Welcome to AHA Bible Moments!

Featured

“Bible History IS Secular History when given the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

You are about to enter the world of “I didn’t know that” moments from the Bible!

 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Proverbs 9:9

Paul Harvey, during his daily radio broadcasts, made famous the statement “The Rest of the Story.” He would tell the unfamiliar stories behind the familiar stories of men, feats, events and situations. Did you know the same is true of many “bible stories” found in the Old and New Testament scriptures? The following may not be quite the same as Mr. Harvey’s reviews of history, events and people, but they can be just as stunning, revealing, informative, and mind opening.

This publication will look at dozens of these surprising “aha moments” from miniJimscripture. Some will startle, some readers will find them particularly satisfying, and some will realize that history and the Bible are the same thing; a review of what was and remains an actuality. The Bible stories in scripture are space-limited and cannot publish everything surrounding, coinciding, or consequential to these stories. Some Bible time events are well-known and others not quite as well known but none the less found in scripture with a correlating “aha moment”. NOTE: The Bible and history are contemporaneous.

Included in this website are messages from others who serve our God; i.e. studied individuals such as ministers and Bible teachers.

Let’s explore some of these aha moments in scripture and have a ton of fun while doing so!!

– Dr. J

Bible Devotions or Bible Study?

Bible Devotions are like paying the minimum amount due on ones credit card debt. One seldom gains ground. Bible study is like paying the monthly balance in full plus something extra. We gain ground quickly!

 

Want to Listen to Music while you study:

For Continuous Music please use the link below:

Keep the Music Playing While You Browse!

 

 

 

Acts 4

jerusalem-331381__340

Is the bible simply a series of well written stories­­ or is it historical? This question surfaces because we, the church of bible believers keep reinforcing the facts of the bible as “stories.” In our study of the Book of Acts we do find archaeological and written records that verify its actuality; not someone’s misgiven perception.

The Book of Acts has three messages:

  1. The original church and its way of conducting worship and taking a stand for Jesus Christ plus the warning of those who wish traditional Judaism.
  2. The influence of Peter on the Jews and their Messianic or Judaism worship. NOTE: Messianic simply means “of or following the Messiah;” i.e. Jews for Jesus.
  3. The Apostle Paul and his missionary travels addressing both the Jew and the Gentile building assemblies of believers throughout the Near East.

In Acts chapter 4, we continue this study of the book of Acts and the original church body. Keep in mind that the Book of Acts is the book of the original church or believers. The body of believers is not a building. It is the believers that make up what Peter and Paul refer to as The Church. Just like the opening paragraph points out that we as believers must understand when one refers to the Bible Stories it is real events. However, the word “story” might suggest to the unbeliever “lie, fib, untruth, falsehood, tale, yarn, legend, fairy-tale, rumor, gossip, hearsay, unsupported or documented, one’s perception adjusted for inflation;”  all synonyms to the phrase we recklessly use as Bible story.” By the way, are we unequally yoked in church with religious non-believers?

storyThe Merriam-Webster, Oxford, Britannica, Americana, and American Collegiate dictionaries list more negative synonyms than positives in reference to the word “stories.”  Yet from childhood it is kids Bible Stories. No wonder they don’t have a strong faith as they get older. They don’t see the bible as historical fact so when they get older, what is there to help them understand that these stories are facts of history.

Archaeological inscriptions and other independent sources show that Acts contains accurate details of 1st century society, specifically with regard to titles of officials, administrative divisions, town assemblies, and rules of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. (Acts of the Apostles)

The Free Encyclopedia Wikipedia has not helped even though it is a popular research web site. They have continually “adjusted” their so-called facts by adding statements like: most theologians now believe, records seem to be in conflict with each other in the bible, however recent beliefs have changed… all adding doubt to the unrelenting accuracy of bible facts. What once was a fairly reliable research tool has become more like the fake news. They add undocumented comments which lead the learning researcher to conclude it may only be an unfounded story.

If you wish to read it for yourself and feel well founded in bible history, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_reliability_of_the_Acts_of_the_Apostles#Acts_10:1:_Roman_troops_in_Caesarea and read how slanted or the raising of doubt is being done in what was once a fairly unbiased web site account of history and the bible facts. I do NOT RECOMMEND anyone who is in doubt of the infallibility of the bible to go there. If one does not know the truth, how will s/he distinguish mining the facts or undermining them? (Rev. Dr. Jstark)

Acts 4:1-4

This portion of Acts shows the hatred of the Jewish establishment for those who were by now called “The Way.” These are followers of the resurrected Jesus. This is of particular concern per the Sadducees. Most Jewish Chief Priests were Sadducees. As opposed to the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not then and nor do they today believe in an afterlife or a resurrection. They fell upon Apostle Peter and John tossing them into jail.

JIV NOTE: Don’t confuse Acts chapter 2 where about 3,000 men accepted Christ as their Savior and future messiah with Acts 4 that now states 5,000. This is the accumulated total; not a new bunch of believers meaning 3,000 plus 5,000.

John and Peter are brought before the Jewish ruling court called the Sanhedrin. Accused of what; healing a life-long cripple? Talk about putting legs to the gospel! Shy Peter, the one who denied he was a follower of Jesus during Jesus trial before the courts, was now a bold speaker. He even accused, no, pointed out the fact that it was many of these very same Sanhedrin people who but a few years earlier had crucified Jesus Christ. The real question here is “who is actually on trial.” Is it Peter and John or the Sanhedrin?

The Sanhedrin demands to know “by what power have they healed this lame man and given the message of salvation/resurrection to the Jews.” This is an early example of what happens when one is “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Even the Sanhedrin realized that these Jesus witnesses were mere Galileans. They were mere fishermen. From where might come their eloquence of tongue? They even prophecy about a future yet to happen and accuse the Sanhedrin of crimes against God.

To find this answer we must turn to Mark 13:5-11… (Begin at verse 9)

“…You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, *or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” It is by the power given to them through the Holy Spirit. This is the power through which healing, ministry, witness, and seeing scripture clearly from which understanding must come.

*JIV: Sadly, this is too often the approach thousands of ministers, youth leaders, bible studies leaders and Sunday school teachers use in delivering their weekly message or lesson to a given congregation, youth group or study group. This verse is NOT AN EXCUSE to be unprepared. Yes, these very same congregants and youth will, in their heart, cast a judgment upon you, but this verse in Mark is court time; not lesson time.

It must be pointed out for those who wish to believe that upon Peter the rock was the church to be built (Matthew 16:18). It is plainly stated in Acts 4:11 that JESUS is the corner stone that the builders (Jews) rejected. In a sense this is what the Catholic Church has done. They have rejected Jesus as the chief cornerstone and substituted Peter in its stead. Be aware, gain knowledge, then seek understanding (2 Timothy 3:7).

So what about the end results per chapter 4 of Acts? The Sanhedrin realized according to verses 13-22 that these men were uneducated yet spoke with such power. Besides this, the man who had been a cripple from birth was standing next to them praising the resurrected Jesus. When the elephant in the room is too obvious to dismiss, they could only warn these Apostle to knock it off and stop with this preaching stuff. It undermined the authority of the Jewish leadership.

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark (August 2018)

PS: Acts 4:23-31 is the only prayer the bible states was recited in unison.

The Bridegroom & Bride

relationshipA few years ago a Russian newspaper reported a light-hearted poll of 100 Soviet households. In 90 of the homes, the wife described herself as the head of the family–and the husband agreed. In nine families the husband said he was head of the household, but the wife disagreed. The only husband whose wife named him as head of the family was told by the newspaper that he had won an award. When asked to select his prize, he turned to his wife and asked: “What shall I choose, Maria?”

If Christ is the groom, then who is his bride? The synoptic Gospels don’t really answer that question, but the rest of the New Testament does. And the answer probably doesn’t offer much help to people hoping Jesus’ marital status could shift the debates over women in ministry or the definition of marriage in a contemporary society where political correctness is accepted and God’s commands are debated. In Ephesians 5 (one of the more controversial passages of the Bible), the apostle Paul tells his readers, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Christ’s wife, at least according to Paul, is the church; all believers—not an individual human woman.

That the church is Jesus’ bride gets confirmed in Revelation, the final book of the Bible, which serves as a prophecy for the end of the world. In this apocalyptic vision, Jerusalem, a proxy for God’s people as a whole, is described as “a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Later the narrator says, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'” Here, the wife is again Jerusalem, and the Lamb is Jesus.

The image of Christ as groom and the church as bride infuses Christian theology and writing. Pastor and best-selling author Timothy Keller preaches frequently on the topic, including a sermon called “The True Bridegroom,” where he compares God to a husband whose wife (the church) is constantly challenging on him. A classic hymn includes these lines in its opening verse:

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord / She is his new creation by water and the word. / From heaven He came and sought her to be his holy bride.” Countless books have been written meditating on what the Bible means when it calls Christ a groom and the church his bride.

The answer is in a simple Ephesians 5 text but our culture does not want to accept it. So does that make God wrong and political-culture persuasiveness correct?

Political correctness and political party jockeying for votes want all differences between men and women eliminated. Stay at home dad and working mom is more readily accepted then the centuries old norm of mom at home and dad works to pay the bills and maintain the family standard of living.

Why does the Word of God even mention Ephesians 5:21- e.o.c. if it is so hotly debated in so many cultures; the exception being Islam? Why is not that previous of verses 15 – 21 included in this discussion? Are they distinctly different context than 21 forward? A different chapter but mismarked in our translations? Topics too confusing? Instructions that no longer apply?

I am going to make this somewhat simple for all of us and let your own knowledge and understanding take on it be the dominant factor: it is significant that the Bible never says, “Husbands, get your wives to submit to you.” That is not your responsibility, men! It never commands the husband to be the head of his household. Rather, it states it as a fact in the course of discussing the wife’s role. What God’s Word says to the wife is her responsibility.

In other words, it is not God’s responsibility to get individual humans to submit to Jesus as head of the body (church) or the church to submit itself to Jesus as the head of the church. It is up to us as individuals and the church as a God-centered part of the body of Christ to do as it commands. If it was God’s job to force submission, then Israel never would have gone astray. If it was up to Jesus to force submission of his church, then there never would have been the 7 churches discussed in Revelation 1, 2, 3.

“Submission” in English is only a shadow of the Greek and Aramaic definition. One of its synonym’s is “to be open minded.” I close with Isaiah 55:8…The LORD says: “My thoughts and my ways are not like yours…”

Dr. JStarkcropped-minijim1

 

The Letter Writer

paul letter writerPerhaps an aha-moment for some if not each of us today…

Luke wrote Acts as did he the Book of Luke. But do we know how to identify the books Paul wrote? Following are hints in the opening words of each of his books:

Romans 1:1  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

1Cor 1:1  Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

1Cor 1:2  To the church of God that is in Corinth,

2Cor 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:

2Cor 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Php 1:1  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Php 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gal 1:1  Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

Gal 1:2  and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Eph 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Eph 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Php 1:1  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Php 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1Thes 1:1  Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

2Thes 1:1  Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

2Thes 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1Tim 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

1Tim 1:2  To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

2Tim 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

2Ti 1:2  To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:1  Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

Tit 1:2  in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

Philemon 1:1  Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker

Phm 1:2  and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Phm 1:3  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

cropped-minijim1Dr. jStark

July 2018

The Final Straw

­­

SCBActs 18:6 (the final straw between Paul and the Jewish opposition to him)

But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

It is obvious in our studies that almost without fail Jewish leaders harassed Paul even following him after leaving a particular synagogue or town. As soon as those Jews in a previous town heard he had moved on to another synagogue in another part of the country or world, they sent men to disrupt his activities and Christianization of those in that town. ­­Emperor Claudius also had an issue with this Jewish trait of kicking a horse after it was down in order to force it to go a few more inches.

Somehow these Jewish Synagogue oppressors of Paul could start riots anywhere they went as long as the people in these other areas were also entrenched in Synagogue traditions and rules. How they did it is a matter of history… they accused him and accurately so of violating “the way it had always been;” i.e. traditional worship and way of life.

When Paul “gave up on his fellow Israelites” and the Sanhedrin bunch, he set a precedent for us today. Our job is NOT to convert or force others to take action. As we know from the Learning Pyramid (background on this page), the best one can do is take another up to the point of knowledge and hopefully understanding. The BIG BUT is that the listener must make a choice; accept this new knowledge and desire a change or reject it leaving it behind, and as in Paul’s life, try to destroy the messenger. Paul walked away shaking the dust from his garment hem and sandals; i.e. Acts 18:6.

Jews “oppose and blaspheme” the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is at its center. In an acted out parable or demonstration of “shaking the dust off out his robes,” Paul disassociates himself from the Jews for several reasons. He wants to be clear per the eventual judgment from God that their blasphemy will incur. He wants them to know that their rejection of the message places them in the same position as unbelieving Gentiles; facing the same justice and judgment of God in the final days of the world as we now know it. He wants to declare his freedom from any further responsibility for their eternal destiny (Nehemiah 5:13; Luke 9:5; 10:10-11; Acts 13:46, 51). He cannot act as their conscience and elicit conviction or a better understanding. Using Old Testament phraseology (2 Sam 1:16; compare Mt 27:24-25), Paul’s declaration of “I can do no more” says as much. Their guilt and coming punishment are their own responsibility. This is true of all mankind once we stand at the Great White Throne Judgement.

This however does not mean Paul will (or you and me as be-lievers) should cease trying or actively sharing the gospel. Paul changes locations and target markets (switching from targeting Jews to the Greeks/Gentiles) but does not change the message. God is the same regardless of location. In light of the vision of Revelation 5:9-10 and 7:9-10–“a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb”–it is right for us today to claim the promises and obey the commands of Acts 18:9-10.

Paul was in trip #2 of his three missionary journeys. Somewhere between 44 A.D. and 51 A.D. Emperor Claudius had ordered all of the Jews in Italy to “leave the country.” This is very true of Aquila and Priscilla. Paul meets this couple from Italy and is immediately sees their love of God. They, as was Paul, were tent-makers (Acts 18:1-3). This missionary couple from Italy is mentioned 6 different times in scripture. Acts 18 is the first time we hear of them but always named as a couple. Perhaps 15 or 16 years later, when Paul is near death and writing his final letter to Timothy in Ephesus, he urges Timothy, “Greet Priscila and Aquila” (2 Tim 4:19). They were still active missionaries of the church and alive.

dodgeEmperor Claudius had issued his “get out of Dodge” (Italy) order specifically because Jews had an overwhelming tendency to be trouble makers. Paul had experienced this several times during his journeys. Just as their traditional religious adherence issues with Paul, they couldn’t leave it alone. Wherever these traditionalists went, trouble-making was their sole purpose. One might say they pursued it. They followed Paul from Synagogue to Synagogue causing riots in each city that resulted in Paul being stoned or escaping with his life at night.

In Acts 18:12 through verse 17 Paul is hauled before a secular court of Gallio by the Synagogue leaders for teaching a way of worshiping God that is contrary to Judaism. “It is against our laws”…traditions if read carefully. Gallio was the governor of this Roman province therefore the judicial branch of their court system. We read that they forced Paul in front of *Gallio.

*JIV: This to me means or supports a somewhat partial view of separation of church and State. Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus or Gallio was a Roman senator, governor of Achaia and brother of the famous writer Seneca. He is best known in secular histories for his impartial judgment of a legal case involving Paul the Apostle in Corinth. Since Gallio’s tenure as Governor of this territory can be traced to around 52/53 A.D., we can also date Paul to this same date.

JIV NOTE: One should also understand that the Titius mentioned in Acts 18:7 should not be confused with the Titus to which Paul later wrote the Book (letter to) Titus. Another confusion can be the mentioning of Crispus (v8) and Sosthenes (v17) as the Chief Ruler in that Synagogue. Some historians suggest that Crispus, who accepted Christ through Paul’s ministry, was later replaced by Sosthenes as Chief Priest. After all, Paul remained in Corinth for about 18 months. Here are the options due to the mentioning of Sosthenes in 1 Corinthians 1:1 as joining the Apostle Paul. Here are the options. Crispus is mentioned once again again in 1 Corinthians 1:14. We teach – You Decide

  1. Crispus was replaced by Sosthenes as the chief priest after Crispus accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
  2. Crispus and Sosthenes are one and the same person.

Fascinating as a point of knowledge… since 1 Corinthians 1:1 identifies Paul and Sosthenes as sending greetings to the church in Corinth, one might also suggest Sosthenes co-authored at least part of the letter to the Corinthian church. They both hailed from Corinth and the new church established there.

 

cropped-minijim1Dr. Jstark

June, 2018

The History of Acts Part 3

Background to the Acts of the Apostles

  1. The author:
      1. Luke was not an eyewitness to the life of Christ (Luke 1:14), but he was a participant in many of the events of Acts (Acts 16: 10­ 17; 20:5­-21:18; 27:1­-28:16).
      2. Like Paul, he came on the scene after the life of Christ on earth.
      3. He was with Paul at Rome during the imprisonment with which Acts closes rather abruptly. Acts 28:30, ­31; cf. Colossians 4: 14; Philemon 24.
    1. When was Acts written?
      1. Acts closes abruptly with Paul under house arrest at Rome awaiting the outcome of his appeal to Caesar.
      2. The most reasonable explanation for the book’s leaving us in the dark as to the outcome of the appeal is that the case had not yet been decided when Luke wrote.
      3. Paul and his company arrived at Rome in the spring of A.D. 60 and stayed there “two whole years” before going to trial. Acts 28:30.
      4. Thus Acts may have been written sometime in or shortly after 62 A.D., just before Paul’s trial and initial release to go to Iberia/Spain where large numbers of Jews lived.
      5. Note: Tradition tells us that Paul undertook additional missionary labors following his release, perhaps in Spain; i.e. Iberia. Cf. Rom.15:24­-28.
    2. The title of this book: The Acts of the Apostles.
      1. The book certainly does not tell all the acts of all the apostles; it doesn’t even relate some of the acts of the other apostles.
      2. Some have suggested that a more descriptive title might be the Acts of the Holy Spirit and the Church Known as The Way; early Christians were not called Christians.

Additional Background to the Acts of the Apostles

  1. Luke was a physician (Col.4:14), and his medical background and interests seem to appear at times.
    1. He uses medical terms (“convulsed” (thrown down, ASV) and “examine” (look upon, ASV) in Luke 4:35 and 9:38.)
    2. In Jesus’ saying about the camel and the needle’s eye, Luke uses the technical term for a surgeon’s needle/awl eye (trumalia); Matthew and Mark use another word (trupēma) which refers to a needle of whatever variety. Luke 18:25; cf. Matt.19:24; Mark 10:25.
  • Saul did not merely have his sight restored, but “there fell from his eyes as it were scales”; he then “took food and was strengthened.” Acts 9:18­19.
    1. This eyesight restoration leads this author to believe his “thorn in the side” was not his eyesight
  1. Publius’ father “lay sick of fever and dysentery.” Acts 28:8.
  1. Why did Luke write?
    1. He saw the need to commit to writing an accurate account of the beginning and spread of Christianity. THE CHURCH. Luke 1: 1­4.
    2. It chronicles the triumph of the gospel over the hearts of men in a hostile world. Acts 2:47b; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:30, ­31.

The Message of the Book of Acts

  1. Acts traces the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Antioch to Rome.
    1. A simple outline of the book can be formulated on the basis of Jesus’ statement at Acts 1:8.
      1. In Jerusalem. Acts 1:1­8
      2. In Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:4­; 11:18.
  • In the uttermost parts of the world. Acts 11:19; ­28:31.
  1. As he was moved by the Holy Spirit, Luke showed how the purpose of God to save mankind was being worked out in human history.
  2. Its (gospel message) spread throughout the larger Roman Empire mainly through the efforts of Paul and the dispersed church of believers by the Sanhedrin and anti-Christian Rome.
    1. Paul always began his preaching in each city among its Jewish population in a local Synagogue. Acts 13:5,14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:1,10,17; 18:4; 19:8; 28:17.
    2. Rejection by the Jews led to preaching among the Gentiles. Acts 13:46. 

Major Themes and/or Issues in the Book of Acts

  1. The reliability of Luke as an historian.
    1. In the last century, critical thought, generally in Germany, held that Acts was a second century document from a third-­rate historian.
    2. Research in geography, archaeology, and history have so thoroughly vindicated Acts’ trustworthiness as a document from the first century that such criticisms now appear absurd.
  • Sir William Ramsay (1852 – 1916) was trained in and accepted the German critical theories until he began archaeological work in Asia Minor. He was forced to abandon the attitude he had learned toward Acts and eventually became one of the most ardent defenders of Luke’s reliability. Cf. Ramsay’s The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (1915).
  1. Acts reflects details that only a first­ century author who was personally familiar with them could have related. He had great insight from befriending Apostle Paul.
  2. Luke knew, for example, that . . .
    1. Cyprus, Achaia, and Asia were senatorial provinces governed by proconsuls. Acts 13:7; 18:12; 19:38.
    2. The chief magistrates of Thessalonica were called ”politarchs.” Acts 17:6,8.
    3. The leading men of Ephesus were “Asiarchs.” Acts 19:31.
    4. Laws and customs of the Roman world conformed to patterns that we have only recently been able to corroborate.
  3. Luke is now known to display a minute accuracy of detail which is unsurpassed in ancient literature.
  1. Some special features of Acts.
    1. The geography of the book involves three key cities.
      1. Jerusalem is the base for the church’s evangelistic activity among the Jews for the first 12 chapters with Apostle Peter.
      2. Antioch is the center of activity among the Gentiles in chapters 13­:21 with Apostle Paul.
      3. Rome is the city of Paul’s evangelistic enterprise as the book comes to a close.
    2. In terms of central personalities, Peter and Paul dominate respective halves of the book. Luke was a colleague of Paul and knew Peter by association.
      1. Peter, apostle to the circumcision [Jews and Israelis], is the central figure of the first 12 chapters.
      2. Paul, apostle to the uncircumcision [Greeks], is the principle of the remainder.
      3. Even the miracles they performed in confirmation of their apostleship are recorded in parallel: healing lame men (Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8), “miracles of harm” (Acts 5:1; Acts 13:6), healings through secondary means (Acts 5:15; Acts 19:12), casting out demons (Acts 5:16; Acts 16:18), confronting sorcerers (Acts 8:18; Acts13:6), and raising the dead (Acts 9:36; Acts 20:9).
  • The activity of the Holy Spirit is given great notice in Acts.
    1. The outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost is in many ways the central event of the book. Acts 1:4­5; 2:1-­13.
    2. The message preached and the signs performed in its confirmation are all attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit.
  1. The early expansion of the church.
    1. In the earliest days of the church, the church was confined to Jerusalem.
    2. The persecution of Christians by the Jewish leadership following Stephen’s martyrdom led to evangelization in the areas of Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1.
      1. Philip preached in Samaria. Acts 8:4-­25.
      2. He converted an Ethiopian seeking understanding. Acts 8:26-­39.
      3. He preached in the Gentile city of Caesarea. Acts 8:40.
  • The first recorded instance of Gentile conversion is Peter’s experience with Cornelius. Acts 10.
    1. This met with objections. Acts 11:1­3
    2. As a result, however, the right of Gentiles to hear the gospel was affirmed. Acts 11:4­-18.
  1. Near the time of Cornelius’ conversion (A.D. 40?), the gospel came to Antioch.
    1. Preaching was first to the Jews. Acts 11:19.
    2. An outreach was begun among the Gentiles. Acts 11:20­-21.
    3. Cornelius is the first recorded Greek conversion to The Way (Christianity)
  2. Antioch of Syria now becomes the center of activity in the book.
  1. The missionary tours of Paul.
    1. The church at Antioch was founded by fugitives from Saul’s persecution of Jewish converts to Christianity in Jerusalem. Acts 11:19.
      1. Many Gentiles were also converted in this city. Acts 11:20,­ 21.
      2. The brethren at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to investigate this unusual situation. Acts 11:22­, 24.
    2. Barnabas decided to seek the help of Saul now called Paul in building up the church at Antioch. Acts 11:25, ­26.
      1. He had shown confidence in Paul earlier, shortly after his conversion. Acts 9:26, ­27.
      2. Now he would bring him into a situation where the Lord’s providence was to give an opportunity for the greatest missionary efforts in all history other than possibly Billie Graham.
      3. Note: This is three years after Saul’s conversion. We do not know what was happening in his life during that time. Galatians 1: 15­-24.

 

 

Acts 3

Peter has become a ball of fire since the resurrection of Jesus and well after his denial of him before the crucifixion of Jesus. He is now a spokesperson of spox. Little more comes out of his mouth other than sharing the gospel of Christ. He has become a true “be – liver”.belIEVERS2

Peter and John are going up to the temple at the 9th hour. Times given in the bible such as the third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour and the like can be a bit confusing. Often in the bible the hour given is the number of hours past sunrise; i.e. 6:00 a.m. In this case it is the third hour after sunrise but 9 o’clock in our usual way of thinkin; i.e. the ninth hour.

Why in verse 2 of chapter 3 does the description of the situation around the lame man include the statement “was lame since his mother’s womb?”  (ASV). To most leapimgthis statement means little but the bible never includes words for the sake of filling space. This is not like many assignment papers I would receive from students in the colleges where I taught. A student could fill half a page or more with words without having said a thing. This is called many things but usually it means…s/he hasn’t a clue of knowledge let alone any understanding. S/he thinks the assignment to be “write X number of pages.” This is a bit like thinking “worship” means going to church. Neither is correct if something isn’t digested and made a difference be it an assignment or true worship.

Here is why that statement is included…This means everyone in town KNEW (YADDA) that this guy was not a fake news lame guy healed of some malady no one ever knew he even had. We see this too often with fake-healing TV evangelists. To heal him had to be of Divine power. Little faith is needed when one’s eyes witness the event.

Fixing his eyes upon the lame man (a man never named by the way) Peter commanded him to get up. Not only does he get up but he JUMPS UP. How startling this had to be to all witnesses. In verse 9 we read that “all” the people saw him walking and jumping. The word all, pas in Greek, means the whole of the people; everyone.Filled with wonder and amazement. And they knew that it was he (nameless cripple from birth) who sat at the gate and begged alms daily.”

The people gathered around Peter and John still wondering and in amazement when Peter tells them, “gaze not at us for we are but humans. Gaze upon the true healer ‘whom you hung on the cross at Calvary’” (paraphrased). Peter, as is the custom of that day, goes back in history to remind those gazing at him and John that their forefathers and their religious leaders were told of this event “by the Old Testament prophets” hundreds of years earlier. The reader should be reminded at this point that published bible scrolls available to the people at this time in history were Old Testament manuscripts. Acts itself wasn’t written until around 80 to 90 A.D. yet alone published and available to the general public.

It is of particular interest to note verse 19…”repent and be converted.” Once again a simple read does little justice to one’s knowledge and understanding. Peter doesn’t turn aroundsimply say to REPENT; he adds AND BE CONVERTED. This is sadly the case in too many lives and altar calls even today. We can get as far as a repenting moment but seldom use this as a point to “turn our lives around” and head in another direction. This is from where this author got the saying “one must be a believer as in to be (repent) and to live (converted to) a life of a believer.

AHA MOMENT: This man, according to chapter 4:22 was over 40 years of age. Also since he was at the gate and temple in Jerusalem, Jesus must have passed by him a number of times but did not heal him. ODD? Perhaps but we do not understand God. We can only accept him by faith. Perhaps the moment was not right back then for Jesus to have performed a miracle and healed him. This man may not have been in a receptive mood or heart. He may have been preserved by God for this moment with Peter and John as a new witness. Any guess is speculative but we do know this man was a lame beggar during the time of Jesus in Jerusalem.

Once again we get a glimpse of “first to the Jew then to the Gentile” according to the last two verses in chapter 3. (ASV)

Act 3:25  Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Act 3:26  Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.

 

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark
May 2018

Part Two (Introduction to Second Semester – Acts 13-28)

Luke – Part Two (Introduction to Second Semester – Acts 13-28)

Instructor’s Note: Last semester we left off at chapter 12:24. We now pick up where the Apostle Peter is no longer the center of the goings on; the Apostle Paul is primary to Acts 13-28. This term will mention Paul’s missionary trips to the Gentiles, but mostly discuss the issues of those days when Paul made his missionary travels. It isn’t a study to trace his three “missionary” trips establishing new communities of Gentile believers, but more to the historical facts of why and where he went and where he avoided going.

An aside note…Just as the first half of the Book of Daniel is written in Aramaic (Greek) and the second half Hebrew, the Book of Acts is the message in the first half to the Jews and the second half is to the Gentile/Greeks.acts

Acts 12:25-16:5

In this part, Luke describes how the gospel spread through more countries and by who; such as the connection with King Solomon in 945 B.C. and Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian official almost 1,000 years later. It ends like this: ‘So, the Christians became stronger in their faith and more believers joined together daily.’ The people who joined were believers, not outsiders. This means those in The Way (Christians) in worship and discipleship were not the lost but those who were there to learn something beyond their salvation moment.

Acts 16:6-19:20

We learn from this portion of Acts how the good news about Jesus reached Europe. Paul started a new church in Corinth, a city in Greece. To its name-sake we get 1 & 2 Corinthians. He also started a new church in Ephesus; i.e. the Book of Ephesians. Ephesus was a very important city. It was in the same territory that is Turkey today. It is near Greece but mostly separated by the Aegean Sea. This part ends like this: ‘In this manner, the Lord’s message (to the believers) continued to increase in power and it spread widely.’

Acts 19:21-28:31

In the final part of our Acts study this semester, Luke tells us that Paul reached Rome. When the book ends, Paul is in prison under house arrest. There, ‘he preached boldly about God’s kingdom. He taught the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ and nobody tried to stop him.’ In other words, he brought many to a belief in Christ than sent them to a church of other believers to be disciples (learners) per living a life in Christ; i.e. To Be & To Live (be-liever) growing daily in knowledge and understanding.be a believer

When the book ends, Paul is in Rome. The Romans had arrested him. Luke does not say what happened to Paul next but he remained with him. So, many scholars conclude that Luke completed Acts very soon after this. Also, he said nothing about Emperor Nero. He killed many Christians in AD 64. Luke had likely finished the book in AD 62. We do not know the exact date. It only makes sense if Luke had not already written Acts, he would have included Paul’s execution under the sword of Nero; the firebug of Rome.rome fire

Nero Biography

Nero was the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius and became Claudius’ heir and successor. Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Younger, was likely implicated in Claudius’ death and Nero’s nomination as emperor. She dominated Nero’s early life and decisions until he cast her off. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered. He reigned from 54 A.D. to 68 A.D.

JIV NOTE: As a disciple; i.e. bible student, know that names mentioned in the bible are for reasons far beyond the knowledge of their names. The same is true of places and things. These persons, places and things help archeologists, historians, and even militaries trace diggings, research, and tactics. In a very real sense it is like the Hansel and Gretel “story.” These persons, places and things have markers that can be traced back to their origins. Praise God!

AHA MOMENT: The Rest of the Bible Facts not found in the bible; Job, Issachar, and Zebulon

After the Assyrian dispersion of the ten Northern Tribes of Israel around 720 B.C., tribes migrated north, west and east; Kazar/Kazak Empire. To the distant northeast we find a tribe even older than the Israeli Tribes; one that claims to descend from Job. Today they are called the Abii or Lob (Job) tribes…in *Siberia.

*NOTE: From where do most historians claim the American Indian migrated when crossing the land-bridge between Alaska and Russia? ANS: Siberia, so that implicates the American Indian.

Extra Bonus AHA MOMENT: Shortly after the Northern Tribes of Israel were dispersed by Assyrians a people by the names Asakarta or Sagartii (Issachar) appeared in the Zagros Mountains between Iran and Iraq. British geographers discovered in a territory close by the name, of a clan of people who called their land Zabulistan (Zebulon?).

So much more but this is for an advanced study at a later date. The Bible is not a manuscript for a religion. It is traceable historical facts.

“The bulk of the Finns and Estonians are Israelite, but the Karelians are Japhetic but live within the lands of Israeli in Scandinavia. The Karelians live in an eastern province of Finland. They descended from Japheth (son of Noah)”

Descendants of Issachar settled in western Finland and Estonia (Sources: Eino Juttikala and Kauko Pirinen, A History of Finland, 1974. p.13; W.R Mead, Finland, 1968, p. 56)

 

Dr. jStarkRev. Dr. Jstark
May, 2018

Acts 2

Acts 2 – Have we defaulted to a so-called modern day view of baptism(s)?

There is much debate per baptisms; water be it sprinkle or submersion, Holy Spirit (with evidence of tongues, ect.

  1. Water Baptism Matthew 3:5-6
  2. Baptism of Jesus Matthew 3:13-17
  3. Baptism of Fire Matthew 3:11
  4. Baptism of suffering Matthew 20:22
  5. Baptism with the Holy Spirit Acts 1:4-5
  6. Baptism of Moses (O.T.) I Corinthians 10:2
  7. Baptism in water commanded of all nations; the only one that is a stated COMMAND!
    1. *Matthew 28:19
      1. Interesting side note: If the tomb guards were sleeping, as recorded, then how would they know who it was that rolled the huge stone away and stole the body of Jesus? Sleeping?
    2. Acts 1:8; 8:36-38

A fascinating scripture per baptism(s) is found in Acts 19. The Apostle Paul is traveling by land to and comes through, Ephesus. There are disciples (*new believers/learners) there: And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit’” (ESV). The obvious question that few theologians wish to tackle is could they be saved without the “receiving the Holy Spirit?”

JIV NOTE: At this point theological preferences or prejudices will rule the day. What is said from this point on will be taken as either heresy or actuality. To seminarians it is a matter of which “Doctrine of Faith s/he signed at seminary.” I heard of one minister who stated: “if it is in the bible then it is functional or okay to be practiced today.” HMMMM? Under the Law not grace? Sacrifice alters? Stoning of a disobedient son? Even child sacrifices are discussed in the bible. Do these mean each should still be practiced today? Where is “let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18) come into play? The Old Testament only ends at the cross and all things are made new. If it is in the bible it is simply a discussion point from the bible! Such a statement can only be excused as ignorance or self-serving.

In Ephesians 4:3-6 Paul specifically states that there is but ONE BAPTISM. We need to keep this in context to understand it. Beginning with verse 3: (ESV)

Eph 4:3  …eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:4  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—
Eph 4:5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Eph 4:6  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

So which baptism is the ONE BAPTISM… the baptism in water or the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Let’s look at I Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:9-14; Galatians 3:26-27 (God’s DNA?).

One Baptism?

The word baptize always means “to submerge or immerse.” So, when baptism is discussed, it involves a person being totally submerged into something else. Baptism implies being “all in.” (GotQuestions.org)

One commentator states: “there are two types of (one?)baptism: a physical (water)

baptism and a spiritual baptism. One is literal, done in water; the other is figurative, accomplished in the Spirit.” This however seems to skirt the “one baptism” as stated in Ephesian 4:5.

There are three basic opinions among theologians regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

  1. The Holy Spirit baptism is to be baptized into Christ. That happens at the time of one’s initial prayer of belief and salvation.
  2. The Holy Spirit baptism occurs after salvation when one is filled with or immersed in the worship of God. This can be immediate or sometime later when one becomes an acting Be-Liver (believer); immersed in worship with his or her whole heart, mind and soul.
  3. The baptism of the Spirit is evidenced by signs (such as speaking in tongues), and others believe that such signs are unnecessary.

Let’s consider a 4th option. Might the speaking in tongues be, as stated in scripture, the connection of the Holy Spirit with our prayer life and worship of our Father in heaven; i.e. a prayer and praise that we did not have prior to our salvation prayer; a worship language (speaking) we cannot express in our human language?

We do know that immediately following Pentecost the disciples spoke and the many foreign visitors to Jerusalem heard their message in their own language. This is simple…they “heard” the gospel message in their own language!

However, there is another possibility. It is the word “evidenced.” What does evidenced as stated in Acts 2:28 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, what is the Gift of the Holy Spirit? Tongues of witness and preaching; i.e. testimonies, prophesying, wisdom, knowledge; i.e. the ability to begin understanding scripture, respect of God…gifta

 

We could discuss this subject for a long time and still not bring understanding to all. Let the above be information for each to digest. We Teach – You Decide. Note the word or gift “fortitude.” This means one now has the courage to stand up for Jesus as a testimony from his or her own lips. Some will understand the intended message. Others will not.

Let’s look at one other scripture using the Greek words in the scripture itself. Acts 19:6 says… “And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Ghost (KJV) came on them; and they spake (laleō) with tongues (glōssa) and prophesied.”

Laleo means to utter, speak out, use the tongue to articulate a sound…

Glossa means a language enunciated by the tongue, an organ of speech…

Basically it means to speak out using the tongue to pronounce words. Words of what? If not a known language then probably a testimony of one’s new life in Christ with boldness; something that only some will understand; evidence of one’s new life in Christ.

We Teach – You Decide

Acts 2 “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit”: The idea of being baptized is to be immersed or covered over in something; even as John baptized people in water, so these disciples would 10 days later be “immersed” in the Holy Spirit.

JIV: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is more of a condition of living than it is an experience. Our “experience” comes from re-conditioned living.

This was a time of Pentecost in Jerusalem. Men (those of Judaism) from many other lands who had long forgotten the Hebrew language were in town; see verse 9 – 11. Most spoke the Aramaic as it was the common language used in business. Pentecost is only one of three different names; all are Jewish festivals:

  1. Feast of Harvest
  2. Feast of Weeks
  3. Feast of Pentecost

Why didn’t the Holy Spirit baptism happened immediately instead of waiting ten days for it “came upon those who witnessed the ascension of Jesus on the Mount of Olives?”

JIV: It is a test of time and the genuineness of one’s faith and belief. Many who claim salvation are “here today; gone tomorrow. “ That is called RELIGION. Their waiting ten days was a test of genuineness. Sometimes a new believer must wait to become a true Be – Liver of their salvation and growth in Christ.

James 4:3 “We ask forgiveness with the wrong motives.” Similar to Fake News, one gets Fake repentance. Once the crisis is over, many return to their old ways. There was a confession but not a baptism of or indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Gain: Fake Commitment.

Yes there is one baptism and that is the indwelling and fulfillment of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. Water baptism is symbolic of one’s baptism and commitment to God through Jesus Christ by now living a life guided by the Holy Spirit

pryamid bapacts text box

cropped-minijim1

Acts Part 1

The Book of Acts: Part one of a 12 article Series (Chapter 1-12)

If bibleone is reading through the bible chapters 1-12, and in whatever time period as his or her goal might be, most will read right past the context within the content these chapters found in Acts. One’s initial conclusion would be…it is all about the Apostle Peter coming out of his pre-crucifixion shyness. Not even close.

Acts comes in two parts:   Part one is Apostle Peter centered on the original church. Part two is centered on Saul becoming Paul who becomes the missionary church builder for Gentiles of the near east and the northern Mediterranean area. This is the surface read through the bible conclusion. We will write about the facts, history and issues behind the rather obvious…Peter, chapters 1 -12 and Paul, chapters 13 – 28. It is fascinating as most will conclude in this series s/he did not know. In Acts we also read a bit about Mary however this is not a series of articles about the nostalgic Peter, Paul, and Mary of the 1960s music fameJ.

Acts, just as was the Book of Luke is written to someone by the name Theophilus. This is someone close to Luke or with whom he is quite acquainted. Theophilus means “Friend of God.” This name in and of itself may suggest a secondary reason for the writing of Luke’s Books. Luke may be writing to the general population of new Christian churches and believers identifying them as “friends of God.” Whatever it is we do not hear of this word or name being used again in the Bible.

Acts 1; 1 & 2 identify the context of this book. Luke specifically points out to Theophilus that he expressed in his first letter (book of Luke) to him that he has dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. The word “all” in the above verse is the Greek word pas. PAS means to exclude nothing according to both Strong and Thayer dictionaries. It doesn’t mean is that everything Jesus did while on earth is recorded in Luke and Acts. It is written AS CONCERNING ALL THINGS JESUS DID WHILE ON EARTH. It is what Jesus taught and new believers should exemplify; the standards by which we are to live or the “whole” of our denomination called Christianity. If we believe it means “to BE and LIVE these standards.”  Easily put…Luke and Acts set our goals of life as Christians, not the world. It isn’t a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) but WDJD (What Did Jesus Do).

Hebrews 10:25 underscores this WDJD attitude and practice. It reads: “not forsaking our own assembling [i.e. the church] together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh.” NOT forsaking our own assembling together. This is standard #1 for the church. Egkataleipō (forsake) is very specific and is the absolute-tense in the Greek. It means to NOT miss gathering with other believers; do not abandon.

However we must also remember that the same bible instructs us in Colossians 2:16… Let no man therefore judge you in meat or drink, or in respect to a holy day or the new moon or the Sabbath days. This means Be-Livers can meet anytime, anywhere but do not forsake meeting with fellow believers. Keep Acts 1, Hebrews 10, and Colossians 2 in context as they totally relate to the same thing; us as be-livers. This gives us a very clear picture of what God expects in exchange for HIS salvation package.

apocalypse-Note in the Hebrew 10:25 passage where it reads: [ESV] “…as we see the (end) Day drawing nigh.” How can one know the end days are drawing night? This too is explained in the bible with hints galore in today’s news casts from around the world. Even telecasts can be seen as events unfold in real time. Doesn’t it appear at all odd that God always knew the day was coming when we can be informed simultaneously with live news from any corner of the earth? If we study the Bible we will see these “hints” of end time drawing nigh. If we remain ignorant then guess who is to blame for not knowing yet alone not understanding the signs of the times [Matthew 24:3-31]?

  1. Let no man therefore judge you in meat or drink, or in respect to a holy day or the new moon or the Sabbath days; (Colossians)
  2. Forsake not the gathering together with other be-livers; (Hebrews)
  3. Even more so as we move even closer to the end time. (Matthew)

It should be a simple reminder but only to those who are already students of the Bible…The Book of Acts picks up right where the Book of Luke ends. Somehow the Book of John got between them. They were once one book called Luke-Acts. Luke’s Gospel describes only the beginning of Jesus’ work while on earth while he was present on earth. Acts describes the continuation of the Gospel and the work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit and continues to our present day.

In the Book of Acts Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, instructs the apostles regarding what to do in His absence. In Luke Jesus gives direct instructions to the disciples and people around him.

Even walking day and night with Jesus after three years on earth, the disciples (Apostles) still asked a dumb question of Jesus just prior to Jesus ascent into heaven. Acts 1:6…Lord, will you [now] at this time restore the Kingdom of Israel?” Restore the Kingdom of Israel???? Jesus simply replies that it is not for them to know the time of the restoration of Israel. This statement alone should assure us it will happen, but not then. It is both eminent and imminent.

When Jesus ascends into heaven “to prepare a place for be-livers,” the Holy Spirit is not yet on earth in indwelling men. This begins at Pentecost ten days later. We discuss this in our next article.

A very distinct and short outline of the Book of Acts comes right out of Acts 1:8

…ye shall be my witnesses in (A) Jerusalem, in all (B) Judaea and Samaria, and unto the (C) uttermost part of the earth. 

A, B, & C outline the Book of Acts… first to Jerusalem (Peter), then to Judea (Philip), then to the rest of the world (Paul)

  1. Acts 1-7 describes the gospel being taught in Jerusalem (1st church)
  2. Acts 8-12 is the spread of the gospel to Judah & Samaria
  3. Acts 13-28 is to the ends of the earth

WOW one may say. Well neither did this author know this until he studied the Word of God. Reading through the bible in a given time span makes the goal “reading through the bible” in that determined time span. Studying the bible has no limit of time. It becomes a way of life. One more time; Be-Livers.belIEVERS2

 

cropped-minijim1

A Study in Acts-the History

Historical Information on Acts

Dr. jStark

Bible School 2017-2018

The great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is still remembered around the world for his beautiful and skillful compositions. But as wonderful as his musical scores are in themselves, his works are even more impressive when we learn that Beethoven suffered progressive hearing loss that began when he was a young man. In fact, it is astounding to realize that Beethoven wrote many of his greatest works when he was entirely deaf. Knowing the background of Beethoven’s life makes his music all the more impressive.

In important ways, appreciating the Scriptures is similar to appreciating Beethoven. It isn’t difficult to see the power and clarity with which the various books of the Bible proclaim God’s revelation. But when we learn about the backgrounds of the writers of the Bible, their world, their lives and their purposes, our understanding and appreciation of the Scriptures becomes much deeper.

Acts of the Apostles: Critical verse to this study of Acts is in Hebrew 10:25 (last line…”*as we see the end time day drawing nigh”) *”as” (hosos) means:  how much; how many; whoever.

History and Background Information

Luke wrote two, possibly three New Testament books: Luke, Acts and possibly some of Hebrews. Acts is the second of these books. At the end of the gospel of Luke Jesus says “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In the Book of Acts he picks it up where he leaves it off in Luke. We see the fulfillment of Christ’s words as the apostles carry the gospel to the world. See Luke 24:48-53. Luke is the third of the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called synoptic gospels.

The Book of Acts is the FIRST account of the original church. In brief it covers the period of time between Jesus’ resurrection and the death of the Apostle Paul. Often Luke reverts to the inclusive or plural pronoun “we” in his writing. This is probably when he references him and Paul with others who may be present at that time. Some try to discredit Luke as author when all Luke is doing is including himself and probably Paul.

According to legend, Paul died by execution at the time when “firebug” Roman Emperor Nero was looking for a scape goat per the burning of parts of Rome. He started with the Apostle Paul then continued by accusing the new sect of religion called “THE WAY;” i.e. Christians. The Romans originally saw Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism since the original “church” consisted of Jews (Israelites). They identified themselves as The Way.”

Dictionary: The “Way” with a capital “W” was the early name for followers of Jesus. Considered a sect of Judaism, later in Acts 11 it is replaced with the term “Christian.” The first of only six biblical references, all in Acts, occurs as Saul obtained letters to arrest members of the “Way” in Damascus, immediately after stoning “Way” follower Stephen in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, 24:22)

This by itself reminds me of Matthew 16 per our understanding or lack of it… (Matthew 16:2, 3; NASB)
turkey-red sky
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?

This reminds me of a man who once came up and asked for a Word for him from God. While acknowledging the request the reply was almost spontaneous. Turning to the man asking for “a word” I replied… “God said, ‘Ask him yourself but don’t forget to listen to what He tells you.’”

We will follow an outline of Acts provided in small sections with an applicable article with each section of the building outline in this new study. Acts is the ORIGINAL Acts of the Apostles Peter then Paul, the early church, and the acts of the early church. Today’s church is a far thing from what the early church did. This too will be discussed; sometimes in detail. For now, let’s begin with:

OUTLINE of ACTS: (Part 1)

  1. It appears that Luke set out to show in two volumes how redemption came to mankind.
      1. Luke relates the coming of a Redeemer who died for our sins, rose in triumph, and looked to the time when mankind might share in salvation. Luke 24:46­-47.
      2. Volume II (Acts) takes up the narrative at that point and shows how over a period of about 30 years the gospel went from Jerusalem to Rome.
      3. The Gospel he wrote tells about the things “Jesus began both to do and to teach.” Acts 1:1.
      4. Acts tells what Jesus brought about through the Holy Spirit’s continuation of his work. Acts 1:8; cf. John 16:13.
  1. Based on volume/content, Luke, not Paul, wrote over one ­fourth of the entire New Testament.
  2. The Acts of the Apostles is a crucial part of Holy Scripture.
      1. It tells of the establishment of the church.
      2. It describes the growth (amid frequent perils) of the church and records the gospel’s amazing spread through the Roman Empire.
      3. It gives inspiring accounts of great persons who loved not their lives unto death; people who loved Jesus more than life itself.