Acts 27

We begin this article with a quote from Coffman’s Commentary…

PAUL’S VOYAGE TO ROME:

This great chapter is an immortal work of the inspired Luke, worthy in every way as one of the great narrations in all literature, giving, as Dummelow said, “The most detailed account of an ancient voyage which we possess, and is our principal source of knowledge of the ancient art of navigation.”[1] Even scholars inclined to be critical here confess that “Luke’s whole account may be assumed to be accurate and entirely trustworthy.”

Throughout this chapter to the very end, chapter 28, Luke continues to us the plural “we.” This means he was present although there is no indication Luke was ever on trial, a prisoner, or the center of attraction subject to Sanhedrin scorn. It helps to remember that Luke was NOT a Jew or from any of the other eleven Tribes of Israel. He was a doctor and a Gentile who scribes for and traveled with Paul. He was the only non-Israeli to write any of the books of the Bible. Any person who is anti-Semite yet claims to believe in the entirety of the Bible is quite conflicted.

Paul was not the only prisoner aboard this ship…they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius” (Acts 27:1).

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Not too amusing but of historical significance, it was not uncommon for prisoners in other provinces of Rome to be shipped to Rome for the “entertainment” of Roman audiences in the arena. This could be for the famous Lions of prey or for Roman Gladiators to practice their art for the audiences. What a sad and Satanic cruelness. People play with or make light the realities of Satan but do not understand his application throughout history.

They board ship in Acts 27:1 with other prisoners and possibly passengers. After all, Luke was with Paul and went to Rome with Paul. Prisoners at the time were sometimes used as rowers chained to their job at the oars. Every good reason to maintain a stable voyage, but this chapter points out the significance of this comment.

Paul, although a prisoner in the sense of pending trial in Rome, is allowed to disembark and visit friends at ports of call. 27:3 states…”we put in [their ship] at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. Julias was the prisoner charge officer aboard ship; a centurion of the Augustan Cohort or duty soldiers. At verse 6 the prisoners are transferred to a ship already bound for Italy.

Several times Luke mentions that the winds [verses 4, 7, 8, 9, & 10] are an issue to the ship. It is a prelude to pending disaster. Paul warns the ship’s masters and helmsman of the seas eerie waters. Paul states in Acts 27:10… “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.roacky coast

But the ship’s Centurion paid no attention to Paul’s warning. Due to the many delays and traveling against the cautioning winds, they sought a winter harbor other than Fair Havens. It was not a suitable harbor to port up in for the winter winds and weather.

Act 27:13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore.

Act 27:14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the *northeaster, struck down from the land.

Act 27:15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along.

*Northeasters are dangerous winds even in the Americas including by land and by sea.

The next several verses explains our opening quote as to the travels and dangers so vividly described by Luke in writing the Book of Acts. The Believers Bible Commentary puts it this way.

They tied cables around the hull of the ship to keep it from being torn apart by the heavy seas. They greatly feared they would be driven south to Syrtis, a gulf on the coast of Africa noted for its dangerous shoals. To prevent this, they struck sail and so were driven. A very real concern as to the known nautical facts of the Mediterranean Sea.

By the third a day of this leg of the journey, they began throwing things overboard to lighten their load; cargo, ship’s tackle, anything but people. Finally Paul after a long struggle to keep his tongue in check and watching the foolishness of this ship’s crew, he lets loose. I warned you in Crete not to venture out this late in the season. You refused my insight (via God). Why do we say via God? In Acts 27:23 Paul proclaims: “For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship…”

There is a sense of humor, if one would call it that, when Paul assures the crew that all will be well because he is assured by God he will stand trial before Caesar, they will be ship wrecked, the ship will be torn timber from deck and all will need to swim ashore. Other than that and being stranded for awhile, all will be just fine.

On the fourteenth night of battling winter winds on the Adriatic Sea, they sense that they are being blown toward land. They drop the four drag anchors and pray for daylight since it was midnight at this time. Then the old trick of “going for help” but intending to save their own skins alone, they set out the rescue boats under the pretense of “laying out the anchors from the bow.” Apparently it was just the ship’s sailor who were trying to escape in the ONE lifeboat. Paul tells the Centurion guard what is going on and that unless the sailors stay with the boat, they would die in the storm seas [Acts 27:31]. The soldiers cut away the ropes to the lifeboat so all will be forced to stay aboard…now finally following Paul’s directions.

They had all been so busy trying to survive the Mediterranean Sea storm, none had eaten. Paul tells them to “take bread” as they will need it shortly after being washed ashore… “for not a h air will be lost or perish.”

What happens next is amazing. All 276 people on board, believed Paul, stopped worrying, ate food, and in the presence of all, gave thanks to God and ate. They quickly followed suit, all but their own thanksgiving prayers that is. “Now after they had eaten, they tossed the ship’s load of wheat overboard.” The next move of the ship’s crew is normal protocol for any ship in a similar situation. They cut anchors, loosed the tied rudder, set sail with the wind and tried for the shoreline they could now see. Beaching the ship was their intent.

Not to happen! With the assurance Paul had given them a few verses earlier, they could have set back, let the band play on, and still be safe to the last person. They came upon a shoal or offshore reef. The ship started being torn apart plank by plank. Next move, kill the prisoners if at all possible just in case one or more escapes. What a call to duty the Roman soldiers were. Paul was now in charge. First he ordered the soldiers not to kill anyone. The word used by Luke to command or order in Greek is keleuō. It means to give instructions to “do it now.”

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First the swimmers dove in and swam to shore. Then those who could not swim grabbed hold of a floating board from the ship’s hull. Next those who hesitated had to take hold of any floating part of the ship that no longer remained below their feet. The ship was totally destroy. This may have been the first surf board race recorded in history. Everyone’s goal was to ride the surf to shore. According to the ESV: and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

Rev Dr. Jstark
2018

Acts 25

From here to the end of the Book of Acts we see the captivity and trials of Paul to its final end in Rome. Governor Festus, unnamed chief priests, King Agrippa II with his sister*Bernice, Caesarea, all additional background leading up to Paul’s execution and the concurring Jewish revolt against Rome plus the Roman orator hired by the Sanhedrin to present their case against Paul all rolled into chapters 24 – 26. It is no wonder that there is so much tentativeness to actually conclude a trial with Paul. Roman authorities keep pushing it up the ladder finding reasons to delay sentencing an innocent man but holding him for Geo-political reasons.

Reading a glowing book

The Living Word of GOD -Connecting the dots of the history of mankind

*A student of the bible should understand that when a first person, place, or thing is identified in the bible, it isn’t an accident or something to fill a page. Emperoris one of those aha-moments in scripture. She is from Cilicia just as is Paul. She was part of the Herodian dynasty that ruled the Roman province of Judea from 55 to 93 C.E. Her father was King Herod Agrippa I. She was sister to Herod Agrippa II. She had a number of failed marriages not to make her the victim. During the First Jewish-Roman War (67 C.E.) she began a love affair with the future (Emperor) Titus Flavius Vespasian.

Acts 25:3 once again points out the deviant and abhorrent actions of the Jewish leadership. The Romans knew Jewish leadership and these people spelled trouble. Their continual trouble-making is but one reason they have been expelled from so many countries over the centuries. They continued to kick the dead horse and held grudges for years. Look at the middle east today…what has changed? Now they wanted Paul to be brought to Jerusalem so he could be killed while in route. A plan derailed by Governor Felix. Probably because Paul appealed to Caesar.derailed

Governor Festus being the new guy on the block denied permission to take Paul to Jerusalem for additional prosecution (perhaps persecution) by the Jewish courts. He kept this under his thumb and said he would judge, not the Jews of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin. At the same time as history records, the Romans knew that the Jews were a force with which they must be aware. He listened to the charges against Paul none of which they could prove. Acts 25:8 is the beginning of Paul’s defense and from his own mouth…

Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”

Governor Festus wanting to placate the Jews asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem to be tried. Paul responds that he is already standing in front of the “authority” of this area. Why go there only to stand in front of the same man? Paul is very forthright. He states in v11 that if he committed a crime worth death, he would not resist the executioner. At this point [Acts 25:11] Paul assures his trip to Rome by “appealing to Caesar;” i.e. Emperor Nero. There is great turmoil in the Roman Empire at this time; Emperor Nero the firebug and the pending Jewish revolt.

Acts 25:13 is interesting. Look back at the aster-ix on page one describing the shifty Bernice and her brother King Agrippa II. They show up at Caesarea; a brother and a sister. She was obviously of some influence over her brother. In v14 Governor Felix explains to King Agrippa that Paul is a left over case from the former governor Felix. Governor Felix had already tried Paul and found him innocent but to gain some favor with the insistent and persistent Jews he left Paul in prison. Now it is Governor Felix’s problem. He is very befuddled.

(v14) Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him.

Felix explains to King Agrippa II (and) Bernice that the problem with Paul is Jewish religion, attitude, and some guy named Jesus. This would lead us to believe they did NOT KNOW about the crucifixion of Jesus only 20 years earlier. Since these Roman leaders were supposedly “in the know” due to their authority, political position and knowledge, we can deduce that the gospel message was still limited in its scope, reach, and frequency. Felix points out part of the argument between Paul and the Jews was that this Jesus was supposed to be dead per the Jews but yet he was very much alive per Paul.

ceremonialKing Agrippa II states that he would like to hear from this man named Paul. [v22]. Whether it was to see and hear from Paul or the pomp and circumstances provided him at this meeting Agrippa wanted (see verse 23) is unknown. However the bible includes “Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Sounds very ceremonial. Not an uncommon aspect of the Herods; Idumean by blood; that is offspring of Esau, twin of Jacob.

...but I found nothing deserving of death” explains Felix to Agrippa. What Governor Felix is searching for is an accusation worthy of “appealing to Caesar.” He would need to or to the Emperor with some degree of criminality for even sending Paul to Rome. As we close chapter 25 Felix states it in his own words: “For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner (to Rome), not to indicate the charges against him.”

Rev. Dr. Jstark
December 2018

Acts 23

When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.”

This oath comes from Acts 23:12. If these Jews stayed true to their oath, then they all died of thirst or hunger. What sinister plot is going to sway the hand of God? NONE!

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Knowing that this period of Paul’s imprisonment in Jerusalem while under Roman protection began with his arrest and rescue by Roman Tribune Claudius Lysias, as recorded in the last chapter of Acts. This imprisonment [lasts until the conclusion of The Book of Acts]. [Coffman’s Bible Commentary]

Paul’s first defense was on the steps of the Roman Garrison’s barracks. See Acts 22 article. Keep well in mind that these are very likely to be some if not all of the same Sanhedrin bunch that condemned Jesus to the cross. Paul is not talking to a second or third generation of people. These are for the most part, the same Jewish leaders. How frustrated they must be at this point when the one they killed (Jesus) for his message did not stop the message. Paul, Peter, James, Phillip, and a large number (recall in our previous article…”thousands”) of people becoming believers and followers of this Messiah.

Acts emphasizes that simply being well-minded, good in consciousness, or sincere does not pave the path to Heaven. There is but one way to see the God the Father; it is by Jesus his only begotten son [John 6:44; John 14:6]. To be blunt…sell out to Jesus. Need more evidence? Look at John 16:2.

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SELL OUT 

[ESV] “People will tell you to *leave their synagogues and never come back. In fact, the time will come when they will think that by killing you they have done God a good service.”

*JIV NOTE: A pastor by the name of Schwartz and probably others is a modern day example of this prophecy. He accepted the pulpit call to a mid-west church in America only to be asked in very shot order to “leave” their church (synagogue). He preached the gospel and they said that there will be none of that around there.

Point being…these people as Jesus states from his own mouth in John 16:2 will be of good conscience, sincere, and well-minded. They have served god (little g) by arresting and killing Christians. It takes little knowledge to grasp at the probability of End Time leaders and Satan himself encouraging such sincerity. As we read on in Acts 23, we even personally find a time when those standing next to Paul are instructed by the High Priest Ananias to strike Paul (us) in the mouth for what Paul (we) states [Acts 23:2]. After being struck, Paul retorts that action of being struck without cause will come back right back at this high priest. What you have done to me will also me done to you. Paul did not know that this was the High Priest giving the order. He does not apologize but points out that now only did the Law of Moses forbid such action, but he, Paul, was obliged by the same Law of Moses to withhold criticizing their leadership (Acts 23: 5).

Paul may not have realized his statement to this high priest was prophetic. “Ananias was High Priest between 47 and 52 A.D. Then again up to 59 A.D. These secular dates help us to know the time period of this incident. An aside but of historical fact, Ananias was murdered by some of his own people after being acquitted of scandalous activities.” [Ananias“. Encyclopædia Britannica.] 1 (11th ed.)

In 66 C.E. The first Jewish revolt against the Romans started. It lasted until 70 or 71 C.E.

Now Paul uses his knowledge of the Sanhedrin make-up of Sadducee, Pharisee, and others. Pharisees believed in an after-life, a resurrection, final judgment and angels. The Sadducee did not. Paul brings this difference of opinion into the conference while in front of the Roman Tribune commander.

Acts 23:6… Paul knew that some of the men in the council meeting were Sadducees and some were Pharisees. So he shouted, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee and my father was a Pharisee! I am on trial here because I believe that people will rise from death.”

That comment is all it took. Now the accusers were in a fight between themselves (v6). Sadducee believed that once dead, eternally dead. No resurrection, no angels, no after life, no spirit. Once their argument got heated, the Pharisees stood up and contested that they see nothing wrong or of a crime committed by Paul (v9). The Pharisee vs. Sadducee fight got so heated and became so violent the Tribune commander ordered Paul to be taken back to the military barracks for protection.

JIV NOTE: There are not three groups of Synagogue peoples; Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. Both Pharisees and Sadducees had members among them that were also scribes.

We need to go back to verse 3 for some clarification. Paul called this so-called high priest a “whitewash or painted wall” that covers dirt behind it. History tells us what Paul was very likely indicating but the bible does not. Ananias had “purchased” his position of high priest. The ESV Study Bible points out that Ananias was a particularly bad high priest; a bad guy even before he became high priest. Josephus says he confiscated for himself the tithes given the ordinary priests and gave lavish bribes to Romans and also Jews (cf. Antiq. XX, 205-7 [ix.2], 213 [ix.4]). He was hated by what we would call Jewish nationalists. They wanted Israel first; others second or third. Ananias muddied this water with politics, Roman alliances, bribes, and seeking favors with a gratitude debt.

Anianias was a brutal and scheming man, hated by Jewish nationalists for his pro-Roman policies. When the [Jewish] war with Rome began in A.D. 66, the [Jewish] nationalists burned his house (cf. Jos. War II, 426 [xvii.6]) and he was forced to flee to the palace of Herod the Great in the northern part of Jerusalem (ibid., 429 [xvii.6]). Ananias was finally trapped while hiding in an aqueduct on the palace grounds and was killed along with his brother *Hezekiah (ibid., 441-42 [xvii.9]).

JIV NOTE: *Not Hezekiah the Judean King. *Rome burned the Temple to the ground in 70 C.E.

So for him to be a legal high priest in the line of Aaron was a real stretch and a whitewash facade. He wasn’t even a Levite. Paul either in ignorance or the possibility of knowing that Ananias got the office by politics and bribery did not recognize him as legitimate therefore his “whitewash” comment.

Here we find another visitation from heaven either in a vision or angelic. Verse 11 says this message from above tells Paul that what he has done in Jerusalem he must also do in Rome. This assures Paul that he is not going to die at the hands of this mob or in this city. But, this did not mean the contemptible Jews heard that message. They plotted to once again kill Paul. They go to Ananias and ask him to have the Roman Tribune bring Paul to the Sanhedrin so he could better clarify his position. While being transferred to the Sanhedrin from the military barracks these 40 some men would attack and kill Paul. We have no clue what they would do with the Roman guard with Paul.

We now see this article’s opening statement about some Jews who had taken a vow to not eat or drink until Paul is silenced by death. Once again these guys must starve to death because God had just assured Paul that he “must go to Rome.” In Acts 23:16 we discover something about Paul we did not know up to now. He had a nephew, son of Paul’s sister. His nephew heard of the plot, went to the army barracks, and told Paul. Paul sent his nephew with another soldier to the commander of the Romans in Jerusalem. He relays the same message of the plot the nephew overheard directly to the commander.

Now we see something by default. The Romans may have conquered and ruled the land but to some degree did not trust and perhaps feared Jewish revolts. Why? We find that answer in how the commander reacts. Acts 23:23 states:

Then the commander called two army officers. He said to them, “I need some men to go to Caesarea. Get 200 soldiers ready. Also, get 70 soldiers on horses and 200 men to carry spears. Be ready to leave at nine o’clock tonight.”

The Roman commander did not wish a standoff against these Jewish insurgents. He order Paul transferred out of Jerusalem immediately; by 9:00 that same evening. He sends Paul to Governor Felix along with a letter of some explanation. By now the commander had to wonder about these Jews. Why were they so determined to kill a man who some of their own leadership, the Pharisees, claimed he was not guilty of any crime against the State of Judaism.

Verse 26 is where we discover the name of this commander and Tribune…Claudius Lysias. It is in the heading of the letter to Governor Felix that Luke includes in this passage of Acts. He explains in a short note that there was almost a riot in Jerusalem requiring he call out the troops to protect a man named Paul. He ordered a command of troops to take Paul to Felix; one well prepared to defend themselves and Paul if necessary. Once out of town, the horse soldiers continue on with Paul to see Felix.

Secular histories tell us that the First Jewish War against the Romans was between 66 and 70 C.E. Now we may better understand the tensions that already existed in this land.

Governor Felix asks Paul what country is he from. Paul tells him Cilicia. He then agrees to hear the case once Paul’s accusers arrive. He is held in the great palace that King Herod had built for himself long ago.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

November 2018

Acts 22

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We left off in the previous article on Acts 21 with Paul in the middle of a riot and being beaten by the crowd. The Roman garrison troops had to stop the rioting and rescue this guy named Paul. The commander demanded to know, and since they were the law, what was going on and why was this man being beaten?

As the troops forcibly carry Paul to their barracks to protect him and sort out the cause of the riot, he pleads with the Tribune (commander) to let him speak to the crowd. They are on the steps of the Roman barracks. The final verse in chapter 21 states:

And when he (Tribune Commander) had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

Paul spoke Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and who knows how many other languages. This should be no surprise that a Hebrew as was Paul could speak Hebrew. However, by this time many of the Israelis including the Jews of Judah had little external use of their native tongue. Some neighboring Jews couldn’t speak Hebrew. Greeks did not speak Hebrew. It is apparent in this passage that Paul switched from one language to another thus getting the attention of the crowd. Whose attention? The Jews but probably not the Gentiles.

Paul tells the Tribune commander and the crowd gathered at the foot of the Roman barrack steps that he once was an opponent of The Way and dragged many of them from their homes to be tried in the [Kangaroo] court of the Sanhedrin. He shares his conversion testimony beginning at the Road to Damascus. He shared the same experience in Acts 9:1-9; Acts 22:6-11; and Acts 26:9-20. It was HIS TESTIMONY. Many believers today have had a Damascus Road experience. We are startled and drawn to God to confess our past sins, desire His will, and begin witnessing.

see the light

SEE the LIGHT

Were there witnesses to Paul’s Damascus experience? Absolutely, they saw the bright light that blinded Paul but it did not blind them. They did not hear the voice. God sometimes has a special sermon of worship experience where we “see the light” but don’t hear the same Holy Spirit message. To some it is a message of awareness. To some the message adds knowledge and to others it provides insight or better understanding. Sometime people see the light but hear nothing. This is what happened to him on the Damascus Road.

Very revealing is what Paul tells the crowd in verse 14 of Acts 22. The God of our fathers appointed you (meaning Paul, but it is Antonius who is speaking to Paul back then) to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth.” To see the righteous one? There is no record of Paul seeing the Just One (KJV); righteous one (ESV). Just because there is no specific recording of him seeing Jesus, other than the bright light, does not mean it didn’t happen. One of the rules of Apostleship according to Peter is actually “seeing Jesus.” Paul spent a good deal of his writing defending the fact that he was an Apostle of Jesus.

Paul goes on with his speaking to the crowd but under the protection of the Roman Garrison in Jerusalem. He explains that one time while praying in the Temple he fell into a trance. He saw him (Jesus?) who told him to get out of Jerusalem with all haste. The people will not accept his testimony but will hate Paul. Paul presents his case to the Lord by reminding him that the Jews of Jerusalem KNOW he himself had arrested many from The Way and “unto their death.” Why should they now hate him?

We should understand at this time The Way was comprised mostly of converted Jews of Judaism. The Gentiles had no direct messenger to them. Acts 22:21 tells us… “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” This is the verse that tells us specifically that Paul is now called to the Gentiles just as Peter had already been called to the Jews.

Acts 22:22 is the turning point for the crowd. Up to the is time the crowd of Jews listened as Paul spoke to them in Hebrew. Hebrew is the language of the Israelis and not of the Gentiles. This makes one wonder if any of the Roman troops or even the commander understood what Paul was saying. God of their Temple is the center of Judaism but not necessarily the center of their witness or being. Now Paul says he is called to share the Jesus that the Jews killed with the Gentiles.

What is very unusual about this? The Jews who hated the conversion of Jews to Christianity just heard that Paul was taking the message of the cross to the Gentiles. Why should that even bother the Jewish leadership? “Go, I will send you [Paul] to the Gentiles.” This excludes a specific mission call to the Jews by Paul, yet the crowd now goes into a frenzy. The commander (called the Tribune) of the Roman garrison orders Paul inside their barracks.roman barracks

Verse 24 gives a great deal of how to interrogate a witness back then. “They will examine him by flogging.” When Paul is stretched out to be flogged he informs them that he is a Roman citizen…by birth. The Tribune (commander) in verse 29 states that he was deeply concerned because he had simply bound Paul. The retribution upon him could be life ending.

This chapter ends by the Tribune calling, better said, ordering the local chief priests and their council to meet with him to explain their actions against a Roman citizen named Paul.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

November 2018

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