Hebrews 3 – Jesus Greater Than Moses

Mount Nebo, where Moses could see the Promised Land, but could not enter it.

Mount Nebo, where Moses could see the Promised Land, but could not enter it.

This chapter by the Hebrew writer is the only place in Scripture that Jesus is called an apostle.  Remember that an apostle is another word for a messenger, one who is sent (or more correctly, one who is commissioned, so that the messenger has the authority of the one who sent him).  Jesus said in John 12:49. “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me ma commandment—what to say and what to speak.”  The writer continues that Jesus was faithful to Him that appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.  But Moses was faithful as a servant.  Note that the writer says that Jesus is faithful over God’s house as a son – and we are that house.  But verse 6 reminds that we must persevere (hold fast) in the Christian life.

Verses 7-11 are quoted from Psalm 95:7-11,   We are warned as benefactors of the new covenant to not do as those who fell away in the old covenant.  We need the fellowship of our Christian brothers and sisters, so that we “…exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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Acts 11 – Peter Reports to the Church

The old city of Jerusalem and the Temple area is at the right. At the left is Mount Zion, the City of David. The gold-domed building is the Dome of the Rock

Chapter 10 ended with Cornelius, his family, and friends receiving the Holy Spirit; and then “they asked him (Peter) to remain for some days.”  Just how long “some days” turned out to be we are not told.  But by the time Peter returned to Jerusalem, 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.”  This would be a group of Christians who probably had a strict “Pharisaic” background either personally or by association.  They would likely expect that Gentiles who wanted to be Christians would have to first convert to Judaism, even going so far as to be circumcised and would need to live according to Jewish ritual law.  Their indignation was at Peter having eaten with these uncircumcised Gentiles after he left Joppa for Caesarea.

Peter responds by first telling them of his own vision, then that of Cornelius.  He then relates how “the Holy Spirit fell on them” just as had happened to the apostles at Pentecost.  That settled the matter – there were none present who could consider any alternative to the obvious conclusion.  So “they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”  Though the matter would still be debated, God’s will was clearly going to be done.

Persecution scattered the believers into Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and the gospel went with them. Most spoke only to Jews, but in Antioch some Gentiles were converted. The church sent Barnabas to investigate, and he was pleased with what he found. Barnabas went to Tarsus to bring Saul (Paul) back to Antioch.

Verses 19-21 relate how a great number of those who had been scattered from Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen had preached the word to others.  But some had not exclusively taught Jews.  Instead, many coming to Antioch had preached the word of Jesus to the Hellenists; and many had believed.  When word of this reached Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas, who found them faithful.  Barnabas, encouraged and full of the Spirit, went to Tarsus to find Paul; and together they taught in Antioch for a year.  It was in Antioch, according to verse 26, where the disciples were first called Christians.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, given to others by the Apostles during those days, was the gift of prophecy.  One disciple with that gift foretold a great famine (verse 28).  Historians believe that this famine that took place during the reign of Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Roman emperor from A.D. 41-54) was in the years 45–47 A.D.  This would be confirmed by Galatians 2:1, where Paul states that his second visit to Jerusalem referred to in verse 30 was 14 years after his conversion, which would be circa 47 A.D.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphira

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

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

As is often the case with Scripture, context is everything in this chapter.  As chapter 4 closes, the young church was growing with the Apostles leading them; and the unity among the believers was amazing.  People were selling their own possessions, and bringing the proceeds to the Apostles to help provide for others who were in need.  It was in that spirit that we were introduced to Barnabas of Cyprus in Acts 4:36 (we will read more about Barnabas in later chapters).  As Peter makes clear, the property that had belonged to Ananias and Sapphira was theirs to do as they wished.  Their sin was in trying to fraudulently claim that they had sold land and were giving the entire proceeds to the apostles to help those in need.  The lie would certainly be found out. The credibility of the Apostles would be harmed – how can they be said to be guided by the Holy Spirit and not know these people were perpetrating such fraud?  The unity of the believers would certainly suffer.  God would not allow this to happen.

Verse 12 lets us know that the Apostles had worked many signs and wonders.  Note that the verse does not refer to 120 people having done so, again affirming that it was the twelve who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in chapter 2.  And despite Peter and John’s earlier arrest, they were all together in Solomon’s Portico again. Verse 13 simply means that even the non-believers that did not join them held them in high esteem.  But verse 14 declares that the church was growing faster than ever, with both men and women.  People were also bringing their loved ones from all around to be healed.

The high priest and the rest of the Sadducees were jealous of the attention and the esteem everyone had for the apostles, and had them arrested.  But in verse 19, an angel of the Lord let them out and told them to go teach – this time in the Temple.  They did exactly that at daybreak.  The words the angel used were “…speak to the people all the words of this Life”  – the eternal life that Jesus spoke of in John 17:1.  There are some who believe that early Christianity may have been referred to as both “the Life” and “the Way.”  The former is unsure, but we do know that the latter is true.  It is first mentioned in Acts 9:1-2.

Apostles Peter and John by Pieter Aertsen (157...

Apostles Peter and John by Pieter Aertsen (1575). Oil on wood, 55.5 76 cm. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the council sent men to bring the Apostles to them from prison, they returned to let them know that they not only were not in the prison – but they were teaching in the Temple.  When they brought them from the Temple, they did it quietly.  The popularity of the Apostles made the officers afraid of the people.  At the Sanhedrin, the high priest reminded them that they had been warned not to teach in the name of Jesus, saying “you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”   But Peter and the Apostles again boldly declare that they will obey God – that He raised Jesus, whom they had killed, and that they are witnesses, as is the Holy Spirit.  The council was furious, wanting to kill them all.  But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, reminded them that two others had gathered a following, but had died and the movement fizzled.  His argument was that they should let this one fizzle out as well – either it would do so, or it was indeed from God.

Gamaliel’s advice was taken, but the Apostles were beaten (verse 40) before they were released.  This would have been a brutal beating – probably less severe that the scourging Jesus had received, but likely would have been the traditional 39 stripes for each of them.  Upon release, the attitude of the Twelve was to rejoice.  Verse 42 confirms “…every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Acts 1 – The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Luke begins this book by stating that Jesus presented the Apostles with many proofs, and taught them about the Kingdom in the forty days after raising Himself.  He also repeated the fact that Jesus had ordered the Apostles to remain in Jerusalem to await the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Verse 6 shows that they were still expecting an earthly Kingdom – for the Messiah to restore Israel to a place of power.  Not so much correcting as informing them, He tells them that they will be given power by the Holy Spirit, and will be His witnesses.  Jesus will very much still be at work through these Apostles in building His church.  After His ascension, they returned from Olivet to Jerusalem.  A Sabbath days’ journey in verse 12 refers to the maximum distance a Jew was supposed to travel on the Sabbath under Rabbinical tradition (not commandment of God) – equal to about 6/10 mile.

Jerusalem: looking east from the Hinnom Valley toward the Temple area and the Mount of Olives.

Back in Jerusalem, they devoted themselves to prayer along with the women and Jesus’ earthly brothers.  It appears that at this point, all of Mary’s sons had come around to belief (his family had even thought Him mad, and sought to seize Him in Mark 3:21).  In verses 15-20, Peter speaks to all who were in their company at the time (about 120), and spoke of the words of David through the Holy Spirit being fulfilled throughout all of the events they had witnessed since John the Baptist, and even in Judas’ betrayal.  Now it was time to select a replacement for Judas.  The scripture he quotes in this regard is from Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8.  Matthias was chosen as the new Apostle.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.