Table Servants – Acts 6

English: page of the Acts of the Apostles from...

English: page of the Acts of the Apostles from the last edition of the bible originally translated by Johann Dietenberger, published in Augsburg 1776 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the phenomenal growth that the church had experienced, had become a double-edged sword, where the apostles were concerned. Growth and the salvation of men and women was indeed what they were commanded to achieve by The Lord Himself.  But such great success in doing so in such a short time had resulted in numbers of people who had inevitably had problems and special needs. And in such large numbers, managing those needs had become an impossible task for the twelve who had been “called out” as messengers.

So they told the disciples to pick out seven men ” of good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom” for them to appoint. Today, we refer to these men as deacons in the church.  The word deacon comes from a Greek word for servant, and that is exactly what they do — they serve the church. They are not elected, neither are they “officials” of the church. Their role is a direct reflection of Jesus’ command to the apostles to serve, which he gave them in John 13:1-17 (the washing of their feet).

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

 

Needing a Solution from the Lord – Acts 6

International Hellenist Of Mystery

International Hellenist Of Mystery (Photo credit: Mike_tn)

As we mentioned before, the Lord’s church was exploding in numbers in those days. We are talking about thousands in numbers. And it was not like it is today. There was not a Northside congregation, a Southside congregation, and on and on. They were unified, and when you get that many people together (even of one mind), problems develop. It is an inevitable fact.

Verse one tells us that a complaint came up by the Hellenists. This is what they called Greek-speaking Jews. The complaint was that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.  Acts 4:32-37 tells had they had everything in common, and everyone was working together to help those among them who were in need. But the numbers had just become too large. The church had an internal administrative problem on its hands.

So in verse 2, we are told that the apostles summoned “the full number” of disciples, and they told them that “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” The apostles needed to be about the work of preaching Christ crucified, but they recognized that there were other matters to be dealt with. So it was up to them to provide a solution. It was a solution that fit the model of the church so well because it came from the Holy Spirit. And it still works today.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

Rehoboam’s Folly – 2 Chronicles 12

Rehoboam, a fragment of the Council Chamber murals

Rehoboam, a fragment of the Council Chamber murals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rehoboam had been successful at strengthening his kingdom. And so, following God’s law had worked so well — that he abandoned it, verse one says, and all Israel with him. This is where the people of the kingdom sound like they are back in the cycle of the judges again. So in the 5th year of his reign, the king of Egypt, Shishak, brought 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen, along with the Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians, and they took Rehoboam’s fortified cities. They came as far as Jerusalem. 

Shemaiah, the prophet came before Rehoboam and the princes of Judah that were gathered to discuss the situation, and he told them why this was happening to them. There were many who “humbled themselves” at that point. Because of this, God told His prophet that He would not let them be destroyed. But they would become servants to Shishak. 

So Shishak took away everything of value from the house of the Lord in Jerusalem and the king’s house. He even took the shields of gold that Solomon had made. Because Rehoboam “humbled himself” then, God allowed him to finish his reign, and he grew strong. He was 41 when he became king, and he reigned for 17 years. In verse 16, we learn that he died and his son, Abijah, became king.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

Beaten for the name of the Lord! – Acts 5

English: St. Paul. From the Acts of the Apostl...

English: St. Paul. From the Acts of the Apostles printed in , Georgia, in 1709 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the apostles had not backed down, but had indeed accused the Sanhedrin in Jesus’ death, they were furious and wanted them killed. Then verse 34 says that a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel spoke up. Paul spoke of this man in Acts 22:3, saying that he had been educated “at his feet.” Verse 34 says that Gamaliel was “a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people.” He had the prisoners taken outside, so that he could address the council privately.

Gamaliel reminded them about a man named Theudas who had “claimed to be somebody,” and had gotten about 400 supporters. He had been killed and his followers dispersed, and it came to nothing. This verse perks up the ears of skeptics looking for “errors” in the Bible because Josephus wrote about  a Theudas that led a revolt sometime between 44-46 A.D. But that could not be who Gamaliel was speaking of here. Of a certainty, there were many men with that name. He also spoke of a similar event with a Galilean named Judas. We certainly know there were plenty of men with that name! The point that Gamaliel was making was that they needed to slow down and give this “movement” some time.

He told them that if this movement came solely from men, it would fail — it would fizzle out on its own. If, on the other hand, it was from God, the council was fighting against God — and they would fail. The council, by and large of course, did not believe for a moment that the apostles were acting on the authority of God. But Gamaliel’s words did serve to calm them down and consider less emotionally.  So instead of having them killed, they beat them, charged them (again) not to teach in Jesus’ name, and let them go.

The apostles rejoiced on their way, Luke tells us, because they had been “counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” Did they stop teaching in Jesus’ name? Certainly not. Verse 42 says that they did not even stop doing it in the temple where they had been arrested!

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

Interrogating the Apostles – Acts 5

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded...

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded by angels, by Giaquinto, 1750s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The officers brought the apostles from the temple to appear before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest questioned them. He reminded them that Peter and John had been warned not to teach in Jesus’ name. Now, he said, they had “filled Jerusalem” with that teaching. He also said that the apostles intended “to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Jesus’ blood, from the point of view of which he spoke, was already “upon them,” of course, and he knew it very well. What he really meant was that these twelve men could very well get the people stirred up against them so much that members of this council might even be physically harmed for Jesus’ death.

Peter and the other apostles with him did not mince any words, and they did not reply sheepishly in any way. What they told him was that they must obey God rather than men. In no uncertain terms, they were telling this council that what they were doing was being done by God’s command, and they would not stop doing it. What a bold and courageous thing to say before the very men that had sent Jesus to His death!

Then they let them know not only who Jesus was, but that His blood was indeed upon their hands:

The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior,
to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit,
whom God has given to those who obey him.

They looked their accusers right in the eyes — men who could send them to their deaths for these word, and spoke as if God Himself was looking after them. And in fact, that was exactly what He was doing!

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

The Arrest of the Twelve – Acts 5

Verses 17-26 are some of the most truly remarkable verses of the Book of Acts. When we last left the apostles, they were teaching in the temple at Solomon’s Portico — the very same place where Peter and John had been arrested for teaching about Jesus. In verse 17, we find the high priest (and the Sadducees with him) “filled with jealousy” toward the apostles for the esteem with which the people held them. So they arrested them, and put them in prison.

English: Illustration in 1883 encyclopaedia of...

English: Illustration in 1883 encyclopaedia of the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin council (from Greek synedrion, synhedrion) Русский: Иллюстрация в старинной энциклопедии заседание Синедриона (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But during the night, Luke tells us in verses 19-20, an angel of the Lord came and opened the doors to the prison. He told them to go back to the temple and “speak to the people all the words of this Life.” “This Life,” of course, means of salvation and eternal life. So they are to go back and do the very thing that got them thrown into this prison in the first place. Of course, the apostles did not question the wisdom of this, but went at daybreak and did exactly that.

In the morning, the Sanhedrin council convened, with everyone in their places of authority, and sent for the prisoners. What they found was that the doors to the prison were still locked, with guards outside – but no prisoners! So they returned and reported this to the council. Imagine their incredulity at this disappearing act right under the noses of the guards! They were at a loss at what to do. One might think that at some point here they would realize that they were fighting against the Lord. But remember this the next time you think that a miracle might convince someone of the truth, when the word of God itself does not.

Instead, they sent the captain of the temple with the officers back to the temple, as someone had come and told them where the apostles were. But verse 26 says that they did not bring them back by force because “they were afraid of being stoned by the people.” They should have been afraid of God!

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

Jesus’ Work Goes On – Acts 5

As we might expect, the Book of Acts shows very well in many places how the apostles were about the work of continuing Jesus’ ministry. Peter and John showed us that when they healed the lame man at Simon’s Portico in Acts 3. Once again we find the apostles at Simon’s Portico in verses 12 of chapter 5. Verses 12-13:

Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.

Jesus Heals the Blind and Lame on the Mountain

Jesus Heals the Blind and Lame on the Mountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some commentators take the position that this means that none of the non-Christian community would join them at Solomon’s Portico for fear of the Sadducees and particularly the Sanhedrin. But that surely cannot be the case because the point of the apostles going to Solomon’s Portico was to teach others the good news of Jesus Christ. The words “the rest” must refer to the other members of the core group of disciples, and they would not be needed to join the apostles in this effort, as they were fully capable of delivering the message.

The text also says that “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” We have already seen the rapid growth of the church by the thousands (Acts 2:41, Acts 4:4). But now more than ever? The growth of the Lord’s church was literally exploding during this time! Before too many more chapters, the Christians would be “scattered” about the land because of persecution. The Lord was making sure there would be enough to scatter far and wide.

In verse 16, Luke tells us that people were bringing the lame, sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits from towns outside of Jerusalem, laying them out in the streets on cots and mats so that when Peter (and the other apostles) came by “at least his shadow might fall on some of them.” This sort of faith reminds me of the woman who just wanted to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment in Luke 8:43-48.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

A Dark Heart – Acts 5

The opening part of chapter 5 is difficult for many to understand in a proper manner. A man named Ananias, whose wife was named Sapphira, sold a piece of property. To understand the context, refer to the end of chapter 4. It was a time of great unity in the early New Testament church. The Christians of the day were of one mind and one purpose, and they were all helping each other, helping the needy, and helping the apostles advance the Lord’s kingdom.

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we mentioned in the last post, nobody was expected to sell all of their worldly possessions. Neither was anyone required to sell anything at all. It was something that a great many of them were doing, so that the proceeds could be used to help the needy and advance the church. Verse two tells us that with his wife’s knowledge, Ananias kept part of the proceeds of the sale for himself, and came and laid the rest “at the apostle’s feet.”

Although the text so far does not indicate explicitly, we know from the next few verses that Ananias and Sapphira were telling everyone that they were putting all of the proceeds of the sale to use for the Lord’s church. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew what had actually transpired, and rebuked him for the lie, pointing out that it was all unnecessary in the first place. It was his house and his money, and he could have done with it as he pleased. Ananias collapsed and breathed his last breath upon hearing Peter’s words.

It was about three hours later when his wife Sapphira arrived, and Peter asked her whether they had sold the house for “so much” (Luke uses those words there because the actual amount was not important to the scripture). When she lied, saying that was the case, Peter rebuked her as well, and she also breathed her last breath.

The problem was not just with the lie itself, but with the intent behind it that showed an insincere heart when it came to what they were doing. God would have no such hypocrisy tarnish the unity and momentum that the Lord’s church had at that time.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

Doing the Lord’s work – Acts 4

English: folio 11 recto of the codex with the ...

English: folio 11 recto of the codex with the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verses 32-37 detail a time and spirit of unity and of purpose that I dare say has not been equaled. The early Christians depicted here were many, and they were all of one mind – that of the good news of Jesus Christ, and of love for each other. Luke tells us that there was not a needy person among them. Those who were of some means sold possessions, including land and houses they owned, and “laid the money at the apostles feet” so that it could be distributed for the Lord’s work.

Notice that the scripture does not say that they sold all that they had. Barnabas, for example, sold a field. nobody was expected to divest themselves of all their earthly possessions. Where would the logic be in helping the needy by becoming needy yourself? That would not help the church. The point that was being made here by Luke is that everyone was indeed of one mind and unified in service to the Lord, and to each other — just as Jesus had commanded — while the apostles preached Jesus Christ crucified to the world at large.

Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Sovereign Lord – Acts 4

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded...

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded by angels, by Giaquinto, 1750s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Peter and John were released by the council, they went to their friends and told them all that had happened. What followed was what had to have been an incredibly uplifting experience, to say the very least. They start by praising God in a beautiful prayer, much of which is a wonderful model of prayer for us today as well.

When they finished, Luke tells us that the place where they were assembled actually shook! And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. God was giving His people everything they needed to move forward with the Lord’s church – knowledge, the Holy Spirit, and the confidence of knowing that He was with them. Here is their prayer to God on that momentous occasion, which God answered with that physical sign to assure them that there prayer was both heard and answered. See how many phrases you recognize as being very appropriate to use in prayer today:

Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth
and the sea and everything in them,
who through the mouth of our father David, your servant
said by the Holy Spirit,

“Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together
against your uholy servant Jesus, whom you anointed,
both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentile
and the peoples of Israel,
to do whatever your hand and your plan
had predestined to take place

And now, Lord, look upon their threats
and grant to your servants to continue
to speak your word with all boldness,
while you stretch out your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are performed
through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.