Acts 8

Why???? Why did the Jews persecute just the church? There is no record of them doing the same thing to other religious, in their minds, demagogues? Even more significant, why did the Roman government allow this sect of people to operate a government and court system within the Romans established? Was not the Roman authority there to govern the people?

At this time in history Christianity in the eyes of the Romans came out of Judaism. Jesus was a Jew. The disciples were Jews. Jerusalem was predominantly Jews. Christianity mistakenly was viewed by Rome as a sect of Judaism. The Jews were allowed a certain amount of autonomy in keeping their own people in line making it easier for the Roman authorities, so they believed. We must recall though, the crucifixion of Jesus required the blessing or permission of the Roman authorities. The Romans saw Christianity (first to the Jew) as a sect or subdivision of Judaism. The first Christians were all Jews. The entire Bible is written by someone who was an Israeli (mistakenly called Jews). We do have instances where even in the life of Paul Jews might hold Roman citizenship. It was a crime for Sanhedrin authorities to judge or criminally punish those of Roman citizenry (Acts 25:10).

Saul witnessed the execution of Stephen in Acts 7. He was a Jew, a member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee of the most stringent group, well-educated under Gamaliel, adherent to the “Law of Yahweh.” Saul (Paul) was so dedicated to his persecution and arresting of Christians, Acts 8:3 the (ERV) “all believers but the Apostles LEFT JERUSALEM for other parts of Judea and Samaria.” The Jews of Germany tried to flee their country prior to WWII for the same reasons of persecution by another Saul (Hitler); same fervor; same dedication; same goal.

Acts 8:4 states that where ever these Christians fled they took the good news of Christ with them and shared it with fellow Jews. We get a very odd introduction to Phillip, one of the seven chosen to “wait tables.” Luke simply tells us in verse 5 that “Phillip goes to Samaria.” We can probably safely assume it was Paul’s persecution that chased even Phillip out of town. For better understanding and since verse 3 states that all but the Apostles (the 12) fled Jerusalem, we must understand that there are two prominent “Phillips” in the Bible. One is Phillip the Apostle. The other is Phillip the Evangelist; waiter of tables. This Phillip in Acts is the evangelist, not the Phillip the Apostle. No contradiction of scripture!!!! Two different men.

Phillip is an example of a message spread, thanks to Saul who chased Christians like Phillip out of Jerusalem in the first place. People in Samaria witnessed the works of Phillip ((table waiter) and believed in his Messiah. Evil spirits were driven out; cripples were healed; as verse 8 puts it in the ERV…”What a happy day this was for that city.”  The King James says there was great joy in the city. This is the same city Jesus healed the ten lepers. It was the second capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and eventually its name became synonymous with the Ten Tribe Kingdom of Israel. Sargon II of Assyrian conquered and renamed it Samerina. Today it is the West Bank but still a former territory of Israel B.C.

Phillip the evangelist encounters a well-known local sorcerer named Simon. According to the ERV he bewitched the people of Samaria with his magic. Verse 11 says he had been a practicing sorcery for a long time in this area. Amazingly or perhaps half-heartedly, Simon heard the message of Phillip and his cohorts and claimed to be a believer.

JIV: this part of scripture gets sticky but facts are facts. We teach – You Decide

Simon was truly impressed with the miracles of Phillip and his associates in Samaria. SO much so he claimed to become a believer. The theological question raised here; did Simon believe in the God of these miracles or did he believe these miracles to be a new kind of magic? Which belief was it? He believed in God and Jesus or the obvious miracle magic of Phillip.

The answer is alluded to when Simon witnesses Phillip’s laying on of hands for baptism of the Holy Spirit in new believers (Acts 8:18-24). He didn’t ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He asked for the skill and power to do this thing he saw as a great magic. He was willing to pay for it. Phillip in verse 23 tells him to REPENT. This is our insight to the heart of Simon. He wanted the power but by not seeking to be baptized in the Holy Spirit he did not want to “live” as a Christian. His motive for asking was for himself. It had nothing to do with living a life in Christ.

JIV NOTE: This is still true today. People claim belief in Christ but often as fire insurance instead of eternal assurance. I want to be, one thinks in his or her heart, but not conform and live as a believer. Our churches, pulpits, and pew dwellers are full of these people. No action or desire beyond hiring a preacher to do it for them.

In verse 24 Simon begs Phillip to “pray for me so that these bad things you just said (verse 22) won’t happen.” Here is a classic example of wondering about someone requesting prayer but no willing to humble him or herself to the point of seeking forgiveness directly instead of through a third person. 1 John 1:9 reads if“if you confess your sin” leaves no room to ask someone else to do it for you. It should shed light on what it actually means to pray for someone but it certainly does not mean to pray as a substitute. Simon KNEW (YADDA) what he was told by Phillip to personally do! Acts 8:22 …PRAY & REPENT!

JIV: This passage in scripture is why at times when someone asks for prayer I assure them that I will but after s/he seeks God him or herself first. I can pray for your understanding of scripture but I cannot pray, as no one else can, in absentee. 1 Timothy 2:3, 4 is specific. Even Jesus can’t do it unless we first seek him. He wants all to be saved but cannot make that free-will decision for anyone. He paid the price but we must seek its rewards.

At this point in Acts 8, Luke immediately changes topics. Phillip does not tell the man to quote the Lord’s Prayer or that they put hands on him to pray for him. It all abruptly stops at verse 24. Verse 25 finds them witnessing on their way back to Jerusalem.

What follows is one of those amazing facts that one is unlikely to hear from any other source. The information is there but seldom seen or put together. 1,000 years earlier in the Old Testament we find King Solomon on the throne of Israel. His wisdom is widely known. Many  many seek counsel with him.

In the Bible we are introduced to an unnamed queen from the land of Sheba who travels to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon (see 1 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 9). Accompanied by many attendants and camels, the Queen of Sheba brings a large quantity of spices, gold and precious stones with her. She is drawn to Jerusalem because of Solomon’s fame, and she tests the king with hard questions. Solomon is able to answer them all. In return King Solomon gives the Queen of Sheba gifts and “every desire that she expressed” (1 Kings 10:13). After receiving these gifts, the queen returns to the land of Sheba with her retinue.ark.jpg

Is this the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant? Many Ethiopians believe that the Ark of the Covenant resides within the “Chapel of the Tablet” next to the Church of Maryam Tsion in Aksum, Ethiopia. They believe that the Ark traveled with Solomon’s firstborn son, Menelik, from Jerusalem to the land of Sheba. Where is the land of Sheba? According to the *Kebra Nagast, it is ancient Ethiopia.

* The Kebra Nagast is a 14th-century account written in Ge’ez, an ancient South Semitic language that originated in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Need more understanding as to the question “is it possible Menelik was the son of Sheba and Solomon? His name means “son of the wise king.” Ethiopians claim the Queen of Sheba as part of their heritage, and through her union with King Solomon, Ethiopians today claim a connection between their kings and the Davidic monarchy of Israel. Judaism was for centuries the dominant religion of the Kingdom of Ethiopia. It spanned the Horn of Africa and across the Red Sea to Yemen territories of today. Haile Selassie (1930 to 1974) claimed to be a descendant of Sheba and Solomon. Emperor Menelik to Haile Selassie is 225 generations of continual rule in Ethiopia.

Now for the 1,000 year connection between Old Testament  King Solomon, Queen Makeda of Sheba, New Testament Phillip and the Ethiopian leaving Jerusalem on the “desert road” with Judaism scrolls he did not understand (Acts 8:30-34). After the Queen Makeda returned to Ethiopia Judaism became their national religion. See the previous page picture of “Chapel of the Tablet” in Ethiopia. Genesis 49:10 states the scepter will not depart from the lineage of Judah.

JIV NOTE: The Bible never states the scepter won’t leave the Land of Judah. It says that it will not leave the lineage of Judah until Christ, himself a descendent of the Tribe of Judah, returns to earth with the New Jerusalem and His Millennial Reign.

The Ethiopian Eunuch, a royal member of the Ethiopian kingdom, was in Jerusalem seeking scrolls of Judaism scripture. Phillip was told of God to take the Desert Road out of Jerusalem but not told why (Acts 8:26). This is the same road the Ethiopian was taking to return to Ethiopia. Here Phillip and the Ethiopian cross paths. Phillip climbs into the royal chariot and explains the scripture to him about how the savior was “lead to the slaughter like a lamb.” Then Phillip introduces the Ethiopian to Christ the promised Messiah. He becomes a believer, is baptized and returns to Ethiopia to bring this good news to his people.epthopia

Fact: Today Ethiopia is one of two African nations where Christianity is still the dominant religion. Ethiopia is surrounded by nations that are over 95% Muslim yet it remains Christian. Judaism played a dominant role in Ethiopia since 950 B.C. In the 1st century A.D. Christianity became their dominant religion. All because of King Solomon, Queen of Sheba and a 1,000 years later, the “table waiter” Phillip and an Ethiopian dignitary. These are the facts. What do they add up to? A direct connection between the Queen of Sheba giving birth to Solomon’s first son (Menelik) who was the first Emperor of Ethiopia and his lineage continuing until 1974; almost 3,000 years.

PS; The name Haile Selassie means: The Trinity. 

This is the Imperial standard of Ethiopia up to the recent past. Note the Lion of the Tribe of Judah as its center piece. 

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark
August, 2018

 

Acts Chapter 7

He knew it would be his death speech! Although this is somewhat speculation, it is what came of it. Stephen, one of the 7 selected to “wait tables” discussed in Acts 6 (first few verses) was doing a lot more than WAITING TABLES to be dragged before the Sanhedrin Council. A problem we sometimes run into in reading scripture is that all languages do not have direct translations of many original manuscript words or wording meaning. Sometimes we don’t even have a word into which to translate a word or two from scripture. In a sense, this is one of those times. To “wait tables” takes most of us to a restaurant scenario where the host or hostess waits on our table. This is NOT what Luke means per “wait tables” (Acts 6:2) (see end of article comment).

Stephen, one of the seven selected to “wait tables” was not brought before the Sanhedrim for being a bad waiter. His role in “waiting tables” included his testimony and street ministry seeking the lost with the message of the cross. He begins his message to the Sanhedrin in Acts 6:8-10. In short the wise guys in the Jewish sect of Judaism could not argue or dispute his rebuttals to all of their charges. This more than disturbed them…it perturbed them. Stephen was “waiting their tables” with ‘servings of’ truth and actuality they could not defend against.

The setting and charges against Stephen is found it Acts 6:13, 14…

“This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”

Holy place? Their Hebrew Law of Moses? Destroy this place? Change the customs or traditions of their way? It is obvious that even these religious leaders of Judaism could not find a charge against Stephen and his views of God. The closest they come to anything set in worshiping is when they say “this Holy place.” We experience this too much today. We have tried to make the church building or sanctuary by creating rules for its use; no coffee or beverages allowed, no running in the sanctuary, take you chatter outside, etc. We have heard these claims but where does the purpose of worship fit into the mix? Far too many so-called church denominations are bent on bible compromise leaving the Holy Spirit outside knocking on a window hoping HE might come in during their worship(?) service.

A church sanctuary as we identify it is not a Holy Place; now and it never was. The only place God identified as a Holy Place was the inner workings of the Temple (Tabernacle during the Wilderness experience) called the Holy of holies (Habakkuk 1; Hebrews 9; Matthew 27:50-51). It is the body of believers that is to be holy, not the building. When someone is more concerned about the carpet in the building than the soul next to him/her or the person carrying a bottle of water either into the building or walking the streets, are we like them or unequally yoked with semi-believers or religious nonbelievers in a less than worship attitude?

pointingStephen was up against this when his accusers were defending the building, their traditions, customs, and their man made laws, not the spiritual concerns of individuals and the former nation of Israel’s relationship with their one true God. God’s purpose for creating man never enters Stephen’s appearance before the Sanhedrin. (JIV NOTE: Neither is God mentioned by Jewish leadership when any of the Apostles were dragged before this “holier than thou” bunch of priests, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and other related individuals).

Acts 7 is Stephen’s defense (witness) to the charges against him and in actuality, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In Acts 7:1 the High Priest asks Stephen, “Are these things (charges) so?” In verse 2 Stephen immediately takes them back to the historical root of their problem. It begins with God speaking to Abraham some 2000 years earlier. Stephen takes those who were judging him from the beginning of their Israeli identity to their point in time.

Before we give you the short version and sequential history of Israel, as did Stephen before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:2-53, let’s pause at one line in Acts 7:43. It reads:

You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

I will send you into exile BEYOND Babylon. At this point in Stephen’s reciting of their history they hadn’t yet entered the Promised Land. Here is a now fulfilled prophecy hidden within Stephen’s review of their history as a people; a house of Israel. The Sanhedrin members, as did all of Israel, knew that by now, 800 years later, they were dispersed amongst other nations; no longer a nation themselves. In essence, Stephen was pointing out that their authority was limited by proximity, not national domain. He pointed out that they were stuck in the past and no longer were in touch or reality with their modern times under Roman authority. This is very similar to many church groups today. They fight to defend their customs and traditions but haven’t a clue how to lead someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Acts 7:49… Stephen points out that God is no longer in their Temple as it was made by hands of man. Heaven is HIS throne. Earth itself is but a foot stool of God. What kind of “house” can one build for a God of this nature? Their sanctuary meant nothing to God anymore. The veil had been rent or torn in two.  Their temple then, as are our churches today are man-made.

Acts 7:50… Did your hands create any or even a part of creation? This verse is ripe for the picking and could be a message or article in and of itself…but not here. (sorry)

Acts 7:51… Why do you always (yes, always! ἀεί) resist the Holy Spirit as did your fathers in the past? ἀεί means to resist change or accept anything that suggests change. What in actuality Stephen is pointing out the Sanhedrin’s inability to recognize the Holy Spirit. They had a god, mostly of their making by this time, and refused to be influence by HIM. They are “stiff-necked and uncircumcised.” A stiff-necked person refuses to look left or right staying focused on the trail they have chosen, not one God has chosen for them. Their heart is uncircumcised meaning covered over… a form of remaining in the dark rather than exposed to the light of day.

In Acts 7:53 Stephen hits hard. His judges and (false) accusers want to judge by the Law (of Moses) but only selectively living by it. This does it. They rush upon him dragging him out of the city to be stoned. Enter stage left…Saul, soon to be known as the Apostle Paul.

As said earlier on in this article per chapter 7, who was actually on trial here; Stephen or the Sanhedrin?

Review of Stephen’s history of Israel.

  1. Abraham told by God to leave his country.
  2. Abraham sojourns to the “future” Promised Land of Israel
  3. God did not give any of this land to Abraham (Lot) but promised it to a future generation
  4. Abraham told his future GREAT-grand kids would live and multiply in a “different” land (Egypt)
  5. This future generation will be mistreated in Egypt living there for 400 years.
  6. A deliverer will be sent to retrieve these people from Egypt. In this Promised Land they will worship me. A prophecyof the New Jerusalem as would be their dispersion after Babylon.
  7. Circumcision becomes a symbol of Israeli descendants. (Ishmael at 13; Isaac at 8 days old)
  8. The jealousy of 11 brothers against Joseph and sold to those in a caravan heading to Egypt
  9. Joseph finds great favor in the eyes of Egypt and he is made 2nd in command of this land.
  10. A great famine comes over Egypt, Canaan and surrounding lands in the westerly Middle East
  11. Jacob with his 75 member household hear that there is grain to be purchased in Egypt
  12. The brothers minus Benjamin are sent to Egypt to purchase grain.
  13. A second time they are sent to Egypt for grain and Joseph finally reveals to them who he is.
  14. Pharaoh meets Joseph’s father and ‘some’ of his brothers. Gad is not introduced by Joseph.
  15. 75 of Joseph’s (Jacob’s) clan move to prime land in Egypt as shepherds in Goshen.
  16. Jacob dies in Egypt but is buried in Shechem where Abraham had purchased land years earlier
  17. The descendants of Jacob multiple greatly in Goshen, Egypt to a point of outnumbering locals
  18. A NEW PHARAOH who knew not about Joseph takes the throne of Egypt; a foreign ruler
  19. He subjects the Israelis to hard labor lest they overthrow him due to their population numbers
  20. Moses is born when the new Pharaoh fears this large number of Israelites inside his kingdom
  21. Babies of Israeli DNA are slaughtered but Moses is saved and raised in Pharaoh’s household
  22. 40 years Moses is instructed in the cultural ways of the Egyptians and warfare
  23. At 40 years of age he decides to visit his Israeli brethren unannounced.
  24. Moses sees one of his brethren being abused by an Egyptian slave master and kills the Egyptian
  25. Moses assumed his brethren would accept him as their redeemer/rescuer. NOT!
  26. Moses visits his people finding them quarreling. He steps in to act as a facilitator, ruler, judge
  27. The fight turns against Moses and he is told he is a murderer. If they know, so does Pharaoh
  28. Moses flees Egypt to Media for 40 years for fear of the wrath of the Pharaoh
  29. He has two sons (not mentioned here but they are Gershon and Eliezer – Exodus 18:3,4
  30. Mt Sinai, angel, voice of God, burning bush, ordered to return to Egypt and rescue his people
  31. Moses is to rescue the very same people who rejected him 40 years earlier (He is 80 years old)
  32. Moses redeems his own DNA and the Red Sea incident in history
  33. 40 more years he spends ruling and judging the people of Israel in the Wilderness
  34. Moses receives the oracles (10 commandments) on Mt. Sinai
  35. Israelis’ turn against Moses and God and in their hearts wish to return to the old world Egypt
  36. Aaron make an image of gold for Moses has seemingly vanished; they are now leaderless
  37. God condemns these people for they turned to god’s made by man
  38. God warns them of a far distant future when they will be dispersed as a people first by the Assyrians, 720 B.C. then by the Babylonians in 597, 587, and again in 582 B.C.
  39. Stephen’s Sanhedrin judges and accusers are reminded of the Wilderness Tabernacle designed by God and how Israel took this architecture with them into the Promised Land
  40. The Tent Tabernacle exists until the time of King David. King Solomon builds the first Temple
  41. The Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands” (Acts 7:49)
  42. Stephen accuses the Jewish leaders of being self-righteous refusing to give hearts to the God
  43. “You are always against what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. That’s how your ancestors were, and you are just like them!” (Acts 7:51b)
  44. The prophets they rejected in their past. Now they reject the answer to this promised Messiah
  45. They received God’s Law through Moses but personally reject it in their personal daily living; in a real sense, they use it to their advantage, not as a way of life.steven stoned.jpg

It is at this point the Sanhedrin falls into a great rage dragging Stephen from the court room to stone him. Stephen see heaven open with “the Son of man” seated next to the God creator of all things.

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark
August 2018

PS; Yes, Stephen was appointed to “wait tables.” He knew exactly what the Sanhedrin bunch needed for their lunch and he delivered it to them. A large portion of truth!

Acts 6

Acts Chapter 6

In our previous article discussing Acts 5 we mentioned that there was trouble within the ranks of the early Christians. The Hellenist widowed new believers felt that the Hebrew or Jerusalem widowed new believers were favored in church welfare. According to the very first verse in chapter 6, the Hellenists widows were not getting any food or financial help from the body of believers called The Way (church):

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. (ESV)

The Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews converted to Christianity) were those outside of Jerusalem or Israel proper. Their ancestry had been dispersed from Israel (Northern Kingdom) to the “hinterlands” over 700 years earlier by the Assyrians. The Assyrians as a power were no longer a factor. By now it is Romans in charge; previously Greek (Alexander the Great), and prior to that the Persians. Going backwards it is Rome, Greek (conquered lands left to Alexander’s Generals), Persian, Assyrian, Israel divided into two kingdoms.

The Twelve apostle/disciples were perplexed at this issue. Must they leave their pulpit and street ministries (missionaries) to police the Christian Church treasuries and food program? This verse alone (V2) should immediately take a bible student to the Gifts of the Spirit. All Spirit given gifts (functions) are needed in the function of the church as a body of believers but a hand is not an eye.chapter 6 pic

JIV: Far too many self-claiming Christians want to make this a right to eternal security but deny the power of the Gift of the Holy Spirit within them; one that is given to EVERY new believer to help the church body function as a whole. See Ephesians 4:16. If one is just a pew spectator, is s/he part of the functioning body of the Christ?

For a good article on Spiritual Gift effectiveness go to https://bible.org/seriespage/6-spiritual-gifts-1-corinthians-121-11 and read the article by Robert L. Deffinbaugh.

Word of caution: Do not accept or dupe one’s self into believing that verse 3 of Acts 6 is an excuse for only a few to be involved in the function of any assembly of believers we mistakenly identify as a church member and not a functioning part of the body.

Verse five identifies these seven men as chosen to work in the capacity of administration of supplying to the needy. This did not mean they were excused from witnessing and evangelism. Philip, one of the seven chosen, is a prime example of this when he meets the Ethiopian Eunuch later on in chapter 8 of Acts.

JIV NOTE: Acts 8 is an astounding event of how God controls even after 1,000 years, King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba then, now Philip. Stay tuned. You will be enlightened to something there is a great chance you never heard from any pulpit or Sunday Study.

Acts 6 then goes into the how and why Stephen, one of the seven chosen to “serve the tables” (Acts 6:8-15) was stoned (Acts 7:54-8:2). It is significant to note that in 6:7 there were a “great number of priests” who became believers. It is not recorded and to some, a chagrin that we do not have recorded history as to what these priests of Judaism did with their Temple responsibilities and their new found faith in Christ.

Make a good mental note that even though Stephen was chosen as one of the seven to “serve tables” according to Acts 6:8 he was also an evangelist. Accordingly we cannot excuse our “church responsibilities and attendance” as good enough or a valid replacement for witnessing and sharing the gospel.

In a previous article we discussed what it means to be unequally yoked under any circumstances, not isolated to marriage. Since Acts 6 is a short chapter let me expound on this unequally yoked comment. We teach – You Decide.

2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”courrupt

2 John 1:9-11  ESV  Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your *house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

*House is oy-kee’-ah in the Greek: “an abode, a house of worship (family of believers)…”

cropped-minijim1Dr. Jstark

August 2018

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