10/13/2010 09:47

Acts (Part 01) - Volume 2

The Old Testament focuses on God the Father. The Gospels focus on God the Son. Acts focuses on God the Spirit. Jesus had told his disciples while he was with them that after he was gone they would receive the Holy Spirit. In a post resurrection appearance (the evening of that first day), he...


10/20/2010 09:36

Acts (Part 02) - Background to Pentecost

The eleven disciples (now apostles) travel back from the ascension site on Olivet to Jerusalem to wait as instructed by Christ. They went in the upper room (1:13), which is probably the same place (Mark’s mother’s house) where they had the Last Supper. This house was undoubtedly in the upper...


10/27/2010 10:28

Acts (Part 03) - Pentecost

The sound of the mighty rushing wind surely connected immediately in the apostles’ minds with the illustration Christ gave in a post resurrection appearance by blowing and telling them to receive the Spirit (John 20:22-23). But, in addition to the sound, tongues or flickering flames of fire appear,...


11/03/2010 11:22

Acts (Part 04) - Peter's Pentecostal Preaching

The first coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (about 1,978-9 years ago) was no quiet affair. The blast of a hurricane was heard! An already swelled population (visitors celebrating Pentecost swarmed the city) crowded around the house from which they heard the noise. No doubt a servant rushed to...


11/10/2010 09:55

Acts (Part 05) - Alms and Opportunity

Peter’s instruction in Acts 2:38 appears to be one of turning from sin and self (“repent”) and giving oneself over to God in Christ (“and be baptized”).  If Peter meant in this command, to have performed the water rite, we would have to construe from the sentence structure that he meant the...


11/17/2010 09:31

Acts (Part 06) - Peter's Lame Man Session

Hundreds of people pressed on Peter and John as they made their way over the temple area called Solomon’s Portico. They were astounded at the miracle, but their amazement seemed to concentrate less on the healed beggar and more on Peter and John who administered such power. Peter matches their...


11/24/2010 09:37

Acts (Part 07) - First Sanhedrin Trial

Peter’s talk in Solomon’s Portico in Acts 3 had attracted attention—not all of it good. Apparently, some Sadducees (who hold the belief that there is no resurrection) heard Peter’s claim of Jesus’ resurrection and ran to tell the chief priests about it. We find in Acts 4, then, that “the priests...


12/01/2010 09:35

Acts (Part 08) - Filled with the Spirit

The difference in Peter between his cowering in Caiaphas’ courtyard during Jesus’ trial and speaking out boldly to Annas and Caiaphas during his own trial was that in the latter instance he was filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:8). But what exactly does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Luke uses...


12/08/2010 10:34

Acts (Part 09) - Building the Church

The account of Ananias and Sapphira has an Old Testament feel to it. We read stories matter-of-factly in the OT of men coming through a fiery furnace unharmed or walls of water lining the path of Moses and the Israelites as they came through the Red Sea. But were we confronted with a superhuman...


12/16/2010 10:01

Acts (Part10) - Deacon Stephen

 Acts 6 begins by presenting a functional problem that arose in the Jerusalem church. Hellenist widows were being overlooked in the distribution of food. Hellenists are those Jews in Jerusalem who spoke Greek. They spoke Greek because (most likely) they had lived outside Palestine and at some...


01/08/2011 09:35

Acts (Part 11) - The Stoning of Stephen

The contrast is made clear as Stephen draws his defense to a close. It is not he, as the false witnesses have sworn, who has spoken against the Moses and God (the Law and the temple), but rather the Jewish rulers—Israel itself—that have broken the Law and denied God. Stephen told them that they...


01/23/2011 09:23

Acts (Part 12) - The Persecution

Stephen has been stoned. Immediately (“there arose on that day…” 8:1) a persecution commences on the church in Jerusalem. I would suppose that a surface-level look at this passage would put in mind that Caiaphas and his cronies, having been irritated first by Peter and the apostles, now with the...


01/29/2011 09:29

Acts (Part 13) - Saul's Conversion

Before getting into Acts 9, a review of this important transitional point in the history of redemption (which is the history of creation) is in order. Many Christians (most?) have collected biblical data throughout their lives in a rather haphazard manner. We learn a fact, a story, a principle, a...


02/04/2011 11:44

Acts (Part 14) - Saul's Beginning

After Saul meets Christ on the road to Damascus, Luke tells us that he meets Ananias who lays hands on him, allowing him to regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Then Luke says that Paul immediately proclaims Jesus in the synagogues, confounding the Jews and proving that Jesus was the...


02/18/2011 09:29

Acts (Part 15) - Lydda and Joppa

Saul has met the Lord. Not only that, but he has meditated on OT Scripture (having taken a trip to Arabia), recognizing its indication of Christ. He has spent almost three years preaching in Damascus. He has made enemies. He fled from Damascus to outpace those who wanted him dead. But after only...


02/25/2011 08:00

Acts (Part 16) - Cornelius

Acts chapter 10 tells the story of Peter bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. The narration changes a little from how Luke had been progressing. We find more detail in this story than usual. It is not surprising considering the pivotal importance of this event, but some of those details provide...


03/04/2011 11:09

Acts (Part 17) - The Gentiles?...Really?

Acts chapter 11 begins by telling us that news of the gospel going to the Gentiles spread throughout the area so that the Jews of Judea—even Jerusalem—had heard of it. When Peter returned from Caesarea to Jerusalem, the Christian Jews confront him about what they had heard. Notice that the text...


03/11/2011 08:05

Acts (Part 18) - Peter's Escape

As this section of Acts (chapters 7 through 13) continues to unfold, the focus continues to highlight activity in places other than the Jerusalem church. In chapter 11 verse 19, we read that the scattering from Saul’s chapter 8 persecution has served to send Christian Jews up the coast to...


03/18/2011 11:24

Acts (Part 19) - Preparing for the First Missionary Journey

That Peter told those gathered at Mary’s house in Jerusalem to give the message of his release to James first and not to the other apostles has significant implication. Some suggest that Peter is turning over the reigns of the church universal to James. This simply is not so, and I think the rest...


04/01/2011 15:56

Acts (Part 20) - Paul's First Sermon

Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus, believes (13:12). And it is not just because he has seen the miracle of Paul striking Elymas with blindness; Sergius Paulus understood the miracle in conjunction with Paul’s teaching, as we learn in 13:12b. It was the teaching that astonished him. The...


04/16/2011 09:30

Acts (Part 21) - Free from the Law

Paul’s message in the synagogue at Antioch focuses on the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul draws on Old Testament scripture to make the tie between God’s promises of the conquering of sin and death through a Messiah who would be King forever to Jesus. Psalm 2 speaks of David’s coronation in...


04/24/2011 08:50

Acts (Part 22) - Salvation by Circumcision?

Luke tells us in Acts 14 that the city of Iconium was divided. Some sided with the Jews and their insistence that their religion of circumcision, sacrifice, and Law was still what God wanted for relationship. The others sided with Paul and Barnabas and their message of the fulfillment of the Law’s...


05/01/2011 07:42

Acts (Part 23) - Journey to Philippi

The Epistle to the Galatians was written sometime after the first missionary journey (Acts 13) and before the second missionary journey (beginning in Acts 16). A somewhat educated guess would put the writing of the letter between Acts 15:35 and 36—in those days following chapter 15’s Jerusalem...


05/06/2011 19:19

Acts (Part 24) - From Philippi's Jail to Thessalonica

At midnight, in the pitch-black interior of the jailhouse, Paul and Silas sat praying and singing. No shouts rang out from any angry, hardened prisoners wanting silence in which to sleep. The Bible tells us that they all were listening. A rumble began, and the prison house foundations started...


05/13/2011 10:18

Acts (Part 25) - Bereans and Athenians

In the jealous zealousness for their position as law-holders of the old covenant, the Thessalonian Jews react to Paul’s message as did the Jews of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. They want Paul and his message stopped. But Thessalonica was in the heart of Greek/Roman civilization. These Jews could...


05/20/2011 09:29

Acts (Part 26) - Paul's Areopagus Defense

Paul has been brought before the Areopagus council of Athens to explain his religious views. Their concern was that Greek culture and society would not be threatened by the religious beliefs Paul was promoting. Those with an understanding of the Greek rhetorical arts have recognized Paul’s address...


05/27/2011 10:15

Acts (Part 27) - Paul in Corinth

In his Acts 17 address, Paul told the Areopagites that God is calling on all people everywhere to repent. He warned of judgment coming by God’s appointed man, whom he raised from the dead (17:31). But was this a gospel message? It appears not. There is no talk of atonement—no reconciliation—no...


06/03/2011 08:11

Acts (Part 28) - Paul in Ephesus

Paul left Priscilla and Aquila and the rest of his helpers in Ephesus to carry on the work there as he traveled to Jerusalem to complete the ritual involved with his vow. We will discuss Paul’s keeping of old covenant ritual more fully when we reach Acts 21. Paul’s trip to Jerusalem, then to...


06/10/2011 07:56

Acts (Part 29) - Great is Artemis?

  Ephesus was the magic capital of Asia Minor. Magic was thought of as the ability to control spirits to do your bidding or work to your advantage. In Acts 19:11-20, Luke begins by describing the miracles of God performed by Paul particularly in the matter of healing and exorcism. The aprons...


06/17/2011 08:38

Acts (Part 30) - Where's Priscilla?

In Acts 19 we read of Demetrius, a silversmith who clearly saw that the gospel Paul preached threatened his economical, religious, and political world (19:23-27). It is interesting that this concept so clearly understood by him and the pagans of his day is beyond the grasp of 21st century America....


06/25/2011 11:10

Acts (Part 31) - Paul to Jerusalem

After Paul’s farewell to the Christians in Troas, he continues on his journey to Jerusalem. He is trying to make Jerusalem by Pentecost, which is roughly 50 days following Passover (“roughly” because technically it is 50 days following the wave offering of the 1st day of the week following the...


07/08/2011 08:05

Acts (Part 32) - A Plea to the Jews

One additional note must be made concerning the trip to Jerusalem resulting in Paul’s arrest. We learned in 19:21 that while in Ephesus, Paul, compelled by the Spirit, planned to “go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’” From our vantage point we understand that...


08/12/2011 06:08

Acts (Part 33) - Paul Before the Sanhedrin

 Lysias, the commander in whose custody Paul remained, was not satisfied. Felix, the Roman procurator, had left him in Jerusalem to maintain order. But a mob scene within the temple involving Jews seemingly intent on killing this man, Paul, surprised the commander. Yet, after settling the...


08/19/2011 08:12

Acts (Part 34) - Paul Before Felix

  The Jews were not about to allow Paul to be forgotten. They didn’t want Felix letting him go for lace of prosecuting witnesses. Chapter 24 verse 1 tells us that Ananias and some elders arrived from Jerusalem just five days after Paul. Considering that it was at least a two-day journey,...


08/26/2011 07:29

Acts (Part 35) - Paul Before Festus

  The following timeline will serve to coordinate our thinking of the events in our study in relation to some of the other events and appointments and reigns that affected the region. 52   Ananias ends term as high priest          ...


09/03/2011 08:58

Acts (Part 36) - Paul Before Agrippa

  Paul’s defense before Agrippa is the longest address of his recorded in Acts. For the third time Luke includes the record of Paul’s conversion experience. Again, we read of Paul’s progression from zealous Jewish Pharisee to preacher of the resurrection. Why all this repetition by Luke?...


09/09/2011 08:22

Acts (Part 37) - Storm at Sea

  In chapter 27 an abrupt change occurs from the previous chapters’ doctrinal emphasis in Paul’s defenses. Paul is finally being sent to Rome and this chapter, along with the beginning of chapter 28, gives account of his travel. Luke travels with him as evidenced by a return to the “we”...


09/17/2011 07:18

Acts (Part 38) - Rome

  In chapter 27 Paul had warned the centurion Julius that the sailors would try to make it to shore using the skiff. That, Paul had said, would be disastrous for them (27:31). From the one sentence Luke records, we may understand Paul’s statement to mean that God had ordained loss of all...