The Book Of The Acts Of The Apostles
Luke was the Spirit-filled physician who followed Jesus, and wrote the Gospel according to Luke and the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Luke gave the world the widest view of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent lives and ministries of His apostles, including the Apostle Paul.
Acts 1:1-2 - "The former treatise [Book of Luke] have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen."
Waiting For The Promise
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commanded the Apostles "that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father..." Jesus rose three days after Passover, and ascended forty days later. Pentecost is fifty days after Passover, so it appears that the Early Church prayed and fasted for about seven days in the Upper Room. They waited because the Holy Ghost was not yet given. Now, the Holy Ghost is given. There is no wait. Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
Acts 1:5 - "...ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."
You Can Ask, But Sometimes It Is Not For You To Know
Jesus commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Ghost came upon them. They did not know what to expect. They asked, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Sometimes, our questions or prayers are embarrassingly uninformed or untimely. We worry about worldly, temporal matters, but God has plans and purposes for His eternal Kingdom that we just cannot imagine. We must learn to trust Him.
Acts 1:7 - "He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."
The Baptism Of The Holy Ghost Empowers The Church
Moments before He ascended to Heaven, Jesus "commanded" His disciples "that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." The Holy Ghost empowers the Church to minister.
Acts 1:8 - "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Just Like He Departed, Jesus Will Come In The Clouds
The disciples stood watching as Jesus was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Two men in white apparel appeared with a prophetic message. Jesus would return to earth just like He left - in the clouds of the sky. That is the ultimate hope of every Christian - Jesus coming in the clouds, to take His Church away!
Acts 1:11 - "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."
They All Continued With One Accord In Prayer
As soon as Jesus departed into Heaven, the disciples left Olivet to go to the Upper Room. 120 disciples, including women, gathered to pray and seek God. Jesus had ordered them not to leave Jerusalem until they were all baptized in the Holy Ghost. Therefore, they were of one mind to do just that. It worked. The Holy Ghost came upon them, and they all spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.
Acts 1:14 - "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."
Scriptures Must Dictate Our Actions
Peter stood and spoke to 120 of Jesus' disciples gathered in the Upper Room. "Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas... For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry." In Psalm 69:25, David said to let another take his bishoprick. Like Peter, we should strive to obey every scripture.
Acts 1:20 -"For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take."
Matthias - The Twelfth Apostle
After Jesus ascended, the disciples immediately chose another Apostle to replace Judas Iscariot. They only considered men who had companied with them since John the Baptist, and who were witnesses of the resurrection and ascension. Only two candidates were found: Joseph Barsabas Justus, and Matthias.
Acts 1:24-26 - "They prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, ...And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."
Be Faithful, Even If You Are Never Mentioned
In the search for a replacement for Judas, there were only two men found who had been with the twelve through the entire tenure of Jesus' ministry - from John the Baptist to the ascension. Matthias had never been mentioned before in the scripture. His loyalty and devotion to Jesus had not received attention before this time. But God remembered. Matthias will be among the twelve Apostles who judge Israel for 1000 years under Christ. Be faithful!
Acts 1:26 - "And the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."
Rushing Mighty Wind, Cloven Tongues Like As Of Fire
The most seminal event in the history of the Church occurred on the day of Pentecost. Jesus' disciples who gathered in the Upper Room "were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." THAT was the EVENT. The rest of it was the fanfare.
Acts 2:1 - "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them."
With Another Tongue Will He Speak To His People
Isaiah prophesied, "With stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people," (28:11). That happened on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost filled the 120 believers. The Jewish crowds "were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?"
Acts 2:9-11 - "Parthians, ...Medes, ...Elamites, ...dwellers in Mesopotamia, ...Judaea, ...Cappadocia, ...Pontus, ...Asia, Phrygia, ...Pamphylia, ...Egypt, ...Libya ...Rome, Jews ...proselytes, Cretes ...Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."
Three times, the Gospel writers recited Jesus' teachings about New Wine. "No man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, ...new wine must be put into new bottles," Mark 2:22. The crowds accused the 120 disciples of being drunk with new wine when they spoke in other tongues. They were not drunk on earthly wine, but on Heavenly Wine - the Holy Spirit. Peter said,
Acts 2:15 - "For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day [9 AM]."
Joel Prophesied The Baptism Of The Holy Ghost
Devout Jews from every nation were in Jerusalem when the Holy Ghost filled 120 in the Upper Room. Multitudes came when they heard the noise, "and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language." They asked, "how hear we every man in our own tongue? ...What meaneth this?" Others mockingly said, "These men are full of new wine." Peter answered...
Acts 2:16-17 - "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh."
God Speaks By Dreams And Visions
Along with the many prophecies pertaining to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, was the promise of supernatural dreams and visions. The book of Acts reported numerous occasions when God gave dreams and visions to believers. Ananias helped convert Saul by means of a vision. Cornelius and his household were saved after both he and Peter had separate visions. Paul was called to Macedonia in a vision, and received messages from the Lord in other visions. God still speaks by dreams and visions today.
Acts 2:17 - "Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."
They Shall Prophesy
Peter declared to the crowds that the outpouring of the Holy Ghost they were witnessing was a fulfillment of Joel's prophecies, which said, "in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy..." The Church was born to prophesy - to be a channel of the Holy Spirit; ministering, praising and declaring the goodness and mighty works of God with their mouths.
Acts 2:18 - "On my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
Cataclysmic Signs Just Before Armageddon
Joel also prophesied cataclysmic events in nature before the "great and notable day of the Lord come," (that is, just before Armageddon, when Jesus will appear to judge the earth). Blood, fire and smoke (perhaps a nuclear event in the Sixth Trumpet war), and solar and lunar eclipses (sun darkened, blood-red moon).
Acts 2:19-20 - "I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come."
Call On The Name Of The Lord
This verse has to be reconciled with other verses which seem to contradict it. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Calling on the name of the Lord simply MUST be accompanied by doing the will of God, or it is worthless. Yes, call on His name - AND - keep His commandments.
Acts 2:21 - "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Rejoice Because Of The Word Of The Lord
"For the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame," Hebrews 12:2. Jesus knew that David had prophesied, "I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope." Every true believer can rejoice, even when being killed, because God has promised resurrection.
Acts 2:27 - "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."
David Saw And Spoke Of The Resurrection Of Christ
No ancient figure was more beloved to the Jews than King David. Peter appealed to their emotions as well as their intellect. "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, ...being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne." David prophesied Jesus' resurrection.
Acts 2:31 - "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."
The Baptism Of The Holy Ghost
Jesus' resurrection and ascension were necessary to release the Holy Ghost upon all who would receive it. Jesus had told them, "I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you," and "the Spirit of truth... dwelleth with you, and shall be in you," John 14:17-18. The baptism of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was their infilling with the Spirit of Christ.
Acts 2:33 - "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."
Sit Thou On My Right Hand
David did not ascend into Heaven, but Jesus did. David could not have been speaking of himself when he said, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand." He was prophesying of Christ. Remember, God is an invisible Spirit. Only the body of Christ is visible on the throne (Revelation 4:2). The right hand of God is His authority and power. God exalted Jesus to all authority and power.
Acts 2:34 - "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand."
Sit On My Right Until I Make Thy Foes Thy Footstool
David's prophecy depicts Jesus sitting on the right hand of the throne, "until I make thy foes thy footstool." It has been almost 2000 years since Jesus ascended to His throne. Soon, the enemies of God will become the footstool of Christ. Even before the final Battle of Armageddon, God will subdue the earth in preparation for the coming of Christ. The Sixth Trumpet War (Revelation 9) will kill 1/3 the population of earth. Jesus will come at the Seventh (last) Trumpet.
Acts 2:34-35 - "Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool."
Peter's Sermon On The Day Of Pentecost
As thousands gathered outside the Upper Room, Peter stood up with the eleven to preach to them. His major points were: 1. You men of Israel have taken this Jesus of Nazareth (approved of God by miracles, wonders, and signs) and have wickedly crucified and slain Him. 2. We are all witnesses that God has raised Him up. 3. God has now exalted Jesus to the right hand of Majesty, as Lord and Christ.
Acts 2:36 - "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Repent And Be Baptized In The Name Of Jesus
Peter forcefully indicted the Jews for crucifying Jesus, and their hearts were pricked with guilt. They questioned Peter, "What shall we do?" Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," (2:38). 3000 people promptly repented and were baptized in Jesus' name. "Every one of you" also means you and me.
Acts 2:41 - "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
The Early Church Was A Praying Church
The Church that was born on the Day of Pentecost was a praying church. They had been collectively fasting and praying for days in the Upper Room when the Holy Ghost fell. Peter's first message was a call to repentance and baptism. From there, more than 3000 continued in the Apostles' doctrine, fellowship, and prayer. Great signs, wonders and miracles followed.
Acts 2:42-43 - "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles."
All Things Common
Saints in the first Church visited the Temple daily, shared meals from house to house, and prayed together. God worked signs, wonders and miracles among them. When someone had a need, they sold their belongings to help them. (That is NOT Communism, as diabolical "Liberation Theology" claims.)
Acts 2:44-45,47 - "All that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. ...Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
Can there be any denial of the fact that God has sovereign control over the destiny of men? The very fact that one-third of the Bible prophesies future events, and that none of those prophecies have ever failed, should soundly convince us that every man is a pawn in the Divine Plan. When Jesus said, "I will build my church," that showed who is really in charge. You cannot build His Church. You can live obediently to His word. He will build His Church.
Acts 2:47 - "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
The Hour Of Prayer
The very next day after Pentecost, "Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour [3PM]." There they met and healed a man born lame. That miracle drew an enormous crowd on Solomon's Porch. That great miracle tends to overshadow the fact that it happened because Peter and John went to pray at "The Hour of Prayer." We would certainly see far more miracles if we daily attended the hour of prayer.
Acts 3:1 - "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer."
Silver And Gold Have I None
The 20th Century was the most prosperous in the history of the world for many. But prosperity is deceptive. The love of money is still the root of all evil. Nowadays, churches spend millions of dollars to attract a crowd, and when they are done, not many are saved. The original church did not depend on money, but on the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 3:6 - "Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."
Command A Miracle To Happen
Peter's approach to the lame man's need was on the same order as Jesus' method. Sometimes, Jesus lifted up His eyes to Heaven and gave thanks. At other times, He simply looked upon the person and spoke healing or a miracle. That is what Peter did. He simply took the man by the hand and commanded him to rise up and walk, in Jesus' name. You can command a miracle, too.
Acts 3:6-7 - "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up."
The Lame Man At The Gate Beautiful
The first healing after Jesus ascended happened to a lame man who begged alms of Peter at the Temple Gate. Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength."
Acts 3:8 - "He leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God."
Walking And Leaping And Praising God
Anyone who walks with the Lord long enough is going to see many marvelous miracles. I have witnessed miracles and healings of every kind. We must not take them for granted, or fail to give praise and thanksgiving. If you had been crippled from birth, and had begged alms all your life, you would be running and jumping and praising God when you were healed. Why not do that for all the rest of your miracles?
Acts 3:8 - "And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God."
God Uses Miracles To Draw Men To His Message
When Peter healed the lame man in the name of Jesus, "all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering." Peter took advantage of that situation to preach the truth and call them to repentance. That is what miracles are for.
Acts 3:12 - "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? ...The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go."
Faith In The Name Of Jesus Made Him Strong
There is infinite power in the name of Jesus. In the Old Testament, God was variously named Elohim (God), Jehovah [YHWH] (the Self-Existent One), El Shaddai (God Almighty), Jehovah Jireh (Provider), Jehovah Nissi (Banner of War), Jehovah Shalom (Peace), Jehovah Rapha (Healer), Jehovah Tsidkenu (Our Righteousness), and others. But Jesus (Yehoshua - Jehovah Savior) is the highest, all-encompassing name of God. All power in Heaven and in earth is in the name of Jesus. No other name is so powerful. Call on Him.
Acts 3:16 - "And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong."
Prophecies Emphasize The Need For Repentance
Peter demonstrated some mastery of ancient Bible prophecies. He knew "that Christ should suffer." He knew that heaven must receive Jesus "until the times of the restitution of all things," (the coming 1000-year Kingdom of Christ on earth). He knew that Moses prophesied that "a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up," (also referring to Jesus), and "that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." He used prophecy to convince the multitudes to repent.
Acts 3:19 - "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
The Restitution Of All Things
In Exodus 22, Moses taught several laws requiring restitution of things stolen or destroyed. A thief, when convicted, must restore all that was lost. In like manner, at the end of this age, God will demand that Satan, the great thief, return the earthly kingdom he stole. Jesus Christ will oversee the restitution of all things.
Acts 3:20-21 - "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
You Are Children Of The Prophets And The Covenant
Not every person is destined to find peace with God. In most cases, the descendants of men who rejected God will never know God. Take great care to maintain your godly heritage, both for yourself and your descendants.
Acts 3:25-26 - "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities."
5000 New Believers On The Day After Pentecost
The day after the Holy Ghost fell in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John went to the Temple to pray, and ended up healing the lame man in Jesus' name. A great controversy ensued, and Peter was compelled to preach to a massive crowd about Jesus Christ and His resurrection. As a result, 5000 men believed Peter's message. Peter was thrown in jail, but the work was done. Truth will always triumph.
Acts 4:4 - "Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand."
The Name Of Jesus Is All-Powerful
The religious leaders made Peter and John stand trial for healing the lame man. "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" Peter declared the all-powerful name of Jesus. They had to let them go, "finding nothing how they could punish them."
Acts 4:8,10 - "Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, ...Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole."
The Stone Which Was Set At Naught
You may reject Jesus, but you will never escape Him. He is the Cornerstone of the entire Kingdom of God. He is the key to your eternity, whether in Heaven or Hell. "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus," Colossians 3:17. (That includes baptism.)
Acts 4:11-12 - "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
They Perceived They Were Unlearned And Ignorant
The Temple officers who prosecuted Peter and John "perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men." The original Greek language says "illiterate and idiots (ignoramuses)." But what the rulers "perceived" was a grave misperception. Those two men helped turn the world upside down. John penned the Gospel of John, three Epistles, and Revelation, while Peter authored two Epistles - six of the most widely read books in history. Both were the closest earthly friends to God Incarnate, and foundation stones in the Church.
Acts 4:13 - "They marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
They Could Say Nothing Against The Work Of God
God certainly endorsed Peter's actions in the Temple, when he healed the lame man in Jesus' name. The priests, captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, "being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day." They tried to prosecute them, but the evidence silenced them. If God be for you, who can be against you?
Acts 4:14 - "And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it."
Miracles That Cannot Be Denied
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is documentation of hundreds of notable miracles done by the hand of God. Creation, Noah's flood, Sara's child, Joseph's rise, the plagues in Egypt, the Exodus, the Kingdom of Israel, Elijah's fire, the prophets, the fiery furnace, the virgin birth, the resurrection, Pentecost, and so much more, are all miracles that cannot be denied.
Acts 4:15-16 - "They conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it."
David Prophesied That Kings, Rulers Would Oppose Anointed
The Apostles were emboldened by ancient prophecies in Psalm 2:1-2, that Kings and rulers would set themselves against the Lord's anointed.
Acts 4:24-28 - "Lord, thou art God, ...Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. ...Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."
When They Prayed, They Were Filled With Boldness
The apostles were powerfully energized when Temple officials failed to prosecute them. They returned with a glorious testimony. "When they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, ...Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, ...and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus."
Acts 4:31 - "When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."
Distribution Among Believers
"Great grace was upon them all." The multitude of believers had "one heart and one soul." They loved each other and wanted their brethren to have their needs met. Those who had possessions shared with those who had none. This is NOT the same as modern tyrannical Communism - not one similarity.
Acts 4:32,34-35 - "They had all things common. ...as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."
Them Which Buried Thy Husband Shall Carry Thee Out
Ananias and Sapphira sold some land and gave part to the Apostles, misrepresenting it as the full amount. Peter told Ananias, "thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Ananias fell dead. Shortly, Peter saw Sapphira and asked how much they sold the land for. She lied, too. Peter said, "How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out."
Acts 5:10 - "Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost."
Great Fear Came Upon All The Church
God smote Ananias and Sapphira dead for lying to the Apostles and to the Holy Ghost. That shocked the Church and caused people to fear the Apostles. Many joined themselves to the church, but "no man joined himself to them [the Apostles]." The world does not need rock-star, celebrity preachers. They need dreaded men of God.
Acts 5:11-12,14 - "Great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; ...And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes."
They Brought The Sick And Those Vexed With Unclean Spirits
The power of God worked mightily in the Apostles after they were filled with the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus had promised earlier, "In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; ...they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover," Mark 16:17-18. It happened, just like He said. That promise STILL stands for all believers.
Acts 5:16 - "There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one."
The Angel Who Opened The Prison Doors
The Apostles were thrown into prison the second time, but the angel of the Lord came by night, opened the prison doors and brought them out. He instructed them, "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." God sends ministering spirits to His heirs (Hebrews 1:14).
Acts 5:22-23 - "When the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within."
We Ought To Obey God Rather Than Men
The Temple priests learned that the Apostles they had put in prison were out, and preaching in the Temple. A captain took officers and immediately arrested them. In council chambers, the high priest asked, "Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But the Apostles had a divine mandate. Divine authority is higher than human authority.
Acts 5:29 - "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."
The Apostles accused their accusers of being offenders, because God raised up Jesus to be their Prince and Savior, and they killed Him. "They were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them." Surprisingly, Gamaliel, the great Jewish lawyer, came forward with a powerful defense that saved their lives.
Acts 5:38-39 - "Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."
They Rejoiced For Being Counted Worthy To Suffer
The Temple rulers took counsel to slay the Apostles, but Gamaliel, the Pharisee and doctor of the law, reminded them that if their work was of God, "ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." They agreed with Gamaliel, so they beat the Apostles, commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The Apostles were so energized by the Holy Ghost, they left rejoicing.
Acts 5:41 - "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
Ministers Full Of The Holy Ghost
The Apostles saw the need for ministers to tend to the daily chores of the Church. They required three things: 1. Of honest report; 2. Full of the Holy Ghost; 3. Full of wisdom. Even those who served tables were required to be baptized in the Holy Ghost. Nowadays, "Christianity" is being run by men who have never had the Holy Ghost, and fervently preach against it. The Apostles would reject them.
Acts 6:3 - "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."
The Apostles Refused To Be Distracted From Prayer
The early Church was growing very quickly. Some (Grecians) complained to the Jews that their widows were not being ministered to. That is when the Apostles decided to choose seven Holy Ghost-filled men of good report who would "serve tables" (the business of the church). The Apostles were determined not to be distracted from prayer and preaching the word. Ministers must resist the temptation to be executives or activities directors, and get back to praying and preaching the anointed word of God.
Acts 6:4 - "We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word."
Ordained By Prayer And By The Laying On Of Hands
The Apostles needed godly men to perform even the menial chores of the ministry, so they chose Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas. Every role in the Church should be entered into with corporate prayer.
Acts 6:6-8 - "Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people."
Synagogue Of The Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians
Who killed Stephen? Members of the synagogue of the Libertines (strict Jews from Rome, once-bondmen, but liberated "freemen" such as was Saul of Tarsus), Cyrenians (strict Jews returned from Libya), Alexandrians (from Egypt), and Cilicians (from the region of modern Turkey). These Jews had been in dispersion, and were quite strict in their adherence to the Torah, and hostile to Jesus Christ, His doctrines and His disciples.
Acts 6:9 - "Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen."
Stephen Falsely Accused Of Certain Prophecies
Stephen was full of faith and power, and did great wonders and miracles among the people. The synagogue leaders could not resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spoke. So they persuaded men to bring false charges of blasphemy, and accuse him of prophesying that Jesus was going to destroy their synagogue and banish Moses' teachings. Unbelievers would rather call a preacher a false prophet than to obey his message. Hell hates the anointing.
Acts 6:15 - "All that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel."
Stephen: Jesus Was The Prophet Prophesied By Moses
Stephen had a keen understanding of how ancient prophecies had guided the early fathers of Israel, and gave a powerful witness. He spoke commandingly of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, and showed how each of their lives were fulfilled according to divine prophetic destiny. He also knew and believed that Jesus Christ was the long-prophesied Prophet who would come in Moses' tradition.
Acts 7:37 - "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear."
Unbelievers Resist, Reject And Fight Against Truth
Stephen rehearsed the history of the nation, from Abraham in Mesopotamia to the Promised Land. He mentioned the circumcision, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve Patriarchs, Joseph, the Egyptian bondage, Moses, the burning bush, the Exodus, the wilderness wanderings, the golden calf, Israel's idolatry, the Tabernacle, taking the Promised Land, David, Solomon, the Temple, their apostasy, killing the prophets, and rejection of Jesus Christ. Then, as now, men resist truth in unbelief, blindly clinging to misinformed traditions and personal prejudices.
Acts 7:54 - "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth."
The Son Of Man Stood Beside The Throne
As the council assaulted Stephen, he had a heavenly vision. "He, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." This was the first revelation anyone received after Jesus' ascension. The Son of Man was standing beside the throne of the invisible Spirit of God. Later, John saw Him seated on that throne (Revelation 4:2; 22:3). Jesus is the only body God has.
Acts 7:56 - "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God."
Lord, Lay Not This Sin To Their Charge
Stephen preached so powerfully to the high priest and council that "they were cut to the heart, and gnashed on him with their teeth." They yelled, stopped their ears, cast him out of the city, and killed him. Still, as he was dying, Stephen echoed Jesus' prayer that God would forgive them. We must forgive our tormentors.
Acts 7:59-60 - "They stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
Saul Was An Accomplice To Stephen's Murder
Stephen was stoned to death for his testimony of Jesus. Saul held the coats of the men who killed him (Acts 22:20). Yet Stephen prayed, "Lay not this sin to their charge!" We have Stephen to thank for the Apostle Paul, because Stephen's witness, martyrdom and prayers were factors in Paul's miraculous conversion. As is often the case, men and women who are relatively unknown or seemingly insignificant play a major part in the conversion of other great men or women whose ministries will eclipse their own.
Acts 7:60 - "...and when he had said this, he fell asleep."
Saul Of Tarsus
The circumstantial evidence suggests that Saul of Tarsus was a member of the synagogue of the Libertines who persecuted Stephen in Acts 6:9. Stephen's angelic demeanor in the face of their hostilities must have left a deep impression on Saul. He soon converted and became the Apostle Paul.
Acts 8:1,3 - "Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; ...As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison."
Stephen's Death Proved Jesus' Prophecies
Jesus warned His disciples, "ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake," (Matthew 10:22). He admonished them, "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul," (Matthew 10:28). Stephen was the first to die for Jesus. Today, anti-Christian hatred is spreading like wildfire. Christians are being persecuted and murdered in increasing numbers around the world. Be prepared. "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it," (Matthew 10:39).
Acts 8:2 - "And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him."
Persecution Does Not Silence The True Church
Saul and his fellows consented to Stephen's death, "made havock of the church," and cast men and women into prison. The church at Jerusalem suffered great persecutions, and were scattered far and wide, "except the Apostles." Paul later confessed, "I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons," Acts 22:4. "I punished them oft in every synagogue, ...being exceedingly mad against them," Acts 26:11. But all who believe the truth about Jesus Christ will declare His Gospel until the day they die.
Acts 8:4 - "They that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word."
They Prayed For Them To Receive The Holy Ghost
When the Apostles learned of the success of Philip's ministry in Samaria (signs, wonders and miracles), they immediately sent Peter and John, who "prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost." Philip had baptized them in the name of Jesus, but the Apostles knew that they needed the baptism of the Holy Ghost. ALL Christian ministry must maintain this Pentecostal priority!
Acts 8:16-17 - "(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
Pray That You Will Not Perish In Your Sins
Simon the sorcerer was converted by the preaching and miracles done by Philip, and was baptized in Jesus' name. When he saw people receiving the Holy Ghost through the laying on of the Apostles' hands, he offered money to be able to do the same. "Thy money perish with thee." Peter sharply rebuked him and commanded him to repent, "and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee."
Acts 8:24 - "Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me."
Arise, And Go Toward The South
Philip saw a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Samaria. Following many miracles, many were baptized in Jesus' name, and baptized in the Holy Ghost. But the angel of the Lord interrupted Philip and instructed him to "go toward the south," toward Gaza. The Spirit of God led him to an Ethiopian man, and told Philip, "Go near and join thyself to this chariot." The Spirit may lead to unlikely places at unlikely times. But He knows why. Just obey.
Acts 8:30-31 - "Philip ran thither to him, ...he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him."
Philip And The Ethiopian Eunuch
God miraculously led Philip to the treasurer of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, sittin in his chariot reading prophecies in Isaiah. "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; ...his life is taken from the earth." He asked who that prophecy spoke of. Philip preached unto him Jesus and his need to be baptized. The eunuch immediately believed and obeyed.
Acts 8:36 - "The eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? ...he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him."
After baptizing the Ethiopian, Philip miraculously disappeared. He reappeared at Azotus [30 miles away]." Miraculous transportation is quite scriptural. Enoch "was not, for God took him." "The chariot of Israel" carried Elijah into heaven. Jesus "was taken up" into the clouds. Paul was "caught up into paradise." When Jesus returns, the saints "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds." "In the twinkling of an eye, ...we shall be changed."
Acts 8:39 - "When they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more."
Who Art Thou, Lord?
As an ardent student of the Old Testament, Saul called God his Father. He vehemently denied that Jesus was the incarnation of God. But nearing Damascus, a light from heaven shined around Saul, and he fell to the earth. A voice said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" He answered, "Who art thou, Lord?" He was about to receive the shock of His life. Expecting His Father God to answer, Saul heard, "I am Jesus." Saul's warfare came to a screeching halt. Jesus is God embodied.
Acts 9:5 - "And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest."
It Shall Be Told Thee What Thou Must Do
Jesus spoke to Saul from Heaven. "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks [goads]." Trembling and astonished, Saul instantly surrendered. "What wilt thou have me to do?" "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." Simultaneously, inside Damascus, Jesus spoke prophetic destiny to Ananias.
Acts 9:10 - "To him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord." [Jesus said,] "Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus."
Saul: A Chosen Vessel Of The Lord
In a vision, the Lord told Ananias to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street, and ask for one named Saul of Tarsus. Ananias argued, "Lord, I have heard by many of this man." Saul had done much evil to the saints in Jerusalem, and had authority from the chief priests to bind all Christians. Ananias was afraid, but God had chosen Saul.
Acts 9:15-16 - "But the Lord said unto [Ananias], Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel."
Saul Was Converted By Supernatural Prophetic Ministry
Saul had a truly supernatural conversion. A light shone from heaven. A voice spoke from heaven. He was blind for three days. In a vision, Saul saw Ananias coming to lay hands on him to receive his sight. Ananias also had a vision telling him to go to a street called Straight, to the house of Judas, and enquire for one called Saul.
Acts 9:17 - "Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me."
Born Again Of Water And Of Spirit
The Lord audibly told Saul to go into Damascus. "It shall be told thee what thou must do." Ananias also received instructions. He found Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." Saul received the Holy Ghost and Ananias baptized him in Jesus' name. Water and Spirit. New Birth.
Acts 9:18 - "Immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."
Great Things He Must Suffer For My Name's Sake
God ordained Saul to preach Jesus Christ to Gentiles, kings, and Jews. "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." After a few days, Saul began preaching in the synagogues that Christ is the Son of God. From that day, the trouble began.
Acts 9:23-24 - "The Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him."
New Converts Need The Support Of Their Brethren
Saul discovered that his old comrades hated him for converting to Christ, and the disciples feared him because he had been so brutal. Saul could not return to his old life in Jerusalem, so "he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple." Barnabas sensed his dilemma, and intervened with the brethren, vouching for his conversion and his ministry.
Acts 9:28-29 - "And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Aeneas - Healed Of Palsy
When Peter went through the community of Lydda, near Joppa, he found a man named Aeneas who had been bedfast for eight years because of palsy. Palsy is paralysis in certain parts of the body, with loss of sensation and uncontrolled body movements, such as shaking or spastic reflexes. Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed." You can decree a miracle into existence by speaking the word of faith.
Acts 9:34-35 - "And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord."
The Prayer Of Faith Can Raise The Dead
The Apostle Peter was near Joppa when word came that Dorcas had died. That beloved saint "was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did." When two disciples brought Peter, he saw everyone grieving over Dorcas. "Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up." Effectual prayer can raise the dead.
Acts 9:41-43 - "He gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and ...presented her alive. ...and many believed in the Lord."
Thy Prayers Are Come Up For A Memorial Before God
Every person who was baptized in the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues, was a Jew, but God soon opened the door to the Gentiles. The first Gentile recipient of the Holy Ghost was a devout, God-fearing Italian, who "prayed to God alway." The angel of the Lord brought a special message for Cornelius. His prayers had been heard. A Pentecostal preacher was coming. It pays to pray.
Acts 10:4 - "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter."
Prayerful People Are Best Suited For Prophetic Destiny
God took special note of Cornelius' prayerfulness, and chose him to be the first Gentile to receive the Holy Ghost. An angel told him to send for Simon Peter. "He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do." Cornelius sent servants to Joppa, and found Peter in prayer. Prayerful people are prime candidates for divine destiny.
Acts 10:9 - "On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour."
The Spirit Speaks To Men, To Guide Supernaturally
So many miracles take place in the course of God's plan being fulfilled in our lives that we should easily recognize that it is divine intervention. While Peter was contemplating the vision God had given him, "the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. ...go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them." God accomplishes His will by leading obedient men by His Spirit.
Acts 10:23-24 - "On the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. ...Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends."
I Should Not Call Any Man Common Or Unclean
Peter "fell into a trance, and saw heaven open," and something descending like a large sheet held at the four corners, containing all kinds of animals and birds. A voice said, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat." Peter said, "Not so, Lord!" He had never eaten anything considered common or unclean. But the voice demanded, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." This happened three times, then Cornelius' servants knocked on his door. Later, at Cornelius' home, Peter had a prophetic revelation.
Acts 10:28 - "God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
Cornelius And His Household
Peter told Cornelius and a crowd of his family and friends that it was unlawful for a Jew to keep company with Gentiles, but God had showed him not to call any man unclean. Cornelius had been fasting when the angel appeared, instructing him to send for Peter. "Immediately therefore I sent to thee." Just like God had directed Saul and Ananias together, He also directed Cornelius and Peter. God also guided YOU to this truth today. Obey it.
Acts 10:33 - "Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God."
God Is No Respecter Of Persons
Peter was dramatically and profoundly changed by the vision he had while in prayer at Joppa. The voice commanded him to eat unclean meats. His Jewish upbringing strictly isolated him from having much interaction with non-Jews. He was unprepared to preach the Gospel to Gentiles until God sovereignly taught him not to despise Gentiles. Cornelius would be a test case for Peter.
Acts 10:34-35 - "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
What God Hath Cleansed
In a vision, a voice said to Peter (three times), "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." While Peter doubted what the vision meant, three men from Cornelius came seeking Peter. The next day, at Cornelius' house, Peter told the crowd, "God hath shewed me that I should not call ANY man common or unclean." This did NOT suggest that all men are saved, but that the door of salvation is open to any man (Jew or Gentile) who will do righteously.
Acts 10:35 - "In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
The holy anointing oil symbolized God's touch. It meant "to rub." It was poured on Aaron, the priests, their robes, the tabernacle and everything in it. From Samuel's time, kings were anointed. When Samuel
anointed David, "the spirit of the Lord came upon him." God instructed the people not to harm anointed ones. "Touch not mine anointed." Shimei was put to death for cursing God's anointed. All Spirit-filled
believers are anointed. Jesus has the ultimate anointing.
Acts 10:38 - "...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power."
To Him Give All The Prophets Witness
Peter preached to Cornelius' household, "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. ...it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." The Holy Ghost fell as he preached.
Acts 10:44 - "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."
They Heard Them Speak With Tongues
Cornelius and his family and friends were filled with the Holy Ghost while Peter was preaching to them. Peter's brethren were astonished to see the Holy Ghost fall on the Gentiles, but could not deny it, "for they heard them speak with tongues." Speaking in tongues is the very first evidence. Next? Peter immediately commanded them to be baptized in Jesus' name!
Acts 10:47-48 - "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord."
Visions From God While Praying
While he was praying, Cornelius, the Italian centurion, saw an angel in a vision, instructing him to send for Peter. Meanwhile, Peter was also praying, and fell into a trance (a captivated state of mind), and saw a vision of a great sheet let down from heaven, containing all kinds of beasts and fowl. Both visions were pivotal events that turned Peter into a minister to the Gentiles, and birthed the Gentile Church. God loves to work in an environment of prayer.
Acts 11:5 - "I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision."
Words Whereby Thou And All Thy House Shalt Be Saved
The angel prophetically told Cornelius, "Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved." So, what did Peter tell them? "He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord," Acts 10:48. God sent Peter to command them to be baptized in Jesus' name. God sovereignly baptized them in the Holy Ghost, and they spoke in tongues. Peter recalled Jesus' words.
Acts 11:16 - "He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost."
What Was I, That I Could Withstand God?
The Jewish Christians objected to Peter's ministry to Gentiles. "Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." Peter told about his vision, Cornelius' messengers, and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Caesarea. "The Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. ...As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. ...Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, ...what was I, that I could withstand God?"
Acts 11:18 - "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God."
Persecution Scattered The Church, But Good Came Of It
Stephen's martyrdom was not an isolated attack. Great persecution was leveled against all Christians by Jews and Romans. Jesus had taught them to flee persecution. "When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another," Matthew 10:23. Consequently, they were scattered "as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch. ...Some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus."
Acts 11:21 - "And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."
Barnabas - The Encourager
Early on, Barnabas sold his land and donated the proceeds to the Apostles. Later, Barnabas helped Saul to assimilate with the saints in Jerusalem. After so many disciples were scattered throughout the region following the murder of Stephen, Barnabas was sent to preach, and encourage the people.
Acts 11:22-24 - "They sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, ...exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."
Disciples First Called Christians At Antioch
The Church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to minister to the scattered saints in the region as far as Antioch. He made a side-trip to Tarsus to seek out Saul and bring him back to Antioch. The two stayed in Antioch for a full year, preaching and making disciples. That prepared them for future ministries and created a strong Church there. Antioch is where disciples were first called "Christians."
Acts 11:26 - "And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
The Prophecy Of Agabus Inspired Relief Efforts
There were prophets ministering in the Early Church. One of them, Agabus, stood up in the congregation at Antioch and prophesied that there would be a great dearth throughout the world. That actually took place during the days of Roman Emporer Claudius Caesar. The Church responded to the prophecy by sending aid to brethren who needed it.
Acts 11:29-30 - "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."
Angel Delivered Peter From Death When Church Prayed
King Herod began persecuting the Church. He killed James (brother of John) with a sword. He had Peter captured and thrown into prison, intending to execute him publicly. "But prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him."
Acts 12:6-7 - "Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands."
The Angel Of Deliverance
Angels appeared throughout the Bible. A cherubim guarded the Garden of Eden. Angels visited Abraham, Sara, Hagar, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, the children of Israel, Balaam, Gideon, Manoah's wife, David, Gad, Ornan, Elijah, Hezekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, Zechariah, Joseph, Mary, Zacharias, Elisabeth, Jesus, Shepherds, Pool of Bethesda, the Garden Tomb, Peter, Philip, Cornelius, Herod, Paul, John, and the Seven Churches of Asia. An angel delivered Peter from prison.
Acts 12:11 - [Peter said], "Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod."
Prayers Answered Beyond Expectation
Peter's chains miraculously fell off, and the angel led Peter to the city gate, which opened miraculously. They proceeded to the house where prayer was being made for Peter. Peter knocked, and a girl named Rhoda answered. With gladness, she ran in and announced that Peter was at the door. They did not believe it. They said she was mad. Some said, "It is his angel." But Peter continued knocking until they opened the door. God can answer prayer more wonderfully than you can imagine.
Acts 12:12 - "He came to the house of Mary... where many were gathered together praying."
Herod Met His Doom
You cannot fight God and win. Herod already had the blood of Jesus on his hands when he tried to kill Peter. Herod's reckless, godless pride collided with Almighty God.
Acts 12:19-24 - "Upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."
Augustine called words, "those precious cups of meaning." The Greek term for word is "logos," meaning "thought, or arrangement." Words order the universe. By God's word, the entire creation was spawned. His omnipotent word formed boundless matter from boundless void - everything from nothing! No other force in the universe has the dynamic potential of words. Ultimately, the word of God will compel all things everywhere to fulfill His perfect will. Some people think the Bible is
dead, but not so. It is the living word.
Acts 12:24 - "...the word of God grew and multiplied."
John Mark - Apprentice To Paul And Barnabas
The Church in Jerusalem was under great persecution, and Barnabas and Saul brought charitable supplies from the Church in Antioch (Acts 11:30). While in Jerusalem, they probably stayed with Barnabas' sister, Mary, who hosted the prayer meeting for Peter. Mary's son, John Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on their return to Antioch. This appears to be Mark's introduction to the ministry. He eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark and died as a martyr.
Acts 12:25 - "Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark."
They Fasted, Prayed For, And Laid Hands On Ministers
Fasting and prayer was the modus operandi of the early Church. They prayed until the Holy Ghost came on Pentecost. They prayed for a successor to Judas. They prayed for the first deacons. They prayed for those entering into the ministry. We must continue that tradition. Pray over everything. God works in a prayerful environment.
Acts 13:2-3 - "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."
Holy Ghost Leads The Church To Ordain Missionaries
The Church at Antioch was a strong congregation which included several outstanding prophets and teachers, such as Barnabas, Simeon Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (a former colleague of Herod), and Saul. The Holy Ghost signified that He had another work for Saul and Barnabas, so the Church commissioned them to go.
Acts 13:4-5 - "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John [Mark] to their minister."
Paul Prophesied That Elymas Would Be Blinded
Paul met Barjesus Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer and a false prophet. Elymas accompanied Sergius Paulus, a government deputy on the isle of Paphos. Elymas opposed Paul's attempts to convert Sergius. Paul prophesied that God would blind him. When it happened, Elymas converted.
Acts 13:11-12 - "Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed."
Men Of God Rebuke Devils
Paul, "filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on [Elymas the sorcerer], and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" Paul cursed him. "Thou shalt be blind." Today's "seeker-sensitive," "user-friendly" churches cannot see the devils in their midst, and would not cast them out if they did.
Acts 13:11 - "Immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."
Jesus Is The Promised Seed Of David
In the synagogue at Antioch Pisidia, Paul rehearsed God's dealings with Israel, reminding them how God promised a seed of David, saying, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart." Paul said, "Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus." He declared Jesus' birth, death and resurrection fulfilled prophecy.
Acts 13:30-33 - "God raised him from the dead: ...And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers. God hath fulfilled the same unto us."
I Have Set Thee To Be A Light Of The Gentiles
Many Jews and Gentiles at Antioch Pisidia followed Paul and Barnabas. On the next Sabbath, "almost the whole city [came] together to hear the word of God." But the Jews became envious, contradicting, and blasphemous. It was necessary that the Jews hear the Gospel first, but when they rejected it, Paul said, "lo, we turn to the Gentiles." God ordained Paul to preach to the Gentiles.
Acts 13:47 - "For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."
Shake Off The Dust Of Your Feet Against That City
Jesus emphatically taught His disciples, "Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet." Paul and Barnabas shook off the dust of Antioch Pisidia.
Acts 13:50-52 - "The Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."
Believers At Antioch, Iconium, Lystra And Derbe
Having been driven from Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas fled to Iconium, and preached in their synagogue. "A great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed." But unbelieving Jews stirred up adversaries. Paul and Barnabas continued preaching boldly as long as they could, until dangerous adversaries rose up. Nevertheless, some believed in each city.
Acts 14:6- "And when there was an assault made... to stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: And there they preached the gospel."
Stand Upright On Thy Feet
At Lystra, Paul encountered an impotent man, crippled from his mother's womb, who had never walked. Paul perceived that he had faith to be healed, so said with a loud voice, "Stand upright on thy feet." This formula is so simple, we are incredulous or skeptical to use it. "Say unto this mountain, Be thou removed." "Say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root." It is the quickest, most potent form of prayer. Speak to the problem in Jesus' name. Command it to be remedied. Watch the results.
Acts 14:10 - "And he leaped and walked."
Men Of God Should Not Be Worshipped
When Paul healed the lame man, the people shouted, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men!" They brought oxen and garlands to sacrifice to them. People are still foolish. Ministers should rebuke them, but they love wealth and fame. Vanity and pride engulfs them, and the name of Jesus is reproached.
Acts 14:14-15,18 - "[Paul and Barnabas] ran in among the people, crying out, ...Sirs, why do ye these things? ...turn from these vanities unto the living God, ...And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them."
They Ordained Elders With Prayer And Fasting
Every critical move made by the early Church leaders was with much prayer and fasting. Despite fierce opposition in Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium and Lystra, Paul and Barnabas still established churches in those cities. After being stoned and left for dead in Lystra, Paul rose up and returned to establish elders in every city.
Acts 14:20,23 - "When they had preached the gospel to [Derbe], and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, ...And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord."
We Must Through Much Tribulation Enter The Kingdom
In city after city, Paul faced adversity, persecution, even attempts to kill him. Nevertheless, he returned to those cities, "confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith." He explained the divine destiny of believers; "that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." We should be undaunted by tribulation; celebrating instead what great things God has done.
Acts 14:27 - "When they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles."
Circumcision Is Unnecessary To Salvation
While ministering to the Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas found themselves being hotly resisted by certain Jews who said, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." Paul and Barnabas headed to Jerusalem to discuss it with the Apostles and Elders of the Church. Peter delivered the deciding argument.
Acts 15:10 - "Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
The Church Is The Tabernacle Of David Restored
Seeing Gentiles coming into the Church reminded James of David's prophecies. The Tabernacle of David was the tent David made to house the Ark of the Covenant. David's Tabernacle was known as a tabernacle of praise (Psalm 27:6). It did NOT contain any other artifacts as were required in the Tabernacle of Moses (Brazen Altar, Shewbread, Laver, Candlesticks, etc.). Moses' Tabernacle represented the Law. David's Tabernacle represented Grace. James "connected the dots." The Tabernacle of David spoke prophetically of the New Testament Church.
Acts 15:18 - "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world."
A People For His Name - Jews And Gentiles
With arguments about circumcision silenced, James observed that Amos prophesied that God would rebuild the Tabernacle of David, "that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called." He added, "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name." The New Testament Tabernacle of David is the Church (Temple of the Holy Ghost), comprised of Jews and Gentiles.
Acts 15:19 - "My sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God."
Doctrinal Statements Worth Rejoicing Over
The leaders of the Church in Jerusalem decided that Paul and Barnabas needed support in persuading Jews in other cities that circumcision was not necessary for salvation. They drafted letters - doctrinal statements - in which they made a short list of things that the saints of God should abstain from: namely, pollutions of idols, fornication, and from eating things strangled or blood. Paul and Barnabas "delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation."
Acts 15:28 - "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things."
On his first missionary journey, Paul met Timotheus, son of a Jewish Christian mother, and a Greek father. The brethren at Lystra and Iconium knew young Timotheus and reported good things about him to Paul. Paul obviously saw the hand of God on his life, because he wanted him to accompany him on his missionary journeys. Timothy became one of the greatest Christians and ministers of all time. I pray that God will raise up many more young men like Timothy today.
Acts 16:1 - "Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus."
You Should Be Willing To Do More Than Is Necessary
Paul chose to circumcise Timothy even though Paul was at that very time hand-delivering written epistles to all the churches which said that circumcision was not necessary to salvation. Why? The Jews would likely have refused to hear them if Timothy had not been circumcised. Will you pay an otherwise unnecessary price just so someone will listen to you preach the gospel?
Acts 16:3-5 - "Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek."
Decrees That Were Ordained Of The Apostles
The early Church published a basic set of rules that were written down, as dictated by the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem. They were distributed throughout the cities to each new Church congregation in large part by the Apostle Paul, who quickly became the preeminent voice in defining New Testament doctrine and standards of Christian living.
Acts 16:4-5 - "As they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily."
Someone Else's Prayers May Win Priority Over Yours
There was no mention of prayer when Paul was forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach in Asia, but it is inconceivable that Paul was not praying about the matter. He wanted to preach in Bithynia, "but the Spirit suffered them not." If Paul could not understand why God forbid him to go to Asia, the vision he received explained it. Someone in Macedonia was praying for him to come there.
Acts 16:9 - "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us."
Look For A Prayer Meeting
Paul and Barnabas obeyed the Macedonian call, leaving immediately, believing "that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." As soon as they got there, "on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither." Look for a prayer meeting. You will find a willing audience to preach to. Lydia was their first convert.
Acts 16:14 - "Lydia, ...was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, ...come into my house, and abide there."
Trouble With Prayer
Prayer will get you into trouble, but prayer will get you out of trouble again. I have often prayed for a thing only to create the exact opposite effect. Jesus rebuked the devil in a deaf and dumb child, but the devil "cried, and rent him sore." The people said, "He is dead!" But Jesus took his hand and raised him up. Don't be immobilized if Satan fights back. Pray on!
Acts 16:16 - "...it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us."
Rebuke Unclean Spirits
Do not be surprised when your efforts to enter into prayer are sabotaged. This is spiritual warfare. Beware. Satan is determined to distract you. Resist and rebuke him. Paul and his group were on the way to prayer when a woman began following them. She had an unclean divining spirit, but posed as a believer, flattering Paul and his fellows.
Acts 16:18 - "And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour."
The Devil's Crowd Will Torment You - Praise God Anyway
When Paul cast the devil out of the woman, trouble started. With her soothsaying, she had earned a lot of money for her masters. "When her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas," saying that these Jews "exceedingly trouble our city." The majistrates stripped them, beat them with many stripes, cast them into prison, and locked their feet in stocks. But Paul showed us how to handle Satanic opposition. Pray and praise God.
Acts 16:25 - "At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."
Pray And Praise God In Prison - Let The Miracles Begin
Paul and Silas were bloodied from many stripes, and locked in stocks in prison. At midnight, they prayed. Then they sang praises to God. The other prisoners heard them. Suddenly, an earthquake shook the place, and all the doors were opened. Everyone's bands were miraculously loosed. The prison keeper awoke to the pandemonium, and seeing all the prison doors open, pulled out his sword to commit suicide. But Paul stopped him. God was orchestrating a great chain of miracles.
Acts 16:28 - "Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here."
The Philippian Jailer - God Turns Endings Into Beginnings
His superiors would have killed him if the prisoners escaped on his watch. But the Philippian jailer did not realize that nobody had escaped when the earthquake opened every cell. It was a miracle. Paul cried, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." It looked like the end, but it was only the beginning. "God turns endings into beginnings" (JW Harrell).
Acts 16:29-30 - "Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
What Must I Do To Be Saved?
Every New Testament preacher preaches repentance. Jesus added that you must be born again of the water and of the Spirit. Peter said to repent, be baptized in Jesus' name, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Death, Burial, Resurrection. Blood, Water, Spirit. These three agree in one (I John 5:8). The Philippian jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?"
Acts 16:31-33 - "They said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. ...And he took them the same hour of the night, ...and was baptized, he and all his, straightway."
Paul Began By Showing How Christ Fulfilled Prophecy
From city to city, Paul attempted to convert Jews in the synagogue first. If the Jews rejected him, he then preached to the Gentiles. "They came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, ...Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ."
Acts 17:4 - "Some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few."
Envious Unbelievers May Cause Lots Of Trouble
You cannot predict the crazy mischief that envious unbelievers may do against you. The unbelieving Jews at Thessalonica targeted one of the believers named Jason. They recruited lewd fellows to stir up the whole city against him and his household for taking in Paul and Silas - "these that have turned the world upside down." They accused them of opposing Caesar, and having Jesus for their king. Jason had to pay a fine to appease them. Be prepared to pay a price.
Acts 17:9 - "And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go."
The Bereans - Searched The Scriptures Daily
The Thessalonicans were so hostile that brethren sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. The Berean Jews "were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Many believed, including some honorable Greek women. But the Thessalonican Jews came to cause more trouble, so Paul headed for Athens. Strive to be like Bereans - NOT troublemakers who run good preachers off.
Acts 17:15 - "Receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed."
Devotions To The Unknown God Belong To Jesus Christ
Athens was rancid with pagan superstitions, exotic philosphies and bizarre fascinations. The Epicureans (sensual, hedonistic, devotees to pleasure) and the Stoics (austere, repressed ascetics) heard Paul preach about Jesus and the resurrection and wanted to hear more. Standing on Mars' Hill, Paul said, "As I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." Now, as then, men ignorantly worship gods they do not know. Only born-again believers can turn men to the one true God.
Acts 17:23 - "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."
They Should Seek The Lord, Not Idols
Athens' intellectuals, philosophers and sages relished idolatry. Paul argued, "as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device." Idolatry is for fools.
Acts 17:27 - "They should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being."
He Will Judge The World In Righteousness By Jesus
When Paul arrived in Athens, Greece, "his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." He disputed with the Jews and with anybody who would listen. He preached that God created heaven and earth, and about Jesus and His resurrection. He also warned them that judgment day is coming.
Acts 17:31- "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 assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."
Your Blood Be Upon Your Own Heads
Paul refused to struggle with congregations that greatly opposed his Gospel message. He was willing to dispute with them for a while, but if they became truly hostile, Paul checked out. Jesus taught the Apostles to flee any city that persecuted them (Matthew 10:23). Paul followed that counsel.
Acts 18:5-6 - "Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."
Many Believed And Were Baptized
Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," (Mark 16:16). Believing and being baptized are inseparable. If you have not yet been baptized, you really have not yet proven that you believe. You must be born of water and Spirit to see or enter the Kingdom of God. Water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is essential to salvation.
Acts 18:8 - "Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."
God Knows When And Where Things Will Get Better
Paul's first missionary journey was fraught with many fiery trials, from being rejected in the synagogues, to being hotly pursued, stoned and left for dead. He labored nonetheless against the odds. But on his second journey, the Lord spoke to Paul in a night vision at Corinth saying, "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city."
Acts 18:11 - "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them."
Gallio, Deputy Of Achaia, Refused To Prosecute Paul
The Lord told Paul in a night vision that "no man shall set on thee to hurt thee," while he was in Corinth. Soon after, "the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law." But Gallio, deputy of the province, informed them that he would have nothing to do with their religious disputes, saying, "I will be no judge of such matters." Paul suffered no hurt. The prophecy was fulfilled.
Acts 18:16 - "And he drave them from the judgment seat."
Aquila And Priscilla - Tutors Of Apollos
In Corinth, Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, a couple displaced when Claudius expelled Jews from Rome. They were tentmakers, as was Paul, so they began working together. They heard Paul persuading Jews and Greeks every Sabbath. They sailed to Ephesus with Paul, and heard Apollos of Alexandria, an eloquent, fervent Bible preacher who knew only the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla expounded the way of God more perfectly to Apollos. Are you married? Pray God will use you and your spouse in ministry.
Acts 18:28 - "[Apollos] mightily convinced the Jews, ...shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ."
Ephesians - Baptized In Jesus' Name And In Holy Ghost
Finding disciples in Ephesus, Paul asked, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" They answered, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." Paul wondered, "Unto what then were ye baptized?" They said, "Unto John's baptism." Paul said, "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe ...on Christ Jesus."
Acts 19:5-6 - "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues."
They Spoke With Tongues And Prophesied
The disciples of John at Ephesus were immediately converted to the Apostle's doctrine: Repentance, Baptism in Jesus' name, and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in other tongues. After Paul baptized them, he laid his hands upon them and the Holy Ghost came on them. They spoke in tongues and prophesied (speaking unto men to edify [build up] - see I Corinthians 14:3).
Acts 19:6-7 - "When Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve."
Opponents Cannot Eradicate Pentecostalism
It has never been uncommon for people to oppose the Apostolic Pentecostal experience. Enemies scattered the Pentecostals from Jerusalem. Wherever Paul made converts, unbelievers eventually opposed them. For three months in Ephesus, Paul preached boldly in the synagogue, until adversaries forced him to find another venue. Nevertheless, truth always survives, and multitudes believe.
Acts 19:9-10 - "He departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."
Jesus ordained His disciples with many supernatural abilities. One was the gift of laying on of hands. "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover," Mark 16:18. In Acts 8:18 "Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given." In Acts 28:8, Paul "laid his hands on [Publius' father], and healed him." Hebrews 6:2 calls it the doctrine "of laying on of hands." Every born-again believer can claim this gift (Mark 16:17).
Acts 19:11 - "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul."
Unbelievers Should Not Attempt Exorcism In Jesus Name
Vagabond (wandering, tramp, rogue) Jews decided to cast devils out of a man in the name of the Lord Jesus. These seven sons of Sceva were not converted to Christ. Not repentant. Not filled with the Holy Ghost. They played recklessly with the name of Jesus. "We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth."
Acts 19:15-16 - "The evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, ...so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."
Great Works Of God Move Men To Repent Of Their Sins
In Ephesus, many believers were baptized and received the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues. When a demoniac leaped on the seven sons of Sceva, that put the fear of God into a lot of people. Paul also performed many miracles. Diseases departed, and evil spirits went out. People started repenting of their sins.
Acts 19:17 - "And fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men."
They Are No Gods, Which Are Made With Hands
Paul faced rabid opposition at Ephesus from the wealthy idol manufacturers. The mythological goddess Diana was worshipped by virtually the entire population. But Paul's preaching "persuaded and turned away much people" from their idolatry. Still, a massive public uproar took place in the local theatre, as multitudes chanted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Providentially, the townclerk silenced the crowd and sent them home. Idols have eyes that see not, ears that hear not. Our God is in the heavens. He hears. He sees. Seek after Him.
Acts 19:26 - "They be no gods, which are made with hands."
Men Who Support The Ministry
Gaius and Aristarchus stood with Paul during the riot at Ephesus, and were ready to do whatever necessary for the Gospel. But Paul departed Ephesus for a three-month preaching tour in Macedonia, which led him also to Greece. Hostile Jews laid wait for him, so he decided to return to Macedonia. Several brethren continued to stand with Paul - Sopater of Berea; Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timotheus, Tychicus and Trophimus. Only God knows the enormous encouragement a preacher derives from faithful men of God showing their support for his ministry.
Acts 20:5 - "These going before tarried for us at Troas."
Paul's Missionary Itinerary
Paul took the Gospel everywhere he could get to, including Damascus, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Tarsus, Antioch Syria, Antioch Pisidia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos, Perga Pamphylia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Attalia, Cilicia, Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Samothracia, Neapolis, Macedonia, Philippi, Amphipolis, Appolonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Achaia, Athens, Corinth, Rome, Cenchrea, Ephesus, Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Trogylium, Miletus (Malta), Coos, Rhodes, Patara, Tyre, Ptolemais, Sidon, Myra, Lasea, Crete, Syracuse, Rhegium, Puteoli, Colosse, and more.
Acts 20:1-6 - "Paul ...departed for to go into Macedonia. ...he came into Greece, ...he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. ...we sailed away from Philippi..."
The Dead Raised By The Embrace Of A Man Of God
Paul spent seven days at Troas, and on the last night, he preached to a hungry crowd until midnight by lamplight in an upper chamber. A young fellow, Eutychus, fell asleep, and fell down from the third loft. They took him up dead. Paul went down, fell on him, and embraced him. Then he told the people, "Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him." Paul went back upstairs and continued teaching until sunrise. Never underestimate the power of God working in you.
Acts 20:12 - "And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted."
Bonds And Afflictions Abide Me
After all his missionary journeys, Paul concluded, "I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, ...repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." God prepared him, prophetically, for his final trials.
Acts 20:22-24 - "I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself."
Grievous Wolves Will Come In, Not Sparing The Flock
Paul begged Church elders in Ephesus to take heed to themselves and to the flock. Paul warned, prophetically, that evil men will devour the Church with seducing doctrines and lying spirits. Grievous wolves draw away disciples with perverse doctrines, and they die spiritually. "Feed the flock," he said. We must combat these evil wolves by preaching heavy doses of Biblical TRUTH.
Acts 20:29-30 - "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
Warn Everyone With Tears; Pray With Them All
Paul bid farewell to the Ephesians. "I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, ...I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. ...these hands have ministered ...to them that were with me."
Act 20:36 - "When he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship."
Ye Shall See My Face No More
It is the somber fate of the God-called servant to go where sent, and forsake anything God may require. Remember how God called out Abraham alone, and blessed him. You can see the emotional effect on Paul in his farewell at Ephesus. "I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more."
Acts 20:36 "And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more."
We Kneeled Down On The Shore And Prayed
We would scarcely relate to the simplicity and humble conditions of the ancient Jews and Christian disciples to which Paul was sent. Surely we would be immediately convicted of our materialism, carnality, worldliness and selfish lifestyles. Prayer and godly fellowship is the stuff of life.
Acts 21:5,7 - "And they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. ...And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day."
Holy Ghost Warned Paul Of Prosecution In Jerusalem
Enroute to Jerusalem, disciples in Tyre "said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem." At Caesarea, "a certain prophet, named Agabus. ...took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." They "besought him not to go up to Jerusalem."
Acts 21:13 - "Paul answered, ...I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
Judaism And Ceremonial Law Versus Christianity
After years abroad, Paul returned home to Jerusalem, and reported to James and the elders. They quickly informed Paul that thousands of Christian Jews "are all zealous of the law," and had been told that Paul taught Jews living among Gentiles "to forsake Moses." These demanded that Christians must keep the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. Despite his years of anointed ministry, they tried to kill Paul.
Acts 21:27,30,32 - "When they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, ...drew him out of the temple: and... went about to kill him."
Those Who Fight Against Truth Are Often Misinformed
The Church elders wanted Paul to show the Jews "that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law." "All Jerusalem was in an uproar" because they believed Paul was destroying Moses' law. A riot broke out in the Temple when a Gentile went in, "polluting the holy place." They thought Paul brought him in. They also called Paul an Egyptian troublemaker. Soldiers calmed the riot, then beat Paul, bound him in chains, and "demanded who he was, and what he had done."
Acts 21:34 - "Some cried one thing, some another, ...he could not know the certainty for the tumult."
It Shall Turn To You For A Testimony
Jesus warned His disciples that "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," Luke 21:12-13. Paul's experience was a perfect example. After being beaten, chained, arrested and taken before the authorities, the crowds had to listen.
Acts 21:40 - "Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue."
Paul Was A Most-Qualified Jew
All Jerusalem was violently enflamed against Paul, but the rage was ill-advised. Paul was no scoundrel, nor an enemy of Jews. He was God's man with God's message.
Acts 22:3-5 - "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. ...As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders."
Jesus Of Nazareth, Whom Thou Persecutest
Saul was utterly convinced that Jesus was an imposter, a threat to Judaism, and that Christians should be killed. But he was wrong. Jesus was the embodiment of the very God Saul believed in. Because he was doctrinally wrong, his heroic efforts were actually sins. You may think you are fighting FOR God, but if you are in serious doctrinal error, you are fighting against Him. The day God blinds you and forces you to listen to Truth will be a blessed day.
Acts 22:7 - "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? ...I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest."
If God Speaks To You, Stop Everything And Answer
Paul told the crowd how Jesus arrested him on his murderous rampage against Christians in Damascus. "Suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" If God speaks to you, it is time to stop everything else and listen. Nothing takes precedence over conversation with God.
Acts 22:8,10 - "I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. ...And I said, What shall I do, Lord?"
They Heard Not The Voice Of Him That Spoke To Me
It is a big deal when God arrests a murderer such as Saul, and calls him into the ministry. Jesus smote him blind, then spoke audibly to him. "Go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do." Those around you are not likely to hear God speak to you. You must obey God even if nobody thinks He talked to you.
Acts 22:9 - "They that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."
God Can Turn You Around
Saul might have spent the rest of his days killing Christians, but God disapproved, and smote him blind. Suddenly, his future was no longer his own. If you insist on doing as you please, do it as fast as you can, because when God says your time is up, you will not be able to do it any longer. From then on, things will be strictly on His terms. Do what He says, and things will brighten up.
Acts 22:13 - "[Ananias] said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him."
Thou Shalt Be His Witness Unto All Men
Not only did Paul have excellent credentials as a scholarly Jew, but God also chose another Jew named Ananias who was "a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt [in Damascus]." Christianity was not founded by know-nothings. The fact that Paul and Ananias were Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, Jesus'-name-baptized Christians provided persuasive evidence that they believed the Gospel was superior to the Law. Furthermore, Ananias knew that was why God chose Saul.
Acts 22:15 - "For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard."
Wash Away Thy Sins, Calling On The Name Of The Lord
Ananias told Saul that God sent him "that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost," (Acts 9:17). Ananias also told Saul that God had chosen him to know His will, to see Him, to hear Him, and to be a witness of all he had seen and heard. Then Ananias quickly moved Saul to be water-baptized in Jesus' name, and to receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 22:16 - "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Paul - The Apostle Of The Gentiles
Saul tried to explain to the hostile Jewish crowd how God told him to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. He told them how God spoke to him while in a trance in the Temple, warning him to leave Jerusalem because they would reject his testimony. Much later, in his letter to the Romans, Paul declared, "I am the apostle of the Gentiles." When God tells you to leave a place, it is because He wants you to be somewhere else.
Acts 22:21 - "He said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."
The Mob And The Chief Captain
Paul told the Jewish crowds how miraculously that God called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. But they wanted only Moses' teachings, not Jesus'. They violently yelled, "Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live." They cast off their clothes, threw dust into the air, and ordered him to be scourged. Every preacher eventually meets the mob and the chief captain. God will help you.
Acts 22:29-30 - "Straightway they departed from him... and the chief captain also was afraid, ...because he had bound him. ...He loosed him from his bands."
When You Have Mistakenly Offended, Apologize
Before the Temple council, Paul said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." Immediately, the High Priest commanded them that stood by to smite him on the mouth. Paul replied, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?" Someone said, "Revilest thou God's high priest?" Paul apologized.
Acts 23:5 - "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people."
If An Angel Has Spoken To Him, Let Us Not Fight God
Paul was in big trouble with the Temple council, but he saw potential for dividing the Pharisees and Sadducees. "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee. Of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called into question." Immediately, the Pharisees and Sadducees began quarrelling. (Sadducees did not believe in resurrection or angels.) The Pharisees rose to Paul's defense. Paul was saved because they believed God speaks supernaturally. God does speak to men as certainly as men speak to God.
Acts 23:9 - "If a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God."
Thou Must Bear Witness Also At Rome
In Damascus, Ananias had prophesied that Paul would hear the voice of the Lord. He had already heard Him once. "Arise, and go into Damascus..." In Jerusalem, Jesus said, "Get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me." In Corinth, Jesus said, "I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee." Paul was meticulously led by Jesus Christ.
Acts 23:11 - "The Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."
Conspirators And Assassins Of Saints
More than forty Jews met "and bound themselves under a curse," neither eating nor drinking until they had killed Paul. They conspired with the chief priests and elders to hold a phony meeting, and kill him there. In every generation, wicked men have shed the blood of innocent saints of God. In the providence and purpose of God, some will die for the cause, others will be delivered. Rest assured that God will not let you go before your time.
Acts 23:22-24 - "The chief captain ...called unto him two centurions, saying, ...bring him safe unto Felix the governor."
When the Jews plotted to kill Paul, his nephew heard about it, went into the castle where he was being held, and warned him. Paul sent him to Claudius Lysias to ask for help. Secretly, he arranged for 200 soldiers to take Paul to Caesarea late that night. He also wrote a letter to Felix the governor, informing him that Paul had done nothing worthy of death or bonds. Paul's nephew was a God-send. When you urgently need help, God can find somebody for you, too.
Acts 23:31 - "Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul."
Believing All Things Written In The Prophets
The Jewish priests and elders traveled to Caesarea to accuse Paul of sedition before the Roman Governor. Felix allowed Paul to speak in his own defense. Paul confessed that "after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets." Paul believed the prophets about Christ and the resurrection. If you believe in prophets and prophecy too seriously, people think you are a heretic. Believe anyway.
Acts 24:15 - "And have hope toward God, ...that there shall be a resurrection of the dead."
All Who Live Godly Suffer Persecution
Even when you do everything by the book, people will find fault, and trouble will come. Paul went to Jerusalem "to bring alms to my nation, and offerings." He was "purified in the Temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult," causing no trouble. Still, the Jews conspired to kill him, and he ended up in prison for more than two years. "ALL that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," 2 Timothy 3:12.
Acts 24:27 - "After two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound."
Felix, Festus, And Caesar - Paul's Prosecutors
Paul was unjustly held in prison for two years at Caesarea, yet when Felix the governor was replaced by Festus, the Jews immediately pressed Festus to bring Paul back to Jerusalem (where they secretly planned to kill him). Festus ordered them to a hearing in Caesarea. There, Paul refused to return to Jerusalem, knowing their intentions. Enemies of the Gospel can be unbelievably vindictive.
Acts 25:10 - "Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, ...I appeal unto Caesar." Festus answered, "unto Caesar shalt thou go."
Many And Grievous Complaints They Could Not Prove
Wicked men have always hurled baseless accusations against the righteous. Only God knows how many good men went to premature graves because of lying accusations. "The Jews which came down from Jerusalem ...laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove." Paul stood his ground. Saints must be "as wise as serpents" around that kind.
Acts 25:11 - "For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them."
As Time Passes, False Accusations Lose Their Effect
Paul spent two years in prison under constant threat of death for alleged crimes against the Jews. But at the hearing, the Jews made an empty case against Paul. Festus reported, "they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." Are you falsely accused? Be patient.
Acts 25:20,27 - "I doubted of such manner of questions. ...it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him."
King Agrippa And Bernice
King Agrippa and Bernice visited Caesarea, where Festus told him about Paul and his plight. He explained how the Jews wanted to kill him, but that Paul had done nothing worthy of death or imprisonment. He had appealed to Augustus Caesar. Agrippa wanted to hear Paul himself. Historians say that Paul testified in the Roman Amphitheatre overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Acts 25:23 - "On the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth."
I Was Not Disobedient To The Heavenly Vision
Paul became one of the most influential men in history because Jesus told him, "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; ...To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." Before YOU can turn men from darkness and the power of Satan, you must turn.
Acts 26:19 - "Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision."
Repent And Turn To God
Paul stood before Agrippa and told how Jesus appeared to him on the way to Damascus saying, "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness. ...to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins." In obedience to the heavenly vision, Paul went everywhere preaching that men should repent and turn toward God. All relationship with God begins with repentance.
Acts 26:20 - "But [I] shewed ...that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance."
Herod Agrippa - Almost Persuaded
Historians say that Herod Agrippa was sympathetic toward and popular with the Jews. Paul said, "I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. ...Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" When Paul told him that Jesus was He of whom the Law and the Prophets spoke, Agrippa had an exceptional comprehension of Paul's statements. He was almost persuaded. Tragically, almost saved is still completely lost.
Acts 26:28 - "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
This Voyage Will Be With Hurt And Much Damage
Paul's ministry and life calling demanded extensive traveling, often under great hardship. Enroute to Italy, Paul and other prisoners remained in chains for months, under constant guard. Their voyages engaged many ships and ports, which fortunately included many opportunities to meet with Jewish brethren, have fellowship and share the Gospel. Leaving "The Fair Havens," Paul prophesied that much damage would come to the ship and its contents. It ended in shipwreck.
Acts 27:9 - "Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives."
An Angel Comforted Paul With A Prophetic Word
Paul's final voyage to Rome encountered days of terrifying darkness and storms. "All hope that we should be saved was then taken away." But after long abstinence (fasting) Paul stood and told them, "Be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, ...Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee."
Acts 27:26 - "Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island."
A Tempestuous Wind Called Euroclydon
Paul urged the centurion to winter at "The Fair Havens," prophesying great losses ahead, but they sailed on. "There arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon." Sometimes, God warns us in "Fair Havens" but circumstances beyond our control lead to "Euroclydon." Miraculously, God saves us anyway.
Acts 27:41,43-44 - "They ran the ship aground; and ...the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. ...the centurion, ...commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship."
Even In Bad Times, Give Thanks
The stormy weather at sea was terrifying. 276 passengers would not eat for two weeks. Paul's ship ultimately was broken upon rocks near an island, but not before Paul fasted, prayed and received assurances from an angel that not one soul would be lost. He urged the people, "Take some meat: ...for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you."
Acts 27:35-36 - "He took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer."
I Believe God, That It Shall Be Even As It Was Told Me
Paul reported how the angel stood by him and assured him that God would save all his sailing companions alive. "Howbeit, we must be cast upon a certain island." Paul affirmed, "I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me." Still, some panicked, and began to let down a lifeboat. Paul said, "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. ..Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off." Let prophecy rule.
Acts 27:44 - "So it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land."
Take Every Opportunity To Pray For Someone
Shipwrecked, everyone onboard swam safely to the island of Melita (Malta). On that stormy winter night, natives built them a fire. A viper bit Paul's hand as he laid wood on it, but miraculously he was not harmed. They thought he was a god. Publius, the island chief, gave Paul quarters for three days. His father fell sick of fever and hemorraging, so Paul went in, prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. Take every opportunity to pray.
Acts 28:9 - "When this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed."
Thank God, And Take Courage
Paul's voyage from Caesarea to Rome took many months and was fraught with hazard and adventure. As they neared Rome, passing through Rhegium and Puteoli, they found brethren who persuaded Paul to stay with them seven days. After Paul left, those brethren learned that they could meet Paul again at Appii forum, so traveled some distance to be with Paul again. Thank God for those who stand with you in the time of your trial, and more especially when they show themselves to be loyal disciples as well.
Acts 28:15 - "When Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage."
The Jews At Rome
Once in Rome, Paul called the chief Jews together, introduced himself, and told some of his story, including how he was constrained to appeal unto Caesar to avoid being unjustly killed by the Jews. They had heard no bad news about Paul from other Jews, but many had spoken against the Christians. They desired to hear Paul tell them about Jesus. This was the beginning of the Apostlic Church of Rome.
Acts 28:23 - "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified ...persuading them concerning Jesus."
Ye Shall Hear And Shall Not Understand
Few things frighten me more than the possibility that I might become blind or deaf to the Word of God. God blinds and deafens those who do not want to know Truth. God forbid that should happen to you or me. Paul observed that in unbelievers at Rome.
Acts 28:25-26 - "When they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive."
If You Will Not Believe The Gospel, Somebody Else Will
In Rome, many Jews came to Paul's lodging, "to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening." Some believed, and others believed not. Paul abandoned the unbelieving Jews, saying, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it."
Acts 28:30-31 - "Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God."
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