The Book of Acts
Dr. W. Noble King
Bethany Nazarene College
All Rights Reserved
This document consists of
notes taken by students who attended Dr. King's class at Bethany Nazarene
College. The notes therefore reflect student response to Dr. King's lectures
and do not necessarily represent fully or accurately his thought in all
respects. Two of Dr. King’s students sent their Book of Acts class
notes to me. One is Paul F. Harper of Smith Center, Kansas. His arrived
on July 27, 2000. The other is Don Moore of Mount Lake Terrace, Washington.
His arrived on April 1, 2001. The notes compliment each other wonderfully.
The books of Matthew, Mark,
Luke and John are four viewpoints of one Gospel; a perfect picture of Jesus.
The first three are synoptic; meaning seeing together, that is, similar
in context. The fourth stands alone. It sets forth Jesus in a special
way as the divine Son of God.
Matthew wrote primarily
for the Jews. It begins with a Hebrew genealogy. It proves that Jesus
descended from Abraham and David. He is the promised Messiah.
The key to this book is the Old Testament scripture.
Mark wrote for the Romans
primarily. This was the first Gospel written. It begins with
Jesus as the Son of God, then presents him as a man of power, action; in
short the Master of every situation. Every where there is rapidity
of action and brevity. The key word is power.
Luke wrote for the Greeks
and Gentiles. The genealogy of Jesus is traced to Adam. The
human traits and qualities of Jesus are set forth. Genesis 3:16,21.
Jesus is the generic head of the race. It is the universal gospel
and filled with human traits, needs, and redemption. Jesus is the
Savior of both the Jews and Gentiles. Luke’s symbol is a man.
John wrote for the Christian
church primarily. His purpose is to prove Jesus is the Son of God,
in splendor and in power (John 20:31). John proves this by Jesus’
discourses and his works. The key is the deity of Christ
The Book of Acts
The four Gospels tell us
of Jesus, but they stop with the giving of the Great Commission: "Go ye
into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
The four Gospels are the foundation, and the book of Acts tells us how
the building was erected. It is "the acts of the Holy Ghost through sanctified
men and women.
The book of Acts is thus
the sequel to the four Gospels, but especially the book of Luke.
The same human author wrote Acts. Luke and Acts could be studied as one.
Both books are addressed
to the same patron, who was evidently a Gentile Christian of eminent position
by the name of the Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1).
Gentile Christianity was
Luke’s main burden. Little is said of Hebrew evangelism or of the
mother church of Jerusalem.
After the first chapter the
only Apostles named are Peter, James, John, and James the Less. What
we are told of them is chiefly in regard to taking the Gentiles into the
Church (Luke 2:30, 13:29; 14:23 15:11). This is the main burden of
the book of Acts. Peter and John went to Samaria to preach to non-Jewish
Christians. Peter was sent to Cornelius house to preach to them and
he later states to the Jewish Church that God had granted to the Gentiles
repentance (Acts 11:18). Philip, the deacon, preaches to the Samaritans
and the Ethiopian Eunuch and to Greeks at Antioch.
The history of the conversion
of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ and admission into the church as
heirs jointly with Israel through the preaching of the Apostles takes up
the last sixteen chapters of the book. The writer traces in those
chapters the history of Gentile Christianity through about 20 years of
the life of St. Paul. During the last 11 or 12 of those years Luke
himself was Paul’s companion (Chaps. 16: 10-17, 25:15; 21:1-18, 27:1-28:16).
We have already said that
Luke wrote the book of Acts. Luke does not appear to have been a
Jew or to have seen Jesus in the flesh. He did write two books.
The statement that he had
perfect knowledge of all things from the first does not mean personal presence.
He could have gathered it from others who were present. Luke 1:2
tells us how he got his perfect knowledge: “Even as they delivered them
unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the
Details of Acts 1:1-9 agree
closely with Luke 24:28-51, that is, he carried the closing statements
of his first book over and to a second book.
We do know a few things
with regards to Luke of the uncircumcision, (a gentile and a physician),
therefore not a Hebrew. Colossians 4:14 states that he was the constant
companion of St. Paul during much of his travels. (See 2 Tim. 4:17; Acts
Luke evidently wrote the
book of Acts during Paul's first imprisonment in Rome where he was evidently
with him all the time from 61 to 63 A D (Acts 28:30). From then on
we have little knowledge of Paul and of Luke. In 2 Tim. 4:11 Luke
is still with Paul. If this book were written at Rome during Paul’s
last imprisonment two years later, then Luke was with him to the end.
“Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he
is profitable to me for the ministry.”
Notice a few events leading
to the ascension:
The commandments or directions
given by our Lord to the disciples are found in Luke 24:49, Matt. 28:19-20,
Mark 16:11-18, John 21:1-22, Acts 1:3-8.
Many infallible proofs of
the Resurrection were given. There was no question with regard to
Jesus’ resurrection and his appearance and accession. He was seen
of them and he talked to them and they to him. Some had handled him.
They saw him ascend up into heaven.
After his disappearance
two heavenly figures appeared and told them that Christ was to come again
just as they had seen him go.
Other proofs mentioned and
referred to are found in Acts 10:41; 1 Cor. 15:5-8. Those proofs
were accepted by the most spiritual, sane, and greatest generation of men
the Christian church has ever produced.
Further notice, please.
Jesus charges to them before his actual departure.
They were not to depart from
Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49,
Acts 1:8). They were then to pass from Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria
and to the uttermost parts of the earth. This was according to Micah.
4:2 and Isa.2: 3.
Afterward they asked him
a question: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to
Israel?” (Old expectations, of an immediate temporal kingdom).
Jesus did not say there
would be no such Kingdom. The time was not for them to know (Acts
The time of the end is always
spoken of as hidden (Matt. 24:36, Mark 13:32, 1 Thess. 5:1-2, 2 Pet. 3:10a).
In the meantime your task
is to witness and to testify for me (Acts 1:8,22; 4:33; 10:40,42; 13:31;
Luke 24:48). They were to be so fixed up inside that they would not
run away when the battle got hot.
Now notice his departure:
There were 500 on the Mount
of Olives and who talked with him. He was suddenly taken up into
Heaven and disappeared into the clouds.
As they stood gazing transfixed
from what they had just and by what had just happened they became aware
of two angels or men who appeared before they realized it seen two men
in white apparel go up into heaven. There were appearances similar
to those in Genesis 18:2, Joshua 5:13-15, and Judg. 13:6,8,10-11).
Those two angels delivered
their message: "Ye Men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?
This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come
in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The
disciples then returned to Jerusalem and spent time in the temple rejoicing;
which is a proper picture of regeneration. They were in the upper
room praising the lord.
Mary, the mother Jesus was
there, not as an object of worship, but as a humble worshiper with the
others. She was not worshiped. There was no distinction made.
Jesus’ brothers after the
flesh were also there (Matt. 13:55; Acts 1:14). James, Joses, and
Simon were all converted after the resurrection.
In the upper room they elected
by a lot a successor to the office of Judas. Peter took the lead
(Acts 1:15ff). Regarding Judas, he said:
He was numbered with us.
He had a part in this ministry
By transgression he fell
He was guide to them that
A field was purchased with
the reward of iniquity (1:18, Matt. 27: 5).
His body was mangled when
he hit the rocks below. He also hung himself (Matt. 27:5).
His bishopric was given
to another; that is, his church office was given to another. There
are three suicides in the Bible: Saul, first king of Israel, fell on his
sword; Ahithophel, David’s father-in-law, hung himself: Judas, Jesus’ Apostle,
There are four lists of
the twelve Apostles in their order (Matt. 10:2-5): Simon Peter, Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus,
Thaddeus, Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot.
The second list is found
in (Mark 3:16-19): Simon Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanite,
and Judas Iscariot.
The third list is found in
Luke (6:14-16J Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the zealot, (Canaanite), Judas
(brother or son of James), Judas Iscariot.
The fourth list is found
in (Acts 1:13): Simon Peter, James, John Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew,
Nathaniel, Matthew, James, the son of Alphaeus, Simon, the Zealot, and
Judas, or Jude, the son of or brother of James.
When the day of Pentecost
was fully come they were all with one accord in one place.
The day of Pentecost was
not over, but it was fully come. They had evidently gathered together
for prayer at 9:00 A.M. This was also the hour of the morning sacrifice.
The Holy Spirit seems to have descended at that hour. They knew it
would come 50 days after the Old Testament paschal lamb that was sacrificed
to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. They also knew the hour.
Peter said it was the third hour of the day (Acts 1:14; 2:1, 15).
Pentecost appeared to have
been first observed in commemoration of the Law at Sinai. That was
50 days after crossing the Red Sea. Pentecost means 50 (Exod.
In the Old Testament, Pentecost
was a day of rejoicing and holy convocation (Deut. 16:10-12; Lev. 23:21).
Christ rose on the first
day of the week. Pentecost was the first day the early church observed
(Acts 20:16, 1 Cor. 16:8).
Christ’s resurrection was
on the first day of the week (Matt.28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19).
The early church observed
the first day of the week, that is, the Church gathered on the first day
for worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10).
Pentecost is a carry-over
from the Old Testament (Lev. 23:34).
They were all in one place.
They all included about 120; possibly about 500 were told to go to Jerusalem
and tarry. Where were the 380? It is not clear, but there were 120
in the upper room or in the temple when the Holy Ghost came. The
upper room seems to be the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark.
And Suddenly the flood came
and closed one dispensation and brought in one. Mt. Sinai took place
suddenly and closed one phase and opened another. At the Second Coming
of Christ there will be great and sudden commotion (Joel 2:4). This
Pentecost closed one era and opened another. There were disturbances.
Notice the accompaniments:
The sound as of a rushing
mighty winds that fell on the house and filled it. The noise drew
There appeared unto them
tongues parting asunder like as of fire, or parting among them or distributing
themselves (Luke 24:52-53). It could be that they split 50/50 in
the temple and in the upper room. The tongues of fire set up on each
of them. They saw the fire. A fiery appearance appeared in
their midst and broke into little sections and distributed among them.
John the Baptist said, "I
indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost
and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). This fiery aspect of the Holy Ghost cleanses
(Mal. 3:2-3; Isa. 6:7).
This fiery presence turned
their words into flames of fiery conviction (Heb.1:7). Thus Peter’s
words burned their way into the hearts of those who heard--the ones who
had crucified Jesus (Acts 2:37). This anointing accompanies in varying
degrees the Holy Spirit’s baptism. The tongue is used as a symbol
of the flame of fire and has nothing to do with the gift of languages.
Thus they were cleansed and empowered and filled by the Holy Ghost.
And they began to speak
with other tongues or languages, there and then understood; no interpreter
was needed (Acts 2:6,8). Languages like at Pentecost only occurred
three times in the New Testament:
Luke emphasized that the
Gospel was for all men and carefully records those three times. The
great commission is stated twice (Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8). The Jews
said: "Every Hebrew creature”. Christ told them to take it to the
Jews, then the Jews would take it to the Gentiles: Now that great
commission is demonstrated in a practical matter.
To all Jews in the world
as they heard them speak in their own dialect or languages at Jerusalem.
To all Gentile proselytes
of the Hebrew faith in and out of Palestine, as was demonstrated at the
household of Cornelius (Acts 10:46).
It was demonstrated to the
Gentiles, who had nothing to do with the Hebrew religion, both in and out
of Palestine (Acts 19:6). Languages were given to drive home the
Great Commission. No more are stated and no more are needed for the
demonstration that the Gospel was for all men and had been revealed (Rev.
Not one time is a gift of
languages or tongues stated as an evidence of personal experience, or that
if one receives this gift he should enter heaven. There is not a
promise of it in revelation (Psa. 24:3,4; Matt. 5:8). It was prophesied
that Pentecost would purify (Mal. 3:23). Pentecost did purify (Acts
Many people were gathered
together at Jerusalem for the feast at Pentecost. Men out of every
known nation. There were Jews everywhere and a representative number
returned to Jerusalem to attend the religious festivals (Acts 2:5).
Luke mentions seventeen
different groups of people who were present and heard the message.
Some from Rome went back and started the Roman Church. They carried
the message back to their own countries (Acts 2:9-11).
The people were amazed
and were in doubt as to what to make of it. Others said they were
drunk. Peter addressed them: "Ye men of Israel . . . ”. That
phrase includes every Hebrew there present from every point. Every
man from every tribe of Jacob was addressed (Acts 2:14, 22). This
is an historic citation to prophesy, as the Jews were called Israel.
Peter refers to the prophecy of Joel with regard to the Second Coming,
at the beginning of the millennium to describe this wonder. They
understood that. They did not understand this. He took a known
to describe an unknown. Not a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, but
the outpouring of all flesh at the Second Coming.
The Spirit was poured out
upon all flesh in Joel, but he is not to be poured out on the unsaved.
Three times the Spirit is poured out on all flesh in the Bible.
Upon Adam and Eve.
Upon Noah and his family
and after the flood.
And at the beginning of the
Christian reign on earth; it was not the fulfillment, but the same thing.
Joel had said: “This is that . . .”.
Peter drives home the fact
that they murdered Christ. Superior intelligence does not get sanctified
any quicker than one with low mental intellect. Peter declares that
God raised Christ from the dead. It was not possible that death could
hold him. Why? Because of the Union of God and Man in one Person.
“In him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Because the scriptures
said that Jesus would rise; thus the Scripture could not be broken.
Peter then proves Christ
to be the promised son of David. He was to occupy David's throne,
and yet he was not David's son but rather David's Lord, being God’s Son.
This sermon convicted them
sorely and they then asked what they could do? Peter told them to
repent and they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. They evidently
repented, for there were added 3000 souls that day to the Church.
The early church at Jerusalem
reverted to a practice that they never repeated, namely, selling and pooling
This was made necessary,
possibly as those who accepted Christ lost their property and they had
to be cared for by those who had property.
The emergency measure reduced
the church to poverty and it had to be supported by the Gentiles. Some
of the saints in Jerusalem were referred to by Paul as “poor saints”
(Acts 24:17;Romans 15:26,27)..
Wealth is not to be handed
over to the Church, but held personally by its members and used by them.
In chapter 3 we again have
Peter and John in the foreground.
The hour of prayer, the
ninth hour, Peter and John go to the temple to pray. Those two are
still together a great deal.
Their relationship goes
back to the fishing business. Luke tells us that Peter, James, and
John were partners in the business (Luke 5:6).
Zebeddee's sons were with
Peter at the Transformation, at the rising of Jairus’ daughter, at Gethsemane,
and they struck off together at Caiaphas’ Hall the night of the trial.
They were at the empty tomb together on the Resurrection morning (John
20:24), and on the late fishing trip together after the Resurrection (John
After Pentecost there were
together in the Church’s marching against her enemies.
On their way into the temple
to pray at the gate “Beautiful.” that is, the Eastern Gate at the
outer entrance, they saw a beggar. A beggar was not allowed to go
too for in.
As Peter and John are approached,
possibly unknown to him, the beggar asks for help. He was watching
Peter and John and asked help from them. They were almost broke.
Their reply was: "Silver and gold have I none; but such I have give I thee:”
In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3:6).
The results were:
He was instantly healed:
doubly healed and taught to walk. He walked and danced around.
He took the Apostles by the hand and entered into the temple with them.
Peter drove the point home.
He emphasized that the healing was by Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus healed
in his own name” "I say unto thee." But Peter did so in the name
In amazement, all the people
ran together to the place called Solomon’s Porch, greatly wondering.
This gave Peter a crowd and an opportunity to preach his second sermon.
That sermon had two divisions:
(1) His explanation:
The God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob has glorified his son Jesus.
This son was delivered to
death by you, when Pilate wished to release him.
You therefore, have killed
the Prince of life.
God raised him from the
dead and we are witnesses of that fact.
It is through faith in his
name that this man is healed.
(2) His application:
Ignorance entered into your
action (1 Cor. 2:7-8).
God fulfilled prophetic
statements of prophets in regard to his son.
Now you had better repent
The heavens must retain
Jesus until the time of his return.
You are the children of
the promises that God made through all the prophets.
God has therefore presented
the gospel to you first. Therefore turn from your iniquities.
A general discussion follows.
The priests and Sadducees
came upon them. The said they were drunk. Now they offered
They were grieved that they
taught the people and preached Jesus and his resurrection.
They laid hands on them
and bound them until the next day. Peter and John faced opposition
The next day they were brought
out of prison and set before a group of rulers, elders, and scribes, and
Annas and Caiaphas, John and Alexander and the other kindred of the high
priest (Acts 4:5-6).
They were asked questions.
“By what power, or by what
name, have ye done this?” Peter replied courteously, “Ye rulers of
the people, and elders of Israel, . . .”. Then, he was made whole
by faith in Jesus name (Acts 4:10). Peter then stated that this was
the stone rejected by “you builders, which is become the head of the corner”
(Acts 4:11). Not only so, but Peter pointed out that under only one
name could salvation come.
Illustration: Phillip Brooks
told the gospel to Helen Keller, when she was able to understand it.
She said in reply, “Is that his name? I’ve known him for a long while."
This was directed to them
personally. They had shut themselves out and would remain out by
rejecting that name.
Jesus stood before this same
Annas and Caiaphas at his trial. Caiaphas had rent his garments in a carnal
fit against Jesus, when Jesus said he was the Son of God. Annas was
his father-in-law Caiaphas (Luke 3:2, John 11:49, Matt. 26:57,65).
They thought they were through with this business of Jesus-not so!
Jesus and truth are alike--difficult to get rid of. Their difficulty
is just now starting and further augmented by their continual rejection
of the truth (Matt. 13:11, Luke 12:12; 21:14-15). We find that Jesus’
promise to them holds good, in that he had said, “But before all these,
they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up
to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers
for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what you shall
answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries
shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21:12-15.) This promise
is sustained in Acts 4:8-12.
They commanded them to leave
the council and conferred amongst themselves.
They admitted the miracle-as
it was an outstanding one-a public figure. They recognized the importance
of rejecting it.
To suppress the knowledge
of it; they recalled them and threatened them and commanded them to speak
no more in the name Jesus. They did no more than this for they feared
the people (Act 4:17-18).
Peter and John gave them
their reply in a question: “Is it right to listen to you or God?”
They further threatened them and turned them loose and all the people praised
They returned to their own
company and told all that had happened and they together praised God.
The Holy Ghost was on each of them (Acts 4:31).
An early praise and prayer
meeting (Acts 4:24-30). We then have a record of an early endeavor
to solve a poverty problem that grew up in the Jerusalem Church.
Those who owned property sold it and brought the money to the apostles
and the apostles distributed it. Barnabas' appears here . He had
land in Cyprus and sold it.
A tragic and interesting
side light is flashed in on us in regard to the early Church. Their
giving was voluntary on the part of each. They could give all, or
part, or none at all.
Two people were in the group
who wanted to appear to do what others were doing and keep their property.
They wanted to have the impression that they were giving all. They agreed
to retain some before they went to the Church.
Annas came in and Peter
accused him of lying to the Holy Ghost in pretending to give all when he
gave only a part. He instantly died, his heart stopped. His
wife, Sapphira, came in later and left the same impression and got the
same accusation. She died also! (Acts 5:1-9). This is what God thinks
What a strange example of
conjugal unity. One in the Jewish religion. One in their conversion
to Christianity. One in hypocrisy. One in their terrible death.
One in their common grave. One in the undying record of their guilt
in the book which is read by every nation under heaven (Pulpit Commentary,
Acts, VI, 158).
This destruction of two
liars had three effects:
It impressed the whole Church
with a fear and awe.
It impressed all who knew
outside the church in a fearful way.
It probably stopped persecution
for the time being at least.
Acts 5: 11-22:
A great wave of healing and
miracles followed. God demonstrated that the infant Church was a
child of his planting. They were in the habit of assembling in Solomon's
Porch and preaching-teaching-healing there. By the hands of the Apostles
signs and wonders where wrought (Acts 5:12). One effect of these
miracles and wonders was that the Jews looked with reverence and awe on
the little Church and feared to join them. Thus the unsaved were
kept out, and those who would join from curiosity for idle purposes (Acts
5:14, John 9:20-22). The destruction of Ananias and Sapphira added
to this fear of the unsaved to join them. This was one way God used
to keep people who were not genuinely converted out. God used this
to keep the church pure (Acts: 5:13). They brought the sick into
the street so a shadow of Peter might fall on them and they were healed
This great wave of miracles,
etc., again aroused the religious leaders. The high priest rose up
being filled with indignation, envy, and jealousy. They laid hands
on them and put them in prison, they evidently were rather rough (Acts
5:18). Caiaphas the high priest was a Sadducee. The Sadducees
did not believe in angels, resurrection, or in spirits (Acts 23:8ff).
Thus Caiaphas and his group were indignant at the defiance of their authority
and at the success of that which they wished to destroy. They must
now destroy it or they themselves will be destroyed in the eyes of the
people. They declared war, so the war was on.
This common prison was really
the common public ward. At night the Angel of the Lord came and opened
the door and let them out. Sometimes God takes us out, at other times
he leaves us in trouble. God’s will dictates this. The Lord
told them to preach in the temple (Acts 5:19-20). The early Church
needed those wonders to impress the people that this was of God.
Early the next morning the
high priest called the Sanhedrin (72 men) together with the Senate, and
rulers of the people, to decide what to do with the disciples. God,
however, had decided for them (Acts: 5:21). After they met together,
they sent for them but they were gone (Acts 5:22-23). The captains
and the officers brought them without violence to the council, because
they feared the people. The high priest said, “Did we not straightway command
you that ye should not teach in this name?” They had said in Matt.
27:25: “His blood be on us, and on our children.” The blood of all
the martyrs rested on that generation (Matt 23:35). Peter and the
others replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
They claimed to be God’s representatives, but were speaking against God.
Peter referred to the Resurrection and the exaltation of Christ and said
it was through him and him alone that salvation had come. They were
cut to the heart and wanted to kill them (Acts 5:30-32). Notice the
advice given by Gamaliel, the instructor of St. Paul and a Pharisee.
He believed all those things. He advised to put them off for a period.
If it is of God we don’t want to fight God, and if it is of men it will
of itself come to naught. They accepted his advice and called the
disciples. They further threatened them, beat them, and turned them
loose. They rejoiced and taught in the temple and from house to house.
In the early days at Jerusalem
the number of the disciples was greatly increased. They were reaping
what Jesus had sown. Jesus had little success in Jerusalem.
The disciples had great success. This success is in part due
to a great influx of outsiders. A problem arose from five to ten
years after the early church started. As the church grew the disciples
added organization. Paul perfectly organized his work. In Jerusalem
this problem had to do with pooled funds for the needy. One group
was thought to be neglected-Grecian widows. They were Hebrews who
had left Palestine and lived among the Greeks. They came back and
they were Jews. Some thought that those who had left Palestine weren’t
as holy as the Jews that had stayed at home. They were Grecian in
There were various groups
to deal with. (1) Those Jews who were never out of the Holy Land
regarded themselves better than those who had left the Holy Land or were
born and raised out of it. (2) Those who belonged to the dispersion.
These had been scattered abroad and had come back home to their own gathering
place or synagogue. There were many of them. Each foreign area
had a synagogue at Jerusalem. So it was with the Grecians widows
that the issue arose. Jerusalem Jews spoke Aramaic, and they spoke
Greek also. The people of the dispersion spoke Greek. The problem
was touchy. When the complaint was registered the Apostles decided
to appoint a committee to attend to it. The people chosen had the
following qualifications. (1) They had an honest report and a good
name. (2) They were full the Holy Ghost and sanctified. (3)
They were full of wisdom. The following seven were chosen.
All had Grecian names. (1) Stephen was gifted and trained even as
Paul was. (2) Philip also made good and became a famous evangelist.
(3) Prochorus, (4) Nicanor, (5) Timon. (6) Parmenas, (7) Nicolas,
a proselyte of Antioch, possibly the Judas of the seven. Some believe
that he founded the Nicolaitanes condemned by John in Rev. 2:6, 15.
John severely denounced them.
Stephen early became famous
in the Church, as he seemed to have all the gifts and graces that the Apostles
had. He got into a discussion at the foreign synagogue in Jerusalem.
It was where the Libertines, Cyrenians, and Alexanderians and them of Cilicia
and Asia worshiped. Stephen worsted them badly and they failed in
the debate with him. They then procured false men to wrist his meaning.
They said he spoke against this holy place--the temple and the synagogue
and the Law. They said that Jesus was going to change the customs
The Hebrew Christians were
observers of Moses, the Law and Christ (they had faith in Christ); hence
they did not raise a stir in the camp. Stephen saw that Christ was
predicted by Moses. Christ must increase and Moses must decrease.
Gentile Christianity begins here. The Law was fulfilled in Christ
and salvation was by faith alone. This was far beyond what the Apostles
believed. This discovery started a war. The apostles were more
or less Judaizers--in that they followed the Mosaic Law. For this
Peter was sorely rebuked by Paul in Gal. 2:11-13. Peter once broke
this custom and had to explain it to the other Jewish believers to save
himself (Acts 11:2-3). At the division of the Church in Acts 15:10,
Peter contended for Paul's view in Paul's field only. Paul and the
original Apostles decided to split the world and they did. Paul went to
Jews and Gentiles, while the Apostles went only to the Jews (Gal. 2:7-9).
It was a battle between Christian liberty and Christ alone, opposed to
Christian bondage to the law (Gal. 5:1). Without Stephen and Paul,
we would still be observing Jewish Law. Paul evidently got the truth
The accusations that the
leaders brought against Stephen were that he had spoken against “This holy
place and the Law.” The overthrow was to be accomplished by Jesus
of Nazareth. What Stephen had said was that the Old Order pointed
forward to Christ and had set forth various aspects of his work.
When his work was finished the symbolism was fulfilled. The symbolized
had appeared. They said, “Destroy this place and change the customs
of Moses. Stephen said, “Jesus fulfilled all things relative to the
Mosaic order and carried Moses’ customs to their only possible completion.”
Stephen had good ground for it (Matt. 1:22; 5:17-18). The implication
was that when they were fulfilled then the Mosaic customs would pass away
(Luke 24:49; Acts 13:29; Deut. 18:15, 18; John 1:45; Luke 24:27).
Thus Jesus declared that Moses spake of him. Paul built on that same foundation
(Eph. 4:10; Gal. 5:14).
Stephen drove home three
tremendous truths. (1) God was saving men before there was a tabernacle
in the wilderness and a temple in the Holy Land. God saved Abraham
by faith alone. Isaac was saved by faith, so was Jacob, Joseph, Moses,
and David. The judges and the prophets were saved before that holy
place was erected. Hence that holy place is not essential to salvation.
(2). This so-called holy place was not an end in itself, but a picture
lesson for childish minds. When manhood was attained this place was
no longer needed. Moses wrote of the fulfiller and that fulfiller
placed no value upon it, i.e., the temple, having told some that they would
be cast out of it for his sake. Jesus opened the gates of heaven
regardless of the temple (Luke 10:20, 16:22 24:27; John 9:34-38, 14:6).
Stephen said to them, “Ye are fighting the Holy Ghost, but in doing so
you're merely the children of your father, the devil.” They planned
the destruction of Joseph, Moses, the judges, the prophets, and righteous
kings, who are all God's men (Matt. 23:34-36, Acts 7:51-52). As Stephen
swept through their history driving home his point and clinching those
points; there was another man present who was similar to Stephen in many
ways. Paul was out-talked by Stephen. Paul was the same age
as Stephen 31 years of age. Paul was born raised and trained outside
of Palestine. Both Paul Stephen had a correspondingly broad outlook.
Paul had possibly debated with Stephen and in the synagogues of the Phoenicians
and wanted him killed. Stephen possibly had bested Paul. Paul
is now standing by with the murders' clothes. This possibly made him the
“Official” witness at the execution. This was Saul of Tarsus--the
hope of the high priest and later their despair. This young man got the
platform upon which he stood shot to matches by Stephen’s guns. Believe
me, they were heavy guns too.
Chapter 8 ff.
Stephen’s dying statements
were triumphant (Acts 7:55-56,59-60). After the death of Stephen, a great
persecution rose against the Grecian Church. They were scattered
abroad. This persecution was directed at the Dispersion, for the
most part. The Dispersion consisted of those Jews who had been born
and educated outside of Palestine. They came back to Jerusalem to
worship and then went back to their own homes. Saul went to these
people whom he persecuted. The Twelve were not bothered, but the
Grecians were. Philip was bothered and went down to Samaria. The
religious authorities conceded that their day was passed if Stephen’s preaching
was to gain a wide hearing. The other preachers were considered a
nuisance, but Stephen’s preaching was exceedingly dangerous. Sanctified
people in the Jewish Church were against those who believed in salvation
by faith. They were scattered everywhere, but not the Apostles.
Phillip went to Samaria and had a great revival there. Jesus had failed
here and was expelled, but Phillip succeeded. Philip was a
Grecian Jew; therefore there was not as much opposition. He later
touched an Ethiopian of great rank. He could have been a Jew, not necessarily
a Negro. He came to Jerusalem to worship, therefore must have been
a Jew. Saul was sorely convicted, but instead of yielding to the
Spirit he fought harder.
His reactions were: (1)
He got a letter of authority from the high priest (Acts 9:1-2). Evidently
a number the leaders were scattered abroad. They sought shelter in
Damascus. Saul journeyed there. (2) On this journey, he probably
would go the Southern way and cross the fords of the Jordan near to Jericho.
It was a distance of about 140 miles. It would have occupied about
seven days. The group would probably walk while Saul possibly would
be on horseback.
Saul was then a proud Pharisee
and would probably not enter much into the conversation with servants or
inferiors. Hence he would have plenty of time for reflection.
Seven days with nothing to do but to first nurse the grudge and then to
think about his shattered beliefs and the glorious departure of Stephen.
Seven days of soul blackness as he looked into a shattered future, contending
for what he could no longer believe and thinking about his wise and hearty
teacher’s solemn warning, “Refrain from these men.” His conversion
on the road followed and later he was sanctified when Ananias laid hands
Chapter 9: 19 ff
With the conversion of Saul,
Church history swings from Peter as the dynamic center to Saul, or Paul.
Saul then broke his fast, partook of some food, and remained some time
with the disciples. He had gone to persecute them, and stayed to
worship with them. When the high priest heard of the conversion,
it must have given him a headache. Christ confounded him, Stephen
confounded him, and now Paul, his right-hand man forsakes him for the camp
of his foes. Evidently the first thing that St. Paul did was to retire
to Arabia for three years, and relate Christ death to the Mosaic order
of sacrifices. This probably happened after conversion, and before
he had preached, or between verses 19 and 20. Luke says nothing of this
visit. Paul himself describes it in Gal. 1:17: “Neither went I up
to Jerusalem to them, which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,
and returned again unto Damascus.” It evidently was at Sinai (Gal.
4:25). He then returned to the city where he had been converted and
began to preach. Disciples there knew he had been converted and accepted
him. That was about the only place he could start (Acts 9:20).
He amazed and confounded those who opposed him. He had related his
marvelous knowledge of the Old Testament with the life and the Cross of
Christ (Acts 9:21). As time passed he rapidly increased in efficiency
and confounded the unbelieving Jews at Damascus. He proved to them
that this is the very Christ (Acts 9:22). They later turned against
him and sought to kill him. He is already reaping what he had sown
(Acts 9:23). They watched the gates of Damascus day and night to
get him, but these disciples let him down on the outside of the wall in
a rope basket (Acts 9:25 ; Joshua 2:15).
Saul now visits Jerusalem
as a disciple of the crucified Lord. He wished to join the disciples
there, but they were afraid of him and did not believe he was a disciple
(Acts 9:26). Then gracious figure steps up and tells them all about
Saul's conversion and his actions in Damascus. This was Barnabas.
He was a Levi from Cyprus and sold his possessions for the common benefit
at Jerusalem. One of the most magnanimous, forgiving and warm-hearted
men in the Bible (Acts 4:36-37).
Paul went to the Grecian
synagogue and spoke boldly in the name of Jesus. They set about to
kill him. So the disciples sent him down to Caesarea and from there
to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). Interestingly enough, the Church had rest.
At Damascus he convinced them, but they turned against him .At Jerusalem
he convinced them and they turned against him. He tried to ram it
down their throats like a lawyer. He tried to force them. Before
conversion he stirred up the church. After conversion he stirred
up everything in the church. Who would have then thought that Paul
would later turn the world upside down? He changed his method and
nearly did it, that is, he nearly turned the world upside down. Before
his conversion he stirred up the church and was an instrument in the hands
of the priest. After his conversion he was as much trouble to the
church as before.
Acts 9:32 ff.
Back to Peter until Paul
returns from Tarsus.
Peter is in action healing
the sick; he also raised a dead person. He was on his way through
all quarters visiting and confirming all believers, Grecian Jews at Lydia.
That Lydia near to Joppa where he found a palsied man who had been that
way for eight years. He took him by the hand and said, “Aeneas, Jesus
Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed.” He rose immediately
(Acts 9:34). Peter had a good revival at Lydia. While he was
at Joppa, a lady of Lydia called Tabitha, or Dorcas, sickened and died.
The women sent up a company to Joppa to get Peter. He went to where
she was. They showed him what she had made for the poor people (Acts
9:43). They were wearing the garments that she had made and showed
them to him. Peter put them out and prayed for her, and she
was healed. They then returned to Joppa.
A remarkable incident occurs
in the early Church. We have said that Luke is interested in Gentile
Christianity. The Joppa incident introduces the Cornelius incident:
the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
Cornelius was a Roman soldier of importance, as he was a centurion (100)
of the Italian band. There are 32 bands of the same name in the Roman
Empire. Luke is careful to the utmost limits of possibility to state
the four facts in this case and the fifth fact indirectly. He wants
us to notice them for a definite purpose.
(1) Cornelius was a Roman
soldier under commission from Rome to keep the Hebrews in their place;
an officer of high standing (Acts 10:1-2). (2) Cornelius was a gentile
and his whole household were Gentiles. He was not even born there
but was sent there from Rome. His soldiers were all Gentiles.
(3) Cornelius was already a genuine believer unto salvation. That
was a settled fact in past experience and he was conversing of it to them.
Luke takes time to enforce the fact. He was a devout man and the
Greek means pious, religious and devoted. When the Bible says that
of a man it means that he is not a sinner (Acts 10:2). He feared
God, loved God. He gave much alms to the poor, and he prayed to God;
that is he had set prayer habits. He was converted and was living
a sky blue converted life. God told Peter that he was a saved man
(Acts 10:15b). What God has cleansed that call thou not common.
(4) Cornelius realized that there was still something the matter with his
heart. He prayed and the angel came and told him to send for Peter.
He did so at once.
Luke now gives the plain
facts of Peter's overcoming his narrow Jewish prejudice in the three-fold
vision that God sent him just before the message from Cornelius arrived
(Gal 10:9ff). He was getting him ready to go. “Go, doubting
nothing.” Peter already knew that Cornelius was a proselyte believer,
yet he would not go and preach Pentecost to him. He thought that
Pentecost was a blessing reserved for the Jews alone. He was the
broadest minded of them all. The Spirit told Peter to go to the house
of Cornelius and deliver his message. Peter went and preached and
the Holy Ghost fell upon them. Peter was surprised. While he
was speaking the Holy Ghost fell upon them, while he was finishing up,
that is. They were hungry for the blessing. Peter was narrow
minded, but the others were far narrower in their minds. They call
Peter to account. The curse of nationalism is seen here in the Jewish
attitude to the rest of the world. They thought that God thought
as they did. Peter expected the Holy Ghost to come to the house of
Cornelius but the Jews who were with him were astonished. This news
traveled to Jerusalem immediately by these six men. This news traveled
to Jerusalem like a fire. Peter was at once accused in Jerusalem
(Acts 11:2-3). Peter rehearsed the vision to them. He hid behind
the vision in his own justification (Acts 11:4-15). This was the
baptism with the Holy Ghost just the same as at Pentecost. The “like
gift” was given and that gift was a Person, the Holy Ghost (Acts 11:15-16).
They expressed joy in the fact that the Gentiles had been granted salvation
(Acts 15:8,9). This joy could not have been very deep, as they did
not follow it up and do it anymore.
The Spirit emphasized the
universality of the Gospel at Pentecost. The returning Jews heard
them speak in all the languages then spoken by the scattered Hebrews.
The Cornelius case was again languages; symbolizing the commission is to
all Gentiles of the Hebrew world. The case of the Ephesians in the
19th chapter of Acts shows the Gospel is for all Gentiles every where (Acts
19:1-37). Languages then and there known was an emphasis of the great
commission. It was not an unknown tongue. Peter carried the
Mosaic order over from the Old Testament into Christianity. Paul
did not. Some of them really opposed Paul. In Acts 11, Peter stated
the fact that the Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost. In Chapter
15 Peter gives the proof that the Gentiles had received the truth (15:8-9).
You can now see how Luke made it so definite that Cornelius was a saved
man. He made it clear as well that the disciples were saved before
Pentecost. The gift in both cases was the same and the results were
the same and the evidence was the same. Luke makes it clear that
the Gospel is also for the Gentiles.
Acts 11 ff:
When Peter return to Jerusalem
they of the circumcision contended with him. Acts 11:3. Peter rehearsed
the threefold vision that God had given to him on the housetop at Joppa.
He expounded it by order. He clarified the vision how the Holy Ghost
fell on them at the house of Cornelius (Acts 11:4-17). They held
their peace after they heard that, and expressed joy in that the door of
grace had been open to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18). Luke now swings
back to the Grecians, those of the dispersion after the death of Stephen.
Two groups seem to be together and to work together. The two groups
are a group of Hebrew Jews and a group of Grecian Jews. The
Hebrew group went as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Cyrenia: these were
foreign-born and foreign trained Jews. When they came to Antioch
they preached to the Grecians Jews, and Greeks and everybody (Acts 11:20).
A great revival broken out among the Grecian Jews which started the Church
of Antioch. The home Church at Jerusalem sent down Barnabus after
they heard of this. He was a Grecian born Hebrew. He evidently
was to take over the leadership. He was glad when he saw evidence
of the grace of God. He exhorted them much. Their numbers increased
a great deal.
Then Barnabus went to Tarsus
to find Saul of Tarsus. He found him and brought him to Antioch with
him. They were brilliant at Antioch. Paul was educated, and
answered their arguments of philosophy. For a whole year they labored
at Antioch. There the disciples were first called Christians (Acts
11:13). At that time certain men came from Jerusalem to Antioch,
and prophesied of a great drought. This came to pass in the days
of Claudius Caesar (41-59 A.D.). Relief was raised for the poor brethren
at Jerusalem and sent by the hand of Barnabus and Saul (Acts 11:30).
Paul was converted on the road to Damascus and sanctified at Ananias’ house.
He went to Arabia, then to Damascus, then to Jerusalem, then to Tarsus
and back to Antioch. The Petrine section of Acts is the first 12 Chapters.
The rest of the book deals with Paul.
Acts 13ff. Pauline
Section from chapter 13 forward.
The pagan City of Antioch
became the mother Church, which spread Christianity over the world.
After the persecution at Jerusalem that ended in the killing of Stephen,
many Grecian Jews went to Antioch. This did not give rise to the
church there, but strengthened it. There were good prophets and teachers
there. Barnabas, Simon that was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen
which was brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. (Acts 13:1).
The last three named were schooled at the same school.
This leading of the Holy
Ghost is in everything. The Office of leadership was to recognize
the operation of the Holy Ghost. We are not to determine the direction
of the operation of the Holy Ghost. At a special service, not necessarily
an ordination service, the leaders laid hands on them and prayed and sent
them fourth. It was Paul's custom to ordain elders in all the churches
but it did not seem to be a Jewish habit. The nearest the Jews came
to it was the appointment of the seven deacons to serve.
Those who want a pope to
sit in Rome should follow Paul not Peter. Paul was at Rome and Peter
was not. Paul was head of the Gentile Church and not Peter.
Peter’s division of the Church, that is, the Jews, are dead, Paul’s, that
is, the gentiles is not.
Jesus ordained the Twelve
by calling them: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained
you.” Their call was their ordination. Divine ordination is
the only succession there is. That call is ever preachers' ordination.
The church merely recognizes God ordination.
Salucius founded Antioch.
It is the third city in the world in political importance, Rome being first,
Alexandria is second and Antioch is third. 500,000 make-up its population.
They were chiefly Romans, Grecians, Syrians, and Jews. Antioch was founded
by the successors of Alexander the great. Barnabas' had left for
Tarsus seeking Saul. He found him at Tarsus and brought him to Antioch.
Together they appeared to go to Jerusalem; there they got John Mark, Barnabas
sister’s son, who was led to Christ by Simon Peter after the resurrection
(1 Pet. 5:13; Acts 12:12). The three now leave Antioch and go down
the Orantes River to the Mediterranean and on to Cyprus about a hundred
miles from Antioch. Cyprus was an island. It was added to the
Roman Empire B.C. 59. By Cato. It was raised to a senatorial province
with a proconsul in 22 B.C. The Castle of the proconsul, Sergius
Paulus was at Paphos. This made Paphos the Roman capital of Cyprus.
Barnabas and Saul, and John Mark all landed at the city of Salamis at the
eastern end of the island. This city had a large Jewish population.
The Jews rose in an insurrection and killed 240,000 Salamites. Trajan
in 99 A.D then destroyed the city. No Jew was allowed to land
on the island after that.
They left Salamis and went
to Paphos. At Paphos the Roman proconsul, Sergius Paulus, wished
to hear Paul. There a sorcerer named Elymas withstood Paul in a debate
publicly. This gave Paul his chance. Paul called him a child
of the Devil and more (Acts 13:11). Sergius Paulus accepted Christ.
He was the only recorded convert on Cyprus. No church was organized
They left the island of
Cyprus and returned to the continent by way of Perga. At Perga John
Mark returned home. It was pretty rough. He thought the whole
thing was going to fail, and besides Paul had taken leadership. It
might have been little harder for Mark. (Mark was a spoiled kid in his
earlier days.) Mark was a great favorite with his uncle who was probably
easy with him and Paul was probably just the opposite. Paul did not
want him in the first place. Barnabas was pretty easy with him.
So Mark went home. This was a very serious thing to do, to break
up the party.
Perga was the capital or
at least the chief city of the province of Pamphylia. It had many
Jewish people. It was represented at Pentecost (Acts 2:10).
Thus it was not totally new ground. Nothing of importance happened it Perga.
They left Perga, crossed
the Tarsus range of mountains, and came to Antioch in Pisidia. The
famous Cicilian Pass through the Tarsus range was a pass that the merchants
and armies and travelers would use. In the summer the mountain gorges
were dryer than at other times, but it was the most robber-infested area
in the world. Paul probably refers to this journey in 2 Cor. 11:26.
They then reached Antioch
in Pisidia. The population was made up of four elements: the native
Phrygians, or aborigines; the Greeks-- mostly in the cities; a large Jewish
colony that had been admitted citizenship; Latins, that is, Romans.
In 25 B.C. Roman dominion came. Roman veterans came and settled there.
Here at Antioch in Pisidia Luke appears for the first time.
There being many Jews there;
there would also be a synagogue. There were many principals involved
in synagogue building. It had to face east or toward Jerusalem, or
west or whatever the case maybe. It had to face Jerusalem. The women's
place was in a separate gallery, separated by a thin curtain. Jews
and Gentiles worship together. There was a reader's desk in the middle
somewhere. The Ark, not the original, was at the East End in which
the sacred writings were kept. The seats were all around the building.
The rulers clamored for the chief seats. Prepared prayers were recited
by officers called the angel or the apostle. Sometimes their prayers
were read in the colloquial language. The law was read in Hebrew.
The chosen leader handed it from the ark to the reader. A fixed portion
was read from the Law and then from the prophets. It appears that
the first chapter of Deuteronomy and the first chapter Isaiah were read
on that day. It was customary to ask any able stranger to speak after
the reading of the Law and the prophets. The ruler then sent for
Paul to speak if he so desired. That was what they all were waiting
for. Paul rose and stood where he was and stretched forth his hands
and started speaking. This was the Greek orator’s custom; that is,
using your arms for gestures. This is the first recorded sermon of
Paul. Chapters 13:16 to 41 are fully recorded by Luke, who was with
Paul’s first sermon Acts
The customary opening of
“Men and Brethren or those who feared God.” God brought our fathers
out of Egypt. They suffered there for 40 years in the wilderness.
They destroyed seven nations to make room for themselves. Then God
divided the land by lot.
God gave them Judges 450
years until Samuel. Then God gave them Saul for 40 years. Then
he gave them David, from whose seed God promised the Savior.
John the Baptist preached
repentance and fulfilled his course and introduced Jesus (Acts 13:24-25).
This word of salvation is sent to all who feared God. The Jews in
Jerusalem were blinded and put that Saviour to death and so fulfilled the
scriptures. Jesus was taken down from the tree and laid in the sepulchre,
but God raised him from the dead. He was seen by many who are his
witnesses and we are thus witnessing to you.
Conclusion: Now do not reject
or you shall suffer the consequences related in the same scripture.
The first part met with approval by all, but as he talked of the crimes
of the Jews at Jerusalem, frowns came. He hastily closed with a solemn
warning. Many of the Jews believed that day, and urged them to continue
in the faith. The Gentiles urged that the same words be spoken the
next Sabbath. They were thrilled with it.
This assembly was abruptly
dismissed as though the whole thing was distasteful to the rulers.
The following Sabbath there was enormous crowd at the synagogue.
The strangers began to speak but were constantly interrupted. Paul
and Barnabas told them it was fitting to preach first to the Jews, but
those having rejected the gospel, they would preach to the Gentiles.
Then Gentiles were glad for that word (Acts 13:47-48).
The news of the word of God
travel throughout the region speedily, but the Jews stirred up the devout
and chief women and men of the gentiles who were proselytes. Paul
and Barnabas were expelled from the place. Then they came to Iconium
and were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost was on them (Acts 13:52).
Among the God-fearing that
made the synagogue their Church home were some women of choice station.
They were the wives of magistrates who were influenced by the Jews to influence
their husbands to banish Paul and Barnabas. A note on Paul’s death.
Nero's wife converted. She then left Nero and Nero killed Paul because
Quitting Antioch they journey
to Iconium who held to their original language and customs. Iconium
was 80 miles southeast of Antioch. On arriving there and they proceeded
as they had done at Antioch with similar experiences. There was a
large group of both Jews and Gentiles. Their success displeased the
Jews and the Jewish leaders and they set themselves against them.
They were turned out of the synagogue, but stayed in the city and preached.
Paul preached in the synagogue to some Jews and Gentiles. Evidently
they were later turned out of town by an angry mob. They went to
Lystra. Thus the expulsion from Iconium was good for the surrounding
Lystra was 20 miles from
Iconium to the south. Lystra was not a commercial city. There
is neither synagogue there nor a Jewish community. The population
was composed of Roman garrisons and aboriginal Lycaonian natives.
Their language and religion prevailed.
There was at least one Jewish
family there. Lois and, Eunice; grandmother and mother respectively
and a 15 year-old son, Timothy. His father was a Greek who evidently
was long ago dead. This Timothy was one of the greatest figures ever
won to Christ by Paul (2 Tim. 1:5-3:15; Acts 16:3).
There were no synagogue's
there so they address themselves to the populace. While Paul was
preaching he noticed an intensely interested crippled man. He stopped
preaching and said, “Stand up right on thy feet and he leaped and walked”
The people thought that
the two were patron gods of the country visiting them. They call
Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
They spoke in their Lycaonian dialect and Paul and Barnabas showed no concern
over what they were saying. Their priest immediately got oxen and
garlands and started to sacrifice to them. Then they knew and cried
out in protest. They then condemned idolatry and proclaim the God
of heaven to them. This stirred up the heathen Priest. They
now have both priest and Jews against them (Acts 14:15).
Jews from Antioch and Iconium
then appeared on the scene and found Paul discoursing in the marketplace.
They recognized him. They denounced him to be an imposter.
The populace was easily aroused. Paul was hemmed in then and could
not escape. He was stoned, then drug out and left for dead.
He made his getaway at Iconium, but at Lystra was caught and could not
escape. He was dragged out of the city and left for dead. A
number of the faithful few converts stood around and he suddenly arose,
and stood upright. They evidently sneaked him in the town and out
again and none of the would-be murderers knew he was not dead (2 Cor. 11:23;
Gal. 6:17). The next day with Barnabas they left that unfriendly
town and proceeded to Derby. It was a frontier town and a custom
station. Their journey was uneventful as nothing much recorded as
far as perils were concerned. Their visit was fruitful as they evangelized
the town. Possibly those who stoned Paul were afraid to follow them.
One of the converts was Gaius, who later proved valuable (Acts 20:4).
The homeward journey was
retracing of their steps to establish and to confirm the converts in the
faith and to organize them into a church. From Antioch they passed
through out Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. They preached at Perga
and then moved to Attalia. There they took shipping and to Antioch
in Syria after absence of 2 1/2 years. They had started in the spring
of 47 A.D. And now returning in midsummer 49 A.D.
Acts 15 ff.
What was said of them when
they came to home-base occurs. No doubt the Judaizers in Jerusalem
knew of the travels and successes of Paul and Barnabas in the first missionary
journey. They also knew they had dropped Judaism and preached faith
in Christ alone. A group of Judaizers went down to Antioch and mingled
with the people to influence people's mind against Paul and Barnabas (Acts
15:1). They said, “Except ye be circumcised . . . , ye cannot be
saved.” Thus the old battle- question again came up. The first
time it came up was in the synagogue when Stephen was stoned. This
is the same question again coming up. It came up in a measure when
Peter preached in the home of Cornelius and when Philip preached to the
Eunuch. The Judaizers were forced to back down but they were not
convinced of their error nor yet did they regard the matter as a dead issue.
They were waiting for a chance and here it is. It was now or never.
Peter had gone up to Antioch
possibly to welcome them back. Anyhow, he was there and was mixing
freely with gentile converts and eating with them. When the others
appeared and began to operate and talk around the discussion became strong
and Peter withdrew from the Gentiles and went to the Judaizers. His
example was so powerful that even Barnabas was carried away too, and the
whole cause was about to topple (Gal. 2:11-13, Acts 10:28. The book
of Galatians was written to the Church of that first journey to counteract
those Judaizers among them.
They decided to take the
whole issue to the home Church in Jerusalem and have it settled for all
time. They then traveled to Jerusalem and there declared all that
God had done for and in the Gentiles on that memorial journey. They
were at once challenged by Judaizers at Jerusalem who said, “That it was
needful to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). Those who had gone
to Antioch to stir up trouble said that they could not be saved unless
they kept the Law of Moses. That would make all the work of Paul
and Barnabas a farce. There was much disputing about everything and
because everything now was at stake, even the Gospel itself. For
Paul there was no surrender.
Peter then took up the task
in defense of Paul in faith in Christ alone. He rehearsed his own
experiences in Caesarea, how the Holy Ghost had fallen there and therefore
they must have been saved.
“Why therefore tempt God
by hindering the gentile world with Hebrew ordinances.” Let them
alone as far as that goes. Through the grace of God both believing
Jews and Gentiles can be saved.
Quick to take advantage
of this psychological movement, Paul and Barnabas further emphasize the
work of God among the gentiles. They seem to go into more particulars
than they did at first.
James then arose and closed
the matter with a weak compromise that did more harm than good. He
should have closed the matter entirely in favor of Paul, but did not.
They were to keep themselves
from pollution, idols, fornication, things strangled, and blood, and they
were to remember the poor (Acts 15:20). They knew Paul was right
but they leaned toward the Judaizers, therefore they named a few restrictions
that they need not have named. The Gentiles were not doing these
A letter was written to
the Church at Antioch and certain brothers, Hellenistic, who sympathized
with Paul went up with them. The two best known were Judas surnamed
Barnabas, and Silas. This Judas was a brother to Joseph Barnabas,
who was voted on with Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot. For some
time Paul and Barnabas continued at Antioch and taught and preached. This
was the first major break in the early Christian church.
Acts 15:36 ff
After Paul’s successful battle
over the Judaizers interpretation and gentile interpretation, he and Barnabas,
Silas and Judas and several others journeyed back Antioch in Syria.
They continued there for brief space of time. Paul then suggested
a second missionary tour. He and Barnabas then disagreed over John
Mark. Adam Clarke is good here. Barnabas' then took his nephew John
Mark and first went to Cyprus. Paul took Silas went on the second
Paul and Silas journey overland
through the famous Cilician Gates between two mountain ranges near Tarsus.
They went down to Derby, which was his last point of the first missionary
journey, which became the first point of this second missionary journey.
He had the decrees with him.
Titus was a Jew. Hence
he was circumcised as necessary for salvation. Timothy was only a
half-Jew and not circumcised, but later was for convenience sake.
We don't know where he picked up Titus, possibly around Galatia or Crete.
Most likely it was Galatia. He was a clear minded, strong man and
caused Paul little concern regarding false teachers. False teachers
were Paul's greatest concern. Paul's sole Gospel is put in Acts 26:18.
“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from
the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins,
and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
Two works of grace.
From Antioch in Syria they
passed from Tarsus, to Derby, Lystra, and Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia.
There they met Luke the physician, who evidently came with them at this
time. The group was composed of Paul, Silas, Timothy, Titus, and
Luke joined in this part of the journey.
Paul wished to push westward
in Asia, but the Holy Ghost suffered them not (Acts 16:6). Then they
went to Mysia and were about to go into Bythynia, Turkey, but the Holy
Ghost stopped them (Acts 16:7). Hence they journeyed own to Troas.
They had reached the end of their directions.
While waiting in Troas,
Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia saying, “Come over into Macedonia,
and help us.” Across the waters he saw a man beckoning, and saying
“Come over.” Paul hastened over and rejoiced over the new directions
They now start off for the
unknown. Passing over the narrow arm of a sea; they came to Samothracia,
and the next day to Neapolis, and from thence to Philippi. Philippi
was the chief city and a Roman colony. It was founded by and named
by Philip of Macedonia, Alexander the Great’s father. There were
silver and gold mines nearby. In the vicinity Augusta defeated Brutus
and Cassius, and on a nearby hill-top Cassius committed suicide.
Thus the destiny of Rome was settled there. The great Roman road
to Dyrrachium on the Adriatic Sea passed through Philippi. It was
4,000 miles long. There were three groups of people there.
The Romans were the dominating class, the Macedonians were numerous, and
there were many Orientals, including a few Jews. There was no synagogue
but there was a place of worship near the river. Also, there were
a few adherents.
Lydia appeared to be head
of a home; possibly, she was a widow. She possibly was in easy circumstances.
She Obeyed and feared God. She was from Lydia in Asia and thus an
Oriental. She was the first known convert in Europe.
The slave girl is cured
and healed and her owner’s trade is ruined thereby. The charge brought
against Paul and Silas was a skillful one, because the Jews were evicted
from Rome at the time (Acts 18:2).
Paul and Silas were beaten
badly and thrown into prison. Paul took it but did not have to do
so, since he and Silas were both Roman citizens (Acts 22:25-29, 2 Cor.
They were put in stocks,
hands, feet and neck through holes in boards and left there. Naturally,
they could not sleep, but sang and prayed. God delivered them with
an earthquake. The jailer washed and fed them and took back them
to their cell. The authorities humbly came and let them out for they were
Romans. This was a humiliating thing for them to do publicly but
they seem to be glad to let them out that easily. Paul and Silas
and Timothy left Philippi hastily. Luke was left there until about
57 A.D. He rejoined Paul on the third missionary journey and never
left Paul long thereafter.
They journeyed on the Agnate
road to Amphipolis, which was 33 miles away. Then on to Apollonia,
30 miles further (Acts 17:1). There were no synagogues there; hence
they moved on.
Next they came to Thessalonica.
Thessalonica was founded by Cassandra in 315 B.C. and named after his wife,
Thessalonica, who was the half-sister of Alexander the Great. It
was about hundred miles from Philippi.
There were some Jews here,
including Aristarchus and Jason. Most of the converts were among
the God-fearing. The jealous Jews raised an uproar insulting Jason.
They dragged him before the magistrates. Those magistrates' wives
were Christians so they used their influence with their husbands and they
made it light on Jason.
Paul and Silas left immediately
and went to Berea. There were honorable Jews and Gentiles there and
many of all class's received the word of God gladly. Berea was the
finest place that Paul visited. Timothy later joined him. The Jews
of Thessalonica came down and stirred them up and Paul had to leave hastily.
Paul left Timothy and Silas behind for a time and journeyed to Athens.
Acts 17:15 ff
Paul reached Athens and walked
around and was mightily moved. The city was wholly given to idolatry.
He decided to speak. Up until now Paul has used the Hebrew knowledge
of God to build upon. Upon that he explained and preached Christ.
He then set aside the Mosaic economy and left Christ supreme. No
such background existed in Athens.
Had it been possible by
nature and wisdom to know God, Athens would have known him. For Athens
was the center of brains and knowledge and philosophy. The Hebrews
scorned everyone else as not being worth saving. The Athenians believed
that no one else was worth noticing. Wisdom was born within her,
Athens, resident within her and would die with her. She said great
things about herself. Rome made her great men into slave teachers
in their own homes. She died a dog’s death, and was buried in a dog’s
Paul challenged paganism
in full bloom and at its best. It was true that he was mocked at
laughed at and had to leave a defeated and lonely man, but his visit had
Notice Paul’s approach and
speech in Athens. Paul stood on the public square where the great
orators of Greece had stood and made his plea. “Ye men of Athens, I perceive
that in all things ye are too superstitious.” They had no conception
of religion as we know it or as the Hebrews knew it. No Bible background.
Paul used the only word that they knew in that respect. He used a
nature approach. The word, superstitious was a courteous reference
to their regard for the pagan conception of things.
“For as I passed by, I could
not but notice evidences of your devotion." To emphasize this, he
referred to their reference to an unknown God. They felt that there
was such an unknown God, as I their worship of all gods's failed to meet
the demands of conscience. So they erected an altar to an unknown
God! Paul thus used the law of God written on their hearts as a stepping
stone to present Christ.
Paul thus started with the
admitted and the known and passed to the unknown.
This God made all things
in heaven and on earth and cannot be worshiped with hands.
He gives life and breathe
to all and has made of one blood all nations. This they did not like.
All his dealings with man are to bring man to himself. Unto you are
brought to him you have no real God at all.
God no longer winks at past
ignorance with regard to himself for his son has come. Now He commands
all men everywhere to repent. “And the times of this ignorance God
winked at, [overlooked]; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in
righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given
assurances unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead (Acts
As Paul mentioned the resurrection
from the dead and that Jesus had been raised, the mocking then started,
and the meeting was broken up. Some wanted to hear more, others said
he was a babbler.
He had three outstanding
converts: Dionysius the Areopagite; a woman named Damaris; and Stephanus,
a man from Corinth.
When Paul was laughed out
of Athens, he journeyed to Corinth to see Stephanus.
Acts 18 ff:
Corinth was the commercial
and political capital of the Roman province of Achaia. Her prosperity
was due to her position on the narrow isthmus between the Corinthian and
Saronic Gulfs. Small ships were unloaded and rolled on rollers across
the Isthmus to the port of Schoenus, and then reloaded.
From earliest days Corinth
was known to be wealthy. On the Acrocorinthus stood the Temple of
Aphrodite with upwards of 10,000 courtesan votaries, people connected with
the temple. The rich profligate hell. Athens intellectually
surpassed her, but she had many intellectual advantages.
In B.C. 146, she was plundered
and burned by the Roman, Lucius Mummius. She was rebuilt and restored
by Julius Caesar in B.C. 44. He made her a Roman colonial capital
and settled a large number of freed men there.
The predominant element
was Roman. The majority was Greek. There was a considerable
group of Jews.
Paul had fled to the home
of Stephanus. He refused to be burdensome to that home. So
he joined Aquila and Priscilla and made tents. Being a Roman colony
there was plenty of demand for tents.
We have no record of the
founding of the church at Rome. It was founded by Converts from Pentecost.
Aquila and Priscilla were evidently from that group. They were Christians
when they were expelled by Claudius (Acts 18:2).
Sabbath after Sabbath Paul
reasoned along Christian lines. He was waiting for Silas and Timothy
to bring news that he could return to Macedonia. Silas came from
Philippi with a personal deputation, and a generous offering, which the
Apostle needed, but which he had not asked for. Timothy arrived from
Thessalonica with a letter. The opposition was raging fiercely but
the church was standing true.
Two questions bothered them.
Jewish condemnation: if
salvation is by faith there must be of necessity a moral relaxation.
It was thus antinomianism. Paul had also received money from the
Philippians; therefore they said that he is preaching for money.
The second question was
concerning the immediacy of return of the Lord. Even before that
generation passed away. In Paul’s reply to their letter he never
mentions their letter, but is referring to it all the time. First
and second Thessalonians were written about a 54 A.D. Possibly the first
letters written in the New Testament. It was written from Corinth,
some say before he left Athens. But by the salutation of the
epistle he was rejoined by his friends.
On the arrival of Silas
and Timothy, Paul urged the matter home in the synagogue. They blasphemed
and rejected the matter. Paul shook the dust off his clothes, and
then he left, and began to teach in a private home near the synagogue.
This was the home of Justus (Acts 18:7). Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue
also believed and many other Corinthians. God then told Paul in vision
that he need not fear for he had many people there that would believe and
he would not be hurt. He continued there for one year.
Then the Jews arrested Paul
and brought him before the Roman official, Galileo. Paul was about
to speak, but Galileo threw the whole thing out of court (Acts 18:14-16).
The Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him
up. Galileo would not stop this because he cared for none of this
(Acts 18:7). Paul then took Aquila and Priscilla and left for Cenchrea,
and from there proceeded to Ephesus. He left them there (Acts 18:19-22).
Paul then journeyed to Jerusalem,
where he reported to the disciples and then proceeded along the coast to
Antioch in Syria. He touched Caesarea on the way to Jerusalem and
Antioch. This is the end of the second missionary journey (Acts 18:22).
The Third missionary journey:
July A.D. 53- May 57. Churches in Galatia,
Acts 18:23 ff.
The third missionary journey
started shortly after he returned from his second missionary journey.
He again visited the churches in Galatia, possibly spending from August
to October of 53 A.D. there. The defection from the faith was serious.
Judaism had practically ruined the whole thing. To heap coals of
fire on his foes Paul took up a liberal offering for the poor saints in
Jerusalem (Gal. 2:10).
The book of Galatians was
probably written from Antioch in June of 53 before the third missionary
journey started. Galatians is Paul's greatest work on the fulfillment
of law and the supremacy of the age of grace. In this respect it
is a masterpiece. Paul then moved to Ephesus where he stayed for
two or three years; from October 53 A.D. to January 56 A.D. (Acts 19:8-10).
Previous to Paul's visit to Ephesus, Apollos had come from Alexandria in
Egypt, knowing only the message of John the Baptist. Alexandria was
a great Hebrew colony and Apollos was educated and a masterful orator.
He had success at Ephesus and left a small group of converts, twelve men.
He moved on to Corinth, where he came upon Paul's work.
Previous to his exit from
Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla led Apollos into entire, full salvation in
Ephesus. There was no apparent reason to leave Aquilla and Pricilla.
Paul had left them there on the second journey. While Paul was at
Ephesus, the carnal disputes occurred at Corinth, when some said, “I am
of Paul, I am with Cephas (Peter), I am of the Apollos, and I am of Christ.”
Apollos left Ephesus. They asked Paul when he was to return and he
told them when he had a convenient time. That is, when they quit fussing.
Dr. King says Apollos wrote Hebrews and so does Luther.
Paul then inquired how far
the Ephesian Christians had advanced in the New Testament possibilities.
He then prayed for them and they were sanctified.
Certain interesting things
God wrought special miracles
at the hands of Paul (Acts 19:11).
This stirred up trouble,
the old Jewish trouble (Acts 19:13).
This time it backfired (Acts
They had a bonfire of books
Diana-worship was hit (Acts
They had excitement galore
Some of Paul’s companion’s
were taken: Gaius and Aristarchus and Alexander. But Paul was shielded
by friends. When they knew that Alexander was a Jew they yelled for
two hours. The town clerk feared lest Romans apprehend them for such
an uproar. And he appeased them and dismissed the assembly (Acts
Paul then took leave of Ephesus.
He said later that he fought with beasts at Ephesus. Ephesus was
the last new ground of which we have a record that Paul broke.
He then journeyed to Troas
and through Macedonia, visiting all the churches. He then went to
Greece proper for three months. He stayed in Corinth most of the
time. Then passed back to Philippi then Troas. The trip from
Philippi took five days and then seven more days to Troas. His friends
accompanied him: Sopater from Berea; Aristarchus, Secundus from Thessalonica;
Gaius and Timothy from Derby; Tychius and Trophimus from Asia; Luke from
Phillipi. They all knew he was to be at Troas and went there to meet
him (Acts 20:25). Luke uses “we” again. It was at Troas that
Paul preached a long time and Eutychus fell out of the window and Paul
Paul takes a five-day journey
to Miletus. He goes from Troas to Assos on Monday; From Assos to
Mitylene on Tuesday; from Mitylene to Chios on Wednesday; from Chios to
Trogyllium on Thursday; from Trogyllium to Miletus on Friday.
From Miletus Paul arranged
a meeting with the Ephesian elders. They met him there (Acts 20:18 to 20:38).
This section gives his parting
words to them. “I have held nothing back at any cost. To the Jews
and Greeks I've preached the gospel. Now I'm going bound by the Spirit
to Jerusalem to face further bonds and imprisonment. You are to see
my face no more; at this they wept. Be careful of the flock: wolves
will enter into the flock and break out within the fold.” He then
commended them to God and knelt down and prayed and departed. He
led the prayer.
The journey continued from
Miletus to Coos. Then from Coos to Rhodes and on to Patara.
At Patara they took shipping and passed Cyprus and landed at Tyre, where
they stayed for seven days. It was here that Paul was first warned
that bonds and imprisonment’s awaited him in Jerusalem. They knelt
on the shore and prayed as he left. He goes on in spite of warnings.
They went to Tyre, then
to Ptolemias, where they remained one day. From Ptolemias they went
to Caesarea and met Philip the evangelist.
Philip was one of the seven
deacons. This man had four daughters engaged in the work with him.
A certain prophet took Paul's girdle and bound himself with it in warning
that the man whose girdle it was would be bound at Jerusalem (Acts 21:4-11).
Thus was Paul warned twice not to go to Jerusalem: once by the Spirit and
once by the Church. Should Paul have gone? Well, he did, and
the results were disastrous. We don't know why he went, unless perhaps
God wanted him to go, and he had an intuition that he was to go to Jerusalem.
Paul is never more fully free.
Acts 21:17 ff. The Arrest
of Paul and Subsequent events.
Paul is now finishing his
third missionary journey. At first there were the courteous salutations.
Then Paul declared what God had done among the gentiles. When they
heard this they were glad. They told Paul that there were a great
number of Jewish believers in Jerusalem. These have heard that you
preached against Moses, circumcision and Jewish customs, therefore there
will be a rush there when they hear that you have come (Acts 21:21).
These believers were dead letters to Paul, except to protest salvation
by faith. It is hard to think that the elders had not condemned Paul
to the believing Jews.
Their advice to Paul was
to observe the Mosaic customs for safety's sake. He did this to keep
the peace between them. He purified himself (Acts 21:24). After
seven days, Paul entered the temple proper. When the Asiatic Jews saw him
a riot broke out (Acts 21:28). They pushed him out of the temple
and closed the doors. They were about to kill him and all of Jerusalem
was in an uproar (Acts 21:30).
Then someone told the captain
of the Roman guard and he took soldiers went and down to them. When
they saw the soldiers they stopped beating Paul (Acts 21:32). Paul
was bound with two chains and the captain asked for an explanation.
There was a disagreement and Paul was taken into a nearby castle.
The people followed. As Paul was being carried up the steps he turned
and asked to speak in Greek to the captain. In astonishment the captain
said, “Can you also speak Greek? Are you not a man of Egypt?” (Acts 21:38).
Paul said he was of Tarsus and a Hebrew and again asked to speak to the
Here we have Paul's famous
stairway address. He beckoned with his hands and they shut up.
Paul addressed them in the Hebrew tongue. Paul used four languages
in about four minutes: Aramaic, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. To the
Corinthians he said, “I speak in tongues more than you all.” He testified
of his priesthood and that he had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel
(Acts 22:1-3). I persecuted to the death this group with which I
now labor. I journeyed to Damascus to persecute them (Acts
22:45). And a voice said, “Saul, Saul why persecuted as thou me?
And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus
of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest” (Acts 22:7-8). Those with him
saw the light, but didn't understand the words of the voice, even though
they did hear it. The voice was his native Hebrew or something
they didn't understand. Paul asked for orders and went to Damascus,
Ananias said he was to be a witness to the Gentiles and Jews. To
that vision Paul was not disobedient. On his first visit to the temple
he had had a vision, at Jerusalem, in which he was told to leave the Jews
and go to the Gentiles. They told him to shut up. They couldn't
take such talk (Acts 22:21-22).
As Paul talked to them in
Hebrew the chief Captain did know what he was saying. So he took
him to whip him. Paul asked them, if it were lawful for them to whip
a Roman? They did not whip him, they called the Captain. It was death
to whip a Roman citizen. The chief Captain declared that with a great
sum he had bought his citizenship. Paul said he was free-born.
Paul was then freed.
Acts 23:1 ff
Paul is brought before the
Sanhedrin by Lysias, at which time the High Priest, Ananias is presiding.
The Roman Captain, Lysias, is present with a guard. Paul lost all
respect for the Jews and had no hope for them. He knew they would
do their worst by fair or foul means. Ananias should have been permitted
to open court and then ask Paul to speak. Paul utterly ignored the
priest and got up and made his speech. Paul, instead of saying rulers
of the people and elders of Israel, said, “Men and brethren.” Thus
Paul refused to recognize false dignitaries. Paul declared his lifelong
righteousness. There are two points made by Ananias. He had
Paul slapped, maybe with the staff. The high priest ordered him to
be hit on the mouth. Paul instantly turned on him, and said, “God
shall smite thee, you whited wall.” Those near said, “Revilest thou
God’s high priest?” He said, I wist not, brethren, that he was the
high priest.” This is Hebrew sarcasm. In other words, “How
was I to know by the way that he was acting, that he was the high priest
of God?” Jesus used this Hebrew sarcasm when he called Herod; “You
Fox.” And Micaiah used it when he spoke to Ahab and told him to go up into
a battle that he knew he would lose (2 Chron. 18:11-19). Paul, instead
of waiting to be examined, issued a protest and then smashed the whole
thing to pieces. He saw that they were divided into Pharisees and
Sadducees. The Sadducees did not believe in a spiritual word.
The Pharisees believed in them all. To show Lysias that they didn't
know what they were there for Paul said he was a Pharisee. They almost
tore Paul apart. He was taken away and in jail God said to Paul,
“Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem,
so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Forty ruffian Jews said
they would get Paul. The plot became known to Paul’s sister’s son.
He went to Paul and Paul told him to go to Lysias. Lysias obtained
men to take Paul to Antipatris, and then to Caesarea. Lysias wrote
a letter to Felix the governor at Caesarea which he took Paul's part. 70
horsemen took him from Antipatris to Caesarea. Felix received them
and appointed a hearing.
Acts 24 ff.
After five days the high
priest comes with his accusers to Caesarea. A certain Roman jurist,
Tertullus, who is paid out of the tithes by the high priest came to present
his case against Paul. The high priest became public enemy number
one of Christianity.
Tertullus was a skilled
and unprincipled man who was willing to say anything for his fee.
His introduction is as smooth as glass. He calls evil good and good
evil and is paid to do so. Roman historians, as well as Josephus,
declare that Felix was a bad man. He allowed wickedness in his court
and Tertullus praises him as a great and good fellow.
The first charge is a political
issue. He accuses Paul of being a leader of the Nazarene sect and
a mover of sedition among them.
The second charge was a
religious charge. He accuses Paul of being a profaner against the
temple and a destroyer of the Jewish religion. All agree that was
so. The group of the high priest hatched the lies and yelled amen to them.
The governor gave Paul a
chance to speak for himself. Paul had no liar employed to lie for
him. He did not put flowers at Felix’s feet. However, he was
very courteous. He says that he knows Felix has been a judge for
many years. He knows that Felix knows Jewish customs. He then
feels free to speak freely for Felix knows what he is talking about.
He gives an account of himself (Acts24: 11). He said he has disputed
with no man. The charges cannot be proven (Acts 24:12). Paul
then confesses” . . . that after the way which they call heresy, so worship
I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in law
and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14). Felix then dismisses the matter
Felix was a freed man from
the household of Antonius. He was a brother of Paulus, one of the
favorites of the Emperor Claudius. Felix was cruel and lustful.
He was married three times. Felix was recalled in disgrace; Festus
took his place. He was a better man than Felix was. He died
of despair after governing for two years. Israel was the hardest
province to govern. All of the Herodian family ran up against red-hot
religion, but they didn't change. King Agrippa and his sister Bernice
were at the appearance of Paul. The occasion was to be present to
welcome the new governor. Festus told Agrippa all about Paul.
Agrippa said he would like to hear the man himself. On the next day
Paul was called into the great hall. The next day Paul testified
Paul preached a masterpiece;
it was also a resume of his life. Paul summarizes the Old Testament under
two headings: (1) the coming of the Messiah prophesied; (2) Christ fulfilled
all the Old Testament prophecies.
Festus' interrupted Paul's
testimony and said, “much learning hath made thee mad.”
Acts 27ff. Paul goes to Rome.
They went through the Mediterranean
and struck the islands on the way to Italy, then came to the Appian Way
and proceeded on to Rome. On the way a delegation from the Roman
Church came out and met him.
Nero was a model Emperor
for his first five years. Symiel was Nero's instructor. He
said some day Nero would go mad. Nero said, “ How I wish I could
not write.” At age 22, he had his mother murdered. That was
the year before Paul arrived in Rome. After Octavian was murdered
by Nero. His mistress became empress. She was a Jewess like Drusilla;
her religious life was entirely different. She was influenced by
the Jews in Jerusalem to keep Paul in prison at Rome. Thus the trial
ran on for two years. John Mark came to Rome to be with Paul.
Paul was released in the spring of 62 A.D. and remained free 5 1/2 years.
He was again arrested and imprisoned in Rome and sentenced to death by
Nero. He was killed by decapitation or a sword thrust. These books
were written in Rome while he was a prisoner of Nero: Philippians, Colossians,
Ephesians, Philemon, Titus, and second Timothy.
A brief summary of Paul’s
Paul was of pure Hebrew descent
of the tribe of Benjamin. He was born outside the Holy Land at Tarsus,
a Grecian. He was four or five years younger than Jesus was.
Paul was trained first at Tarsus in education and tent making. When
he was 15 he went to school in Jerusalem and was there for three years.
He then went back to Tarsus as a rabbi. Jesus could have seen Paul
in the temple. Paul did not know him of course. While Paul
was at Tarsus, Jesus had his public ministry. Stephen appeared and
taught that men could be saved by faith. Paul was brought to Jerusalem
by the high priest to crush the religious revolution. Stephen’s message
finished Judaism for Paul .On the way to Damascus, he was converted.
He was sanctified at Damascus. Christianity and Judaism were at variance.
Paul was the man to settle
it. Barnabas found Paul and pushed him to the top. Paul founded
25 churches during his three missionary journeys. On his first, eight
or more. Churches. On his second tour, nine or more churches.
On his third tour, eight or more churches. Each of the founding churches
was an evangelistic center. He won and or trained the church’s future
leaders i.e., Luke, Timothy, and Titus. He settled church problems
by letters called Epistles. The principles are still fundamental.
Paul's epistles were the charter of the church and still are.
He revealed secrets (Eph.
3:8-9; Rom. 16:25). He went to both Hebrew and Gentiles. His
foes were Judaisers, those who believed in Christ, and those who did not
believe. God used Paul to save Christianity when judaistic Christianity
fell. Paul had two major imprisonments’ at Rome. He was stoned,
beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and defamed, starved, lied on, friends
failed him, he looked defeated, but said, “I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).