A Bible Study

Introduction   11
The Ascension of Jesus   12-11
       The Significance of the Ascension  
 Events Centred in Jerusalem 112 -  67
       Pentecost   21-13
       Peter's Address   214-40
       Crippled Beggar Healed   31-26
       Peter and John before the Sanhedrin     41-22
       Peter and John before the 'Sovereign' Lord   423-37
       The Price of Pretence   51-11
       Many Believe and Many Healed    512-16
       Jealousy, Persecution and Perseverance   517-42
       A Problem Solved   61-17
First Evangelists and Martyrs   68-1224
       Stephen Seized, Speaks and Stoned   68-81
      Church Persecuted and Scattered   81-3
      Philip in Samaria   84-8, 14-17, 25
      Simon, the Boastful Sorcerer   89-13, 18-24
      An Ethiopian 'Hears' and Believes   826-40
      Saul Becomes Paul   91-31
      Aeneas Healed and Tabitha Raised   932-43
      Jewish Church Begins to Welcome Gentiles    101-1118
      The Church in Antioch  1119-30
      Herod .v. God.   God Wins!  121-24
1st Missionary Journey  1224 - 1428
      Paul and Barnabas Sent Out  131-3
       Battles for the Souls of Men  134 - 1420
              1.  A Sorcerer's Opposition  134-12
              2.  Jealousy Causes Rejection   1313-52
              3.  Refused to Believe  141-6a
              4.  Hatred of the Truth  146b-21a
        The Return Journey  1421b-28
        Council at Jerusalem  151-35
2nd Missionary Journey - Paul and Silas  1536 - 1822
        Philippi  1611-40
        Thessalonica and Berea  171-15
        Athens  1716-34
        Corinth  181-22
3rd Missionary Journey  1823 - 2116
        Ephesus  1824 - 201
        Macedonia  201-4
        Farewell to Ephesian Elders  205-38
        What does the Church need to be Warned about today?    
        Final Words to Ephesian Elders  2032-38
        Journey to Jerusalem   211-16
Paul Arrested and Imprisoned  2117 - 2632
        Arrives in Jerusalem - City Aroused  2117 - 2229
         Before the Sanhedrin  2230 - 2311
         Plot to Kill Paul is Foiled  2312-35
         Trial before Felix  241-27
         Trial before Festus  251-12
         Paul before Agrippa  2513 - 2632
Journey to Rome and Shipwreck  271 - 2810
         In Rome  2811-31

Introduction  11       [Contents]

Written by Luke to reveal:
      That Jesus kept his promise that he would send the Holy Spirit
      How the Church grew and came to include Gentiles as well as Jews
      Though they faced many trials and persecution, it triumphed
      Clear, accurate, historical evidence of what happened good and bad.
Probably written in 63 AD before events not mentioned:
      Burning of Rome and persecution of Christians in 64 AD
      Martyrdom of Peter and Paul in 64/7 AD
      Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple in 70 AD
It is primarily a historical account, not theological like Romans or Hebrews.
2nd volume to the Gospel by Luke. Lu 11-4
      He continues what 'Jesus began to do and to teach'.  11
            Salvation for all who repent and believe.
Title  'The Acts'  or  'The continuing words and deeds of Jesus by his Spirit through the Apostles'.
      Not just the acts of the Apostles or the acts of the Holy Spirit.

The Ascension of Jesus  12-11                 [Contents]

He gave them many convincing proofs that he was alive. 12 Why important?
      They had to know why he had to die. - Justice required redemption.
      They had to know that the sacrifice had been accepted by God.
      They had to know why the Temple curtain had been torn in two.
            Lu 2345 Heb 1024
Jesus gave instructions to the Apostles. 12
      Wait in Jerusalem 'for the gift my Father promised'.
            14 Lu 2452,53 Jn 1426 1526 167,8
      The Apostles (='set apart', chosen by Jesus) obeyed.  Jn 1519 (also Paul Act 915)
      'You will be baptised in the Holy Spirit'.  15 They didn't know what to expect.
Jesus spoke to them about the kingdom of God. 13 (righteousness, justice, truth)
      Now the kingdom was within them.  Lu 1721
            One day it would become world-wide.
      Kingdom of Israel (human) or kingdom of God?  13b c.f. 16
      How different it was to be from what they hoped and expected.
      But where was the King of this kingdom?
            He had died. And now he kept appearing and disappearing!
      Jesus told them only Father knows when Kingdom of God will come.  Mk 1332
      You will not receive earthly power to dominate others, but heavenly power.
      The Holy Spirit will make you 'my witnesses'.  18
            He was not given for their ease and comfort, but for effective mission.
      Your witness (and the kingdom) will spread throughout the whole world.
            812 198 2823 Lu 2446,47 Col 113,14 Rev 1115 1210,11
            But not all the world would embrace it.

Then Jesus was 'taken up'. He didn't just disappear; they saw him depart.
      He was 'taken', like Elijah was 'taken.  2 Kg 211
'Two men' (angels; and they don't have wings!)  Gen 182 Mk 165
      'This same Jesus ... will come back'. He will come again - soon!

What is the significance of the Ascension?       [Contents]

1. Joy and Kingship
Triumph over man's sin and death; a whole multitude are saved.
Jesus said I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.  Jn 1431
He had completed all he came to do - to pay for our salvation -  
Then Father called him home to give him the joy he deserved.  Heb 122 1 Pe 111
He was even more pleased than when Jesus began his ministry.  Math 317
He returned in triumph like a Roman general returning at head of procession.
      2nd group were the captives; willing (captivated!), no chains.  Eph 48 Ps 684-6
      This great procession will in part have to wait until Jesus returns. Jn 143
At Ascension Yeshua is crowned 'King of kings' - not just 'King of the Jews'.  Act 236
It was the real triumphal entry, 'Blessed is the king who comes ...'  Lu 1938
Jesus spoke about 'departure' with Moses and Elijah at Transfiguration.  Lu 931
      i.e. about his triumph at Calvary and his return to heaven ro reign.
      A 2nd 'Exodus' from slavery and a real return to the promised land of heaven.
      He told them what his 1st coming would achieve; and also his 2nd coming.
When Jesus returned, Father 'highly exalted him'. A coronation.  Is 5213 Phil 25-11
      He sat with him on his throne (big enough for two).  Ps 110
      He had left heaven as 'Son of God', and became a man.
            When our Redeemer rose, he appeared as a man.
            He ascended as 'Son of Man', taking his humanity with him. 1 Tim 25
It is the historical man and Son of God, the Jew, Jesus of Nazareth,
       once crucified, now risen and soon to return, who is the King of kings.
For Jesus the Ascension was not promotion.
      But he who, while on earth could only be at one place at a time,
            could now be anywhere and everywhere.

2. It was for our good
I am going there to prepare a place for you.  Jn 142
      Jesus is the Forerunner, Pioneer, Trail-blazer, Home-maker.
When the Counsellor, the Spirit of truth, comes:
If you love me, you will obey what I command.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever.
 Jn 1415,16
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
      We will come to you and make our home with you.  Jn 1418,23
He will testify about me.  Jn 1526
He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement.  Jn 168
He will guide you into all truth.  Jn 1613a
He will tell you what is yet to come.  Jn 1613b
Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.   (miracles  1411)
      He will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.  Jn 1412
            (saving souls e.g. Act 241 In his 3½ year ministry, Jesus did not do this)

God loved the 'dead', sin-sick world so much he gave us his only beloved Son.
The Son loves us so much he also gives us his Spirit - fo ever.

3. Jesus becomes our Advocate
He has not been seated on his throne doing nothing for the last 2000 years!
      What is Jesus doing now?
Our risen Redeemer is now our great High Priest and Mediator.  Heb 414  620  915
      'The full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world'.
Jesus did not rise from the dead to stay on earth.
      He came to earth to be our Redeemer; he ascended to be our Advocate.
Jesus, now risen, can plead for us in heaven before the Lord Almighty.
           Heb 725 924  1 Tim 25  Is 5312  1 Jn 21  Ro 834
      At God's bar of justice we have nothing effective to present,
            no case to plead, and certainly no acceptable excuses to offer.
            Jesus died for our sins, not our excuses.
With Jesus as our Advocate, who can stand against us?
      The 'Accuser of the brethren' is cast down; he is no match for Jesus.  Zech 31-5
If we forget what he is doing now,
      we may forget what he has done
      and cease to hope for what he will do.
There is much, much more that God will yet do for his redeemed people.

4. Justice for the Righteous and the Wicked
Father has another task for his risen Son, King Jesus - What is it?
      Who could break open the sealed scroll?  Rev 52-10
            Only the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
 What is this scroll? The Lamb's book of life; the will of Jesus.
      And what would happen when it is opened? Judgement.
      There is eternal judgement. Rev 2011-15
Before that, justice must be seen to be done in this world too. Rev 6-19
      The Great Tribulation is no accident; it is God himself administering justice.
      It is seen by all. It is misunderstood and hated by the unbelievers.
      God's warnings will be fulfilled; the proud wicked will not always prosper.
      God's Blessing or his cursing.  Deut 1126-28 27, 28 Note also Gen 123
But the righteous will rejoice at the long awaited fall of Babylon.  Rev 1820
      All heaven and all saints will rejoice that wickedness is judged.  Rev 191-10
      Christ and his righteous kingdom comes to all the earth.
The Ascension gives us the promise of God that Christ will come again, as King.
      He will bring the longed-for righteousness, justice, truth and peace.

Thank the glorious Lord that he is risen and ascended very much indeed.

Events Centred in Jerusalem  112 - 67       [Contents]

The obedient apostles returned to Jerusalem, and prayed earnestly.  14, 12, 14
      They chose a replacement for Judas - 'by lots'.  115-26

Pentecost  21-13

The 3 annual feasts.  Exd 2314-16   also Lev 23  Num 28,29  Deut 161-17
      Passover - deliverance from Egyptian slavery.
            The blood of the Lamb causes the avenging angel to pass by.  Exd 1223
      Pentecost (Weeks) - Firstfruits - the best.
            Grateful to God, and gladly admit dependance upon him.
      Tabernacles - Final harvest. Made one with God.
            Follows Trumpets (God's warning) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
      None empty handed; bring the best.  Exd 2315b,19

Feast of Weeks, 50 days after Passover. (May/June)
      Harvest of barley and wheat - God's provision of food and mercy.
      Rejoice with family, aliens, servants, orphans and widows.  Deut 1611
            The Gospel is for Jew and Gentile, slave and free.
      Remember the poor - do not reap to the edges, leave gleanings.  Lev 2322
            Godly compassion is a hallmark of the heart God has changed.
            Only a fool says, "I am rich ... and do not need a thing."  Rev 317

What was the purpose of Jesus that was fulfilled at this feast?
      'You will receive power ... and you will be my witnesses ...'  Act 18
      'When the Counsellor comes he will ...
            testify about me, (need for redemption and payment fully made)
            convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. (repentance)
            guide you into all truth (bible study and prayer)
            tell you what is yet to come (being ready)
                  true prophesy is:
                  discerning the past
                  understanding the present
                  predicting the future.
      i.e. Holy living + effective evangelism - for the time is short.

What happened?
Apostles didn't know what would happen when baptised with the Holy Spirit.
      They heard a sound like wind, and saw tongues of fire on each other.
      They spoke in tongues. On this occasion it was in many foreign languages.
Many zealous Jews were up for the feast -
      Many had walked >500 miles! Such was their hunger for God.
      They heard and were bewildered. Different from all previous teaching.
      They asked one another, "What does this mean?"  212
            Some also ridiculed the apparently drunken apostles.
The Kingdom of God was 'open'.  Math 316
The Holy Spirit would convict, reveal truth, and enable earnest men to believe.
How did God achieve this?

Peter's Address  214-36       [Contents]

Peter stood before the crowd and spoke the word of God.  
A true explanation is needed and is given for the bewildering events.
First note that there is not a word about explaining 'tongues'.
      Peter rightly direct their thoughts away from the Apostles and towards Jesus.
      God didn't want the Jews to be amazed at the gift of tongues,
            but at what God had directed Peter to speak.
            Similar to time when the disciples returned rejoicing. Lu 1020
                  Jesus didn't squash their joy, but he did re-direct it.
Instead, what does the Spirit delight to reveal?

First Peter quotes the Word of God that promised the Holy Spirit.  117-21 Joel 228-32
      This quote concludes with a second vital promise:
            Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
            This was the great truth that the listening Jews needed to hear.
            They had come to the feast to 'call upon the name of the Lord'.
                  But God's intervention, conviction, personal power was a surprise.
Joel 228 was fulfilled then; the Holy Spirit came, as promised and filled them.
But there will be a greater fulfilment at the end.  see Joel 230,31
      Frightened, persecuted Christians will need the presence of the Holy Spirit.
      He will give us courage and endurance to face intense persecution;
            also wisdom and concern for our persecutors.
      Martyrs of the Reformation and today attest to the truth of God's promise.
            e.g. Tyndale, Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer ... each burned at the stake.
            and today's 450 martyrs for Christ each day!

Peter then quotes Ps 168-11
      David saw what God had promised to him; but he also spoke of the Christ.
      He spoke of Jesus, no longer abandoned, no decay in the grave, but risen,
            now seated at the right hand of God. Because David sees him thus:
            The psalmist will not be shaken and is filled with joy in your presence.
Our God planned the crucifixion!  Lu 2426,27 Ps 22 Is 53
      God had made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.130
      You (the Jewish leaders) meant it for evil, but it achieved the very opposite.
            Like with Joseph and his brothers, God had a far better plan. Gen 457,8
      It brought the opportunity of salvation. It revealed the great mercy of God.
      Peter told them their wickedness fulfilled the prophesied purpose of God!

When this truth was revealed, it is little wonder they were cut to the heart.  237
      "Brothers, what shall we do?" these zealous Jews cried.
      Exactly what John Baptist and Jesus had preached from the start,
            Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand.  Math 32 417
            And be baptised. Why so important?
                  It means that we must die! (to sin and self)  Ro 61-10
            Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.
                 Every generation is corrupt - some more than others.
                 How was Noah saved? Abraham? Ruth? ... You?
                 It is not just help we need, but rescuing!
This promise of God is for ALL whom God will call and who call upon the Lord.
      This has been proved true in every generation.  239 221
      It was true even before Joel first spoke the words.  Gen 426b

Peter responded to their urgent question:
Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. ...
Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.
      And 3000 did so!
      This epitomises the true purpose of Pentecost.
      God ordained this feast to celebrate the 'first-fruits of the harvest'.

Thus the Holy Spirit delighted that:
      These hungry Jews would 'hear' the vital truth of God's provision of salvation.
      The truth concerning the reason for Jesus crucified, Jesus risen and ascended.
      Who was this man? What had he done and why?
      How It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  Act 224  Heb 716
            The glorious purpose of God prevailed over the purpose of wicked men.
            The Christ had died - with all our sins laid upon him,
                  but death was not strong enough to hold him in its icy grip.
Many Jews returned home very different men from when they set out.

What else did the promised 'Counsellor' achieve?  242-47
The 3000+ were transformed. (Ro 122)
      Some of these were Jerusalem Jews, and they devoted themselves to:
Apostles teaching.  (So much to learn. Few could read)
Fellowship  (daily in Temple courts)
Prayer  (also in Temple courts 31)
Breaking bread (in their homes. Didn't need a priest to 'remember Jesus'!)
Ate together with glad and sincere hearts
Held everything in common  (did so willingly - difficult to maintain)
Sold possessions and gave to needy (need wisdom to discern who / why needy)
Praised God  (and rightly so)
Neighbours saw the difference (it was so obvious and 'unnatural')
More believers each day (effective public testimony and witness).

No mere human resolve could achieve any of this; but the Counsellor did!
Men and women were so wonderfully changed, it was like heaven on earth.
But the wicked and the powerful would soon feel threatened.

Crippled Beggar Healed  31-26       [Contents]

Ironic that a man totally crippled from birth (40 years), carried there by friends
      should beg at Temple gate called 'Beautiful'.  Lu 517-26
God has a way of changing marred people into 'beautiful', complete, fulfilled.
      Jer 184  Is 611-6 531-5, 10-12

Peter and John were going up to the Temple to pray (didn't get there this time).
      Prayer is a noble task requiring dedication and discipline - often neglected.
How did Peter know what to do when asked for money? What would you do?
      Inspired! 18 different, 'one off' healings by Jesus. (miracles niv p.1564)
      They had compassion on this needy man.  
Instantly and totally healed by God.
      He had never walked before, so he learned instantly!
      He was obviously thrilled and praised God.
People were filled with wonder and amazement - but not belief in Jesus to save.
      Vital need for Peter to speak to them about salvation:
            He asked, Why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us?
            Then he told them something that really did surprise them.
            You handed Jesus over to be killed, you disowned him before Pilate ...
                  You killed the Author of life, but God raised him from the dead ...
                  By faith in the name of Jesus, this man was made strong ...
                  You acted in ignorance, but God fulfilled what he had foretold
                       though all the prophets saying that his Christ would suffer.
                  Repent ... so that your sins may be wiped out ...
                  Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off ...
                  And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made ...

How would you describe this address? Harsh? Inappropriate? Insensitive?
      It certainly silenced their rejoicing - temporarily!
      Soon they were also rejoicing with all heaven for their forgiveness.
      It was Bold, Clear, True, Effective.
      A further 2000 were saved.  44 241
      Who said Jews are always hard and unresponsive?
            They were in the days of Jeremiah.  Jer 253   But not here in Acts 2 and 3
c.f. Christian preaching today.

Not first experience of healing.
      Jesus had sent out the 12 to preach and heal.  Lu 91-6 also the 72 Lu 101-10
God does far more than we ask.  Eph 320
      The cripple had only asked for alms, but was healed. And probably saved.

Peter and John Before Sanhedrin  41-22                 [Contents]

Sadducees listened to Peter; but not for long. Didn't like what they heard.
      You killed the Author of Life, but God raised him from the dead.  315
      Also proclaimed their witness to the Resurrection of Jesus.
So they seized and jailed Peter and John. Typical of powerful men in every age.
But many were saved following Peter's address.
Authorities often hope to neutralise the spread of Christianity;
      but persecution of leaders has the reverse affect; more hear and believe.
Who were these 'rulers'? (See notes on Sadducees)
Same biased court that tried Jesus. Would they also be unjustly crucified?
Annas (high priest for life) and others questioned Peter and John:
      By what power or what name did you do this?  47
Peter didn't have a prepared answer. Math 1018-20 He was filled with the Spirit.
Healing the cripple was an act of kindness, not proof of own ministry.  49
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God
      raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.  36 410
      The cripple's healing is proof of this. Jesus is not dead, but alive and powerful.
      This Jesus is the prophesied stone you builders rejected.  Ps 11819-23
      God raised him up to be the capstone, the King of kings.
      You look for salvation? See this vital truth, Salvation is found in no-one else.
      How foolish of men - then and now - to seek any other way.
Who were these fisherman from Galilee to teach the high priest about religion?
As Tyndale said, "If God spares my life, ere many years I will take care
      that a ploughboy shall know more of the Scriptures than you do."
The simple direct words of Peter and the healed cripple standing with them
      floored the mighty Sanhedrin - learned, but ignorant of truth, devoid of faith.
      Proud and defiant, they conferred together.  c.f. Math 2123-27
      But they had no answer - only crude threats!
They warned them not to speak again to anyone in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John replied in a typically Jewish manner - with a question -
      Is it right In God's sight to obey you rather than God?
Again no answer - so resort to more threats.
      Only their fear of the people prevented the apostles from being punished.
Many decisions by men are made not on the basis of right and wrong,
       but on expediency, economics, popularity, power or own agenda. Is 557-9

Let us learn from this; may we be enabled to make 'right' decisions.
      And may we have courage to always proclaim the unpopular truth.

Peter and John before the 'Sovereign Lord'  423-37       [Contents]

On release by the Sanhedrin, the Apostles returned to the (praying?) believers.
      They reported what the elders had said, and how they had replied.
Does God always answer this way? No. e.g. Stephen Act 6,7
      It is almost certain that none of the Apostles died in their beds!
      Some are martyred, some are spared: as here. 'The Pastor's Wife' p.151 etc
What do we learn from this? How do we pray for Christians in peril?
      Be careful how we select examples to apply.

How did these early Christians pray?
First they reminded themselves of the One they petitioned.
      Sovereign Lord ...   Is 611  Rev 15,8  Math 265
      Ezek ("The Sovereign Lord" x 210).  David (x6 in 2 Sam 7 + x7 in Ps)
      How many kings down through history have believed God is Lord of all?
      David, Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4), Canute, who proved he did NOT rule the waves!
      Man is never 'Master of his destiny and captain of his fate' - God is.
Why do the nations (and kings) conspire ... against the Lord?  Ps 21,2
      This is a question that every generation needs to ask - and know the answer.
      Satan and all whom he controls, hate the Lord God.
      Wicked men always despise God. They ridicule him and try to sideline him.
      All men are witness to this ongoing battle.
      It will never be resolved by a peace treaty; but only by war!  Rev 1920 2010
      Satan hates Israel and always seeks her destruction. Many evil men agree.
            He also hates Christians who read and believe the Scriptures,
                  where God offers salvation to all who call upon him.
Herod, Pilate and the Elders conspire against your holy servant Jesus ...
      But they did what your power and will had decided beforehand.  428
      Like Joseph's brothers, who meant it for evil,
            but God planned it for good.  Gen 5020
      Do we believe that all things work together for good?  Ro 828
            c.f. Jer 4427 when God did not mean it for good!

Now, Lord, consider their threats ...
      Satan will always oppose the work of God.  But see 2 Kg 616  Ps 24  Zech 121-5
      The Believers did not seek an easy ride. What was their plea?
            To speak your word with great boldness.  429 c.f. Lu 954
            Like in Dan 315-18 they left the outcome with the Lord Almighty.
            Desired to proclaim 'your word', not their own.
            Also asked that God's hand would heal and perform signs and wonders.
                  But their principal request was for effective preaching.

God's answer! Again it was far more than they asked.  Eph 320
      The building shook (but not enough to fall)
      They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
      They spoke the word of God boldly.

This had very practical results.  i.e. 432-37
      Believers were one in heart and mind. Would that this were still common.
      They shared everything they had. No needy ones. Some sold land.  244
            This 'Jerusalem experiment' was not a rare and rash idealism,
                  neither was it a form of obligatory Christian communism.
            Their generous spirit reveals God at work on men's hearts,
                  and a fulfilment of the Law.  Deut 154, 1-11
      The Apostles testified to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
      Much grace was upon them all.

Let us plead for such grace, and the practical change to our own lives.

The Price of Pretence  51-11       [Contents]

What did Ananias do that was so sinful?
      He lied, pretending that what he gave was the full value of the land sold.
      He also in effect 'stole' from what he said belonged to the Lord.
      Love of money can destroy a Christian's life with God.  1 Tim 610  Math 619-24
      Ananias allowed Satan to fill his heart. He became deceived.
      He lied to the Holy Spirit - as is the nature of Satan.  Jn 844
Are we ever guilty of intentionally giving a false impression? If so, why?
      What did Jesus say to the pretentious, religious Scribes and Pharisees?
            "Woe!" (x7) "How will you escape being condemned to hell?"  Math 23
Peter discerned the deceit of Ananias and did not remain silent. Would we?
Does the punishment he received seem a little harsh?
      Why did the Lord kill him? You have not lied to men but to God.  53a,4b
Ananias is to early church what Achan was to Israel entering promised land.  Josh 7
Great fear seized all who heard what happened.  511   Not surprising!
      It was God who intervened. It was unexpected - but being God, it was just.
      Note that the Lord approves capital punishment!
            (The court must be just and true and the verdict certain)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Ps 11110
      Based upon awe, respect, desire for truth and just judgement.
c.f. Perfect love cast out fear; for fear has to do with punishment.  1 Jn 418
      God does not want us to doubt the sufficiency of his sacrifice for our sin'
            that his Advocacy is effective, that his love is steadfast and totally secure.
Fear of public revelation and shame is a good and effective deterrent to sin.
      Today right and wrong has often been blurred. Public shame is rare.  Jer 615
Why did Ananias lie? To increase popularity? To gain spiritual standing?
3 hours later Sapphira, who knew their money secret, also lied - and died!
      Peter confronted her with agreeing to test the Spirit of the Lord.  59
      Knowing what the Lord had done to Ananias, he prophesied the same for her.
      She died at his feet, and was buried beside her husband.
Sensitive souls should note that this was a deliberate, planned deceit.
Let us strive for total honesty, truth and holiness.
It was a salutary warning to the church in every age.
      No man can fool God, who knows everything we say and think.  Gal 67
      We may 'get away' with hoodwinking men, but never with the Lord God.
Jesus commends Nathanael - a man without guile.  Jn 147  Act 2416
Satan's determined, on-going mission is to try to destroy the Church:
      from outside by persecution, or from inside by hypocrisy and enticement.

Many Believe and Many Healed  512-16       [Contents]

All the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade.  512  
      Jesus didn't reject the Temple, nor the Law; neither did the Apostles.  Lu 1947
No one else dared join them.  513
      Why not? Fear of God's judgement following Ananias and Sapphira.
      Nevertheless more and more men and women believed in the Lord.  514
            i.e. there were no 'casual' believers.

Many brought their sick and those tormented by evil spirits.
      And ALL of them were healed.  516
      There was a general great expectation for God to minister this way.
      Why are so few physically healed today in UK?
      Which is easier for God, to heal or to forgive?  Math 92-7
      Note that at the end many signs and wonders will not be 'of God'.  Rev 1313,14
            And many will be deceived.  Math 244,24
            How can we discern?
            Who will be worshipped, God or the Beast?  Rev 1920

Jealousy, Persecution and Perseverance  517-42       [Contents]

The Apostles again defied the High Priest by their preaching and healing.  418 514
      The Sadducees were filled with jealousy, and not just anger.  517  Why?
            The Apostles' popularity. Crowds gathered ... 516
            God's proven power to heal and change lives.
      New life and honest faith, is always a challenge to mere 'religion'.  Gen 43-5
So they arrested the Apostles put them in the public jail.  518
The Sadducees misused their authority:
      Not an offense to teach truth and lead people in honour and worship of God.
      Apostles popularity threatened their public esteem and easy privileges.

God had other plans for the Apostles; he is always the Sovereign Lord.  424
      He sent an angel to release them and gave them preaching instructions.
            Tell the people the full message of this new life.  520
            Many shrink from this full message and try to present an easier way.
            What must it include?
                  All of us are naturally corrupt.
                  God has declared that the penalty for our sin is death.
                  All of us need to repent.
                  We cannot change our nature or pay the price God's justice demands;
                  Only Jesus can redeem. Only Jesus can give us a new birth.
            To the perishing truth is foolish and is ridiculed or ignored.  1 Co 123

At daybreak they entered the temple courts,
      as they had been told, (by the angel) and began to teach the people.  
      Instant, bold, obedience; they didn't hide or run away. They weren't prudent!
Their disappearance from jail caused some consternation!  524
Re-arrested and questioned by Sanhedrin:
      We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name ...
      Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
      And are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood.
            Were they afraid to say 'Jesus' - instead referred to this name or this man.
            They were guilty of executing an innocent man.  Math 2725
      Was there a slight twinge of conscience that made them feel guilty?

The Apostles replied as before: We must obey God rather than men!  529 419,20
      If only all church leaders today had the same determined intent.
The God of our Fathers raised Jesus from the dead - whom you had killed ...
      God exalted him to his right hand as Prince and Saviour
            that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel ...  529-32
Similar to previous statements that centre on Christ crucified and risen
      to enable repentance and forgiveness of sins.  313-15 410-12
      Their witness of Christ triumphant over death is wonderful;
            but crucified to redeem us and take upon himself our just punishment,
            is even more wonderful.
      Peter here rightly centres upon the much needed forgiveness of sin.
      Exposure to truth either causes repentance or anger.

The Sadducees were furious.  533 Why?
      Their refusal to believe in the resurrection was looking ever more 'dodgy'.
      By the Apostles easy 'escape' and by immediately continuing to preach,
            God had made them look very foolish.
      And this time there were 12 preachers, not just 2!

Only Gamaliel was different. 533 What was his counsel?
      Wait and see - God will reveal what is right.  Prov 151
      They were persuaded that his suggestion was wise;
            but Apostles are still flogged!  540  Math 511,12 2329-32
      Not only did they trust God, but God trusted them.
            Like with Job, he strengthened them in their trials
                  and limited the action of their enemies
            Persecution led to perseverance and character.  2 Pe 15-7

The Apostles left rejoicing
      because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
      Later Paul would write: We also rejoice in our sufferings
            because we know that suffering produces perseverance ...
 Ro 53
      Would we rejoice?

Day after day ... they never stopped proclaiming the good news
      that Jesus is the Christ.  542
They were determined: after all, it was 'good news'.
Truth is not learned in 5 minutes.
      Consistent, disciplined effort in our 'instant' society is unpopular.

The church grew. 61
The Sadducees did not try to stop them again.

A Problem Solved  61-7       [Contents]

Work load and admin problems arose in the rapidly growing Church.
      e.g. over the distribution of food. (And I expect over other matters)
Church leadership was largely new ground for the Apostles.
      Like Moses, they needed help. Not too proud to admit it.  Exd 1813-26

What was the most vital task of the Apostles?
      The ministry of the Word and prayer.  64
      This must never be neglected for the Church to remain true and effective.
The Apostles did not impose a solution,
      but they made an agreeable proposal for the church to implement.
Requirements for the admin job? 'Full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom'.  63
How would you describe such a person?
      Much more than partaking in a 'Hillsong' jamboree.
      Proof of the Spirit is a real, fruitful changed life.  Gal 516-26
      No fulness without first repentance, forgiveness, new birth.  Act 238  Jn 35-9 168
            c.f. many after Alpha courses who just enjoy joining 'exciting' churches.
      Effective preaching.  1 Pe 112
      God's wisdom and truth revealed.  1 Co 127-11  Jn 1426 1613,14
      Intercedes and enables prayer.  Ro 826,27
      Enables true Prophecy.  Lu 225-35
      Guarantees what is to come. i.e. assurance of things hoped for.  2 Co 122

Result of the Apostles' proposal?
      Order. Complaints dealt with.
      Efficient work distribution. Apostles not overworked
      The Word of God spread. 67a
      And even a large number of priests became obedient to the faith'. 67b
            What a delightful change!

First Evangelists and Martyrs  68 - 1224       [Contents]

Stephen Seized, Speaks and Stoned  68 - 81

Stephen, one of the 7 new 'deacons', full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
      Also full of grace and power to preach (sweetness and strength).
      He argued effectively with freed Jewish slaves from N. Africa and Asia Minor.
      They didn't appreciate losing out to his wisdom; so what did they do?
            What all bad losers do: they falsely accused him - like Jesus was.  Math 2660
            Stephen charged with blasphemy against Moses and against God.  611
The Scribes did not take much persuading that Stephen was a problem.
      They easily arranged false witnesses who claimed Stephen said:
            1. Jesus would destroy the Temple.
            2. Jesus would change the Law of Moses.
Both accusations were partly true. Partial/distorted truth is always a problem.
            1. What did Jesus he would do?  Jn 219  Mk 1458  Math 126
                  He was the perfect sacrifice to end all sacrifices.
            He would make the lucrative sacrifices unnecessary.
                  Many today insist that church sacraments are vital for salvation.
                  And often for the same reason - it gives priests power and money.
            2. He kept the Law of Moses, but not the oral Law of man. c.f. Math 517
                  As Son of God he also added to the law. 'But I say to you ...'   Math 522  etc
Why did the Sanhedrin think Stephen's face was like that of an angel?  615
      What are they like? Strength, dignity, truth, wisdom, zeal, radiant.  Exd 3429

Stephen was asked, "Are these charges true?" 71
      There follows a long history of Israel - with lessons in brackets ():

      Abraham - obedient, promised him land and a child, prophet, circumcision.
            (The God of glory appeared to Abraham, directing him, and making
                   covenants with him; though there was then no Temple and no Law.)
      Joseph - rejected by jealous patriarchs, became a wise interpreter of dreams,
            exalted, prepared for famine, God's plan.
                  (God honours Joseph in Egypt, not in Israel.
                  He rescues him from hatred of his jealous brothers.)
      Israelites became slaves in Egypt; as prophesied by Abraham.
      Moses - chosen by God but rejected by the Hebrews, led them to freedom.
            Israel rejects God and Moses, make golden calf.
            They continued to bring sacrifices to idols during 40 years in desert.
                  (Moses was faithful but Fathers rejected God, his law and his purpose;
                  even though they had the Tabernacle of the Testimony with them.
                  God had appeared to Moses in Egypt, in Midian and in the desert)
      Moses made Tabernacle, David and Solomon build Temple, as God directed.
            But God doesn't live in temples.  748 1724  1 Kg 827  Is 661,2

Misuse of the Temple and its purpose was Stephen's prime defence.
      Jesus was angry that the religious leaders misused the Temple.  Jn 214-16
"God's church means people, not buildings,
      and God's Word means Scripture, not tradition." John Stott.
      Buildings and tradition are not wrong; but neither are they vital.

Stephen concludes:
"You stiff-necked people ... 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 ... but have not obeyed it."  751-53
This was not the first such accusation of being 'stiff-necked'.   Exd 329  Deut 94-13  2 Ch 306-9  Jer 253

In his speech Stephen had proclaimed:
      Now the Christ has come!
      He has fulfilled both the Temple and the Law -
      He has not destroyed either the Temple or the Law.
The Sanhedrin were not pleased with such a robust defence!!
      The accused had become the accuser.
Stephen sees the glory of God and Jesus alive at his right hand.
Why was this so offensive to them?
      Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection.
      But they knew Stephen had spoken the truth about their being stiff-necked.
Dragged out of city and stoned.
What happened to justice?  Is 57  Zech 7

Last words are often very important.
      "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."  Lu 2346
      "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."  Lu 2334
Saul was there, giving approval to Stephen's death.
      Initially it fired him to further persecution of the Church;
            but God had other plans!  Act 9
      God did not hold Stephen's death against Saul, but made him an Apostle!

Church Persecuted and Scattered  81-3       [Contents]

'On that day a great persecution broke out ...' i.e. the day Stephen was stoned.
Powers of darkness encouraged by their success; especially Saul.
      But it was God's plan too! Scatterings initiated Judea and Samaria mission.
Church mourned for Stephen. c.f. Is 571 when none mourned for the righteous.
      The wicked rejoiced - for a short time!

We will separate the two intertwined issues: sorcery and receiving the Holy Spirit.

Philip in Samaria  84-8, 14-17, 25       [Contents]

The 'scattered preached the Word'; no hint of self-pity or complaint at injustice.
Philip goes to Samaria- to face considerable hostility.
Who were the Samaritans?
      Remnants of northern tribes of Israel. Most were exiled by Assyria in 722 BC.
            They mixed with Assyrian and other nationals. Despised by Jews.
            Not allowed to help rebuilding Jerusalem temple, so built their own.
Previous ministry in Samaria.  Jn 4  Math 105,6  Lu 951-56 1715,16  also Lu 1025-37
Philip proclaims Christ.  85
      Healing, deliverance and great joy to the city.  86-8
      Miracles were not restricted to the Apostles.  86a  Lu 1017
            They caused the people to pay close attention to what Phillip said.  86b
            Miracles are great, but salvation is far more important.  Lu 1020
    His ministry did much to heal the rift between Jews and Samaritans.

Why were Peter and John sent to Samaria?
      Apostles had heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God.  814
What did they do when they arrived there?
      Prayed that they (the Samaritans) might receive the Holy Spirit.  815

First reference to receiving the Holy Spirit as being separate to 'believing'.  c.f. 238
      And it raises some questions:
      The Holy Spirit is highly active in causing us to repent and believe.  e.g. 237
            Is this something more?
      Is this event included in Acts to reveal an exception or the 'normal' experience?
      What should take place at each stage of the two-part initiation?
            Should we always expect the two stages to merge?
      Was this God's plan so that the existing schism could be healed?
      Did Peter and John have to go down because Phillip was not an Apostle?
            Did Phillip see what was missing? Could he have laid hands on them?
      What happens today?
            C of E - Infant baptism followed by confirmation by Bishop.
            Charismatic - believers baptism followed by Baptism of the Spirit.

There is unlikely to be complete agreement as to the ideal path or meaning.
      But by whatever means, we need both stages.
      i.e.      Water baptism as sign of true believing, repentance and faith.
                  And receiving the Spirit.
It is a poor man who knows only the baptism of repentance.
      Likewise it is most dangerous to experience only the baptism of the Spirit,
            but know little of repentance or consider it is unimportant.

We will be returning to this matter in Acts 18,19.

Not told here what happened when they 'received the Holy Spirit'.  817
      In 1046 they spoke in tongues and praised God.
      In 197 they also prophesied.

Peter and John return to Jerusalem; preaching as they went.  825

Simon, the Boastful Sorcerer  89-13, 18-24       [Contents]

What is sorcery? Black magic which harnesses occult or evil spirits.
The people of Samaria were amazed and 'blind' -
      They failed to discern that Simon's power was evil.
Lessons for today:
      Many say 'Harry Potter is fun', 'White magic is good', ... It can't be good.
      'Lord of the Rings' is totally different from 'The Chronicles of Narnia'.
      Vital to see that 'Signs and wonders' can be evil magic.  Rev 1313,14 1920

Many followed Simon because of his magic. (Luke does not call them miracles)
Some said of him, 'This man is the divine power known as the Great Power'.  810
      Evil often has an undeserved boastful flavour; and usually blasphemous too.
      Simon had encouraged this acclamation.  89b

Simon amazed at what he saw Philip do. He believed - or did he?  813
      (see also Jn 81,44)
What is essential to 'believing' ?
      1. I am a sinful man who is totally unable to change his corrupt nature.
      2. My sin justly results in God's sentence of death.
      3. Nothing I can do or give can alleviate this death sentence.
      4. Jesus willingly redeemed, paid it in full for me, on the Cross.

Sadly it seems that some slip through the net.
      They delude themselves and the church.
      Let us be sure that our believing is real and based on true foundations.
            Religion, church-going, conforming to man's demands
                  do not necessarily make a man a Christian.
      Simon shows danger of spiritual experience without real believing/conversion.
            Like the ever popular Alpha course that majors on Baptism of the Spirit,
                  but only briefly deals with sin, repentance and the Cross.

Philip preached Jesus Christ; the good news of the kingdom of God.  812
      A very different realm from Satan.
            Light/darkness. Honesty/falsehood. Truth/lies.
            Righteousness/wickedness. Forgiveness/delusion.
            New birth that 'trusts and obeys'/Corrupt nature.  Gal 519-21 c.f. 522-24
     Satan's servants are always obviously opposite.
             Act 2030  Math 2621   2 Pe 21   Jud 14

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of hands,
      he offered them money.
Why were his heart and his motives so badly wrong?
      Clearly, the Holy Spirit cannot be bought like some common commodity!
      Simon did not desire the gift of the presence of God himself.
            He wanted to further his evil powers.
            He wanted to be an instant Apostle!

Peter was not fooled by his eagerness.
      "Your heart is not right before God."  Repent and pray.
      "Perhaps the Lord will forgive you."
      "You are full of bitterness and captive to sin."  Deut 2916-20  Heb 1214-17
Did Simon repent?
      He only sought prayer to escape the consequences of his sin.

An Ethiopian 'Hears' and Believes  826-40       [Contents]

What do you think is the most significant part of this story? Where does this event begin?
      With God seeing and hearing the heart-cry of a foreigner in Jerusalem.
      Now he was going home - his heart still ached. Who could tell him?
      He sends Phillip.
In fact, God who knows the future as well as the past, anticipated their meeting!
      Phillip had to walk some 50 miles - and started 2-3 days earlier!
Phillip's 'hearing' was good. First the angel.  826   Then the Spirit.  829
      How good is our hearing? The extraordinary and the every-day.
      Hearing is pivotal in this story - and for founding the Ethiopian Church.
God's timing is so exact - the Ethiopian was reading Is 53
      A large and very costly scroll.
      Not easy to read in a 'solid-axle' chariot on an unmade-up road!
      He must have been most eager.
Phillip didn't ask, "What are you reading?" He knew.
      His question ('Do you understand?') is direct and respectful.
      And the Ethiopian's reply is honest and practical.
            He somehow knew Phillip could tell him the answer he sought.
            (Such is the way of the Spirit of the Lord)
            This whole event reveals the great kindness of the Lord, and his initiative.

What did Phillip tell him about Is 53?
The question he had been asked was, "Who was the prophet talking about?"
      Answer: Jesus of Nazareth, God's Messiah,
            who was crucified and resurrected just a few months earlier.
No 'beauty' in the Cross.  Is 532
      No visible 'majesty' when the 'King of the Jews' is condemned to be crucified.
'Despised and rejected' by religious leaders.  Is 533
      They arrested and accused him unjustly.  Jn 110,11  Lu 2252,53
'A man of sorrows'.  Is 533
    Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, like Jeremiah;
      they rejoiced, but didn't know peace with God.  Lu 1937 c.f. 41,42
'He was despised'.  Is 533
      Many were consumed with hatred and jealousy.
      Jesus did not offer them what they wanted; but it was what they needed.
'Stricken by God'. Is 534 The Cross was God's plan; fulfilled by evil men.  Lu 922
'He was pierced for our iniquities... by his wounds we are healed ...
      the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all'.  Is 535,6
      Zech 131  Jer 3012,17   The Lamb of God.  Jn 129   The Atonement goats.  Lev 16
'He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth'.  Is 537
      Jesus did not complain at the cost of his goal. He willingly obeyed.
'He was a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death'.  Is 539
      Jesus was crucified between two criminals and buried in Joseph's grave.
'The Lord makes his life a guilt offering'.  Is 5310
      We are all corrupt and guilty. Jesus paid the price justice demands.
'He will see his offspring and prolong his days'.  Is 5310b
      Jesus died and also rose from the dead - and he was not alone!  Eph 48  Ro 64
'Therefore I will give him a portion among the great'.  Is 5312
      Jesus is honoured and glorified at the Father side - and rightly so!  Rev 59-17
'He bore the sin of many'.  Is 5312b
      It is nor just few that are saved but a vast multitude.  Rev 79
      And this African believer was among the first of many in Ethiopia.

We do not know exactly how Phillip explained; but this man's heart was eager.
      It seems that all his questions were answered; there were no 'buts'.
      Some go on questioning for years; for them assurance comes hard.
            e.g. John Bunyan. But when he believed there was no stopping him.
They came to some water (a river), and he was baptised. Phillip disappeared.
The Ethiopian must have been somewhat surprised.
      Why did God remove him so miraculously? Not told.
      Maybe he would have gone on to Ethiopia when God wanted him in Caesarea.
      He was still there 20 years later.  Act 218

See how great is God's kindness to all who call on the name of the Lord.
We each need to fulfill our calling faithfully. (With or without miracles)

Saul Becomes Paul  91-31       [Contents]

What do these verses reveal about the Lord Almighty?

1. The sovereignty of God and his surprising choice -
            God demonstrates his surprising choice. He sees beyond the present.
                  Do we see men as they are or as how God can change them?
                  What was Saul's desire?
                  To serve God with all his might. But he saw Jesus as a major threat.
                  God chose this moment to re-direct Saul.
                  God chose Saul; and Saul agreed!
                       He didn't have to, he chose to.  Ro 910-21
                  For Saul to 'see', God needed to first 'blind' him.
            God had the right man (Ananias) in the right place at the right time.
                  Like with the Ethiopian and Philip.
                  Let us always seek to make the most of God incidences'.
            Saul's conversion was sudden and unexpected;
                  but God had been 'working' on his 'chosen vessel' for many years.
                  Who was Saul's real teacher; Gamaliel or Stephen?!
                  What about his conscience? How did God awaken it?  Ro 724
                        He probably had not made such a confession before.
            At last the 'Hound of Heaven' had triumphed.
            The divine Chess-player cried,"Check!" His quarry toppled his own king.
                  Saul began to serve the Living King; instead of Jewish tradition.

2. The mercy of God, the grace and kindness of God -
            Saul had done much mischief to the Church.
            The risen Christ only asked the question, "Why do you persecute me?"
            Saul recognised his Lordship, but didn't know who he was - so asks.  95
                  "I am Jesus ..."
            Jesus did not crush Saul or overwhelm him; but he did enable Saul to
                  realise his awful mistake. Fasted for 3 days.  99,11b
                  God did not hold any of his past against the repentant Saul.
                  He would always proclaim the truth he had learned this day
                  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus ...  Ro 81
            'Murderous threats' were turned to abundant love,
                  and a life of willing obedient service.
            O how great is the kindness of God to us.  Eph 21-9 Tit 33-7 1 Tim 113-16
            Jesus offers Saul an open door from the prison of his sin.
                  Saul walks out free. The Truth had set him free from pride and hatred.
                  He would spend the rest of his life leading many others to 'freedom'.

3. The fruit of obedience to God -
            First Jesus tells Saul to go into the city for further instructions. He goes.
            Ananias is told to go to great persecutor of the church, who is praying.
                  When questioned, God tells him why.
                        He is my chosen instrument.
                        He will carry my name before the Gentiles.
                  Ananias then goes.
                  He welcomes him, "Brother Saul ..."
                  Saul is filled with the Holy Spirit, healed, and baptised.

4. The cost of obedience to God -
            Ananias shown how much Saul must suffer for the name of Jesus.  916  2 Co 1123
            Saul began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  920
                  He would continue to do this for the rest of his life.  928
            Initially Barnabas was the only one to welcome Saul in Jerusalem.  927
            Obedience does not come cheap. And it is not without opposition.  923  929
            Paul wrote 13 letters in the NT; and other 'lost' letters.  e.g. Col 416
                  Their contribution to the early church (and always) has been immense.
            God would use this man to fulfill his promised plan to Jew and Gentile.
                  Gen 123b (repeated Gen 1818 2218 264  Gal 38 )
                  Salvation would be offered to all.

Paul escapes to Tarsus.  930
      As a converted Pharisee he seemed to attract more persecution than others.
The church in Jerusalem, Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.
      It is strengthened and grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.  931

Aeneas Healed and Tabitha Raised  932-43       [Contents]

Luke now turns our attention from the conversion of Saul to the ministry of Peter.
The three events each confront a major problem and God's solution:
      Paralysis and death.  932-43
      The Gentiles - can they be saved?  101 - 1118
      Herod's hatred.  121-23
Peter goes to visit the saints in Lydda.  932 (~25 miles W. of Jerusalem)
Not told about what he preached.
      But he found the paralytic, Aeneas.
            c.f. Mk 21-12  Jn 51-15 and  Acts 31-10
                  Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you". And he did!

Peter was called to Joppa (12m from Lydda) to Tabitha, who had died.
       Previous experience of Jairus' daughter.  Mk 535-43   It was not too late!
            Aeneas, Tabitha and Jairus' daughter were each told to 'Get up'.
                  Both the latter were dead!
                  Yet they were obedient. They arose! As did Lazarus.  Jn 1143,44
            “Arise” (Gk. Anistemi) also used for
                  Prodigal Lu 1518   Philip Acts 826   Saul Act 96
                  Also Eph 514   Awake, arise from the dead and Christ shall give you light.

What was the result of these two miracles?
      Aeneas was obviously delighted; but I'm not so sure about Tabitha!
      Many turned to the Lord.  935   What does this mean?
            Were the people converted or just Interested?
      In Joppa Many people believed in the Lord.   943
      In Act 1121 Luke uses expression Believed and turned to the Lord.
            Why did they 'turn'? Who and what did they 'believe'?
            Peter was well aware of the danger of people 'following' without repenting.
                  Are we?

Why wasn't everyone healed? Why does anyone in the church have to die?
      Whether we like it or not, there remain many mysteries in life.
            And healing is one of them.

Each of them were healed out of compassion; Aeneas for his need.  Math 936, 1414
      and Tabitha because they couldn't imagine the church without her!
      Neither were to prove Peter's ministry or to cause men to wonder.
            It certainly did this, but it was not the motive.

Jewish Church Begins to Welcome Gentiles  101-48       [Contents]

God's Preparation
This incident did not happen by accident; God planned it meticulously.
Not told why Cornelius and all his family were 'devout and God-fearing'.
      His religion was genuine: he prayed regularly and gave generously.
      Why is this alone insufficient to give us eternal life?
            Salvation is by grace, not works.  Eph 28,9
            Similar to Centurion in Math 85-13 who built a synagogue for the Jews.
                  Jesus said his servant was healed by faith, not because deserved.
God sends an angel to Cornelius who commends his prayer and gifts.  101-8
      Like the Ethiopian, he sought God whole-heartedly.
      All who seek God with all their hearts shall find him. This remains God's promise.
            Deut 429  2 Ch 151-15  Is 55  Zech 818-23  Heb 116
      Cornelius seeks God; and God keeps his promise.
Obeys the angel and sends 2 servants to Peter at Joppa (30 m from Caesarea).

God also prepares Peter in a vision at precisely the right time.  109-18
      Why did Peter question the message?  Not because unclear, but because so unexpected.
            To eat the unclean obviously contradicted the Law.
            He saw ‘all' kinds of animals together, clean and unclean.
                  Prophetic - 'All one in Christ Jesus' Jew and Gentile.  Gal 328
                Only later would this become clear to Peter.
      Repeated 3 times - 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean'.
      God also gives him a sign. Arrival of 3 men with an angelic message.  1019-23
      God knew his man, this leader of the church.
            His attitude towards Gentiles of needed ‘conversion'.
            It was; and as a result, so was that of many others.
            Gentiles would be saved and welcomed into the church and into Jewish homes.
             As the servants on Cornelius were welcomed into Simon's Joppa home.

Cornelius and his Household Believe
After 2 day journey, Peter arrives and immediately asked to address household.
Introduction:  1028,29
      Only here in a Gentile house because God told me to come!!  Normally taboo.
    Jewish law.  1028a    c.f.   Law of God.  1028b,34
      'May I ask why have you sent for me?'
Cornelius tells of the angel of God and his message.  1030-33
      The tension and his expectation are clearly felt. God had heard his prayer!
      'We are all here in the presence of God', tell us what we need to hear.
Peter begins with what God revealed - always a good place to start.  1034-43
      'God shows no favouritism'.  He accepts men from any nation; but not any religion.
      You know 'the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all'.
            This is a big statement.
            Did they really know all men are at war with God?
            Did they know how Jesus brings peace?
            Wasn't Caesar 'Lord' of the whole Roman Empire?
      Peter's brief message concludes, as it began, with what God had revealed:
      'Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through his name'.  1043 1118

The Results
'The Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message'.  1044-46
      They spoke in tongues and praised God. Why?
            The Holy Spirit had revealed to each of them that what Peter had said was true.
            They knew their burden of guilt was gone. (There was no emotional hype)
The Jews were amazed. I expect the Gentiles were too!
God had baptised them into Jesus Christ, so they were also baptised in water.  1047,48
      Like the Ethiopian.   836-38

Many presume there were babies in the household and they too were baptised.
    These verses do not say if there were or were not.  1044  1117
      It is thus a poor foundation on which to base infant baptism.

Peter and his friends stay 'a few days' in Caesarea. There was much to tell them.

God Over-rules Objections in Jerusalem   111-18
Like Peter, the Jews in Jerusalem needed persuading that 'the law' had changed.
     Jews were allowed to eat with Gentiles without disgracing their faith.
He told them the facts - what God had done - no more and no less.
      God had sent an angel to Cornelius.
      God had given him a vision.
      6 other Jewish believers had witnessed the message and the result.
      They witnessed the Holy Spirit come upon them just as upon Apostles.
      The Gentiles 'Believed in the Lord Jesus Christ'.  1117  Eph 113
All objections were answered.   And what a significant conclusion they came to!
They praised God saying, "So then, God has given even the Gentiles repentance unto life."  1118
    It was clear that God had initiated these events; who were they to disagree?
God had not changed his mind; he merely revealed his unchanged plan.
       Is 496  Jer 317  Lu 232a  Lu 2447  Math 2819  but not Ro 1625-27  and church history.
     1st to Jews then also to Gentiles.  Ro 116  29-11 924-26 1012

For us Gentiles, this is a most important event - it is our ‘Genesis'.
     Only a few Gentiles were saved in the OT - Rahab, Ruth, Nebuchadnezzar ...

The Church in Antioch  1119-301225       [Contents]

Luke resumes the story of the scattered church.  81 1119
      How does persecution benefit the Church?
            Growth, strength, assurance, zeal, separates real from nominal.
      Now it was not only in Jerusalem and Samaria (and Ethiopia!);
      it had spread to Phoenicia, Cypress and Antioch. But only to Jews.  1119
            Are there groups today that are left out of hearing the gospel?
What was different about the church in Antioch? (Modern, cosmopolitan, 1/2m !)
      Some Jewish evangelists also told the Greeks there the good news of Jesus.
      A great number believed and turned to the Lord.   1121
      Through Acts Luke uses many ways to describe this momentous event:
      Repent and be baptised ... they accepted (believed) his message.  238-41
      Many who heard the message believed.  44
      More and more men and women believed in the Lord.  514
      That he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.  531
      The Word of God spread.  67 814
      They believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God
            and the name of Jesus Christ ... and were baptised.  812
       ... Saw him (Aeneas healed) and turned to the Lord.  935
      Many people believed in the Lord.  942
Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
    God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.

Why were the leaders in Jerusalem concerned about the Greek converts?
      Did they foresee problems with circumcision and the feasts etc?
They sent Barnabas. c.f. 814    Why was he so delighted?
      He saw unmistakable evidence of the grace of God.  1123
            What is this 'evidence'?  Eph 41-16  Gal 519-21  c.f. 522-26
      He too was a godly man who brought many to the Lord.
He soon realised he needed help. Why did he send for Saul?
      He would have heard what the Lord had said to Ananias 8 years earlier.  915
      Together they taught the 'Christians' in Antioch for a whole year.  1126
      So called because they were servants of Christ, they spoke of no one else.
Prophets came down from Jerusalem. What is the ministry of prophets?
      Prophets interpret the past, discern the present and predict the future.
      Agabus predicts a severe famine.  1127 (Occurred following year)
            What should they do? Immediate need required immediate action.  1129
      Presumably the need was greater in Judea than in Antioch, so gladly shared.
            "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
            This was a biblical principal long before Marx coined the phrase.  245 433-35
Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch (with John Mark).  1225

Herod .v. God - God Wins!  121-24       [Contents]

Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.
    He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
    When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.
What sort of man does this?
Herod Agrippa was grandson to Herod the Great who killed the Bethlehem babies.
They were not Jews, but Edomites. Why did God hate them?  Ro 913
      Like their father Esau,
            they were proud, self-sufficient, devious, wicked, powerful, God-rejecting.
What will men do to gain popularity? - or today for votes?
      Almost anything; so long as it does not cost them too much!
Herod's intended trial of Peter would be a mockery of justice - like that of Jesus.
      "Not during the feast" they declared.  Math 265
            But when else could the Lamb of God be sacrificed but at Passover?
      "Not till after Passover," said Herod.  124
"Not at all," said God! An early death is not my plan for Peter.  Jn 2118
James and John would both have to suffer; one beheaded, the other exiled.
      Mk 1038,39 Rev 19 Act 428 God decides who, and what and when.

What was God's immediate plan for Peter?
'The church was earnestly praying to God'.  125
God sends an angel.
      To these mighty beings, thick walls, iron chains, iron gates are no problem.
            Nor are any number of Roman guards.
      Peter was asleep, not chewing his nails.  Was it trust or tiredness?
This was not the first or last time God has used his mighty, obedient angels
      to intervene in the affairs of men.

Eventually Peter realises what has happened. He thought he was dreaming.  129
      He goes to where the church was praying - through the night.  1212
      What were they praying for so earnestly?  (Same adverb as in Lu 2244)
      It is ironic that they were so surprised to see Peter!  1215
Peter tells them how God had rescued him from Herod's clutches.
      Maybe another time they would plead - and trust.  1211b
      But God does not always miraculously release imprisoned saints?
            God allowed James to be killed, but he rescued Peter.
            Many times God would rescue Paul; but in Rome he was crucified.
                  This must remain a mystery. It was God's plan.  Jn 2118,19
Did Paul remember this rescue when they sang in the Philippian jail?  1625
      This Mary was the mother of Mark, a cousin of Barnabas.  1212  Col 410

Herod executes the guards - but it was hardly their fault!
      Justice is never a strong point for powerful, angry, wicked men.
      He didn't believe in God, and clearly he didn't believe their story either.

God adds a postscript concerning Herod Agrippa and the Church.
      An angel of the Lord struck down Herod; like Nebuchadnezzar.  1223  Dan 428-33
      Both paid for their arrogance.
      One repented. The other died a painful death.

But the Word God continued to spread.
The passage opens with Herod in power, James dead and Peter in prison.
      It ends with Herod dead, Peter free and the Gospel bringing life to many.

In this contest God wins - as always. He remains the Lord Almighty!
      Let us always remember this when wicked men appear to prosper,
            and it seems that their power is so great.
      The power of God is much, much greater.
      The wisdom of God makes the most intelligent look like fools.
The plans of God are always fulfilled to the finest detail.
      The grace of God far exceeds the most generous of men.
      The mercy of God for ever leaves us hugely in his debt.

1st Missionary Journey  1224 - 1428       [Contents]

Paul and Barnabas Sent Out

This was to be another great milestone in the growth of the Early Church.
      Acts 2-12 focus on Peter - his mission to the Jews, then inclusion of Gentiles.
    Act 13-28 focus on Paul - his mission to first to the Jews then the Gentiles.
Barnabas and Saul had returned from Jerusalem with Mark.  1127-30  1225
At the huge city church at Antioch there were 5 prophets and teachers.
      Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manean, and Saul.   What do we know about them?
Barnabas came from Cyprus and became a leader of the church at Jerusalem.
      He supported and introduced Saul to the church there.  927
      Went to Antioch. 1120   And then to Tarsus to look for Saul.  1125
      Took Saul with him to Jerusalem to deliver gifts for famine.  1130
Saul, converted in 35 AD, went to Arabia for 3 years.  91-30   Gal 117,18 
    He returned to his native Tarsus for 5 years, then went to Antioch 43-45 AD.
Nothing certain known of the other three.

They were worshipping the Lord and fasting.
      Are we too busy to worship the Lord?
      How grateful, how conscious are we of all that the Lord has done for us,
            and all that he delights to do for others?
      These excellent ministers were diligently worshipping the Lord.
      Fasting is not an end in itself.  Here it is used to enhance worship - singing, dance and prayer.

The Holy Spirit gives specific instructions.
    This was more than the conviction of a man being called, or of God calling others.
    Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.  132
      Only the timing and the geography were new about this instruction.
            They were already ministers of the Gospel to the Gentiles in Antioch.  1120
            It was 11 years since God had told Ananias that Saul would
                  Carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings, and before the eople of Israel.  915
            Like with Abraham's call, the Lord God did not at that time define the land.
                  He just said, "Go." And he went.

They never questioned the great 'hole' that their leaving would create.
      They all had an immediate, generous and obedient spirit. Do we?

How many churches 'send out' missionaries, and support them?
      Many UK churches are more involved in 'keeping going', than in mission.
      Should the initiative be from the individual or the church or the Holy Spirit?
            Or best from all three?  Note that Saul and Barnabas did not 'volunteer'.
         Saul had waited 11 years for the 'right moment'.
      Do we seek God, asking him to reveal if he wants one of our number to go out?

Prophecy that greatly affects the life of another is much more than a good idea.
      It is not a 'spiritual' way of telling someone what you think they should do!

How can we be sure of God's call?
      Open to change, alert to God's heart. (But faithful in present task)
      Growing conviction and patience for the right moment.
      Confirmation in continued prayer and reading of scripture
      Confirmation of friends and minister. (Usually)
      Circumstances. But they may not be easily aligned! It can be a battle.
         Hardships or problems may prove the calling  c.f. door opening easily.

The prophecy of Jesus is fulfilled: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
      and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
 Act 18
What were they witnesses of? Jesus Christ, and him crucified for our forgiveness.
Philip began to take this 'Good News' to Samaria and to the Ethiopian,
      and Peter to Cornelius at Caesarea,
Paul now takes 'the witness' to Greece and Asia Minor.

The Battle for the Souls of Men       [Contents]

Luke then selects just 4 incidents to show God's work in Paul's versatile ministry.
      Individual/crowds, Jews/Gentiles, educated or not, friendly/hostile.
In each case it was clearly a battle for their souls.

1. A Sorcerer's Opposition  134-12

Why first to Cyprus? Barnabas, a Levite, was born there.  436
At Salamis Barnabas and Saul went first to the Jewish synagogue.
      Why did they do this when their mission was to Gentiles?
      First to the Jews and then the Gentiles.  Act 915  Ro 116  29,10  925,26

First at Paphos we witness a spiritual battle for the soul of the Roman Proconsul.
      Sorcerer .v. Paul. Satan .v. God.
Sergius Paulus desired to hear the word of God. Satan always opposes this.
      Like the magicians of Egypt opposed the word of the Lord from Moses.  Exd 711
      Bar Jesus = Son of Yeshua, son of salvation. How deceiving.
      Syriac calls him Bar Shome = son of pride (literally inflation!).
God reveals the true situation to Paul. (Note Roman, not Hebrew name)
      "You are a child of the devil ... (Not son of salvation)
      Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time."
         And immediately he was.  Ps 3416
      Scripture testifies that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit. He needed to be!
      Not told if the sorcerer repented; so unlikely.
      c.f. Paul's temporary blindness. Though zealous for God, Paul was deceived, but he repented.
Many spiritual battles:
    Amalek (Esau's son Gen 3612).   Exd 1711
      Jericho and Ai.   Josh 626 711    
    Carmel.  1 Kg 18
      David.  2 Sam 127, 13 Ps 51
    Rich young man.  Mk 1017-23 
    Sower's Seed.  Math 13
No soul is saved without a battle; some short, some more intense.
      Some are won. And sadly, some are lost. (God does not overrule their choice)

The Gentile Roman Proconsul believes, his soul is saved. God wins again!
Note that Sergius was not amazed at the blinding of the sorcerer,
      but 'at the teaching about the Lord.'

2. Jealousy Causes Rejection  1313-52       [Contents]

At Perga John Mark leaves Paul and Barnabas and returns to Jerusalem.
      No reason is given here or later as to why he 'deserted' them.
      Sadly it would later also lead to Paul and Barnabas splitting up.  Act 1536-40
Do we feel anything so strongly that it divides the church?

P. Antioch synagogue leaders invite Paul and Barnabas to encourage the people.
What was the meat of Paul's address?  1316-41
      God chose Patriarchs and judges, then kings.   He sent the promised Jesus.
            Paul refers to him as Saviour.
         Why do so many desire a Messiah King, but not a Saviour?
                  A King forms and leads a 'utopian' kingdom.
                 But men forget that he then also taxes and 'takes'.   1 Sam 811-18
                  A Saviour demands our admission of sin and repentance.
                But he then redeems.
                He pays the just sentence we cannot even begin to pay.  Better than a king!
      As 'preparer' John preached repentance and baptism.  1324
      Now, in our day, says Paul, the long-awaited Saviour came!  1326
      Our rulers did not recognise him; they crucified him!  1327-29   Why not?  Jn 319
      But God raised him from the dead - as prophesied.  Ps 27 1610
            How can the thirsty drink if the waters are dried up, and dead?  Is 551-3
      Therefore know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sin is proclaimed.  1338
            This is the heart of the most costly Gospel.
      Finally there is a warning:
         Take care you do not become scoffers.  1340,41  Jude 118  2 Pe 33
No immediate response. Stunned?
Invited to preach again next Sabbath.  1342

Next week not just the normal congregation came; but 'almost the whole city'!
But the Jews were jealous. Why?
    The city had never reacted to their preaching like this.
      They had not seen, or were unwilling to admit, their own need.
      They were not seeking salvation, only encouragement. Sound familiar?

How did Paul react to their rejection?
      Why didn't he try to persuade them?
      There were many others who did want to hear; so he was very bold.
      Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life,
            we now turn to the Gentiles.  1346
      This was, truly, a most painful decision for both Paul and for the Jews.

How did the Gentiles respond to this word?
      Why were they so glad?
      Not because the Jews rejected God's offer of forgiveness.
      But they had heard the truth that God chose Paul to bring salvation to them.
      Many were saved and honoured the Word of the Lord.  1348
            And all who were appointed for eternal life believed .

How did the Jews respond?
      They refused to repent; and they stirred up persecution and expelled them.
      Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet.  1351  Lu 95
      This was definitely not an uncaring "good riddance" gesture.  See Ro 91-3
            But a final attempt to shake them out of their complacency of sin.
            A warning from the Lord God Almighty, whom they thought they served.

3.  Refused  to Believe141-6a       [Contents]

Went as usual into the Jewish synagogue at Iconium.  141
      This was their usual practice.
      Their speaking was effective. Many believed - Jews and Gentiles.
      Why were Gentiles in the synagogue?
The battle for souls begins again here - as everywhere.
      Opposing Jews 'poisoned' the mind of Jews and Gentiles who believed.  142
      They saw Barnabas and Paul as traitors to their Jewish race.
      Why do we find it so difficult to admit we are wrong?
      They 'refused to believe', and so were easily blinded by Satan.
      God never takes away our freedom to choose.  (see poem  - use back to return)
      Like Judas - refused correction to value Mary's anointing of Jesus.  Math 266-16
            Also at Last Supper: sees feet-washing as weakness not humility.  Jn 132-17
            Jesus predicts his betrayal and places Judas next to him.  Jn 1318-30
      Such is the grace of God to give us every opportunity to revise wrong choice.  2 Pe 39

What did Paul and Barnabas do about this 'poisoning'?
      They spent a considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord.  143
      The Lord confirmed their word by enabling miraculous signs and wonders.
            Note: Jesus continued his ministry of miracles out of compassion,
                  Their purpose was not to 'prove' they were speaking the truth,
                  although it achieved that.

The people of the city were divided.  144
      Why does the cross of Christ always divide men?
      Why do some hate it so deeply, while others are so grateful?
            Some see their need and God's offer of mercy. Many refuse.  Jn 666
      Is such division right or wrong? Is it desirable? Yes!
            Do not be hood-winked by ecumenical claptrap.  Math 1034,35
            This incident was the start of many troubles for Paul.
                  He refused to be distracted from the vital issue of Christ Crucified.
                  1 Co 22   Phil 38-10   Jn 173

Those Jews, who refused to believe, planned to stone them. 145,6
      According to their law, was this a just solution?  Act 757,58
      Their plot was uncovered. Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra.
      Was this a simple decision? When to fight and when to flee?   c.f. 1350,51
      It was the first of many times they had to decide quickly.

Iconium is now Konieh, 30,000 people.  How many still hear or contend the Gospel?

4.  Hatred of the Truth  146b-12       [Contents]

They may have 'fled;, but they 'continued to preach the good news'.  147
      They never gave up. What drove them ever onwards?
            The news they held was 'good'! Too good to keep to themselves.
      What about us?

Why did they choose to go to Lystra and Derbe? Both were insignificant towns.
      Unlike men, God is concerned with the poor and the weak.  Jer 3017  Lu 532 1413
      Jesus began his ministry in Nazareth; not Tiberias or Joppa or Jerusalem.
      It was at a small country wedding in Cana that he made the best wine.  Jn 2

Luke records just one event at Lystra. The healing of a lame man. c.f. Act 31-10
      Both had been crippled from birth.
      Both instantly healed, or rather jumped and leapt!
      Both learned how to walk instantly.
      In Jerusalem he praised God; in pagan Lystra they called them gods.
      Latin poet Ovid had told a story some 50 years earlier. (See Stott  Acts p. 230)
Barnabas and Paul immediately tore their cloths and told them to stop.
      c.f. Nebuchadnezzar Dan 430,33   Herod Act 1223   Antiochus Epiphanes
      The praise of men is always dangerous; sometimes disastrous!
How would you have spoken to the crowd at pagan Lystra?
They told the people about the living God who made heaven and earth.
      And about his bountiful kindness to men.
      Not being Jews, they didn't base their speaking on the OT.  c.f. 1316-41

Jealous Jews from Iconium had followed them to Lystra (20 miles).
Not told what they said or how they 'won the crowd over'.  1419
Perhaps this teaches us something of the fickleness of men.
      Note: this was the same crowd, at the same time,
            unlike the praising Palm Sunday crowd and the trial crowd that cried 'crucify'.
The crowd were happy until their pagan beliefs were challenged.
      Then the battle began.
      Their natural hatred of the Lord God Almighty was revealed.
      They stoned Paul, (but not Barnabas), and dumped him outside the city.  1419
      But God had other plans! Paul's ministry was far from over.  2 Co 1125 47-12
The stoning had been planned in Iconium; in Hell! But it did not prevail.
Paul's goal was neither upset by flattery nor by opposition.

'Next day' the battered Paul starts to walk the 60 miles to Derbe!
There they  'won a large number of disciples'.  1421a
Truth triumphed in Derbe  c.f.  in Lystra where it was rejected and hated.

The Return Journey  1421b-28       [Contents]

What are the most important factors / lessons of their return journey?
      Courage. They returned to each of the fields of conflict (including Iconium).
                  Like Elisabeth Elliot, wife of Jim Elliot martyred by Auca Indians.
                  See dedication of her book Through Gates of Splendour.
      Care. They 'strengthened the disciples ... to remain true to the faith'.
                  'We must go through many hardships'.  1422 2024
                  How much do we care for the souls of men c.f. numbers in church?
                  How do we react to persecution? Do we support those imprisoned?
      Appointed local elders in each church. Note their plural leadership.  1423
            Qualifications recorded in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1.
            Each were left with the revelation of Scripture, effective pastoral care
                  and trust in the faithfulness of the Lord God for all their needs.
                  Many converts were Jews with a knowledge of the OT,
                        needing only revelation to make it blossom. (As with Paul).
                  Probably not possible in such a short time if only ex-pagans.
      Committed them to the Lord and to his leadership. No small matter.
                  What life-style do we expect after becoming a Christian?
                  What do we trust the Lord for? Ease can lead to complacency.
      Door of faith now opened to Gentiles.  1427
                  This was the start of a far-reaching ministry that affected world history.
                  We owe these two Jews a huge debt of gratitude.
                  As we also do to many who have followed in their wake.
                  The church has all too often defaulted in this payment.
Paul and Barnabas told the Antioch church all that God had done through them.
      Not told if the church was surprised, delighted, or ...
Each of Paul's 3 journeys began and ended in Antioch (3rd ended in Jerusalem)

Stayed 'a long time' in Antioch.  1428 (48-50 AD)
      2 years was a long time to Paul!
Why did he stay?
      God knew the circumcision problem. Needed for Jerusalem Council.
      Started writing epistles to churches. Galatians?
      Taught and preached the word of the Lord in Antioch.  1535
            Again Scripture is silent as to their response.

Council At Jerusalem  151-35       [Contents]

'Some men from Judea'. Not from Jerusalem nor sent by apostolic leadership.
They taught that men had to be circumcised to be saved.  151
      Circumcision is not a contemporary issue for Gentiles. Many other matters are.
What laws of Moses still have to be kept? All 10 Commandments.
      Dietary? Sacrificial? Festivals? But not a licence to 'pick and choose'.
      Jesus came 'not to abolish the Law or Prophets, but to fulfill them'.  Math 517
      Beware of man's additions. e.g. Church sacraments, penance etc
      Beware also of ecumenical compromise that subtracts -
            Only agrees on lowest common beliefs; vital differences are ignored.
      Inter-faith activity is another demonic step worse.
            Modern leaders say that idol-worshipping Islam is good.
                  They ignore the fact that 13 times the Koran declares God has no Son!
                  But no Son; no Saviour. And no salvation. How can that be good?
What is essential for salvation? This vital question needs a full answer.
      Repent and believe.  Mk 115  Lu 133  Jn 33,5,36  Act 238 1730
      Believe what? Much more than 'there is a God', or Jesus lived 2000 years ago.
            1. I am a sinner.  Gal 322  Jn 834  Ro 39,23
            2. All sin deserves death.  Ro 512 623
            3. I cannot pay the price or change myself.  Ro 718, 24  Jn 33,5
            4. Jesus himself redeemed me and gave me new birth.  Ro 324 425  Heb 912
      Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Eph 17 28, 13
      Jews tried to keep the Law - and if honest had to admit failure.
      Peter and Paul said 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved'.  Act 1511 238 1631
      Many now say, 'follow Jesus', but fail to insist on 'repent and believe'.
            Little different from 'keep the Law'.  Josh 2414-27  Gal 216 43-5  Ro 520
Paul and Barnabas appointed and agree to go to Jerusalem.  152
      They submitted to the Antioch church and to the Apostles in Jerusalem.
Didn't miss an opportunity on their journey. Testified in Samaria.  153
      Delighted that 'Gentiles had been converted'.
Some Pharisees found it difficult to abandon some of their life-long teachings.
      How do we cope with change? There remains much to learn.
      Had their doctrine changed? Yes and No! Truth remains unchanged.
            Some of their teaching needed re-aligning with the truth of the prophets.
            Be clear on what needs changing and what does not.  Eph 411-14
The Apostles and Elders met away from all the public emotion.
      Much discussion.  157

      Peter testifies of his experience with Cornelius.
            Asks, "why do you try to test God?"
            Jews and Gentiles are both saved by the grace of Jesus. No one answers.
      Barnabas and Paul tell what God has done among the Gentiles.
      James the Just (brother of Jesus) tells how the prophets reveal this truth.
            Quotes Amos 911,12
            Hebrew text different emphasis from Greek Septuagint OT
            Context is the restoration of Israel.
            'Borders' will include Edom + the nations who bear the name of the Lord.
                  i.e. the Gentiles. Jew and Gentile both 'restored' by seeking the Lord.
            Early church began this restoration (soon to be completed).
            God was clearly accepting (including) the Gentiles - as prophesied.
            Therefor abstain
                  from food offered to idols
                  from eating un-bled meat  Gen 93,4  Lev 1710-14
                  from sexual immorality - often went with sacrificing to idols.  Rev 214,20
                  May well refer to illegal 'blood relationships' for marriage.  Lev 18
            Gentile men need not be circumcised but should keep these Jewish laws.
The meeting agreed to this conclusion.
      A good combination of God's Word confirmed by contemporary experience.
            (Modern experience should not amend, but confirm God's Word)
They sent conciliatory letter with this conclusion to the Gentiles.
      Personalised by sending Judas and Silas to explain reasoning.
Circumcision may show Jewish national identity, but cannot prove regeneration.
Paul uses this example in writing to the Galatians.  Gal 2
      And reveals that even Peter, James and Barnabas
            were each temporarily seduced by the circumcision party.

The letter was received with gladness in Antioch.  1531
      Gentiles who believed in Jesus accepted as Christians without becoming Jews.
Judas and Silas strengthened the brothers there. Then return to Jerusalem.
Paul and Barnabas continued to teach and preach the word of the Lord.

Lessons learnt from these events:
      a. Clarity about what is necessary for salvation, and what is not.
      b. Humility to revelation. They all submitted to the Word of God.
This prevented an untimely split in the new born Jewish / Gentile church.
Satan lost this battle for the souls of men.
      One day he will never be able to fight again!

2nd Missionary Journey(50-52 AD) 1536 - 1822       [Contents]

Paul and Barnabas had committed the 1st Journey towns to the Lord.  1423
      (The towns where they had 'preached the word of the Lord'.)
      But he desired to know how they were progressing.  1536   No telephone!
Barnabas wanted to take his cousin Mark. Paul considered him unreliable.
      Failed to resolve disagreement. Parted company.
      If a man reveals a weakness, does this always remain a flaw?
            What characteristics, of mine and others, can be changed? And How?
      Risk assessment. Paul wanted the best - like Admiral Rickover.
      Mark would later earn Paul's respect.  2 Tim 411  Col 410
Barnabas went to Cyprus, his home-country, with Mark.  1539
Paul chose Silas (who had returned from Jerusalem).
      Strengthened the churches of Syria and Cilicia.  1541   How?
            By preaching the Word and trusting the Lord.  1536 1535 1423
            By encouraging them in hardship 'to remain true to the faith'.  1422
      This is a long way from modern compromise and the appeal to the popular.
      How can we follow the example of Paul?

Returned to Derbe.  161
Then to Lystra (3rd visit, stoned the 1st time), where Timothy joins them.  162-4
      Father was Greek. Mother was a Jewish believer.  2 Tim 15 315
      Timothy is circumcised not because he had to be for salvation;
            but he chose to be to avoid confrontation with some of the Jews.
      Paul is not being inconsistent, but wise for the sake of the Gospel.
They delivered the Jerusalem 'decision' to each group of believers.  164
Churches were 'strengthened in the faith' - God's personal assurance and truth.
      And they 'grew daily in numbers'.  165  Effective, vital evangelism.

Travelled up through Phrygia and Galatia (central Turkey).  166
      Kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in Asia (west Turkey).
      Also not allowed to go north-east into Bithynia. So went West to Troas.
      It was the Holy Spirit that prevented them, not difficulties or 'shut doors'.
Vision of the Macedonian. God knew their hearts, and his plan for Europe.
      God both 'prevented' and he 'invited'.
            Livingstone wanted to go to China, but God sent him to Africa.
            William Carey planned to go to Polynesia but went to India.
      Immediately obedient.  1610 (Others would go to Bithynia. 1 Pe 11)

Use of "We" suggests Luke, the author of Acts, joins them.  1610-17 + 205 onwards.

Philippi  1611-40       [Contents]

Stayed several (eventful) days here.  1612
Luke tells of three very different events here where the battle for souls was won.

No synagogue, so went to river expecting to find a (Jewish) place of prayer.
Paul spoke to the women gathered there.  1613-15
But Lydia's heart was opened by the Lord. This is exclusively the Lord's work.
      She was a Gentile businesswoman from Thyatira.
      Like Cornelius, she believes and is baptised.  1614,15
      How are our hearts opened? What do we need to do?
            How may we co-operate with the Lord?
 Desired to know more, so they stay at her house.  Gen 183 192  2 Kg 48  Lu 2429
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Joel 232  Ro 1011-17

Slave girl delivered from evil spirit that predicted future.  1616-18
      She said, "These men are servants of the Most High God".  1617  Lu 434,41 828
      Why was Paul so troubled by this truth about the missionaries?  Ezra 42,3
Her deliverance ended the lucrative trade for her masters. Always dangerous.

Paul and Silas seized.  1619-40
      Accused of advocating unlawful religious customs
            - not of delivering demon possessed slave girl.
      No trial.
      Severely flogged and securely imprisoned.  1623 (1st of 3)  2 Co 1123-25
      Justice is all too often manipulated by the powerful.
Paul and Silas not angry at injustice, nor filed with self-pity or regret.
      Though in much pain, they did not groan, but sang.  1625  c.f.  127-10
      They did not curse men, but praised God. No wonder the prisoners listened.
      God also knew about the jailer, asleep in bed at home - not for long though.
      God did not send an angel, but a very local earthquake to release them.  1626
            It opened all the doors and their foot stocks.
            The prisoners did not flee. (Did Paul tell them to stay?)
            The Jailer did not have to kill himself (responsible if he lost his prisoners).
      "What must I do to be saved?" he cries. "Believe in the Lord Jesus."  1630,31
He and his family heard the word of the Lord and believed. And baptised.
What did they believe?
      1. Before God I am a sinner.
      2. Sin condemns me. God justly declares the death penalty.
      3. There is nothing I can do to save myself or make amends.
      4. Christ Jesus came and paid the necessary price. He died in my place.

Jailer cares for the two missionaries. c.f. action of Zacchaeus.  Lu 191-10
      He would never have guessed what God had planned for that day!
      Why do so few see their need to be saved - and hear the truth?
      Why do men remain so deluded?

In the morning the magistrates ordered the release of Paul and Silas.
      Was this because of the earthquake?
      Had they heard of the events at the jail?
      Was their summary justice lesson complete?
      Did their conscience cause 2nd thoughts?  Not told.
Paul demands an apology for injustice to 'Roman citizens'.
      Why such discrimination? Human rights often inconvenient to rulers.
            Hence raft of legislation in wake of Sept. 11th.
Magistrates are 'alarmed'. 'Request' that they leave city.
      What a change of attitude from the previous evening!
      Sadly it was not because of any Christian sympathy,
            but they realized that their own skins were threatened.  1638

How different were Lydia, the slave girl and the jailer.
      But transformed by the same Gospel, and welcomed into the same church.
      Every morning when a Jewish man prayed,
            he thanked God he was not born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman!
      Here they were each made 'one in Christ Jesus'.  Gal 328
      Their unity would need to be worked at with the grace of God.  Phil 127 21-11

Thessalonica and Berea  171-15       [Contents]

Although Paul is an Apostle to the Gentiles; he still goes first to the synagogue.
      'Reasoned with them from the Scriptures'.  172  Jn 832  Ro 1017
      God's truth is the only real foundation;
            not man's various philosophies and delusions.
      What did Paul draw from the Scriptures?
            'That Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.'  Lu 922 2425-27, 44-47
            How reluctant men are to admit our sinful nature,
                  that the OT sacrifices and prophecies 'look to the day of Christ',
                  that only Christ could take the punishment - and live.
            Why was this such a surprise to the Jews?
      The true meaning of the Cross remains a stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles.
Who responded in Thessalonica?
      Some of the Jews ... many God-fearing Greeks, and prominent women.  174
Luke only tells of their efforts with the Jews;
      but most converts were Gentiles.  1 Thes 19,10

Many other Jews were jealous. 175  As in Pisidian Antioch. 1345
      They started a riot using 'rent a mob'.
      They claimed, "These men have caused trouble all over the world."
            This was a lie; quite the reverse of the truth.
            Christ brings forgiveness and a new nature, truth, kindness, wisdom, ...
                  Eph 42 Gal 522
      "Defying Caesar's decrees, saying there is another king, one called Jesus." 177
            True. Jesus is King; but he is no rival to Caesar.  Jn 1833-36
                  Though Jesus remains 'the King of kings'!  Jn 1213-15  Rev 1916  Phil 29-11
      The Mob could not find Paul and Silas at Jason's house.
            So they arrested Jason instead - someone's head had to roll!
            Bailed, probably with undertaking that Paul would not return. 1 Thes 218
                  (He passed through but did not stay in Thessalonica on 3rd journey)
Paul and Silas were sent to Berea as soon as it was dark.
      But their departure did not destroy the newly formed church.

The Bereans were more noble. Why? 1711
      'They received the message with great eagerness.'
            Their heartfelt hunger was real.  Is 551,6  Rev 216 2217  Deut 429
            They were not distracted and refused to give up in the face of difficulty.
      'They examined the Scriptures every day.'
            They rightly checked to see if what man said was what God said.
            They did so daily. Not half-hearted or too busy for the most vital truth.

      c.f. Thessalonians with whom Paul had to reason, prove, explain, proclaim ...
      The Berean attitude to the Scriptures was quite different.
      "Paul believed in doctrine, but not indoctrination." John Stott
On both counts they remain an excellent example to follow.

Who responded in Berea?
      Many Jews! Also some prominent Greek women and many Greek men. 1712

Opposition came, not from Berea, but from Thessalonican Jews.
Paul was immediately escorted to Athens. Silas and Timothy remained.
      Paul gives escorts instructions for them to join him soon.
      He clearly recognised his need for support. Few great men do this.

Athens  1716-34       [Contents]

What most impressed Paul in this heathen city?
      Not the architecture, beauty or intellect.
      'He was greatly distressed' by the many idols.  1716
      What distresses us about London, Falmouth, or the Costa del Sol?
      What are today's idols? The same as yesterday!
            Covetousness, lust, love of money.  Col 35  1 Tim 610  Heb 135
                  TV, increased personal debt, love of ease.
            Hedonism (pursuit of happiness).  1 Pe 43
            Compromise / popularity.  1 Sam 1523
            False hope, pretense, false prophesy.  Ezek 143-5
            Witchcraft. e.g. Harry Potter.  Gal 520
      The goals of unbelieving men are so different from the goals of God.  Is 558
      How much does man's attitude c.f. the godly hatred of idolatry distress us?

Paul strove to reason with Jews, God-fearing Greeks, and philosophers.
      Epicureans - supreme good is happiness. (More than temporary pleasure)
            All life is by chance and temporary. Nothing after death.
            The gods do not intervene in human affairs. Like modern Humanism.
      Stoics - men are self-sufficient and should live in submission to nature.
            Men should learn to endure their uncertain fate and do their duty.
            Human beings are particles of God, having divine 'reason'. Like New Age.
      Both had deteriorated from their original high ideals.

Idol worship, humanism, and New Age, each deny man's great need for God,
      and the desperate need for his forgiveness and our rebirth.
For Paul, his distress led to action. What about us?

What was the reaction to Paul's reasoning?  1718
      He is a babbler! Nothing new or original, only bits and pieces from others.
      He is teaching foreign religions; outdated and useless.
            This is probably the most common view of Christianity today.
They brought Paul to the Areopagus
      It was the centre of religious learning, but they knew nothing about God!
      They asked to know about his strange ideas. Truth was foreign to them.
            Why did they ask? Curiosity of personal need?
            They were not like Philippian jailer who sought salvation and truth.
            These men loved to just talk, to debate - anything!

However Paul makes the most of this God-given opportunity.  1722-31
What was the thrust of his speech?
      He examines 6 fundamental truths, each as relevant today as to Athens then.
Note that Acts 1722-31 is a less than 2 minute precis of Paul's speech.

1. One God created everything.  1724-26  Ro 119-23  Mk 106 (spoken by Jesus)
            (Not by a multitude of gods, nor by chance evolution)
            (Why is this now so stubbornly resisted? Satan hates God!)

2. God desires that all men seek him and find him.  1727  2 Pe 39  Is 551-7
            (He is not remote or unknowable)
            (Such was God's earnest, he sent the prophets and finally his Son.  Heb 11)

3. The prime problem of men is sin.
            (We are all in rebellion against God and separated from him - hence 2.)
            (We are all naturally bad and ignorant of God and his truth)
            (Alone, we cannot be good)

4. God requires all men to repent. 1730
            (All proud men must admit their need)
            (Intellect, skill, selfless good works may impress men, but not God)

5. God will judge the world with justice. 1731a
            (He has an accurate knowledge, nothing is hidden, he is never deceived)
            (Wickedness will be punished. The wages of sin is death!  Ro 623)
            (Men prefer a God of love. They fiercely reject his right to sit as judge)

6. Proof that he will do so is that Jesus came and rose from the dead! 1731b
            (At Babel, men sought to overthrow God's kingship. They failed)
            (See blasphemous EU poster, 'Europe - Many tongues, One voice!'
             (But Jesus remains King)
            (His willing sacrifice for men was accepted. He is now our Advocate)

We cannot preach the Cross without creation, or salvation without judgement.
How can the church slumber so peacefully and not see the urgency today?
      What do we see and feel for our neighbours?

What was their reaction?  1732-34
      Some sneered at the idea of resurrection - calling it 'Pie in the sky'!
      Others wanted to hear him again someday.
            But why not now?  Act 2425
                  Did they want to go home to watch 'Neighbours'?
            Procrastination is too often the defence of the cultured - or the curious.
      No urgent hunger of the soul. What a contrast to Berea.
      A few believed.

Paul leaves the dismissive Athenians; never to teach or preach there again.
Goes to Corinth.

Corinth  181-22       [Contents]

Paul meets Jewish believers, Aquila and Priscilla and helps him tent-making.
      Jews had been exiled from Rome by Claudius. Not first, or last time.
            England expelled Jews in 1290 for 350 years! Why? (Don't know)
Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
      As always - 1st to the Jews ...
      Silas and Timothy arrive from Macedonia - Paul devoted himself to preaching.
      He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
            To most it seemed foolish - how can the King be crucified? 1 Co 121b-25
            Men long for a triumphant Messiah.
                  They only rarely see the need for a Saviour, Redeemer and Advocate.
            But the Cross of Christ remains both the power and wisdom of God.
                  Power - Only the power of God can change the wicked to righteous.
                  Wisdom - God sees and reveals our real 'disease' and the only true cure.

When they became abusive ... 186 'argument weak, shout louder!'
      Paul shook out his clothes. An example to be followed with extreme care.
            Watchman's responsibility.  Ezek 331-7 Jews before Pilate.  Math 2725
      He had stirred up the Jews. They could not just ignore him!
            Thinking they were right and God was wrong; they made a tragic decision.
            How sad it is when men reject such an eternal opportunity.

Relieved of his responsibility to Jews, Paul now gives attention to the Gentiles.
      Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and many Corinthians believed.
Paul has vision of encouragement to continue preaching. 189,10
      No one is going to attack and harm you. 1810 Even Paul needed to hear this.
      Why did he feel vulnerable, weak and afraid?
            1 Co 23 is often overlooked. Paul really did feel weak at times.
            The Gospel was a direct challenge to this proud and immoral city.
            What is the answer to breakdown of family, spin and deceit, war ... ?
      I have many people in this city. 1810 God knows who are his.
            He knows all the (future) decisions of men and who he chooses. Ro 96-21
            Some find God's choice difficult. He remains Almighty, just and merciful.

They stayed in Corinth for 18 months teaching them the word of God.  1811
      There can be no better foundation. Ro 1017
      The philosophy and homilies of men cannot even compare with the Scriptures.
      God's truth writes a different perspective on history than does man's view,
            it instructs us in how to live to please God today,
            and it accurately tells us what we need to know about the future.

The only trouble was when they brought Paul into the court of proconsul Gallio.
      Gallio immediately rejected their religious charge.  1812-17
            Nothing to do with Roman law. c.f. Pilate with Jesus.
            This was a most significant ruling that in effect legalised Christianity.
            The Jews saw Christians as completely separate from legal Judaism;
                  Gallio saw Christians as part of Judaism. He was right!
So they beat Sosthenes (successor to Crispus, also became a believer 1 Co 11).
      But no one cared or intervened. Who cares about the Indonesian Christians?

Paul sails for Syria leaving Silas and Timothy in Corinth - needed there.
Paul takes Aquila and Priscilla.
Shaving his head indicated the completion of a vow. Its content is unknown.
Paul declines their invitation to stay, but leaves Aquila and Priscilla.
He returns to Caesarea and greets church in Jerusalem, then goes to Antioch.

3rd Missionary Journey  (53-57 AD) 1823 - 2116       [Contents]

Luke only gives the briefest of descriptions of the start of his 3rd journey.
      Travelled throughout Galatia and Phrygia strengthening all the disciples. 1823
            Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. (As on 1st and 2nd journies)

Meanwhile in Ephesus ...

Ephesus  1824-201

Apollos arrives. 1824,25
      Thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. (No New Testament yet)
      Instructed in the way of the Lord. (His personal life was righteous)
      Taught about Jesus accurately (and with great fervour in the Spirit).  Ro 1211
What could possibly be missing?
      He knew only the baptism of John - repentance.
      What did he teach about Jesus?
            That Jesus was the promised Messiah.
            His teaching and parables, his exemplary life and his wisdom.
            About his miracles of healing and the deliverance of men.
            As John taught, that he was the Lamb of God who takes away sin. Jn 129
      But did he teach about how God determined the only way to achieve this?
            About the vital need for a perfect sacrifice? Gen 228,14
            The significance of his death and resurrection; God had 'provided',
                  and our need for a Redeemer, One who pays the price we cannot?
            Did he explain clearly why Jesus had to suffer?
      We are not told. Though it would seem that he did not. He soon would!
Priscilla and Aquila ... explained the Way of God more adequately.  1826
      What did they explain?
      Did they tell him of the promised Counsellor?  Jn 1416,26,28 1526 167,13 Acts 238
      Unlikely. When Paul asked the Ephesians they had received the Holy Spirit
            when they believed, they said they had never heard of him.  192b
      Probably they told him about the necessity of the Cross;
            The apostles also needed to have this revealed to them.  Lu 2444-47

No one is saved by the act of baptism.
      It is a witness to what God has already done
      Noah was saved by faith and in holy fear built an Ark to God's design.  Heb 117
            The water was the means of God's judgement.
            It was the 'pitch' that represented the atonement of God.
      We are baptised into Christ; not into the church, as some foolishly teach.
Apollos goes to Achaia (Corinth was its capital),
      where he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.  1827
            “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be,
              Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee ...”
      There he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate,
            proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.  1828
      Are we earnest in following his example?  Lu 238
      What Scriptures would we use?
            Is 53 Ps 22 Gen 228,14 Dan 924 Ezek 3411-31 Gen 1418,19
            John Baptist had fulfilled Is 403-5.  Lu 34-6
      But note that without first admitting our need, being poor in spirit,
            no man will be persuaded - whatever the proof. Lu 729,30 1629-31 Math 53
      What characteristics or ministry do men seek for in Christ?
            An easier, happier life-style or forgiveness of sin?

Paul was greatly appreciative of the ministry of Apollos in Corinth.  1 Co 35-11

Paul (alone?) arrives in Ephesus. 191 (54 AD)
      God had prevented him and Barnabas from going there earlier.  Act 166
      The Church was well established, but Paul felt there was something missing -
            or rather Someone. Hence his question:
            Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?  192a
            They gave an honest answer. Not even heard there is a Holy Spirit.  192b
What was John's baptism? Sign of real repentance from sin to God. 194
      But that was not all that he taught:
            Jesus is the awaited the Lamb of God.  Jn 129
            Jesus is the Messiah; John his forerunner.  Mal 31 Lu 727
      It was based on action, what we do, the sort of life we live;
            rather than what we believe and thus what we also do.  Jn 318  James 217,22
      There is a difference between repentance and new birth.  Lu 728  Jn 33,5
      John Baptist said he was a friend of the Bridegroom.  Jn 327-34  Eph 525-27
      He told men to believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Jesus. 194
            Paul would not just tell them this, but would go on to proclaim that Jesus came!
            That he taught, was crucified and that he rose from the dead.
            And that the Redeemer had to fulfill the required sacrifice for sin.
When they had 'heard' this truth, (and much more than just one sentence!)
      they (12 men) were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. 195
      God then fulfilled his promise of sending his Holy Spirit.  196  Jn 1416 etc
            Jesus refers to him as the Counsellor or the Spirit of Truth.  Jn 14-16
                This reveals his principle ministry - to reveal the truth to men,
                To guide you into all truth.  Jn 1613
                Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Jn 832

They spoke in tongues and prophesied. Act 196b
Do not be distracted from the profound simplicity of the gospel.
      Nor let us be afraid to attempt to answer legitimate questions. e.g.
            Is tongues and prophesy the invariable result of being baptised?

There are three stages  of 'Baptism' in the new birth.  Sometimes these are concurrent, sometimes not.
      Baptism of repentance. 'Hearing' and believing the truth about sin.
      Baptism into Christ.  Receive assurance of forgiveness through Christ the Redeemer and Advocate.
      Baptism of the Spirit. Receiving the promised Holy Spirit.

The following examples reveal God's variety:
      Apostles. Some(?) Baptised by John.  Jn 135
            'Heard' Lu 2445-47 'Baptised'.  Act 24
      Jews in Jerusalem at Pentecost.  Act 238-41
      Samaritans believed and baptised.  Act 812
            Later they received the Holy Spirit.  Act 815-17
      Ethiopian believes and baptised.  Act 835-39
      Saul. Vision, blinded, healed and baptised.  Act 918
      Cornelius. Holy Spirit came on all who heard message.  Act 1044-46
      Lydia. Believes and is baptised.  Act 1614,15
      Philippian Jailer.  Act 1630-34
      In many places Luke's record is brief. We are only told that they believed.
            But this does not prove that this is the whole story.

It is the 3rd stage - the baptism of the Spirit - that sometimes raises controversy.
    The Holy Spirit is very active throughout, both before and during each stage.
        He prompts, protects and guides us long before we come to believe.
      The Holy Spirit convicts men.  Jn 168
            And he reveals the truth to men.  Eph 115-17  Jn 1613
      All are sealed with the Holy Spirit when we believe.  Eph 113,14  430
            Let us therefore always walk 'in the Spirit'.  1 Jn 26  Gal 516-26
      God is not slow to fulfill his promised gift of the Holy Spirit to all believers.
      Indeed, God delights to give his Holy Spirit to all who ask.  Lu 119-13
            Note that the principle of James 43 can also be applied here.
                  You have not, because you have not asked.
                  This does NOT imply that the Holy Spirit is absent
                        but that God desires to give us greater measure; as with Samaritans.  Act 815-17
      Charismatics and Pentecostals major on this neglected gift.
            Enthusiastic emphasis of experience tend to lead to neglect of
                  holiness, the Cross, and the Word (all Scripture, not just the nice parts).
            Many scorn discipline and consequently lack discernment and truth.
      Honestly examine the motivation for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
            Is it for notoriety?  For power?  For proof?
            Or a sincere desire for God himself, and an earnest for him,
                for revelation of truth, to see as God sees, to long for the fulfilling of his plan.
            Sadly it has often caused division and not the intended life in Christ.
      Treasure God and all his gifts to men, especially his new sonship.  Gal 326- 47
         The Holy Spirit gives us assurance; he turnshope into certainty.  Heb 111
      God determines what gifts he gives to whom, and when, and how.
            May they lead to humility, gratitude for his kindness,
                  and a sound building of his church.  Ro 121,2


      The Apostles were promised power for effective evangelism of certain truth,
            not for personal satisfaction.  2 Pe 13
      It is the work of the Holy Spirit who enables us to hear and believe.
            This may take a number of years. God is so patient and gracious.
      Let no one be too proud or complacent to hunger for more of God.
      Only the most foolish and self-sufficient spurn what God has promised.
            The Samaritans were delighted to be baptised in the Spirit after being baptised into Christ.
      The men of Ephesus were wise and honest and hungry.
            And God was delighted to give them more than they asked for!  Eph 316-21
      Sadly within a generation, even the Ephesians had lost their first love.  Rev 24
            Take care!

Believers must be baptised into the name of Jesus - thus can only be adults.
Tongues is a wonderful gift to express emotions and prayer to God.
      Paul cautioned that it should be used sparingly in public.  1 Co 141-33a
      But he was most eagre that the church should be edified through prophesy.
The Holy Spirit and the Scriptures are essential for discernment and stability,
      for us to know the purpose of God and not be deceived.
Do not allow this passage to divert us into endless argument about tongues,
      but rather that we may be edified and encouraged by the Holy Spirit,
      and to desire the rare gift of prophesy.  1 Co 141

Riot in Ephesus  1923 - 201

Luke choses to describe this in some detail.
What was the real cause?
      Local Ephesian magnate suffered loss of income.
            (He made the silver idols of Artemis for merchants to sell.)
      His appeal to the people was not his personal loss, but the threat to their jobs.
            (Like vote for Nice Treaty in Ireland, or for the Euro in UK)
      Also said that Christians insulted their great goddess, Artemis.
            Temple on hill to E. of the city was one of 'the 7 wonders of the world'.
            It was not a 'wonder' to God; he hated it.
            425ft x 220ft, 126 marble columns each 62ft high.
                  Many-breasted image, supposedly dropped from heaven!  1935
                  Goddess of fertility with multitude of prostitute priestesses.
                  Many came to see temple and to sample their 'favours' - at a price.
The Ephesians were thus quickly and easily enraged.
      Money, sex and honour (tradition) were threatened - a lethal combination.
Confusion and shouting. Most joined in, but didn't know why! 1932
      Demonic, repetitive chanting, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians."  1934
            Like other wicked men shouted, "Crucify him, crucify him."  Math 2722,23
            And today Muslims shout their lie, "Allah Akbar" (Allah is the greatest)

City clerk quietens the crowd. How?  1935-41
      1. Artemis not in danger - (too great?)
                  As a name Artemis died, but the enticement of sex without consequence,
                  and with either gender lives on.
      2. Gaius and Aristarchus not guilty of any sacrilege.
                  Blasphemy is only against the Lord God Almighty.
                  The UK Gov. is attempting make it against the Church of England
                  and widen it to include other faiths. This is no trivial matter.
      3. Legal ways to openly express private and public grievances.
                  Many were not aggrieved, but just enjoyed a riot.
                  Like drunken football louts who spoil the game for other spectators.
      4. Consider consequences from Rome of civil disorder.
                  A final sobering thought. Consequences not specified.

Luke wanted to tell all that Roman Law was not a threat to Christianity;
      neither in Ephesus, not in Corinth.  1812-27
      It was later under Nero (54-68) and Domitian (81-96);
            and perhaps most of all under Constantine! (312)

Is EU culture and European Law a threat to Christianity? YES.
            Rome, Islam, multi-faith, New Age, Humanism,
            EU evil foundations seen in poster, buildings, statues, antisemitism ...

Paul sets out for Macedonia, Greece and Rome. 1921 201

Macedonia  201-4       [Contents]

Paul sets out for Macedonia, Greece and Rome.  1921201
Before he did so he encouraged the disciples in Ephesus.
      Then in Macedonia he spoke many words of encouragement.  202

What does it mean to 'encourage' others?
      Did Paul pat them on the back and say, "You're doing a great job,"
            when in reality it was less than half decent? No. Review ends of his letters.
      Gal 6 - Restore others caught in a sin gently.
            Carry each others burdens. Don't let pride deceive you.
            Let us not become weary in doing good.
      Eph 6 - Put on the whole armour of God.
            Pray that I (and you) may declare the mystery of the Gospel fearlessly.
      Phil 4 - Stand firm in the Lord. Agree with each other. Rejoice in the Lord.
            Think about what is true, noble, right ... and put it into practice!
      Col 4 - Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
            Make the most of every opportunity to proclaim the mystery of Christ.
            Complete the work you have received in the Lord.
            Greetings (real and informed); and grace ever needed be with you.
      1 Thes 5 - Live in peace with each other. Work hard. Help the weak.
            Pray continually. Do not put out the Spirit's fire.
            Test everything. Hold to what is good. Avoid every kind of evil.
            May God himself sanctify you. The One who calls you is faithful.
      2 Thes 3 - Pray that the message of the Lord may spread.
            The Lord is faithful, he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
            Do not be idle. The Lord of peace be with all of you.
      1 Tim 6 - Godliness with contentment is great gain. Beware of riches.
            Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
            Guard what has been entrusted to your care. (The people and the truth.)
      2 Tim 4 - Preach the Word, be prepared, the time is short, men like myths.
            Endure hardship, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

This is not easy congratulations, but the continual challenge to be earnest,
      and holy and fearlessly serve our God of great mercy and grace.

Paul always sought that these churches should follow his example.
      And what an example!
      There have been many others, known and unknown.
            William Tyndale, C.T.Studd, J.C.Ryle, Hudson Taylor, John Collins, ...
            They each followed their Master and gave their all to serve faithfully.
Let us all be ready in these days, making the most of the time left.
      Alert and not deceived. Live holy lives; not conformed to the world.
      Encouraged that God is faithful, his word is true, and his grace is boundless.

Farewell to Ephesian Elders  205-38       [Contents]

Paul arrives in Greece and stays for 3 months (probably in Corinth).
      Wrote to Romans at this time.
      Jews were determined to end his life. So returns to Syria via Macedonia.
Arrives at Troas with Luke and met up with 6 others who gone on ahead.  204,5
Stayed 7 days. On the last day, Paul went on talking to the church till midnight.
      Young man Eutychus fell asleep - and fell out of 3rd storey window.  207-12
      Picked up dead, but God restored him to life.
      They broke bread and continued talking until dawn. No one else fell asleep!

Some went by ship to Assos, but Paul walked. (~20 miles)  2013-17
Sailed to Miletus. Paul sends for elders of Ephesian church and speaks to them.
      (He wanted to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost.)
What did he say? What was the earnest of his heart for them?

Introduction - remember the 2 years of ministry:  2018-21
      with great humility and with tears ...
      not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you ...
      publicly and from house to house ...
      declared ... must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
            Paul remains a good example to follow - but must have same heart.
What of the future?  2022-24
      Compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem ...
      Not knowing what will happen to me there ...
      The Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
      But his one goal was to complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me ...
            of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
            Pray that we and our ministers to also be so single-minded, so determined,
                  so clear and uncompromising in our witness.  Ro 121,2
      None of you ... will ever see me again ...  2025-31  Devastating news for them.
            I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God ...
                  Remember this, and strive to do likewise.
      Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock ... be shepherds ...
            From your own number men will arise and distort the truth ...
                  in order to draw away disciples after them ... be on guard.
            Their objective would be to create a following - with them at the top.
            As Jesus warned, one of you is going to betray me. He was right.
                  These 'distorters' would come from within, not from outside the church.
                  How can this be? Beware, do not think that any of us are immune.
Jesus himself wrote to the Ephesians some years later,
"I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men,
      that you have tested those who claim to be apostles and are not, and found them false."
 Rev 22
Paul's prophecy was right, the savage wolves did come.
      But the shepherds were forewarned, armed and ready.

It is most sobering to be told that it is from among your own number
      that the distortion of Scripture will come. This has been proved correct.
Who will be like Paul, or like J.C.Ryle, and warn the churches accurately?

What does the church need to be warned about today?       [Contents]

Paul warns the Ephesian elders:
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock ... be shepherds ...
from your own number men will arise and distort the truth ...
in order to draw away disciples after them ... be on guard.
Act 2030

This warning is timeless; we remain in the gravest danger.
Note especially that he tells us it those from within the church who will distort the truth!
How? And Why?

ALL Scripture is the accurate Word of God.

It remains the unchanging yardstick by which all theology and practice must be judged. In it God reveals the truth: his perspective concerning the past, the present and the future; and also about the nature of God and of man. As such it has always been challenged. Men try to discard or ignore the parts they do not like; and add words or ideas that suit their own view and motives. They also twist verses to say what they want by taking them out of their context.

Additions that Distort:

1. The acceptance of other faiths.
God commanded You shall have no other gods before me. Exd 203 And Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. Jn 146 But even church leaders now applaud Islam in the name of 'freedom of religion', toleration and mutual respect. Beware of Satan's guile in this New Age / Hindu idea of many ways to God. There remains only one way of salvation.

2. 'Signs and wonders'.
Many Christians assume that they are all of God. They aren't. Jesus repeatedly and specifically warns us about being deceived by them.  Math 244,11,24  2 Thes 29  Rev 133,13 1614 1920
The danger here is that 'experience' is being used to justify belief and practice. Popular pragmatism: if it works it must be good; if I have experienced it, it must be true - and of God.

3. Church tradition.
Three examples: a) The early church appointed elders and practised the priesthood of all believers. This structure later divided to become priests and laity.
b) Because the Church has practised infant baptism for the last 1000 years does not prove that it is right or God's best.
c) The supposed evolution of species has given proud men the excuse to think that theology also 'evolves' with their increased understanding and intellect. Thus, old and new tradition are given equal footing with Scripture.

4. New Revelation.
Jesus warned us that false Christs would arise. They invariably have a 'new' revelation which they expect everyone to believe. In the extreme such people as Joseph Smith (Mormons), Joseph Rutherford (Jehovah's Witness), Mary Baker (Christian Science) and John Arnott (Toronto) formed new sects with deluded followers - just as Paul warned.

Subtractions that Distort:

1. The Creation by God.
The last century has seen men grasp the theory of evolution like a drowning man clings to a life-jacket. Such is their enthusiasm that evolution is now taught as truth, not theory. Indeed creation is totally mocked and scorned. e.g. media coverage of a Church school in Gateshead, Newcastle in Jan 2002, who dared to teach creation alongside evolution. This subtraction from the revealed truth is precisely what Peter prophesied would happen in the last days - that men would deny God's creation and his judgement. 2 Pe 33-7  Popular, but wicked men, like David Attenborough, delight to proclaim evolution at every opportunity in their otherwise excellent nature programmes. The Church has done virtually nothing to challenge this blatant lie.

2. The Fall of man.
Many deny or at least ignore the fall of Adam and Eve, and of its consequences being passed on to all successive generations. They may admit the need of some help from God but will deny the need to be rescued. The truth that all men are born with a sinful nature remains an affront to man's pride. New Age even claims that God is in everything; it just needs developing. Most men find God's rescue plan foolish and unnecessary; to them the Cross is a stumbling block, instead of the one and only means to receive God's forgiveness, a new nature and eternal life. At best, such men find Christ a good example to follow. They subtract the vital need of men for atonement and thus never experience the joy of his salvation.

3. God as Judge.
No truth should be ignored or diluted because it is unpopular to modern man. We must never try to change God so that he becomes acceptable to men who only see him as a God of Love. It is the naturally evil nature of man that needs to be changed to become acceptable to God! Both the Old and New Testaments clearly proclaim the judgement of God. In the day that you eat of it, you will surely die. The relationship of Adam and Eve with God died instantly. Men make God's judgement in the days of Noah into a 'Sunday school joke'. They ignore the destruction of homosexual Sodom and Gomorrah. Preaching about the Tribulation in Rev 6 to 19 as being the God directed punishment for man's increasing wickedness in the last days, is very rare indeed. Men hate judgement: as it forces them to repent and change from their evil ways. Being painful, it is ignored or diluted. But God will not ignore it. The Day of Judgement will come for all of us.

4. Compromise with the world.
Coming to believe in the need for Christ crucified and the effectiveness of it is just the start. We must become 'disciples' (learners). As Paul instructed the Romans, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Ro 122,3 Earnestly desire holiness now rather than (false, transient) happiness. Math 2412 Ro 121,2 Rev 184 Take up the Cross daily and learn obedience - even if it is costly. Lu 923 God's high standards of holiness will remain a challenge; as does the temptation to compromise. Let us maintain the zeal, 'My Utmost for His Highest'.

5. Money, Sex and Power.
There are the three principle areas of temptation to compromise. Greed or covetousness is as idolatry. Col 35 1 Co 1014 Idolatry remains attractive. And God's condemnation of it remains. The love of money is the root of all evil. 1 Tim 610 Moral laxity is a plague. Sexual desires can become powerful, and deadly. Many Christians have fallen prey. Likewise, the corruption of power is all too well known. Its lure needs no explanation. History, if not personal experience is proof enough.

Other Deadly Distortions:

1. Ecumenical Movement.
This may be a surprising start to this section because most are blind to the errors of Rome. These are so important and so numerous that they indicate an evil foundation. Many are ignorant of history and do not realise what the Reformation martyrs gave their lives for. It is conveniently forgotten. Falling numbers in the Church of England have given rise to desperation; but all ecumenical movement is not progress, but a disastrous yoking to these errors. Rome will not change; Protestants will become enslaved. (See paper on Roman Catholic errors. Also Bishop J.C.Ryle's book, 'Warning to the Churches'.)

2. False prophets.
These differ from false Christs in that these always tell people what they want to hear; not what they need to hear. Is 309-11 They preach peace, triumphalism, prosperity, no hell, revival, an early Rapture (pre-Tribulation). Beware. Powerful personalities can have undue influence, especially in large meetings that generate atmosphere and high emotion. None of us like to be thought of as gullible, but sadly, few are able to test what is said or practised with accuracy. When men proclaim, "The Bible says ...", they are unable to question it effectively for the simple reason that they do not know what the Bible says! This is especially true of the Old Testament. They will usually have a greater desire for some experience than they do for truth. Yet Jesus told his disciples, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Jn 832 He emphasised that the Holy Spirit was the Counsellor. Jn 1626 When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. Jn 1613 The Counsellor ... will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement. Jn 167,8 When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me Jn 1526 The ministry of the Holy Spirit today often has a very different emphasis!

3. Witchcraft.
This distortion must be included as many today see no harm in such books as the 'Harry Potter' series and 'Lord of the Rings'. But there is no such thing as 'white magic'; it is just evil dressed in smart clothes and must be avoided. God is not impressed with such deceiving definitions and condemns all such practice being Satanic. One may expect the world to be hoodwinked in this matter, but how can Christians think there is little wrong in such books?

4. Israel Remains God's Chosen People.
Since the days of Constantine (320 AD) the church has persecuted the Jews. This distortion of Scripture is deep-rooted and deserves a fuller treatment than the above. It is a foolish man who thinks that God has now forgotten the Jews and that the Church has inherited and 'replaced' the 'chosen people'. Let us examine why.

God chose Abraham and promised him much:
      To make him into a great nation. Gen 122
      To bless all peoples through him. i.e. Jewish world Messiah. Gen 123
      To give his descendants the land. Gen 127
God has kept his word. The Messiah has come!
      The Jews did become a great nation and they did inherit the land.

But God also warned them that if they forsook him, he would punish them.
In this God also kept his word. Deut 41-31 612 819,20 1126
      In 722BC Assyria destroyed the 10 northern tribes of Israel.
      In 605, 596 and 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar enslaved and destroyed Jerusalem.
            Just as Jeremiah had repeatedly warned them for 40 years!
      In 70 AD General Titus again destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.
            The Jewish leadership had rejected their Messiah.

Does this mean the end of the Jews? Has the Church taken over?
Have God's chosen people faded from the world stage for ever? Never!
The Jews and Jerusalem will remain centre-stage. Ezek 3624-38 3921-29 Jer 30-32
Satan, wicked world leaders, Islam and the media, all hate Israel.
      But God remains sovereign.
      He warns the heedless leaders what he will do. Zech 121-5
Israel's return will be a time of great trouble. Jer 307 319a
      But they will be saved out of it and receive a new covenant. Jer 3131-34
How can we be sure? Jer 3135-37 3017 God is faithful - always.
      If God does not keep his promise to Israel what hope is there for us?
            How could we be sure of his abundant mercy and grace?
The 1st part of Ezek 371-14 is being fulfilled. Soon the 2nd part will be too.
They will return and be restored to righteousness. But no shortcut to salvation.
      The number of Messianic Jews in Israel is steadily increasing.
See the many specific restoration promises to Israel. e.g.
      Deut 302,3 Is 124-28 Is 495-9 Is 611-7 Jer 2722 1615 303 3017,18
      Jer 3244 3311 3323-26 4211,12 Jer 313-11 3135-38 Ezek 3721-28 Hos 71,2 Joel 31,2
      Amos 98-15 Zeph 314-20 Zech 81-8 Zech 104-12 Lu 2120-27 Acts 14-8 Acts 312-23 Ro 1111,12, 25-29
Substituting the Church for Israel, many have tried to steal these promises.
They have mistaken Israel's restoration for worldwide revival and Church power.
      Gentiles may inherit gracious promises. Is 353-10 4027-31 96,7 2 Ch 714
But strangely, many leave Israel with the curses! Deut 28, 8
      Popularity of Church 'Restoration and Revival' does not prove it is true. Is 3010
      We are warned to beware of arrogance. Ro 1121-24
Messiah will come a second time and fight against hostile nations.
      Rev 1714 1911-21 Zech 123 143,9 Dan 244,45 Obad 118 Hag 220-23
Only then will he be acknowledged as King over all the earth. Is 22-4 Rev 204
When the scriptures speak of the hardness of Israel and God rebuking them,
      it adds "until", "then", "yet", or "but". Ro 1125 Lu 2124 2 Co 316

Balaam was promised a big reward to curse Israel. Num 23
      But he could not reverse God's plan - nor can Satan or anyone.
      However Balaam did cause Israel to sin. Num 251-3 3116
God will judge all the nations on how they have treated Israel. Joel 31,2 Gen 123
      And also the leaders of Israel who reject the Lord Almighty. See Judges 2-15
There were many tears on the day that the rejected Joseph (like Jesus)
      was united with his brothers. Gen 45 Zech 1310
Do not give yourselves, or God, any rest until God has fulfilled
      his declared plan for Israel. Is 626,7, 11,12
David Pawson once commented, "A watchman is like a secretary;
      he is the one who knows his boss, and reminds him of his appointments!"
The day is coming when "All Israel will be saved." Ro 1126
God will never break his promise to Israel. He must remain faithful.
The world will watch amazed at the end -
      The Beast and the False Prophet will think Jerusalem are easy meat.
But, as clearly promised, the Lord will return and fight for the Jews; and win!
      He is "Faithful and True", "The Word of God", "The King of kings". Rev 1911-21
Long before the Jews started to return to their ancient land C.H.Spurgeon wrote:
"I think we do not attach enough importance to the restoration of the Jews ... Certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this ... the day shall yet come when the Jews, who were the first Apostles to the Gentiles, the first missionaries to us who were afar off, shall be gathered in again. Until that shall be, the fullness of the Church's glory can never come. Matchless benefits to the world are bound up with the restoration of Israel, their gathering shall be as life from the dead."

5. Revival or Persecution?

When God showed Daniel his planned events for the last days,
      why was he so distressed? Dan 728 827 102
If the promise of God was for revival, he would surely have been delighted.
But he was shown how terrible those days would be.
      The 4th beast he saw was so terrifying it could not be named. Dan 77
      The Saints will be oppressed. Dan721 725 824 926b 121 127b
            But keep in mind Math 2413,22 Heb 122,3 Math 1024-33 Joel 228 (see below)
      Jesus repeats the prophecy he gave to Daniel. Math 249 2421
      John is shown the same truth. Rev 611 137 1310b 1412 1813 1824
In the last days Scripture prophesies intense persecution, not revival.
      It will be a time of increasing wickedness. 2 Thes 21-17 Math 246-8,12 Ro 124-32
      Satan really hates true Christians. He vents his anger; his time is short.
This is not revival and the reign of the Church on earth,
      but it is the persecution of the saints. Math 1017-42
Is there no relief? Yes, but only when the Son of God returns.
       Dan 722 726 825b 121b,2 1213 Math 2430 Rev 1911-21 204
"And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people ..." Joel 228-32
      Peter rightly claims fulfilment of this at Pentecost in 33 AD. Act 214-41
      And God has been pouring out his Spirit ever since.
But there will be a greater fulfilment of this prophecy during the Tribulation,
      when extreme persecution will necessitate an outpouring of the Spirit.
Note that the signs and wonders prophesied in Joel are not healings and miracles,
      but 'blood and fire and billows of smoke',
      when the 'sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood'!
Yet all who "call on the name of the Lord will be saved." Ro 1013 Joel 232
The great tribulation of these last days will not be easy:
      many, if not most faithful believers, will pay with their blood.
From Abel, men have always needed the outpouring of the Spirit,
      but at the end the persecuted will need him even more if we are to stand.
Why has the popular, but false, concept of revival has arisen?
      As Jesus warned us, many Christians are easily deceived.
            Math 244, 11, 24 2 Thes 29 Rev 133, 14 1920b also 2 Tim 43 Is 3010,11 Jer 613-15
            Many hear what they want to hear; they seek popularity and fear rejection.
            Who is able and willing to discern the truth when it is unpleasant?
            Who is able to discern which miracles are 'of God' and which are not?
      Few know the Scripture, being concerned more with experience than truth.
            So they fail to test the 'out of context' verses that are often taught.
                  e.g. Joel 228,29 is quoted, but Joel 230,31 is ignored.

(Please note that this list does not pretend to be an exhaustive study on this vital matter.
      It is but a start, outlining the most obvious 'distortions'.)

Final Words to Ephesian Elders  2032-36       [Contents]

These final words are not just a trivial polite ending; but have great meaning.
Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace.
      What a privilege. His word is accurate, kind and totally undeserved.
      God's purpose, and Paul's is to see us 'built up'.
            This does not happen in a day; but let us not lack in zeal.
            Are we each earnest in our desire to be sanctified?
            Is the answer 'Yes', but only if it does not cost too much?
      As one said, "God loves us as we are, but he will not leave us as we are."
            My goal is God himself; not joy, nor peace,
            Nor even blessing, but himself, my God:
            'Tis his to lead me there, not mine but his,
            At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!

Who are those who are sanctified?
Believers in Jesus Christ who are set free from the guilt and power of sin.
It is accomplished by Jesus Christ, by his Word and by his Spirit.
      Ro 83,4 Heb 1010 1 Co 130 611 Jn 1717 Ps 11911 2 Co 213 1 Pe 12 Act 2615-18
It is the process by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes holy.
      Jn 1714-16 Heb 1312 1014 Ro 8 12-14 Gal 516-18, 24 Lu 923 Tit 211-14
Justification is solely dependant upon what Christ has done for us.
Sanctification is also by grace,
      but it also requires our unceasing zeal and determination.
It is a setting apart from the world for God's service. Heb 914 Ro 122,3
It remains God's command and purpose. 1 Thes 43-7 523,24

Paul worked all the 2 1/2 years he was in Ephesus so as not to burden the church.
      He also supplied the needs of my companions ... and the weak.
The Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
I have never lived to regret what I have given,
      but remember both  Math 63 and Lu 213

Paul then knelt down with all of them and prayed.
      Not told what they prayed; but you can be sure it was not sentimental!
They did however weep - grieved they would never see his face again.
      And they didn't.
      But they did remember and heed his teaching and training.  Rev 22,3

Journey to Jerusalem  211-16       [Contents]

The Ephesian elders accompanied Paul (and Luke) to the ship.
      The parting was difficult - such was the bond of their affection.

Arrived at Tyre and stayed there a week with the believers.
Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  214 2023
      He revealed that trials lay ahead rather than the Lord warning Paul not to go.
      Prayed on the beach. Once more reveals the importance of prayer.
      Not an optional extra, but a vital necessity. They needed strength.

After 1 day at Ptolemais, they arrived at Caesarea and stayed with Philip.  840
Agabus correctly prophesied that the Jerusalem Jews would bind Paul
      and hand him over to the Gentiles.  1128 2110,11
      For a Jew to be handed over to Gentiles is a great insult and failure.
      Again all those with Paul pleaded with him not to go on to Jerusalem.
      Paul refused to abandon his objective just because threatened with prison.
            Would we capitulate or flee if threatened with prison - or worse?
            Jesus steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
                  knowing full well the cost.  Lu 951 1322  Heb 122
            Paul practised what he preached.  Phil 37-14  Act 2024
            He often had to flee from a city - when to run and preach another day,
                  and when to stay and face the fire.  Iconium 146  Lystra 1420  Thes. 1710
            The Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer.  540-42
So, was the Lord warning him in order to avoid the trials or to stiffen his resolve?
      They concluded, The Lord's will be done. And it was!
            This was not dull fatalism, 'Whatever will be, will be'.
            They really wanted the Lord's will to be completed - whatever the cost.

                  Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
                  However dark it be!
                  Lead me by thine own hand;
                  Choose out the path for me.
                  Smooth let it be, or rough,
                  It will be still the best;
                  Winding or straight, it leads
                  Right onward to thy rest.

                  I dare not choose my lot;
                  I would not, if I might:
                  Choose thou for me, my God;
                  So shall I walk aright.
                  The kingdom that I seek
                  Is thine; so let the way
                  That leads to it be thine,
                  Else I must surely stray.

                  Take thou my cup, and it
                  With joy or sorrow fill,
                  As best to thee may seem;
                  Choose thou my good and ill.
                  Not mine, not mine the choice
                  In things or great or small;
                  Be thou my Guide, my Strength,
                  My Wisdom, and my All.

Are prophecies today accurate?
How should we test them? It is not just 'wait and see'.
When does human reasoning take over from what God reveals?
Is it always arrogance to ignore the advice of friends?
      e.g. Gladys Aylwood and Jackie Pullinger.
Is suffering, or war, always to be avoided?

Note also:
Paul was also delivering gifts to the poor in Jerusalem.  Ro 1525,26
He would later write to Eph, Col, Philemon, Phil, Timothy and Titus from prison.

Paul Arrested and Imprisoned  2117 - 2632       [Contents]

Arrives in Jerusalem - City Aroused  2117 - 2229

He went to Jerusalem to give a report after his 2nd journey 5 years earlier. 1822
Now he told James and the elders about the 3rd journey. (Similar to 2nd)
      Derbe, Lystra, Ephesus (2½ years then riot), Philippi,
            wintered in Athens, Corinth(wrote Romans),
            return journey and bidding farewell to Ephesian elders.
The Jerusalem Jewish church delighted at Paul's testimony.  2120a
      But was also very concerned about his perceived attitude to the Law.
What was the problem?
      In Jerusalem the vast majority of the church were Jews.
            These Jewish believers remained zealous to the Law e.g. circumcision.
            They welcomed Gentile believers - as proselytes.
      The Ephesian church was largely Gentile.  199,10, 18,19
            They were baptised into Christ; not circumcised to become Jewish.
God's answer to the problem was revealed at:
      Conversion of Cornelius. 1034,35 111-18   43 AD
      Jerusalem Council in 151-21   49 AD
      Peter in Antioch. Gal 211-16   49 AD

While some Jews forgot what God had revealed, Gentiles have been forgetful too.
      e.g. when Gentiles become majority, beware of being arrogant. Ro 1117-22
            Constantine began persecution of the Jews; continued in 'Crusades'.
            He also introduced Babylonian 7 day week with Sunday 1st day (Sun god).
                  Other days after Moon and planets (French), English used Norse gods.
            Gentile customs have become more important than the truth.
            No feast of Tabernacles, 'Easter' (fertility) c.f. Passover, Pagan Christmas,
                  Sunday c.f. Sabbath ...

In Jerusalem, there was not only the problem of the Law in the Church,
      but also the relationship of 'believing' Jews with 'orthodox' Jews.

The Church had been unable counter the rumours concerning Paul.  2121
      The day is yet to come when truth will no longer be subservient to passion.
They were fearful of those who were zealous for the Law,
      and therefor told Paul he should join 4 men taking a 7 day vow.  2124
      This included shaving their heads.  c.f.  Math 65,6, 16-18
      The plan fails after 5 or 6 days. The whole city was aroused!  2130

What arouses us? What makes us cross and irrational? Gossip, spin, road-rage,
      hypocrisy, injustice, blasphemy, intrigue, disloyalty, being tricked ...
      How do we counter these sometimes intense feelings?
      In this, as in all departments of life, we need the Lord and his abundant grace.
      At such times, am I willing to hear a still small voice ?
They twisted the true happenings. They made untrue presumptions.  2128,29
      Beware of phrases 'always' and 'never', or all men everywhere.
When we were married, my wife and I agreed to avoid such words,
      and also to 'never to let the sun go down on our wrath'. Recommended.
Passion can be good; but not when misdirected.  1923-29  Lu 231-25
Wicked men are easily aroused to do wicked deeds. Especially Arabs!  Gen 1612
      And wicked men easily believe lies. No discernment.
Here, the unbelieving Jews were persuaded that Paul was a major threat.
God used the Roman commander and his troops to save Paul.  2131-36
      His work was not yet complete.

Over the previous 22 years Paul had often experienced the courage of God.
      Now, instead of being thankful to be in 'safe custody',
            he asked to speak to the howling mob! Amazingly, he was allowed to.
What did he say? How did he make them be silent? God is amazing.  2140
Paul spoke to them in 'the Jewish language'. i.e. Hebrew.
      (NIV and others use 'Aramaic' = common language of Jews at that time).
      Hebrew emphasised his Jewishness. He began, "I am a Jew."  213a
      Also crowd had to be quiet to understand - Hebrew was their 2nd language.
Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained.  213b
      He was indeed well trained. But it made him zealous murderer!  91 224,5, 20
      The revelation of Jesus Christ made him a zealous missionary.  915,22 2214-16,21
Paul testifies to his extraordinary conversion. And the crowd listened.  224-22a

Suddenly they became offended; why?
Not baptism. 2216 John Baptist was till remembered (25 years) and respected.
      Baptism c.f. Circumcision as a sign of being 'chosen' (believing).  Ro 328-31
Offended that God should also call Gentiles.
      Yet it was the promise of God to Abraham from the beginning;  Gen 123
            though rarely repeated during the next 1000 years!  Ps 7217b  Lu 232  Ruth
      It is so easy to ignore and be blind to what we do not like to see.  Is 308-15
      Reason for offence was that Paul loved the Gentiles; they didn't.  Ezek 34
            He saw that ALL men need to believe in Christ, the one perfect Redeemer.
            Like his Master, he cared; they didn't. (Didn't see their own need either)
So the crowd shouted, "Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live."  2122b
      And they really meant it!  757,58a  Lu 1938  c.f.  Lu 2320,23 428-30
      Arrogant men can become very angry when confronted with their need.
      Satan hates it when anyone cries to the Lord to be saved.
Today, every day, 450 Christians are martyred: considered 'not fit to live'.
But one day the whole earth will sing the praise of Almighty God.

Once again we see how God had prepared his servant Paul in every detail.
      Saved from flogging to extract truth, by being born a Roman citizen. 2225,28
The commander had to pay a big price for his citizenship. Paul paid nothing.
      Jesus had to pay a far bigger price for our citizenship of heaven.
      We pay a price, but is as nothing compared to the price of our forgiveness.
            This is the truth of the mystery in the invitation:

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost
.  Is 551
      The forgiven lady in Lu 7 'wasted' a year's income by anointing Jesus.
            She did a most beautiful thing, and it seemed to her to be 'without cost'.

Before the Sanhedrin  2230 - 2311       [Contents]

Roman Commander releases Paul to stand before Sanhedrin.
      He needed to know what he was accused of.
Begins by saying, My brothers ...
      Clearly trying to 'mend fences' rather than attack.
Sanhedrin offended when he added, I have fulfilled my duty to God ...
      They must have been aroused with much hatred before this statement.
      Illegally struck Paul on the mouth.
      Like Jesus, he then correctly calls them a whitewashed wall.  Math 2327,28
      Then Paul is accused of insulting the High Priest.
            He 'apologises'. This is either
            a) Sarcasm. If you are High Priest, you should behave like one.
            or  b) Possibly didn't realise Ananias was presiding due to poor eyesight.
Paul then uses a classic defence - divide enemy and see them destroy each other.
      He spoke the truth, he did not lie or deceive: I am a Pharisee ...
            and stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.  2316
      It worked! There was a great uproar. The trial was quickly ended.
      If the Sanhedrin had not been so 'aroused', they would have realised his rouse.
God's way of dealing with such problems is intriguing!
      This not the first time that the Almighty has put his enemies into confusion.
            Babel Gen 119   Midian Judg 722   Edom, Amon, Moab 2 Ch 2022,23

Paul is taken back to the Roman barracks for his protection.
      Under the circumstances he was probably asking, 'Lord, what next?'
      It was not the first time he had been 'detained'.  1623

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage!
As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.
This appearing would be very significant for the future.
      i.e. Like Peter in prison, Paul would know he was protected by God.  126,7
      When in a storm near Malta, he told them they would not drown.  2734
      He would be confident that his ministry was not yet complete.
What was the purpose of his ministry? To testify about Jesus.
      Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  1 Co 125
            Why the 'power'? All men are born corrupt and unable to save themselves.
            Why the wisdom? Only God could conceive and execute such a rescue plan.
      Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Co 22
      That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.  1 Co 151-3
      If only the church had the same goal today.
            But all too often it is more concerned with popularity and politics.
      How can we have the same goal as Paul?

Plot to Kill Paul is Foiled  2312-35       [Contents]

Next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy.  2312
History is an endless collection of intrigue, deception and war.
      In spite of our contrary longings, men seem unable to live together
            with real love, honesty and truth.
      Satan's lying nature is seen so often to predominate among men.  Jn 844
      One day when we look for righteousness and justice, it will be seen.  Is 57 22

Some Jerusalem Jews saw Paul as a major threat to their Jewish tradition.
Why does revelation so quickly degrade to become mere religion?
      Religion can be inherited easily; it concerns the Law, culture and behaviour.
      But faith costs; especially to the proud.
      Every man must admit his need of salvation
            and receive the fresh revelation of God's truth.
      Compare the 'religious' Pharisee and the 'unworthy' Tax-man.  Lu 189-14
How do we respond to any threat to our church tradition?

What did Paul desire for his brethren? How did he see them?
That they too might be saved.  Ro 92-5
      Did Abraham have one son or two?  Gen 222  Ro 98
      Were both Isaac's sons loved by God?  Ro 913  Gen 2529-34
      Like his Master, Paul is deeply distressed that so many refuse God's offer.
            For each man the day of opportunity is often very brief.
            Yet our testimony is that God remains patient and merciful.

These 40 Jews hated Paul so much they vowed to kill him or starve to death!
      (God protected Paul, so presumably they broke their vow.)
'It just happened' that Paul's nephew heard of their plot (a friend of the elders?).
      The plans of God are amazing:
            what he does - and also what he does not do or prevents.
      After telling Paul, he told the Roman barracks Commander.
      And the rest, as they say, is history.
Paul was taken under night escort 28 miles to Antipatris.
      200 soldiers, 200 spearmen, 70 cavalry; a horse for Paul and a letter for Felix!
      Next day the soldiers returned (10 hours march in full kit on successive days)
            and the cavalry + Paul continue the 30 miles to Caesarea.
Luke records the letter in full. The trial case notes so far.
Paul was kept under guard in Herod's palace nearby to await trial.

The Trial before Felix  241-27       [Contents]

5 days later Ananias, Tertullus (lawyer) and elders arrive.
After initial flattery to Felix, Tertullus makes 3 charges; all false:

      1. Sedition in the Roman empire was treason.
            It was not Paul, but the Asian Jews that aroused the crowd.  2127 2221,22
            It was the Jews who conspired, not Paul.  2312
      2. Leader of an illegal 'Nazarene' sect.
            Believing Jews were not a sect, but 'completed'.
            They knew what God had promised and prophesied had been fulfilled.
            As Abraham saw the day of Jesus the Redeemer, so did Paul.  Jn 856
      3. Tried to desecrate Temple.
            The truth was quite the reverse. Join men making vow.  2126
            The Jews presumed unsubstantiated rumours.  2129

What was the real reason for the uproar and their accusations?
      Paul's sure and certain hope in the resurrection of the dead.
      The Jews had no longing for God's forgiveness and saw no need.
      They had no revelation of God's purpose of the Old Testament,
            no desire for the fulfilment of the prophets.
      Sadly, it would seem that many church leaders today are in the same boat.

The elders perjured themselves asserting that the false charges were true.

Paul's defence  2410-21
      1. Went to Temple to worship, not to argue or stir up a crowd.
            No evidence of this.
         Came to Jerusalem to bring gifts for the poor and to present offerings.
      2. I believe everything that agrees with the Law
            I am a 'follower of the Way'.
                  The Way was not a new sect, but Jews who believed their scriptures.
            I have the same hope as the prophets
                  in the resurrection of both righteous and wicked.
            When before Sanhedrin I shouted that I was being tried for believing
                  in this sure and certain hope. Is this a crime? No!  1 Jn 51-13  Heb 619
                  All the revered men of faith in the OT had this certain hope.  Heb 111
            But men will try all means to either add or subtract from the Bible;
                  to justify what they say and do.

Felix adjourns case till the Roman Commander Lysias comes - (he never came).
A few days later Felix and his Jewish wife (his 3rd) came and listened to Paul.
      He did not speak about his case, but about faith in Christ Jesus.
            This included:
                  Righteousness - God's action, faith, forgiveness and rebirth.
                  Self-control - Our response, to trust and obey.
                  Judgement - Will Christ be our Advocate? Will he be for or against us?
      How did Felix respond? Frightened!
            Without Christ, man has good reason to fear the judgement of God.
                  Men have always tried in vain to discredit or escape from this truth.
                  Heaven and Hell are both equally real. Jesus taught it.
                  e.g. Lu 1619-31  Math 1028-33  Lu 1511-24  Lu 131-5
            Paul was not afraid to warn Felix and his wife of the impending danger.
                  But God's word to him was like the seed that fell on the path.  Lu 85,12
Felix dismisses Paul until he finds it convenient to resume the conversation.
      So far as we know, it never was convenient. It was merely an excuse.
      Beware of the sin of procrastination. Many have perished thereby.
            "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." - and excuses.
            See poem 'Lord, I have Time' by Michel Quoist.
Paul was kept in prison for two years - so much for justice.
      Felix saw him quite often hoping Paul would offer him a bribe.
      Also he hoped thereby to win favour with the Jews.

The Trial before Festus  251-12       [Contents]

The new governor is anxious to start work.
      Goes straight to Jerusalem (60 miles or 2 days journey from Caesarea).
What was the Jews's most important business of the day? Paul's conviction!
      What determines our priorities? What is our order of importance?
            What I want, what others want, what God wants?
            Is it determined by expedience, finance, pleasure, habit ... ?
            What do I tend to put off doing? And why?
            Priorities of time, attention, expenditure ...
      Ditto for our Government?
Sanhedrin urgently requested a favour - Paul's head!
      They were still fuming and filled with hatred for him. Proof of wickedness.
      Their strategy unchanged - to ambush and kill Paul.
            God has other plans.  2311
Festus was well briefed.
      He insists on an early court hearing in Caesarea for this Roman citizen.

At the trial, the Jews brought many serious charges,
      but no witnesses for any of them.
      Festus recounts them later to Agrippa. 2519   Summarised in one sentence:
      A dispute ... about a dead man named Jesus whom Paul claimed was alive.
So even the Jews admitted that he was being tried about the resurrection.
Paul's simple defence was he had not broken any law - Jewish or Roman.
The Romans had power - plenty of it -
      but popularity makes governing much easier.
      Festus tries to gain it by offering a Jerusalem trial. Why would that help?
      Paul wisely refuses the offer, and appeals to Caesar, as was his legal right.
            At stake was also the future of 'Believers' within Judaism.
            Or would they become a separate religion legalised by Rome?
Festus has no option but say, to Caesar you will go!

Paul before Agrippa  2513 - 2632       [Contents]

Festus discusses Paul's case with visiting King Herod Agrippa II.
Admits he doesn't know how to deal with this unusual 'religious' case.
Agrippa desires to hear Paul, so Festus arranges this.  2522
Many likenesses to the trial of Jesus:
      No witnesses (two must agree). No breaking of the Law.
      Only a 'religious' charge. Much shouting that he deserves death!  Jn 196
Agrippa also reveals the problem of sending Paul to Caesar Nero,
      but as yet, without any specific charge of breaking Roman Law.  2527
They gave permission for Paul to speak for himself.
      Agrippa was well acquainted with Jewish customs.
      I, Paul, lived as a Pharisee - the strictest sect of Judaism.
      I am on trial for my hope in what God has promised our fathers.  267
      They are hoping for the same future as they earnestly serve God.
      Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?  268
            (Consider Jewish history and the prophets.)
      I once thought it my duty to oppose the name of Jesus.
      Then on one persecution journey I saw a blinding light and Jesus spoke to me.

"I am Jesus whom you are persecuting ... I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven ...

I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But ... I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen - that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."  2615-23

These statements from Jesus and Paul concerning the God's 'rescue plan'
      are very clear. They contain all the essential elements.
But it was too much for Festus. So he accused Paul of being mad.
      This is one of the many ploys men use when confronted with the truth.
Paul then asked Agrippa if he believed the prophets. He 'ducked'.
Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?  2628
      So like Felix and then Festus, he too missed his day of opportunity.         
      Would he have made the same remark if he had been alone?
Jesus had prayed for his accusers; now Paul does so too.  Lu 2334
      He longs that they might be saved.  2629
Together they concluded that Paul had done nothing wrong.  2631
      They even wanted to set him free; if only he had not appealed to Caesar.
      Pilate had come to the same conclusion in the trial of Jesus.  Jn 1838 196b

The Journey to Rome and Shipwreck  271 - 2810       [Contents]

Centurion Julius in charge of taking Paul and other prisoners to Rome.
Accompanied by Aristarchus (1929) and Luke ('us' 272)
Julius was kind to Paul. Allowed to see friends when then stopped at Sidon.
Changed ship at Myra to one going direct to Rome.
Slow going with contrary winds. Only to Crete in Oct.
Paul warns them of danger if they continued in winter months.
   But they did not listen. He was a Pharisee; not a mariner.
   Do not despise good advice from one we think a lowly source.  Exd 1817,24
Lured by favourable wind, they sought a better harbour, but sudden storm.  2713
   Do not presume in the plan of God today's sunshine will continue tomorrow.
            Not pessimism; but be prepared, not complacent.  Math 2510  1 Thes 53
            What do we and our nation deserve? God is so patient and gracious.
Luke gives details of the fearsome storm and the crew's despair.
Eventually Paul speaks to them all:
   You should have taken my advice ...
            This was not so much 'I told you so', but a good reason to listen now.
   Keep up your courage, because none of you will be lost.
      Only the ship will be destroyed.  2721,22
How did Paul know this?
   He had the assurance of God (faith).  2725
   The Lord himself said he would testify to him in Rome.  2311
   And an Angel confirmed this (and more) the previous night.  2723
Also the ship must run aground on some island. 2726
Ship was battered by storm for 14 days - Did they still believe Paul's prophecy?
Sailors display good seamanship - but also selfish 'every man for himself'.
Paul realises that the escaping sailors were needed to save all 276 men onboard.
   Centurion heeds Paul's advice. Cuts away ship's boat and then they ate food.
   Paul reminds them of God's power and promised protection.
Ship was indeed destroyed and amazingly all survived the swim ashore.  2744
   God always keeps his word.

Maltese were very kind - built fire and later furnished us with supplies.  282,10
Paul bitten by viper. On Catholic Malta fatalism, superstition is still rife.  284, 6b
Extreme fatalism is rough justice. "He only got what he deserved."
   Usually reveals hatred of the speaker!
   See how Jesus deals with fatalism.  Lu 131-5
Paul did not die. God's plans don't change because of a little snake!
Neither did the father of Publius. He was healed by God, as were many others.
   But sadly, there is no record of any of them repenting or believing.  Lu 1631

In Rome  2811-31       [Contents]

After wintering in Malta his journey to Rome was easy and without event.
He had longed to go to this centre of the empire.  Ro 111-13
   From it all roads radiated. What an opportunity for the Gospel!
   He had written to them nearly 3 years earlier in 57 AD
John Stott writes that Luke called his gospel, "From Galilee to Jerusalem"
   and Acts, "From Jerusalem to Rome".
   Both were vital journeys.
Paul lived under house arrest.
He called Jewish elders to explain his arrest: not guilty of any crime.
   Then why was he brought to Rome?
   Because of the hope of Israel. 2820 266
            i.e. the hope and expectation of the prophets for Messiah / Saviour.
The Roman Jews had received no letters from Jerusalem. 2821
   'Out of sight, out of mind'?
   They seemed curious rather than eager for truth. Arranged a meeting.
Paul preaches all day ! 2823
   He explained that Jesus had established the kingdom of God.
   And that Jesus fulfilled all that the Law and the Prophets proclaimed.
            As Jesus did with Emmaus two and then with the apostles. Lu 2426,27, 45-47
Some were convinced ... others would not believe (stubbornly refused). 2824
   The latter left when Paul quoted Is 69,10 and concluded,
            Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation
            has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen! 2828
   This verse is an excellent summary of Acts.
Once more it was first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. 1346 186 198-9
   It should not be forgotten that these early missionaries were Jews
            and that many Jews also believed.
   Why do some hear and others reject the opportunity of God?
   Why do some call on the name of the Lord, and other see no need?
In the providence of God Paul became his witness in Rome.
   He had escaped endless trials in Judea, assassination by Jews, drowning,
            killing by soldiers, and a viper's poison.
God's revealed plan prevailed!  2311  Ps 3310,11
Here, as with Pharaoh, Haman and Herod, Satan's obstructions are seen to fail.

For two years Paul preached the kingdom of God
   and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.  2831
   Like Noah, Paul obeyed all that the Lord instructed him to do.

Epilogue       [Contents]

After two years Paul was released for a while before being re-arrested.
   He was executed in 64 AD.
   He had fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.  2 Tim 47
May we learn and do likewise.

"Nothing proves the sincerity of our beliefs
   like our willingness to suffer for them."

Church history in the following 200 years shows:
   Tradition, speculation and truth in an ongoing war.
   Persecution under Nero 67 AD, Domitian 81 AD, Trajan 108 AD
   Leadership of Polycarp , Ignatius, Augustin ...
But Christianity survived; the scriptures defined and unchanged. God wins!
   But truth was mingled with politics, especially with and after Constantine.
   The Roman church became corrupt, anti-Semitic, and added multiple errors
            to the truth of Scripture and to salvation by faith in Christ alone.

God has maintained his true witness for the last 2000 years,
   and he will continue to do so.

'Acts' is well named.
   It is not the 'Acts of the Apostles' - emphasising apostolic ministry.
            Only Peter and then Paul are chronicled in any detail.
   It is not the 'Acts of the Holy Spirit' - a favourite Charismatic title.
   It is not even the 'Acts of Jesus Christ'.
It is the Acts of God with men.
   It's purpose is to transform men by spreading God's rescue plan.

What have we learned of the purpose of Acts in the Scriptures?
   That we should know how the Gospel was spread to Asia Minor and S.Europe.
   That in gratitude to our Redeemer, we should learn to follow their example.
   We can see how God orders the affairs of men, and have confidence in him.
   It reveals how salvation was revealed to some, and rejected by others.
   It tells us much about the nature of the Gospel.  e.g. 2618, 23 238,39 1034-43