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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES WORD DOCUMENT  in case below doesn't look right.

The Acts of The Apostles

This is a rather daunting task, outlining and studying the book many refer to as Acts. I hope you enjoy the ride we go through this study together. The Acts of The Apostles is divided up by many theologians into three parts (1-7; 8-12; 13-28).

Let us begin. Acts begins where the Gospels end with Jesus’ resurrection. Christ stayed for forty days speaking of the kingdom of God according verse three. We find the apostles being told to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise, the Holy Spirit. The apostles still ask questions and inquire when the kingdom would be restored.  Jesus answered them as recorded in verses seven through eight with a hurry up and wait answer along with, now spread the Gospel directive after receiving the Holy Ghost.

Verses twelve through twenty-six tell the drawing of lots so to speak. The remaining eleven after prayer asking for guidance chose replacements for Judas, the betrayer. After two were chosen, one, Matthias, remained as the new twelfth member.

Chapter two is a chapter so many people use stating their case that baptism is a crucial part to attaining salvation based off of verse 38. I’ll state that right off the bat so the whole truth, all of scripture, if you will, can be looked at. The apostles receive the promise, the Holy Spirit at the beginning of Acts II. It causes such a commotion that many onlookers accuse them of being drunk. Peter, at this point, I suppose is the unofficial earthly leader of the apostles stands up and delivers a sermon that completely wipes away his previous denials of the Lord only weeks earlier.

Peter is in my opinion one of the first Christian apologetics. An apologetic is one that defends the Gospel. Peter, now filled with the Spirit, starts out in verse sixteen using not his own words, but the words spoken by God through the prophet, Joel.


    17'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says,
         'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
         AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
         AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
         AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;
    18EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
         I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
         And they shall prophesy.
    19'AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
         AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
         BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.
    20'THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
         AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
         BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME.
    21'AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'  (Remember this verse later.)

Peter continues on speaking of King David and how David, known as a man after God’s own heart prophesized the coming Christ as Savior. He does this in verses twenty-five through twenty-eight.

"For David says of Him,
         'I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE;
         FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.
    26'THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED;
         MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;
    27BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES,
         NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.
    28'YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE;
         YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.'

            Peter continues in verse thirty-six, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."  That’s the hook. Peter knew what was coming now. They asked what to do. The next verse, like I mentioned earlier has caused so much dissention. Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

           Any number of scriptures pertaining to people believing on and in Christ followed up with immediate baptism can and does lend itself to validating verse thirty-eight’s legitimate claim to baptismal regeneration. But a verse or two by itself cannot and does not make a doctrine mean what we want. Recall 21'AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED. Also think about the very words of Christ as recorded in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. This directly corresponds with what Peter mentioned from Joel and what Paul later wrote to the Romans by saying under God’s inspiration, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’”

          It is a slap in the face of the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, for we a people, His people to add anything to His gift, His Grace by saying it is faith in Christ plus this or that for salvation to be real. In Ephesians we learned “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  So then what is the big deal about baptism following repentance that Peter spoke? Why you may ask did Peter say, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It sounds like one only receives the Holy Spirit after baptism, but that is not the case.

            Chapter one mentions water baptisms, but mentions in regards to the apostles receiving the Holy Ghost, a baptism of the spirit. When a person Jew or gentile receives Christ as their savior, God’s Comforter, the Holy Spirit enters into our lives our heart if you will. The act of water baptism does not save a person. It is the belief in Christ as Savior that saves. It goes repentance, (knowing your need for forgiveness and actually stopping the bad behavior, believing that Jesus is the Christ, then confessing Him as the Lord. What about baptism?  Baptism is a symbolic ceremony that shows our inward commitment to Christ. Baptism without first calling out to Jesus as Lord is useless. It is like every kid or adult jumping headfirst into a creek or pool. It is crazy to think any of us can ever work our way to Heaven by doing enough good deeds or being dunked in city, well, or river water. There is no condemnation in Christ, my friends. In verse twenty-one, referencing the prophet Joel, Peter repeats some pretty easy to understand words:  And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Anyone who claims to be a Christian and questions another’s commitment to Christ if for whatever reason the latter has not followed through immediately with baptism needs to check their own heart, commitment, and understanding of God’s Word.

            Let’s look at the following verses, thirty-nine through forty-one: For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’ So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. God’s Grace, the sacrificial death and rise of Christ is for all people without pause. Christian people must separate themselves from those who do not know Christ as the Lord.

            Verses forty-two through forty-seven depict an almost perfect church situation with a body of believers worshipping in unity and growing not just in number but spiritually.  

Chapter three starts us out with Peter and John who see a certain lame man. The man looks upon Peter as requested and expected to receive a handout. Verse six shows Peter saying, “I don’t have any money, but rise up and be healed in the name of Jesus!” As you can imagine, the healing of this lame man garnered attention from the general public. There is a general commotion about, to which Peter gingerly announces to the public using in my opinion, Guilt to the fifth power: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’”

Ole Peter is really letting them know isn’t he? He references Moses a name all law studying Jews would know and connects Moses’ teaching to the Christ.

  Where chapter three showed the reaction of the people to the miraculous healing, chapter four shows the religious and political reaction. In a nutshell, Peter and John are arrested and taken to some of the very same people that played an earthly role in the death of Jesus. The apostles are taken and confronted with why and how they did the miracle. Filled with the Spirit, Peter answered in verses eight through twelve.  Verse twelve echoes earlier statements concerning salvation: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

The educated ruling class as scripture teaches realized that Peter and John were uneducated men, but that they had been with Christ. They could not deny the healing of the man, not just because the public had seen it, but because they too had witnessed it. So now they are stuck. They know they have to do something, but too many people already know the truth. Do you know what they did? They threatened them. Both, Peter and John responded with: "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

That is faith! That is faith that refuses to be denied by anyone or anything. We need to be a people that are sold out to God with every inch of our being. Christ and His sacrifice should constantly be on our thoughts. We should always be thinking about how to spread the Gospel to this lost and dying world!

With that statement of profound faith, the educated rulers had little choice, but to let them go. Chapter four concludes with much praying and proclaiming Christ as Lord. The scene is similar to the previous chapter’s demeanor. We are introduced to Joseph, whom the apostles called Barnabas. We learn that he sold land and brought all the money to the apostles.

Chapter five is political and just outstanding in that the apostles’ faith is shown to be true and strong beyond belief with a little death thrown in as well. Verses one through ten tell the tale of a man and his wife who sold land, but did not give the right amount to the church. I say right amount because first the husband then later the wife lie about the amount they sold the land for. Peter rebukes both parties and both hubby and wife at different times fall dead. That my friend is conviction. In Micah, the question is posed; “Who will rob God?” the answer as demonstrated here is no one. All these people had to do was tell the truth and give with a joyful heart. Twelve-sixteen continues with the rise of the church via the apostles teachings, preaching, and healing.

We find the same bunch of naysayers, the non-believers, who had a say in the death of Christ, are at it again because they cannot handle the fact that despite their killing of Christ, His followers have not fled, but have grown in number.   The apostles are arrested in verse seventeen, but all is good. They are released by an angel that instructs them to for lack of a better phrase, “Preach on!”

The highly educated religious leaders convene or call up a full blown meeting with the elders of Israel called the Sanhedrin in that they discuss what to do with the trouble making Jesus followers. They are surprised to find them not in jail, but at the temple preaching and teaching salvation through Christ. Let’s look now at verses twenty-seven and following:

Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

            What would you say to this? In a sense, it’s like you’ve been escorted into the principal’s office or any other situation where one is reprimanded.

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

Well, this made those folks mad enough to kill Peter and the gang. But something interesting happens. A member of the board so to speak, a man named Gamaliel, speaks up and says hold on. Now again, I’m paraphrasing here, go back and read it in details for yourself. Now he basically says, if they are doing the things of man, we should punish them, but if to borrow a phrase from folk singer Bob Dylan, they have God on their side, we might want to reconsider our position.

From their point of view, you know it had to be crazy. They had handed Jesus over to death. This Jesus was the leader. The rest should have folded after his death. How can it be that his ideas are being taught by a bunch of uneducated fisherman and each day more and more people profess him as their lord? How is that even right? Wow, Two thousand plus years later and people still ask variations of those questions. Anyway, let’s continue.

Instead of being killed, the apostles were flogged (beaten), and told to not preach any longer. Guess what their response was.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

They rejoiced in the beating because it counted them worthy of the Name of Christ. Jesus had told them to be prepared for days like that. None of them were surprised. Oh if we could have that faith today!

            Chapter six gives us to very important events. First, we find the apostles a bit overwhelmed by the growing church as far as meeting needs, so they pick seven men that become Deacons, otherwise known as church servants. One of the chosen seven was a man named Stephen. He was described as a man full of the spirit and handsome. Well, as you can guess, this did not set well with those of the religious law. They saw Stephen doing as the apostles so something had to be done. Now stay with me through the irony here. The council had men lie about Stephen saying he said this and that about the law and Moses. Irony part one. The council had men lie and say Stephen blasphemed Moses, their patriarch, the one that held the tablets written by God that said you know, don’t lie. Wow.

Chapter seven is just awesome as far as the history goes. Stephen faces and answers his accusers. The first fifty verses of chapter seven are a summary of previous events starting with Abraham. It is possible that Stephen should not have ended his speech with these words: "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."

Stephen’s life ends with seven’s conclusion. He became the first Christian martyr. He is killed by the mob and their rocks. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

In the mythology of Star Wars, a young Jedi as we are told helped the Empire hunt down and kill other Jedis. I believe George Lucas must have had the beginning of chapter eight in mind when envisioning his own creations. Saul of Tarsus in verses one through four is hunting and scattering the believers. Was that so bad? Jesus told His disciples to spread the news everywhere. That’s what they did.

Warning. The following information may be offensive to some readers. Let me first say that I do not claim to have all the answers. I am an apologetic at best. This will be made clear momentarily. What follows is Philip in Samaria teaching. There is this witchcraft using fellow named Simon that has people thinking he is some kind of powerful. When the people hear Philip preach about the Word, scripture teaches that they believed. Simon too “believes.” So after word gets out that the Gospel is being preached in Samaria, Peter and John head that way. Now here is where things get a little harder to understand.

Acts 8:15-17

Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

            Commentators disagree about it, but I will throw my two cents in the ring. Do I know why the Holy Ghost had not yet fallen on them? No. I think it might possibly have something to do with perhaps the people did not fully commit their hearts and souls to Christ. These people were baptized in Christ’s name only. It is like I wrote concerning chapter two, the act of baptism is meaningless if a real commitment is not present. Christ originally told the apostles to wait until the Spirit came upon them. That was then. So, do we today, have to wait for the Spirit to come upon us? Must we have the ordained lay hands on us? No. That is not my answer, but the Word.       

I Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not belong to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.”

            So we have a sorcerer named Simon who witnessed Philip’s teaching. We are told he too believed and was baptized. When he saw Peter and John lay hands on the people, he offered them money so that he could receive the Spirit and deliver it to people too. Old Peter responded to him in verse twenty and following.

"May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

            No matter how you slice it, when it comes to God, our hearts and minds must be cleansed. We have to repent.

            Philip is led by an angel of the Lord. He meets an Ethiopian eunuch reading about Christ via the prophet Isaiah’s writings. Philip asks one of the most poignant questions in the entire cannon of scripture: "Do you understand what you are reading?"

            Before we see and hear his answer, let us look at what God’s Word says in Roman’s 10:17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

            "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

          That is why good people, we crazy Christians jet off to parts unknown. Christ’s Great Commission was to go and spread the Gospel. This man admitted he did not know until it was explained. Was it coincidence that the angel of the Lord told Philip to go there to him? Of course not! Philip explains the Gospel to the man. They travel a piece together and the Ethiopian spots some water. "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"

            Okay, here we go. This note is listed on most online bible outlets: Some late manuscripts baptized?” 37Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

            This is Matthew Henry’s take: The avowal of the Ethiopian must be understood as expressing simple reliance on Christ for salvation, and unreserved devotion to Him. Let us not be satisfied till we get faith, as the Ethiopian did, by diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the Spirit of God; let us not be satisfied till we get it fixed as a principle in our hearts. As soon as he was baptized, the Spirit of God took Philip from him, so that he saw him no more; but this tended to confirm his faith. When the inquirer after salvation becomes acquainted with Jesus and his gospel, he will go on his way rejoicing, and will fill up his station in society, and discharge his duties, from other motives, and in another manner than heretofore. Though baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with water, it is not enough without the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

            That was the elegantly written commentary from Mr. Henry. My own take is not as elegantly written, but here goes: First, the Ethiopian read, heard, then understood by Philip who Christ is. He heard the Gospel message. Upon seeing water, he wanted to know basically why wait. There are some in the Christian world that teach salvation is acquired through Jesus and baptism. That is not the case. Our faith in Christ alone is the saving ingredient. But the new believer was so fired up for Christ because he believed in Him as Lord, he wanted to be baptized. There’s no arguing that. The act of baptism would have been meaningless if he had not first made a commitment to Jesus, the Son.

            The chapter concludes with The Spirit pulling a vanishing act with Philip.

            Chapter nine is the beginning of the journey for the man who wrote thirteen books of the Bible. Prior to his conversion in chapter nine, we have known Saul as a Pharisee. He knew the law, and he was determined to destroy the Christians. Most of us know that on his way to Damascus, Saul was struck blind by the Lord and the two directly speak. Christ bluntly asks him, ‘Why do you persecute me?’ Saul responds with curious words. He asks, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Now grammarians and those educated scholars could say because the comma is present that Saul was directly asking a rhetorical question because he used the name Lord in the dialogue. Others will say that he merely asked who are you with the comma in place for him to ask (Are you the Lord). Either way, Saul knew the experience was real. Jesus lets Saul know right quick that He is I Am. Jesus tells him to get up and go to city and wait. The others who witnessed Saul’s experience heard the voice but saw nothing. Saul stands and finds himself blind. He stays this way for three days.

            Meanwhile at Damascus, Jesus instructs a certain man named Ananias to go to where Saul was staying and effectively waiting for him. Now Ananias pulled a Peter in that he questioned Jesus. He responds with (paraphrased), ‘Um, are you sure. I’ve heard about this Saul. He likes to um, kill us for following you.’ Jesus’ response in verses fifteen and sixteen is not angry or anything, but it is firm and speaks volumes as to what we like Saul must do for the Kingdom.

“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

 

 

            Many people, non-Christians, tend to think that being a Christian is a walk in the park in that we all thump our Bibles at people and throw down a bunch of rules. We know that is not the case. A lot of Christians, myself more than most, do not know what it means to suffer for Christ. Modern day missionaries that fight the fight, preach, live and die for the Word, they know what Christ meant when he spoke to Ananias about Paul. Later Paul himself when writing what we call the second epistle to the church at Corinth said this in chapter eleven:

24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
30 
If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.

            So back to Acts, Ananias does as requested. He goes to Paul and says, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.

            Just notice that here again, being filled with the Holy Spirit came before the baptism. This will become more evident in chapter ten. So Saul has been restored.  He spends days, some say years preaching that Jesus is the Son of God. Everyone is like, “Um, didn’t he like just want to kill those people?” He escapes an attempt on his life. Saul finds himself in Jerusalem with the apostles and they want absolutely nothing to do with him. They don’t trust him because of his past. One man named Barnabas takes Saul in. The apostles believe Saul is converted when another attempt on his life is made. They help him set sail for Tarsus.

            Chapter nine concludes with Peter in the Lydda and Joppa. He heals a paralytic in the former and through prayer and guidance by the Holy Spirit raises a woman in the latter. It is important to note that Peter stayed with a tanner. A tanner dealt with animal skins I believe. This is important because of Peter’s ethnicity and the law about unclean elements.  

 

What is the core of salvation? Who is the cornerstone of faith? What must be done to be saved? These questions are echoed throughout time by all people and are ultimately answered by the Holy Word of God. Chapter ten is a turning point for Peter as well as the spread of Christianity. A gentile named Cornelius has a vision from an angel that tells him to retrieve Peter. So there people sent to fetch Peter. Now ole Pete at this time is having a vision of his own on top of a roof. When Peter talks with Christ, I, personally, see the old Peter that questioned Christ. Please check out the vision for yourself. I cannot do it justice. Anyway, Christ speaks to Peter and tells him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”   

            Knowing full well Who the voice belongs to, Peter responds, Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

            “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

            I believe this statement has as much to do with salvation as it does food consumption. Who are we to say so and so is not good enough to be saved by the blood. While yes, it is true none of us can work our way to Heaven, the Grace of God, the sacrificial death of Christ and glorious resurrection from death is free to all people willing to accept the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Christ commands Peter to go with the men who were coming for him.

            Christ told Simon Peter that he was the rock, so it is important to note that it is Peter involved in the spread of the Word to the Gentiles. So when Peter meets Cornelius, the latter bows to the former. Peter responds by telling him to rise because he himself is just a man. This is maturity times a thousand from the days the disciples argued among themselves who would be the greatest. To further that maturity, Peter says this starting at verse twenty-eight: “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. 29 “That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.”  

            Do any of you wonder what to say when witnessing to people? This Gentile, as scripture teaches was already a God-fearing man, but he needed to hear the Good News. If you need a guide to witness, look to Peter’s short and concise statements staring in verse thirty-four:

34 Opening his mouth, Peter said:
“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— 37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 40 “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

 

            Now take a real strong look at what is said next, okay: “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

            Everyone who believes in Him (Jesus) receives forgiveness (remission) of sins.

            So what saves a person? Belief in Christ. It is the belief that He is Who He says He is. It is belief in His Grace. So what happened next?

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

            The Holy Spirit fell upon those who heard the message. The message again is that Jesus Saves. It is not Jesus + water baptism=salvation multiplied by good works. The Jews were amazed because they though Christ’s death and resurrection was their own little private secret. They were amazed that the Spirit fell upon the Gentiles.

            So, Peter says, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”

            Let us take a look at that order. No one can refuse water baptism for those who have received, (PAST TENSE) the Holy Spirit. Does Jesus command believers to be baptized? Yes, He does. Does the baptism save us? Maybe from dirt. The baptism is a symbolic ceremony that demonstrates our identifying ourselves to and with Christ. This is why Peter orders the new believers to be baptized. To be saved, we must believe. Look at what Jesus said in Mark 16:16: "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” What good is baptism without belief? It is a bath! To be obedient Christians, baptism is a step that must be followed.   Who is condemned? Those without belief. Look at John 3:18 and 3:36 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”/ "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."   

 

            Verses one through eighteen in chapter eleven has Peter defending his decision to share the Gospel. Verse sixteen is exceedingly powerful concerning salvation. Peter recalls what Christ had spoken: Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'

            Let me spell that out for anyone thinking water is the key ingredient to salvation. We receive the Holy Spirit upon confession and acceptance of Christ as Lord. Salvation is sealed and we are then a child of God! Christians follow up with water baptism as a public proclamation to show all who has eyes to see that we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior.

            The last part of eleven details Barnabas as he takes the Good News to Antioch. Saul is with him. It is here that the believers are called Christians the first time. A man named Agabus filled with the spirit predicts a dearth throughout the world.  As we begin chapter twelve, we do so with a death of one of the originals.

             

            So we see Herod has James killed by the sword and he decides to kill Peter for good measure. Verse five screams out the importance of prayer by God’s people! Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. When was the last time we as a Christian people actually stopped in our day and prayed for the sick, prayed for others, and or prayed for those not in our immediate circle? That’s what I thought. I’m guilty too.

            What would you do if you were condemned to die? Peter demonstrating his maturity in faith slept. He was chained between two guards and slept. An angel appears and frees him. What happens next is one of my personal favorite pieces of scripture ever! Peter escapes and goes to The Gospel of Mark’s momma’s house. Now inside the house, there were people praying for Peter’s safety. Peter knocks on the door a few times and the servant girl tells the other people that it is Peter at the door. They don’t believe her! They say it is Peter’s angel. They finally realize Peter is at the door. In order to not get caught again, Peter departs. Herod has the guards killed for letting Peter escape.

            Herod later in twelve is killed because he did not give glory to God. Verse twenty-three, says he was eaten by worms. Twenty-three according to numerology is the number of death. There’s no coincidence there. Chapter thirteen takes us along with Barnabas, Saul and Mark on epic adventures.   

            Chapter thirteen is so important in that it shows Saul’s devotion to Christ. Verses one through three shows Barnabas and Saul leaving a certain group of believers. Verse three mentions the laying on of hands. This is done by Barnabas and Saul to ordain those men filled with the spirit as church leaders. So, Barnabas, Saul, and Mark end up on the isle of Paphos in verse six face to face with a false prophet named Barjesus.            The rich man that is with Barjesus wants to hear the Good News. The false prophet attempted to keep his buddy so to speak away from the message. Verse nine I think is the first time Saul is referenced as Paul. Paul has some very strong words for this ole boy:

Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10"You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun." Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.    

            It should be noted that at this point, Paul is now the lead guitarist, the go to guy on this journey. He is the new Le Bron James of his little pack. Mark departs and then there were two.

Paul and Barnabas are now at Antioch of Pisidia on the Sabbath. This is Paul’s first recorded message. Much like Stephen, Paul delivers the history of the Jews to the Jews. This time, however, gentiles are present. The history lesson starts on verse seventeen and runs through a reference to Isaiah in verse forty-one.

            The next Sabbath day saw most everyone waiting to hear the word of God. Well, those in charge spoke against Paul and Barnabas. The two shot back harshly according to verse forty-six. Many who heard, especially the gentiles believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter thirteen ends with the pair being kicked out. Scripture teaches that they dusted off their feet and went to Iconium. It is interesting to note that the dusting of the feet is a reference to Christ’s instructions to the disciples when He sent them out to witness.

           

            Chapter fourteen brings Paul and Barnabas into a situation involving mistaken identity. Verses one through seven informs us how the boys in Iconium were doing their thing; preaching the Gospel. The people were split and the Jews were going to stone them, so the two take off. They find themselves in Lystra. Here, Paul heals a crippled man. Those who witness this proclaim Paul and Barnabas Hermes and Zeus.

 

            Take a look at how Paul responds in verses fifteen through eighteen:

"Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." 18Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.   

            The Jews from earlier show up and convince the crow to stone Paul and Barnabas. Guess what happens? These people who quickly worshipped Paul and Barnabas as gods turn on them just as quickly. This is very exemplary of people in general today. If we are not firmly based in our faith in Christ, we will turn, jump, join, ad leave all kinds of cool, religious/secular things to make ourselves feel better.

            So now, Paul is stoned. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul mentions being called up to the third heaven. Commentators and theologians disagree with the dates of when Acts were written in reference to Paul’s writing to the Corinthians. The whole issue of the third Heaven will not be looked at here, but the fact is, Paul appeared dead, but rose. Here’s verses nineteen through twenty.

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

                They preach and win many for the Kingdom in Derbe. But check this out. In verses twenty-one and following, Paul and Barnabas do something wild.            

Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.

                They return to places where they had been beaten. They do so to strengthen the new believers! Once a person is saved, their salvation is secure. We know this without a doubt, but new Christians are like babies. We have to start with milk-learning and accepting Christ then growing spiritually in our knowledge of His Grace. If we do not spend time reading, learning and most of all living the Gospel message, we will never grow as He desires. 

Now in regard to going back to where they faced opposition, Paul states a truth that applied to not only him and the twelve, but to all believers: Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." First this doesn’t mean that all those who have a tough life will go to Heaven just ‘cause of the hard knock life. Christ told Ananias in chapter nine that Paul was going to have to suffer. Christ told the disciple to not worry if the world hated them because it first hated Him. In today’s time, Christians are mocked and targeted as intolerant brutes for standing firm on the Word of God. If we stand against abortions and oh my say, homosexuality is a sin instead of agreeing with those who say, “I was born that way,” we are labeled right wing terrorists or maybe fundamental extremists. So see Paul is saying in other terms, “It ain’t easy, but it’s the row we are going to plow.”

 Chapter fourteen ends with Paul and Barnabas going to a few other places spreading the Word. At the end of the chapter they report how the Word has spread to the Gentiles.

Chapter fifteen begins with man-made controversy. Certain men came saying that one had to be circumcised after the Law of Moses to be saved. Before diving into this chapter, we need to look at this concept of salvation by circumcision or rather salvation by Jesus + (plus) anything. Go to your bibles right now and look in the appendix, the index, and the concordance and find any scripture where Christ or the apostles taught where salvation was not through Christ alone. Before throwing up Mark 16:16 or Acts 2:38, I am certain the issue of baptism, has been covered previously. We will look at this again later, but go ahead and look.

Now here’s a list of scriptures that teaches salvation is Faith in Christ and Grace alone: Acts 2:21, 16:31, John 3:3, 36, 5:24, Romans 3:24, 4:4, 5, 21-24, 5:1, 10:9,10,13, Ephesians 2:8-9,Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:18, 19, I John 5:11-13, Revelation 1:5, 5:9, and pretty much the entire Galatians’ epistle. 

There is much debate and back and forth between the leaders over this controversy. There are four heavy hitters in a three strike punch coming up to bat. Peter in verse seven and following steps up to the plate: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”     

Now, Paul and Barnabas tell of their adventures in Gentile Land. The third heavy hitter is James, half brother to the Lord God Almighty. James, at first didn’t think his older brother was you know, god, but that changed when he witnessed the resurrected Christ. James became known as James The Just. But back to where we need to be. James uses the prophets Amos’ words to further the argument. That ends the debate.

Verse twenty two starts with the whole church deciding to send Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch. A letter is written and is addressed as so: To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

            So the adventures of the Paul and Barnabas continue, right? Not so much. While in Antioch, P and B argue over Mark. Barnabas wanted to take Mark, but Paul did not seeing how Mark had previously abandoned them. Chapter fifteen concludes with Barnabas and Mark going to Cyprus whereas Paul and Silas headed to Syria and Cilicia.  

Chapter sixteen introduces us to Timothy, a young man that Paul mentored and loved as his own son. Timothy’s mom was Jewish, but his dad was Greek. Upon taking Timothy on the journeys, Paul circumcised Timothy. Wait, what? Didn’t Paul in chapter fifteen stand with Peter and James against such practices as far as salvation goes? Yes. Here is what Matthew Henry says in his commentary:

Had he not at this time the decrees of the council at Jerusalem with him, which witnessed against it? He had, and yet circumcised Timothy, not, as those teachers designed in imposing circumcision, to oblige him to keep the ceremonial law, but only to render his conversation and ministry passable, and, if it might be, acceptable among the Jews that abounded in those quarters. He knew Timothy was a man likely to do a great deal of good among them, being admirably qualified for the ministry, if they were not invincibly prejudiced against him; and therefore, that they might not shun him as one unclean, because uncircumcised, he took him and circumcised him. Thus to the Jews he became as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, and all things to all men, that he might gain some. He was against those who made circumcision necessary to salvation, but used it himself when it was conducive to edification; nor was he rigid in opposing it, as they were in imposing it. Thus, though he went not in this instance according to the letter of the decree, he went according to the spirit of it, which was a spirit of tenderness towards the Jews, and willingness to bring them off gradually from their prejudices.

In other words, let me put the Tinican spin on it: Paul did it so the self-righteous windbag Jews would not complain about Timothy. Paul knew that the boy would be a great asset to the Christian movement in furthering the Kingdom.

So chapter sixteen rolls on with more areas receiving the Good news, but something unusual happens. Paul gets an urge to spread the Word of God to Asia. The Spirit forbids it. How can that be?

It would be arrogant if I answered that with just any answer. As always, I’ll look to the Word for the answer. This is what I know. God does not want any to perish. Upon saying that those who don’t believe, but are knowledgeable of the Old Testament will argue that God cannot be merciful because of all the people he killed in the flood and by orders to the prophets, kings and such. Okay, briefly, I’ll answer that. All the nations that God destroyed knew him not. They were pagans that yes were created by God, but refused to look to him as their sovereign creator! Israel was and is his people. Here is a picture of the Israelites’ history in the OT: obeying, disobeying, being punished, and repenting. The OT God by the way is the same NT God. He has not and will not change. John Stoll, P.H.D in 2002 I believe listed the following in regard to God’s compassion in the Old Testament:

·  GRACIOUS: II Chron. 30:9; Neh. 9:17,31; Ps.86:15; 103:8; 111:4;112:4;116:5;145:8.

·  COMPASSION: II Kings 13:23; II Chron. 30:9;36:15; Ps. 78:38;86:15;112:4;145:8; Jer. 12:15.

·  LONGSUFFERING: Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:8; Ps. 86:15.

·  MERCY: Ex. 15:13;20:6;34:7; Num. 14:18,19; Deut.5:10;7:9; II Sam. 22:51; I Kgs.8:23; I Chron. 16:34; II Chron. 5:13; 7:3,6; Ps. 18:50;23:6; Hosea 1:7.

·  MERCIFUL: Deut. 4:31; 32:43; II Chron. 30:9; Neh. 9:31; Jer. 3:12.

·  LOVINGKINDNESS: Ps. 17:7;36:7;103:4; Jer.9:24;31:3;32:18     

            Anyway, back to business. God does not want anyone to perish. The Bible also states those who come to God do so in his time. In other words, the trip to Asia would have to wait because it wasn’t time. Paul receives a vision of a man asking for help in Macedonia. Now starting in verse ten Luke, author of Acts writings in first person for a bit. Here is the quick report of verses eleven through twenty-four: Paul and company go and find a woman named Lydia. The Lord opened her heart and she believed. After accepting Christ, she was baptized. Paul and the boys run into a demon possessed girl that is not happy to see them. The demon knows who Paul is, who he serves, and what he is doing. Good people, Satan, evil, and his demons are real. They are as real today as they were when God cast them from Heaven. This demon girl taunted Paul for days until Paul had enough. He commands the demon to leave in the name of Christ and he the demon departed.

            Well, that’s a problem. See, the demon girl had masters that made money off of her and they were ticked that Paul crushed their money making scheme. They have the good guys stripped naked, beaten, and thrown in prison. It should be note that their feet were fastened in stocks too.     

            There’s a cliché that says, “Nothing good happens after midnight,” but that does not apply here. At midnight Paul and Silas are praying and singing to God. The Almighty sends an earthquake to wake up the sleeping jailer. He jumps up thinking all his prisoners have escaped. His first thought, this poor man with no hope, thinks his only course is suicide. He knew that his bosses would have him killed if all the inmates were gone. Paul stops him insisting everyone is still there. It is important to take a look here at verses thirty through thirty-four.

30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
 

            Verse thirty-two clearly teaches that all who were in the home heard the Word of God and believed. Having heard first heard, then believing on Christ, they were baptized. The chapter ends with our heroes’ release. Those in charge were scared of political backlash so to speak since Paul was not only Jewish, but a Roman citizen. Paul refuses to leave secretly however not wanting people to think the church was started by a criminal.

 

            Chapter seventeen starts out with the Jews wrecking havoc in Thessalonica looking for Paul. Paul has preached and reasoned with folks for about three weeks. Many believed, but others not really. Paul and company get word and leave. Verse seventeen shows Paul in Athens speaking in the marketplace around educated idiots, my word, not God’s Word. They are so educated in their religious philosophies that they say Paul is babbling. He doe speak at Mars’ Hill. Paul offers a tremendous apologetic sermon:

“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

      TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

   Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

            These people answered in verses thirty-two through four the way so many do today. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.33 So Paul departed from among them.

            So many people mock Christianity. These people are categorized with those who hear, but don’t believe. They are both south down hell bound. The latter says we will hear about this later. Maybe next Sunday I’ll accept Christ. What if next Sunday or even tomorrow doesn’t dawn?

 

            Paul meets Priscilla and Aquila, two believers that will be important later. Paul continues doing his thing, spreading the Word and teaching. He does get fed up with the unbelieving Jews and he says in verse six he is going to the Gentiles. Christ speaks to Paul reassuring him in verses nine and ten. Verses eleven through sixteen finds Paul being accused and brought by the Jews in front of a ruler named Gallio. Now here’s the fun part. This ruler finds no fault in Paul and tells the Jews to shut up and stop wasting his time. That is my own paraphrase by the way. Midway through the chapter, Paul heads to Antioch, Galatia, then to Phrygia.

            In verse twenty-four, we are introduced to Apollos in Ephesus where Aquila and Priscilla are. Apollos as verse twenty-five explains was a man that taught passionately about Christ despite only having knowledge of the baptism of John. He spoke against the Jews boldly. This leads us straight into chapter nineteen.

            In nineteen, Paul asks certain disciples if they had received the Holy Spirit when he believed. His response is, “What? Who?”

            “Who have you been baptized in?” Paul questioned.

            “John.”

            So Paul explains.   

            Now here is a situation that many argue about. Paul lays hands on the men. The Spirit came on them. When they were baptized the first time it was in John’s repentance. The baptism in Christ is in the Spirit. The book of John records that Christ blew on the disciples and they received the Spirit. This was temporary because they along with others totaling one hundred twenty receive the Spirit permanently at Pentecost. So you see, all those that believe in Christ as Lord had not received the Spirit until the appointed time. The book of Acts is a transitional book for the transitional period of growth of the church. Why did they  receive the Spirit by Paul placing his hands rather than at the moment of belief? I don’t know. But what I do know is that now, since the Good News has been verified and ratified if you will, people upon belief of and in Christ I think it was pretty dramatic that it occurred this way because it certainly introduced the Gospel to Asia. 

            So Paul is doing his thing, God’s Will. Take some time to read verses ten through twelve. Now some Jew exorcists sought to cash in on the claim of Christ. They wanted to expel demons like Paul. There in particular was one incident that brought more people to Christ. As a matter of fact, many magic books were burned due in part to the spread of this story. Seven sons of a chief priest named Seva attempted to do the same. The demons mock them.

And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?
16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.
 

            Paul sends Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia, but he stayed in Asia. Paul by his teaching of the Gospel upset the economic stability according to Demetrius, an idol maker. All the people at the end of nineteen are flapping their gums in an uproar. The Jews complained that Paul had brought Gentiles into the temple. It’s a simple mob. Chapter twenty has Paul going to Macedonia and Greece.

            In chapter twenty, we see Paul teaching and avoiding another Jew trap. We see Paul preaching from morning to midnight on the Lord’s Day in Toras. Verses seventeen through thirty-eight is Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders.

            Chapter twenty-one has Luke’s first person narrative taking over once again. He details the specifics of their travels. In verse ten, we meet a prophet named Agabus. Now he does something that upsets a number of folks except Paul.

And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”
12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”

            Paul was ready for any and all sacrifices for Christ. We as children of the Living God really should echo this and be who Christ has called us to be.

            Verses seventeen through twenty-six show Paul partaking in Jewish purification rituals. What? You may ask how or why he would do that if he believed all were called to salvation through the Grace given by God upon acceptance and belief in Christ as Savior. Paul did this because he was a smart man with his eye on the prize; furthering the kingdom of Christ. He went through the customs not wanting to offend anyone that might hear the Gospel and be saved. He knew like my grandma did later that you win more flies with honey than vinegar. Verses twenty-seven through thirty-six detail Paul’s beat down and arrest. Paul asks to speak to the crowd that you know, just beat him down. So ends chapter twenty-one.

            Chapter twenty-two is a very important chapter in that a few issues must be examined. Paul introduces himself with autobiographical information in verses one through five. Now starting with verse six through twenty-one, Paul again tells his conversion tale. The first of two issues to look at here is verse nine.

Acts 22:9 says “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.

            Acts 9:7 says 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.                

            One may say after reading the two statements that they contradict one another, but that would be incorrect. Here’s why. It has to do with the grammar of Acts 9:7. If one reads it as a single statement without looking at other elements then the truth of God’s Word will not be in focus. Ever heard of the saying, “You may have heard me speaking, but you weren’t listening and or understanding.” Teachers know this, amen. In chapter nine, Luke wrote the witnesses heard, but did not understand where in Acts 22, Paul says they did not hear the voice. The two statements have the same meaning. This is not unique to Acts. John 12:28 and verse nine shows us the Father speaking to the Son. Others heard the conversation, but did not hear the words. Rather than dialogue, they heard thunder.

            Point two involves verse sixteen. Many within the Christian church use this scripture along with two other well documented scriptures to say that salvation is brought forth by baptismal regeneration. Again, Paul is re-telling his conversion involving Ananias. Verse sixteen has Ananias saying, And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’    

            Once again, baptism does not save anyone! Before Christ, John’s baptism was of repentance not salvation. We are “baptized” with and in the Holy Spirit upon acceptance of Christ. The physical act of water baptism does not add an extra year of salvation to eternity. Salvation rests in Christ alone. To be obedient Christians, baptism must be done, but nowhere in scripture will one ever find a word that says baptism has to be immediate. Salvation once obtained is true and sealed. Here are four thoughts commentators use to prove that the idea of baptismal regeneration is bogus.

1.      Paul’s conversion teaches that he was saved first before his baptism.

2.      Cornelius, the first Gentile convert was baptized after he accepted Christ as Savior.

3.      Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

4.      All apostles agreed with Paul’s teachings because work with me here, the teachings of Paul did not belong to Paul, but to God.

            After Paul spoke in verse twenty-one that Christ instructed him to go to the Gentiles, the Jews went completely off ripping their clothes and causing an awful scene. Paul was taken and beaten again. Paul asks if it is lawful to beat a Roman. Oh boy. The chief commander takes Paul before the council the next day to find out what Paul was being accused. This gave Paul a great opportunity to speak once more.

            To fully grasp the players in Acts 23, we must see how similar they are to today’s political landscape. Before the conversion for Christ, Paul was raised a Pharisee. They were the religious experts on all things Old Testament I’ll say. The second group is known as the Sadducees. These people by today’s standards were at best agnostic. They held the Pentateuch and it alone as the authority in light of other prophets and scripture.

            Paul is brought before the council that is part Sadducees and Pharisee. The chief priest named Ananias had Paul slapped in the mouth. Paul retorts that God will smite him back and calls him a hypocrite basically. The chief priest questions Paul because of his retort. Paul claims his place as a Pharisee and the proclamation splits the council. Paul is taken out of the situation for fear that his presence would further the riotous behavior. In verse eleven, Christ comforts Paul by telling him that he will witness in Rome. Super fast summary of the rest of the chapter: Forty Jews vow not to eat until they kill Paul. Paul’s nephew alerts him and he in turn tells his jailers. Well, schedules are changed and Paul is safely delivered to Felix, a ruling governor. It’s funny actually, how Paul’s chief commander jailer, Claudius describes to Felix how he rescued Paul from death. Felix agrees to hear Paul when his accusers arrive.

            Chapter twenty-four finds Paul standing before Felix and being accused by the Jews of a number of things from being a troublemaker to a vandal in that he wanted to desecrate the temple. Paul responds and answers all their charges and even witnesses for Christ. Two years passes in this chapter with Felix still keeping Paul bond in hopes he could receive a bribe. Felix is succeeded by a new ruler named Festus to begin chapter twenty-five.

            The Jews in Acts 25 are still ready to ambush and kill Paul. They want Festus to send Paul to Jerusalem so the aforementioned ambush could occur. Festus asks Paul to go to Jerusalem, but Paul appeals his case to Caesar. King Agrippa, son to Herod from Acts 12, shows up and he is told by Festus what all has occurred involving Paul and the Jews.

            Acts 26:1-11 brings Paul before Agrippa. It is similar to Paul’s earlier rehash of the past. Verses twelve through twenty-three retell the Damascus conversion. In verse twenty-four Festus chimes in saying Paul is nuts. Agrippa echoes a statement that so many non-believers cling to: “Paul, you almost persuaded me to be a Christian.” Paul replied that he wished both Agrippa and all who heard his word would be like him (Christian). The chapter closes with Agrippa saying that Paul would have been free if he had not appealed his case to Caesar. Paul knew though. He had been told by Christ that he would witness in Rome.

           

Before Paul can make it to Rome, chapter twenty-seven shows us a storm at sea and shipwreck. The Angel of the Lord assured Paul that neither he nor anyone on board the boat would suffer death.

The final chapter in Acts has Paul while shipwrecked on Melita bitten by a snake, but does not feel the pain. He was used there to further the spread of the Gospel. Verses sixteen through twenty-three have Paul apologetically speaking. Verse twenty-four was true then and it is true today concerning salvation. The book ends with the narrative that Paul spent two years confined in Rome. During this time he wrote four epistles: Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. Paul some time later was rearrested. It is believed that he was killed in May or June in the year 69 AD. It is thought that II Timothy was the last piece ever penned by the Apostle Paul. Take a moment to look at how the chosen men of God served up until the end. May our acts be a firm in the faith as theirs.   

   

Matthew killed by a sword wound.

Mark Died after being dragged by horses through the
streets until he was dead.


Luke- was hanged.


John Faced death when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil
in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered
from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of
Patmos . He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos.
The apostle John was later freed. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church
tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die
in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.


James, The Less was thrown over a
hundred feet from the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club.

James the Great, son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus
called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church,
James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded
James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial.
Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution.
Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt
beside James to accept
beheading as a Christian.

Bartholomew also known as Nathaniel was flayed to death by a whip.

Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross. After
being whipped severely by seven soldiers , his body was tied to the cross
with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was
led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired
and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of
Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days
until he expired.


Thomas was stabbed with a spear.

Jude, The brother of James, was killed with arrows when he refused to deny
his faith in Christ.


Matthias the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, was
stoned and then beheaded.

Paul suffered long imprisonments and torture before being murdered by decapitation under Nero in Rome.