From Saul to Paul

The Enemy is Changed

Book of Acts Chapter 9

In the Bible, Paul is first known by the Greek equivalent of his Hebrew name which is Saul. Paul is best known by his Latin Roman name Paul.

Paul went from being the most hated persecutor of the Church to being the great Christian and Apostle to the Church that belongs to Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul was the most dominate missionary to the Gentiles.

To the Church Paul was a murderer and he was certainly a murderer.

It was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who came to Paul and brought salvation to him.

It is only the Lord Jesus Christ who can save anyone.

1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

It was the Lord Jesus Christ that cleansed Paul from his sin of persecuting and murdering the Church.

We can be sure Paul had other sin.

Paul hated the Church and wanted to destroy the Church.

When we persecute the Church, we are actually persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ for He is the Head of the Church!

*Act 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Act 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Paul burned with a flaming fury against the Church and all Christians.

It is Christians that make the Church. The Church is not a building!

Paul was consumed with fierce anger and that fierce anger was against Christ Jesus and His disciples.

Paul hunted down and slaughtered all the believers he could find, and we can be sure the world helped him.

The followers of Jesus Christ were called “the way” before the term Christianity was used.

Act 19:9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of “that way” before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

Act 19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about “that way”.

Act 22:4 And I persecuted “this way” unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

Act 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after “the way” which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

Act 24:22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of “that way”, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.

The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ were not pictured as a religion and Christianity is not a religion!

The teachings of the Lord were not pictured as rules and regulations for they are simply the truth of God.

The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ were seen as “the way of life’ according to our Heavenly Father.

Not just that but also the “course of life”, “the means of life”, “a condition of life”, and “an experience of life”.

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who showed us “the way” of salvation!

Act 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us “the way” of salvation.

It was the Lord Jesus Christ who showed us the “way of the Lord”.

Act 18:25 This man was instructed in “the way” of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who has shown us how to have peace in our lives!

Luk 1:79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into “the way” of peace.

Rom 3:17 And “the way” of peace have they not known:

It was the Lord Jesus Christ who has shown us “the truth” of God’s creation.

2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom “the way of truth” shall be evil spoken of.

This is what Paul was doing. He was speaking evil of the way of truth!

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who has shown us “the way of righteousness”.

2Pe 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

Paul was about to see “the way” himself and what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Act 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

What is the truth of our Savior? God can save anybody, anywhere, at any time!

Saul was going to Damascus to slaughter Christians and wipe out Christianity.

Right in the middle of doing this evil, Paul was saved.

A light appeared suddenly, out of nowhere and unexpectedly. A light brighter than the noon day Sun!

Act 22:6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.

Act 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.

Paul saw the Lord standing in the middle of this light.

1Co 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

This light was the Glory of the Lord!

1Ti 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
1Ti 6:16 Who only hath immortality, “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto”; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Just the power of this Light struck Paul down to the ground.

Act 26:14 And when “we were all fallen to the earth”, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

The truth is, the Glory of God must shine in our hearts before we can be saved.

2Co 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Glory of God!

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of Heaven!

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God Himself!

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior to all those who believe, there is no other Savior.

Isa 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Paul is converted from Judaism to Christianity.

By the way, to be a Christian is to do the best we can to be like the Lord Jesus Christ and we can only do this by being filled with God Holy Spirit!

*Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Paul had realized he had seen the Lord and now realized that He was hearing the Lord speak.

Paul was not alone but he was the only one who heard the Lord speak all the others heard was a mighty sound, but they could not distinguish the words spoken by Jesus.

What was Paul’s sin?

Paul was opposing and persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ!

Joh_16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

Paul was treading on dangerous ground and every soul upon this earth will get to meet our Savior.

Opposing Christ Jesus is serious, so serious it dooms a person to hell unless there is repentance.

This day was Paul’s chance to miss hell and Paul had to make the right choice.

This may have been Paul’s last day on earth had he remained rebellious.

Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Mat 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Paul knew these things happening around him were coming from Heaven.

When Paul asked “who art thou Lord”, he knew it was the Lord of Heaven and earth who was speaking to him.

Paul knew this person was the Lord of Heaven, but he did not know the Lord as his Savior but they are One and the Same.

It takes a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.

Until you meet Jesus and recognize His glory, you will never understand this.

When a person really sees he has been rebelling against the Lord of Glory, the Savior, he will come under conviction.

Paul understood that what he was doing was opposing God who he had great faith in.

In Judaism it is Jehovah who is worshipped and Jehovah and the Lord Jesus are the same Deity.

Paul began to understand that he was lost, separated from Jehovah God and doomed to Hell.

Heb 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Heb 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

It is hard to kick against your own conscience.

“To kick against the pricks” is a picture of a stubborn ox being goaded with a long stick that was sharp on its end.

It was hard for the ox to kick against the goad for he would only feel more pain.

Paul was questioning himself over the truth.
Paul was fighting himself over the truth.
Paul was struggling within himself with the truth of the Scriptures which he knew very well.

When the Light of the Gospel finally breaks through our sinful darkness, we will begin to know the truth.

Everyone who chooses to go against the Lord Jesus has chosen a hard way of life!

They will never know if they have chosen right, and it will affect everything they try to accomplish.

This something each Christian understands!

Psa 51:2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Psa 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psa 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

There was only one thing Paul could do, he had to obey the Lord.

*Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Paul had to surrender to the truth that he was the greatest of all sinners.

Gal_1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

Paul was hardly able to bear up under the weight of his sin!

We all get this way when we realize we are just dirty rotten sinners.

These things became part of Paul’s testimony.

Paul became a shattered man, and it would take some time in prayer and meditation to clear his mind so he could learn the truth.

Paul needed the companionship of another believer who had been through similar things.

Paul had been converted and a radical change was taking place within him.

It would take proof of his conversion for the Christian community to receive him.

There were some who witnessed this event that happened to Paul.

*Act 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

There were some witnesses, but they did not know what was really happening.

In typology, we would say they were a type of the world we live in.

The world listens to false science and lies and reject the truth so the world cannot know the truth.

The world is aware of the miracle of conversion, but the world refuses to open their eyes to the truth but cling to the lies of false science.

We have to open our hearts to see the Light of the Lord Jesus.

We have to silence ourselves and our thoughts to hear the voice of God.

We have to make ourselves available to confront the Lord.

We have to be prepared to surrender if we call upon the Lord.

Act 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Act 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

2Co 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2Co 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2Co 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Paul could only do as the Lord instructed him. It is called obedience!

*Act 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
Act 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Paul was blind and he did not know if it was temporary or forever.

Paul was helpless and had to be led by others.

Paul could do nothing else but to think about what had happened to him.

Paul became ashamed for what he had been doing.

Paul needed some help from a Christian!

Paul thought his purpose was to eliminate Christianity, but Paul now had no purpose in his life.

Paul wondered why the Lord Jesus had chosen him.

Paul wondered what the Lord Jesus wanted with him, and he wondered what the Lord Jesus was going to tell him to do.

Paul was unable to eat or drink for three days and Paul became exhausted with no strength at all.

We must understand that once the Lord Jesus has forgiven us, He no more remembers our sin and it is best we forget that old sin.

God sent Paul a brother in Christ named Ananias.

*Act 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Act 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

What Paul needed most was the need to experience the help and ministry of a fellow Christian.

As Christians we all know we are only sinners saved by the “Grace” of God!

Paul needed to see the faith of a brother in Christ.

Paul needed to know that he was also a brother in Christ.

Paul needed to feel the power of God and a glorious healing.

Paul needed to feel the power of the Holy Spirit.

Many ask, just when was Paul saved?

Was Paul saved on the Damascus Road or when he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Paul knew that awesome Light was from Heaven.
Paul knew that voice he heard was from Heaven.
Paul knew who ever was speaking to him was of Heaven.
Paul called this Heavenly being “Lord”.

Paul was surrendering to the Lord when Paul asked Him “What will you have me do”?

Paul did not have a personal relationship, but he knew it was the Lord God of Heaven.

Paul called Him Lord a second time.

Paul realized his only help was to obey the Lord God of Heaven as he surrendered to the Lord.

Paul prayed and the Lord Jesus heard him.

Act 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, “he prayeth”,
Act 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

It is evident that Paul surrendered to the Lord Jesus on the Damascus Road.

Does not sound a whole lot different from many of us who prayed the sinners pray and many pray and never give themselves to the Lord Jesus.

We now have Paul’s history of how he served the Lord in the New Testament.

Paul could now eat because he was settled in his faith.

*Act 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

Paul was a changed man because he had been “Born Again”!

We see that a Church had been established in Damascus and now Paul was identified with other believers.

Paul was a true believer; his old man had surely died!

Paul became a follower of “The Way”.

Paul became a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Act 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

Paul preached Christ, the Messiah.

Paul no longer preached religion, or tradition, or ceremony or ritual.

There is a great significant difference between the two!

Paul also did not preach his firsthand experiences, his visions, his praying.

Paul preached Christ. It takes a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ to know the truth!

2Co 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Col 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily

Paul preached Christ the Son of God:

Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

The people were amazed at the change in Paul. We could say Paul made a 180 degree turn rom his old life.

*Act 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

Paul stood as a testimony to the change that comes about when the Holy Spirit moves in and we are “Born Again”.

The people in the synagogues and in the public were amazed at what they saw in the new Paul.

They were expecting all the things they had heard about in Jerusalem to take place.

They had known about the mission of Paul and how he treated men and women Christians.

Paul now identified as a Christian himself.

Paul would later declare to the Romans that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

And to the Christians at Corinth:

1Co 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

Paul became steadfast and faithful to the cause of Christ and his old friends became his enemies.

*Act 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
Act 9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

Paul continued to grow in his faith and his zeal was now for the truth of Jehovah who is the Messiah who came to our world to save us.

Paul grew Spiritually. We can have no strength that can compare to “Spiritual Strength”.

The Bible we have today is rich in the work of the Holy Spirit.

We should never forget the Holy Spirit is one third of the Triune God.

The Holy Spirit is not the influence of God, the Holy Spirit is God with His own work in our lives to accomplish and the power of the Holy Spirit showed mightily in the Apostle Paul.

The more Paul grew in the Lord the more he was able to confuse those who opposed the “Gospel.”

Paul could take the Scriptures and prove that the Lord Jesus was the true Messiah!

Paul grew in strength because his “faith” grew greatly every day.

Paul had been studying the Old Testament since he was a child, but he now knew the truth of the Messiah.

What is the truth of the Bible?

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So the same ones who had encouraged Paul to persecute Christians now plotted to kill Paul.

God was not about to allow this to happen.

*Act 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
Act 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

We would wonder why they would hate Paul with such a vengeance.

They then considered Paul to be a traitor to Judaism.

When Paul escaped, this is probably the time when Paul went to spend some time with the Lord.

Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Where did Paul get his message?

Paul says not from man.
Paul did not immediately go back to Jerusalem to learn from the Apostles.

Paul went to Arabia where he stayed about three years. The same amount of time the other Apostles spent with Jesus.

It is after this he returned to Damascus.

Many times we just need to get alone with God and just talk to Him.

He is always ready to hear from us!

It is probably on his return to Damascus that verse twenty-three kicks in and this passage we are on now.

There are different theories about Paul’s time in Arabia.

The point being Paul spent some quality time with the Lord Jesus and became a much more mature Christian and it was time for the Lord to use Paul in a mighty way.

Even after returning from Arabia it was still 12 years before Paul went to the missionary field.

Paul fled from assassination all the remaining days of his life.

Paul was run out of Jerusalem and did not get to go home very much.

Paul went to his childhood home in Tarsus until he was called to the mission field.

The message of the “Gospel” convicted and threatened the followers of Judaism, and it still does today.

Christianity is not a growth from Judaism but in fact all those in Judaism will have to convert to Christianity which will take place after the “Rapture of the Church.

The Apostle Paul is an example for us all of the change that takes place after we are saved and the work that we need to be doing as disciples.

Paul was not some fanatic no more than a Christian is today, witnessing for our Lord and Savior.

God will always make a way to escape when we are true witnesses for the Lord.

God will deliver us from difficulty when we true witnesses.

God will carry us through to His presence when death comes.

2Ti 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

You see this is the truth of the Scriptures!

The Jerusalem Church is Scattered

The Jerusalem Church is Scattered

Book of Acts Chapter 8

The one thing we should get noticeably clear in our minds is the fact that God will have His way in this world!

Even when things look dire, we need to remember that Jehovah God is in charge of every aspect of this world.

Nothing happens upon this earth that God does not know about!

What had God told to the early Church?

Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Over and over again we see the command to the Church.

The Church is not a building! The Church is every true believer!

The Church in Jerusalem had grown to an exceptionally large congregation, yet no one had considered what the Lord Jesus had commanded.

Yes, when the Lord Jesus speaks, He is commanding us to do as He says.

In fact, the Bible is a Book of Commands and not a Book of Suggestions!

Since the Church in Jerusalem would not “go into all the world” then, God would allow some things to take place and the result of these things would be the Church would be obedient to the Lord.

Now God did not cause the persecution that came to the Church, but God did allow it to take place.

The early Church grew because of the “Grace” of God, and we are still in this period called “Grace”!

Because of God’s Grace, He will not do things to go against His grace!

In other words, God did not cause this persecution, or the Church could not call it “Grace”.

In our lesson today we get to see some things about a young man named Saul.

Saul will become the worst of the persecutors of the Church, until He becomes maybe the greatest Christian who has ever lived.

First the persecutor:

*Act 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Though Saul did not cast a single stone upon Stephen, Saul was still consenting to his death.

As Stephen was dying, he gave God’s final invitation to those who were super religious in Jerusalem, but Israel rejected God’s message.

Israel set out to destroy God’s Church and Israel found out that this would be impossible.

The world of today needs to take note, that man cannot destroy the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

God overruled Israel and used this persecution to scatter the Church as the Lord Jesus had commanded.

Act_1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Holy Ghost (Spirit) had come and it was time for the Church to get busy about the work of the Lord!

God has a plan for this world and no one, not any human can change the plan of God.

No matter what is happening in this world, God’s plan moves along at God’s pace.

It was Saul who launched this heavy persecution.
Some godly men buried Stephen.
Saul would persecute both men and women.
The brethren were scattered in every direction.

Saul was well pleased with the death of Stephen!

As Christians we should never be pleased with the death of anyone no matter their guiltiness!

We should never be happy that someone has died without knowing the Lord as their Savior.

Fury had been building inside Saul and Stephen’s death just set Saul out to destroy all the Church.

Saul felt that the preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ would destroy Judaism.

Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Gal 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous “of the traditions of my fathers”.

What Paul had not considered is the “traditions” cannot save anyone!

We can see that there were also politics behind the work of Saul, and Saul prospered in many ways because he persecuted the Church, the Body of Christ.

The persecution of the Church began immediately on the same day that Stephen was buried which was the same day Stephen was murdered.

Note the Apostles stayed behind.

They had given some freedom by the authorities because of Gamaliel:

Act 5:34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
Act 5:35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
Act 5:36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
Act 5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
Act 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Act 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
Act 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Remember that Council would carry the same weight as our own Supreme Court.

The Apostles were highly esteemed by the people and these wicked men did not need any more intervention from Rome which could happen if the Jews were in some sort of civil war.

Act 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

Had the Apostles fled Jerusalem, then there would have been no one left to stabilize the Church at Jerusalem.

God does not shut down one Church to see it thrive somewhere else!

The Church in Jerusalem was an important Church and still is today.

Remember the Church is that congregation of believers.

This church would have ceased to exist, and this was not part of the plan of God.

The Church requires good godly leaders who cling to the Lord Jesus Christ.

You see we can trust that what God has said is the truth!

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Do not be confused by this Scripture. Peter is not the “Rock” of the Church, it is the Gospel, the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ!

No matter what Satan or the rebellious governments of this world send against the Church, the Church will prevail until the day the Lord removes the Church to deal with this wicked world.

2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

We see that good godly devout men of God carried Stephen to his burial expressing great sorrow for him, but the soul of Stephen was already with the Lord Jesus Christ in our Heavenly home. These men were no longer afraid to show their faith.

*Act 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

As for Saul. he joined in the persecution of the Church becoming the ring leader.

Saul had every intent to completely destroy God’s Church and remove it from the face of the earth.

Many would come behind him trying to do the same thing even in today’s time.

Even mighty Rome could not destroy the Church and none today will be able to.

Saul was like a man gone mad!

Act 26:11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

Saul would even go into homes, breaking down the doors, seeking every believer.

Saul arrested everyone he could find, trying to stamp out Christianity.

Saul would storm every synagogue and he punished every believer that was present.

Even though women were considered to be insignificant in Saul’s day, Saul still went after women with the same fierceness.

Saul would send as many as he could to prison!

Act 22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

Saul hunted them down like some terrible criminal even though these people just professed the Lord Jesus Christ as their perfect Savior.

This became their theme.

This had been what God commanded all along.

Those that escaped went forth claiming the Lord Jesus Christ and preaching the Word of God.

Persecution will never stop the work of God!

****Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

We know the Apostles were not scattered.

Most of the priests were not scattered.

It was the lay people who were scattered abroad.

That word “abroad” means “widely scattered”, beyond the bounds of a country, before the public.

They went everywhere preaching the Word of God, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev_1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

When the Word of God is preached and received it is then time to decide.

This is the power of the Christian Church.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior unto life, or He is Ruler of death unto death.

Our life and our death are in the hands of our Savior!

This is a choice we must all make and thank God, He is the God of second chances.

Act 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
Act 11:20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
Act 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

We should understand that evangelism is still the answer to persecution!

We have the life we live right now to prepare for what is said about us when we are dead.

*Act 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Act 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Philip went to Samaria which had been prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ with the message of salvation and many of those who were once enemies to the Jews became part of the Christian Church.

These are all things that can happen when we are obedient to the Lord!

Why was Philip given the power to do miracles?

We must remember there was no Bible to be given to believes in that day.

The Old Testament presented the message of the “coming of Christ”.

The message of the New Testament would be the return of Christ to get His Church. The “Good News”!

The New Testament would not be written for many years so God allowed some few men to take credit for some miracles mostly concerning healing.

Today we have the complete text of the Bible, there are no lost books of the Bible.

Miracles still happen every day but most all of them go unnoticed.

God uses persecution to demonstrate the reality of salvation.

God uses miracles for this same purpose!

Persecution of the Church can be simple abuse, or it can be violent.

It can happen at work, at home, at school, at play and yes, even at Church.

In every case God will use persecution to bear witness of Himself!

What the world needs now is to see a revived Church.

Many believe that revival is the time to reach out to the public and it can be, but the intent of “revival” is to stir the Church to get back to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We need a true movement of God in the hearts and the lives of all the children of God, inside and outside the Church.

Philip had accepted the call of God and had become an evangelist; Philip was a lay person who was trained by the Holy Spirit.

He did not go to some seminary nor any other school accept the school of the Holy Spirit and Philip obeyed the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philip preached and proclaimed the Lord Jesus Christ

Philip preached the “Good News, the Gospel and there is no better news today.

The one thing the Church needs today is to be in “one accord”!

We see just the opposite in our Churches today.

Every so-called Bible that has been rewritten just to pacify some congregation needs to be gathered and burnt for heresy.

There is only one truth and for the English-speaking world! The KJV is the closest we can get to the truth of God along with a few others that are taken from the “Received Text”.

All others are no more than commentaries that are taken from already altered versions of Scripture.

We must be in one mind and one spirit, one accord.

We must have an open mind, a willingness to listen to what God has to say, and then be obedient!

Has Satan infiltrated the Church? Yes, and we are foolish to think differently.

*Act 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
Act 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.

All those who do not have the Holy Ghost living within them are under the control of evil spirits.

2Ti_2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him “at his will”.

Satan cannot touch the child of God without God’s permission. Satan can threaten like he has this power but he does not!

It is not the same for those who have not given their lives to Christ Jesus! Satan can do as he pleases with these people!

People who cannot help themselves can be healed but only by the Lord Jesus Christ!

There will be evidence of changed lives! In fact, if there is no evidence of changed lives then we need to question their salvation!

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1Jn 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

All those who would rather rewrite some book calling it a Bible just because they do not like the commandments of God, cannot then be saved!

When people understand the truth, it will certainly bring joy!

This joy will come and stay because it is the gift of God!

Philip did not have the power of miracles within himself to do miracles!

This power is only of God and God has His reasons and nothing comes from God without “faith”!

It is the deliverance from the great depths of sin that brings the greatest joy!

Deliverance from false prophets.
Deliverance from false religion.
Deliverance from sorceries which is drugs.

False religion will always fail in the end because there is no truth in false religion.

God has one message:

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Even though Philip was in a great revival in Samaria, the Holy Spirit had a special request, and we must always listen to the Holy Spirit.

*Act 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

We should know that God has His eyes on everything that is happening in this world!

Remember God knows the ending at the same time that He knows the beginning.

Every soul is important to God!

Why would this angel of the Lord not go himself?

I can think of two reasons:

1) Because this was a mission for a man. In the Lord’s salvation plan there is a place for redeemed sinners to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. No angel could accomplish this mission!

2) The Holy Spirit would already be working upon this individual and one of God’s redeemed could show him the way, the Jesus way.
An angel is but a messenger!

We should also remember Philip was in the middle of a great revival so what was so important about one man?

There were two ways from Jerusalem to Gaza, one desert, the other was through a more populous country.

Philip had no way of knowing a particular reason God would send him somewhere else during a revival, but Philip seemed to understand the importance of this mission.

We must always listen to what the Lord has to say no matter what we are doing at the time God calls!

Philip had to walk by faith!

It is our faith that is important when we are speaking to the Lord!

Jehovah does not limit Himself to our theories or our beliefs and we should not either!

God will use whatever is necessary to reach a lost soul!

God tells us all to “arise” and “go” and walk in the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ!

What did Philip do?

*Act 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
Act 8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
Act 8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

Philip saw some man riding in a chariot who was returning from Jerusalem.

We should understand that Chief officers of nations were called eunuchs. Some were eunuchs as we understand but not all were!

Many of them were the chief ministers in eastern courts and called eunuchs.

For instance we know that Candace was the queen of the Ethiopians but all the queens of Ethiopia were named Candace.

We should understand what the Bible says:

Psa 68:31 Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.

This eunuch would be one of the tools Jehovah would use to fulfill this prophecy!

No doubt that this eunuch was also a proselyte to Judaism. A Gentile converted to Judaism.

Tradition tells us that even Candace was baptized by this eunuch after the work of Philip was completed.

This eunuch had taken part in all the Jewish festivals of that day, and he would now learn the simplicity of salvation by Jesus Christ.

He was reading from the Book of Isaiah the prophet of Jehovah.

It is a fact that many believers shy away from foreigners when the Lord only sees souls and all souls are as jewels and are valuable to the Lord.

The Lord Jesus wants us to reach all people with the truth!

Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We might understand that if we could reach the higher ups in our own government, it could change everything about the America we see now.

The one thing that can be said about eunuchs is, that they are dedicated to their position.

This eunuch was a worshiper of God, yet he was not saved because he did not know all the truth.

We must all seek a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philip sensed what he was sent to do but Philip still needed a little push from the Holy Spirit.

After all this man was a high ranking officer of some country and not a Jew.

The Holy Spirit will always guide us if we listen to Him and place our lives under His control.

*Act 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
Act 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
Act 8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

Notice that Philip came straight to the point.

It was not time to talk about the weather or the long trip. Philip was sent to this man for one purpose and Philip did what the Holy Spirit instructed him to do.

Philip initiated the conversation, but he did not give this man time to ask what he was doing chasing his chariot.

No doubt this man was faithful to have traveled such a great distance to worship Jehovah.

This man had a copy of the Word of God and few especially Gentiles had such a copy of the Word pf God.

Remember all copies were done by hand and were unbelievably valuable.

This man had a problem that he could not solve and there were no answers at his home in Ethiopia.

He did not understand that the Lord Jesus Christ died for him.

Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Isa 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

If we believe the Bible then we must understand that Isaiah was writing about our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah was writing about the Messiah who had already come and completed the work required of His Father for our salvation!

He was led like a sheep because He was the Lamb of God.
He willingly died for our sin though He could have said no.
Because He was God it was in humiliation that He died and the justice due Him was not allowed.
In this time of “Grace” His followers are innumerable and who could have numbered them.

Psa 22:30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
Psa 22:31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

This eunuch could not have understood about the Lord Jesus Christ until He had heard this truth.

It is the same today to those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ.

The prophecies of the Old Testament of the coming of the Messiah have been fulfilled.

We are now awaiting upon the return of the Messiah to collect His Church to take His bride home to Heaven to present to His Father!

He is coming back to get His Church!

Come Lord Jesus Come

Amen!

The Ministry of Deacons

The Ministry of Deacons

Book of Acts Chapters 6 and 7

One of the greatest statements in our lesson today is that Satan will change his tactics according to where he sees weaknesses in the Church.

The greatest weakness in the Church as I see it today, is that the modern Church has begun to reject the infallible truth of God and has begun to accept the world’s interpretation of the Word of God.

As Christians, we know that we will not be able to have a good understanding of God’s Word without the Holy Spirit living within us!

If lying and hypocrisy are allowed to live within the Church, the Church will cease to be “the pillar and ground for the truth”!

1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
1Ti 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

The truth of the Word of God is that “it is the mystery of Godliness”, and this truth is rejected by the world we live in today.

We must clearly understand that God will not allow these things to go on indefinitely.

Remember God’s plan moves right along as we see all these things unfold before our eyes.

We must never forget the command of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

As the Church begins to grow in Jerusalem, God will take this command and the errors that Satan is bringing upon the Church, and He will cause some changes in the direction of the Christian Church in Jerusalem.

Remember the Church in Jerusalem had not been obedient up to this time. Spreading the Gospel was only done locally.

These are all things the Church of today is to learn so these same mistakes are not made again.

The Book of Acts teaches us about the beginning of the Church, and we are never so far advanced that we cannot learn from the Book of Acts and all the Word of God.

Remember what God has said: 2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

God has said what He means, and God means what He says!

We are not to interpret the Scripture!

We pick up our lesson with the Church begins to grow:

*Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Here we see that the Church began to grow in numbers, but is this a true measurement?

Church growth should not be measured by the amount of people who attend nor by the number of people who join the Church as we will see.

Church growth must be measured by those who have accepted the complete Word of God and live their lives accordingly.

Only then can these certain ones become witnesses to the truth of God and therefore witnesses and missionaries to the world.

As missionaries and witnesses who speak the truth of God.

We are all to be missionaries in the place where God has allowed us to live!

“It is our job to just speak the truth of God and God will do all the work from that point on.

Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and “it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”.

We need to have this clear understanding of the Word of God and just be obedient witnesses and allow God to do what God does which is.

“God can save anybody, anywhere, at any time”!

Act_2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Moving on, we see that there were some problems that comes when the people of the Church do not accept the complete Word of God.

Do not be fooled “murmuring” means problems.

We see here the clash of two distinct cultures.

Hebrew women: We should understand that men and women are on equal ground when it comes God and salvation.

In the Hebrew culture the men were the bread winners, and the women took care of the household and even then, they would contribute in every way possible in caring for their families.

It was the Hebrew family that was to take care of these mothers when her husband died and many times this did not take place.

God had given clear commands on this issue.

This became something that the Church took upon themselves to do.

As the Church grew from being for the most part Jews of Hebrew descent, it began to absorb mothers who were Jews of Greek descent.

We should understand the conquests of Alexander the Great had changed the culture of the entire world.

These changed people were known as Hellenists.

Alexander the Great encouraged his soldiers to take wives from the lands that were conquered and with the other things that he did, Greek culture was spreading like a wildfire around the known world at that time.

Even the Romans had adapted the Greek culture in many ways.

Governments always believe they know better than the average person.

Along with these things, philosophy and intellectual pursuits were the rage amongst these conquered peoples.

It is easy to see the clash that was bound to happen between these widows.

The Hebrews were more accustomed to the ways of Jerusalem, and the ways of the Law, than the Greeks and this would cause a conflict.

The Apostles tried to take care of these matters and it was hurting them in the pulpit.

Peter produced the answer.

So is born the “Deacon”.

*Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Act 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Act 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

The word or title Deacon means to minister or to serve as a minister.

This is not a Minister in what many refer to a Pastor or Preacher but knowing the Word of God was certainly a requirement.

This is not to say the Pastor is not minister also because God has called the pastor or Preacher to do as he is led.

The Deacon should be able to manage day by day matters and the more serious events they can bring to the Pastor.

The Pastor is in charge of the things of the Church.

In this instance the subject was the care of widows.

The Apostles addressed these same issues.

If we want to help our Pastors, then we need to shoulder the majority of the visitations of our Church and our elected Deacons and committee people should shoulder this responsibility as they are able.

The Deacons need to study this passage.

They are not to be rulers as they are to be more like a waitress as Peter has described them.

We see that number seven and we should realize the seven is a perfect number so it could take more than seven in some churches, and it could take less than seven in some churches, but it should never be less than three in my opinion.

What were the keys to choosing these men?

“Honesty, full of the Holy Ghost, the wisdom of God”.

The wisdom of God is knowledge of the Scriptures

They must be appointed by the Body of Christ!

There must be proof of their faith!

Their job was to take the minor things off the shoulders of the Pastors and Preachers.

If a problem needed to go to the Preacher, then it should go these Deacons first.

The preaching of the Word of God is far too important to not give our Preachers time to prepare!

The Church then then be made aware of these things before they occur!

*Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
Act 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

We should notice a few things here. This Church in Jerusalem has met as a group in unity. The biggest part of these are Jews who left Judaism to become Christian.

Some were so bedded in Judaism that they thought Christianity was just a growth from Judaism, but this was never true.

To be Christian is to love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian Church stands alone in this world as teaching that the Lord Jesus Christ the only means to ever get to Heaven.

It takes a personal relationship with Jesus to get to Heaven!

There are so many who reject this truth at their own peril!

This is not something we should brag upon; it is just the truth of God and the truth of the Word of God!

This Church acted out of love and humility.

No one spoke up at this time because of hurt feelings.

The Apostles had not denied that this was a problem, and it was the Apostles who brought forth the remedy provided by the Holy Spirit and this was the first qualification for such men, “to be noticeably filled with the Holy Spirit”‘

A Church cannot survive in this world if it is not a Holy Ghost (Spirit) filled Church!

It was the Grecian believers who seemed to be having the problem and God begins training the Church to manage all the problems that would come against the Church until the end of what we call time.

Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth”.

It was persecution that was in the near future for this Church, and it was time to prepare.

Problems in the Church can only be solved when the Church works as one unit led by the Holy Spirit!

The Church must be rooted in love for each other with the love of God!

Our Pastors must be given the time to prepare a message they have received of God, or “they will try to give us a message they have made up themselves” and that Church will fail.

It was the Church that chose these men not the Apostles!

Stephen was the first of these men chosen. Why? He was a man full of faith and full of the Holy Ghost (Spirit)!

Notice also it appears that Stephen was a Hellenist himself as were all these new Deacons that are mentioned.

In fact all these men had met the qualifications set down by the Apostles and these qualifications should still be the same today as any church chooses its officers and Deacons.

We had met Philip earlier, but this is not Philip the Apostle but Philip the evangelist.

Act 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

Philip was a great preacher and spoke boldly as persecution of the Church began.

The Holy Spirit traveled with Philip as He does with al Christians but there are no miracles performed by the evangelist of today.

They bring with them the promise of salvation a healing of the soul.

It is Jehovah who is the source of all miracles, and He allowed some men to take credit for these things during the time of the early Church

Act 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Act 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

There are no men in the modern Church who can actually perform such miracles today, no matter what some claim!

Next came Prochorus who we know nothing more about. Tradition says he could have become the Bishop of Nicomedia.

Next came Nicanor. We also know nothing more of this man. Tradition says he died in the early persecution of the Church.

We should also keep in mind that there are many men and women who are working in the background of every church, not ever seeking recognition but who keep the Church moving in the right direction.

Next came Timon. Timon is also a Greek name. In reality all these seven men may themselves have been Hellenists.

Parmenas another man that the Bible offers no more information.

Last comes Nicolas which the Bible adds was a Gentile who had converted to Judaism and now having heard the truth became a Christian also forsaking Judaism.

After these men were chosen, they were then presented to the Apostles who ordained them for the work that was given to them.

Notice this ordination was done in view of the Church because it was an official ceremony!

The Church set these men apart.
The Church prayed for each of them and the work they had been chosen to do.
The Apostles, the Preachers, laid their hands upon them in ordination.

The “laying of the hands” was a significant symbol for God’s blessing!

Mat 19:13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
Mat 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

For healing: Mar 5:23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
Mar 5:24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

For imparting the Holy Spirit: Act 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Act 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
Act 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

We still see the laying of the hands in ordaining and commissioning men to the ministry!

What were the results?

*Act 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

1) The Word of God increased as never before because those who preached the Word of God were not hindered trying to solve every little issue that came up in the Church but concentrated on the message of God.

2) The Church grew not just in numbers but also in knowledge of the truth of God which is far more important.
In many mega churches today the “Good News” of the Word of God is rarely mentioned. Witnessing the truth of God is not even mentioned.

3) Many new Preachers and Pastors were reached for the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. These things are the job of the Church and will always be the job of the Church. So many churches have forgotten this today!

We do not need seminaries training our preachers, this is God’s job!

Seminaries have ruined too many men of God today!

Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

At the death of Stephen persecution came to the Church!

It is at this time that God reminded the Church to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

We must observe these things as commands.

We understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, but we see something amazing in this passage as the Lord stands up in honor of His martyr Stephen!

Stephen preached a sermon exposing the truth to the people of Jerusalem and Judaism.

When they had heard the truth, it brought conviction.

*Act 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

1) They had heard that their father Abraham was called of God before he was circumcised, before the Law was given to Moses, and before the Temple was built, which they had so high regard for.
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2) They heard that Moses and Joseph had not been treated very well by their own fathers they so bragged about. There was not devotion in their hearts, there was only persecution because of the truth.

3) They were reminded how their fathers behaved in the wilderness after receiving the Law they so bragged about keeping.

4) They were reminded how their fathers had fallen into idolatry over and over again. Just because Solomon had built the Temple they so bragged about, the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be bound to any temple nor to any building or place upon this earth. We can build immaculate places to worship the Lord, but we are fools to believe we can trap the Lord Jesus within walls nor to any religion.

5) They were reminded that it was their own fathers that persecuted and slew the very Prophets of God and it was they who were the betrayers and the murderers of the men God had sent to teach them the truth.

6) They were reminded that it was they, themselves that could not keep the Laws they so cherished!

The results: They were cut to the heart. Sometimes the truth will cut you to the heart. They were filled with anguish. They felt great pain. They became uneasy.
They became full of anger and indignation and Stephen became the object of their wrath. They began to show their hatred for the truth, and they were the bigots not Stephen.

How did Stephen react to their hatred?

*Act 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
Act 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Stephen may have been aware of what was going on around him, but his focus was upon the glory of God.

Joh_17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

You see when we rebel against God the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can become disturbed and tormented and it is then that we must make a choice.

Do we accept or reject the truth of Jesus Christ? When we accept the truth of the Lord Jesus then and only then can we be delivered from this sin filled world!

Once we know the Lord Jesus as our Savior, where else could we look but to Heaven!

This world shows no heartfelt sympathy to us. The Lord Jesus Christ came to this place called earth and bled and died for our sins just so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

When we know the Lord, and this earth casts us out, then we know Heaven waits to receive us.

This is the truth of peace in our lives!

In the Book of Isaiah Chapter 6:1 through 13 we can see how this glory of Heaven is described, but Stephen sees this and something even more spectacular.

Rev 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

The Lord of Glory stands to His feet. The same Lord who had been rejected by this world stood up to receive His child with open arms.

1Co_2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

While those who were stoning Stephen to death were seeing victory.

While those who were just spectators saw an atrocity, one way or the other.

Stephen saw deliverance!

You see God is always present when one of His children is caused to suffer by this world!

Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Stephen was a man always filled with the Holy Spirit and he clearly understood what that meant while rocks and stones hit his weak body.

1Ti 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

We can believe that what Stephen saw we will see just before we make this same trip to Heaven.

Those in the graves whose soul is already in Heaven will get to see the glory of God as they speed toward Heaven.

Glory, Glory, Glory, Lord God almighty.

What those who knew Stephen saw was a great testimony left behind for all the world to see.

Those who hated Stephen’s testimony saw something else but there would be one sinner who would never forget this day.

*Act 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
Act 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

Law abiding citizens became murderers this day and the ultra-religious smiled as these were taking place.

We should know that the Holy Ghost is always busy.

We must know that all persecution is rebellion against God!

Those who lead in the persecution of Christians and those that follow them are acting against the Lord and not against that believer!

Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Rom 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Rom 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Rom 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

They became murderers free to roam this earth because this earth was on their side!

This is the world we live in today and it is only going to get worse until the Lord returns.

This is the first time that Saul of Tarsus is mentioned in the Bible and this event makes an impression upon him.

*Act 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Act 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The soul of Stephen went to Heaven, his body is buried somewhere in Jerusalem awaiting the call of the Lord.

We must remember as Christians we will suffer the trials of persecution, some much more terrible than others.

Remember Stephen called out for the Lord’s help, Stephen certainly felt the pain.

What we witness is the “grace” and the “strength” to endure these trials and many did become martyrs and there may be many more before the Lord returns in the clouds and calls us out of here.

The Lord wants us all to be with Him right now:

Joh 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Joh 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Joh 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Stephen was depending on the Lord Jesus as he says “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.

Why? Because he knew this truth.

2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
2Co 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Then Stephen shows that loving caring spirit for all as he says, “lay not this sin to their charge”.

The truth is that death brings life to all those who love the Lord, and we should have no fear of death.

Just recently I tried to make my doctor understand this as I rejected my last Chemo treatment.

What did Stephen then do?

He fell asleep in Christ and all his pain was over and the Lord met him in Heaven and then returned to His throne awaiting the next saint of God.

Amen

The Apostle Paul Preaching In Rome

Preaching In Rome

Book of Acts Chapter 28

We have reached the last chapter in this great Book of Acts. We have seen so many things that caused the beginning of the early church.

We need to get back to many of the basics we have learned in these chapters!

But most of all, we must realize that the message of the Church is still the "Gospel" of the Lord Jesus Christ and that will never change!

The Church grows as the "Gospel" is spread.

This is our only job!

Last week when we left off, 276 men, including the Apostle Paul were swimming for their life in hope of reaching the shore of the island we now know of as Malta.

Let’s pick up where we left off:

*****Act 28:1  And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.

It was not until everyone was safely on the island that they realized they were at a place called Melita. This island of Melita is now known as Malta.

We also need to realize that where ever God places us, that is to place where we are to begin a work for God and represent Jesus Christ as His ambassadors.

We already know that God was sending Paul to Rome, so this stopover in Melita was surely the providence of God.

We should never forget this verse and we can believe that Paul never did:

Rom 11:33  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! [how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!]

*****Act 28:2  And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

It is probable that the people of Melita were probably descendent of Phoenician sailors who first used this island.

They were considered barbarous simply because they did not speak Greek nor Latin as their native language.

The Greeks, and after-wards the Romans, called all nations "but themselves" barbarians!

This reminds us of how people felt about each other at the tower of Babel back in the Book of Genesis.

But the people of Melita did treat these shivering survivors with great kindness by building a bonfire on the beach to warm them up.

*****Act 28:3  And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

It’s very interesting to note that, out of more than 300 people who were enjoying this fire, it was Paul who took it upon himself to gather sticks to keep it burning.

Among the sticks, however was a venomous snake. The snake itself was stiff from the cold and must have look much like another stick.

The heat energized the snake so that it suddenly bit the Apostle Paul.

And this did not go unnoticed!

There are always eyes on God’s people!

It is said today that you cannot find a venomous snake on the island of Malta.

*****Act 28:4  And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet "vengeance" suffereth not to live.

In this short time these people of Melita had already realized that some of these men including Paul were prisoners bound for Rome.

They looked on Paul is a doomed man and as good as dead.

They concluded that if it was murder he was guilty of, and had escaped the death of the sea, then the gods had punished him in this way.

That word "vengeance" comes from the Greek word "Dice" which is also the name of a Greek goddess said to be the daughter of Jupiter.

*****Act 28:5  And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Act 28:6  Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

Many eyes were watching as Paul shook the snake off into the fire. They were amazed that his hand had not swollen nor had he fell over dead, so they watched him for a great while.

But, to their amazement no harm had come to Paul.

There are two things we should note here:

1.) We have the fulfillment of Scripture.

Mar 16:17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mar 16:18  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

This promise of protection, was not for show and was not intended to apply indefinitely. This experience of Paul’s is the only actual example of such a thing recorded in the New Testament and we should not expect for these things to happen today.

2.) We have the superstitions of the lost.

Since Paul could not be killed by the poison from this Viper then he to must be a god.

This is not the first time that this happened to Paul.

We should remember the things that happened in Athens.

Act 14:11  And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
Act 14:12  And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

There are still many pagan worshipers whom are still waiting on the return of their own false gods.

So, we can see that only one explanation will work here, "the direct intervention of the Living God"!

*****Act 28:7  In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
Act 28:8  And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Act 28:9  So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:

God would not only provide for Paul and his shipmates, but he would also show His true power to the people of Melita.

Publius, was the chief man of the island who was very sick at that time. Paul went to this man without being asked and through the healing power of God, healed this man of his sickness.

When this was done for Publius, many others of the island came to him, were healed also.

We must also realize Paul also had Luke, the physician, with him at this time.

And we can know that Paul was not a man who would let opportunities to witness for Christ to slip by without taking advantage of them.

It is also very possible that a church began during the time Paul was on this island.

*****Act 28:10  Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
Act 28:11  And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.

That word "honors" means what ever those things that were given to Paul were "things of value".

Everyone on that ship had lost all their personal possessions so it seems that "these barbarians" were in actuality, "very hospitable".

Those three months were probably November through February, the same three months when sailing ceased because of severe weather conditions!

They found another ship from Alexandria, which was probably carrying wheat to Rome, and obtained passage.

Those names Castor and Pollux came from the figurehead on the bow the ship.

These names were so chosen because of the astrological sign of Gemini or, "The Twins".

These names of pagan deities were regarded as maritime patrons.

To every seaman of that time, these were the gods that steered the ship safely to each port.

This shows again the pagan world at the time of the early church!

Christians are still commanded to shine as lights in this dark world!

*****Act 28:12  And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.
Act 28:13  And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:
Act 28:14  Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.

Syracuse is the city on the southeast coast of Sicily and about 90 miles from the island of Malta.

That phrase "fetched a compass" means they could not sail in a straight line to Puteoli but had to use tacking.

It was not until a south wind started blowing that they were able to continue sailing and then reached Puteoli the next day which was about 200 miles.

Puteoli was the harbor for the ancient city of Neapolis which today is called Naples.

Julius allowed Paul to spend some time with Christian brethren here in this city.

From here their journey to Rome would be over land.

(See Map)

*****Act 28:15  And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
Act 28:16  And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.

It seems that as Paul traveled toward Rome a delegation from the Christian church "in Rome not of Rome" traveled to meet Paul, which they did at a place called "three taverns".

There were also others that met Paul at Appii Forum.

Appii Forum was a "market place".

The "three taverns" was a place to get refreshment.

These were road junctions on the road to Rome.

These brothers and sisters in Christ gave Paul encouragement as he neared the end of his journey.

It seems that Paul was placed under house arrest and that Luke could no longer stay with Paul but was at least allowed to visit him, as were many others.

We can read of some of these things in the Book of Philemon and the Book of Colossians which were written while Paul was in Rome.

We know that Nero was the Emperor at this time but he had not yet shown his true character.

And we know that Paul was treated with courtesy and allowed many privileges.

*****Act 28:17  And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Act 28:18  Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.
Act 28:19  But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.
Act 28:20  For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

Soon after his arrival Paul assembles the local Jewish leaders to explain who he was and why he is in Rome appealing to Caesar.

Paul wanted to emphasize to his Jewish brethren that he was not guilty of any roles against his people or of their customs customs.

He told them that he had been apprehended in Jerusalem by the Jews and then came under the custody of the Romans and this had continued until that day.

The Romans had determined that there was no reason for his execution but the Jews were determined that he should not be released and therefore he had appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen.

He informed them that he had no intention of accusing his Jewish brethren and had no charges to bring against his own people.

Some things we should realize is, that every Roman citizen deserved and often demanded a Roman trial.

An appeal to Caesar most often guaranteed the trial to be in Rome.

In Paul’s mind making his defense in the highest court in the known world at that time, could possibly result in Christianity being recognized in the Roman Empire as an acceptable religion and different from Judaism.

And it was the Living God that had put these things in place for this to happen.

*****Act 28:21  And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
Act 28:22  But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

Any news of these things that had happened in Jerusalem had not made it to Rome. They had not received any communication of these things from Jerusalem and were therefore "neutral" in their feelings toward Paul, after all Paul was also a Jew.

Those words "we desire" means that they thought it was appropriate to hear of the Christian movement.

So they made arrangements to hear Paul preach.

And Paul was always ready to Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

*****Act 28:23  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Act 28:24  And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

Paul always seemed to find some way to reach out to the Jews with the gospel of Jesus!

Since he could not go to the synagogues in Rome he got the Jewish leaders to come to him.

The epistle to the Romans had already reached the brethren in Rome and in it Paul had written these words:

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

So again, Paul preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by using the laws of Moses and the words of the prophets, all from the Old Testament.

Paul began with the Book of Genesis and continued through all the Scriptures proving that Jesus had fulfilled the promises to the fathers!

And we can see that they remained attentive from morning till evening.

And as always, when Jesus Christ is presented all His fullness, some will believe but most will not!

*****Act 28:25  And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
Act 28:26  Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Act 28:27  For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

To these unbelieving Jews, Paul uses a quote that had been used by Jesus Christ and by the Apostle John.

Isa 6:9  And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Isa 6:10  Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Paul applied the prophecy of Isaiah to the Jews rejection of Jesus as their Messiah!

Those words "well spake the Holy Ghost" in Isaiah, meant that these were the words of God Himself.

And this also meant that Paul had been obedient to the will of God!

They did not understand because they rejected God’s Word!

To reject the truth does not change the truth into a lie!

The truth is always the truth!

In Paul’s day the refusal of the Jews to receive the message of Jesus, would ultimately result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that the hands of the Roman army in 70 A.D.

Then Paul gave this warning to those Jews which stands even until today and will stand until the Rapture of the Church!

*****Act 28:28  Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

Paul announced that the offer of salvation would go to the Gentiles since it the Jews had rejected it.

Paul had again and again went to the Jews first, only to find that again and again it was only the Gentiles that responded to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must remember these words of the apostle John:

Joh 1:11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Joh 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Joh 1:13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Gentiles, in practically in every nation have received the Gospel gladly and in great numbers.

Though the Christians of the first century were largely Jews, this has since changed and it has been the Gentile churches and the Gentile missionaries who have been spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We know that after the Rapture the church, it will again be those 144,000 Jews, of the Book of Revelation, who will be the missionaries of the Gospel to this lost world.

*****Act 28:29  And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
Act 28:30  And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Act 28:31  Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

According to Roman law, it was necessary to wait about two years for the prosecution to come forward in their case. There is no indication that the Jews ever did this and certainly not within the two-year period as Luke would certainly have mentioned it if they had.

Many Bible scholars believe that Paul was released at this point and was able to continue his missionary activities for a few more years.

And that it was a few years later that Paul was arrested and executed by Nero following the burning of Rome, which he blamed on the Christians and history has shown that it was probably he who started that fire.

It is also believed that during this time that Paul wrote the epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, Philemon, and to the Philippians.

It is also believed that after Paul was released from Rome and before he was finally executed that he wrote the epistles to first and second Timothy and to Titus.

To every Christian we have a tremendous example in the life of the Apostle Paul.

In the Book of Acts, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has shown us how a small group of disciples dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ began the early church by spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It began with this command:

Mat 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Which is the same command we have today!

And we should all have this same attitude of the Apostle Paul:

Eph 3:8  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Eph 3:9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 3:11  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Protection In The Storm

Protection In The Storm

Book of Acts Chapter 27

When we left off last week the Apostle Paul had appeared before King Agrippa in order for Festus the Roman Procurator to have some information to write to Caesar.

Agrippa came to only one conclusion which he informed Festus:

Act 26:31  And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, [This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds].
Act 26:32  Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

Festus then had what he needed to write to Caesar: Paul was not set free because "he had requested for Caesar to judge him".

It is shortly after this, that it was decided that Paul would be sent to Rome. Paul was sent to Rome, not for anything that he had done but only because the Jews had said he had done things against the Jewish religion and they wanted him to be killed and would do so if they had the opportunity.

God had already decided Paul would preach in Rome so we will see God’s plan unfold.

It would be good to consider that there was great difficulty in travel in Bible times. Travel was not only difficult but it was dangerous. There were many occasions when people started on a journey and were never heard from again. If they traveled by land, they were in danger from outlaws and thieves. If they traveled by sea, they were at the mercy of the weather, in boats that were ill-equipped to handle bad weather.

When this journey begins a group of people has set sail from Israel to Rome. This journey would begin in Caesarea, in northern Israel, were Paul and some other prisoners were delivered into the care of a man named Julius.

So let’s see how Luke takes us through this journey:

*****Act 27:1  And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.
Act 27:2  And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

We should immediately notice again of the word "we".

Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, joined Paul for this trip to Rome and remained with him al least until Paul was delivered to the custody of the soldiers in Rome.

The journey to Rome will involve typical navigational practices and patterns of the first century. Another thing we should know is that due to dangerous weather conditions, no sailing occurred on the Mediterranean during the period from mid-November to early March.

Paul’s voyage was near the beginning of this dangerous sailing period.

The word "band" was in fact, the 10th part of a Legion of Roman soldiers. These "bands" were groups of normally 600 men which makes a Roman Legion about 6000 men.

Aristarchus, as well as Luke, traveled with Paul on this long voyage from Caesarea to Rome.

Aristarchus had been with Paul since his third missionary journey and was a Thessalonian.

As a Roman citizen, as well as a highly educated religious leader, it was appropriate in the eyes of the Centurion and the ship officers, that Paul have attendance and we know that Luke and Aristarchus were at least two of those that attended to Paul..

That ship of Adramyttium would be a ship based in Asia minor but Julius had no intention of selling to Rome in this ship, as it was only a coastal vessel.

*****Act 27:3  And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

Julius was a member of the Imperial guard and we can see that he was courteous to Paul and treated him very well. Unexpectedly Julius had a gracious attitude for people and for life and days on the battlefield can sometimes lead a man to be this way.

It should also be very obvious to us that there had been a local church established at Sidon at this time an God’s people had kept up with things that happened to Paul!

*****Act 27:4  And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
Act 27:5  And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
Act 27:6  And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

(See map)

We will begin to see, as Luke paints with words, a vivid picture of the troubles that came to pass on this trip to Rome.

The first problem arose after the ship left Sidon. It was a straight line distance of over 350 miles from Sidon to Myra.

We must remember these ships were coastal vessels and when sailing would keep visual contact with the coast. Normally Paul’s ship would have continued sailing northward along the coast and then turned westward along the coast of what is now Asia minor.

However the winds did not allow this so the captain of Paul ship turned northwest from Sidon and pilot his vessel for the island of Cyprus and then sailing the east side of Cyprus, using the island to protect the ship from some of those contrary winds.

He then followed the coast until he got to Myra. It was approaching the season when sailing ceased on the Mediterranean so the winds were generally from the West this time of year.

At Myra, Julius transferred Paul and the other prisoners to a ship from the north African city of Alexandria, which is in Egypt.

In the stays of Paul, Rome survived because of the grain of Egypt. These ships were much larger and much sturdier vessels and generally safer in the open seas.

*****Act 27:7  And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;
Act 27:8  And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
Act 27:9  Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
Act 27:10  And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.
Act 27:11  Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

It was 150 miles from Myra to Cnidus and another 230 miles from Cnidus to the Fair Havens.

After some difficulty sailing, they arrived at the Fair Havens on the southern side of the Isle of Crete. By this time it was late autumn. The dangerous season for sailing was from September to November. After this date all navigation on the open sea was normally discontinued.

Paul was probably just as qualified to judge sea travel at this time as they were. Paul had been through three ship wrecks already.

2Co 11:25  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, [thrice I suffered shipwreck], "a night and a day I have been in the deep";

We know that Paul wrote the book of Corinthians before he was captured in Jerusalem and jailed.

Those words "the fast", which is the "Day of Atonement", placed these events in early October.

In spite of this knowledge and over the protest of Paul the boat officials set sail for Phoenix planning to winter there.

*****Act 27:12  And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
Act 27:13  And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
Act 27:14  But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

Soon, however, they are caught up in the grasp of a vicious winter typhoon.

And from this point, Luke will give to us a vivid account of this storm that was actually recorded in history.

*****Act 27:15  And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
Act 27:16  And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
Act 27:17  Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
Act 27:18  And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
Act 27:19  And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

First: This ship is blown far out to sea completely out of control.

Second: These terrified sailors band the ship with ropes to help strengthen the  hull.

Third: As the seas grow higher they throw all the cargo overboard.

Fourth: They also discard all the tackle and the loose objects that cannot be tied down.

And Fifth: After 14 frightful and desperate days Luke describes a time of "no hope for survival".

Those "quicksands" were off the African coast, west of Cyrene, which gives an idea that this ship had no idea of which direction it was heading.

(Again see the map)

*****Act 27:20  And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

There was no let up in the storm.

Day after day, and night after night, the winds and the waves raged and relentlessly battered the ship and its crew and its passengers.

We can be sure that the rain had not ceased and these were terrible and most miserable days.

The heavy clouds obscured all view of the sun by day and of the stars by night and the constant exposure to all these things caused all hope that they should be saved to be taken away.

But Jeremiah gave us these words:

Jer 17:7  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

Paul had not forgotten the things the Lord had told him. Paul knew he would give his testimony in Rome and he would have to survive this ordeal to do this.

Act 23:11  And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome".

*****Act 27:21  But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
Act 27:22  And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
Act 27:23  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Act 27:24  Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

That word "abstinence" means that these people had not eaten anything during the storm or at least very little. They had not had much opportunity and had little desire to eat and many of them had probably become seasick.

Paul made a quick reminder of the fact that he had advised them to remain in the Fair Havens, not because he had that I told you so attitude, but because he simply wanted them to listen to him now.

When you’re in that position of "no hope" it is comforting to have assurance that you will not lose your life!

We read in Chapter 23 where Paul had received direct assurance from God that he would bear witness that Rome.

And now this angel had assured him that all on board would also be saved from death.

It is often that we see that God will spare the ungodly because of godly men in their midst!

We must remember the words Abraham asked of the Lord:

Gen 18:23  And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

There have been many guilty cities and even nations that have been spared on account of God’s people and this is even more true in our day!

We also have proof of this in the New Testament and of the days we live in now:

2Th 2:6  And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2Th 2:7  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: "only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way".
2Th 2:8  And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

The Lord had given these words to Paul and He would not now do something differently!

*****Act 27:25  Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

It is important for us to "believe God" and not to just "believe in God".

The Bible teaches us:

Jas 2:19  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

To "believe" God, is to accept God’s Word as the truth!

And we all should have this verse memorized:

2Ti 3:16  "All scripture" is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

We need nothing more than God’s "complete" Word to make our own life "complete"!

*****Act 27:26  Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

Only God could have had this information. God had assured Paul that he and all the others on the ship would be spared from death. However, there were still going to experience some difficulties, nonetheless, as they were going to be cast upon a certain island.

God will use every opportunity to reach out to the lost of this world!

*****Act 27:27  But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;
Act 27:28  And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
Act 27:29  Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

For two weeks this ship and these that were on it had been caught up in this massive storm.

The Adria, refers to the part of the Mediterranean Sea that lies between Italy and Greece and today is called the Adriatic Sea.

It is possible that these sailors heard the noise of waves breaking against a seashore and they believed that they could be very close to land.

That term "sounded" means that they were casting something like a javelin that was attached to a cord into the water that would give them some sense of the depth of the ocean.

A "fathom" was the standard measurement of the distance between the middle fingertips of the hands of an adult man with outstretched arms and is about 6 feet.

20 fathoms would be 120 feet of depth.

15 fathoms would be 90 feet of depth.

This is pretty shallow water in the midst of the ocean but because of the darkness they could not be sure of anything so they were "longing for daybreak" to come so they might possibly see land.

They did not want to run the risk of having the ship torn apart over rocks or grounded on some reef so they cast out four anchors from "the stern" or the rear of the ship.

And nothing else could be done until daybreak!

*****Act 27:30  And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
Act 27:31  Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
Act 27:32  Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

The crew of the ship then decided that they would take their chances and tried to lower boats so they could escape and abandon the ship.

This points out just how grave this situation really was, when a sailor thinks its safer in a small boat, than in the much bigger ship.

Paul knew that if the sailors left the ship it could mean certain doom to all the rest, so the Roman commander commandeered the ship placing it under his direct control.

Accepting Paul’s word, Julius the Roman commander, cut the ropes to the smaller boats allowing them to drop into the ocean.

Paul had been in similar situations before as he had written to the Corinthians.

2Co 11:25  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

If all the sailors left, no one on board knew how to sail the ship!

*****Act 27:33  And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.
Act 27:34  Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.
Act 27:35  And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
Act 27:36  Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

Paul encouraged this crew and these passengers to eat some food. They had eaten very little in 14 days. They had continued to fast because they had lost all hope. They did not trust the ship’s captain and certainly not Julius, the Roman commander who had stop them from escaping.

BUT, Paul assured them they would need their strength in the coming days and "Not One Hair" would fall from any head.

Paul assured them that they were under the absolute protection of the "Living God"!

The Bible teaches us:

Mat 10:30  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

In other words, It is God who sets on the throne and He keeps a watchful eye on all His "Creation"!

So Paul began this meal by giving thanks that God had provided them with a meal and the time to have a meal.

Some of Paul’s last words to Timothy were these words:

1Ti 6:8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

You see even on our worst day God will still provide our needs!

And "no hope" became "good cheer"!

You see we should always remember that our testimony, even in trying times, can be an encouragement to others!

A Christian always has hope and that hope is in the Lord Jesus!

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

*****Act 27:37  And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
Act 27:38  And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

276 souls put their trust in the Lord. God had said not one of these men would be harmed so the Holy Spirit gives us an exact count of each and every head!

The decision to run the ship aground had already been made, so at this point everything that was not needed and that had weight was thrown overboard.

This would insure that the ship would get as close to the shore as it possibly could!

*****Act 27:39  And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.

It is good to make note that this small bay on the island of Malta where the ship finally went aground has been called St. Paul’s Bay ever since this time and it is located behind a small island where two seas meet as we will now read.

*****Act 27:40  And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.
Act 27:41  And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

That phrase "taken up" referring to the anchors, actually means either "cut away or loosed" as they would have never brought the weight of those anchors back into the ship.

The rudder had been secured by bands and these were no longer necessary. The wind was blowing toward the shore so the main sail was raised in order for the ship to get as close to the shore as possible.

The place where these two seas meet was a reef or a sandbar and when the front of the ship made contact it stuck fast and could not be moved.

The rear of the ship was being beaten by the waves and it began to break apart.

*****Act 27:42  And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
Act 27:43  But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
Act 27:44  And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

We must not forget it was death to any Roman soldier that allowed his prisoner to escape and none could escape if they were all dead.

But, this was not allowed by Julius.

So they all went overboard into the sea and swam, or floated, all making their way safely to shore.

We should not miss this opportunity to have the confidence that Our God can save us from any situation, of any kind, and at any time.

Some of these were Christians but most were not, yet but nothing can stop the Will of Our God from being accomplished.

And there is never a time for God’s people to give up or lose hope!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Paul’s Defense Before King Agrippa II

Paul’s Defense Before King Agrippa

Book of Acts chapter 26

In our last lesson we saw as Paul had defended himself against Felix and against Festus of the false things that had been accused of him by the Jews and the high priest.

Festus had discovered that he had no real reason to send Paul before Caesar.

Another opportunity came when Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice arrived in Caesarea to pay their respects to him.

This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa I. He had been appointed king of the region around the Sea of Galilee by the emperor Nero.

He was also known as Marcus Julius Agrippa and was only 17 when his father died and he was the last of the Herod Dynasty.

Let’s begin I looking back to some verses that we did not cover from last week:

*****Act 25:24  And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
Act 25:25  But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
Act 25:26  Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
Act 25:27  For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Festus the governor was at a complete loss as to what to report to the Emperor. He actually had no reason to continue to hold Paul and neither would King Agrippa.

The Jews still demanded Paul’s life but he was required by Roman law in his report to Caesar to specify the crimes which to prisoner was accused and this he could not do.

King Agrippa was part Jew and knew much more about the Jews religion than Festus did and according to tradition he had made considerable study of his own of that religion.

So even though Festus, as the Roman official in charge of this occasion, deferred to Agrippa after Paul had been brought before them.

*****Act 26:1  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

Without asking Paul any questions he allowed Paul to explain what he had been doing and why he had been arrested.

*****Act 26:2  I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
Act 26:3  Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

Paul immediately acknowledged Agrippa’s title as King and said he was glad to answer all charges the Jews had brought against him.

Remember Paul had been accused of violating Jewish law.

Paul had been accused of desecrating the Temple.

And Paul had been accused of actually breaking Roman laws.

None of these things were true nor was there any evidence to prove such things.

We should not forget that the Herodians were Edomites, which were the descendents of Esau.

There is a great prophecy that was given to Esau by his father Isaac and I believe it was fulfilled by these Herod’s:

Gen 27:40  And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; [and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck].

So let’s hear Paul’s response:

*****Act 26:4  My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
Act 26:5  Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Act 26:6  And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
Act 26:7  Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

Many of Paul’s accusers were familiar with Paul’s early life. The phrase "manner of life" means not only how Paul lived but the real reasons for his actions.

The Greek word for "youth" not only means "young" but it also means "lack of experience".

Paul as a young adult, was being trained by Gamaliel to become a Pharisee and Paul knew that these Jewish leaders knew about all these things.

Paul had become a strict Pharisee and he observed all the Mosaic dietary laws and certainly all commandments as written by Moses.

But not only that, Paul had observed those things that had been added by the traditions of the Pharisees themselves.

That phrase "the most straightest sect" means that the Pharisees were uncompromising on their standards.

Then Paul mentioned the main issue from which he was being judged.

"His hope in God’s promise" was the hope of the "resurrection" of the Messiah!

That term "Messiah" is a Jewish title for Israel’s future King who would bring salvation at the end of the age or what we know as the "Millennial Kingdom".

This is the promise that all the prophets had presented to the fathers of Israel!

The Book of Galatians gives us a clear picture of how Paul understood the Old Testament Scriptures.

Gal 3:16  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Gal 3:17  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Gal 3:18  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Paul insisted that it was the"promise of this Messiah" that held together the scattered tribes of Israel as a nation.

And Paul insisted that he was accused, because he believed in this hope and in his belief that this hope was fulfilled in Jesus.

And that Jesus had demonstrated this truth by His own resurrection!

Paul also makes us recognize "that representatives from all 12 tribes were still in Judea" and were still adhering to their ancient religion.

"This gives us proof that there is no suggestion in the New Testament that there are 10 lost tribes somewhere else in the world"!

It is a fact that Israelites were scattered all over the world but there are no lost tribes of Israel!

*****Act 26:8  Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

The Sadducees did not believe in any "resurrection" but Paul still asked this simple question of King Agrippa.

All the Jews believed in a sovereign God so this would only be incredible if anyone but God or those that God empowered should claim to raise the dead for God only is the Creator of life!

Most every Jew of that time had no problem in believing "in creation" as written in the Book of Genesis.

To Paul it was a sad thing that the Jews, whose hope was in the coming of the Messiah and the promised resurrection, should now denied Jesus who had proved he was the true Messiah.

Most all, but the Sadducees, believed in the "doctrine of the resurrection" and many Pharisees including Paul had converted to Christianity yet the Jewish nation still rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

But we now know that they are blind to this fact.

Rom 11:7  What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Rom 11:8  (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

*****Act 26:9  I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Act 26:10  Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
Act 26:11  And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

Paul was not only a Pharisee but he had also been a zealous persecutor of the church. He had punished the believers and tried to force them to deny Jesus Christ and some of them he had even helped to send to their death.

But, Paul took full responsibility for his actions and Paul had voted in favor of the death penalty for all Christians.

Paul had been relentless in his persecution of the believers on Jesus Christ.

Paul had gone from synagogue to synagogue arresting or otherwise harassing those who embraced Jesus and His ways.

Paul said he was "exceedingly mad" and was "enraged" and it became Paul’s intention to eradicate Christianity not only from Jerusalem and not only from Israel but from all the world.

Sadly there are many today that have the same purpose because this is the purpose of Satan and all his followers!

*****Act 26:12  Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
Act 26:13  At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Act 26:14  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Paul had been one of the reasons early Christians had left Jerusalem. His zeal had driven out many of the believers and they had taken their message to the Jews in other communities.

Paul gives us a vivid description of what he saw. The light that Paul saw was a supernatural light.

What Paul saw was a Shekinah glory of God!

Listen to the words of Isaiah:

Isa 60:1  Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
Isa 60:2  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Even at the brightness of noontime, the earth is a dark place when compared to the glory of God!

This actually blinded Paul for three days but the important thing was that Paul’s "spiritual eyes" had been opened, for he was beholding the living Christ.

Paul had written these words to the Corinthians:

2Co 4:3  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2Co 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2Co 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
2Co 4:6  For God, [who commanded the light to shine out of darkness] , hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Paul had not only seen the Shekinah glory of God but he had also heard His voice!

Those that were with Paul had heard a sound but they had not understood the voice of God and they all fell to the earth but only Paul remained there.

To explain that phrase " kicking against a prick"  we should understand that when an ox was too stubborn for the farmer, the farmer used a long, sharp, pointed stick.  this was called an "ox goad". This encourage the animal to be obedient.   If the animal kicked against the goad it would cause more severe wounds.

Jesus was using His heavenly "ox goad" to push Paul to conversion and the more that Paul resisted the more severe his wounds would be.

We know that Holy Ghost conviction can be very painful and in some cases will leave scars.

*****Act 26:15  And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
Act 26:16  But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Act 26:17  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Act 26:18  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

The very best thing we can do when we are under Holy Ghost conviction is to realize that it is Jesus calling us to repent. 

We cannot understand the "Grace of God" until we realize God loves every sinner.

Paul was an enemy but God does speak to His enemies.

It is very clear in this passage that God had been dealing with Paul for some period of time "But" it is also very clear that Paul had been resisting all that time!

It should also be very clear in this passage that Judaism was not enough for salvation!

And it is just as clear that no religion of the Gentiles had any means of salvation!

And these things have not changed!

There is no means for evolution to bring anyone to the saving power of God!

All false religions are in fact under the power of Satan who leads all false religions!

It is the "god of this world" who have blinded the minds that believe not and the apostle Paul had been chosen by the Lord Jesus to open their eyes to the truth.

The Lord Jesus Christ died to deliver us all from the power of darkness and into the light of the glorious gospel!

The Bible teaches us:

Col 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

*****Act 26:19  Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Act 26:20  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Act 26:21  For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

Paul explained that he could not be disobedient to such a heavenly vision!

When Paul asked the Lord what he would have him do, he meant it sincerely and he obeyed immediately!

The changes Paul experienced involved such a radical change of his life that no one could understand at this time.

During Paul’s time in Damascus he preached mostly to the Jews that Jesus Christ was the true Son of God.

Later he went to Jerusalem where he continued to witness for Jesus and still later Paul preached to the Jews through out Judea.

Paul preached to the Gentiles primarily on his three missionary journeys after his meeting with Peter.

And Paul explained to Agrippa "that it was for these reasons" that the Jews caught him in the Temple and wanted to kill him.

*****Act 26:22  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Act 26:23  That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Paul had had a great beginning with visions and voices.

Paul was sure in his mind and his heart that it was the Lord that had saved him throughout his ministry from those that would cause him harm.

For us the fact that Paul continued is proof of his conversion and evidence of the faithfulness of God!

Paul will say "by God’s grace" and God had enabled him to serve "by His perfect grace".

The book of Psalms teaches us:

Psa 34:19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

And Paul himself knew this to be true:

1Co 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Jesus Christ was the very first one to resurrect from the dead!

There had been some before him that had been raised from the dead, but only to a physical body!

Jesus was raised in a glorified body!

The church will be raised in glorified bodies!

The book of Romans teaches us this fact:

Rom 8:34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Our Lord Jesus currently sits at the right hand of God in Heaven!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus suffered for our sins!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus sits at the right hand of God in control of this world we live in!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus will leave this position and descend back earth!

It is a fact that the dead in Christ will be resurrected from the dead and will join the Christians who are living at that time and will meet The Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds!

"This is the Rapture the church".

And it is a fact that after this time, Christ Jesus will return to the earth this will be the second coming of Christ!

We must be ready for the return of the Son of God!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about facts!

*****Act 26:24  And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Act 26:25  But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Is at this point that Festus interrupted Paul. Festus was a Roman and knew nothing of the Jewish Scriptures and probably cared even less, so all these words presented to Agrippa meant nothing to him.

He suggested that Paul must have gone mad through so much study of the Jewish fables.

But Paul was not speaking to Festus, he was speaking to Agrippa, and he knew that Agrippa understood his words.

Agrippa would also understand why the Jews were so incensed at the thought that Paul was leading the Gentiles to the Lord.

These Jews were more afraid that the Christian Gentiles would soon be known as God’s chosen people and they would lose all privileges with Rome!

Paul declared that his words were true and that word "soberness" means being of a sound mind!

None of these things had been kept secret in Jerusalem.

The death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ was common knowledge!

Paul had written to the Corinthians that there were more than 500 eye witnesses, of the resurrected Christ including himself.

There was no attempt to hide the resurrection of Jesus by the early Christians!

In fact it was and is the theme of every gospel message!

And it should be so today!

*****Act 26:27  King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Act 26:28  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

By asking Agrippa if he believed the prophets, Paul wanted him to acknowledge that he believed what the Old Testament Scriptures taught about the Messiah.

But before he could respond to this question, Paul answered for him, declaring "I know that thou believest the prophets".

Agrippa may not of totally understood about all these matters but he was certainly aware of them as King of Judea and he responded.

Many have laughed at this response from Agrippa. Many have said he was being sarcastic to Paul.

BUT,  by his use of the word Christian this cannot be true!

The term Christian was at that time only a term of reproach and Agrippa would not have considered it a title he would endure. 

There will always be those that are "almost persuaded" but praise the Lord there will always be those that are "fully persuaded"!

And Paul said:

*****Act 26:29  And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

There may have actually been some that day that heard the words of Paul and were persuaded but all those we will meet Heaven and they can tell us of this day.

The apostle Paul had turned this trial into an example of effective witnessing.

He had done this with his own personal testimony and the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Agrippa had resisted the divine will of God as many others do that reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

BUT, We know that being almost saved is still being 100% lost!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Paul’s Defense Before King Agrippa II

Paul’s Defense Before King Agrippa

Book of Acts chapter 26

In our last lesson we saw as Paul had defended himself against Felix and against Festus of the false things that had been accused of him by the Jews and the high priest.

Festus had discovered that he had no real reason to send Paul before Caesar.

Another opportunity came when Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice arrived in Caesarea to pay their respects to him.

This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa I. He had been appointed king of the region around the Sea of Galilee by the emperor Nero.

He was also known as Marcus Julius Agrippa and was only 17 when his father died and he was the last of the Herod Dynasty.

Let’s begin I looking back to some verses that we did not cover from last week:

*****Act 25:24  And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
Act 25:25  But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
Act 25:26  Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
Act 25:27  For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Festus the governor was at a complete loss as to what to report to the Emperor. He actually had no reason to continue to hold Paul and neither would King Agrippa.

The Jews still demanded Paul’s life but he was required by Roman law in his report to Caesar to specify the crimes which to prisoner was accused and this he could not do.

King Agrippa was part Jew and knew much more about the Jews religion than Festus did and according to tradition he had made considerable study of his own of that religion.

So even though Festus, as the Roman official in charge of this occasion, deferred to Agrippa after Paul had been brought before them.

*****Act 26:1  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

Without asking Paul any questions he allowed Paul to explain what he had been doing and why he had been arrested.

*****Act 26:2  I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
Act 26:3  Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

Paul immediately acknowledged Agrippa’s title as King and said he was glad to answer all charges the Jews had brought against him.

Remember Paul had been accused of violating Jewish law.

Paul had been accused of desecrating the Temple.

And Paul had been accused of actually breaking Roman laws.

None of these things were true nor was there any evidence to prove such things.

We should not forget that the Herodians were Edomites, which were the descendents of Esau.

There is a great prophecy that was given to Esau by his father Isaac and I believe it was fulfilled by these Herod’s:

Gen 27:40  And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; [and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck].

So let’s hear Paul’s response:

*****Act 26:4  My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
Act 26:5  Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Act 26:6  And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
Act 26:7  Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

Many of Paul’s accusers were familiar with Paul’s early life. The phrase "manner of life" means not only how Paul lived but the real reasons for his actions.

The Greek word for "youth" not only means "young" but it also means "lack of experience".

Paul as a young adult, was being trained by Gamaliel to become a Pharisee and Paul knew that these Jewish leaders knew about all these things.

Paul had become a strict Pharisee and he observed all the Mosaic dietary laws and certainly all commandments as written by Moses.

But not only that, Paul had observed those things that had been added by the traditions of the Pharisees themselves.

That phrase "the most straightest sect" means that the Pharisees were uncompromising on their standards.

Then Paul mentioned the main issue from which he was being judged.

"His hope in God’s promise" was the hope of the "resurrection" of the Messiah!

That term "Messiah" is a Jewish title for Israel’s future King who would bring salvation at the end of the age or what we know as the "Millennial Kingdom".

This is the promise that all the prophets had presented to the fathers of Israel!

The Book of Galatians gives us a clear picture of how Paul understood the Old Testament Scriptures.

Gal 3:16  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Gal 3:17  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Gal 3:18  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Paul insisted that it was the"promise of this Messiah" that held together the scattered tribes of Israel as a nation.

And Paul insisted that he was accused, because he believed in this hope and in his belief that this hope was fulfilled in Jesus.

And that Jesus had demonstrated this truth by His own resurrection!

Paul also makes us recognize "that representatives from all 12 tribes were still in Judea" and were still adhering to their ancient religion.

"This gives us proof that there is no suggestion in the New Testament that there are 10 lost tribes somewhere else in the world"!

It is a fact that Israelites were scattered all over the world but there are no lost tribes of Israel!

*****Act 26:8  Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

The Sadducees did not believe in any "resurrection" but Paul still asked this simple question of King Agrippa.

All the Jews believed in a sovereign God so this would only be incredible if anyone but God or those that God empowered should claim to raise the dead for God only is the Creator of life!

Most every Jew of that time had no problem in believing "in creation" as written in the Book of Genesis.

To Paul it was a sad thing that the Jews, whose hope was in the coming of the Messiah and the promised resurrection, should now denied Jesus who had proved he was the true Messiah.

Most all, but the Sadducees, believed in the "doctrine of the resurrection" and many Pharisees including Paul had converted to Christianity yet the Jewish nation still rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

But we now know that they are blind to this fact.

Rom 11:7  What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Rom 11:8  (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

*****Act 26:9  I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Act 26:10  Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
Act 26:11  And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

Paul was not only a Pharisee but he had also been a zealous persecutor of the church. He had punished the believers and tried to force them to deny Jesus Christ and some of them he had even helped to send to their death.

But, Paul took full responsibility for his actions and Paul had voted in favor of the death penalty for all Christians.

Paul had been relentless in his persecution of the believers on Jesus Christ.

Paul had gone from synagogue to synagogue arresting or otherwise harassing those who embraced Jesus and His ways.

Paul said he was "exceedingly mad" and was "enraged" and it became Paul’s intention to eradicate Christianity not only from Jerusalem and not only from Israel but from all the world.

Sadly there are many today that have the same purpose because this is the purpose of Satan and all his followers!

*****Act 26:12  Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
Act 26:13  At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Act 26:14  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Paul had been one of the reasons early Christians had left Jerusalem. His zeal had driven out many of the believers and they had taken their message to the Jews in other communities.

Paul gives us a vivid description of what he saw. The light that Paul saw was a supernatural light.

What Paul saw was a Shekinah glory of God!

Listen to the words of Isaiah:

Isa 60:1  Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
Isa 60:2  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Even at the brightness of noontime, the earth is a dark place when compared to the glory of God!

This actually blinded Paul for three days but the important thing was that Paul’s "spiritual eyes" had been opened, for he was beholding the living Christ.

Paul had written these words to the Corinthians:

2Co 4:3  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2Co 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2Co 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
2Co 4:6  For God, [who commanded the light to shine out of darkness] , hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Paul had not only seen the Shekinah glory of God but he had also heard His voice!

Those that were with Paul had heard a sound but they had not understood the voice of God and they all fell to the earth but only Paul remained there.

To explain that phrase " kicking against a prick"  we should understand that when an ox was too stubborn for the farmer, the farmer used a long, sharp, pointed stick.  this was called an "ox goad". This encourage the animal to be obedient.   If the animal kicked against the goad it would cause more severe wounds.

Jesus was using His heavenly "ox goad" to push Paul to conversion and the more that Paul resisted the more severe his wounds would be.

We know that Holy Ghost conviction can be very painful and in some cases will leave scars.

*****Act 26:15  And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
Act 26:16  But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Act 26:17  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Act 26:18  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

The very best thing we can do when we are under Holy Ghost conviction is to realize that it is Jesus calling us to repent. 

We cannot understand the "Grace of God" until we realize God loves every sinner.

Paul was an enemy but God does speak to His enemies.

It is very clear in this passage that God had been dealing with Paul for some period of time "But" it is also very clear that Paul had been resisting all that time!

It should also be very clear in this passage that Judaism was not enough for salvation!

And it is just as clear that no religion of the Gentiles had any means of salvation!

And these things have not changed!

There is no means for evolution to bring anyone to the saving power of God!

All false religions are in fact under the power of Satan who leads all false religions!

It is the "god of this world" who have blinded the minds that believe not and the apostle Paul had been chosen by the Lord Jesus to open their eyes to the truth.

The Lord Jesus Christ died to deliver us all from the power of darkness and into the light of the glorious gospel!

The Bible teaches us:

Col 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

*****Act 26:19  Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Act 26:20  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Act 26:21  For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

Paul explained that he could not be disobedient to such a heavenly vision!

When Paul asked the Lord what he would have him do, he meant it sincerely and he obeyed immediately!

The changes Paul experienced involved such a radical change of his life that no one could understand at this time.

During Paul’s time in Damascus he preached mostly to the Jews that Jesus Christ was the true Son of God.

Later he went to Jerusalem where he continued to witness for Jesus and still later Paul preached to the Jews through out Judea.

Paul preached to the Gentiles primarily on his three missionary journeys after his meeting with Peter.

And Paul explained to Agrippa "that it was for these reasons" that the Jews caught him in the Temple and wanted to kill him.

*****Act 26:22  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Act 26:23  That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Paul had had a great beginning with visions and voices.

Paul was sure in his mind and his heart that it was the Lord that had saved him throughout his ministry from those that would cause him harm.

For us the fact that Paul continued is proof of his conversion and evidence of the faithfulness of God!

Paul will say "by God’s grace" and God had enabled him to serve "by His perfect grace".

The book of Psalms teaches us:

Psa 34:19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

And Paul himself knew this to be true:

1Co 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Jesus Christ was the very first one to resurrect from the dead!

There had been some before him that had been raised from the dead, but only to a physical body!

Jesus was raised in a glorified body!

The church will be raised in glorified bodies!

The book of Romans teaches us this fact:

Rom 8:34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Our Lord Jesus currently sits at the right hand of God in Heaven!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus suffered for our sins!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus sits at the right hand of God in control of this world we live in!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus will leave this position and descend back earth!

It is a fact that the dead in Christ will be resurrected from the dead and will join the Christians who are living at that time and will meet The Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds!

"This is the Rapture the church".

And it is a fact that after this time, Christ Jesus will return to the earth this will be the second coming of Christ!

We must be ready for the return of the Son of God!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about facts!

*****Act 26:24  And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Act 26:25  But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Is at this point that Festus interrupted Paul. Festus was a Roman and knew nothing of the Jewish Scriptures and probably cared even less, so all these words presented to Agrippa meant nothing to him.

He suggested that Paul must have gone mad through so much study of the Jewish fables.

But Paul was not speaking to Festus, he was speaking to Agrippa, and he knew that Agrippa understood his words.

Agrippa would also understand why the Jews were so incensed at the thought that Paul was leading the Gentiles to the Lord.

These Jews were more afraid that the Christian Gentiles would soon be known as God’s chosen people and they would lose all privileges with Rome!

Paul declared that his words were true and that word "soberness" means being of a sound mind!

None of these things had been kept secret in Jerusalem.

The death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ was common knowledge!

Paul had written to the Corinthians that there were more than 500 eye witnesses, of the resurrected Christ including himself.

There was no attempt to hide the resurrection of Jesus by the early Christians!

In fact it was and is the theme of every gospel message!

And it should be so today!

*****Act 26:27  King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Act 26:28  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

By asking Agrippa if he believed the prophets, Paul wanted him to acknowledge that he believed what the Old Testament Scriptures taught about the Messiah.

But before he could respond to this question, Paul answered for him, declaring "I know that thou believest the prophets".

Agrippa may not of totally understood about all these matters but he was certainly aware of them as King of Judea and he responded.

Many have laughed at this response from Agrippa. Many have said he was being sarcastic to Paul.

BUT,  by his use of the word Christian this cannot be true!

The term Christian was at that time only a term of reproach and Agrippa would not have considered it a title he would endure. 

There will always be those that are "almost persuaded" but praise the Lord there will always be those that are "fully persuaded"!

And Paul said:

*****Act 26:29  And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

There may have actually been some that day that heard the words of Paul and were persuaded but all those we will meet Heaven and they can tell us of this day.

The apostle Paul had turned this trial into an example of effective witnessing.

He had done this with his own personal testimony and the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Agrippa had resisted the divine will of God as many others do that reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

BUT, We know that being almost saved is still being 100% lost!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

The Apostle Paul’s Defense Before Felix And Festus

Paul’s Defense Before Felix And Festus

Book of Acts Chapters 24; 25

When we left Paul last week he was about to present his case to Felix, the governor of Judaea and Samaria but before this could take place Felix would hear from the High Priest and the Jewish charges against Paul.

The main characters of this lesson would be the Apostle Paul, Felix and Festus.

Felix was the Roman procurator of Judaea in 53 A.D. He had been appointed by the Emperor Claudius.

Felix held the position that was once held by Pontus Pilate. Felix was a mean and cruel man and his period of office was full of troubles and sedition.

Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as governor Judea and this probably took place in 60 A.D.

Paul had a been a prisoner of Felix for about two years by this time.

Before Paul was able to present his case to Felix, the Jews had brought themselves a lawyer named Tertullus to present their case against Paul.

An "orator" would be a skillful and an eloquent speaker. So even though this man was a lawyer, he was probably not a scribe but he would be fluent in Latin, the language of Rome. We can be sure that Tertullus was brought in in order to flatter and to sway Felix.

We can also be sure that Paul was also fluent in this language of Latin but these Jews may not have been aware of this.

Tertullus accused Paul of being "pestilent", which means that Paul was like some kind of disease that spread bad health to the public.

He also accused Paul of "sedition", which means Paul was causing a great commotion in Jerusalem. Not quite an "insurrection" and not quite a "rebellion" but would certainly soon lead to these things.

In other words, these Jews considered Christianity to be nothing "but some cult" and not a true religion with Paul being the ringleader!

He also accused Paul of profaning the Temple, which means he continued with the accusation that Paul had taken a Gentile into the Holy Place, which was also a lie.

And he went on to say that if the Roman commander had not stopped the Jews they would have settled these things by Jewish law.

Stoning was the preferred method of the Jews but in Paul’s case they would have physically beaten him to death!

We will also meet some other people during this trial of Paul.

We have already talked about Felix and Festus the governors of Judea. In addition there was the high priest Ananias, and we have mentioned Tertullus.

But we will also meet Drucilla, the wife of Felix, and also Agrippa, another Roman governor and his sister Bernice.

Now let’s hear what the Apostle Paul had to say.

*****Act 24:10  Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:

Tertullus Had finished his remarks and before making any judgment Felix beckoned with his hand for Paul to speak.

Paul did not flatter Felix as Tertullus had done, but he did acknowledge that the governor was a man of experience and therefore a man of knowledge.

Paul did emphasize that he was happy to "more cheerfully answer" for himself.

This shows that the Apostle Paul had the courage to defend Christianity before any government official and false religion though he considered Christianity to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament!

By this time Paul had already written much of the New Testament and it was in the hands of the Christian church.

The Bible teaches us:

Eph 6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, [to stand].

We cannot back down when it is time to take a stand. This has already caused much problems in America because we refuse to take a stand on the Word of God.

It is not the time to be passive Christians any more!

*****Act 24:11  Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
Act 24:12  And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
Act 24:13  Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.

These 12 days refer to the time that Paul was in Jerusalem. Paul wanted Felix to have a clear understanding of the time that he had been in Jerusalem.

1) On day one Paul had arrived in Jerusalem.

2) On day two Paul had met with the church elders and James.

3.) On day three Paul had gone to the Temple with those Nazarites.

4) Days 4 and 5 were spent in the Temple for purification.

5) On day six Paul was arrested.

6.) On day seven Paul had appeared before the Sanhedrin court.

7) On day eight Paul had been escorted to Caesarea and it had now been five days until this day with Felix.

Paul was explaining to Felix that he had gone to the Temple to worship and not to lead anyone in a disturbance.

The Temple records would show that Paul had registered to pay the cost for those  Jews who had taken a Nazirite vow. This had been the plan of James.

Paul had not preached in the Temple nor in any of the synagogues nor anywhere else in the city of Jerusalem!

Paul had made an agreement with Peter and the Jerusalem elders that he would not evangelize the Jews in Jerusalem and he would not go back on his word. (Gal 2:7-10)

In other words the high priest had no proof of the things that he accused Paul of!

These things that Paul had said were facts and could be easily proven!

So Paul next dealt with the charges of sedition and heresy.

*****Act 24:14  But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
Act 24:15  And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Act 24:16  And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

These Jews saw Christianity as heresy!

The outside world saw Christianity as a cult!

Paul explained that the fact that he was a Christian did not mean he worshiped a different God from the God of his fathers. It only meant he worshiped the God of his fathers in a new and living way.

For the only acceptable way to worship the Father is through Jesus Christ.

Joh 5:23  That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.[He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him].

Paul explained that his faith was still founded on the same scriptures that were honored by his accusers!

Paul had preached many a sermon on the coming "resurrection of the just".

Paul had rarely mentioned "the resurrection of the unjust", which was well documented in the prophecy of Daniel.

Dan 12:2  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, [and some to shame and everlasting contempt].

There is little doubt that these words did not set well with Felix and more certainly with the Sadducees who did not believe in any resurrection and would not have look forward to any such event if it were true!

And it is true!

Paul explained that he accepted the Scriptures as they were written and that he was careful to avoid the offense of God and of men as he accepted God’s Word is the truth.

Paul was simply saying that it was his goal to keep his conscience clear and not stumble morally.

*****Act 24:17  Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
Act 24:18  Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
Act 24:19  Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

Now Paul explains why he had come to Jerusalem. Paul had come to present to Jewish believers an offering which had been received from the churches in Galatia and Macedonia and Achaia and Asia.

Instead of going about causing strife and dissension among the Jews, he had been collecting funds for this offering!

Instead of being harmful to his people, he had been trying to help them!

Paul explained that his purpose for being in the Temple was to participate in a particular Temple ritual which was open to all Jews.

This ritual, was a purification ritual and it had been completed just prior to his being apprehended by these that were accusing him this day.

As a Jew, who was ritually pure, Paul had as much right to be in the Temple courtyard on that occasion as any other Jewish man in all of Israel.

And Paul did not have around him neither a multitude nor a group of followers who were causing any disturbance.

These were facts that could be easily proven!

Paul corrected the accusation presented by Tertullus, "that it was the Jewish leaders that had seen him", when it was those certain out of town Jews from Asia and probably from Ephesus.

So any evidence they had was based on "hearsay" at best and if his conduct in the Temple courtyard was wrong or objectionable to the Jews who had seen him, then they themselves should be present to give eyewitness testimony.

We can be sure that they had returned to Asia thinking they had accomplished the destruction of the Apostle Paul.

*****Act 24:21  Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

Paul knew that this whole thing was about Jesus and whether he was living or dead.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord was at the heart of this case against the Apostle Paul.

Peter had these words:

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope [by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,]

Paul wrote:

Rom 4:25  Who was delivered for our offences, and [was raised again for our justification].

John wrote that we can know this truth:

1Jn 2:21  I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
1Jn 2:22  Who is a liar but [he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ]? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

These words of Paul brought Holy Ghost conviction upon Felix.

*****Act 24:24  And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
Act 24:25  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Drusilla was the third wife of Felix and was very young. She was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I but she no doubt new of her father’s persecution of the Jerusalem church and may also have been more curious than Felix about the Christian faith.

Upon hearing the gospel Felix trembled.

Felix evidently came under terrified conviction.

His discomfort became so intense that he interrupted Paul saying "go thy way for this time when I have a convenient season I will call thee"

There is no indication that Felix ever found a convenient season that he could trust Christ as his Savior.

The Bible says:

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

*****Act 24:26  He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

In fact Felix reverted to his old self and assumed that Paul could if he wanted to purchase his freedom with a bribe, since he had possession of so much of God’s money.

Paul would never have given a bribe to Felix!

Now let’s see Paul present himself before Festus:

*****Act 25:1  Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Act 25:2  Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
Act 25:3  And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
Act 25:4  But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
Act 25:5  Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
Act 25:6  And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.

History tells us that’s Festus served as governor of the province only two years before he died but Festus appeared to have been a good ruler.

Luke was apparently near Paul during the two years that Paul was kept in Caesarea.

Tradition tells us that Luke wrote much of the Book of Acts during this period of time and probably also wrote the gospel of Luke.

Festus spent about two weeks in Jerusalem before going back down to Caesarea.

*****Act 25:7  And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

Once again Paul had to stand before a Roman authority for judgment while these same Jews would seek to have him convicted of a crime worthy of death.

While the Jews still laid many grievous complaints against Paul this verse also says that they were still unable to prove any of their charges.

It had been two years since their previous attempt to convict Paul and it is probable that they had conjured up additional accusations.

These Jews sole purpose was to murder Paul.

*****Act 25:8  While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

Paul’s response tells us about the charges that were made against him.

He was accused of breaking the laws of Moses.

He was accused of desecrating the Temple.

He was accused of violating Roman law.

The Greek word for "offended" is in most places in the Bible was translated "sinned".

Paul was not perfect by any means but he was not guilty of any crime against the Jews, nor the Romans and he was certainly not worthy of having the death sentence imposed upon him.

*****Act 25:9  But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

Earlier Festus had refused the Jews request for Paul to be sent to Jerusalem for trial.

However now he seemed agreeable to do so, but since Paul was a Roman citizen, he needed Paul’s consent.

Festus was trying to gain favor of the Jews by offering to conduct the trial in Jerusalem not knowing he would be jeopardizing the life of the Apostle Paul.

These Jews were so caught up in their hatred they had no problem in planning an ambush to assassinate Paul in his transit to Jerusalem if it took place.

*****Act 25:10  Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
Act 25:11  For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

The Jews had blundered when they accused Paul of sedition and rebellion against the Roman Empire!

There were no witness to prove any such charge but this charge made it a Roman issue rather than one merely of the Jews religion, so Paul is a Roman citizen had the right to appeal to a higher tribunal and he appealed to Caesar.

*****Act 25:12  Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

All Roman governors had a council appointed to aid them in dispensing justice and Festus conferred with his own counsel.

Again Paul was saved from death by his understanding of Roman law!

Festus may have wanted to gain favor with the Jews, but Roman law demanded that a Roman citizen be given a fair trial.

In all his court appearances we will see that Paul made an adequate and an able defense.

These trials clearly reveal that Paul was not guilty of anything at all. He had done nothing wrong and no provable charge had ever been brought against him.

He had not violated the Temple!

He had not in-sighted rebellion against Roman authority and both the accusers and the judge at these trials knew this to be the truth.

The only thing the that was correct, was that when Paul preached it was a threat to Judaism!

Next week we will see Paul’s defense before King Agrippa. It seems that Festus was at a complete loss as to what to report to the Emperor.

He could find no reason to continue to hold Paul yet the Jews demanded Paul’s life.

Questions?

Let’s pray!

The Apostle Paul’s Defense Before Felix And Festus

Paul’s Defense Before Felix And Festus

Book of Acts Chapters 24; 25

When we left Paul last week he was about to present his case to Felix, the governor of Judaea and Samaria but before this could take place Felix would hear from the High Priest and the Jewish charges against Paul.

The main characters of this lesson would be the Apostle Paul, Felix and Festus.

Felix was the Roman procurator of Judaea in 53 A.D. He had been appointed by the Emperor Claudius.

Felix held the position that was once held by Pontus Pilate. Felix was a mean and cruel man and his period of office was full of troubles and sedition.

Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as governor Judea and this probably took place in 60 A.D.

Paul had a been a prisoner of Felix for about two years by this time.

Before Paul was able to present his case to Felix, the Jews had brought themselves a lawyer named Tertullus to present their case against Paul.

An "orator" would be a skillful and an eloquent speaker. So even though this man was a lawyer, he was probably not a scribe but he would be fluent in Latin, the language of Rome. We can be sure that Tertullus was brought in in order to flatter and to sway Felix.

We can also be sure that Paul was also fluent in this language of Latin but these Jews may not have been aware of this.

Tertullus accused Paul of being "pestilent", which means that Paul was like some kind of disease that spread bad health to the public.

He also accused Paul of "sedition", which means Paul was causing a great commotion in Jerusalem. Not quite an "insurrection" and not quite a "rebellion" but would certainly soon lead to these things.

In other words, these Jews considered Christianity to be nothing "but some cult" and not a true religion with Paul being the ringleader!

He also accused Paul of profaning the Temple, which means he continued with the accusation that Paul had taken a Gentile into the Holy Place, which was also a lie.

And he went on to say that if the Roman commander had not stopped the Jews they would have settled these things by Jewish law.

Stoning was the preferred method of the Jews but in Paul’s case they would have physically beaten him to death!

We will also meet some other people during this trial of Paul.

We have already talked about Felix and Festus the governors of Judea. In addition there was the high priest Ananias, and we have mentioned Tertullus.

But we will also meet Drucilla, the wife of Felix, and also Agrippa, another Roman governor and his sister Bernice.

Now let’s hear what the Apostle Paul had to say.

*****Act 24:10  Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:

Tertullus Had finished his remarks and before making any judgment Felix beckoned with his hand for Paul to speak.

Paul did not flatter Felix as Tertullus had done, but he did acknowledge that the governor was a man of experience and therefore a man of knowledge.

Paul did emphasize that he was happy to "more cheerfully answer" for himself.

This shows that the Apostle Paul had the courage to defend Christianity before any government official and false religion though he considered Christianity to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament!

By this time Paul had already written much of the New Testament and it was in the hands of the Christian church.

The Bible teaches us:

Eph 6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, [to stand].

We cannot back down when it is time to take a stand. This has already caused much problems in America because we refuse to take a stand on the Word of God.

It is not the time to be passive Christians any more!

*****Act 24:11  Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
Act 24:12  And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
Act 24:13  Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.

These 12 days refer to the time that Paul was in Jerusalem. Paul wanted Felix to have a clear understanding of the time that he had been in Jerusalem.

1) On day one Paul had arrived in Jerusalem.

2) On day two Paul had met with the church elders and James.

3.) On day three Paul had gone to the Temple with those Nazarites.

4) Days 4 and 5 were spent in the Temple for purification.

5) On day six Paul was arrested.

6.) On day seven Paul had appeared before the Sanhedrin court.

7) On day eight Paul had been escorted to Caesarea and it had now been five days until this day with Felix.

Paul was explaining to Felix that he had gone to the Temple to worship and not to lead anyone in a disturbance.

The Temple records would show that Paul had registered to pay the cost for those  Jews who had taken a Nazirite vow. This had been the plan of James.

Paul had not preached in the Temple nor in any of the synagogues nor anywhere else in the city of Jerusalem!

Paul had made an agreement with Peter and the Jerusalem elders that he would not evangelize the Jews in Jerusalem and he would not go back on his word. (Gal 2:7-10)

In other words the high priest had no proof of the things that he accused Paul of!

These things that Paul had said were facts and could be easily proven!

So Paul next dealt with the charges of sedition and heresy.

*****Act 24:14  But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
Act 24:15  And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Act 24:16  And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

These Jews saw Christianity as heresy!

The outside world saw Christianity as a cult!

Paul explained that the fact that he was a Christian did not mean he worshiped a different God from the God of his fathers. It only meant he worshiped the God of his fathers in a new and living way.

For the only acceptable way to worship the Father is through Jesus Christ.

Joh 5:23  That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.[He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him].

Paul explained that his faith was still founded on the same scriptures that were honored by his accusers!

Paul had preached many a sermon on the coming "resurrection of the just".

Paul had rarely mentioned "the resurrection of the unjust", which was well documented in the prophecy of Daniel.

Dan 12:2  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, [and some to shame and everlasting contempt].

There is little doubt that these words did not set well with Felix and more certainly with the Sadducees who did not believe in any resurrection and would not have look forward to any such event if it were true!

And it is true!

Paul explained that he accepted the Scriptures as they were written and that he was careful to avoid the offense of God and of men as he accepted God’s Word is the truth.

Paul was simply saying that it was his goal to keep his conscience clear and not stumble morally.

*****Act 24:17  Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
Act 24:18  Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
Act 24:19  Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

Now Paul explains why he had come to Jerusalem. Paul had come to present to Jewish believers an offering which had been received from the churches in Galatia and Macedonia and Achaia and Asia.

Instead of going about causing strife and dissension among the Jews, he had been collecting funds for this offering!

Instead of being harmful to his people, he had been trying to help them!

Paul explained that his purpose for being in the Temple was to participate in a particular Temple ritual which was open to all Jews.

This ritual, was a purification ritual and it had been completed just prior to his being apprehended by these that were accusing him this day.

As a Jew, who was ritually pure, Paul had as much right to be in the Temple courtyard on that occasion as any other Jewish man in all of Israel.

And Paul did not have around him neither a multitude nor a group of followers who were causing any disturbance.

These were facts that could be easily proven!

Paul corrected the accusation presented by Tertullus, "that it was the Jewish leaders that had seen him", when it was those certain out of town Jews from Asia and probably from Ephesus.

So any evidence they had was based on "hearsay" at best and if his conduct in the Temple courtyard was wrong or objectionable to the Jews who had seen him, then they themselves should be present to give eyewitness testimony.

We can be sure that they had returned to Asia thinking they had accomplished the destruction of the Apostle Paul.

*****Act 24:21  Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

Paul knew that this whole thing was about Jesus and whether he was living or dead.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord was at the heart of this case against the Apostle Paul.

Peter had these words:

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope [by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,]

Paul wrote:

Rom 4:25  Who was delivered for our offences, and [was raised again for our justification].

John wrote that we can know this truth:

1Jn 2:21  I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
1Jn 2:22  Who is a liar but [he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ]? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

These words of Paul brought Holy Ghost conviction upon Felix.

*****Act 24:24  And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
Act 24:25  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Drusilla was the third wife of Felix and was very young. She was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I but she no doubt new of her father’s persecution of the Jerusalem church and may also have been more curious than Felix about the Christian faith.

Upon hearing the gospel Felix trembled.

Felix evidently came under terrified conviction.

His discomfort became so intense that he interrupted Paul saying "go thy way for this time when I have a convenient season I will call thee"

There is no indication that Felix ever found a convenient season that he could trust Christ as his Savior.

The Bible says:

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

*****Act 24:26  He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

In fact Felix reverted to his old self and assumed that Paul could if he wanted to purchase his freedom with a bribe, since he had possession of so much of God’s money.

Paul would never have given a bribe to Felix!

Now let’s see Paul present himself before Festus:

*****Act 25:1  Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Act 25:2  Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
Act 25:3  And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
Act 25:4  But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
Act 25:5  Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
Act 25:6  And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.

History tells us that’s Festus served as governor of the province only two years before he died but Festus appeared to have been a good ruler.

Luke was apparently near Paul during the two years that Paul was kept in Caesarea.

Tradition tells us that Luke wrote much of the Book of Acts during this period of time and probably also wrote the gospel of Luke.

Festus spent about two weeks in Jerusalem before going back down to Caesarea.

*****Act 25:7  And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

Once again Paul had to stand before a Roman authority for judgment while these same Jews would seek to have him convicted of a crime worthy of death.

While the Jews still laid many grievous complaints against Paul this verse also says that they were still unable to prove any of their charges.

It had been two years since their previous attempt to convict Paul and it is probable that they had conjured up additional accusations.

These Jews sole purpose was to murder Paul.

*****Act 25:8  While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

Paul’s response tells us about the charges that were made against him.

He was accused of breaking the laws of Moses.

He was accused of desecrating the Temple.

He was accused of violating Roman law.

The Greek word for "offended" is in most places in the Bible was translated "sinned".

Paul was not perfect by any means but he was not guilty of any crime against the Jews, nor the Romans and he was certainly not worthy of having the death sentence imposed upon him.

*****Act 25:9  But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

Earlier Festus had refused the Jews request for Paul to be sent to Jerusalem for trial.

However now he seemed agreeable to do so, but since Paul was a Roman citizen, he needed Paul’s consent.

Festus was trying to gain favor of the Jews by offering to conduct the trial in Jerusalem not knowing he would be jeopardizing the life of the Apostle Paul.

These Jews were so caught up in their hatred they had no problem in planning an ambush to assassinate Paul in his transit to Jerusalem if it took place.

*****Act 25:10  Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
Act 25:11  For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

The Jews had blundered when they accused Paul of sedition and rebellion against the Roman Empire!

There were no witness to prove any such charge but this charge made it a Roman issue rather than one merely of the Jews religion, so Paul is a Roman citizen had the right to appeal to a higher tribunal and he appealed to Caesar.

*****Act 25:12  Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

All Roman governors had a council appointed to aid them in dispensing justice and Festus conferred with his own counsel.

Again Paul was saved from death by his understanding of Roman law!

Festus may have wanted to gain favor with the Jews, but Roman law demanded that a Roman citizen be given a fair trial.

In all his court appearances we will see that Paul made an adequate and an able defense.

These trials clearly reveal that Paul was not guilty of anything at all. He had done nothing wrong and no provable charge had ever been brought against him.

He had not violated the Temple!

He had not in-sighted rebellion against Roman authority and both the accusers and the judge at these trials knew this to be the truth.

The only thing the that was correct, was that when Paul preached it was a threat to Judaism!

Next week we will see Paul’s defense before King Agrippa. It seems that Festus was at a complete loss as to what to report to the Emperor.

He could find no reason to continue to hold Paul yet the Jews demanded Paul’s life.

Questions?

Let’s pray!

The Accusations In The Sanhedrin Court

The Accusations In The Sanhedrin Court

Text: Book of Acts Chapter 23

When we left off in our last lesson Paul had been bound by the Roman commander Lysias, in Jerusalem. He would have been tortured by these Romans in a search for the truth but Paul was also a Roman citizen and therefore could not be scourged or tortured without a good cause.

Lysias was determined to know whether Paul was guilty of a religious offense or some civil offense.

Lysias needed to have answers because if news of this riot reached Caesarea where the Roman procurator stayed it could cost Lysias his job or even his life.

Rome would not allow its citizens to come under the jurisdiction of a Jewish court so Lysias called this court to come to him.

So let’s begin:

*****Act 23:1  And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Paul began his statement by saying up until this day he had lived before God in good conscience.

Paul was not claiming to have always lived in conformity with God’s will.

What Paul was saying was that he had always acted in a manner that was keeping with how he felt God wanted him to conduct himself.

BUT, His understanding of how God wanted him to live had changed when he met Jesus, and believed and was saved.

*****Act 23:2  And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Act 23:3  Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
Act 23:4  And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
Act 23:5  Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

This Ananias could have been the same high priest as at the time of Christ which was 30 years before this day.

This priest was also a political appointee and was a notoriously corrupt and cruel man according to history.

He could not tolerate the arrogance of Paul and ordered those that were seated near him to hit him in the mouth.

Paul immediately told this high priest that God would strike him down and called Ananias a whitewashed wall. 
It was common to washed limestone tombs. The purpose behind whitewashing the tomb was to make them highly visible. This prevented the Jews from accidentally touching them  and becoming ceremonially unclean.

Though a recently whitewashed tomb might be clean, white, and even ornate it was nonetheless full of dead men’s bones!

The outward appearance could be flattering but inside was death!

It is obvious that the Apostle Paul did not regard this appointed high priest as much of a man and certainly not a godly man.

Let’s see what Jesus had said about these men before he went to the cross.

Mat 23:27  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

This Ananias was indeed a hypocrite. Every high priest was expected by God to show honesty and fairness along with compassionate concern for every human being.

Paul’s response showed that though he had respect for the office of high priest but he had no respect for this man Ananias.

History shows that this Ananias was indeed one of the most corrupt men to ever be named high priest.

Paul had not been formally charged with any offense So, Here Paul switch tactics. He no longer tried to tell what happened at the Temple. He began now using his wit and ability to forestall the evil judgment of this group of men.

*****Act 23:6  But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
Act 23:7  And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
Act 23:8  For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

We already know that the major religious groups among the Jews in the time of the New Testament were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Paul was a devout Pharisee before his salvation but he was also well versed in the ways of the Sadducees.

The Sanhedrin court consisted of both these groups and Paul could tell by the way they dressed which ones were from each group. (Matt 23:5)

The Sadducees were wealthy and were considered the party of the sophisticated Jew.

The Pharisees were more spiritually minded but just as carnal.

Let’s see how they would match up in today’s world.

The Sadducees had abandoned spiritual doctrine.

They denied any resurrection past or future.

They denied the existence of angels and also the spirit world. In other words the Sadducees did not believe in heaven or hell and did not believe in any kind of life after death.

Their world was a world of politics and not religion!

The Pharisees were legalistic and the force in the synagogues, insisting on keeping the law and the traditions, even making up their own laws. 

The Pharisees were the smaller of the two groups. They represented hypocrisy and superstition but they still had the support of the people!

It was the desire for political power that gave the Sadducees control of the high priest and they were sometimes called the chief priest.

These two groups were enemies of each other so Paul was quick to use this to his advantage!

*****Act 23:9  And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

These scribes were the scholars of the Law and most of them were Pharisees because the Law meant more to them that it did to the Sadducees.

These are the men who could read, write, and interpret the Law.

These were the secretaries and the chroniclers and they sometimes taught in the schools, in the synagogues and were even considered lawyers who could settle legal disputes in the courts of law, even at the Sanhedrin council.

They quickly found that Paul had broken no law.

*****Act 23:10  And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

That word "dissension" means that the disputing between the Sadducees and the Pharisees became so fierce and intense that the Roman commander feared that Paul would be injured.

That word "strove" means they were about to use their fists in a real fight.

So once again this chief captain ordered his soldiers to rescue Paul and return him to the safety of the castle.

*****Act 23:11  And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

Five times Jesus uses this phrase "be of good cheer".

We know that the number five represents "grace".

Jesus informed Paul that his work in Jerusalem was completed!

He also told Paul he would not die in Jerusalem that he would actually bear witness of Him in Rome.

There can be no doubt that this brought great comfort to Paul.

Many things can trouble God’s righteous people but some way or another the Lord can deliver them out of them all.

The Lord Jesus Christ knows that, we His servants will suffer with Him, but if possible He would have us all cheerful and very conscious of His presence with us at all times.

There is not one thing that men on this earth can do that can change the plan of God!

Paul was more secure this day than he ever realized in all his life!

*****Act 23:12  And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
Act 23:13  And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
Act 23:14  And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.

Paul’s life had been in danger from the very beginning of his ministry.

The Jews had tried to kill them on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion.

The Jews drove him out of Antioch in Pisidia.

They threatened to stone him in Iconium.

And Paul was stoned in Lustra.

The Jews tried to have Paul arrested in Corinth.

There was a plot to kill Paul in Ephesus and it is possible that these Jews now in Jerusalem could have been those same Asian Jews of Ephesus.

That phrase "bound themselves under a curse" comes from the Greek word which is based on the word "anathema".

Under Jewish law failure to complete this oath could result in invoking the judgment of God!

BUT, these 40 men needed the assistance of the chief priest and the Jewish elders in order to be successful.

40 men could not have defeated the Roman Garrison!

*****Act 23:15  Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

We can see that these certain Jews hated the Apostle Paul so much that they were willing to cause problems with Rome. They were willing to ambush any detachment of soldiers that brought Paul to that meeting place and kill Paul.

*****Act 23:16  And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

God had already told Paul that he was going to Rome and that no harm would come to him, so we can readily see the direct involvement of the hand of God.

This is the only place in the Bible that we see a mention of Paul’s sister and her son!

There is no mention of when this sister had moved to Jerusalem nor how this son of hers learned about this conspiracy against his uncle.

This information was provided by the Holy Ghost and we need only accepted as the truth.

It is very possible that since Paul was not actually a prisoner but was held more or less in protective custody that he could be visited by his family and friends.

*****Act 23:17  Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.
Act 23:18  So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
Act 23:19  Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?
Act 23:20  And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
Act 23:21  But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.
Act 23:22  So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.

In giving this information from this nephew to Paul and the chief Captain, the Jews were not aware that the Romans knew of their plot.

We must remember no Roman soldier could afford to lose a prisoner without it affecting his own life especially that of a Roman citizen.

We have yet to see in the Book of Acts where the Holy Ghost did not speak favorably of the Roman military officers.

Luke writes no record in the Book of Acts of Roman persecution against the church by it’s military.

There is no doubt that the Roman Empire was politically corrupt but for the most part the military were men of quality who respected the laws.

Under these conditions this vow of these 40 men could not be carried out!

The question might arise whether these men proceeded to starve themselves to death. This is very unlikely because the "Mishna", the Jewish writings, provided for the release from vows under such conditions as these.

*****Act 23:23  And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;
Act 23:24  And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

In order to stop any attack by these 40 men this chief captain put together an overwhelming force. He had 200 soldiers 70 Calvary men and another 200 spearman for a total of 470 men.

The third hour of the night would have been about 9 o’clock in the evening and this would have provided greater secrecy and greater protection for Paul.

This chief captain had decided it was time for Paul to be judged by the Roman governor.

*****Act 23:25  And he wrote a letter after this manner:
Act 23:26  Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.

At this time Felix was governor of Judea and Samaria. He held the position once held by Pontus Pilate.

The capital of the province was still in Caesarea which was 65 miles northwest of Jerusalem.  Paul would now go before the Roman governor.

*****Act 23:27  This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.
Act 23:28  And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
Act 23:29  Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.

By Roman law, Felix would need to know why a Roman citizen was held in custody without having any charges made against him.

So Lysias addressed the two main points.

1) How Paul became the subject of Roman custody.

2) The fact that Paul was a Roman citizen.

What was not mentioned was the fact that Paul was apprehended by the Jews in one of the Temple courtyards and he did not explain how or when he had learned that Paul was a Roman citizen.

The main thing he wanted Felix to know was that the Jews would have killed Paul if he had not intervened with his troops.

Lysias wanted Felix to know that he considered that the issue at hand pertained entirely to Jewish law but it did not seem to him there was any basis for Paul to be put to death or to even be imprisoned.

*****Act 23:30  And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.

It was also important for Felix to know that there was a conspiracy against Paul and that a group of Jewish terrorists had planned to attack the Roman garrison.

He also informed Felix that he had directed the Jewish leaders to go before him and make their own case against Paul who would be safer in Caesarea than he was in Jerusalem.

*****Act 23:31  Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.
Act 23:32  On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:
Act 23:33  Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

Antipatris was a city built by Herod the Great in honor of his father Antipater. It was 40 miles from Jerusalem on the way to Caesarea. This trip began about 9:00 pm that night and ended the next day.

At this point the foot soldiers and the spearman returned to Jerusalem and the calvary of 70 men continued to take Paul to the castle and Caesarea and presented Paul and the letter from Lysias to Felix.

*****Act 23:34  And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;
Act 23:35  I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.

The reason Felix asked Paul which province he was from was to determine whether he had the authority to hear this case or if he needed to send Paul to another governor.

If Paul had not been a Roman citizen this question would not have even been asked!

It was very important to make certain all Roman citizens were handled properly, especially in the question of capital punishment.

This was not so for any that were not Roman citizens!

We cannot read this passage of scripture without seeing the hand of God in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

Jesus had told Paul he would be going to Rome.

Paul had not realized that the Roman government would provide him his transportation and his security. 

And, God used the Jews to make certain that His purpose would be fulfilled.

The Jews were determined to kill Paul, but the Romans were just as determined to keep him alive, so we see God prevails over all things.

Questions?

Let’s pray!