Acts

Acts 27-28

The last chapters of Acts!!

Extra credit: Here is a cool video I stumbled upon.

This post is just for entertainment and visual support.  Just a fun one to look at.

I like this map too.

 

BibleTrack: Bible Commentary - Acts 27, 28

PAUL’S JOURNEY TO ROME
Acts 27:1-28:16
DEPARTURE > DESTINATION MILES
Jerusalem to Caesarea 65
Caesarea to Sidon 70
Sidon to Myra 500
Myra to Cnidus 130
Cnidus to Salmone 130
Salmone to Fair Havens 80
Fair Havens to Phoenix 40
Phoenix to Cauda 50
Cauda to Malta 500+
Malta to Syracuse 85
Syracuse to Rhegium 85
Rhegium to Puteoli 200
Puteoli to Forum of Appius 100
Forum of Appius to Three Taverns 10
Three Taverns to Rome 35
Approximate Distance Traveled 2,130

I hope these visuals help with the read.  If you read it slow you will pick up on some small details like “we”, meaning Luke traveled with him, or that Paul knew more about sailing than the sailors.  Just some fun details.


29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.

Why did Paul say this?  Because an angel of the Lord had told him ❤️


4 anchors were found off the coast of Malta at the exact depth Paul’s ship dropped theirs.  Is it from Paul’s ship? IDK, but they are dated from the 1st century.


This is an Alexandria Ship

Acts | DWELLING in the Word

11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island—it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux.

  • Now if you are a John Travolta fan, you may have thought of the movie Face-Off.  (Soooo good!!)
  • If you are a reader you may have recognized them from The Lightening Thief or The Mocking Jay
  • If you are a Gemini like me you might have recognized the names.  And no I do not read horoscopes (I did as a teen).  They are the Gemini constellation.
  • Why would a Greek boat have Castor and Pollux figureheads?
    • Castor was the mortal son of King Tyndareus, while Pollux was the immortal son of Zeus. Both Castor and Pollux, being identical twins, were inseparable in their looks and actions. Castor was a great horseman and Pollux was a great fighter. Together, they went with Jason on the Argo and saved the ship from a terrible storm. When Castor was killed in battle, Pollux pleaded with Zeus to bring him back. Zeus agreed to immortalize both Castor and Pollux if they spend half of their time on the Earth and the other half amongst the stars in the heavens. Since then, when sailors saw these two stars together, they knew their journey would be prosperous. However, seeing only one star foretold bad luck.

ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD: CASTOR AND POLLUX TWIN GODS OF HOMOSEXUALITY


Acts ends with…

30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

Why are these called the Prison Epistles ?

Acts

Acts 20:4-23:35

(This is where this post belongs chronologically.  I was having a weird day.  Wasn’t in great health that day.   Read the wrong post…it threw the whole week off a day.  We are now back on track)

I will say it is WORTH a read again NOW that we finished ROMANS it makes even more sense!

Tale of the Tumbling Teen

The beginning of this read cracked me up!  I work in a classroom that is “self-contained”.  No one leaves!  Well, I have 2 other women in there that are trapped with me for 7.5 hours. (If they didn’t drink before this job…they might now 😂). You could imagine me coming into work-purse still on the shoulder, coffee spilling out of my cup, no makeup on yet and begin with “Wait till you hear what Paul wrote today!”  So when the guy at the beginning of the story FELL ASLEEP because Paul talked on and on and on…he fell out of the window! “Dear Lord, Thank you for putting my classroom on the first floor of a building so that my co-workers will never fall out of the window as I go on and on and on” 😴.


08-Paul 3rd missionary journey return trip | Worship Warriors Ministry

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.


Chapter 21

We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. 


10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

That is THREE times people pleaded with Paul NOT to go to Jerusalem.    But here is the deal…Have you ever said the Lord’s prayer?  

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

Paul knew it was God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem, even if it meant beatings, hardships, and prison.

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.


When Paul arrives in Jerusalem it doesn’t take long for false accusations to begin:

“You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you.

Paul did not tell them they could not circumcise, BUT Paul did not water down the Gospel either.  In a letter to Galatians he plainly states:

 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

If the Jewish people wanted to rely on circumcision as their salvation then they needed to rely on keeping ALL the laws.  Paul however even circumcised Timothy who was 1/2 Jew 1/2 Gentile so that during Timothy’s ministry it did not become an obstacle to his teaching.  It was no longer meant to be physical, it is not meant to be spiritual.


So then the Jewish leaders made Paul take a vow and perform purification rites and pay their own expenses.

  1. I assume this is a Nazarite Vow?  If it is, it is totally being used improperly and
  2. Purification?   Was he considered unclean??
  3. I don’t have a #3 😂

THEN…

Paul was falsely accused of bringing Gentiles into the Temple.  I will tell you this was a really big accusation.  When the Romans took the authority of capital punishment over from the Jews, the only request the Jewish leaders made was “the one thing we cannot tolerate is a dirty Gentile in our Holy Temple, can we be allowed to give them the death penalty for that and only that”?

YES, says Caesar.  What does he care…he was making Pizza.  (who gets it??)Little Caesars Pizza | LinkedIn

THEN…30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

Why?  What just happened?  We know that each region governor reported back to Rome.  The report was always to be “yes, things are peaceful and quiet…I am a wonderful governor”.  This was a BIG part of Jesus’ trial too.  The Jewish leaders were left alone ONLY if the Jews remained “not an issue”.  I would say a riot is an issue!

THEN….Paul speaks to the crowd.  Why did the soldiers even let him?  Because they probably panicked when they realized a Roman Citizen was just beaten!  Lord have Mercy….not good!!

What does Paul say???  And we all know Paul can drone on and on…He says the most powerful thing anyone could say then and still now.  YOUR TESTIMONY IN CHRIST.  Why?  No one can argue it!

I AM COMING SOON! : The LORD'S Will Be Done

THEN… They flogged him. (are you seeing the parallel yet in the whole story??) Jesus

Paul's Citizenship (Acts 22:17-29) | The Pulpit And The Pen

THEN… Paul played his Poker hand!

27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

SO…they handed him over to the Sanhedrin to deal with it. (they washed their hands of it) Oh, how I love Paul- he knows Ananias is the High Priest!  But he says  “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”

He also knows that the one thing that would divide the Sanhedrin was the one topic they disagreed about…The Resurrection!6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

It worked!  When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.


Paul always wanted to go to Rome: (just not like this)

11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”Paul was guarded by 470 soldiers when He was taken to Governor Felix. | True Bible Facts

To be continued….

Acts

Acts 20:4-23:35

Tale of the Tumbling Teen

The beginning of this read cracked me up!  I work in a classroom that is “self-contained”.  No one leaves!  Well, I have 2 other women in there that are trapped with me for 7.5 hours. (If they didn’t drink before this job…they might now 😂). You could imagine me coming into work-purse still on the shoulder, coffee spilling out of my cup, no makeup on yet and begin with “Wait till you hear what Paul wrote today!”  So when the guy at the beginning of the story FELL ASLEEP because Paul talked on and on and on…he fell out of the window! “Dear Lord, Thank you for putting my classroom on the first floor of a building so that my co-workers will never fall out of the window as I go on and on and on” 😴.


 

08-Paul 3rd missionary journey return trip | Worship Warriors Ministry

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.


Chapter 21

We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. 


10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

That is THREE times people pleaded with Paul NOT to go to Jerusalem.    But here is the deal…Have you ever said the Lord’s prayer?  

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

Paul knew it was God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem, even if it meant beatings, hardships, and prison.

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.


When Paul arrives in Jerusalem it doesn’t take long for false accusations to begin:

“You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you.

Paul did not tell them they could not circumcise, BUT Paul did not water down the Gospel either.  In a letter to Galatians he plainly states:

 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

If the Jewish people wanted to rely on circumcision as their salvation then they needed to rely on keeping ALL the laws.  Paul however even circumcised Timothy who was 1/2 Jew 1/2 Gentile so that during Timothy’s ministry it did not become an obstacle to his teaching.  It was no longer meant to be physical, it is not meant to be spiritual.


So then the Jewish leaders made Paul take a vow and perform purification rites and pay their own expenses.

  1. I assume this is a Nazarite Vow?  If it is, it is totally being used improperly and
  2. Purification?   Was he considered unclean??
  3. I don’t have a #3 😂

THEN…

Paul was falsely accused of bringing Gentiles into the Temple.  I will tell you this was a really big accusation.  When the Romans took the authority of capital punishment over from the Jews, the only request the Jewish leaders made was “the one thing we cannot tolerate is a dirty Gentile in our Holy Temple, can we be allowed to give them the death penalty for that and only that”?

YES, says Caesar.  What does he care…he was making Pizza.  (who gets it??)Little Caesars Pizza | LinkedIn

THEN…30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

Why?  What just happened?  We know that each region governor reported back to Rome.  The report was always to be “yes, things are peaceful and quiet…I am a wonderful governor”.  This was a BIG part of Jesus’ trial too.  The Jewish leaders were left alone ONLY if the Jews remained “not an issue”.  I would say a riot is an issue!

THEN….Paul speaks to the crowd.  Why did the soldiers even let him?  Because they probably panicked when they realized a Roman Citizen was just beaten!  Lord have Mercy….not good!!

What does Paul say???  And we all know Paul can drone on and on…He says the most powerful thing anyone could say then and still now.  YOUR TESTIMONY IN CHRIST.  Why?  No one can argue it!

I AM COMING SOON! : The LORD'S Will Be Done

THEN… They flogged him. (are you seeing the parallel yet in the whole story??) Jesus

Paul's Citizenship (Acts 22:17-29) | The Pulpit And The Pen

THEN… Paul played his Poker hand!

27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

SO…they handed him over to the Sanhedrin to deal with it. (they washed their hands of it) Oh, how I love Paul- he knows Ananias is the High Priest!  But he says  “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”

He also knows that the one thing that would divide the Sanhedrin was the one topic they disagreed about…The Resurrection!6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

It worked!  When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.


Paul always wanted to go to Rome: (just not like this)

11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”Paul was guarded by 470 soldiers when He was taken to Governor Felix. | True Bible Facts

To be continued….

 

 

 

 

Acts

Paul, Letters, and Nero

It is worth a few minutes to look over this timeline of Paul’s life so far:

  • The first row: year 5 AD to 44AD
  • The second row: year 45 AD to 56 AD
  • The third row: year 57 AD to 68 AD

We are about to start the 3rd row in the reading.

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Ygs submit browser v2017.12.12 incl keygen cff | preccasa | Bible history,  New testament, Galatia

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Take a look at this chart.  We will begin Romans and then we will read the Prison Letters.  The dates are significant because we are entering a time period when each year Christians are being persecuted greater.  If you are behind in these letters I am going to attach them at the bottom.  Read them while you are waiting in line at a store, listen to them in the car, or put earbuds in and listen while you clean the house.  Skip the blog-“ain’t nobody got time for that!”

We recently read a bulleted list of hardships Paul went through during his ministry.  It is hard for us in safe America to imagine real Christian persecution.  One of the most famous of the tyrannic leaders of this time was Nero.

Born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus in December of AD 37, Nero became the fifth emperor of Rome. Nero, along with Rome’s first four emperors:

  1. Augustus,
  2. Tiberius,
  3. Caligula, and
  4. Claudius

They made up what is called the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great uncle Claudius to become his successor, and upon Claudius’s death in AD 54 Nero became the youngest emperor at age 16. His reign lasted nearly fourteen years, until AD 68 when he committed suicide at the age of 30.

 Christianity was spreading rapidly during this time. In fact, approximately fourteen of the New Testament’s twenty-seven books were written in whole or in part during Nero’s emperorship.

Nero is the “Caesar” who Paul will appeal to for justice during his trial in Caesarea (Acts 25:10–12).

His regime began with mildness and idealism, it ended with cruelty and tyranny. He began murdering anyone who became an obstacle to him; his victims include his own wife and mother as well as his step-brother Britannicus—Emperor Claudius’s biological son.

In July of 64, the Great Fire of Rome broke out and lasted for six days.  Some historians believe Nero may have been responsible for the fire (he wanted to rebuild the city so he burned the poor section), although his involvement is not clear. What is clear is that Nero deflected the focus from himself by blaming the fire on the Christians, many of whom he tortured and killed.  Some of Nero’s tactics towards Christians were”

  • Covering them with fresh animal skins and let wild dogs tear them apart
  • were nailed to crosses
  • Burned alive: Nero’s use of Christians as human torches to light his evening garden parties is well documented. 

Long story short Nero was declared a public enemy. Nero was forced to flee Rome, and he later took his own life. Having no heir to succeed him, Nero was the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero’s death was followed by a brief period of civil war, which was then followed by the rise and fall of four emperors in a single year, a chaotic period of Roman history known as “The Year of the Four Emperors.”

D. Persecution of Christians - Christianity and the Roman Empire

Three Radio Shows this Week | Defenders of the Catholic Faith | Hosted by  Stephen K. Ray

The Great Fire of London Was Blamed on Religious Terrorism | History |  Smithsonian Magazine

Book of James

Book of Galatians

1 & 2 Thesselonians

1 Corinthians 1-10

1 Corinthians 11-16

2 Corinthians

All caught up 😁

Acts

Acts 18:19-19:41

Map of Paul the Apostle's Third Missionary Journey in the New Testament

Paul heads through Galatia again.  In the meantime, a Jew named Apollos is a believer but does not have the full testimony of the death and Resurrection.

  • Think about the details on that though
    • He was named after Zeus’ (very steeped in Greek culture)
    • The word from the Passover events had really spread
    • People just need gaps filled in who missed the 2nd feast (Pentecost)
    • Aquila and Priscilla, friends of Paul, who spent some time with Apollos and filled in the gaps, he  immediately began a preaching ministry and was used to share the gospel.

Chapter 19- Ephesus

Ephesus becomes the new “headquarters” for Paul.  As you read chapter 19 you will see the gaps are being filled in regarding the Gospel.  Now that people know that John’s message has been fulfilled in the death and resurrection they can now fully understand the gift of the Holy Spirit.  As predicted many times in the Old Testament, false prophets come on the scene BUT we also see the miraculous work of the Gospel spread.

He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

“All the Jews and Greeks heard the Word”-    Paul uses the lure of this city to spread the Gospel.  Look at this map.  Look at the location of Ephesus.  Now, look at some of the major churches that grew in the area that Paul never even walked through! (if you don’t recognize the names…you will 😁)

St Oswald's Parish Church, Walkergate - Sermons - Sunday Morning 201721 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer. (Sadly he will visit Rome…but not like he wants to)


So why were so many people coming to Ephesus? 

What was the #1 activity on the Trip Advisor app?? 

The Temple of Artemis!The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus - Drive Thru History Adventures

 

Artemis (the Roman name was Diana) was a goddess worshiped in the ancient world. The Greeks considered her the twin sister of Apollo (daughter of Zeus). She was the goddess of hunting and wilderness and the protector of unmarried girls. Her temple in Ephesus was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Artemis was a “queen of heaven” emphasizing fertility, virginity, and the protection of childbearing. It employed many priests in the temple to perform animal sacrifices. There were many priestesses, too. It is uncertain whether or not the priestesses engaged in ritual prostitution. (Being it was a popular place, I assume probably). The temple became a MAJOR tourist attraction and place to worship, so just like today, it was filled with souvenir shops.  Idols were sold so that they could worship Atememis after they left (I grew up in a superstitions house,  so I totally understand this). This is the idol of Atemesis.  She is a multi breasted figure.  Women would pray to her when they had fertility issues.

Artemis, the Chaste Huntress: You Really Didn't Want to Mess With This Greek Goddess | Ancient Origins



The Riot in Ephesus-

The silversmith knew that with each convert meant less money in his pocket.  If people believed in the ‘One True God’, not only will they NOT come to the temple, but certainly they would not buy the fake idols.  So a riot began.  Oh, and just to show you history repeats itself:

verse32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. (ha)

Pin on Bible

The city clerk is just looking out for his best interest.  If the local government officials cannot control a providence, Rome will come in and replace the local leaders with new ones.

What a great read!!

 

 

 

Acts

Acts 17-18:18

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

As you read, follow your map. Paul spent 3 weeks in Thessalonica.  In a short time, they caused quite the stir!  The report was: They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.  When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.”  Unfortunately, (or fortunately) I have caused come turmoil clarifying some doctrine.  But notice Paul “reasoned” with them from the Scriptures.  It is the ONLY way.

Paul does his job and moves on for safety reasons.  BUT if you looked at the schedule we are about to read two letters to them after he leaves. (I hope it is a better tone than the one to the Galatians)


Next on the map is Berea.

11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 

Yasss!!!!  Love that!

BUT those horrible men from Thesselia followed him and messed things up!  Good Grief!


Next stop- Athens!

When Paul got to Athens, he was shocked to see about 30,000 statues of the Greek gods.  Immediately he came upon two schools of teaching (Just like Jesus faced the Pharisees and Sadducees) Paul faces the Epicururian and Stoics philosophers.

Epicureanism taught that the highest state a person could attain was ataraxia—absolute peace—and aponia—a complete absence of mental, emotional, and physical distress or need.  (sounds like Tom Cruise if you ask me) They taught people to relax and enjoy life without worrying so much. To Epicurus, the gods did exist, but they lived so far away from the affairs of man, in a permanent state of ataraxia, that they didn’t interfere with humanity—in fact, they weren’t even aware of humanity.  Ultimately, what Epicureanism was a “fulfilled” life free from pain, hunger, distress, worry—and God.

Stoicism, which emphasizes rationalism and logic, is the opposite of Epicureanism. Stoicism is all about rejecting pleasure.   Stoics believed that we need to endure pain and hardship to developed self-control to overcome feeling emotions so that we can be unbiased and clear-minded.


So Paul went to Areopagus. See the picture below.  It is the rocky hill – called Mars Hill.  It’s the greek version of a Synagogue where they just sat around all day and talked Philipohy. (I know people like that)

“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious (that was sarcasm). 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.Paul's Speech to the Athenians · Blog from Author & Methodist Minister Adam Hamilton · Paul's Speech to the Athenians · Adam Hamilton

This unknown God:

  • made the world and everything in it
  • does not live in temples built by human hands
  • he is not served by human hands
  • He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else
  • he made all the nations
  • he is not far from any one of us
  • he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.

The next stop is Corinth-“what happens in Corinth stays in Corinth”

This is a major port city that controlled the canal so that boats did not have to sail around the peninsula.

Tour in Greece

Corinthians were very pleasurable people that legalized prostitution.  Their favorite god was Aphrodite if that tells you anything!

Emperor Claudius had expelled all Jews from Rome, and Aquila and Priscilla found their way to Corinth and settled there, pursuing their trade as tentmakers. When Paul, a tentmaker himself, came to Corinth, Paul lived and worked with them while founding the Corinthian church.

As I follow Paul I see a group of prominent people becoming Christ-followers.  This will be important as he continues to travel. Crispus was the Synagogue Leader!  (His replacement, however, was an idiot)

Paul was brought in front of the governor Gallio, a Roman Officer who could care less about Jewish Law (Sounds like Pontius Pilot) and handed him back over to the Jews.  The new Synagogue leader beat him in front of Gallio and he could care less! (This all sounds very familiar)


When Paul and his 2 new besties leave he cuts his hair.  He must have taken a Nazarite Vow somewhere along the way.    If you were not with us when we were reading Numbers I will summarize it:

The Nazarite Vow: – a dedication to set yourself apart and rely completely on God.

  • it was voluntary
  • both men and woman can take the vow
  • a certain time frame was given
  • Restrictions:
    • no fermented drink (I just heard someone say “I’m out”!)
    • could not go near a dead body (they would be considered unclean)
    • could not cut their hair

Paul cuts his har signifying the vow time frame was over.


The next 2 reads are:

Nov 27: 1 & 2 Thessaloninas
Nov 28: Acts 18:19-19:41

 

 

 

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

 

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.