Book Overviews · Galatians

Galatians Overview for tomorrow

I hope some of these towns are familiar to you from last week as Paul went through them in the First Mission Trip.  When he left the Judaizers came through adding to his message.  Is this a big deal?

In the temple, a veil separated the Holy of Holies—the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence—from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. This signified that man was separated from God by sin. Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to enter into God’s presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins.

In the Gospel, when Jesus gave up His Spirit, the first thing the Lord did for us was tearing the veil that separated people from the Lord.  The tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death symbolized that His sacrifice, the shedding of His own blood, was a sufficient atonement for sins.

If we add works, we are saying His sacrifice was NOT enough.  So the answer is YES, it is a big deal.  Adding works TO BE a Christian is like sewing up the veil.


The churches in Galatia were both Jewish and Gentile converts. Paul’s purpose in writing to these churches was to confirm them in their faith alone, apart from the works of the Law of Moses.

Galatians Epistle was written because the churches of that region were facing a theological crisis. A message that by faith rather than by human works was being denied by the Judaizers. Specifically,  the Judaizers insisted on circumcision as a requirement for Gentiles who wished to be saved. In other words, convert to Judaism first, and then you are eligible to become a Christian. When Paul learned that this was being taught to the Galatian churches, he wrote a letter (epistle) to them.

Wait till you hear the tone Paul takes in this letter.  This is a serious topic- and his tone will be too!

 

Acts

Act 15-16

Paul's 1st Missionary Journey- Lystra – Mission Bible Class

Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Remember map directions were given by elevation.  Jerusalem was in the middle of 3 mountains.  Straight downhill to Antioch.  But more importantly, what these “certain people” were saying was seriously wrong.  We call these people Judaizers.

In the early church, Judaizers taught a combination of God’s grace, and human effort was required for Salvation.   A Judaizer taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Law. Circumcision, especially, was promoted as necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then they could come to Christ. The doctrine of the Judaizers was a mixture of grace (through Christ) and works (through the keeping of the Law). This false doctrine will be handled by Luke (author of Acts) and Paul Acts 15 and strongly condemned in the book of Galatians. (we read that book next)

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

Listen, you can’t blame them for holding to circumcision as a requirement after the way they were brought up BUT they are showing “favoritism” for the Jews.   They believed they must become a Jew first. (The scriptures addressed favoritism in James yesterday)

Paul’s response is BEAUTIFUL-

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 

Here is another lesson for us this year as we read through the Bible.  If you are going to share Doctrine…you need to support it directly from the Scriptures. (Both OT and NT). So Paul supports this with a quote from Amos 9:11-12.

THEN Paul tells them 3 things they “need” to do.  Well, isn’t that an oxymoron since we just said they were purified by Faith and Faith alone?  Verse 20 says:

  • Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, 
  • from sexual immorality, 
  • from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

These are ALL related to Pagan Worship.  You cannot worship the Lord and a pagan god.  Remember to always take scripture in context.  I have seen people take the sexual immorality one here and smack someone with it like it was an abomination. In context,  they would prostitute themselves with others or with animals for the sole purpose of idol worship of a god.  (no google image insert needed here 🤮)

They sent them a letter freeing them of these practices and they were relieved.  (wouldn’t you be 😂)


Verse 15:36 Starts Paul’s SECOND Misson.

If this map overwhelms you here is an easier one

Paul's Second Missionary Journey - New Testament Maps (Bible History Online)

Clearly, Paul had a beef with Mark but  Barnabus liked him.  So they parted ways.  Who cares??  Divide and conquer I say.  I know a lot of people I don’t like but that doesn’t mean God isn’t using them for His purpose…I am just not going to road trip with them.


Chapter 16

Enter stage left…Timothy!  Here is what we know:

  • His mom is Jewish
  • His dad is a Gentile (greek)
  • Paul circumcised him for the mission.

Wait!  Flag on the field!  Didn’t we JUST say believers did not have to be circumcised??

  1.  Paul’s ministry of converts that did get circumcised are feeling criticized.
  2. Paul is also proving to the Jews that he is not opposed to circumcision.  It’s not needed for Salvation BUT we are not against it!  (Such modern-day application here!). We need to be very careful we don’t offend traditions WHILE sharing the Truth with them.  (Do I need to repeat that?

Follow your map.   We are now in Phillipi:  If we widened the camera lens or panned left we would see the Macedonia area is just east of Rome.  Phillipi is a major trading area on the way to Rome. Very cultural, wealthy, and diverse.  This is not going to be easy!

Three major events happen there:

  1. Lydia’s conversion.  From the clues in the text we know she has money and is possibly a widow.
  2. The exorcism of demons from a slave girl, which resulted in Paul and Silas being thrown into prison
  3. The conversion of the Philippian jailer and his family

If any of you are taking notes there are so many in this Jail scene!  So many parallels to the Cross

  • Set in motion by greed and a false accusation, and evidently causing an uproar
  • The crowd joined in on the attack
  • They were beaten with a rod and severely flogged
  • Illegal trial
  • Feet were bound
  • The earth shook and the veil was torn, I mean the prison gate was open
  • Found alive-the message of Salvation was proclaimed
  • Deeds FROM faith were performed
  • He ate with them
  • Before leaving he spoke a word to encourage them

 

Uncategorized

The last 40 reads!

We are entering the last 40 reads.  It will be during a very busy time of the year.  I encourage you to make a commitment right now that this is a priority for 40 days.  Yes, we have important things going on, but before you scroll social media, read the news, watch TV, watch a youtube video-get your reading in for the day.  We are at the advent of “the looking forward” to the birth of Jesus.  What better way to honor God than with reading each day in The Word.

 

 

James

The Book of James

If this book doesn’t speak to you, nothing will!  I am going to keep this contextual and let your Holy Spirit make it personal.

In the overview last night I pointed out the author is Jesus’ brother (half-brother-different fathers 😁).  However, that is NOT how he introduced himself:

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, (not his brother)

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: (speaking to the Jewish Christian or Christian Jews)

Greetings.


Trials and Temptations

The two biggest trials they faced during this time is poverty and persecution.  However, apply it personally.  This book is about producing strong, mature, unshakable believers. (raise your hand if that is your desire).   Christians must take a distinctively Christain perspective on life.

First and foremost: if you want to face trials in a Christian manner-ask the Lord for Wisdom (this can ONLY be gained from the Lord).  An analogy is given about a person being “a wave at sea”-one day up, one day down.  Unstable.  Forever in motion.  Divided.  Double-minded! (Living in God’s will one minute and the World the next)


Test verse Temptation.   Very different!

  • The Lord tests us.  He never tempts us.
  • OUR own desires tempts us.

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

You do not doubt that if you stepped outside on a clear night that there would be stars in the sky, so do not think that the God who places them there changes either.  If you have read since Genesis you have read that He is the same in this book as He was “In the beginning”.


Listening and Doing

If the seed of the Word is planted in you, then it will grow if the soil is right.  If you are not bearing fruit-it is a soil issue, not a seed issue!

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.


Ready for the kick in the shins Patricia Szymanski?

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves and their religion is worthless.


Chapter 2

Favoritism Forbidden

Favoritism- the best way I can wrap my brain around this is actually through “judging”.  How we see someone is not how God sees someone.  How quick we are to “rank” Christianity in others.  We make assumptions about the way they dress, their church attendance, how we see them spend their money.  We are called to love.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.


Faith and Deeds

19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Yikes!

Even demons know theology.  They have intellectual faith.  But someone who says they have faith-without deeds (fruit on the vine).  Is bogus faith.  Listen, I don’t mean to sound harsh at all BUT Faith without deeds is dead faith.  If you have “heart faith”.  Real Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you will have evidence in your Salvation.

Do you see how James layers each precept so they all work together?  Trials, Testing, No Favoritism, and a Faith with Deeds

  • Abraham- the Father of the Jewish nation illustrated faith and works by obedience.

Verse 25 says: “In the same way” 

  • Rehab the Prostitute was considered righteous proved through her obedience in Joshua 2 when she hid the spies.

Chapter 3

Taming the Tongue

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Ummmm, after reading that…this will be the last post of the year.  😂 Just kidding.  James is NOT discouraging people to teach God’s word.  He is emphasizing the heavy responsibility involved if you are going to teach God’s word.  By they way-I am going to take this one step further- Have you heard people take a scripture out of context or misuse it?  It is no different.  We need to be very careful.

God KNOWS the taming of the tongue is hard!  He tells us how hard it is!  It is easier to take the wild animals he created than the tongue.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

BUT that is not a free pass.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 


Two Kinds of Wisdom

There are 2 kinds of wisdom- only one comes from the Lord.  If you have ‘wisdom’ in a matter that brings selfish ambition-that was not from the Lord.  His is: peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.


Chapter 4

Submit Yourselves to God

Wow, James’ letter took a turn.  He went from ” My Brothers and Sisters” to “You adulterous people”.  He is talking to believers-the Bride of Christ!  If we flirt with the world-we are committing spiritual adultery against the Lord.

  1. Resist the devil and come near to God and He will come near to you!
  2. Wash your hands of sin-Repent (turn away) from worldly desires
  3. Change your laughter to mourning- grieve over sin.  Let your heartbreak for what breaks HIs.
  4. Humble yourselves-and He will lift you up.

Verse 11-back to “Brothers and Sister” AND back to controlling your tongue!  False accusations, slander, gossip is rebelling against the Lord.


Boasting About Tomorrow

James (and the Lord) have nothing against making plans.  It is about the arrogance of thinking you are at the wheel (Even Carrie Underwood knows that!)   We need to place our plans and hopes at the feet of the Lord and have faith that if it is His will-they will happen. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

The sin committed when we think we are in control is called Arrogance.


Chapter 5

Warning to Rich Oppressors

This passage is not about the rich- it is about the rich oppressors.

  1. They hoard their wealth and failed to use it to help the poor.
  2. They failed to pay their laborers what is owed
  3. They lived self-indulgent lives while those who needed were ignored
  4. They used their money for social and political influence

Patience in Suffering

11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Seems like years ago we read the Book of Job.  Talk about Suffering!  And in the end, Job NEVER gave up on God.  He persevered through a very long trial.  We are encouraged to do the same.

The Prayer of Faith
  • If you are in trouble…pray
  • If you are blessed…pray
  • Have others pray for you
  • Confess your sins
  • As other believers to pray for you
  • Pray with perseverance (Elijah did!)
  • Share the Gospel so that others may be saved from death!
Book Overviews · James

James Overview for tomorrow

First, let’s figure out which James this is.  Since we started the New Testament we have actually read about 4 of them.

  • James the father of Judas (Luke 6:16)
  • James the son of Alphaeus (Mt 10:3)
  • James, the son of Zebedee (Acts 12) the one that just died, Jesus  Apostle
  • James, the brother of Jesus (half-brother)

The author of this book is not the apostle James but the brother of Jesus.  James was not a believer until the Resurrection.  He was assumed married and a very devout Jew and coined the nickname “Camel Knees” since the man had calloused bruised knees like a camel from praying for such long periods of time.Was the Epistle to the Hebrews written by Paul? - Divisions Structure Bible Menorah

The book of James is called a “General Letter”.  The General Letters are not directed at a particular location like some other books we will read.  James was written generally to Jewish Christians or some call them Christian Jews.     A Jewish person has been brought up with the Laws of Moses but now worships the Lord.  It is about Spiritual Maturity.

If you like the Proverbs you will Love James!  It is practical advice regarding being rich and poor, pride, humility, wisdom, patience, prayer, controlling the tongue (ouch), and most importantly, faith and actions.

 

Acts

Act 13-14

Mission #1 The scriptures point out how diverse the Church is becoming.

  • Barnabus- The Levite
  • Simeon called Niger- Black man from Africa
  • Lucis of Cyrene- A Roman
  • Manaen- The Herodian
  • Saul-The Pharisee

The Holy Spirit sets apart or “dedicates” Saul and Barnabus “the encourager” for the work they are called for.

Cyprus:

Follow the map.  We leave Antioch and head to Cyprus. (Barbaubus’s home town “or island”).  The Holy Spirit led them to a Jewish Island that they were familiar with.  They will get their missionary feet ready to eventually travel to MUCH harder places to share the Word.

They land in Salamis and visit the Synagogues to give a message.  They meet up with John Mark (the one God used to write the book of Mark) and they make their way to Paphos.

In Paphos, there is a High Roman Officer (proconsul).  I assume he was probably the governor of the Island since he had private teachers and sorcerers.   Well, if the governor believes the message of Saul and Barnabus he will be out of his socerey job!

Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said,  “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”


Pisidian-

It is customary that visitors of the Synagogues were always asked to speak.  Paul address the Jews and the Gentiles in a history lesson starting with the Exodus and walked them to the Cross. (I hung on every word):

38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

My favorite line from the movie “The Greatest Showman” is-“nothing draws a crowd, like a crowd”- the next week the whole city came to hear the message. Paul quoted Psalm 2, Isaiah 55, and Psalm 16.  He speaks of the Davidic Covenant from 2 Samuel 7.  What a sermon! He ends with a quote from Hankkuk 1:5

‘Look, you scoffers,
    wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
    that you would never believe,
    even if someone told you.’”

And just as prophesized: The Jewish leaders reject the message.  BUT the scriptures throughout the Old Testament said the message came FIRST for the Jews THEN for the Gentiles.  That is just what they did and will continue to do.

“We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. ❤️


Chapter 14-follow the map

Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. This is the area of Galatia.  (put that in your pocket so when we read the book of Galatians it will make sense)

This area is legalistic and they believed strongly in the Jewish customs and laws. However, it was a Greek city (Hellentsic) and they believed prior to this event that greek gods were once there.  Paul and Barnabus are mistaken for Zeus and Hermes, that they had come back in human form to revisit them.  (you can’t make this stuff up).  We read here there was an actual temple with a priest just to worship Zeus.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Paul and Barnabus were almost stoned to death for preaching God’s message.  (I am horrible, my mission would have ended here).  Not them…they are just getting started.


 “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

 

 

 

 

 

Acts

Acts 11-12

Chapter 11

Peter returns and has to explain his actions.  I love this story!  I can just picture him saying “I know right, this story is crazy!  So there I was in a gentile’s house….” LOL.  BUT then he says

17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”


Why do bad things happen to good people?  Through the death of Stephen, the Gospel is being scattered.

The Advance of the Gospel - ppt download

Barnabus and Saul go to Antioch.  Why Antioch?

Antioch was the third-largest city in the Roman Empire. Only Rome in Italy and Alexandria in Egypt were larger. Antioch was a busy seaport trade hub with a mix of people from different cultures and religions.  The city was the home to the Jews that were scattered after the captivity (Diaspora).  We learned about the Hellenistic Jews, these are called the Diaspora Jews.  They were mostly businessmen that were were citizens so they had Roman privileges but maintained their Jewish Faith.  Through them, many Gentiles in Antioch were drawn to Judaism and, eventually, Christianity.   Saul and Barnabus spent a year reaching both Jews and Gentiles-notice the Bible uses the word they become “Christians”.

The scripture to use the word “Christian” is in this chapter.  I researched this a little and I found that this phrase was a derogatory word used by others that opposed this movement.  (I speak from experience being an atheist most of my life…it still can be used that way)


Chapter 12

Who remembers this fun visual?

Now we are at #9.

 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.

James becomes the first apostle to become a martyr.


A mighty angel was sent from heaven to rescue Peter.

The deliverance of Peter from prison is a summary of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Notice the parallels:

  • A Herodian leader
  • The feast of Unleavened Bread
  • The Passover
  • The arrest and illegal trial
  • The appearance of an angel
  • The mention of women witnesses
  • The disbelief
  • The execution of 2 others

Chapter 12 ends with the beginning of Paul’s mission trips:

25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

 

Acts

Acts 9-10

For some, this may be a familiar phrase “The road to Damascus”.  If you know this account, try to read it brand new and see it from God’s perspective.  The person in your life or in this world who is LEAST likely to become a FAITHFUL follower of Christ can.  So when you pray for that person, do you say “no way” when you end??  Do you not believe that God can?

Chapter 9

Saul:

  • was born in Tarsus in Cilicia around AD 5 in modern-day Tersous, Turkey.
  • He was from the tribe of Benjamine
  • His parents were Pharisees—fervent Jewish nationalists who adhered strictly to the Law of Moses—who sought to protect their children from “contamination” from the Gentiles.
  • Saul’s family were Roman citizens but viewed Jerusalem as a truly sacred and holy city
  • At age thirteen Saul was sent to Palestine to learn from a rabbi named Gamaliel, under whom Saul mastered Jewish history, the Psalms, and the works of the prophets.
  • Saul becomes a lawyer, and all signs pointed to his becoming a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court of 71 men who ruled over Jewish life and religion.
  • Saul became determined to eradicate Christians, ruthless in his pursuit as he believed he was acting in the name of God. (I think of him as a religious terrorist)
  • He approved the stoning of Stephen AND held the clothes of the “stoners” so when they hit the main artery the blood would not squirt and soil their garments.

Damasus was about a 6-day journey on foot from Jerusalem.  (Currently the capital of Syria).  Nabatean King Aretas ruled the large city in Saul’s day and it was a hub for Jewish families and Synagogues.  Saul took it personally that anyone would be a convert in such a major Jewish Community.  He was given permission by the High Priest to arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem for a reason: He did not have Roman authority to kill them there, he needed the Sanhedrin authority and that was limited to Judea.

OK, enough of me rambling.  Read the story and be amazed.  We tend to concentrate on the experience on the road, the theophany of Jesus, the 3 days, the “I was blind but now I see”, BUT this is about two men being called, not just one.  Ananias is called to care for the most dangerous man in town. In obedience, his first word to Saul is “Brother”.💜

Also, when the Prophets were “lamenting” about how could the capacity of the Hebrews in the Old Testament bring anything good- we see now a vehicle for sharing the Gospel-The Synagogue.  Without the captivity, the Jews never would have built hundreds of Synagogues for teachers to share a sermon or a message.   Saul uses these as his platform to teach.  However, it is very clear from God’s statement to Ananias that Saul will also bring a strong message to the Gentiles.  (What??? Oh, Saul’s parents would roll over in their graves if they heard this!!)


23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

Just marinate on that whole paragraph for a minute.


Yesterday we read about Acts 1:8 and 8:1.  And NOW look…

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

Just as Jesus commanded, with the Power of the Holy Spirit, Peter continues Jesus’ ministry in healing. Aeneas and Dorcas are healed not for their sake, but as a witness to the power of Jesus, and The Way continued to grow. To the GENTILES

Cornelius is a Centurian (wealthy military commander of Rome, in charge of 100 men) from Caesarea.  Just hearing the name of the city we know that it is named after Caesar so it will be a gentile Roman major city.  Peter (oh how I love him) enters the house and opens with-

27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

Bless!  He is comparing them to unclean animals!  Imagine if someone came to your house like that.  But that was the point of the vision from the Lord.-“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”-

God does not show favoritism.

34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 

and then shares the Gospel in a Gentile community, and it will be scattered and taken back to Roman towns.-

💜

39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

 

 

Acts

Acts 7 and 8

Sorry, I am late. I had a massive sinus headache this morning.  I waited to read because I knew this was a really good one (they all are).

Chapter 7

You have to go back and read the end of Chapter 6 to really get this amazing retell of the entire OT and WHY Stephen did it.  He was accused of:

  • blasphemy against God
  • blasphemy against Moses
  • blasphemy against the Temple

Stephen defends this accusation with the longest Sermon in the book of Acts.

  • He defends how God was rejected by the Hebrews.  Read between the lines as you read it.  Look how Jesus was portrayed through people like Joseph.  Underline the Words for God and see how He provided for them and yet God was rejected by rejecting Joseph.  (But notice in verse 13-ON THE SECOND VISIT he was recognized!  Oh on Jesus’ 2nd coming He will not be mistaken either!)
  • Then Stephen defends Moses starting in verse 20.  Again, you will see how Moses too was rejected.  Tons of foreshadowing in this text…you don’t need me…you will spot them.
  • Last, Stephen defended the Temple and sacrifices that were also discarded by the Hebrews.

This message was told at a Synagogue that was led by a young man named Saul!  Stephen began the sermon with:

“Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory… (Verse 2)

and ended with: 

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (verse 55)


The First Martyr for the Gospel: Stephen

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

The Stoning of Stephen" Acts 7:54-60 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed th… | Bible pictures, Biblical art, Holy spirit


This is a wonderful place in the Bible to explain to people why do bad things happen to good people.  Stephens’s death is the beginning of something God is about to do…Paul!


Chapter 8 

And Saul approved of their killing him. (If you don’t know I want to let you know this is Saul who will become Paul)

Let’s go back to Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This will happen through ministry OR persecution:

Acts 8:1 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

Saul of Tarsis:

  • began to destroy the Church
  • going from house to house dragging off men and women and putting them in prison

BUT people were scattered…the seeds of the Gospel are being scattered. ❤️


Simon the Sorcerer.  This is actually a very famous person written about it in many historical texts.  He was considered “a god” and people actually erected statues of him. The apostles coming into town were the “new” ones to follow and Simon was not the ‘god’ any longer.  It says that “Simon believed and was baptized”.  But did he?? Or did he just want to be the Sorcerer people followed again??

Let’s see…

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

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


Philip and the Ethiopian

The Lord prompted Simon for a divine appointment.  (I love when that happens to me).  He met up with an Ethiopian Eunuch (castrated man) so he can safely work in the Palace around the Pharaoh’s woman if you know what I mean.  He was wealthy and had his own copy of the Scriptures (this is VERY rare, but speaks to how much $$ he had).  What is he reading??  ISAIAH 53!!  I kid you not!! 

Listen…Be a Philip!  You have been reading for 323 days.  Be a Philip!  Listen to God prompting you to have these conversations!  Look for some Eunuchs! 😁

The Doxology Desk: Acts 8:26-40, "Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch"

 

 

 

 

 


 

Acts

Acts 4-6

You need to know the Sadducee theology for this read:

  • The first five books of Moses (the Torah) only
  • Sadducees flatly rejected the Pharisee teaching that oral tradition was equal to Scripture in authority.
  • They believed in unrestrained free will—meaning God had no role in the personal lives of humans. Everyone was a master of his or her own destiny.
  • Sadducees rejected the supernatural, refuting belief in angels, demons, heaven, hell, and resurrection. To their way of thinking “souls die with the bodies.” The End.

Chapter 4 begins with the Sadducees ticked off about the “message”.  Well knowing what the Sadducees believe makes total sense.  So they bring Peter and John to Annas and Caiphas.  Deja Vu!  The same first trial that Jesus went to. Do you remember who Annas was?  The High Priest position is supposed to be for life, but the Romans gave it to Caiphas as a figurehead (Annas’s son on Law).  But Annas still had ALL the power (he was in the good ole’ boys club with the politicians “the Sadducees”).

Peter, was the one who denied knowing Christ.  BUT this Peter has the Holy Spirit!!  Fearless!  In Matthew 10 Jesus said to the disciples:

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

#truestory

Peter then quotes a messianic psalm: Psalm 118

11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

and continues to share the message of the Gospel!  Will they believe the words?  Well of course, they just saw a lame man walk!

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”


Now we come to a compare and contrast.  As the church comes together it is BEAUTIFUL!

  • All the believers were one in heart and mind.
  • No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
  • there were no needy persons among them.
  • For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
    • Even a Levite names Joseph (name changed to Barnabas) sold his field and donated it

Chapter 5 is the contrast: Annanias and Sappharias.  They broke the unity of the church.  Peter tells them it was not about holding money back…it was about lying to God about it.

Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

Is this really any different than what Adam and Eve did?  They LIED to God.

This story shows the judgment of God is the same in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  BUT so is His love and healing power.  God contrasts the death of Ananias and Sappharias with the healing of many.


Gamaliel (Supposedly the President of the Sanhedrin). I like this guy so far!  He talks about 2 revolutionaries that formed revolts that both failed.  Gamaliel advice is-“Better safe than sorry”

38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”  

Well, I think that was proven already, don’t you?  ANGELS let them out of Prison!  Did that happen for Thudeas or Judas the Galilean when they protested?  No.  Their activity was of human origin.  The Angels prove Peter and John are coming on behalf of God.


Chapter 6

Let’s start with What is a Hebrew Jew verse a Hellenistic Jew?

Hebrew Jew– Aramaic speaking, local-born and raised in the area, read the Hebrew scriptures (spoke Hebrew in the Synagogue)

Hellenistic Jew- if you remember when we talked about Alexander the Great, he “Hellenized” the regions by making everything Greek (It’s all Greek to me!!😂). During the Hellenization period, the scriptures were translated into Greek and they are referred to as the Septuagint. (Sept=70). Seventy scholars translated the Scriptures.  Hellenistic Jews were the descendants of those from the captivity that were scattered.  They lived among the Gentiles and used the Septuagint for their scriptures instead of the Hebrew version.  (Hmmm, sounds like people who get frustrated when other people read from a different version translation).

the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

Wait? What?  I thought in Chapter 4 they were all in unity?  See the word ‘complained’.  It is the same word used in the Old Testament for ‘Grumbling’ in the desert after the Exodus…Noooo!  This breaks my heart.

(I am not pointing the finger at who was right or wrong.  The Hebrews really thought they were ‘above’ the Greeks so they probably did short change them.  The Greeks made it worse by ‘Grumbling/complaining’. )


The appoint 7 men (notice they are Greek to diffuse the situation) and a summary statement is made:

So the word of God spread. (this will be repeated in Chapter 12 and 19 in summary too)


Stephen-

Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen.

The Freedmen were Jews that were ex-slaves that were free that actually, a guy by the name of Saul headed up (just setting you up for Saul/Paul coming up).

They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

Sound familiar? Same accusations were read before the Cross

  • accused of blasphemy against God
  • accused of blasphemy Moses
  • accused of blasphemy the temple

To be continued…