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. 

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