Paul’s Shipwreck – Acts 27

Once again, Luke begins the chapter speaking in the first person plural, indicating that he was with Paul all the way to Rome as they set sail for Italy. The centurion, Julius, that Paul and the other prisoners were delivered to is said to have been “of the Augustan Cohort.” A cohort generally consisted of six hundred men under the command of six centurions. However, auxiliary forces of the cohort could push the numbers up to a thousand men. The cohorts were given names – this one likely given the name for the imperially dedicated regiment founded by the emperor, Augustus, who reigned from 27 BC to 14 AD.

Verse 9’s “the Fast” refers to the Day of Atonement, which would have been in October. From this time to about April, Meditteranean sailing is (and was) most dangerous; and Paul was already warning them that the voyage would result in “injury and much loss” (verse 10). But the centurion sided with the captain and the rest of the crew, who judged the harbor at Fair Havens to be unsuitable for the winter. So they decided to try to make it to “Phoenix, a harbor of Crete,” (probably present day Phineka Bay) to spend the winter. This was, after all, a 2,000 mile voyage to Rome.

Kaloi Limenes in Crete, where the ancient city...

Kaloi Limenes in Crete, where the ancient city of Lasea was located (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a northeaster – a fearsome storm – arrived, it tossed them about so badly that they began jettisoning cargo and tossing the ship’s “tackle” overboard (the tackle may have been the beam supporting the ship’s mainsail). Most had lost hope when Paul told them that “an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship” had appeared and told him not to be afraid – that he must stand before Caesar, so they would all be spared. But, he told them, they would have to run the ship aground on “some island” (verse 26).

The mention of the men taking a “sounding” refers to measuring the depth of the water by use of a “sounding line.” When they found that they were nearing land, the sailors (afraid of the ship hitting rocks) were lowering boats to abandon ship under the pretense of laying anchors. But Paul warned the centurion, saying that they would not make it if the sailors left the ship. So the soldiers cut the boats loose from the ship to prevent escape.

Having conserved all they could, the fourteenth day without having eaten approached, and Paul urged them all to eat, in order to gather their strength. He did so himself, giving thanks to God; and they were encouraged, and all ate some. There were 276 aboard (verse 27) – about the right amount for the vessel to have been a large grain ship , meaning it was probably not worthy of such a voyage.

Verses 39-44 detail the horrific shipwreck on the reefs, and the escape to land that all of them made safely, hanging on to the wreckage. Verses 42-43 tell us that the soldiers had planned to kill the prisoners, so that none could escape. But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, prevented them. God had, as always, made good on his promise to save them.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 23, Acts 24, Acts 25, Acts 26, Acts 27

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul Before Agrippa – Acts 25-26

Antonius Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus as the Roman procurator of Judea from about 59 to 62 AD. After some days, Festus met with King Agrippa II and his sister, Bernice, who was always by his side (one of his other siblings was Drusilla, who was the wife of Festus’ predecessor, Felix). This Agrippa was educated in the court of the emperor Claudius, and was the son of Herod Agrippa I, who in Acts 12:1-3 had the Apostle James killed and Peter arrested, and who the Lord stuck down dead in Acts 12:21-23. He was also the great-grandson of Herod the Great – who had ordered the killing of all the male children of the region around Bethlehem when Jesus was born. As Festus laid out the case against Paul, he concluded by surmising that the matter was a dispute about their religion, and the death of “a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive” (verse 19).

Herod Agrippa II was the seventh and last king...

Herod Agrippa II was the seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great, thus last of the Herodians. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next day, Festus introduced Paul, saying in a nutshell that (interestingly enough) he had found no charge deserving of death for Paul, and therefore he thought it wise to have him appear to Agrippa, so that maybe he (Festus) would have “something to write” before sending him to Caesar.

In chapter 26, Agrippa gave Paul permission to speak in his defense. Agrippa’s reputation was that of a pious Jew, though much of the rest of his reputation was not so good. Still, he was (like his uncle Herod) in control of the temple treasury, and the Romans consulted him on religious matters. Paul then gives us the third account in this book of his vision – his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus (the other two being in Acts 9 and Acts 22), and ending with the charge that Jesus gave him (verses 15-18). From this chapter’s account, we have more details about what Jesus said to him on that first occasion.

The outburst of Festus during Paul’s reference to the fulfilling of all that Moses and the prophets said would take place would seem to affirm his alignment with the Jewish accusers. But Paul seems pretty confident that Agrippa is not so inclined. Note verse 27 – “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” Agrippa is no fool, and Paul is surely not foolish enough to speak hastily when he says in verse 26: “For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.” Verse 28 is difficult in translation, but regardless of the translated version, it says that Agrippa was not quite ready to accept the fact of Jesus as Lord and Christ; and is the inspiration for the hymn, “Almost Persuaded.” Paul’s response is that he would have Agrippa and all who hear him to be as Paul himself is (minus the chains, of course) – that is, to believe in the Lord.

Agrippa’s statement to Festus after he, Bernice and the others had met outside Paul’s presence (verses 30-32) is a sort of vindication, but not the end of Paul’s ordeal. Agrippa could have set Paul free if he had not appealed to Caesar, but he had no choice by law but to send him to so appear before the emperor.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 23, Acts 24, Acts 25, Acts 26, Acts 27

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul Transported to Caesarea – Acts 23-24

The high priest (in Acts 23) unlawfully ordered him to be struck. Paul predicted Ananias’ demise in verse 3, and he actually was killed by his own people at the start of the Jewish war. Paul”s accusers were to point out Paul’s disrespect for him, yet ignored the willful violation made against Paul. At that point, he would have no question about whether he would receive a fair hearing from them.

The excution of the Pharisees by Alexander Jan...

The excution of the Pharisees by Alexander Jannaeus, by Willem Swidde, 17th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul then played the Pharisees and Sadducees against each other — with the truth. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, but the Pharisees did. Paul’s statement in verse 6 makes that division so sharp that it became violent. The Roman tribune then feared that Paul would be torn to pieces, and had the soldiers remove him and take him to the barracks. Paul’s statement that set it in motion was “brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” Paul had been raised a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5-9), and it was indeed because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the hope, that he was on trial. The following night, the Lord stood by him for encouragement and told him that he must go to Rome to testify the facts about Him (verse 11).

The Jews then feared that Paul’s fate was slipping away. More than forty of them conspired to kill him, taking an oath not to eat or drink until they had done so. In verse 14, we learn that the chief priests and elders were involved in this despicable plot. But Paul’s sister learned of the plot and sent her son to warn him. Paul then sent his nephew to tell the tribune (whose name was Claudius Lysias). Lysias then composed a letter to Felix the governor (verse 26-30), putting himself in a favorable light. At his orders, Paul gets an escort of two hundred soldiers to deliver him and the letter to Antipatris by the dark of night. Upon reading the letter and questioning Paul as to his birthplace, he ordered Paul held in Herod’s praetorium (one of Herod’s palaces that the governor used for his quarters).

In chapter 24, Paul had been escorted to Caesarea. He finally appeared before Felix after Ananias and the rest of his accusers arrived.  When Felix gave Paul his turn to speak, he laid out his defense, disputing the accusations with the obvious truth – which his accusers were unable to counter.  In verse 14, he “confessed” that he is a part of “the Way” (which Tertullus called “the sect of the Nazarenes,”), through which he worships “the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.”   Thus, Paul not only makes the case that he is a “good Jew,” but that Christianity is God’s divine will.

Felix seemed to be aware of Paul’s innocence. But he was more interested in the possibility of getting some money from him over a period of time (verse 26), as well as garnering support from the Jews.  After two years had passed, he left Paul in prison as a favor to them when he was replaced by Porcius Festus.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 23, Acts 24, Acts 25, Acts 26, Acts 27

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul Before the Tribune – Acts 22

Paul was arrested and beaten, and at the close of chapter 22 convinced the Roman tribune to allow him to speak to the mob. When he spoke in Hebrew, it settled them down and they listened. He then gave them a history of himself as a Jew, “educated at the feet of Gamaliel” (a Pharisee and renowned teacher, who was also a member of the Sanhedrin council – see Acts 5:34). He also recounted his own persecution of Christians and the “Way ” (see previous post here for more information on “the Way”); and then told of his encounter with the Lord in Acts 9:3-8, in which he was blinded. The re-telling of that event here in verses 6-11 is not contradictory at all, despite what some say. Those who were with Paul on that road could hear what was said, but were not made to understand.

The toga was the characteristic garment of the...

The toga was the characteristic garment of the Roman citizen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul then turns to Ananias restoring his sight and his subsequent baptism in verses 12-16. But when he told them of his encounter with the Lord, and how He had told Paul that He was sending him to the Gentiles (verses 17-21), the crowd became wild with anger again. The tribune ordered him to be flogged in order to find out why they were shouting out against him. But as he was stretched out, Paul told the tribune that he was a Roman citizen by birth (verses 25-28); and the Roman tribune became fearful (Roman law forbade flogging a Roman citizen without a hearing or a formal condemnation). So in verse 30, the chapter ends with the tribune having Paul brought before the Sanhedrin, since scourging was not an option.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 18, Acts 19, Acts 20, Acts 21, Acts 22

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul’s Goodbye to Ephesus and Journey to Jerusalem – Acts 20-21

After the riot in Ephesus had passed, Paul said his farewells and went to Macedonia, then to Greece where he spent three months until a plot against him by the Jews was discovered. So he headed back to Macedonia accompanied by others, including Timothy, Aristarchus and Gaius (two victims of the riot from Acts 19:29), all of whom were sent on to Troas. It is there that Paul broke bread with them on the first day of the week and, preaching to midnight, a young man named Eutychus fell asleep and fell from a third-story window. But Paul took him in his arms, and in verse 12 “they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.” Indeed, excitement over this resurrection would no doubt have contributed to their staying up until daybreak (verse 11). Then, Luke says that he and the others set sail for Assos, while Paul went by land and met them there. From there, they sailed to To Chios, Samos and Miletus, as Luke says that Paul had decided not to stop at Ephesus because he wanted to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost.

Ephesus, in modern Turkey, is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and one of the best places in the world to get the feeling for what life was like for early Christians in Roman times. Roman theater.

Ephesus, in modern Turkey, is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and one of the best places in the world to get the feeling for what life was like for early Christians in Roman times. Roman theater.

But while at Miletus, Paul called the elders at Ephesus to come to him, a journey of perhaps 30 miles or so. Verses 18-37 end with a tearful goodbye, as he tells them that he knows he will never see their faces again. He tells them that he is going to Jerusalem and that he does not know what will happen to him “except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.” He recounts his faithfulness to preaching and teaching the word in the three years that he had spent with them, declaring that he was “innocent of the blood of all.”

These very emotional parting words have an important point besides the obvious. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul had stressed the importance of the local church members having respect for those who had been appointed as elders of their congregation (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). Here in Acts 20, he is making it clear to these elders – and to all elders of the church everywhere – that they have the responsibility to shepherd the flock among them. Fierce wolves, he says, will come in “not sparing the flock,” and that “from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” The elders of the local church everywhere have an awesome responsibility, and must always be on guard for the souls of those in their midst. It was true then, as it is now.

So in Chapter 21, Paul began the journey to Jerusalem. They sailed past Cos, Rhodes, Patera, Cyprus and landed at Tyre, where they remained for seven days, then on to Ptolemais and finally Caesarea before setting off on foot to Jerusalem. While in Caesarea, they stayed at the house of Philip, who Luke says was “one of the seven.” Most likely he means that he was one of the seven chosen to serve in Acts 6:1-6, and was the same Philip who converted the Ethiopian eunuch. And after that event, he did end up in Caesarea (Acts 8:40).

After arriving in Jerusalem, Paul went to see James and told him and the elders about his travels and the many Gentile conversions, for which they glorified God. They then asked Paul to demonstrate that he was not preaching that Jews had to become like Gentiles and give up all of their customs in order to be a Christian, as many were falsely reporting. So Paul participated with four men under a vow in a purification ritual. This event is the subject of much confusion and controversy. But it does not have to be. Paul never preached that Jews had to give up their entire way of life or never participate in any ritual or feast (remember Romans 14 and 15), nor that they should not circumcise their young. Remember that he circumcised Timothy to avoid offending the Jews they were going to visit in Acts 16:3.

But still Paul was arrested, having been dragged from the temple first and beaten by a mob that had gone wild with accusations and fervor. Until Paul spoke Greek to him, the tribune that arrested him was under the impression that he was an Egyptian revolutionary (verse 38). The event he mentions in that verse was written about by the historian, Josephus. At Paul’s urging, the tribune allows him to speak to the mob; and he does so in Hebrew, as the chapter closes.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 18, Acts 19, Acts 20, Acts 21, Acts 22

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul With Priscilla and Aquilla – Acts 18-19

Paul left Athens, and went to Corinth, which was 46 miles away. He met with Aquila and Priscilla there, who had come from Italy after the Roman emperor Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Roman (we know this to have been issued in 49 AD). At that time, they made no distinction between Jews and Christians. Aquila and Priscilla were tent makers by trade, like Paul, and he stayed with them. They became faithful friends, and he mentions them again a few times in Scripture (Romans 16:3-5, for example). As always, he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, preaching Jesus as the Christ. But when they opposed him, he went to the home of Titius Justis, about whom we know nothing. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, was one of the Corinthians that we know Paul baptized himself (1 Corinthians 1:14).

The restored facade of the Library of Celsus i...

The restored facade of the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, telling him to keep teaching, and that no harm would come to him there. So he remained for a year and a half (verse 11). The proconsul was the chief judicial officer. In this case, it was Gallio (verses 12-14) that held that position when the Jewish leaders there, in a united assault, had Paul brought before the tribunal. We know from fragments of a letter from Claudius (the Delphi Inscription, found in 1905 by a French expedition) that he began this office in 51 AD. He was a brother of the philosopher, Seneca, who was an advisor to Nero. Born as “Marcus Annaeus Novatus”, he took the full name “Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeus,” after the rich man who adopted him.But before Paul could defend himself, Gallio ruled that this was a religious matter between the Jews and ran them out of the tribunal.

He then set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. Stopping to establish the church at Ephesus, he left Priscilla and Aquila there, promising to return “if God wills.” He then set sail to Caesarea, traveled to report to the church in Jerusalem and up to Antioch of Syria, ending his second missionary journey in verse 22. Verse 23 then begins Paul’s third missionary journey, going up though Galatia and Phyrgia, “strengthening all the disciples” at the churches he had begun.

Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos came to Ephesus from Alexandria. He was a learned and eloquent man, well-versed in the Old Testament. Luke says that “he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John,” meaning that he taught accurately what he knew, but Aquila and Priscilla filled in for him, teaching him “the way of God more accurately.” It is likely that Aquila baptized him into Christ. Wishing to go into Achaia, he was encouraged by the brothers, and became a powerful speaker of the gospel.

Priscilla and Aquilla’s encounter with Apollos in Acts 18:24-28 would certainly appear to be providential, as the man knew the scriptures concerning the Christ well, taught many, and spoke eloquently. But it would seem that all of the good news of Jesus had not yet reached him, so the two set him on the right course. Now becoming a powerful worker for the Lord, Apollos had gone to Corinth. Paul came to Ephesus and found some disciples that had likely been taught by Apollos previously. They, like Apollos, only knew of the baptism of John. After being baptized, Paul layed his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Paul taught in the synagogue there for three months (verse 8), but some were not persuaded and some unbelievers began “speaking evil of the Way before the congregation.” “The Way” was a name used for Christianity during those times, as by Luke several times in Acts (Acts 19:9,23;22:4;24:14,22) and in secular history as well (such as written by Josephus, for example).

So Paul removed himself and took the disciples with him, teaching “in the hall of Tyrannus” daily (verse 9). This continued for two years (verse 10), and the following Scriptures speak of the great miracles God worked there through Paul in verses 11-17, including an account in 13-16 of the sons of the Jewish high priest, Sceva, being overpowered by an evil spirit they tried to cast out themselves. Note the key in verse 13 where they said “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” This was not only a lack of authority, but of faith – and it ends badly for them. But the miracles the Lord had worked had a mighty effect on the people listening to the word that Paul and the disciples were preaching.
Paul stayed for a while but sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia, resolving to go there as well as Achaia, where Apollos had gone (Acts 18:27), as well as Rome (verse 21). But then things turned ugly in Ephesus. A silversmith named Demetrius made silver shrines to the Greek “goddess” Artemis (her Roman counterpart in mythology was “Diana”). Paul’s preaching against idols was costing Demetrius money. He gathered similar tradesmen and merchants, and provoked a riot.

Mob violence and confusion ruled, as the disturbance grew large enough that most involved didn’t even know what it was about. They dragged Paul’s companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, into the theater. Paul wanted to go in, but the disciples (and some Asiarchs – high-ranking officials of the Roman province) prevented him. It was the Ephesian town clerk that finally was able to disperse the crowds, pointing out that they were in danger of being charged with rioting by Roman authorities.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 18, Acts 19, Acts 20, Acts 21, Acts 22

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Philippian Jailer and Paul in Athens – Acts 16-17

After arriving again at Lystra, Paul wanted a disciple there named Timothy to come with him. Some wonder why Paul chose to circumcise Timothy, but clearly states in Galatians 2:3 that Titus was not circumcised. The answer is that Timothy, before becoming a Christian, was raised by a Jewish mother (though his father was Greek). So, as verse 3 says, it was because of the Jews in those places. Having an uncircumcised Jew with him could pose a distraction by having some focus on that fact rather than the important teaching of Jesus Christ.

They set sail to Philippi, a leading city in Macedonia. There was no synagogue there, so on the Sabbath they found women gathered for prayer by the river. One was “Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods.” These goods would have been made from an expensive dye made from the murex shell. Note that Luke says that God opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul said, and she was baptized.

Raphael, St Paul Preaching in Athens

Raphael, St Paul Preaching in Athens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Paul drove the demon from the slave girl in verses 16-18, her owners drug Paul and Silas before the magistrates with false accusations. In verses 20-22, they were beaten with rods and put in jail. Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns while the other prisoners listened until an earthquake shook the prison, opening the doors and freeing the bonds. The jailer, readied to kill himself as he supposed they had escaped. But Paul stopped him, and he and his family were all baptized.

In chapter 17, Luke dropped the use of the first person plural in the text, suggesting that he may have remained in Philippi as Paul and Silas pass through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica. Neither the reference to “three sabbath days” in verse 2, nor the fact that they left the city after only 9 verses of this chapter should be construed as the an indication of the length of their stay in Thessalonica. Indications from 1 Thessalonians 2:9 and Philippians 4:16, for example, are that their ministry there was much longer. The Jewish religious leaders, once again, became jealous and stirred up a mob until they attacked the house of a believer – hoping to lay hands on Paul, no doubt. Not finding them, they dragged the man (Jason) and some other believers before authorities, falsely claiming they were touting Jesus as an earthly king and a threat to Caesar.

In verse 10, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away, but it should be noted that their mission there was successful, as some of the Jews had been converted, and “a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.” This explains the jealousy of the Jewish religious leaders there.  They went to Berea, and Paul was sent off by sea to Athens. But Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. After arriving in Athens, Paul sent word back with those who had accompanied him for Silas and Timothy to join him .

Finding himself in this great pagan capital, Paul saw idol after idol. He “reasoned” in the synagogue of course, but verse 17 says that he did so also in the marketplace every day. Speaking with men of the two prominent philosophies of the day, Stoicism and Epicurean-ism, attracted great attention, and they brought him to the authorities at the Areopagus – this time with interest and curiosity in this speaker of “foreign divinity,” rather than hostility. The Areopagus held a body of men with civil. moral, and religious authority over the city. Paul would have addressed them either on the “hill of Ares” (Mars Hill, where a temple to their “god” of war had been built in ancient times), or southwest of the Acropolis in the northwest corner of the Agora. There, this body held meetings in the Royal Colonnade.

“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…”

He goes on to say that the God, who made the world and everything in it, is not contained in temples made by men – that He made, from one man, every nation of mankind “that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…” He told these idol worshipers that God should not be thought of as an image of stone or precious metals formed by the imagination of man. He concludes with what we would expect – an excellent message of the gospel:

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but know he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Some mocked him at the reference to the resurrection, but others wanted to hear more, some being converted (verse 34) including Dionysius, one of the judges of the Areopagus. That being the case, even Paul’s visit to this pagan city was a success!

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 13, Acts 14, Acts 15, Acts 16, Acts 17

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul’s Stoning and the Jerusalem Conference – Acts 14-15

Paul and Barnabas preached in Iconium, and a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles against the believing brothers and sisters. They stayed for a long time, performing many signs and wonders. But the divided city resulted in a conspiracy of both Jews and Gentiles to persecute and to stone Paul and Barnabas. When they learned of this, they fled the city.

From there they went to Lystra and other places. In Lystra Paul healed a man who was crippled from birth. When he began walking, many people started calling Paul and Barnabas gods, referring to Paul as Hermes, and Barnabas as Zeus; and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices. When they saw this, they were tremendously distressed and, assuring the people that they were just men, preached to these polytheists about the one true God and how he is evidenced in all the things of this world.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and they turned the minds of the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him from the city, leaving him for dead. In verse 20, the disciples gathered around him and he rose up and went into the city. The Scripture does not tell us that this was a miracle, or even what Paul’s actual condition had been. Enough to say that the Spirit was with him, and he was not deterred. The next day, he and Barnabas went to Derbe. After preaching and making many new disciples there, they returned to Lystra and Iconium, and to Antioch. They encouraged and strengthened the disciples in those places and appointed elders for them in every church.

In chapter 15, we learn of what is commonly called “the Jerusalem Conference.” Despite Peter’s vision, and the fact that the Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles in chapter 10, the acceptance of Gentiles in the church was still meeting resistance. In Acts 6:7, we are told of a significant number of priests that believed and were added to the church. Many of these would be of the Pharisaic party referred to in verse 5. There were people being taught that all had to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses, causing Christianity to be looked upon as a sect of Judaism (and to some, a sect that had gone very wrong). The time had come to deal with this issue once and for all.

Peter spoke to the council in verses 7-11, reminding them of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then Paul and Barnabas related the signs and wonders God had done through them on their journey. James, the Lord’s brother, then affirms by quoting Amos 9:11-12 in verses 16-18. The apostles then chose men to go with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch, and sent a letter with them, affirming with one accord that the Gentiles were not to be burdened with the requirements that the circumcision party was trying to impose. The stipulations referred to in verses 20 and 29 were to make clear that they were to abstain from behavior that would make them appear to the world as the idol-worshipers that were so common (sexual immorality was a predominant theme in idol worship).

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 13, Acts 14, Acts 15, Acts 16, Acts 17

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul and Barnabas Set Sail – Acts 13

The opening verses of this chapter speak of teachers and prophets –two of which are Saul and Barnabas. One of the others was named Manaen. Depending on which version you read, he is either a lifelong friend of Herod the Tetrach or his “foster-brother.” In any event, he was very close to him. The scripture offers no explanation of how he came to be a prophet. At the word from the Holy Spirit, Saul and Barnabas were sent on their first missionary journey, which would last about 1 1/2 years. In verse 9, the Bible speaks of Saul for the first time as being also called Paul.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They traveled down first to Seleucia, then set sail to Cyprus where Barnabas was from, taking John Mark with them. They started proclaiming the word of God in the synagogue at Salamis. Then they went 90 miles to Paphos, the seat of Roman government on Cyprus. The proconsul was the highest ranking official in a Roman province. This one summoned Saul and Barnabas, wishing to hear the word of God. But a magician named Elymas (also known as Bar-Jesus), a false prophet who was with him, was working against them, trying to turn the proconsul away. Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, rebuked the man and caused him to lose his sight. The proconsul believed after seeing this.

Verse 13 says that Paul and his companions left Pathos and sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. His companions included Barnabas and John Mark. The scripture here simply refers to him as John. He returned to Jerusalem, Luke writes; and this will be a matter for which Paul will later voice his disapproval when he and Barnabas separate in Acts 15:36-41.

After John Mark left, Paul and Barnabas went on to Antioch in Pisidia. The rulers of the synagogue there, sent a message to them, asking if they had any words of encouragement for the brethren there. Paul did have some. He came to preach in the synagogue, first giving a small historical summary of God’s plans for His people through the ages. He finished, of course, with Jesus as the promised Messiah, and detailed his rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection, citing scripture all the time.

The people were over-joyed with the gospel, and asked them to return on the next Sabbath. When they did, the entire city was practically present. But the rulers were not happy with the gospel Paul was preaching, and Paul let them have it, saying that they had “judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. He then further angered them by saying that he had been sent to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 13, Acts 14, Acts 15, Acts 16, Acts 17

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Death of James and Peter’s Close Call – Acts 11-12

By the time Peter returned to Jerusalem in chapter 10, news that the Gentiles also had received the word of God had already spread back to the other apostles and the brothers and sisters throughout Judea. In verse 2, Peter was getting criticism from the “circumcision party.” Their issue was with Peter having eaten with these uncircumcised Gentiles.

Agrippa I also called the Great (10 BC - 44 AD...

Agrippa I also called the Great (10 BC – 44 AD), King of the Jews, was the grandson of Herod the Great, and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peter had that same attitude toward Gentiles before his vision and before the conversion of Cornelius and his family. Indeed, that was the attitude of most of the church before the Jerusalem conference in chapter 15. Even after The conversion of Cornelius, Peter withdrew from the gentile believers for a while out of fear of the circumcision party. And Paul speaks of rebuking him for this in Galatians 2:11-12.

But after peter told them of the vision, the command from the Spirit to go to Cornelius, and the entire conversion story. Upon hearing that the Holy Spirit had fallen on these gentiles, they had no choice but to concede that “to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Chapter 12 says that Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great “laid violent hands on members of the church.” We know from history that he died in 44 A.D. so, considering the events of the latter part of the chapter, it is likely that all of this took place in that year. Verse 2 says that “he killed James the brother of John with the sword…”

The text goes on to say that it pleased the Jews when Herod had this done. That would of course be the Jewish leaders, who already had deep animosity for the apostles. Seeing how the death of James pleased them, he had Peter arrested. This was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread; and Herod intended to bring Peter out after Passover and undoubtedly do the same with him as he had done with James.

But on evening before he was to be brought to Herod, an angel of the Lord came to Peter as he slept between two soldiers, made the chains fall off of him, led him past two guards and compelled the iron gate to open on its own, as they walked through. And then the angel left. Peter had been thinking that he was having another vision. But in verse 11, he realizes that the Lord had sent his angel to rescue him “from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 8, Acts 9, Acts 10, Acts 11, Acts 12

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.