Changing the Hearts of Two Apostles – Acts 9-10

A lot happens in Acts chapter 9, but clearly the most important thing is that the man (Saul of Tarsus) who had ravaged the church and approved of the deaths of Christians (including that of Stephen) is converted. In fact, he is found  preaching in the synagogue and declaring that Jesus is the Son of God. This naturally amazed and bewildered a great many people. Such a turnaround in such a short time made a lot of people skeptical. It is the most significant conversion of the New Testament because Paul, as he came to be called, ended up writing the epistles that became most of what we call the New Testament.

English: Peter's vision of a sheet with animal...

English: Peter’s vision of a sheet with animals, from Acts 10; illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop, “Treasures of the Bible,” published 1894 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In chapter 10, Peter has a vision that changes his life once again. The vision shows him that no animal is unclean, and Mosaic Law had demanded and that Gentiles, by extension, required a revision of his views. After he arrived at his house, Peter had told Cornelius of how the Spirit had pointed him toward their meeting. So then Cornelius told him of his vision, and that all present were commanded to hear what Peter has to say.  So then, Peter preached to them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There will be much more discussion about Gentiles in the kingdom of the Lord before the “Jerusalem Conference” of chapter 15, but Peter’s mind on the subject is made up already, it appears. In verses 34-35, he says “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” And he finishes preaching with these words “all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

 /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.

 

 

 

 

Peter and John Arrested and Released – Acts 4-5

In chapter 4, Luke tells us that the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees “came upon them.” The “captain” of the temple was not a military figure , but someone in a supervisory role to the priests and Levites in the temple. The text says that they were greatly annoyed because Peter and John “were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” This would be particularly annoying to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). So they arrested the two apostles, and kept them for the night, as it was already late in the day.

But it was too late to stop what had obviously been God’s purpose that day. Verse 4 makes it pretty clear that the two apostles had not simply drawn the attention of a couple of dozen of temple-goers. Luke says that many believed as a result of their preaching and the miracle, and that the number of men came to about five thousand. So we can assume that upwards of 10,000 men and women had been persuaded in the gospel by that incident. Jesus’ church was growing very quickly indeed.

 

Peter and John were arrested. When they 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.

 

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

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

 

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.

 

In chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira were telling everyone that they were putting all of the proceeds of the sale of their property to use for the Lord’s church. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew what had actually transpired, and rebuked Ananias 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.

 

/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 3, Acts 4, Acts 5, Acts 6, Acts 7

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit – Acts 10

Traditional site of the house of Simon the Tanner. Joppa, today called Jaffa, was once the seaport for Jerusalem. Hiram sent cedar logs from Lebanon to King Solomon for the Temple, floating them to Joppa (2 Chronicles 2:15). From Joppa the prophet Jonah ran away from God ( Book of Jonah), sailing from there toward Tarshish. Here Peter raised Tabitha, or Dorcas, from the dead (Acts 9:36-42). Later he was staying here at the house of Simon the Tanner when he saw a vision of unclean animals, which led him to visit Cornelius' house in Caesarea and win him to Christ. This is the traditional site of the home of Simon the Tanner.

Traditional site of the house of Simon the Tanner. Joppa, today called Jaffa, was once the seaport for Jerusalem. Hiram sent cedar logs from Lebanon to King Solomon for the Temple, floating them to Joppa (2 Chronicles 2:15). From Joppa the prophet Jonah ran away from God ( Book of Jonah), sailing from there toward Tarshish. Here Peter raised Tabitha, or Dorcas, from the dead (Acts 9:36-42). Later he was staying here at the house of Simon the Tanner when he saw a vision of unclean animals, which led him to visit Cornelius’ house in Caesarea and win him to Christ. This is the traditional site of the home of Simon the Tanner.

Note: Beginning 09/02/14, this blog will be published on Tuesdays and Fridays

After Peter finished preaching to the house of Cornelius,  the Holy Spirit fell upon all present. The baptism of the Holy Spirit had previously been done directly from God to only the apostles, with it given to others only through the apostles by their “laying on hands.” But now, to the amazement of all circumcised believers who had come with Peter (verse 45), this second baptism was being poured out even to Gentiles.

Peter, acknowledging the gift that was given to them, then commanded that they be baptized with water as well. Peter’s perspective had changed forever concerning non-Jews. Now the Lord’s Kingdom would grow even faster! But this new perspective would not come without some resistance to change.

(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

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.

 

 

Peter Rebukes Simon – Acts 8

Word reached the apostles that the people of Samaria were being taught, believed and obeyed the gospel. So they sent Peter and John to “lay hands” upon many of them so that they would receive the gifts from the Holy Spirit that would allow them to work the same miracles that Philip was doing – healing the sick, the lame, etc.

Peter's conflict with Simon Magus by Avanzino ...

Peter’s conflict with Simon Magus by Avanzino Nucci, 1620. Simon is on the right, dressed in black. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Simon saw that these gifts came to those who had been so designated by the apostles, he wanted those gifts as well. So he offered money to Peter and John in hopes of getting them to lay hands on him also. Peter’s rebuke of Simon for this shameful act and the condition of his heart is cause for some debate as to what is actually meant. Part of what Peter said was: “I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”

But it seems clear to this writer that Peter meant exactly what he said. Simon did have bitterness in his heart because of the loss of the attention that he had received from amazing the people, and he wanted that attention back. This selfishness was the motive for his desire to receive the Holy Spirit. There was nothing about it that remotely resembled a desire to serve the Lord or to help others in need. It was pure selfishness and pride that motivated him, and he needed to repent for it. His request for their prayers aft the rebuke gives us hope that he did repent, and perhaps he became useful in the Lord’s church.

 

(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

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.

 

 

Sanhedrin Releases Peter and John – Acts 4

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)

Peter’s speech to the Sanhedrin left them in a state of astonishment. Neither Peter nor John were educated men, and they knew it. Yet, Peter had spoken not only eloquently, but had demonstrated his knowledge of scripture as well. To further complicate matters for the Sanhedrin, the formerly lame man who was present was over 40 years old. He was well-known by all to have been lame, so there was no denying the fact that a miracle had been done.

We must not overlook either that by this time, all of the priests, as well as the Sanhedrin council itself, was aware that Jesus had been resurrected. Not only did they have the apostles all proclaiming it and baptizing people in Jesus’ name, but the problem with the empty tomb was there – and the leaders had already paid those who had been guarding it to lie about what happened (Matthew 28:13-15).

And just as Jesus had attracted supporters upon His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, there were conversions being made by baptism in staggering numbers. If the Sanhedrin had been afraid to arrest Jesus in the light of day, they were even more afraid to harm these two, when so many already knew very well what they had done for this lame man. They warned Peter and John not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus anymore.

But the two of them answered that they would obey God rather than these men. The best that the council could do then was threaten them again before releasing them. The people were openly praising God for what the two apostles had done for the lame man.

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.  

Peter Doesn’t Hold Back – Acts 4

Luke says that the morning after Peter and John were arrested, the rulers, elders and scribes met together. This refers to the Sanhedrin council, of course.He mentions Annas as high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander. Annas was actually deposed in 15 A. D. by the Roman Prefect, Valerius Gratus, and Caiaphas his son-in-law, held the official position. But that seemed top mean little to the Jews, and so the two served together basically, with Annas still being deferred to behind the scenes as though nothing had happened in 15 A. D.

Wenceslas Hollar - Jesus before Annas 2

Wenceslas Hollar – Jesus before Annas 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are some who believe that the John mentioned here was Annas’ son, Jonathan, who was successor to Caiaphas. Others think that it was a famous priest of that day named Jochanan ben Zaccai. Alexander may have been Alexander the Alabarch, whose son married Berenice, the daughter of Herod Agrippa [1].

They brought Peter and John before them, and the lame man, who they had healed, was present as well. The council asked them “by what power or by what name” they had done this. Luke tells us that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit when he answered. And in 8-12 he spoke in detail of Jesus’ death,  the fact that God raised Him from the dead, and how there is no other name by which we can be saved. Notice that he quoted Psalms 118:22, as Jesus did in Matthew 21:42::

…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

It is important to notice as well that this same Peter, who denied Jesus three times, boldly tells this same council that condemned the Lord to death that they themselves were culpable for the miscarriage of justice done to the Son of God. Peter was indeed feeding the Lord’s sheep; and he was attempting to feed the “goats” as well (Matthew 25:32).

 

[1] Flavius Josephus, Jewish antiquities 20.100-103

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.  

Sermon in the Colonnade – Acts 3

Jesus Walks in the Portico of Solomon

Jesus Walks in the Portico of Solomon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s.

“He,” of course, was the lame man they had just healed. Here in Solomon’s Portico (or porch), the two had created quite a stir. Solomon’s Portico, according to Josephus was a part of the original temple surroundings that still remained from Solomon’s time. It was a large colonnade with double columns that ran along the eastern wall in the Court of the Gentiles. Jesus taught there at the Feast of Dedication in the winter (John 10:22-23).

The astonished crowd was growing, and Peter of course, used the opportunity to preach to them. He began by letting them know that it was not by their power that the man had been healed, but by that of Jesus.zHe used the opportunity to tell that they had denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you” (Barabas). He then said that they “killed the author of life.” This is a significant statement by Peter, in that it demonstrates that Jesus came to earth fully Lord and God, having been from the beginning, just as John’s gospel states.

He tells them that he and the others are witnesses that God raised Him from the dead, and that it was by faith in Him that this man was healed. Peter would not be oblivious to the fact that among the listeners would be Pharisees and their sympathizers. It was a message that was intended for them to hear – not for the purpose of confrontation, but for the opportunity for salvation.

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.  

Miracle at the Beautiful Gate – Acts 3

Peter and John were headed to the temple at the hour of prayer – the ninth hour, making it about 3:00 in the afternoon if one reckons time by Jewish standards. As they approached, a lame man was being carried to the entrance of the “Beautiful Gate.” We do not know which gate this was, although many suppose it was the one known as the Nicanor gate in the east.

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)

The lame man was laid at this gate every day, so that he could ask for “alms” or gifts for the poor from those entering the temple. As he caught the eye of Peter and John, Peter told him that they had no money, but that he did have something to give him. He then healed him “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” and the man rose up and walked and began leaping and praising God.

This drew the attention of many who frequented the temple because they saw him every day, and he was known to have been lame from birth. This particular act of wonder is singled out for us above all others that we are told that the apostles performed for a couple of reasons. First, it was done to allow for the maximum number of credible witnesses to be present, so they could “testify” to it to others. Secondly, it was designed to attract attention, as there was inevitably to be a “showdown” between the apostles as the Jewish leaders. This would serve to hasten that process.

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.  

Definite Plan and Foreknowledge – Acts 2

English: Jesus crucified. Mignard. In the Bowy...

English: Jesus crucified. Mignard. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 4073. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section X. the crucifixion. Mark 15:22-37. http://pdfcast.org/pdf/an-illustrated-commentary-by-phillip-medhurst-on-the-gospel-of-mark-section-v-to-x (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In verse 22, Peter gets into the “meat and potatoes” of his sermon – the very first gospel sermon. And he doesn’t pull any punches. He tells them that they themselves knew of the mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Jesus — right in their own midst. He said that Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge by God (Luke 22:22, 1 Peter 1:2). Still addressing them, he said “…you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” By lawless, here Peter mostly means sinful – although there was absolutely nothing lawful about Jesus’ so-called trial or his crucifixion.

Peter continues, saying that God raised Him up, “loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” It was not possible because He was the Son of God, because God willed it, and because it was prophesied that He would overcome it. Then he quotes David from Psalm 16:8-11, part of which says “for you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.”

Peter went on to explain that David was a prophet and that he foresaw and spoke in this manner of the resurrection of the Christ. He said that they (he and the other apostles) are all witnesses to the fact that God raised Him up; and that He has been exalted at the right hand of God. Having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has “poured out” what they were seeing with their own eyes on that very day.

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.  

Burst Open – Acts 1

When Peter rose to speak to all of the brethren that were present, he told of Judas’ betrayal, having been numbered as one of them in this ministry. The purchase of the field that Peter referred to was done by the Sanhedrin after Judas had given the money back that he had been paid for showing them the way to find and arrest Jesus.

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than mentioning Judas having hanged himself, Peter allowed that he “burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (although he did not say that he was alive before that happened). Of course, these two accounts are the source of finger-pointing by skeptics who say this is a contradiction. We will not spend a lot of time on this because there are plenty of other resources that do a better job of explaining this, such as this article at Apologetics Press. We find the likelihood that Judas’ body was highly decomposed, causing Peter’s rather graphically described end, a likely scenario. It is especially so when one considers that he hanged himself at the time of Passover (we do not know where for certain – probably far from where anyone would find him readily). Touching a dead body at any time would make one ceremonially unclean for seven days after purification. That would certainly be undesirable during the Passover feast.

Peter speaks of the fate of Judas in terms of fulfilling prophecy (Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8). The latter, “may another take his office,” means that they must now choose someone to replace Judas. The choice was made by much praying and casting lots. The one they chose was Matthias. We never hear much about him after that, which leads some to speculate that they appointed him in error, and that Paul was really the Lord’s choice for replacement. We should be satisfied instead with the prophecy spoken of here. What became of Matthias was not important to the gospel, so we do not know. We do know that Paul was chosen by the Lord Himself, and the apostles would decrease in number again soon enough – beginning with James in Acts 12.

(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. 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.  

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