingdom had been accepted.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Acts Study, Session 18

Today we cover Acts 53-8:1 as we complete Stephen's message to the nation and are introduced to Saul, the future apostle to the Gentiles.


Teaching Notes
VERSES 46-50: Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. (47)  But Solomon built him an house. (48)  Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, (49)  Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (50)  Hath not my hand made all these things? This speaks of David, who had found favor with God, desired to build a permanent and grand dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant which dwelt in a tent  (Psa 132:1-5), but was denied (1Ch 22:8), but his son would be allowed to do so (1Ch 22:9). The question is, "Why is Stephen going here?"

One commentary says that Stephen is giving a type "of how the Lord came to Israel the first time in the tent of a human body (cf. 2Peter 1:13-14), but will return in a body that is so much grander, it will be like the difference between the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon. It goes on to say, "And He will then give Israel the kingdom they refused the first time He came. That illustrates the point Stephen’s been making, that just like Israel wasn’t freed from Egyptian bondage during Moses’ first appearance to Israel, but was on his second appearance, so the Jews didn’t get their kingdom during the Lord’s first visit to Israel, but will at His second." Of course, this is where Stephen began to lose them because he was saying that God did not dwell in their temple that had been made with hands (v.48) by referencing Isa 66:1-2. 

In these verses in Isaiah, God is basically asking, Where is the place of my rest? The assumption is that if indeed God needed a resting place, he would not ask a man to build it since he could do it on His own (Gen 1:1). Some would say that what Stephen is saying is that God may not dwell in the temples you guys have made, but He does dwell in this man that you crucified (Isa 66:2). Of course, this is where he lost them! 

VERSES 51-53: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (52)  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: (53)  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. Now he flat accuses them of being stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart. In other words, too hard-headed to listen to the truth. Obviously, he saw the crowd beginning to turn on him and knew the time of invitation had passed! No doubt, Stephen's choice of the word stiffnecked brought images of Exo 32:7-10 and Exo 33:5). Unlike far too many in the Body of Christ, the Jews knew their Scriptures. Shocked at how ignorant we are today. 

Many commentators will say that Stephen's entire message was a defense, no, it was an indictment from beginning to end. Stephen had done exactly what Peter had done in Acts 5:28. Also, as Randy White points out, Stephen was not practicing evangelism as we know it in these verses either. It was pure condemnation of them and their actions. Of course, just like with the messages of Peter, had the nation repented, the Kingdom would have come. 

Now, I have found that there is some disagreement in regards to that last statement about the coming Kingdom. Shouldn't the Tribulation take place first? I believe so, but some would say that the Time of Jacob's Trouble was conditional upon their repentance. Um, still working on that supposition.

Notice in v.53 where it says Who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it. In other words, even though God and the heavenly hosts gave you the Law, you still have not kept it. Again, nothing but condemnation. They lost it! 

VERSES 54: When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. As a result of Stephen's words, they became, as Albert Barnes puts it, enraged and indignant that he would dare accuse them of Jesus' death. Religion always produces a fleshly response. Understand, these had rejected the King and his Kingdom, there was nothing spiritual about them. They were responded in the flesh. 

VERSE 55: But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, Notice that this verse clearly show the Trinity. 

VERSES 56-58: And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (57)  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, (58)  And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. Notice that when Stephen said that he saw the Son of Man, the cried out, stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. Even in his next to last words, he was accusing them of killing their Messiah. 

Make no mistake, have you ever tried to share the Gospel with someone whose' response was outright hostility? Why was Jesus standing when everywhere else in Scripture we see him sitting? I have heard some fanciful reasons in the past, but as I mentioned earlier, the knew the Old Testament Scriptures and the last time the heavens opened was in Eze_1:1 and Eze_2:3-7 and it was followed by judgment. 

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
I will submit to you that this is where the nation committed the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that Jesus warned them of in Matthew 12:31. Can we commit this sin today? Yes and no. 

Saul Introduced
Notice that Saul, who would become Paul was present, and consenting to it as we will see in Acts 8:1. In other words, he gave approval. We see this in Galatians 1:13. This leads us to believe that he was just an innocent bystander, but the primary leader. Why? Because he believed Jesus to be an imposter. He did it in ignorance, just like the rest of the nation. 

VERSE 59: And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (60)  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. These verses are important and are too often just read-over. Stephen, even though he saw Jesus standing in preparation for judgment, was asking Him not to. We will see in the very next chapter that God is now going to send someone else to the Gentiles since they had refused (Isa 43:1; Isa 49:5-6; Isa 59:20-21; Isa 60:1-3).

Chapter 8
VERSE 1: And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. As a result of the persecution, the church that was in Jerusalem was scattered abroad, except the apostles. This begs the question, "Why?". I used to teach that God used persecution to scatter the church to take the gospel outside of Jerusalem to fulfill the Great Commission. If that is correct, the apostles were the most disobedient of them all! Also, those who were scattered, who did they preach to (Acts 11:19)? The church as we know it is not in view yet! 

Of course, many have no problem today with second-guessing the actions of the apostles. I heard it all of the time in Bible College and in Seminary, e.g., they should not have chosen Matthias, Peter should not have quoted Joel 2, they should have already left Jerusalem in fulfillment of Mat 28:19 (note the works; go, teach, baptize), etc. (cf. Mar 16:15-18). And yet we have the audacity to insinuate that they were confused. I don't think so. How about taking the opposite approach of they knew EXACTLY what they were doing and you are confused because you are trying to force your theology into the text? It is only after you distance yourself from that kind of thinking that you are able to see it with fresh eyes, e.g., Matthew 24. So, the question is, "Why were they remaining in Jerusalem?" This was by all accounts anywhere between four to five years after Pentecost. 

Here is the answer: they knew that before the Kingdom could come to Israel, all of Jerusalem and its leaders must repent and accept that Jesus Christ was the long-awaited Messiah. They had not done that yet. It would only be then, that God would use the nation of Israel to reach the Gentile nations as we discussed at the end of chapter 7!

All throughout the Old Testament, there is prophecy after prophecy in regards to this. Israel had to be saved first and that had to start in Jerusalem! Even then, understand, that had they accepted it, they still would have gone out only the Jew. The way I see it is that once the Jews excepted the Gospel of the Kingdom, he would then use them during the Kingdom to reach the Gentiles (Zech 8:20-23). This is when the nation would become a Kingdom of Priests!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Acts Study 6.9.20

Today we pick up our study in Acts 7:31-35 where we see Stephen wrapping up his message of accusation against the nation.


Teaching Notes
VERSES 51-53: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (52)  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: (53)  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. Now he flat accuses them of being stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart. In other words, too hardheaded to listen to the truth. Obviously, he saw the crowd beginning to turn on him and knew the time of invitation had passed! 

Also, no doubt, Stephen's choice of the word stiffnecked brought images of Exodus 32:7-10 and Exodus 33:5). Unlike far too many in the Body of Christ, the Jews knew their Scriptures. Shocked at how ignorant we are today. 

Many commentators will say that Stephen's entire message was a defense, no, it was an indictment from beginning to end. Stephen had done exactly what Peter had done in Acts 5:28. Also, as Randy White points out, Stephen was not practicing evangelism as we know it in these verses either. It was pure condemnation of them and their actions. Of course, just like with the messages of Peter, had the nation repented, the Kingdom would have come. 

Notice in v.53 where it says Who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it. In other words, even though God and the heavenly hosts gave you the Law, you still have not kept it. Again, nothing but condemnation. They lost it! 

VERSES 54: When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. As a result of Stephen's words, they became, as Albert Barnes puts it, enraged and indignant that he would dare accuse them of Jesus' death. Religion always produces a fleshly response. Understand, these had rejected the King and his Kingdom, there was nothing spiritual about them. They were responded in the flesh. 

VERSE 55: But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, Notice that this verse clearly show the Trinity.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Acts Study, Session 17

Today we pick up our study in Acts 7 and work our way down to v.53 where we see Stephen continuing to show that the nation was rejecting their Messiah.


Teaching Notes
VERSE 38: This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: Again, the verse is still referrring to Moses who was the church in the wilderness when they nation received the Law. Notice also that Moses was in the church in the wilderness. 

Randy White at this point mentions that "there is a two-fold mistake often made by the use of the word church in this verse." Covenant theology uses this word to “prove” that “the church” has always existed, and thus mixes Israel with the church. Dispensational theology of the “normative” variety, that would be most evangelicals, ignores this verse by saying that it was just an assymbly in the wilderness and then argue that Mat 16:18 is prophecy about the actual church as we know it today and making no distinction betwee Act 2:47 or Act 5:11 or 2Co 1:1. The verses are obviously referring to different churches. 

More Than One Church
Actually, there are four churches identified in the Bible and we also run into problems when we try to say they are the same.  

1. The Church in the Wilderness (Acts 7:38) which is the church that had been called out of Egypt. 

2. The Kingdom Church in the Gospels (Acts 2:47) all the way up to Acts 7ish. Prodominantly Jewish because there were some Gentile proselytes.

3. The Mystery Church revealed through Paul justified freely by grace. The Body of Christ (Col 1:18; Rom 11:25; Rom 16:25; Eph 3:1-2; 1Ti 1:15-16).

4. The Tribulation Church that will be made up of those who will seal their fates in their own blood by not accepting the Mark of the Beast which are made up on the congregations mentioned in chapters 2 and 3. They are those who will accept the Gospel of the Kingdom that will be preached again by the 144,000 (Mat 24:13-14). 

VERSES 39-40: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, (40)  Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. He is pointing out that even after coming out of Egypt, the continued to reject his leadership, and their hearts were turned back again into Egypt. His point is that they as a nation should not make that mistake again with Jesus. 

VERSE 41: And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. As a result, they fell into idolatry. 

VERSES 42-43: Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? (43)  Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. The end result was that their fathers strryed into idolatry.  Stephen is apparently referring to Amos 5:25-27. 

VERSE 44: Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Now Stephen is going to jump in Israel's history to King Solomon. Remember that his who purpose is to indict the nation for their rejection of their Messiah in hopes of bringing them to national repentance. 

VERSE 45: Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; The thought continues in that the nation brought the tabernacle with them into the Promises Land. This verse is interesting because only the KJV interpretes the name Jesus. The others say Joshua. The same thing happens in Hebrews 4:8. The Greek word is a translation of the Hebrew Yeshua, and Joshua is the English translation from the Hebrew. Of course, some would say that the KJV translators were just translating what Stephen was really trying to say in that Jesus spiritually what Joshua did physically in brining them into the Promised Land. 

VERSES 46-50: Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. (47)  But Solomon built him an house. (48)  Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, (49)  Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (50)  Hath not my hand made all these things? This speaks of David, who had found favor with God, desired to build a permanent and grand dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant which dwelt in a tent  (Psa 132:1-5), but was denied (1Ch 22:8), but his son would be allowed to do so (1Ch 22:9). The question is, "Why is Stephen going here?"

One commentary says that Stephen is giving a type "of how the Lord came to Israel the first time in the tent of a human body (cf. 2Peter 1:13-14), but will return in a body that is so much grander, it will be like the difference between the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon. It goes on to say, "And He will then give Israel the kingdom they refused the first time He came. That illustrates the point Stephen’s been making, that just like Israel wasn’t freed from Egyptian bondage during Moses’ first appearance to Israel, but was on his second appearance, so the Jews didn’t get their kingdom during the Lord’s first visit to Israel, but will at His second." Of course, this is where Stephen began to lose them, because he was saying that God did not dwell in their temple that had been made with hands (v.48) by referencing Isa 66:1-2. 

In these verses in Isaiah, God is basically asking, "Where is the place of my rest?" The assumption is that if indeed God needed a resting place, he would not  ask man to build it since he could do it on His own (Gen 1:1). Some would say that what Stephen is saying is that God may not dwell in the temples you guys have made, but He does dwell in this man that you crucified (Isa 66:2). Of course, this is where he lost them! 

VERSES 51-53: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (52)  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: (53)  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. Now he flat accuses them of being stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart. In other words, too hard headed to listen to the truth. Obviously, he saw they crowd beginning to turn on him and knew the time of invitation had passed! No doubt, Stephen's choice of the word stiffnecked brought images of Exo 32:7-10 and Exo 33:5). Unlike far too many in the Body of Christ, the Jews knew their Scriptures. Shocked at how ignorant we are today. 

Many commentators will say that Stephen's entire message was a defense, no, it was an idictment from beginning to end. Stephen had done exactly what Peter had done in Acts 5:28. Also, as Randy White points out, Stephen was not practicing evangelism as we know it in these verses either. It was pure condemnation of them and their actions. Of course, just like with the messages of Peter, had the nation repented, the Kingdom would have come. 

What if? 
Now, I have found that there is some disagreement in regards to that last statement about the coming Kingdom. Shouldn't the Tribulation take place first? I believe so, but some would say that the Time of Jacob's Trouble was conditional upon their repentance. Um, still working on that supposition.

Notice in v.53 where it says Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. In other words, even though God and the heavenly hosts gave you the Law, you still have not kept it. Again, nothing but condemnation. They lost it! 

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Acts Study 6.5.2020

Today we continue in our study through the book of Acts by looking at 7:30-38.


Teaching Notes
VERSES 28-30: Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? (29)  Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. (30)  And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. Here we see another forty years of Moses' life on the backside of the desert.

VERSES 31-32: When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, (32)  Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. (33)  Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. (34)  I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. (35)  This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. (36)  He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. Notice how Stephen shows how the nation rejected the very one that God had sent to deliver them? So too, they were doing the same thing with Jesus! And yet, just like with Moses, Jesus came to lead them, not out of physical bondage, but out of spiritual bondage with wonders and signs just like Moses did so many years ago. Again, Stephen is not just telling a story for no reason. 

VERSE 37: This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. Stephen is still referring back to Deu_18:15 to show them that Jesus was the fulfillment of these verses. 

VERSE 38: This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: Again, the verse is still referring to Moses who was the church in the wilderness when they nation received the Law. 

Notice also that Moses was in the church in the wilderness. Randy White at this point mentions that "there is a two-fold mistake often made by the use of the word church in this verse." Covenant theology uses this word to “prove” that “the church” has always existed, and thus mixes Israel with the church. Dispensational theology of the “normative” variety, that would be most evangelicals, ignores this verse when they argue that Matthew 16:18 is a prophecy about the church as we know it, or that Acts 2:47 or Acts 5:11 speaks of the church as we know it. The verses are obviously referring to ANOTHER church! We will discuss it further next time. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

Acts Study, Session 16

Today we pick up our study in Acts 7 where we take a closer look at Stephen's address to the nation.


Teaching Notes
Chapter 7
VERSES 1-2: Then said the high priest, Are these things so? (2)  And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. These verses are interesting in that they go beyond the Genesis 12 account which simply says that the Lord had said unto Abram to The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham. So that means that God actually appeared in, most likely, a human form, thus a Theophany. Stephen, as we will see, reviewed Israel's history beginning with Abraham, and how God in the past had consistently prepared the nation for their coming King and Kingdom.

VERSE 4: Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran (Haran): and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. (5)  And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. The point is that God had made a promise to Abraham that had not yet been fulfilled in his lifetime.

VERSES 6-7: And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. (7)  And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. This is speaking of the bondage that Israel endured in Egypt. And, of course, God judged them when he delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians under Moses with the plagues.

VERSES 9-10: And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. (9)  And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, (10)  And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. This speaks of the betrayal of Joseph's brothers in selling him into slavery, where he, through a series of events, ends up being the governor over all of Egypt. I believe this is a type and a foreshadowing of how Israel had also sold its Redeemer not knowing who he was.

VERSES 11-13: Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. (12)  But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. (13)  And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. This is when Jacob sent the remaining brothers to get grain in Egypt because of the drought that the land was going through (Gen 42:1-3; Gen 42:8). Verse 8 there in Genesis reminds me of Joh 1:11. Later we find that Joseph could not restrain himself any further and revealed himself to his brothers (Gen 45:1-4; Gen 45:15).

In the same way, Israel did not recognize Jesus as their Redeemer, but one day they will according to Zec 12:10-12 and Zec 13:6. Stephen is making an attempt to show the nation that what their forefathers had done to Joseph, they had done to Jesus! But, as we have already mentioned earlier, they did it in ignorance (Act 3:17). Also, we discussed, had they known who he was and done what they did in total knowledge, God would have brought judgment down on them immediately. Jesus even said from the cross, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Interestingly enough, Stephen will later declare the same words as they are stoning him later in Act 7:60. He asked God to forgive them for their ignorance! Why was this so important that their ignorance is brought out? Because, again, had they known full well what they were doing, God would have destroyed them according to the law of murder. The law makes it clear that if someone knowingly, premeditatively killed someone, it was life for life. However, if it was an accident, grace was extended for the person to flee to the City of Refuge (cf. 1Co 2:6-8).  The example of that grace is furthermore displayed in the next verses.

VERSES 14-16: Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. (15)  So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, (16)  And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. Joseph showed his brothers mercy, just as God was about to show mercy to Israel as we will see in a little bit through the very man that would oversea Stephen's stoning: Saul (v.58).

On another interesting note, this burial place, Sychem, is holy to all three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It contains the bodies of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Rebecca, and Joseph. 

Speaking of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, you need to read The Genesis Record by Henry Morris. By the way, it would not make the list of most politically correct books in today's world. Anyway, in Genesis 6 we are told that Noah had three sons (Gen 6:10). 

Then in Genesis 10, we have what is called the Table of Nations which describes where each of these sons and their descendants settled after the flood (Gen 10:1). In short, Shem's descendants are known as Shemites and they settled in what today is the Middle East. It is felt that through Shem's descendant, Joktan, came the Orientals and through his descendant, Peleg came the Asians. Thus all Jews, Asians, and Orientals are considered to be Shemites. Ham's descendants are known as Hamites and they settled in what today is known as Africa. Japheth's descendants are known as Japhites and they settled in what today is known as Europe.

Also, linguistically, through Shem came the Semitic languages; through Ham came the Afro-Asiatic languages, and through Japheth came the Endo-European languages. Religiously, through Shem came Judaism, through Ham came Islam, and through Japheth came Christianity. It goes on and on. Fascinating study!

Some will even point to the fact that through Christ, the plan was to redeem man back to himself, of course, through the nation of Israel. This is seen in the fact that the conversion experiences in Acts were those of a Shemite, and Hamite, and a Japhite. In 8:26-37 we see the conversion of an Ethiopian Eunuch who was a descendant of Ham. In 9:1-6 we see the conversion of Saul of Tarsus who became Paul who was a descendant of Shem. In 10:1-5 we see the conversion of Cornelius, a centurion who was a descendant of Japheth. Just interesting to me. 

VERSES 17-19: But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, (18)  Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. (19)  The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. Hard to not notice that Stephen here is still addressing the Nation of Israel. No Gentiles. No Body of Christ. The only Gentiles so far are the Egyptians. 

VERSE 20: In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: I don't think that exceeding fair does not been that he was a pretty baby. The translations say that he was lovely in the sight of God. Others like the NIV say he was no ordinary child. It means that he was special in some way and that would be in how God was going to use him. Notice also that by comparing Scripture with Scripture, we are filling in a lot of gaps that the Old Testament just does not mention. 

VERSES 21-22: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. (22)  And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Again, this is information that can not be gleaned from the Old Testament accounts. As a son of Pharoah's daughter, he was second behind Pharoah himself. He was highly educated and wielded much power in not only words but also deeds.  

If you pay close attention, you will see that Stephen divides Moses' 120-year life span into three forty-year periods: 40 in Egypt, 40 on the backside of the desert,  and 40 leading the children of Israel. 

VERSES 23-25: And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. (24)  And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: (25)  For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. Some will say that when Moses went out the first time and was moved to deliver the Jews, but not called to deliver the Jews. 

I have a thought process for you. There is a difference between a burden and a call. Just because you are burdened, doesn't mean that God wants you to do anything about it. Too many move on burdens today and not calls. 

Notice that he tried to deliver them they understood not. Again, Stephen has repeated Israel's history for a reason. Just as the people did not understand that Moses was there to deliver them, so too, the vast majority of the Jews that Stephen was speaking to did not understand that Jesus was there to deliver them as well. Every word out of Stephen's mouth was trying to show them that Jesus was their long-awaited deliverer just as Moses foretold this in Deu 18:15-19. 

Of course, Israel had already rejected and crucified him in ignorance, but Stephen is telling them that it is not too late! That takes me to Acts 7:13 when he said, And the second time, Joseph was made known to his brethren. So too here, they are being given a second opportunity to accept their Messiah and his offer of a Kingdom. If they had, he would have returned a second time, seven years later! That is why we call it the Second Coming. 

VERSES 26-27: And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? (27)  But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Back to Moses when his deed was discovered, they said, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? That is the same thing that the nation said we Jesus offered to be their King! We have no king but Caesar (Joh 19:15)! Stephen is bringing on the heat!

VERSES 28-30: Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? (29)  Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. (30)  And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. Here we see another forty years of Moses' life on the backside of the desert.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Daniel Study, Session 9

We pick up our study tonight in Daniel 7 where we find Daniel revealing and interpreting his own dream that goes all the way down to Christ’s second coming.


Teaching Notes
Chapter 7
v.1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. For a bit of an outline, chapters 7 through 12 are visions which Daniel had; in chronology, the events of chapters 7 and 8 belong between chapters 4 and 5; what happens in chapter 9 happens about at the same time as chapter 6, and the visions of 10-12 take place after the events of chapter 6. The first of the four visions of chapters 7-12 are the most comprehensive; the other three visions deal with aspects of this first vision.

The Sum of the Matters: In other words, Daniel could have given us more detail; but the Holy Spirit only wanted him to write the main facts - though we might have wanted to know more detail!

The Four Beasts
vv.2-3 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  (3)  And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The four winds of the heaven: Some view these as representing satanic forces (Rev 7:1) or simply a reference to God's strength and power (Psa 35:5; Psa 48:7; Psa 107:25; Isa 27:8; Isa 41:16).

The great sea: This is referring to the Mediterranean that each of these empires borders. From this great sea come four great beasts each distinct from the other.

The First Beast
v.4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: This beast is majestic in that it is represented by a lion and an eagle. While the lion is the king on land, the eagle is the king in the air.
Jeremiah used both of these to describe Babylon (Jer 49:19-22). However, this kingdom is humbled by having its wings plucked and given the heart of a man. Babylon was famous for its winged lions.

The Second Beast
v.5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. A second, like to a bear: It's been said that the bear is much less majestic as that it is slow, ponderous, and crushing. This one is imbalanced in some way in that it is on its side, however, it does have a voracious appetite. It represents tot Medo-Persian Empire. Many believe that the three ribs represent the empires that they conquered: Babylon, Egypt, and Lydia.

The Third Beast
v.6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. Like a leopard: The beast represents Greece. A normal leopard can run 36 mph and is known for its sudden, unexpected attacks; this one is especially swift with four wings. It is also clever with four heads. Alexander the Great conquered the entire civilized world by the age of 28. Some would say that the four heads also represent his four generals: Casander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy who inherited the empire after his death.

The Fourth Beast
v.7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. Notice that this fourth beast was very different from the rest before it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it. This is no doubt the Roman Empire. Rome ruled the world from around 150 BC until around 450 AD. It was unquestionably the largest, strongest, unified, and enduring of them all. Rome was unique in that it not only ruled the world physically but came to rule it spiritually as well.

Still With Us Today
In many respects, Rome never lost spiritual control of the world. This is seen in the fact that the iron does not seize to exist from the legs down through the toes in Neb's first vision of the statue. It's unbelievable that God gave this revelation to Daniel around 600 BC. That was almost 400 years before Rome even became a world empire!

It had ten horns: The ten toes of chapter 2 and the ten horns here in chapter 7 are one and the same (Rev 13:1, Rev 17:3). They represent the Revived Roman Empire of the last days.

The Antichrist 
v.8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. Notice that while Daniel is considering the horns and what they could mean, he sees another little horn rise up from among them. This is the antichrist.

Notice that he plucks up three of the ten by the roots. Apparently, the antichrist is going to have to fight three of the 10 kingdoms to gain control of the remaining kingdoms. This sheds some light on Rev 17:10-13. Looks like v.13 is through a little bit of coercion.

Great Things
Notice that he has a mouth speaking great things (Rev 13:1-6). Also, Paul makes reference to the Antichrist in 2Th 2:3-4. He believes that he is greater than God.

Lord of Glory
vv.9-10 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.  (10)  A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. The words cast down could be better translated as established or set up.

The book of Revelation tells us who is sitting on these thrones (Rev 4:4). While we are not sure who is sitting on these thrones, we do know that the number means signifies government in the Bible. Here are a couple of views on whom these twenty-four elders are. Some say they are literally the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve apostles of the New Testament combined. Not sure about the sons, but I do know that Jesus said that the Twelve would do so in Mat 19:28 and Luk 22:29-30.

Others say that these represent all of the redeemed from both the Old and the New Testament. Either way, in this view, the twelve patriarchs represent those from the Old Testament and the twelve apostles represent those from the New Testament saints.

This all could also be related to 1Ch 24:3-4. In these verses, we see that David had appointed 24 elders to represent the entire Levitical priesthood which numbered around 38,000 at that time. Each of these elders was to represent a group of Levites who were to serve throughout the year for two weeks at a time in the Temple. This division also made it easier to meet with the Levites as they were representative of the entire group. This is probably why the number 24 represents governmental authority in the Bible.

Now those who want to place the Body of Christ in this number, as I used to, will point to 1Co 6:2-3 as a proof text. To be honest, where I am right now, I am having a hard time seeing the Body of Christ anywhere in the Old Testament, and I am also struggling with the term saint because it appears to be referring to Jewish Believers and not the Body of Christ (Eph 1:1; Php 1:1; Col 1:1-2). Make what you will of it, but they appear to be different groups of people.

Final thought, whoever these are, they are judging during the Kingdom, which I have become convinced has nothing to do with the Body of Christ. Also, cf. Jud 1:14-15 and Rev 2:26. Both are speaking of Jews and not Gentiles. We will see another clue in this same chapter in v.18. Again, referring to the House of Israel.

The Ancient of Days
Notice the Ancient of days: This is a reference to God the Father. We see the deity of Christ in this because here it is a reference to God the Father, but in Revelation, it is a reference to God the Son. Compare the description with Rev 1:12-15. Appear to be one and the same.

Daniel has the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgment in view here (Rev 19:11-16; Rev 20:11-15; Isa 66:15-16).

Notice that the books were opened: There are three books mentioned in the Bible: 1. The Book of the Living (Psa 69:28); 2. The Book of Remembrance (Mal 3:16); 3. The Book of Life (Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; Rev 13:8; Rev 17:8; Rev 20:12; Rev 20:15; Rev 21:27, and Rev 22:19).

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Acts Study, Session 15

Today we cover Acts 5:41-7:16. We see that the apostles are still very much involved in life at the Temple, seven are chosen to help with the distribution in Jerusalem, Stephen is arrested and begins his speech before the council.


Teaching Notes
VERSES 41-42: And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (42)  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Instead of being bitter about the whole thing, they counted it an honor to suffer shame for his name. Also, notice that they continued daily in the temple.

The Temple was still fully operational and the center of Jewish life. Nothing had changed in that regard at all. When we get to Paul, we will find that other than a vow that he took to reach the Jewish nation, he will have nothing to do with the Temple. He doesn't tell the new converts that they have to go to Jerusalem at all. Instead, fellowships are started in homes.

In reality, the entire concept of a building as a meeting place was foreign to the early church. The big building we meet in today is simply throwbacks to the Roman Churches as they attempted to set themselves up as the new Israel. Again, while the church may have begun, the age of grace certainly had not.

Chapter 6
VERSE 1: And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 
Here we start to see problems with the Common Store. Three possible reasons:
1. No doubt, just like in Jamestown, and in our society today, there were those who wanted to take out who had not put in. 2. Maybe it was just beginning to dry up. 3. Or it just may have been too much trouble for the apostles to tend to themselves which seems to be the more obvious answer. Of course, we do know that it did eventually run out (1Co 16:1-4; Rom 15:25-26).

The next obvious question is who were the Grecians? Hebrews is obvious. A Grecian was simply a non-Palestinian Jew. They were also referred to as Hellenists. Remember that there were Jews who had been carried away into Babylon and never returned to Jerusalem. They grew up outside of Jerusalem but maintained their Jewish faith. These were those referred to as Grecians who had returned to Jerusalem and had accepted Christ as the Messiah and were now part of the Kingdom Church. Albert Barnes says of these, "These were not proselyted Gentiles, but those of Jewish origin who were not natives of Judea, who had come up to Jerusalem to attend the great festivals." Obviously, their widows were being neglected in the daily ministration or distribution of food. There was some obvious prejudice against them.

VERSE 2: Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Many today in the church will go straight to these verses and say that these were the first deacons in the church. The Bible never calls these men deacons. While there were certainly the forerunners, they were not deacons in the Body of Christ sense.

VERSES 3-7: Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (4)  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (5)  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: (6)  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. (7)  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. Again, many churches will use the verses to justify congregationally elected deacons. This verse simply cannot be used to justify that practice. I have served and ministered in enough Baptist churches to know that this practice doesn't always work that well. They are little more than popularity contests in my experience. Too often they are used to "keep the preacher in check". I am also not a fan of congregational polity. However, I do believe in what I used to call "family meetings" to keep the congregation updated and to even seek their input. Too many churches are built upon the flimsy foundation of these verses and Mat 18:15-20.

VERSE 8: And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Make no mistake, Stephen is still a continuation of the apostolic ministry ministering exclusively to the house of Israel.

VERSES 9-14: Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. (10)  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (11)  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. (12)  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, (13)  And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: (14)  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. What were they so upset about? The message that Stephen preached was the King and the offered Kingdom. Understand, what he preached put their livelihood at stake. If what Stephen was preaching truly came to pass, there would be no need for them anymore.

VERSE 15: And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. To me, this simply means that they saw something in Stephen that was beyond the ordinary. Of course, he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 7
VERSES 1-2: Then said the high priest, Are these things so? (2)  And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 
These verses are interesting in that they go beyond the Genesis 12 account which simply says that the Lord had said unto Abram to The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham. So that means that God actually appeared in, most likely, a human form, thus a Theophany. Stephen, as we will see, reviewed Israel's history beginning with Abraham, and how God in the past had consistently prepared the nation for their coming King and Kingdom.

VERSE 4: Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran (Haran): and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. (5)  And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. The point is that God had made a promise to Abraham that had not yet been fulfilled in his lifetime.

VERSES 6-7: And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. (7)  And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. This is speaking of the bondage that Israel endured in Egypt. And, of course, God judged them when he delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians under Moses with the plagues.

VERSES 9-10: And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. (9)  And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, (10)  And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. This speaks of the betrayral of Joseph's brothers in selling him into slavery, where he, through a series of events, ends up being the governor over all of Egypt. I believe this is a type and a foreshadowing of how Israel had also sold its Redeemer not knowing who he was.

VERSES 11-13: Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. (12)  But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. (13)  And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. This is when Jacob sent the remaining brothers to get grain in Egypt because of the drought that the land was going through (Gen 42:1-3; Gen 42:8). Verse 8 there in Genesis reminds me of Joh 1:11. Later we find that Joseph could not restrain himself any further and revealed himself to his brothers (Gen 45:1-4; Gen 45:15).

In the same way, Israel did not recognize Jesus as their Redeemer, but one day they will according to Zec 12:10-12 and Zec 13:6. Stephen is making an attempt to show the nation that what their forefathers had done to Joseph, they had done to Jesus! But, as we have already mentioned earlier, they did it in ignorance (Act 3:17). Also, we discussed, had they known who he was and done what they did in total knowledge, God would have brought judgment down on them immediately. Jesus even said from the cross, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Interestingly enough, Stephen will later declare the same words as they are stoning him later in Act 7:60. He asked God to forgive them for their ignorance! Why was this so important that their ignorance is brought out? Because, again, had they known full well what they were doing, God would have destroyed them according to the law of murder. The law makes it clear that if someone knowingly, premeditatively killed someone, it was life for life. However, if it was an accident, grace was extended for the person to flee to the City of Refuge (cf. 1Co 2:6-8).  The example of that grace is furthermore displayed in the next verses.

VERSES 14-16: Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. (15)  So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, (16)  And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. Joseph showed his brothers mercy, just as God was about to show mercy to Israel as we will see in little bit through the very man that would oversea Stephen's stoning: Saul (v.58).