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 19 (Part 1 or 2 articles)

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

ephesus

Ephesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rev Dr. Jstark
November 2018

Acts 18

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

There are several key points in Acts 18:

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

Back to the future.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rev Dr. Jstark
November, 2018

Acts 17

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

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

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

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

jesus messiah

Messiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Late night Bible Study

STUDY THE WORD for yourself!

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

Rev Dr. Jstark – November 2018

Acts 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rev. Dr. Jstark – November 2018

Acts 13

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

What a mix of persons who are believers in one location; Antioch, Syria (not Turkey). This is the continental divide of Acts; a time when Luke switches discussion from Peter to Saul/Paul. In a sense the water shed of Luke’s focus in the Book of Acts. Peter was to the Jews (Acts 1 – 12) what Paul became to the Greeks/Gentiles (Acts 13 to 28).  If this was quiz time as in a bible school, college or university, here is a set of Questions very likely to appear as an Acts 13 student challenge sometimes called a quiz or a test.

quiz time

Who separated Barnabus and Saul for the work of God’s ministry?
Acts 13:1-4.

How should we get involved in the ministry today? (essay question)

Is an academic qualification essential for ministry? (essay question)

Would you say Paul’s judgement on the sorcerer was harsh?
Acts 13:6-12

Do you think Paul’s own experience influenced his action in Acts 13:11?

How are we as Christians to discern the time to call for God’s judgement and the time for his mercy? (essay question)

When is Saul referred to as Paul? (essay question; see end of this article)

Was any reason given for John Mark’s departure? Acts 13:5, Acts 13:13, Acts 15:36-38

Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:13-41 shows his understanding and knowledge of the scriptures. Is the Old Testament still relevant to us today? (essay question)

What was the outcome of Paul’s preaching?- Acts 13:42-52

Back to this article: The above questions are offered for one purpose…to stimulate thinking. One aside note that may be of interest per political correctness is the one mentioned as either a prophet or teacher in Act 13:1 and in perspective of today’s social norms would be (ASV) “…Symeon that was called Niger,…” [many Bible translation spell Symion as Simeon]. It is almost too obvious. Niger means black. Simeon is not the same Simon mentioned often in the bible. He also may have been the one who carried the cross of Jesus when Jesus no longer had the strength to carry it up Calvary’s Hill of the Skull.

Some commentaries want to make a point that a black man in this gathering for prayer must have been from Africa. How shallow is this thinking! Back when God created Adam and Eve, we have no clue what skin color was given to both or either of them. In Middle East culture, race has little to do with society at-large. As Malcom X discovered when he went to the Middle East to pursue his Muslim learning, he discovered that race was not an issue. Why? Because the DNA can appear in anyone and the original man and woman carried all of the DNA components of the “races” we see today.

Another very interesting component of Acts 13:1 is a man named Manaen…”the fosterHerod the Great brother” of Herod the Tetrarch. This is one of four Herods mentioned in scripture. We know this guy as Herod Antipas. To help us understand, see the chart to the right.

This Herod was partly responsible for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus; it was Augustus Caesar who appointed him ruler over one-fourth of his father, Herod the Great’s kingdom; he was the one who had John the Baptizer’s head removed; he feared the powers of the Jewish Sanhedrin leaders. Again see the above chart. To keep the time line of bible events in order… “When Jesus hears that John has been killed, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place,” (Matthew 14:13).

This is the chapter where Barnabas and Saul (Paul) are separated out as missionaries; going synagogue to synagogue. It would be remiss to not mention that Mark (John Mark), a young man at the time, accompanied them for a short while but eventually returned home. Saul (Paul) saw this as desertion on behalf of John Mark, later refusing to take him along again. This all changed when Paul ended up in Rome to be tried and executed.

When Paul and Barnabas traveled through the island of Paphos, they met Sergius Paulas, Island Proconsul appointed by Rome. He was a devout man of great intellect. Elymas the sorcerer who had the attention of Sergius tried to keep Paul and Barnabas apart from him. Why? Elymas had the attention and possibly the support of Serguis and KNEW (yadda) the Spirit in Paul and Barnabas. Paul calls him the “son of the devil” (ASV) which suggests he was magical with the support of Satan; i.e. possessed. Paul calls upon the Spirit to blind Elymas “for a season.”stone

JIV NOTE: Do these names align with secular history? The above stone marker was found with the Greek name of Sesguis Paulas inscribed on it.

In verse 15, they find themselves in Antioch of Pisidia (Turkey). They again go directly to the Synagogue where they find their usual audience of worshipers. Verse 15 tells us that they are called upon to speak of any word of exhortation if they have one. That is all Paul needed. He stands and delivers the message of his calling and of Jesus Christ. Paul addresses them in a two-fold manner… “Men of Israel and those that fear God.” He distinguishes between those who attend the Synagogue out of routine and those who respect and worship God (Judaism style).

JIV NOTE: Paul says “MEN OF ISRAEL.” This means he is talking to a mixed crowd of Israelis that were dispersed from their Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians hundreds of years earlier (720 B.C.). Essentially he said: “Men of Israel” which is all inclusive and “those of the same heritage” who still followed God plus Gentile proselytes.

Paul proceeds to discuss the lineage and history of those called “God’s People.” He goes from Egypt, through the Wilderness experience, time of the Judges (400 + years), setting up of Kings beginning with King Saul, John the Baptizer of repentance, the birth of Jesus in the line of Judah (David), the prophets, and the calling for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ BY THE JEWS OF JERUSALEM, his resurrection, all from the Old Testament teachings as this was before the written New Testament was even committed to a scroll or parchment. It was also a book with which his audience was familiar.

The fascinating but often missed portion of Acts 13 is the how Paul began his audience transition from the Jews to the Gentiles…the Jews left the Synagogue (v42) but the “nations” (people of Gentile background) remained asking to hear more. The next Sabbath almost the entire city (v44) showed up at the Synagogue to hear more of this one time Christian killer. This chapter ends with those of “devout” Judaism forcing Paul and Barnabas to leave the city. They shook off the dust of their feet leaving the unbelievers to their eternal destiny.

JIV: Saul is a Jewish name; Paul is a Gentile name. Some historians suggest that Saul took the last name of Lucius Sergius Paulis as his own Greek name: Paul. This is probably little more than speculation but We Teach – You Decide.

we teach

Rev. Dr. Jstark
October 2018

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 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.

 

 

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

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

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

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

Acts 12:25-16:5

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

Acts 16:6-19:20

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

Acts 19:21-28:31

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

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

Nero Biography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dr. jStarkRev. Dr. Jstark
May, 2018

Acts Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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