Acts 21

Acts 21:1-3 is the itinerary port-of-calls for Paul and his travel companions in his return to Jerusalem then Rome. In verse 3 we find them in Tyre, Syria waiting for their ship to be unloaded before embarking on his last leg to Jerusalem. Through the Spirit while in Tyre fellow believers tell Paul that Jerusalem is waiting his arrival to bind him over for trial by the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council); the same ones he once worked for as their bounty hinter of The Way (Jewish Christian) believers. Keep in mind Paul had no authority over the Greek members of The Way, but he did for those who were once within and now out of Judaism.

What it must have been for the awaiting ship to see a large group of Jesus believers kneeling on the beach in prayer then saying their goodbyes. How difficult it must have been for the believers to be forced to face up that they will no longer have their number one missionary minister.

In Acts 21:8 we once again find Phillip the Evangelist who had previously settled in Caesarea after his encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch back in Acts 8. Go back to that chapter article to read the incredible connection between Phillip’s encounter outside of Gaza and the encounter of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba 980 years earlier. This is Phillip who is one of the seven chosen to handle the internal affairs of the church, not Phillip the Disciple of Jesus. There is room for discussion per Phillip’s identity but not in this article.

While staying at the house of Phillip, a prophet simply identified as Agabus drops in for a visit. He takes the belt of Paul and binds his own feet and wrists. He says the one whose belt this is will encounter the same treatment in Jerusalem.

“Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'”

What is odd if such a word as “odd” fits here, is Paul is cautioned by many about going to Jerusalem yet in Acts 23:11 he receives the Lord’s blessing that his next stop will be Rome. Back in Acts 19:21 Paul specifically states that Jerusalem and Rome are his destinies. Why so many have cautioned Paul about this leg of his last missionary journey is not explained. What is eye opening is how many of his followers understood his determination and against their will, God wanted him in Jerusalem. It reminds us of way back in Acts 9:16 where we find God stating “I will show him (Paul) the suffering he must go through to serve me.” This is shortly after the Road to Damascus experience. The Lord is talking to Ananias in Damascus. God wanted Ananias to heal Paul’s blindness. Ananias obeyed but knew full well of SANHEDRIN SAUL’s reputation against The Way.

Acts 21:12…”Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.‘” [ESV]

The word “weeping or weep” is klah’-yo. It means not to sob or cry silently but to wail loudly. What a scene this must have been to onlookers. In both cases, that of Paul and that of his followers, was nothing short of heart wrenching. But…what a great way for God to show Paul’s followers that what he taught them is now up to them to carry on per the ministry and message of the cross. How do we know they knew it was their will to keep him and not that of God? In verse 14 [ESV] we see them finally releasing him in their hearts to the will of God, not their own will.

It is at this verse we find the group of Paul’s followers and Paul himself proceeding to Jerusalem. Once there they lodged in the home of Mnason of Cyprus. He was a very early conversion to the Way and came from Cyprus just as had Barnabas. This is the only time we hear of him. He may have known Barnabas.

hotel roomJIV QUESTION: Has anyone noticed in this series of Acts articles that no one put Paul and company up in a motel? They lodged them in their own homes and supposedly fed them. In today’s church we do just the opposite. We book a room for him or her at a Motel 6 or if the guest speaker is renown s/he is put up in a Holiday Express or Inn. What little things can reveal about our hearts and true spirit.

Paul then meets with James. Significant because Luke determines to record it as the house of James in this passage of Acts. We do not know but supposition is this James is the brother of Jesus. We simply do not know but Luke saw this meeting as not one to simply relay the information of this last missionary journey but he points out that it is at the house of James. What power must have been in the testimony of Paul for James to hear of how his half-brother Jesus confronted Paul on the Road to Damascus; his conversion, then his dedication to The Way. What a thrill to serve Jesus and meet up and stay at the house of Jesus brother.

traditional.jpgFinally we get a number to relate to Paul’s missionary successes. Acts 21:20 states: “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed.” Yes you read that correctly… thousands. Here we once again get an insight per denominational-ism and tradition in church. In Acts 21:21b we read of the TRADITIONS OF THE JEWS no longer being an issue to those of The Way. This understanding of traditions has been replaced over hundreds of years by reintroducing individual denominational traditions and customs. So much so that the customs become primary to the worship service at the expense of leaving the Holy Spirit out in the church parking lot waiting for HIS turn to come into the worship service. First the praise team, then announcements of coming events, social and otherwise, then a traditional prayer like the Lord’s Prayer, followed by some type of reading for the sake of bible reading, an offering and commitment to the building fund, comments on the most recent soup kitchen or fund raising, the social media, sign the registrar before leaving, then perhaps something from the pulpit that certainly is a politically correct sermon.

Acts 21:23…“We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses…”

Vows are steeped in Jewish tradition. It is something the high priest and Sanhedrin might honor as sincerity demonstrated (shaved heads) and with a degree of traditional sincerity of their own. Purifying themselves then presenting themselves at the Temple as being under a vow may allow Paul to phase back into Jerusalem. Paul is told to “purify himself along with these other four men.” Why? To demonstrate that even Paul subjects himself to Jewish Law.

But as for the Gentiles…” (V25). Since the Gentiles are not subject to Jewish laws or the Sanhedrin, they are a different issue even though members of the same fellowship of believers; i.e. The Way.

Paul’s purification and presenting himself to the high priest as under a vow did not work. Men from Asia, those who sought to destroy him, caught sight of him in Jerusalem. So what happens? Once again they start the rumor mill. No evidence is presented but accusations abound. Even as in the United States today, people of status or public image take on a degree of guilt without evidence once accused. Before the seven days of purification are complete, Paul finds himself under the finger of false (news) accusations.it must be for a few visitors to be able to stir up the locals on charges without evidence. How dense were people back then and are even so today. The people these outsiders from Asia stirred up were the Jews of Jerusalem. But every crowd or disturbance attracts on lookers. Most of the Gentiles were outsiders per the Sanhedrin. But as it says in Acts 19, most did not even know why they were there (in the riot crowd); perhaps even many Jews. This may also be true in this riot.

How dizzying As these event unfold, the Roman soldiers needed to be called in to “rescue” Paul from the mob. When the soldiers arrived they stopped beating Paul. They had yet to learn that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth. To beat a Roman was a crime against the State. Jews doing this could be punished by death.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

November 2018

 

Acts 20

The town clerk in chapter 19 has just settled down the near riot caused over Paul converting so many to The Way that the local idol manufacturing business became threatened per survival…fewer and fewer customers. Now we step into chapter 20 as if chapter 19 didn’t even end.

Paul calls his disciples (students of The Way) together, bids them fare-thee-well and heads for Macedonia. But…by Acts 20:3 Paul once again must deal with a plot to kill him. Some might say from the pot into the fire. Paul is very good at this. He gets to Greece via Macedonia, is there only three months, hears of another plot to kill him, does a reverse and returns to Macedonia. Paul has quite an entourage with him: (v4) Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. Recall that Luke and Silas are already traveling with him.

Why Paul and his companions often traveled differently is not known (v5 & 6). It is likely Paul was disguising his means and ways due to the many plots against him.

Notice that Paul still celebrated the Jewish customs; I.E. Feast of Unleavened Bread (v6). What he did NOT DO was celebrate the Judaism denomination of that day. He opted to follow Jesus Christ as Messiah [The Way] where as Judaism still anticipated and still do to this very day, the coming of their Messiah, not the return of Jesus as is true in Christendom.

In verse 7a we find something so often overlooked: And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” It was THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK!!! That would be Sunday. We hear and read of all types of theories as to how Sunday became the traditional day of worship. We won’t discuss them here but look them up. Here in Acts 20:7 it simply states they gathered together, broke bread as in supped together, Paul preached, and he moved on the next day. However, let none forget that Colossians 2:15…”Let no man criticize the day another calls his Sabbath.”

Another thing to consider is on what subject did Paul preach? Those he was speaking to had already received Jesus Christ and had been baptized. There was no New Testament at this time; they only had the Old Testament scrolls. Today’s church tends to be exclusively N.T. … much to the expense of O.T. knowledge to help a believer’s understanding. Those who do not know and understand the errors of Israel, an Old Testament example of today’s church, are destined to continue making the same errors.

Ahamoment? What is different with the original church in Acts and what we call church today? The following verses in Acts 20 are quite explicit. Not only did they break bread (dinner) together, they listened to Paul preach “all night long.” This is not the old rock and roll song “All Night Long” but it is an example of dedicated to worship, fellowship, study, listening, and togetherness.

It was evening. Acts 20:8 states that there were MANY LIGHTS in the upper room where they had gathered for discipleship. Of course, human nature has changed little since then. We don’t usually sit in windows at the church to hear the 20 to 30 minutes of preaching but some do manage to fall asleep. Eutychus, a young man, had fallen asleep sitting in the third story window where they had gathered for supper, communion and preaching, then study time. Paul never claimed to be an inspirational speaker but it was also late at night; sleep tends to creep up on humans [2 Corinthians 11:6].

ledgeWhat seems to be a bit amazing is when Eutychus falls to the ground below from the third loft (KJV) and is taken for dead, Paul simply runs down the steps to him, embraces him saying “worry not for he is not dead,” then returns to his 3rd story pulpit continuing to preach until morning light. Other then that, we know little more about Eutychus. We do not know of Eutychus’ injuries. It may be either the last time this young man falls to sleep in church or sits on the open window sill three stories up during church. In verse 12, after Paul preached on and on and on, some take Eutychus home; probably to catch up on some sleep. Nothing is said of lasting injuries or a healing by Paul.

Acts 20:13…”and they [we] went by ship but Paul went by foot” to their next appointed place of ministry. Paul probably had it in mind that a foot trip would allow him to witness while in route to Assos. Assos is in western day Turkey but called Asia at the time. It is just south of Troas which was just south of Troy. See red area on map to right; Troas and Assos

Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Trogyllium, and then Miletus. Paul wanted very much to celebrate the Jewish holiday (not a Judaism religious tradition but a *people of Israel celebration) of Pentecost in Jerusalem so he tarried not in these towns. While in Miletus he sent for the Elders in Ephesus to come to him.

We mistakenly identify Jewishness as one and the same with Judaism. That is NOT correct. The word Jews is not even used until the II Kings 16:6. This was to identify those in the Kingdom of Judah against whom the King of the Kingdom of Israeli planned to attack.

Turn to God, believe in the Lord Jesus, obey the Holy Spirit. Paul tells the elders in Miletus that they as his witness know he did this with due diligence and spoke to all who would listen. JIV Note: racial difference never enter the picture in the bible.

Pentecost to Jews and Christians is completely different as is its date!

  • The Jews celebrate Shavuot, the receiving of the Torah, on the 50th day after Pesach (Passover).
  • Christians celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the apostles on the seventh Sunday after Easter.

JIV NOTE: It might be to the student or readers understanding that the Apostle Paul is traveling on his farewell trip. He knows that he will not see any of the church (believers) again once he departs each location. He is headed to Jerusalem and from there he will be shipped off to Rome for trial. Paul knows this per Acts 20:23 where the Holy Ghost keeps telling him imprisonment and affliction await him.

Verses 28, 29, and 30 are significant. Paul calls for the attention of church leaders and elders to pay close attention to their own actions and that of the flock. He does not distinguish any difference between where each flock (church) is located but to them in a singular tense…(ESV) “the church of God.”

One can easily suggest that the differences between each Pauline “church group” were okay due to culture therefore allowing for the many denominations that exist today. However, that is NOT what Paul okay-ed. He warned in verse 29 and 30 about “wolves who will come into sheep clothesthe church” with different ideas and spins on worship trying to draw attention to themselves. This will happen as soon as Paul leaves each location.

This is the passage from where we get the saying from Jesus that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” [Acts 20:35]. Then Paul knelt with the elders and his followers along the sea shore and prayed his departing prayer for all who were present and for those to which he had lead to Christ. There was many tears shed for they knew that they would not see Paul’s face again on earth [Acts 20:38]. No! He did not recite the Lord’s Prayer and neither is it recorded that anyone ever did. Just Jesus did as an example only to a few disciples when asked how to pray, not what to pray.

Rev. Dr. Jstark – 2019

Acts 19 (Part 2 of 2)

Getting into the act of Acts…

Acts 19:13 (ERV) Some Jews also were traveling around forcing evil spirits out of people. The seven sons of Sceva, one of the leading priests, were doing this. These Jews tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to make the evil spirits go out of people. They all said, “By the same Jesus that Paul talks about, I order you to come out!talks abut

that Paul talks about? It is quite obvious these people knew Paul but did not know who it was that “he talks about.” The POWER of the name of Jesus alone is strong enough in and of itself to proclaim victory over ills, evil, demons, without regard to who speaks it. However, this is not license. Go back to the first sentence in 19:13 above. The ESV calls these traveling Jews exorcists; King James identifies them as vagabond; ASV calls them “strolling Jews”. It matters little who or what they are called but it is obvious each realizes that the power in the name of whoever it was Paul talked about (Jesus)had supernatural abilities.

Here is the seriousness of using a name like Jesus to heal or cast out demons without the protection of the Holy Spirit. These folks who used this “in his name” power paid a severe price for misusing it. Recognize that when they did use the name of Jesus what was demanded in his name did occur. Now think about the very loose tongue of people today. If we curse someone in the name of God or Jesus, what might be the consequences on us? Possibly if not probably the same as happened in Paul’s time. The curse turned on the one using the power of the name of Jesus.

There were seven sons of a priest named Sceva. They were using this method to heal and cast out evil spirits. Verse 15 and 16 give us the consequences for doing so.

(ERV) 15: But one time an evil spirit said to these Jews, “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16: Then the man who had the evil spirit inside him jumped on these Jews. He was much stronger than all of them. He beat them up and tore their clothes off.

This is not some type of a ghost experience. It is a physical encounter and consequence. They were beaten, bruised, injured, and left in shambles. If we curse someone in the name of God or Jesus, we walk the same dangerous path. The power of the name of God/Jesus exceeds our understanding but hopefully this article puts each reader on alert; sensitive to what such use of the Holy Name(s) can do.

fearFear engulfed the area as word spread about the attack on the 7 sons of Priest Sceva. We are not given their names so the emphasis of this passage is the consequence; not the who did it. Some if not most of the mystics in the area fell into the same fear of delving into the spiritual world for which they had little of NO understanding; knowledge but no understanding. This passage tells us that these magicians who practiced the dark cult and/or were using the name of Jesus to gain personal recognition brought their books, manuscripts and tools of their mystic arts to a huge fire. Read and listen to this…They in essence “burned the witch at the stake.” Hmmm?

The value of these evil books in today’s numbers would exceed 2 million dollars (v19: 50,000 silver coins). This is no small token. Gods’ message of his son’s salvation package spread like wild fire; (v20) “causing more and more people to believe.”

Acts 19:20 shifts gears once again. Paul has it in mind to go back to Jerusalem where his initial conversion began his trials and tribulations by the local Jews and synagogue leaders. Then he wishes to go from Jerusalem to Rome. The Lord had told him:

Acts 23:11b …Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.

Paul knew he was destined to go to Rome as the Lord told him so. But first he must go back to Jerusalem THEN go to Rome. Acts 20:23 witnesses to his hardships in advance of each one. There are two main items for one’s knowledge and understanding here.

  1. Acts 20:23 states that the “…Holy Spirit warns me [Paul] that prison and hardships are facing me.”
  2. for I will show him how much he [Paul] must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

This was nothing new to him even though he had been warned by others that to return to Jerusalem, the original center of his Sanhedrin and Jewish leadership issues would mean big problems for him personally. We won’t reference the multiple times he was warned by other believers and even the prophet *Agabus who used Paul’s belt to demonstrate what was ahead for Paul when he returned to Jerusalem. We find this in Acts 21:10,11. None the less, the Lord had told him he would go to Jerusalem first then to Rome. It took some rough experiences for it to unfold but unfold it did.

*Agabus is only mentioned by name twice in scripture. Acts 11:28 and 21:10

Dale Carnegie wrote a book titled “How To Win Friends and Influence People.” The Apostle Paul had a knack for not necessarily winning many friends but certainly knew how to influence people. Before he returned to Jerusalem he encountered a guy name Demetrius of Ephesus. Demetrius made good money making then selling idols and figurines of the Temple of the goddess Artemis. Paul was converting so many to THE WAY that he became alarmed about his livelihood. He organized a meeting of fellow idol makers. They had to stop this guy named Paul or they would be ruined. Part of Acts 19:26 states his case against Paul…

He [Demetrius] has convinced many people in Ephesus and all over Asia to change their religion. He says the gods that people [like us] make by hand are not real.

Demetrius goes on in the next verse: But there is also another problem. People will begin to think that the temple of the great goddess Artemis is not important. Her greatness will be destroyed. Paul greatly influence people from all walks of life. Paul in his determination wanted to confront these people but many with him restrained him. The mob had already snatched up many of those who traveled with Paul. But like walking into a crowd then beginning to star skyward, many will follow suit having no idea at what anyone is staring. Acts 19:22b says that most had no idea what the ruckus was all about; “Most of the people did not know why they had come there.” How common place do we see this within society today. Huge crowds gather, influenced by but a few, and soon, all are (symbolically) looking up at the sky even creating what it is they think they see… or breaking windows, burning cars, destroying properties hurting people and causing severe division. Sounds like the USA today. Right?clueless

It takes the city clerk in Ephesus to bring calm to the gathering. He points out that these men have not spoken anything against the goddess Artemus. We close this article by printing the rest of the chapter as self-identifying for even today.

Acts 19:36-41 (the city clerk is speaking to the crowd)

No one can deny this, so you should be quiet. You must stop and think before you do anything else.

“You brought these men here, but they have not said anything bad against our goddess. They have not stolen anything from her temple.

We have courts of law and there are judges. Do Demetrius and those men who work with him have a charge against anyone? They should go to the courts. Let them argue with each other there.

“Is there something else you want to talk about? Then come to the regular town meeting of the people. It can be decided there.

I say this because someone might see this trouble today and say we are rioting. We could not explain all this trouble, because there is no real reason for this meeting.”

After the city clerk said this, he told the people to go home.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

November 2018

PS; [personal prayer?] Lord forgive me for ever using your name to curse another. Even the thought of doing so is a sin but one you will forgive. It is only blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that has no pardon.

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/beyond-forgiveness-blasphemy-against-the-spirit

Acts 19 (Part 1 or 2 articles)

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

ephesus

Ephesus

This question posed by Paul to “some disciples in Ephesus” is a question often debated in seminaries and bible schools throughout the world as we know it today. “When Paul originally visited Ephesus, he promised the Jews in the synagogue that he would return, in the will of God. In fulfillment of that promise, he journeyed from the regions of Galatia and Phrygia along the inland route, over mountainous terrain to Ephesus on the western coast of [proconsular] Asia. Arriving there he met men who professed to be disciples. As he talked with them, he realized that their knowledge of the Christian faith was very imperfect and defective. He wondered if they had received the Holy Spirit” (Believer’s Bible Commentary).

Imperfect and Ephesus? Can there be such a thing regarding one’s faith? The short of this is a resounding YES! Not their salvation but their awareness and knowledge of a life in Christ being the same thing as a life in and with the Holy Spirit. If we refer back to our Learning Pyramid, these men of Ephesus were not even AWARE of such a thing as the Holy Spirit yet alone baptism in him. Consider our churches today that often preach social justice, political correctness, being a nice guy or gal, and/or following do’s and don’t s instead of Christ. Perhaps this is the life some consider as Christianity. Now for a resounding NO! Let’s quickly go to scripture before someone reading this article gets too concerned per this topic. We Teach – You Decide

I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:15.we teach

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in this Article regarding Acts 19 but we must for the sake of those who may suddenly feel on shaky ground per this web site’s intent. In Acts 19:21 we read…Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to …” There is much more that can be referenced but the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. Just as we have body, mind and spirit, we were created in *HIS image (Genesis 1:26). The difference and not the intent or focus of this article is the fact that God can separate body (Jesus), mind (God the Father), and Spirit (Holy Spirit) because he is God. Sometime in each of our futures our spirit will separate itself from our body for it is appointed onto man once to die (Hebrews 9:27). We cannot WILL IT to leave and remain living.

*Genesis 1:23…”Let US (plural) create man in our IMAGE” (singular tense). US is plural but IMAGE is singular. We will leave it at that since our Bible School and ahabiblemoments.com website motto is We Teach – You decide.

baptixedActs 19:3 “Into what were you then baptized” asked Paul. They replied: John the Baptist. Paul asked into what but they understood it in their ignorance to be onto who. Paul was really asking to what are they now committed. It should be a new life in Christ and continual fellowship through the Holy Spirit. They simply did not understand, yet alone know of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist baptized new believers prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the fourth distinct time in Acts when the Holy Spirit is given after the fact.

  1. Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, primarily concerning the Jews.
  2. Acts 8, when the Spirit was given to the Samaritans through the laying on of the hands of Peter and John.
  3. Acts 10, at the household of the Gentile, Cornelius, in Joppa.
  4. Acts 19 per this article in Ephesus and the new believers.

and when they heard (akouō) they were baptized in the name of Jesus” (KJV). This Greek word for heard means according to Strong and Thayer… to understand; to learn by hearing; to give ear to instruction; to not be deaf to a new thing but hear with understanding. This has been written upon in previous articles so we will leave it at this point.

Now what does Paul do? He enters the local synagogue but this time he has opportunity to share Jesus for three months. Obviously he had the attention of most who attended the synagogue each week. However, Satan is not sitting back and also listening as in a positive manner. Three months into Paul’s monologues in the synagogue, some became irritated and restless. They “continued in their unbelief speaking evil of The Way” (Acts 19:9). This time Paul does something a bit different. He withdraws from the synagogue, took the believers with him to disciple them in the Hall of Tyrannus. The Hall of Tyrannus was a meeting place in Ephesus for philosophers and philosophies. Paul remained there for two more years.

Acts 19:10 is often missed, misread, or dismissed as too difficult to explain. The little word “all” in this verse is translated from the Greek word Pas; not hapas, It means “without exception, the whole, everyone, everything.” Today some will challenge the reality of using a word that means “without exception did all of Asia hear the word of Paul “ from Hall of Tyrannus. In today’s society we tend to look at the masses as unreachable due to their shear size or number. Recall that Paul was speaking and teaching in a society that was not the population or geographic size we might imagine today. However, with God all [pas] things are possible. The significance of this verse is that testimonies and teachings can also be relayed through others who are part of the same society.

Verse 10 is easier to understand when we include the next few verses. It reads that there was a special endowment given to Paul at this point in his ministry. “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,…” Extraordinary? What needs to be explained about this word. The YLT, a very good and close translation to original text. It reads: “mighty works not common” in or at the hands of others. Fact is, it was so powerful that others outside of Christianity began evoking the name of Jesus in efforts to have the same outcome. No wonder ALL (pas) heard the word. Word of such extraordinary miracles would spread over large areas just because what was happening was NOT COMMON.

What defines “not common?” Continue reading in Acts 19. Recall in the time of Jesus in Matthew 9:21? The woman believed if she could just touch the hem of his garment she would be healed.

Act 19:12 “…so that even unto the ailing were brought from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the sicknesses departed from them; the evil spirits also went forth from them.” (YLT).

There is a shift of sorts in this chapter at verse 12; certainly in verse 13. We will pick it up in our next article.. Acts 19 (Part 2 of 2). What happens when others try to implicate, duplicate, or replicate anything outside of God’s ordination and blessing but using his name or the name of Jesus?

Rev Dr. Jstark
November 2018

Acts 18

As a reader of this article have you ever wondered if God knows in advance who will and who won’t accept his son as Lord and Savior? We find a verse addressing this question in this chapter of Acts.

There are several key points in Acts 18:

  1. Paul taught and remains in Corinth for some time
  2. Paul goes to Antioch for the last time; takes a vow
  3. Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla from Italy
  4. Paul along with his new companions from Italy go to Ephesus
  5. Paul begins his third missionary journey beginning in Galatia and Phrygia.
  6. Apollos, like Paul, becomes a great spokesperson and testimony.
Back2future

Back to the future.

Background: Back to the future! In the future from this point of time, Israelis were expelled from many places. We know of 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Spanish and Catholic Church had begun the inquisition; 1492 – 1503. The inquisition was little more than an attempt to rid Spain of Judaism and establish the Catholic Church as the one and only religion. Prior to this they had been expelled from their homelands both the Northern Kingdom of Israel (720 B.C.) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah 116 years later. In 19 C.E. Tiberius expelled the Jews from Rome. Now according to Acts 18:2, Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Italy, that is Rome sometime during his reign, 41 B.C. And 54 B.C. Interesting, back In 139 BC the Jews were expelled after being accused of Judaizing among the local Gentiles.

The expulsion by Emperor Claudius is why Priscilla and Aquila leave Rome and finally meet Paul. They originally lived in Italy but were now homeless. Paul had just left Athens and went to Corinth. This is where he meets them. Aquila and Paul were both tradesmen in tent making. Paul provided for his financial needs using his trade skills. He remained with his new found Jewish friends working at tent making together, but Paul every Sabbath went to the synagogue to teach Christ and salvation through him.

Life’s best revelations flash upon us while we abide in the fields of duty. Keep to your daily bread winning and amid your toils you shall receive great benedictions and see glad visions. … The shop or office or warehouse may become as the house of God. Do thy work and do it diligently: In it, thou mayest find rare soul fellowships, as did Aquila and Priscilla. (a quote from an unknown author)

As soon as Silas and Timothy arrive from Macedonia (v5), they find Paul in another precarious situation. It must have been a deep issue with Paul for upon the arrival of his friends from Macedonia, he (v6) “…when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” From now on I will go to the gentiles? If Paul was at the synagogue when he was confronting these Jews or Israelis of Judaism, he had but a short walk ahead of him. His next stop was at the home of Titius Justus. He lived next door to the synagogue.

Something happens between verses 7 and 8 but we are not told. Paul goes from shaking his garment as dust on the earth over the Jews rejecting his message to somehow convincing the ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, to follow Jesus as the true Messiah. Paul continued to preach Christ, many of the gentiles (Greek Corinthians). Many accepted the gift of God being Jesus Christ and were baptized.

bunch ofpeopleThis is where our opening question gets answered. God tells Paul in his vision that ”I have many in this city who are my people.” The fact that Paul is to remain even after telling the Jews in verse 6 that he would now take his message to the gentiles, suggest that “this city having many of God’s people” indicates these are gentiles to which God calls the “many.”

In a vision Paul is assured by the Lord that no harm will come to him at this time and to continue in his message in Corinth. He stays another 18 months most likely reaching the “many” revealed to him in his vision.

Then a new proconsul of *Achaia named Gallio comes to town. The leadership of the synagogue see this as an opportunity to challenge Paul in front of the Roman tribunal and the new guy, Gallio.

*Achaia is the southern end of the Greek peninsula territory extending into the Mediterranean Sea between the Aegean and Ionian Sea. Athens and Corinth are two cities within the territory of Achaia.

The Jews bring Paul before the Tribunal leader, Gallio. He immediately rejects their claims of Roman laws being broken by Paul. This only agitates him. He is insulted that this matter is not of Roman law but of Jewish law and was even brought before him. Were the Jews despised by the Greek gentiles? Now with the support of an insulted Gallio who had the accusers physically removed from his council, the Greek gentiles jumped on the opportunity to possibly settle old scores They beat then ruler of the synagogue, Sosthenes while still in front of Gallio. Gallio paid no attention to Sosthenes’ beating as if it was deserving of him.

JIV NOTE: Sometime between verse Acts 18:8 and 18:12 -17, the ruler of the synagogue had changed from Crispus to Sosthenes.

Due to this event at the Tribunal of Gallio, Paul remained in Corinth teaching, preaching and establishing a church of believers. Acts 18:18 tells us that Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla, probably along with Luke, Timothy and Silas, set sail to Syria (Ephesus) where Paul will end his second missionary trip. Something odd happens in verse 18 and without explanation by Luke. There was a custom back then to shave one’s head if he takes a vow. Verse 18 states that Paul took a vow while in Cenchreae and in route to Ephesus; shaving his head. The mystery is the vow. Luke does not define it and no where else in the bible is it explained. A guess at this point would be speculation. The vow spoken of ever so briefly is just another in indication of Paul’s dedication and determination.

Do we need support or more evidence of how Paul thinks? In verse 19 when this group reaches Ephesus, Paul leaves the others behind but enters the synagogue there; alone.

Whoever asked Paul to stay in Acts 18:20, be it where he was housed, those at the local synagogue, a new church body or his traveling companions, Paul declined and left Ephesus by ship to Caesarea. A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria (Egypt), came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Old Testament Scriptures.

History is once again a place to go to enhance one’s bible understanding. Alexandria is located in north-western Egypt built by Alexander the Great and named after him. He took thousands of Jews from the lands of Judah relocating them in Alexandria. It should be of no surprise that by now someone of the character of Apollos would come from there. What is somewhat of a surprise is that he was a devoted believer of The Way, well studied in the Old Testament but not The Way of God and Jesus Christ. He knew well of John the Baptist but needed tutoring in New Testament ways. This became the responsibility of Aquila and Priscilla. They took him under their wing of instruction.

He was a powerful orator and could stand well against anyone in the synagogue or among the Jewish leadership proving that Jesus was the Messiah using Old Testament scriptures. Next in chapter 19 we discuss the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Rev Dr. Jstark
November, 2018

Acts 17

Act 17:1 Now when they [Paul, Silas, Luke, Timothy and others] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a of the Jews.

Act 17:2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures… (ESV)

Following Paul’s stop at Philippi where there was NO SYNAGOGUE he comes to a place where there is one. As is his custom and as it states in verse two, Paul “went in.” For three consecutive Sabbaths he speaks to those in attendance. He “reasoned with them from the scriptures.” Here is a point we often miss. The ONLY scripture that existed at this time was the Old Testament. The New Testament had yet to be written.

Traditionally Thessalonica was founded in c. 316 BCE by the Macedonian general Cassander who named it after his wife Thessalonike, daughter of Philip II of Macedon. This means that Alexander the Great was his brother-in-law. This city was a gem. It went from a backward village to a prosperous and significant city-state under King Philip. Even though its armies were eventually defeated by the Romans, the city itself kept its prosperity. This is what Paul saw in his visit in Acts 17.

jesus messiah

Messiah

Paul points out in Acts 17:3 that “This Jesus I proclaim to you is the Christ.” The word Christ is a direct translation of the word meaning Messiah. The Thessalonians ruled by Rome at the time of Paul and worshiped Rome’s many gods including the Roman Emperor… Nero! Eventually these forces would clash.

JIV NOTE: Nero is the Roman Emperor who eventually had Paul beheaded and Peter crucified. Paul’s grave markers still exist to this day in Rome. (National Geographic)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2006/12/news-st-paul-tomb-found-rome/

Acts 17:4 specifically states that a few Jews, many Gentiles and a great number of women in

Thessalonica accepted Jesus as The Way. But, as in every place the disciples, Apostles, and followers of Jesus went to share their faith, the Jewish leadership rejected them and often openly attacked them. This is again true in Thessalonica.

Paul, Luke, Silas, Timothy (and perhaps a few others) stayed at the house of Jason in this city. The Jews went to the back allies of Thessalonica to gather a (paid) mob to protest their presence in their city. They went to the house of Jason demanding he throw out these “Christ followers.” He refused so the paid mob of back alley thugs dragged Jason to the authorities. Their accusation? These men protected by Jason claimed that their was another king by the name of Jesus. In verse 17:10 we find the first mention of someone(s) providing bond for their release.

Immediately upon their bonded release, Paul and Silas (with others) were sent packing to Berea. One would think a lesson should be learned by now, but guess where Paul and Silas go upon entering Berea? The local synagogue. Acts 17:11 states that “these Jews were more noble. They received the Word with a degree of eagerness.” How eager? They examined the (O.T.) scriptures daily. Not for devotions but for evidence of the Christ, probably in passages like Isaiah. Having left Thessalonica behind did not mean the Jews from there had forgotten about Paul and Silas. They sent men there to agitate the people of Berea.

Paul, being the chief spokesperson for this missionary group was again spirited out of Berea to Athens but Silas and Timothy remained behind. Once Paul was in Athens he called for Silas and Timothy to join him. A good personal review of Athens and their culture would benefit anyone at this time but that is not the goal of this article. Athens was a city of many gods (idols) including one to the unknown god.

athens-Athens was a place of famous philosophers and speakers. There was a high place called the Areopagus upon which philosophies and philosophers were given center stage. People listened and questioned those given the platform. Great men of historical renown stood on this same place as now did Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. Those present obviously did not know anything about this Jesus, crucifixion, resurrection and salvation. EVIDENCE? Acts 17:19 & 20 state: (ESV) And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”

Here is when Paul points out that these people were very religious and open to understanding as they had an alter designated to the unknown god (17:23). Paul continues by explaining who God and Jesus are. They created all things and were master over all. But when he spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, some began to mock, but others wished to hear more of this “unknown God.”

So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Late night Bible Study

STUDY THE WORD for yourself!

JIV point of bible study: Whenever the bible identifies a proper name, place, or event it is there for a study reason. Dionysius, the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris. All others are left unnamed. The Holy Bible does not mince, mix or add words for the purpose of filling a page or chapter. The true student sees this then researches them to add to his or her understanding. Memorizing or even learning how to pronounce them adds little. Researching them adds to our understanding of each and every bible setting.

Rev Dr. Jstark – November 2018

Acts 16

Beaten up for Christ than asked by their torturers for forgiveness. This is the essence of Acts 16. Also, note the often used word “WE” in this chapter. This means that Luke was a part of this missionary journey of Paul and Silas as he uses the inclusive pronoun “WE.”dna

We also find and are introduced to the young Timothy in this chapter. He is the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek father. Usually the Jews of Judaism would see him as a Samaritan; one of mixed blood; often detested by pure DNA Jews of Israel. The half breeds are the ones who basically made up the the Samaritans but this discussion is reserved for another article.

This picture is of the Samaritans of today dressed in their traditional garb. They are half Israeli and half something else. There is much to explain how this works even in today’s attitudes of Israelis, most Jews of Judea back then and perhaps those of Israel today.

We will revisit this at a later time…knowledge first then understanding.

Young Timothy was renown for his gentle attitude and firm belief in God. He was a believer in The Way of Jesus Christ. For some reason not explained that well, Paul knowing the issues between Samaritans and the full blood Jews took Timothy and circumcised him as a young adult. This is usually something that is done on the 8th day after birth. Remember that his father was Greek, not Israeli. It most likely had something to do with keeping the fundamental Jews off his back and eventual ministry.

Acts 16:4 explains that the letter to which we referred to in our previous article on Acts 15 was in Paul and Silas’ possession. It regarded the idea of requiring circumcision for salvation. This is what is referred to as a hmm-moment in scripture. Guesses are speculative.

The next verse in Acts 16 Paul shares this good news from the council in Jerusalem that “no circumcision required” for salvation. They were sanctified in their faith. Then Acts 16 (Luke is author) states that “they added to their numbers daily.” This is not a measure of those attending church services but of those who became followers of Christ. There is a significant difference. To simply add to the rolls of membership is to unequally yoke unbelievers with believers. This makes for compromise and political correctness therefore an additional reason even original church groups establish denominations and conditional (building) church worship.

Paul in verse 6 wished to go to the area of Galatia but for some reason the Holy Spirit refused him. Another bible hmm-moment. This too we will discuss in a later article. The same is true in verse 7. Paul wished to go to Bithynia but again the Holy Spirit refused them.

The following verse states that “Paul then had a vision to go to Macedonia.” How do we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Even though Paul wished to go to Galatia and then Bithynia he didn’t via the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Then in a vision the same Holy Spirit points him to Macedonia. On all three occasions the word “immediately” (v8) comes to mind. He and his colleagues didn’t sit back and debate the pros and cons. They didn’t question the Holy Spirit. They immediately responded to a “NOT” then to a “GO” (v8); no attempt to find excuses… [to not teach a SS class perhaps?]

In verse 12 we find Paul and company in Philippi, a city named by Alexander after his father, King Philip. This is about 400 years after this fact in history. What few recognize is this Philippi is a colony occupied mostly be retired Roman soldiers. The word for colony is kolōnia; i.e. Latin for “Roman colony for veterans.” Philippi was not a stronghold of Jews, priests, Pharisees, and dominated by a synagogue. It was a colony of retired Roman soldiers. This is why in the following verse Paul and his entourage sought a place to pray being that it was Sabbath and no synagogue.

They found a pleasant place by the river only to discover that a group of women also saw it as a pleasant place to gather. One of these women was Lydia, a dyer and seller of purple garments. This is the color of status in Roman culture. She was not from Philippi but Thyatira. Verse 15 tells us she had a house in the Philippi area. Today Thyatira is Akhisar, Turkey.

Lydia was a worshiper of the God of Israel but did not know or understand the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. She overheard Paul preaching or teaching, perhaps just sharing his testimony. She wanted to be baptized. She was and her “household” followed in this action. This suggests that in her household already existed God fearing believers.

Acts 16:16-18 we find that a fortunetelling slave-girl, without doubt demon influenced or possessed, loudly and persistently proclaimed that Paul and company were of “the most high God.” This went on for several days. Finally Paul turns to her and said to the evil spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” The evil spirit came out of her; no longer a fortuneteller. He owners were devastated as she was a profiteer for them.

Instead of being hauled before Jewish leaders in a Synagogue (as there was none in Philippi) her owners hauled Paul before the Roman magistrate. Verse 21 of Acts 16 has a deep message other than Paul being accused of doing good but not of Roman custom/tradition. We must add that verse 17 states that a crowd joined Paul’s accusers inaguringhim in front of the magistrate. Their fear of Rome was great so imagined and real violations may bring retribution upon them.

How often have we seen but do not recognize that when a church of today has become politically correct and fallen away from teaching depth bible studies, a voice such as Paul’s arouses some in their congregation. Others follow suite in attacking that voice spoken in truth? Then just as did the magistrates in this bible passage, church leaders show outrage over what? That someone stepped outside of their church/community service “customs and traditions.”

Paul and Silas were thrown into prison after being verbally and physically attacked. The jailer was ordered to “guard them with their lives.” Such was Roman conditions for guards. If they failed to guard their prisoners, they paid for it with their own lives. This is where we get the statement… GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE. That first night in prison and as Paul and Silas were singing praises to God and Jesus, an earthquake struck the area. Not just an earthquake but a “great earthquake.” The prison doors fell open and any prisoner could have walked out. As the jailor was about to take his own life knowing his consequence for a great escape would be death, Paul shouted out… “Do yourself no harm as we are all [hapas] here.”

This testimony of Paul and Silas now brought fruit for their labors. The jailer wanted what they had as they lead by example and continued praising God almighty. They didn’t try to flee through the open prison doors. The jailer pleaded on knees to Paul. Some may say his plea was out of gratitude for not escaping. Reading the text closely it was for spiritual reasons the guard appealed to Paul and Silas.

He washed their open wounds, fed them and accepted Jesus as his Savior, Lord and God, only then discovering that they were also Roman citizen by birth. The magistrate had violated Roman law. Again, fear of Rome came upon them. From this particular bible passage we can get the statement…”Do you know who we are?”

Paul did not let it rest as there are consequences. When the next morning the Roman leaders of Philippi determined no law was broken by Paul, Silas , Luke, etc, and that Paul was a Roman citizen, they order their immediate release. Paul refused to leave until the public also recognized their violation of human or Roman law. He required the accusers come, apologize and then escort them out of prison.

Rev Dr. Jstark

November, 2018

Acts 15

how when whyHow, when, or why did differing denominations enter the early Christian church of believers? We find in Acts 15 one of the reasons for this split be it conscious or consequential; but mostly due to tradition. We see this in the opening verse of Acts 15:

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”

…”except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses ye cannot be saved?” Paul and Barnabas took issue with this. The “men” who came from Judea are not even identified. This means the messengers themselves are of little value but their message needs to be addressed. Already in the early church we have man-added conditions for salvation. The beginnings of denominational differences.

THE CUSTOM OF MOSES??? Here is a hint of early denominational ism. The custom of Moses has nothing to do with the New Testament salvation message. Men, not one man, came from Judea and preached this “condition of salvation.” That means they were not alone in their thoughts but were something like an early type of missionary but with a wrong message; a condition of salvation added to the burden of wanna be believers. The bible gives but one condition for salvation; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (to be and to live). No works or conditions other than the blood of Jesus Christ covering and washing clean our record; repent and believe.

Acts 15:2 tells us that Paul and Barnabas “had no small discussion with them” but took the issue to Jerusalem for counsel. They went directly to those who had spent a good deal of time alongside Jesus on earth. They sought their input. When they did they discovered some of the culprits. It was those who had been steeped in Judaism. Those converted to Christianity but were traditional Pharisees. They wanted to hang onto their traditional worship routine. We find this in verse 5. “…Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” Now from where did they get this condition? TRADITION JUDAISM!

Acts 15:6 is an example of what Isaiah 1:18 tells us. Acts 15:6 states (ESV) The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. Isaiah 1:18 states (ESV) “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Two things glare at us from the passage in Isaiah. First: the Lord states that reasoning is a good thing to settle differences. The second point, there is no condition of circumcision included in what the Lord states per Isaiah.

butting heads.jpgActs 15:7, depending upon the translation one uses, this verse can read like this “discussion was nothing short of an argument. The word used in some translations is disputing or arguing. The Greek is best stated in the ERV or KJV…”to consider…” (eidō). The elders and Apostles reasoned together, not one side arguing their point; a point that planted the seed of denominational positions or differences.

Beginning in Acts 15:7 Peter takes the floor and explains it all in something like a summary judgment or conclusion. Many Jews still thought that salvation was just for them; not for the Gentiles. We discussed this in an earlier Acts article in this website. This was the Roman Centurion Cornelius and Peter encounter found in Acts 10. Peter points out to the gathering in Jerusalem that any additional inclusion or practice outside of the blood of Jesus Christ and one giving his or her life to follow Jesus would be an “added yoke.” In fact, Peter offers a significant warning in Acts 15:10…”WHY ARE YOU PUTTING GOD TO THE TEST?” A small but significant insight is also found in this same verse. Peter calls ALL BELIEVERS “disciples.” Since the word disciple (mathētēs) simply means learner or student, we can now conclude that as believers we are to be students of the Word of God; i.e. Bible disciples.

Something too often overlooked by many including theologians is found in Acts 15:14…

Simeon (not Simon Peter) relates how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.”

to take from them…” In other words, Simeon points out that there is really no spiritual DNA difference between the Jews (12 Tribes of Israelis) and Gentiles. God took from [within] the Gentiles a people and made them special. He called them Israelis through Abraham, Isaac and who God renamed Jacob ISRAEL Simeon points out that there is no spiritual DNA difference among all men but (v20) point out a way of living that is honoring to God. All come from Adam and Eve; Noah.

Acts 15:22 finds agreement among the council and they send out preachers and teachers to all mankind. The council writes a letter of explanation to be take to the Gentile believers.

Act 15:25 We have heard that some men have come to you from our group. What they said troubled and upset you. But we did not tell them to do this.

Act 15:25 We have all agreed to choose some men and send them to you. They will be with our dear friends, Barnabas and Paul.

Act 15:26 Barnabas and Paul have given their lives to serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

Act 15:27 So we have sent Judas and Silas with them. They will tell you the same things.

Act 15:28 We agree with the Holy Spirit that you should have no more burdens, except for these necessary things:

Act 15:29 Don’t eat food that has been given to idols. Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled or any meat that still has the blood in it. Don’t be involved in sexual sin. If you stay away from these, you will do well. We say goodbye now.

All is not as it might seem between Paul and Barnabas now in Antioch with the Gentiles and group of new believers. Paul suggests he and Barnabas return to the cities where they had built a body of believers to check on them. Barnabas wished to take John Mark along; the one who had left their group early in the first missionary trip. Paul did not want him (John Mark) to come along probably believing he would be an anchor of sorts only to leave them once again to return home. Acts 15:39 does point out that the issue of whether to bring or not to bring John Mark along became contentious. This divided the two into four men. Paul took Silas and Barnabas took John Mark (the Mark of the Book of Mark) both going back to visit the established churches but in a reverse direction. Barnabas and Mark begin in Cyprus. Paul and Silas begin in Syria; i.e. Paul’s second missionary journey and another different opinion in the church.

Rev. Dr. Jstark – November 2018

Acts 14b

Acts Chapter 14b (personal postscript confession to the original C14 article from last week)

An opening note that may upset some with how it will contradict our routines and traditional praying in church and at home: (also see my confession at the end of this article)

In Lystra, Paul healed a man crippled (Acts 14:8) from birth; similar to Peter, cf. 3:1-10.

By itself most who read this article will question how such a short statement quoted directly from the bible might somehow violate his or her predispositions or bible understanding. Well…. find where it states or suggests they performed a “faith healing” and but hid behind the qualifier often used in today’s prayers and churches, “If it be thy will oh God.” Look hard; NOT THERE.

Silver and gold have I not but what I do have I give to thee. Stand up and walk (paraphrased). Paul gives a sweeping summary statement in Ephesians 1:11, “In him [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” This verse alone may not clear up this above comment “in thy will”, but think about how shallow is our faith; i.e. the faith of a mustard seed as in Matthew 17:20!!!! We should not pray in hope of but in anticipation of God’s will but pray we MUST. It is “predestined according to the purpose of him who WORKS ALL THINGS according to the counsel of [his] will.”

antucuoation So, why do we add this “if it is thy will” statement in our prayers? Here is where it will upset some who read this article. We hide behind that statement because our faith is so weak. We try to qualify and prepare ourselves and others for a letdown; no healing . We don’t want to believe a negative answer somehow reflects our prayer and closeness to God demonstrating our lack of faith. But it takes more. Keep reading.

More discussion on this at the end of this article but for now, give it consideration. Yes, it is in the “Lord’s Prayer” but there it is talking about God’s will already being done in heaven and in anticipation of WHEN it will be the same on earth. “We have not because we ask not; then when we do ask, we ask with the wrong motives.” [James 4:2-3, 6]

The opening of Acts 14 is a repeat of almost all of Paul’s travels. He heads for the synagogue to speak. Back during this time the synagogues were often used as platforms of speech-making. The offer for someone to speak while in attendance at a synagogue was usually prefaced by, “Do you have something of the Lord to share with us today?” Yes, Paul and Barnabas always had something but not what the leadership and people in attendance expected. We might think Paul to have been a captivating speaker. In his own words he was not.

I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.” [2 Corinthians 11:6; NIV]

According to Bible Tools website per Acts 14:

  1. At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so …
  2. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against …
  3. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed …
  4. The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.

The oddity of this time in Iconium is the gentiles of this city were either siding with the Jews in the synagogue or with Paul and Barnabas. Acts 14:5 tells us once again they are run out of or fled from a planned stoning designed for one purpose…to *silence them. This may not be the first additional thought to come to mind in reading this passage, but it is very reflective of End Time when Satan tries to silence any witness (example: of the two witnesses during the first half of the Tribulation 7 years, Revelation 11) or *cause a great war that will take the lives of millions of unbelievers which means Satan also takes them to hell with him; one war during and at the end of the Tribulation and at the end of the Millennial Reign of “God and the Lamb”; he leaped to his feet.

*Satan keeps every soul from heaven when anyone dies without Christ.

When they fled “Dodge” (Iconium) they ended up in neighboring cities, towns, and villages. In Lystra they come upon a cripple from birth beggar who overhears Paul and Barnabas sharing the faith. All in the city KNEW he had NEVER WALKED. Examine Acts 14:9 & 10 closely. We will better understand the point made in the opening of this article.

He (the cripple from birth) listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, (v10) said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.

Several points to be made by perceiving what verses 9 & 10 actually state when read in context. Crippled from birth; heard the Word (testimony); Paul perceived the “faith” of the cripple who was not yet healed; Paul commanded in a loud voice demonstrating no hesitancy, “Stand up on your feet” (ESV).

Two major factors…the cripple believed he WOULD (not could) be healed and Paul was not hiding his command to be healed in a subtle voice hidden behind jumpthe statement, “If it be they will oh God.” The man did not stand or even struggle to stand. The word JUMPED in Greek is hallomai. It means to leap, spring up or gush as in a fountain springing forth from the ground.

The people saw this miracle and were in awe thinking Paul and Barnabas, probably included Luke, were gods’ i.e. Barnabas as Zeus (Jupitar) and Paul as Mercurius (Hermes). CAUTION: This is a subtle but good example of what happens when someone is healed by the command of another man. S/he is perceived as a god in and of him or herself. Paul and Barnabas immediately tried to put a stop to this huge incongruity, but the locals persisted. This is also what James 4 (above quote) is warning of when he states, “…we ask with the wrong motives.” Won’t we be great among men if we could perform miracles? Sometimes it is the heart of the one praying for healing that is the chink in the full armor of God.

Confession Time: This article’s author has taught bible studies for years and sometimes with a strong following. At times it tends to make him feel a bit “swelled of head and heart” to know it is through him so much learning is occurring. Today, while writing this about our relationship in full faith, prayer, then giving credit to the source, not the tool (me), in translating words from the Greek or Hebrew to help us better understand scripture, I literally stumbled upon what Martin Luther wrote in German in 1545…  “Zuletzt, meine Brüder, seid stark in dem HERRN und in der Macht seiner Stärke.” This verse from Ephesians uses my last name twice and was not just a little subtle in reminding me of my source; God; NOT ME. The above German means: “Finally my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS strength.” Interpretation as a message to me…God has blessed me with knowledge but only after giving credit to him to pursue that knowledge seeking understanding with prayer, then sharing it in HIS STRENGTH.

Rev Dr. Jstark
October, 2018

Acts 14a

And it came to pass that they spoke so well in Iconium and in the Spirit that a great number of Jews and Greeks came to Christ that day.” Paul and Barnabas, probably including Luke, were in southern Turkey of today and anointed in the Spirit. They were drawing large crowds of “wanna learn” people in this melting pot territory. Yes, the venue was again the synagogue. These people were hungry for actuality, not someone’s personal reality or perception of actuality.

melting pot

The Melting Pot

 

At our Bible School, Cadillac Community Bible School, a junior college for bible studies, we have a motto take from Romans 10:14…

How can one call upon the Lord if not aware of God? How can they learn unless someone will teach? How can one understand that which s/he does not know?

We Teach – You Decide

This is the purpose of missionary work be it in one’s own backyard or across the great seas. Recall in an earlier Acts study article of Barnabas and Paul were set aside by the Holy Spirit even though at that time they were not bible school graduates; never attended a seminary. This raises a question MOST who say or claim to be Christian do not wish to address. Why do we sometimes invite a person to church to get the message of Christ when that is supposed to be our own nature?

The Acts 14 the synagogue leaders couldn’t stand idly by and watch their financial sources move away from Judaism to Christianity (The Way). It was more than just tithers they were losing, but power over them. So what do they do? These Jewish leaders within the synagogue did what is one of Satan’s more powerful tools of deception…planting doubt in the minds of the new believers who were still ignorant of their new found faith. So many in the past and present have tried to find faith but are left up to their own initiatives to become learned, remaining milk of the word believers.

This takes us back to the Pyramid of Learning once again. Skip a step and the nose of the “iceberg” sinks lower into the water. Let’s explain for those who have not or are not familiar with this learning principle.LEARNKNG

This same principle is the basis of Romans 14:10 which already is mentioned in this article. Let’s put it in today’s terminology. How can one be aware of anything unless someone tells him or her? How can one gain knowledge or begin to take root, unless someone teaches then nurtures and feeds them? How can one gain understanding without knowledge of the subject? How weak must be one’s (faith) without these key steps: awareness, knowledge, and understanding? Removing each step in this learning pyramid simply drops the level above the water line of confidence and evidence.

This is what the synagogue leaders knew well. Strike quickly or plant questions in the minds of those who have little knowledge and even less understanding of their new found faith. Satan planted a question of assurance in the minds of Eve, Adam, Judas, Cain, Peter, the kings of the Kingdom of Israel (northern ten tribes), and so on.

This was quick to happen. In verse 5 of Acts 14 the rogue unbelieving Jews and Gentiles designed to stone Barnabas and Paul but verse 2 tells us it was already in their mind. They had to flee for their lives. They ended up in Lycaonia, a district in the Roman province of Galatia. Lystra was about 18 miles from Lycaonia, and was the home of Lois, Eunice and Timothy (16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5).

JIV NOTE: Keep in mind that but one chapter back (Acts 13:50) Paul and company had been ruthlessly kicked out of Antioch, *Pisidian. *This is in what we today call Turkey. This is not the Antioch just north of Jerusalem.

So what do Paul and Barnabas do after fleeing a place for the second time? They go right back into the den of opposition at the local synagogues in Galatia and Lycaonia.

NOTE: William Ramsay demonstrated that Lystra and Derbe were indeed together in the Roman province of Lycaonia, but only between A.D. 37 and 72, the exact period these events in Acts took place. This kind of accuracy persuaded Ramsay that the Biblical account was true, especially in an age when they were all thought to be fables and made-up stories.

In 1852, age 5, William Ramsey began his education at Mr. Stark’s Preparatory School in Glasgow, Scotland. In about 1863, age 10, William began attending Glasgow Academy. William entered the University of Glasgow in October 1866, age 14. One might say, he had a great mind and became known as a top scientist and researcher in his lifetime.

Please note: Mr. Stark’s Preparatory School is not Dr. Jstark; but a distant family member who lived in Scotland. One of mine and Mr. Stark’s relative was the Admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet when Japan attacked Hawaii. It was a group of Israeli Tribe of Gad family that went to the British Isles. 

In Acts we find Paul and a man who was known by the entire community as crippled from birth; a beggar of alms. He overheard when Paul and Barnabas shared their testimonies and gospel message. We find this episode in Acts 14:8 – 10. However, the crowd calls out that they must be gods; Zeus (Paul) and Hermes (Barnabas). They had to stop them from offering sacrifices to them.

We can easily overlook what Acts 14:16 is telling us about man’s free will. ”In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.” “He,” meaning God; “all nations” meaning mankind. Paul and Barnabas tried diligently to persuade them that they were not Zeus and Hermes. What did the trick? The evil doers from Antioch and Iconium who followed them. They did the same thing as was done in Antioch and Iconium. They planted doubt in their ignorant minds of limited knowledge. Recall that earlier these evil doers (most likely Jews) wanted to stone them. They still had this on their minds after catching up with Paul and Barnabas. This time they did stone Paul after dragging him out of the city.

Probably thinking their evil mission accomplished, these bad guys left the city and returned home because in v19 we read they supposed Paul to be dead. Some of the disciples (learners) gathered around Paul’s body probably to bury him. But, he gets up, walks back into the city where he was just stoned and continues his mission.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
October, 2018

PS; “And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” This was very likely the very first Missionary Conference in Christendom history.