Bible Studies

This section contains Bible studies by many leaders and teachers in the church.  They are the result of thousands of hours of dedicated study of God's word.  The authors have freely given these outlines for you to use to teach from or as personal study guides.

Christian Evidences

 

Paul proclaimed that he was "set for a defense" of the Gospel.  These studies have been designed with that in mind.  To explain, to give reasons for our faith.  They are by design very basic, but can be used with great profit when strengthening your faith.  We pray they will be a blessing to you.

 

Creation and Evolution

Is evolution a fact of science? The way it is taught in our schools and promoted in the media, one would think that it was proven beyond all doubt. In Genesis 1:1 the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." But many people do not believe the Bible record. Since many reject the Bible, let's compare evolution with creation from a scientific standpoint. Will the theory of evolution stand the scrutiny of true science? Does it bear up under the weight of the evidence? Large volumes have been written by qualified scientists that thoroughly discredit evolution. In the short space allowed, we will examine just a portion of the evidence. The results may surprise you. Evolution is not a proven fact of science. In fact, the evidence in nature more strongly supports creation! Let's start out by comparing the respective stories of creation and evolution.

First, look at the Bible record of creation. In Genesis 1:1 the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Genesis 1:11 "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind..." Genesis 1:21 "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind..." Genesis 1:24 "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so." Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." This is the origin of life as told in God’s word. To many, this is unbelievable. They feel only the ignorant and superstitious accept the Bible story. Well, let's look at the alternative, the story of evolution.

Once, some inert matter in a pool of water was struck by an energy source such as lightening, and amino acids formed. Without any help of a designer or a creator, these developed into a living single cell. The cell began to multiply. It divided into two cells, then four, then eight, then sixteen. Without any designer to guide it, it eventually developed into some small water type animals such as jelly fish and other animals of this nature. These continued to change until they developed into fish. Some of them began to flop out on the shore. This continued until they developed lungs, their fins turned into feet, they dropped their scales and turned into amphibians like frogs and salamanders. These gradually changed into reptiles like alligators and snakes. Then the reptiles began to change in two different directions. Some developed long front feet and toes which changed into wings. They grew feathers and flew away. Others grew hair on their bodies and became mammals like bears and cows and similar types of animals. Eventually some of these mammals turned into a half monkey-half man. Some of these began to rear up on their back feet and walk around. Most of their hair fell of as they grew more manlike. Eventually there appeared modern man. All this happened by pure chance, without any design.

What do you think of that story? Doesn't it sound more fantastic that the creation story? It sounds more like fairy tale than science. Some may protest, "But the evolutionary process took millions of years." Whether one day or a million years, the story is still the same. As children we heard the story of how a beautiful young lady kissed a frog and the frog turned into a prince. We understand that is just a fairy tale. Evolution removes the kiss, adds a few million years and calls it science. And we are supposed to be fools for not believing this story?!

Let's take a closer look at creation and evolution, to see which the evidence best supports. We will begin this section by defining what we mean by evolution. The word "evolution" just means change. We might say that a lot of things evolve as far as change is concerned. But this is not what we mean when we are discussing the theory of evolution. We are talking about the change of one kind of animal into another: the change of a single cell into a fish, of a fish into a frog, frogs into alligators, alligators into birds and monkeys, and monkeys into men. This is the kind of change involved in the evolutionary theory.

Furthermore, by evolution, we are not talking about variation within a certain kind of animal such as the cross-breeding of cattle to develop different kinds of cattle; nor the cross-pollination of corn to produce hybrid corn. There is certainly variation within a certain kind of animal or plant. We are not talking about variation within corn, but the changing of corn into okra, okra into spinach, and spinach into the pine tree. We are not talking about variation within cows; but we are talking about the changing of cows into bears, bears into monkeys, and monkeys into men. We are not talking about variation within kinds, but the changing of one kind into another kind. There has never been observed an instance of variation within a kind that has produced a different kind. Neither has man by experimentation been able to produce a different kind. All we have seen is that each kind produces only its own kind as the Bible says in Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24. What we see in nature is totally consistent with the creation account and contradictory to the evolutionary theory.

Some object to creation because they say it is not scientific. Neither creation nor evolution are subject to scientific investigation. Sir Francis Bacon defined the scientific process as follows:

1. State the problem or question.

2. Form a hypothesis or possible solution to the problem.

3. Experiment and observe along the lines of this hypothesis and record the results.

4. Interpret the data.

5. Draw conclusions based on the data from your observations.

Let's compare creation and evolution to the scientific process, Step 1: The question is easily stated: Where did life come from? Where did this universe come from? Step 2: The Bible puts forth the idea that God, an intelligent being, created all the different kinds of life and the universe as we have it today. The evolutionists put forth the hypothesis that life started from lifeless matter and evolved into higher life forms. These two steps are as far as the scientific process can be taken with either the creation hypothesis or the evolutionary hypothesis. In step 3, as far as observing the evolution or the origin of life, the development of the first cell, as far as experimenting with the evolution of life, man has been completely unsuccessful. The same can be said of creation. No one has ever observed the creation of life. We cannot go back and see God create life or see it evolve. So for step three, we have nothing to observe and no data to record. In step 4 we have no data to interpret. In step 5 we can draw no conclusions because we have no data upon which to base those conclusions. Evolution is no more scientific than creation. It does not belong in the field of observable science because it has never been and cannot be observed. If evolutionary thought has any place today, it's place is in the field of philosophy.

Some will argue there is scientific data available that proves evolution. Let's consider what creation and evolution predict and compare that with the available data. Then we will see which one fits the facts better with the least amount of secondary assumptions or explanations.

First, consider animals as we see them today. How do they fit the two stories? Evolution would most obviously predict that there would not be distinct kinds of animals but there would be a number of transitional forms between the different kinds of animals. There should be hundreds of thousands of these transitional forms. There would not be the ape, ape-man, and then man. There would be thousands of different steps or transitional forms between monkey and man. These kinds of transitional forms should exist along all points of the evolutionary scale. Conversely, creation predicts that there should be distinct, different kinds of animals that have remained basically the same over the years.

Now which story fits the facts of living animals today? Creation fits exactly without the need of secondary assumptions and explanations. Creation predicts no transitional forms, and this is exactly the case. But evolution does not fit because we see no transitional forms alive today. Consequently, evolution has to make some secondary assumptions.

Evolution's secondary assumption is that evolution moves too slow to be observed today and that some kind of natural phenomenon or process destroyed the transitional forms. Creation needs no such assumptions.

Now let's compare creation and evolution with the fossil record. The creation story predicts that fossils should be only of distinct kinds of animals, just like what we see among living animals. There should be no transitional forms, according to creation. On the other hand, evolution again predicts that hundreds of thousands of transitional forms should be in the fossil record. This should especially be true because evolution maintains all the living transitional forms have been killed off by natural processes. The fossil beds should be rich with these transitional forms.

Which idea fits the facts of the fossil record? The fossil record contains the same gaps between different kinds of animals just as we find among living animals. Even evolutionists admit that the fossil record is a problem for their theory. Transitional forms between the frog and the turtle are not in the fossil record! Transitional forms between single cell creatures and the first complex creatures are not in the fossils! The Cambrian period, which evolutionists date back about six-hundred million years ago, is the first sign of any kind of fossils at all. Fossils appear there as complex creatures such as jelly fish, worms and trilobites. There are no transitional forms between invertebrates and the vertebrates. There are no transitional forms between fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, etc. The fossil record does not favor evolution! It greatly favors the creation model.

With these kinds of problems associated with evolutionary theory, why do scientists believe it. Actually, some do not. Many outstanding scientists of the past believed in creation such as, Louis Pasteur, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Lord Kelvin, Gregor Mendel, Leonardo Da Vinci, Samuel F. B. Morse, Francis Bacon, and others. Additionally, many scientists today do not believe in evolution. Still, others stubbornly hold on to this unproven theory. One evolutionist explained it this way. "The scientific difficulties with evolution are many and great, but the only alternative is creation and to me this is incredible." Do you want to believe a theory that rests on that kind of ground? Why not accept the story of creation as God revealed it in the Bible? "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

Jesus The Son Of God

Who was Jesus? Was he a divine being? Was he God? Was he a man simply representing God? Or was he a fraud, an impostor seeking some glorious claim to fame? This is a brief study to answer these questions.

The acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God is, ultimately, a question of faith. Today, it is faith in the historical record that provides the information of Jesus and his work. Is there adequate evidence of the truthfulness of the New Testament? Can we trust its claims?

THE PROPHECIES HE FULFILLED

Let us first consider some prophecies in the Old Testament. These prophecies spoke much about the coming of a Messiah. We will see how Jesus fulfilled them in every detail. This is important because the Old Testament was finished, recorded and in existence when Jesus was here.

Seven hundred years before Christ was born, it was prophesied that he would be born in Bethlehem (Mic.5:2); that he would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14); that he would be called out of Egypt (Hos.l:l); that he would be despised and rejected (Isa. 53:3); that he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12); that he would suffer, be rejected, and slain (Isa. 53); that he would be given vinegar to drink in his suffering (Psa. 69:21); that his garments would be parted (Psa. 22:18); that he would make his grave with the rich (Isa. 53:9); and that he would be resurrected from the dead (Psa. 16:8-11).

Remember, these were documented statements recorded hundreds of years before Jesus' birth. Also remember that these are just a few of the prophecies regarding Christ. Consider the impossibility of picking an individual at birth and manipulating all these circumstances to accomplish an apparent fulfillment of prophecy. A family with the right ancestry would have to be willing to have a baby conceived before marriage, and have him born in Bethlehem, be willing to take him to Egypt for a while, bring him back to the city of Nazareth, have him grow up doing nothing but nice things yet make sure people despised and rejected him. Wow!! Talk about manipulation! But we're not through. Someone would have to agree to betray him for thirty pieces of silver. The Roman government would have to agree to crucify him with a couple of thieves. Someone would have to give him vinegar, make sure his garments were parted and sold, and find a rich man willing to provide a burial place. And then there is the echo of the empty tomb. His body would have to have been stolen from a guarded and sealed tomb and hid in such a way as to never be found.

THE CREDIBILITY OF HIS DISCIPLES

No, I'll take the New Testament account. I just don't believe that much manipulation could have taken place, over that long a time, involving that many people, without a mishap.

If all that is not enough, think of the credibility of the men who were with Jesus, his disciples. They were good and moral in every way. Not the kind of men who would plot and put together a lie, especially when it meant they would die horrendous deaths to perpetuate this lie. From the best historical sources found, all of Jesus' apostles except John died violent deaths because of their faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ. Matthew was slain with a sword, James was beheaded, James (the Lord's brother) was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple and beaten with clubs, Philip was hanged, Bartholomew was flayed alive, Andrew was martyred on a cross, Thomas killed with a lance, Thaddeaus was shot with arrows, Simmon Zelotes was crucified, Peter crucified head down, Matthias was stoned and Paul was beheaded. Would these and many more suffer so much for a cause they knew to be false?

THE ACCOUNT OF HIS LIFE

Another point to consider is if the gospel accounts were fiction, they had to originate in one of two ways; independently or in cooperation with one another. It is impossible that their accounts were arrived at independently because the agreements are too consistent. It would be absurd to think that four men could write four accounts of something that never existed independently of one another and yet make their stories agree to the extent these do.

Consider also the apparent discrepancies (such as Matt. 8:5-13 with Luke 7:1-10), of their accounts. If mere men were writing separate accounts about Jesus’ life, his teaching, and death, and only doing it to perpetuate a lie, they would have made sure that every detail was described exactly the same to avoid any kind of criticism. If they were not made up independently of one another, and there was no collaboration, then the only choice we have is to accept them as true accounts of facts that actually occurred.

What facts do these accounts teach about Jesus? Matthew and Luke give us a detailed account of Jesus' virgin birth, showing clearly His divinity, yet showing us His humanity as well. Matthew 1:23, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." This is a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy found in Isa. 7:14. Note the meaning given to the word "Emmanuel ... God with us!"

Luke's account of the birth of Jesus is more detailed. (Lk.1:26-35) The angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, telling her that she had found favor with God and that she would conceive and bring forth a son that she was to name Jesus. In verse 32 Gabriel said, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." Mary wanted to know how such a thing could happen since she had not been with a man. Gabriel said in verse 35, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." If there is any credibility to the scriptures, surely we can see from these few verses the divine nature of Jesus as well as the human nature. He was born of a human, Mary. Yet, as we read of his conception, we clearly see that he was the divine Son of God. We might also add that Jesus was divine from the very beginning. Notice Mary was told, "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

So as Matthew and Luke began their narrative of Jesus and his work, they made it very plain that though he had come in the flesh, he was holy, divine, the Son of God. John, however, uses another approach in explaining Jesus. Instead of giving us an account of his birth, he explains his pre-existence, showing us that he existed as deity before his birth. Since he was a divine entity before his birth, he was a divine entity after his birth.

John begins his gospel account by declaring that Jesus was in the beginning, that he came from God, and that he was God. (Jno.1:1-2) The title that John used here was "Word". The Word was in the beginning. The Word was with God. The Word was God. John is telling us that the Word was deity and had the nature of God. This is a tremendous and wonderful title given to Jesus. The words we speak are a most important expression of our character. Christ is the supreme expression of God's character. He is much more than the mere actions of God. His whole personality and life are the perfect expression of what God is and does. As John says in John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father hath declared him." Jesus coming in the flesh has expressed plainly to human senses the nature and the will of God whom no man hath seen or known adequately. Jesus was such an adequate manifestation of God that he could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (Jno. 14:9), and again, "I and my father are one." (Jno. 10:30).

THE MIRACLES HE PERFORMED

When Jesus asked his disciples who they understood him to be, Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." Jesus told Peter, "flesh and blood had not revealed it to him, but his Father in heaven." God had revealed the person of Christ through Jesus' words and works. Look at Jno. 5:36, "I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." Also in Jno. 3:34-35 we read, "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into his hand." Again, God was in Christ revealing himself and reconciling the world unto himself.

When John was in prison, and about to be executed he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he was the messiah to come or if they were to look for another. Jesus sent them back and said tell John what you see and hear, that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear. (Mt.11:1-5)

Consider Nicodemus who was a ruler of the Jews. When he came to Jesus he recognized Jesus to be a teacher who had come from God because of the miracles he did. Nicodemus rightly said, "for no man can do these miracles except God be with him." The miracles and wonders that Jesus performed were to clearly show that he was of God, from God, in fact, was God for all intent and purpose.

When Peter preached to the Jews on Pentecost he said, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." (Acts 2:22)

When he preached to the Gentiles in Acts 10 he declared that, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." The miracles and works that Jesus did were signs to show that he was the Son of God. But they were not signs just for the people who lived then. They were for all men of all ages. John stated, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book: But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20:30-31).

Consider His miracles: The sick that he healed, the blind he restored, the lame he cured, the lepers he cleansed, calming the wind and sea, raising the dead, especially Lazarus. Consider John 11:3 when Jesus heard of his sickness. Jesus said to his disciples, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Of course the greatest sign was Christ's own resurrection from the dead. Jesus said to the Jews, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:19). In John 10:18 Jesus said he had power to lay down his life and had power to take it up again.

Not only did he have the power to raise his own life, but he has the power to raise all the dead at the last day. "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:40)

Jesus Christ is the Son of God! He declared it! God confirmed it! His works prove it! His followers preached it! His enemies admitted it! Many witnesses testified to it, even in the face of death! But most of all, an empty tomb settles it!

The Canon Of The New Testament

Some claim there are many lost books of the New Testament, that we don't have all the books we should have, and that what we do have is corrupt and unreliable. Do we have all the New Testament as God intended for us to have? Are there really portions of it lost? Should some of the New Testament books not be included? Answers to these questions are obtained by a study of the canon of the New Testament.

The word "canon" is derived from a term indicating an old carpenter's tool. It was a tool used to measure and, therefore, designates the rule or measure. In theology, "canon" simply means the books that are inspired by God. There have been many books and letters written by men of God over the years. We must be able to examine these writings to see which ones are inspired and should be included in the Bible. So, when we talk about the canon of the New Testament, we are talking about the collection of books that comprise the New Testament, the books that are inspired by God. "Canon Law" are the guidelines used to determine which books are to be included in the canon and which are not.

THE COUNCIL OF TRENT

Some claim the Catholics decided which books are inspired and which books are not, thereby giving us the Bible. This is based on the Council of Trent held in 1546 by the Catholic church. At this council, there was an intense study of the canon to determine which books should be considered scripture. However, there are complete copies of the New Testament canon, as we have it today, predating the Council of Trent by centuries. This shatters the myth that the Catholics gave us the Bible. By examining this manuscript evidence and the internal evidence of the New Testament, we can verify the authenticity of the New Testament text.

MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE

First, let's look at the manuscript evidence available. There are Greek manuscripts and fragments of the New Testament that date as far back as the second century. These contain the same books we have today, just as we have them today. There are also translations of these into other languages that date from the third and fourth century. From these several versions, we have the same twenty-seven New Testament books as in our modern canon. Furthermore, these books, when translated into English, read essentially the same as the King James Version and other credible translations of today. This is true because the texts behind our modern English translations are based on Greek New Testaments that were constructed from these earlier manuscripts and their later Greek copies. In all, there are thousands of manuscripts and translations, some dating close to the time of Christ. These form a powerful testimony to the legitimacy of the New Testament canon.

HISTORICAL EVIDENCE

History further verifies the New Testament canon in the writings of the Anti-Nicean Fathers. These were Christian men who lived before the council of Nice (hence the name Anti-Nicean) who wrote articles and commentary on the Bible. A few of them were contemporaries of the Apostles. Others followed in the second and third centuries. In their writings they often quoted passages from the New Testament. The entire New Testament canon, as we have it today, can be compiled from these quotations!

How can people question the authenticity of the New Testament documents when we have such impressive facts as evidence we can search ourselves? Rather than being subject to doubt, the New Testament is the best verified ancient document known to man. No other ancient document can boast so many manuscripts. No other ancient document has manuscripts that date back so close to the original writings. Other ancient writings aren't even close. The evidence from history is overwhelming in substantiating the New Testament canon.

INTERNAL EVIDENCE

The canon of the New Testament can also be verified from the internal evidence. When one inspired author refers to the work of another, that is a solid endorsement of that work. For example, in 2 Peter 3:15-16 the Apostle Peter says, "And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." So Peter confirms the authenticity of the Paul’s epistles.

Also, New Testament writers sometimes referred to other letters they had written. Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, alludes to his gospel in Acts 1:1 when he says, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." In 2 Corinthians 7:8 Paul refers to his previous letter, 1 Corinthians. In 2 Peter 3:1 Peter says, "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance." By calling this his second epistle, it acknowledges the validity of I Peter.

But how were these books collected into one volume? This happened over a few decades, and was probably fully accomplished before the end of the first century. When the inspired writers penned their letters, they instructed that these letters be shared with other Christians and other congregations. In 1 Thessalonians 5:27 Paul says, "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren." In Colossians 4:16 the Bible says, "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." The New Testament congregations shared and copied these letters until they had them in one book. They knew which letters were inspired and which ones were not because they were working under the direction of the inspired apostles. Also, Paul signed his letters so the church would know they were authentic. This fact is noted in 2 Thessalonians 3:17 where the Bible says, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."

This kind of internal evidence, coupled with manuscript historical evidence, makes it obvious the New Testament is a well-preserved ancient document. The twenty-seven books we have are the books God wants us to have. God has preserved his word for us. Why would God go to the trouble to inspire the New Testament writers, allow many of them to die for preaching their message, and then fail to protect it's content through time? Since God could inspire these writers, he can also insure their message, his message, is preserved and available for mankind to read and study today.

The Canon Of The Old Testament

Are their lost books that should be in the Old Testament? Does the Old Testament contain books that should not be there? In a time when many are questioning the validity of the Bible, these are important questions. Answering these questions can give us faith and confidence that the Bible, as we have it today, is the inspired word of God. We can have the assurance of knowing that God has preserved his word for mankind today. In this study we will examine the canon of the Old Testament.

The word "canon" is derived from an old carpenter's tool. It was a tool used to measure and, therefore, designates the rule or measure. In theology, "canon" simply means the books that are inspired by God. There have been many books and letters written by men of God over the years. We must be able to examine these books to see which ones are inspired and should be included in the Bible. So, when we talk about the canon of the Old Testament, we are talking about the collection of books that comprise the Old Testament, the books that are inspired by God. "Canon Law" are the guidelines used to determine which books are to be included in the canon and which are not.

In Isaiah 40:8 The Bible says, "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." We have a promise from God that he would preserve his word through the ages. Has God kept this promise? Is there enough evidence to prove the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are the books God intends for us to have? We believe there is. We will first look at the historical evidence.

In Romans 3:1-2 the Bible says, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." Here is inspired testimony that says God committed the keeping of his oracles (law) to the Jewish nation. This is a very strong endorsement of the Old Testament canon they had preserved up to the first century. If Israel had failed to preserve the Hebrew canon, would God have credited them with keeping his oracles? Surely not. Through strict scribal law and tedious copying methods, the Jews passed the Old Testament canon through the generations down to the first century.

We should not be amazed that the Jews preserved God's word so well through the centuries. In Psalms 78:1-7 God gave them the solemn charge to pass the law down from one generation to the next. So whatever canon of the Old Testament the Jews had passed down by the first century represents the inspired record God committed to their trust.

What canon did the Jews pass down to the first century? According to Josephus (a Jewish historian from the first century), they had twenty-two books they considered inspired. This Hebrew canon (the canon passed down by Israel) contains the same books included in the thirty-nine Old Testament books we have today! They counted some combinations of books as one. For example, our two books of First and Second Kings was counted as one book. The same is true of Judges and Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations, and so on. With our thrity-nine books, we have the same Old Testament books the Jews had in the first century. God committed these books to their care and they preserved them well.

There is additional historical testimony that verifies the content of the Old Testament text. In the late 1940's and early 1950's the caves of Qumran were discovered. Inside these caves are many ancient writings, some secular and some sacred. These caves were once inhabited by the Essenes, a sect of the Jews who withdrew to the desert during the Greek occupation of Judah. This means the writings date back as far as the third century b.c. Much of the scrolls contain portions of the Old Testament. Given the date when the Essene community began, it is reasonable to say that what they had is a fair representation of the canon passed down by the previous century. This practically takes their canon back to the time of the prophets.

With the exception of Esther, they had all the books we have in our Hebrew canon today. Although the caves also contain some Apocryphal books (discussed later), these books were not written until later, so the original Essene community could not have included them in their canon. The Hebrew canon is further verified by an examination of Secular Jewish writings of the third and second century b.c. For example, the Maccabean writings refer to Daniel. Although some suggest Daniel is a second century a.d. addition, and not part of the Hebrew canon, references such as these show clearly that Daniel's writing was considered canonical at least as early as the second or third century b.c. This is a good example of how history vindicates the canon of the Old Testament.

Now let's look at some internal evidence that supports the canon of the Old Testament. First, consider that Jesus divided the Old Testament into three sections. Look at Luke 24:44 where Jesus says, "These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me." Jesus divided the Old testament into the law, the prophets and the psalms (poetry). This gives us a good idea of what books were canonical, according to Jesus. Jesus and others elsewhere summed up the Old Testament canon in two categories; the law and the prophets. See Matthew 5:17, Matthew 11:13, Luke 16:16, John 1:45, Acts 13:15, Acts 24:14, etc. Every Old Testament book we have today fits into the division of books Jesus placed on the Old Testament.

Additionally, other New Testament writers quoted Old Testament books or mentioned their authors by name. This too is an impressive endorsement of their authenticity. Luke 20:42, Acts 1:20 and Acts 13:33, 35 all refer to the Psalms. James 5:10-11 mentions Job. Mark 12:19 and Luke 20:28 speak of Moses' writings. Mark 12:26 refers to the book of Moses. Galatians 3:10 mentions the book of the law. Luke 4:17 mentions the book of Isaiah. Matthew 3:3, Mark 7:6, Acts 8:28, 30 and many others refer to Isaiah as a prophet. In Matthew 24:15 Jesus quoted Daniel. Matthew 16:14 speaks of Jeremiah as a prophet. Acts 7:42 refers to the book of the prophets. Countless other New Testament passages quote large sections of the Old Testament. All these references show that the canon of the Old Testament, as we have it today, is well supported in the writings of other inspired men.

What about the Apocrypha? "Apocrypha" means hidden. It is a collection of books some versions of the Bible include. The Catholic Bible includes six of them, and the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament made by seventy Jewish scholars) includes fourteen. They are also included in some of the earliest versions of our English Bible. Why are these not in most of our Bibles today? Should they be included in the canon of the Old Testament?

While they are in the Septuagint, they are not in the Hebrew canon passed down by Israel. The Jews of the first century rejected them as spurious. Some hold that the apostles used the Septuagint as a basis for some quotations. Even if they did, they never quoted the apocryphal books! As we learned earlier, God committed the keeping of his oracles to the Jews. Since the Jews, whom God trusted to care for his word, rejected the Apocryphal books, we are safe to do the same.

Does the fact these books are included in the Septuagint mean they are inspired? After all, the Septuagint was a work of the Jews wasn't it? Although Jewish scholars translated the Septuagint, it was commissioned in 280 b.c. by Ptolemy Philadelfus. He was an Egyptian king, not a Jew. Furthermore, the apocryphal books hadn't even been written when the Septuagint was first commissioned. Therefore, they could not have been included in the Septuagint at first. Why these books were included later is a mystery. Many first century Jews considered the Septuagint profane. Consequently, they would not have used it in their temple readings. They rejected the apocryphal books along with the Septuagint that included them. The Septuagint is an important and valuable Greek translation of the Old Testament, but it's inclusion of the Apocrypha does not mean the Jews accepted the Apocryphal books as canonical. These apocryphal books are important as secular history, but there is no reason to regard them as part of God’s inspired record.

God promised to preserve his word through the centuries, and he has done exactly that. History is replete with copies of the present canon at different points on the time line. Thousands of ancient manuscripts across the centuries contain the same books we have today. New Testament writers endorsed our Old Testament canon through a wealth of quotations and references. You can have complete confidence that when you pick up your Old Testament, you are holding the very books God wants you to have. To have the entirety of God's Old Testament, you need no more, and should have no less.

The Existence of God

In the small town where I grew up most everyone believed in God; everyone I knew except one man. He was a decent man as far as I know. He treated his wife and children well, and ran a successful and respected business. But he didn't believe in God, not that he was an active atheist. He didn't campaign to take prayer out of school or 'In God We Trust' off the money. He was an agnostic. He wasn't sure God didn't exist. He just wasn't sure that He did. I recall him saying, "God is for people who need something to believe in." These thoughts are for those who are not sure they can believe in God.

Do you have to turn off your brain and just accept God on 'blind faith'? Faith that refuses to look at the facts ... that closes it's mind and blindly denies all the 'evidence' of science? Faith yes, blind faith no. Jesus required that people, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good". 1 Thessalonians 5:21. In fact, if you will open your mind for a few moments, I want to consider with you some scientific facts which will reassure you that you can be intellectual and honest and still believe in God. Not obscure, debated, or uncommon facts, but facts that in a world where almost everything is debated, are nearly universally accepted as true, even by atheists, agnostics, scientists and skeptics.

Fact 1: The Universe Exists

No one but a fool would deny that the universe exists. I have never known or known of a scientist that does not believe the universe exists. In fact, the job of a scientist is to study the universe, and how can you study what does not exist? Now, think about this for a moment. Why is there a universe instead of nothing? It is well known to be impossible that the universe has always existed. So where did it come from? What caused it? There are two possible answers to this question. 1) It just happened by accident, or 2) It was created. Let's consider these options.

Is it more reasonable to believe this all just happened by accident or it was planned, designed and created? Suppose you asked me where I got the shirt I am wearing today, and I told you that I was driving through Western Oklahoma on a clear day, and I passed a freshly planted cotton field. Suddenly there was a flash of lightening which struck the field. As I watched, this shirt just came flying out of the resulting explosion. If I truly believed this, and tried to convince you of it, you would call me insane. You would not believe me even if I insulted you by saying, "You are just close minded. You are just too ignorant to realize that my story is true."

How then can we be swayed by those who would tell us the universe "just happened"? We are asked to believe there "just happened to be a 'primordial soup' that just happened to be hit by lightning which just happened to create amino acids which just happened ... ad infinitum." Where did the primordial soup come from? Where did the lightning come from? I believe that an intelligent personal creator is the only reasonable way to explain the existence of the universe.

Fact 2: The Universe Has Order

This is also a universally accepted truth. The 'Laws of Nature' are really just explanations of the order that exists in nature. Every time you drop something here on earth it falls down. It never falls up. The earth is just close enough to the sun to keep us from freezing, yet far enough away to keep us from burning up. Gravity is just strong enough to keep us from being flung into outer space, yet not too strong. The atmosphere has just the right amount of oxygen, just enough moisture, etc. It is obvious there is design and order in our universe.

So, why is there order in our universe? If it's existence is an accident why is it not just random? Either, 1) This 'cosmic accident' just happened to make everything perfect or 2) The intelligent being who created this universe designed it just right to sustain life. Remember the shirt from the cotton field? Suppose I was to tell you that, not only did I see the shirt come flying out, there also was a flawless suit with matching tie, kerchief, belt, shoes and socks which fit me perfectly. Would you be any more inclined to believe me now? Of course not. If I were to disassemble your watch, and put all the pieces (including the battery and band) in a small box, how long do you think you would have to shake that box until the watch was assembled, correctly set and keeping perfect time? Why that would never happen. Is it reasonable then to believe that the universe which runs so perfectly and delicately balanced "just happened"?

Fact 3: Man Is Unique In The Universe

Who would dare to deny that people are different from other creatures? This is why it is not morally wrong to exterminate the neighborhood for mosquitoes. Yet you would be decried a criminal and punished severely if you tried to exterminate all the neighborhood children. Everyone knows humans are different, and the difference is something beyond just being more highly evolved. In fact, scientists don't agree about just who is more highly evolved. 1) Did that difference just happen, or 2) Did the being who created and designed the universe to sustain life also create us in His own image, making humans different from all of his other creations? A creator is obviously the more rational answer.

So the universe exists, has order, and mankind is different from other things. This cannot be denied. The most rational response is to believe that there is a God. We understand why King David wrote in Psalms 53:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God'" Don't let someone tell you that you can't be honest and rational and still believe in God. The truth is that no one can prove that God does not exist. To prove there is no God, you would have to be everywhere in the universe all at the same time for He might be somewhere that you weren't at that particular moment. In short, you would have to be God to prove He doesn't exist.

You, my friend can open your eyes, not be afraid and not doubt. You can believe in God. Have confidence and believe for: "without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6.

The Validity Of The Bible

Of all the books written none has been the subject of more controversy than the book called the Bible. It has for centuries been challenged by the most determined critics. From Voltaire to the critics of today the Bible has withstood the assault like no other book. It stands alone because it was not written by men only, but was inspired by the living God.

The Bible being the inspired word of God means that the men who wrote the Bible were filled with revelation from God and were guided by God to write down the revelation. The Bible makes this claim of inspiration in 2 Tim 3:16 which says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." Notice that the writer says that all scripture is inspired. 2 Pet 1:20-21 proclaims, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

The Bible claims when we read scripture it is God speaking to us. This can only be true if the writers were inspired by God. That is why Heb 1:1-2 proclaims, "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son..." God could speak to men through the prophets because these men "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

The fact that the Bible claims to be the inspired word of God does not prove it to be so. Therefore, let's examine some proof to show that the Bible is inspired.

ARCHAEOLOGY

Critics of the Bible once claimed the Bible was in error because of passages such as Gen 23:10 which spoke of a people called the Hittites. There was no evidence of such a people outside the Bible. Archaeologists in Turkey, however, discovered what the Bible maintained all along, that there was a nation of people called Hittites. In fact, they were a powerful people that survived for at least seven centuries. The spade of the archaeologist proved the Bible true and the critics wrong.

The book of Daniel has often been the target of critics of the Bible. Daniel speaks of the final king of Babylon as Belshazzar, a ruler unknown for many years. Bible critics cited this as an error in scripture. Modern archeology discovered Babylonian inscriptions which not only revealed a king of Babylon named Belshazzar, but also explained a difficult passage in Daniel 5:29. Daniel claimed to be made third in the kingdom next to Belshazzar. The inscriptions explain this because Belshazzar was a co-regent with his father Nabonidus. Being at the right hand of Belshazzar would make Daniel third in the kingdom just as the word of God said.

Critics once argued that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible, claiming writing had not been invented yet. The archaeologists once again proved the critics wrong and the Bible right when a black stele in Persia was discovered with writing containing the laws of a Babylonian king named Hammurabi who lived centuries before Moses. Once more, archaeologists vindicated the Bible record.

Many other examples can be given to show how archeology has repeatedly proven the Bible true. When the Bible gives the location of a city, it is found right where it was said to be. Names of rulers and others found in the Bible continue to be discovered. The Bible is never disproved and will always be proven true by archaeology because it is the inspired word of God.

SCIENTIFIC FOREKNOWLEDGE

Despite the claims of many, true science has never disproved the Bible. The false theories and pseudo-science of man may have conflicted with the Bible, but true, provable science has never proven the Bible wrong. Actually, the Bible has been confirmed by true science. The Bible has stated facts that science has later proven to be true.

In the nineteenth century a famous scientist named Herbert Spencer proclaimed the five fundamentals of science to be time, force, action, space, and matter. This was hailed as a great proclamation. It was, in fact, something the Bible had shown millenniums before. Listen to Moses in Gen 1:1, "In the beginning (time) God (force) created (action) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter)." Moses knew through inspiration what it took science centuries to discover.

Matthew Fontaine Maury is considered to be the father of modern oceanography. He is thought of as the discoverer of the paths that run through the oceans, and his maps of the shipping lanes are still used. The idea to find these paths came to Maury when his son was reading him Psalms 8:8 which speaks of "the paths of the sea." He only discovered what was already stated in the Bible.

The first law of thermodynamics states that matter is neither created nor destroyed. Moses recognized this fact centuries before modern science made this claim when he said in Gen 2:1 that, "...the heavens and the earth were finished..." God rested from his work and creation ceased. Now science has unknowingly confirmed Moses right.

Similarly, the Bible is also confirmed by the second law of thermodynamics which states that things degenerate over time. Things do not become more complex as evolutionists would have us believe. They degenerate. The Bible states this fact when it says in Psalms 102:25-26 and other places that the earth is "waxing old like a garment." The earth is wearing out, according to the Bible, and this is now recognized by science.

Many other examples can be given where the Bible has been proven to be scientifically sound. Isa 40:22 describes the earth as being round, hundreds of years before Christ. Job 26:7 gives a picture of the earth suspended in space much like is seen from rocket ships and satellites today. The Bible also speaks of recesses of the deep, springs in the seas, and of all the oceans lying in one bed. All these facts have been proven true. True science has never, and will never, disprove the Bible.

UNIFORMITY OF THE BIBLE

The Bible is, actually, not one book but a collection of books. It is often thought of as a single book because of its uniformity. The Bible was written by some forty different authors over about a 1500 year period, and yet, its unity exceeds any one book written by a single author. The Bible was written by kings, peasants, fishermen, poets, shepherds, and men from all walks of life. It was penned from wildernesses, king's palaces, and even from prisons. It was written in three distinct languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) in three separate continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa). The Bible covers hundreds of controversial and philosophical questions. It deals with morality, creation, eschatology, and hundreds of other difficult themes. Through the Bible all its books agree and harmonize like no other book.

It would be impossible to find any two men from the same country, living at the same time, from the same neighborhood, and even raised the same way to agree on various subjects like the different writers of the Bible do. The Bible only has one theme, the fall and redemption of man, and it masterfully reveals this theme through the ages of time. Geisler and Nix write, "The 'paradise lost' of Genesis becomes the 'paradise regained' of Revelation. Whereas the gate to the tree of life is closed in Genesis, it is opened forevermore in Revelation." The Bible reveals to man redemption through the blood of Christ and is inspired by the author of that plan, God.

FULFILLED PROPHECY

The Bible shows itself to be the word of God because of its numerous fulfilled prophecy. The Bible was written years, and even centuries, before events that it described took place. The Bible reveals things that no man could know unless it was revealed to him by God.

Cyrus the Great, for example, is mentioned by name as the liberator and restorer of the Jews and Jerusalem in Isa 44:28. This prophesy is given more than two hundred years before he conquered Babylon and fulfilled this prophecy. No man could have known the name of a king who had not yet been born, who would liberate a people that were not captives yet, and would let them rebuild their city which had not been destroyed yet, unless God revealed it to him.

Isaiah predicts the destruction of Babylon in Isa 12-13 over 150 years before the event. Daniel details the eventual history of four empires, before two of them were even created in Daniel 2. Moses gives the entire history of the Jewish nation in Deut 28. He gives a complete and accurate outline of their history before it takes place!

In 1 Kings 13:2 the writer here mentions king Josiah by name and tells about his life three hundred years before the king ruled. It mentions him by name despite the fact that he was centuries away from even being born. No person could have known the name and character of an unborn king unless God inspired him to write it down.

The greatest prophecies of all are those concerning Jesus Christ. The life of Christ is given in incredible detail hundreds of years before He was born. The old testament states that he would be born in Bethlehem. No person can choose where they will be born, so this is not something Christ could have chosen to fulfill were He not the Son of God. It was also foretold that He would heal many, teach great things, die on a cross between thieves, not have a bone broken, be buried in a rich man's tomb, be resurrected, and enter heaven. All this and many other things Jesus did to fulfill prophecy. This is why He was able to declare on the cross, "it is finished." He fulfilled the numerous prophecies down to the very last detail. Only men inspired of God could have told of His life in such detail, hundreds of years before he was born.

POWER OF THE WORD

More than anything else, it is the power of the word of God which convinces me that the Bible is the inspired word. The Bible is not a dead book. It lives in the hearts and minds of those who read it. It influences the lives of men like no other book ever written. The Bible can turn a murderer into a preacher, and a drunkard into a respectable citizen and family man. It has impacted more lives than all other books put together. It can influence the soul and direction of a nation. It is the foundation upon which moral principles are based. Its teachings do more to help mankind than any book or philosophy.

The Bible inspires men to give and be charitable. It has influenced the building of more hospitals than any medical book or journal. It has helped more people with emotional problems than all the psychology books ever written. It is the greatest book ever written, and it tells the greatest story ever told.

It has changed my life and given me a purpose and reason to live. It is the power of the word which tells me beyond any doubt that this is no ordinary book. It is a book authored by the living God and it can change your life too. The Bible is the inspired word of God.

What History Says About The Resurrection Of Christ

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? It has been said that the resurrection of Christ is the best established fact of ancient history. Is this true? Is there really strong historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ? Can we find enough testimony to merit saying that it is an established fact of history?

To explore this subject in greater detail, we will look at three basic groups of evidence. First, the New Testament (more specifically the four Gospels) as history. Second, non-biblical Christian testimony (the record of early Christian writers). Third, non-biblical, non Christian testimony (the record of secular historians on the matter).

First, should we regard the New Testament writings as history? Skeptics may protest using Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to prove the resurrection since these are part of the Bible. Many will say, "If I believed the Bible, I would believe the resurrection. Using the Bible to prove the resurrection is true assumes the Bible is true. The belief in the Bible as truth is based in part on the assumption that the resurrection is true. This is circular reasoning. The resurrection is true because the Bible says so. The Bible is true because it tells of the resurrection, which is true." Should we therefore completely disregard the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

Let's look at it this way. Don't think of the four Gospels as part of a book we call the Bible or the New Testament. Let's think of them as four independent records that spoke of the same event. Matthew, a Jewish tax-collector and Apostle; Mark, an early disciple; Luke, likely a Greek physician; and John, an Apostle, all give consistent record of Christ's death and resurrection. There are literally thousands of ancient manuscripts, translations and quotations of these men's writings. No other historical document can boast such testimony! Surely the record is worthy of the same consideration given any other historical writing. Therefore, we do not casually dismiss their books. They are valid historians who have earned their place of integrity among first century writers. Their accounts must be reckoned with. Even most unbelievers acknowledge this fact and attempt to reconcile the Gospel record with their rejection of Christ's resurrection. So, we examine the Gospels and use their witness to contemplate the resurrection of Christ.

In Matthew 28:5-7 Matthew says, "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead..." Mark says in Mark 16:9, "Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils." In Luke 24:5-6 the angels said, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen..." In John 20:1-8 John tells how he and Peter went to Christ's tomb and found the empty graveclothes. At this point John believed. Thus, all four historians record the resurrection of Christ as a fact of history.

Besides their plain statements of the resurrection, let's notice some facts regarding the death of Jesus these men record, and most scholars (unbelievers included) seem to accept as true. These are;

1.) Jesus died from the rigors of crucifixion.

2.) Jesus was buried in a guarded, sealed tomb.

3.) His tomb was found empty.

4.) The disciples fell into fear and despair. For a while, none of them believed Christ had risen from the dead except John.

5.) Later, the disciples believed they saw Jesus alive.

6.) The disciples were transformed into brave champions of their cause. Most eventually dying as martyrs.

Note that none of these facts by themselves demand anything miraculous. This is why unbelieving historians generally accept them. Even the fact that the disciples believed they saw Jesus could, by itself, be explained as an ordinary hallucination caused by stress. In fact, this is the factor to which some attribute the post resurrection appearances of Christ.

As stated above, these facts independently do not demand we conclude a miraculous resurrection. However, when considered collectively, they constitute a powerful confirmation of Christ's resurrection.

If Christ died and was buried in a tomb, how could the tomb be empty three days later? Either the enemies of Jesus stole the body, the disciples stole the body, or his body left the grave on it's own power. The enemies would not have stolen the body because that would perpetuate the doctrine of Christ's resurrection, which they despised. Furthermore, if they stole it, they could have produced it later, proving the resurrection to be a hoax and stopping Christianity dead in it's tracks.

The disciples could not have stolen the body because Roman soldiers guarded the tomb. Furthermore, if they stole the body, why would they fall into despair and disbelief, then later stand up as brave martyrs, dying for a cause they knew to be untrue? This also contradicts the fact that the disciples truly believed they say Jesus alive. If they plotted a resurrection hoax and stole the body, they would have had no such visions.

Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion is that Christ's body came forth from the grave victorious over death. He presented himself alive to his disciples and hundreds of others. Faithful followers believed him and told his story for centuries until now. Others recorded the events of his life, death and resurrection, which record we now have in the pages of the New Testament. From the Gospel record we have found facts generally accepted by unbelievers, which are sufficient to prove the resurrection of Christ as a fact of history. But we have testimony beyond what the Bible says.

Dozens of Christian historians from the first and second century record Christ's resurrection as a fact of history. These were men who wrote early Christian literature and commentaries on scripture. Some of them are said to have been personal acquaintances of Christ's Apostles. Though they were Christians and their record is, therefore, biased, their testimony is still abundant. It must be given the same attention as any other testimony of history. Just because they were Christians doesn’t automatically mean their record is untrue.

Additionally, there is secular history that speaks of the death and resurrection of Christ. Josephus, the Jewish (not a Christian!) historian speaks of Christ's life, miracles, death and resurrection as a historical fact. Pagan historians such as Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius speak of Christ's death and to some degree the belief by some that he arose from the dead. Can these non-Christian witnesses be completely ignored? Surely their record carries great weight, especially in light of what has already been proven from the Gospel record.

Add to this the fact that no first century historian testifies to the contrary. I know of no first century historian that claimed to have found the body of Jesus. I know of no first century historian that says the tomb was not empty. I know of no first century historian that was there when the disciples claimed to have seen Jesus after his resurrection and discredits their claim. We have abundant historical proof of Christ's resurrection and NO KNOWN DENIAL in early history. Truly, the resurrection of Christ is an established fact of history. You can believe it and place your hope on it's promise that someday, those faithful to God will also break forth from their graves, glorified and immortal. Or, you could join the ranks of unbelievers who deny the plain record of history and suffer the consequences at the end of time.

What Prophesy Says About The Resurrection Of Christ

How can you be sure Jesus rose from the dead? This is a fact all true Christians readily accept. However, unbelievers generally regard the resurrection story as a myth. Is there any way we can prove the resurrection of Christ as a fact of history? Is there any evidence to back up our faith?

There are a number of approaches that can be made to prove the resurrection of Christ. One of the most remarkable evidences of the resurrection is what we will call the resurrection model. The resurrection model is the story of Christ’s death and resurrection prophesied in the Old Testament and also by Christ. In this study, we will see that Old Testament prophets painted a consistent and complete scenario of what would happen in the events of Christ's death and resurrection. Furthermore, we will discover that Christ prophesied his own death and resurrection in a way that exactly matches the scenario depicted in the prophets. We will examine this resurrection model as built in the prophets, as told by Jesus, and what actually took place. From this examination we will build a case for the historical fact of the resurrection of Christ.

The Resurrection Model From The Prophets

In this section of our study, we will examine the writings of three different prophets; David (in the Psalms), Isaiah and Zechariah. Many other prophets could be used to strengthen the case, but with limited space we will use just these three. David lived about 1000 b.c. He was a shepherd boy, a musician, a warrior and finally, king over Israel for the last forty years of his life. Isaiah was a prophet of God in the land of Judah around 750 b.c. Zechariah prophesied after the Babylonian captivity around 500 b.c.

All their writings are well preserved in ancient manuscripts, translations and historical writings. There is no reasonable doubt that there was once a David, an Isaiah and a Zechariah who wrote the things ascribed to them. Even though these men's lives were separated by centuries, culture and circumstance, they all paint a consistent picture of what would happen in the death and resurrection of Christ. This collective prophetic picture constitutes our resurrection model.

1. In Psalm 22:6 David says of Jesus, "But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." According to Isaiah in Isaiah 53:3 "He is despised and rejected of men...he was despised, and we esteemed him not." These men prophesied Jesus would be rejected by his generation. This is the first piece in our resurrection model.

2. The second piece is found in Psalm 35:11 where David says, "False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge [things] that I knew not." This is the prophesy that witnesses would lie about him and falsely accuse him in order to get him crucified.

3. Next, the prophets said he would be delivered to the Gentiles to be killed. In Psalm 22:16 David says, "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet." The words "dogs" and "assembly of the wicked" refer to the Gentiles, indicating the Gentiles would have part in crucifying Jesus.

4. The fourth element of the resurrection model is the fact that Christ was scorned and mocked. This is found in Psalm 22:7-8 where David says, "All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, [saying], He trusted on the LORD [that] he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him." Also note Psalm 35:16. "...With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth." These and many other verses depict a consistent picture of his shame and suffering.

5. The fifth component of our resurrection model is that he was spat upon. In Isaiah 50:6, Isaiah prophesied of Christ, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting."

6. Number six is his manner of death, the fact that he was crucified. This manner of death is implied in Psalms 22:16 where he said, "they pierced my hands and my feet." This, of course, was accomplished in crucifixion.

7. The seventh component in our resurrection model is the prophesy that Christ's suffering would take place at Jerusalem. In Zechariah 9:9 the prophet says, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." This says the Christ would bring his salvation (vicarious death) to Jerusalem.

8. The final segment in our resurrection model is David's prophesy of the resurrection of Christ in Psalm 16:10 where he says, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." The holy one of Israel, Christ, would not be left in his tomb. Instead, he would rise from the grave victorious over death.

The Resurrection Model From Jesus

Christ built the same picture of his resurrection as did the prophets long before him. Great details of these events are mentioned in the following passages and in many other places.

1. In Luke 17:25 Jesus said of himself, "he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."

2. In Matthew 16:21 he referred to those who lied about him when he said, "...he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes..."

3. In Matthew 20:19 he spoke of the Gentile's part in his crucifixion. He said, "And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify [him]."

4. This reference also mentions the fourth element of our model, that Jesus would be scorned and mocked.

5. Luke 18:32 says he would be spat upon.

6. The above reference in Matthew 20:19 confirms that crucifixion would be his manner of death.

7. In Luke 18:31 Jesus said these things would take place in Jerusalem.

8. Finally, in Matthew 17:23 Jesus prophesied, "...the third day he shall be raised again."

Throughout his ministry, Jesus consistently built the same resurrection model found in the prophets. This in itself is remarkable, that several independent prophets, separated by centuries, would construct a consistent story and then Jesus comes along and builds the exact same model of events. What is even more remarkable is the fact that this model was exactly fulfilled!

What Actually Happened

It is a matter of historical record that Jesus was crucified. Not only do we have the testimony of the four gospel writers, we also have record from other historians, both Christian and non-Christian. Suffice to say that the gospel accounts recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are consistent with the record of Roman and Jewish history from the first century. Here is what their record says took place.

1. In Matthew 27:23 the people of Christ's own generation rejected him as they, "...cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified."

2. In Matthew 26:59-60 it gives record of the false witnesses saying, "The chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, [yet] found they none. At the last came two false witnesses."

3. In Matthew 27:2 he was delivered to the Gentiles, "when they had bound him, they led [him] away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor."

4. In Matthew 27:27-31 we read of how they mocked Jesus. "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band [of soldiers]. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put [it] upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify [him]."

5. The above reference and Matthew 26:67 records how "...they spit in his face..."

6. Matthew 27:35 confirms that crucifixion was the manner of death which he died.

7. Matthew 27:33 and the context verifies that this all took place at Jerusalem and Golgotha, a hill just outside the city.

8. Matthew 28:6-7 The angel said of Jesus, "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead..."

The prophets and Jesus constructed a resurrection model prophesying these and many other events. In every detail they were all historically fulfilled. The model predicted Jesus would be rejected by his generation, and he was. The model predicted he would be lied about, and he was. The model predicted the Gentiles would be directly involved in his death, and they were. The model predicted he would be scorned and mocked, and he was. The model said people would spit upon him, and they did. The model predicted he would die by crucifixion, and he did. The model said this would happen at Jerusalem, and that is where it all took place. In every detail the predictions of the prophets and Jesus were fulfilled. The fulfillment of these first seven points is verified in history, in and out of the Bible. Why should we then believe the last prediction did not come true? If Christ and these prophets could independently foresee these events exactly as they were to take place, why could they not also foresee the resurrection? In fact they did, and the resurrection is just as true as their other things prophesied.

Skeptics might say Jesus could have read the prophets and based his predictions on theirs. Then push the Jewish and Roman officials to kill him. However, if he were an ordinary man, there were many events beyond his control. He could not make them lie about him. He could not force them to mock him or spit on him. He could not make them crucify him. The elements of the resurrection model were too specific and dependant on others for an ordinary man to manipulate. Since these events would be beyond the control of an ordinary man, Jesus was obviously no ordinary man. The same power that allowed him to foresee and control the events of his death also allowed him to come out of his grave, victorious over death. The resurrection of Christ is a fact of history well supported by strong evidence. You can serve Christ with the assurance that he arose from the dead.

What The Bible Says About Evolution And Creation

Did God really create this world? Or, did God use the evolutionary process to bring into existence the world as we know it today? Evolution is being taught to our children in grade school, junior high, high school and college. We are constantly exposed to it on television, magazines, park and museum tours, and in virtually every form of media today. This constant bombardment assumes that evolution is a fact of science.

If man is just the product of evolution, then man is nothing more than a glorified animal. This destroys any sense of an obligation to a God, a creator, or any particular set of moral standards other than whatever we think is right. Evolution has some very serious implications. Therefore, it is appropriate to question the validity of this theory.

With the current assault on the Bible and assumption of evolution, many Christians are led to doubt and compromise. Some attempt to maintain a degree of faith in the Bible while accepting the theory of evolution. This writing speaks to Bible believers and calls for a consideration of the Bible evidence to evaluate the theory of evolution.

The Bible does not teach evolution! The Bible teaches CREATION. There are those who feel that the creation story in Genesis chapter one allows perhaps for billions of years in which evolution perhaps took place. But even they must admit two things: First, the Bible does not teach billions of years. The time of Genesis 1 could be as short as a week. Second, if the earth has been here for 4 1/2 billion years, the Bible does not teach evolution during that time. The Bible teaches creation!

The Bible teaches God is a creator. In Revelation 4:11 the Bible says, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." In Malachi 2:10 the prophet says, "...Hath not one God created us?" In Psalm 148:5 David writes, "Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created."

The Bible teaches God created all things. In Isaiah 45:12 the Lord says, "I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, [even] my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." In Isaiah 42:5 the Bible says, "Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:" In these and similar passages the Bible consistently teaches creation. There is no hint that God used evolution to bring this world to be.

A critical feature of the evolutionary theory is that it calls for billions of years of time. If God used evolution to create the world, then the creation week of Genesis 1 lasted billions of years. But, the Bible teaches creation took six days. In Genesis 1:1-31, 2:1-2 it depicts creation taking place through six days. Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 speak of these days consisting of evenings and mornings. This makes it sound like our ordinary day doesn't it?

Additionally, the Bible compares the creation week with our literal week of seven twenty-four-hour days. Exodus 20:8-11 says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the LORD thy God...For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day..." Doesn't this sound like a literal week? The Jewish week was just as long as the creation week. The days of creation were no longer than the Sabbath day. If the week of Genesis was billions of years long, the Jews were to understand their week to be the same.

Another problem with the idea of creation week lasting billions of years is it would not have man coming onto the scene until billions of years after the earth was created. This is a problem because the Bible says man has been here since the beginning of creation.

In Mark 10:6 Jesus said, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." Humans have been here since the beginning of creation. In Luke 11:50 says, "...The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world..." According to this passage, prophets have been dying since the foundation, or beginning of the world. If the earth was created billions of years before man, this could not be true.

Another problem with saying the earth was here billions of years before man is revealed in Isaiah 45:18 where the Bible says, "For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited..." The earth was created for the specific purpose of being inhabited. Since the earth was created for the habitation of man, why would God let it set here for a few billion years before placing man on it?

In summary, the Bible teaches that God created the earth in six days to be inhabited by man and that man has been here from the beginning of the creation. There is no basis for a compromise with the human philosophy of evolutionary theory.

People in the world may act as though evolution is true. They may belittle you for believing the Bible. But the evidence for evolution is not as compelling as people want us to believe. The theory of evolution is evolving itself. It has changed dramatically since it was first popularized by Darwin and company. It is still changing. Why? Because its components are constantly being discredited. The fossil record has not corroborated evolution. There is no need to be bullied by evolutionists into believing something that isn't true. You can be confident that the Bible record is true. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

Counseling

These studies have been designed for use in counseling, whether you are counseling with a fellow Christian or you need some spiritual help yourself.  They will not replace the counsel of a Godly fellow Christian, however they can be used with great profit when strengthening your faith.  We pray they will be a blessing to you.  This, just as our other studies, is a work in progress and we will continue to add other studies from time to time.

 

Anger

This Study is designed to teach you what God says about Anger. When it is and is not sinful, and how to deal with it in a way that honors Christ.

Becoming a New Man -003

This worksheet is designed to help you discover practical steps to overcoming your sin. It is the last worksheet in this series and should follow the Repentance Priority Chart - 001 and Learning Satan's Devices -002

Learning Satan's Devices -002

This worksheet is designed to help you understand the extent and root of your particular sin problem. It should follow the Repentance Priority Chart -001 and be followed by Becoming a New Man -003

Repentance Priority Chart -001

This is a worksheet to help you get your life problems in clear view. It is designed to be followed with Learning Satan's Devices -002 and Becoming a New Man -003

Discipleship - Christian Life

In the Great Commission Jesus tells us that there are two steps in making someone a disciple.   

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

This section contains studies which are designed to help with that second step: "Teaching them to observe all things" that Jesus commanded.  

Growing Up in the Lord - The Work and Worship of the Church

Overview:

• When I became a Christian, I accepted and confessed Jesus as: (Romans 10:9-10)
• To whom do I and all my abilities now belong? (Romans 12:1-2)
• Does Jesus have a right to tell me how to live, what to do and what not to do? (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21; John 14:15)
• What is a new Christian to do after baptism? (Matthew 28:19-20)

Introduction: In this lesson we will study two important things Jesus tells us to do:

• Hebrews 10:25 -
• 1 Corinthians 15:58 -

1. Why Is It Important To Meet Together For Worship?

A. Honor to God (Revelation 4:11)

1. Why honor God? He is:

a. Genesis 1:1-2:
b. Psalm 100:4-5; 103:1-5:
c. Romans 14:10-12:
d. How do you think taking time out from our own activities honors God?
e. What does it say if we are not willing to do this?

B. Encouragement to each other (Colossians 3:16)

1. What could happen to us if we neglect to meet together with our church family? (Revelation 2:4; Hebrews 3:12-13.)
2. What should happen to us if we faithfully and regularly meet together to worship God? (Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Peter 3:18)

2. How Does God Want Us To Worship Him?

A. Where is our worship to come from? (John 4:24)
B. What are some things that would keep God from receiving our worship?

1. Matthew 5:23-24; Mark 11:25:
2. 1 Peter 3:12; James 4:8:
3. Matthew 15:8-9:

C. What things has God told us to do when we meet to Worship him?

1. 1 Corinthians 11:23-30:
2. Acts 20:7:
3. Ephesians 5:18-19:
4. 1 Timothy 2:1-8:
5. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2:D. On what day of the week do Christians especially meet for worship, and in memory of what event? (Acts 20:7; Mark 16:1-6)

3. What Work Does God Have For Each One Of Us To Do As Part Of The Church?

A. Four basic things Jesus has given the church to do:

1. John 4:23:
2. Matthew 28:19:
3. Matthew 28:20:
4. Acts 4:34-35:

B. Does everyone in the church do the same work? (Romans 12:4-5;
1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

C. How do I know what work I should do? (Romans 12:6-8)

D. What are two principles by which all my work for Christ should be done? I should do everything ....

1. Colossians 3:17:
2. Colossians 3:23:

F. To whom are we to submit as our supervisors and shepherds in working for the Lord? (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4)

 

 

Growing Up in the Lord - The Way I Live

1. Introduction: In connection with this lesson, read Romans 12, Ephesians 4, Colossians 3. Jesus gives us a whole new way to look at life, with new things to live for. How would you describe the lifestyle of a Christian? 2 Corinth¬ians 5:17; Romans 12:2.

2. What Is The Greatest Commandment Of The Lord To Christians? Matthew 22:35-38.

A. If I love God, what will I always try to do?

1. John 14:15:

B. If I love God, what are two things I will always try to avoid doing?

1. Ephesians 4:30:
2. I Timothy 6:1:

C. What is the main purpose of my life as a Christian?

1. Matthew 5:16:

3. What Is The Lord's Second Greatest Commandment To Christians? Mt 22:39.

A. If I love others as myself, what are two things I will avoid doing?

1. Romans 13:10
2. Matthew 18:6-7

B. If an activity or style I enjoy creates problems for another person and causes him to sin, what should my attitude be? (1 Corinthians 8:13; 10:31-33; Romans 14:21)

4. I Belong To A Holy God, Therefore My Life Must Be Holy: (1 Peter 1:15-16; Hebrews 12:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1)

A. What will my old friends think of me now that my life is changing? (1 Peter 4:4)
B. Will it take courage and determination if I am going to please Christ and be different?
C. Though my family or my past experiences may have made it hard to follow Christ, what choice am I still responsible to make? (Romans 6:12-13)
D. Where can I learn how God wants me to live? (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119:105)

5. In My Baptism, I Was Joined With Christ In His Death And Resurrection: (Romans 6:1-4)

A. I have been with Christ (Romans 6:8). My old sinful self was (Romans 6:6). It is as if I am to sin, but to Christ (Romans 6:11). I am no longer a slave of but a slave of (Romans 6:17,18).

6. From Ephesians 4:22-5:18, List Things The Lord Wants Us To "Put Off":

A. Does God take away these things to spoil our lives or to give us real life? (Deuteronomy 5:29; John 10:10)

7. List Some Things That God Wants Us To "Put On": (Colossians 3:12-15; Galatians 5:22-23)

A. As I grow in these things, I am becoming more like:

1. Galatians 2:20; 4:19

B. Why is it important to fill my life with good in place of the evil that was once in it?

1. Matthew 12:43-45

8. How Can I Overcome The Temptations Of My Old Nature?

A. "Burn bridges" to the past:

1. What did the Ephesian Christians do when they turned away from witchcraft and sorcery? (Acts 19:18-20 - Do I have things I should get rid of?)
2. Do my friends and the places I go make it harder for me to resist sin? (1 Corinthians 15:33; Romans 13:14 - make it hard to sin)
3. I should be willing to part with the activities and friends that cause me to sin, even if it is as hard as losing a hand or eye from my body. (Matthew 18:7-9)

B. Keep your heart and mind clean:

1. Where does sin start? (Matthew 15:19; James 1:13-15)
2. Why are the wrong kind of clothes, books, magazines, music, movies, TV and conversation so damaging to my Christian life? (Proverbs 4:23)
3. What must I do about my thought-life now that I am under the Lord¬ship of Christ? (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8)
4. Jesus teaches me to deal with sins such as murder and adultery at what stage? (Matthew 5:21-22; 27-28)
5. At what point in their development do you think wrong thoughts are easiest to deal with?
6. While I am doing my best to keep my thoughts clean, what should I ask God to do? (Psalm 51:10)

C. Get help from God:

1. What can I put inside my heart and mind that will help me overcome sin? (Psalm 119:11)
2. Who will help me "put to death" the sins of my old nature? (Romans 8:13)
3. How can I continually be "refilled" with the Holy Spirit? (Luke 11:13; Colossians 3:16)

D. Strengthen your new nature:

1. What should I do, as far as possible, about any old wrongs I have done against people which have not been cleared up?

a. Matthew 5:23-24
b. Leviticus 6:4

2. What should I do if I hold any resentments against people from the past (including my parents, spouse, or family members)? (Mark 11:25)
3. What is the food for my new nature to grow on? (Matthew 4:4)
4. Who will help to make me like Jesus? (Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 8:28,29)
5. Who in the church has God given me to help me grow like Christ? (Ephesians 4:11-13)
6. What else will keep me close to God and make me strong? (Ephesians 6:18)
7. Where can I go to find encouragement to overcome temptation and live like Jesus? (Hebrews 10:24-25)
8. If I will use these helps that God has given me, what has God promised? (1 Corinthians 10:13)

 

 

Growing Up in the Lord - My Family Life

1. Introduction:

A. God created marriage and the family and organized them in the way that is best for us. He knows what we need.
B. If our family life is right, everything is better. If family life is messed up, nothing else is really good.
C. We can probably serve Jesus in and through our family more than any other way. o Our families can really be happy if we let Jesus as Lord direct them.

2. Choosing A Spouse: Before marriage, be guided by Christ's teaching in the way you treat people of the opposite sex. Choose a spouse who will completely share with you in serving the Lord through your marriage.

A. Does God want a Christian to marry an unbeliever? (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14)
B. If one wants to obey God in this, whom will he or she date?
C. Does God want people to have sex outside of marriage? (1 Corinthians 6:18; 7:2)

3. Husbands: In marriage, what is the main thing the Lord Jesus tells the husband to do? (Ephesians 5:25-29)

A. Who is the example of the husband's love for his wife? (Ephesians 5:25)
B. Christ's love for the church caused him to do what for it? (Ephesians 5:25)
C. The relationship between the husband and the wife is compared to what other relationship? (Ephesians 5:23)
D. What is to be the husband's attitude as he leads his wife? (1 Peter 3:7)
E. What will happen if he does not have this attitude? (1 Peter 3:7)
F. What is another thing Jesus tells the husband to do? (1 Timothy 5:8)
G. What decision is the husband and father responsible for making and carrying out? (Joshua 24:15)

4. Wives: What is the main thing Jesus as Lord tells the wife to do? (Ephesians 5:22-24,33)

A. What is her example in this? (Ephesians 5:24)
B. Can the family or any other organization succeed without leadership?
C. Whom has God placed in leadership in the family? (Ephesians 5:23)
D. Do you think the wife is to submit to her husband because he is always right, or because he is her husband?
E. When we disobey God's appointed authority, whom do we also disobey? (Romans 13:1-7)
F. If a wife submits to her husband only when she thinks he is right, is this submission?
G. If the wife obeys her husband but resents it and takes out the resentment in nagging, sexual coldness or in some other way, do you think she is submitting in the spirit that the Lord Jesus teaches?
H. Who, as our example, won the greatest victories and the greatest honor through humility and submission? (Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 16:24-25 )
I. Why was Eve given to Adam as a wife? (Genesis 2:18-25)
J. What is the basic family role which the Lord has given the wife? (1 Timothy 5:9-10,14; Titus 2:4-5; Proverbs 31:10-31)
K. How can a wife help her husband if he is not a Christian believer? (1 Peter 3:1-4)

5. Husbands And Wives: What are some other things that Jesus teaches husbands and wives? (Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:4)

A. Do you think this love that is commanded is basically a feeling or a decision? (Can feelings be commanded?)
B. What will this love always cause a couple to do?
C. Colossians 3:13
D. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5
E. How does God feel about a married person flirting with or allowing him¬self to daydream about someone besides his spouse? (Where does adultery start?) (Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28-30)
F. What does the Lord teach about sexual immorality and adultery (marital unfaithfulness)? (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Hebrews 13:4)
G. Is sex within lawful marriage something dirty, or something clean to be enjoyed? (Who made our sexual natures?) (Genesis 1:27; Hebrews 13:4)
H. If a husband or wife withholds sex from the other, he or she is disobeying God.
I. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
J. Mark 10:2-9
K. When a couple marries, what should be their intention? (Romans 7:1-3)
L. Is divorce an option for Christians? (Mark 10:9; Malachi 2:13-16)
M. If a person divorces his spouse (except for the cause of fornication) and marries another, what sin does Jesus say that he or she commits? (Matthew 19:9)

6. Children: What is the main thin8 Jesus tells a child to do? (Ephesians 6:1-3)

A. Who is the authority whom the Lord has placed over children? (Colossians 3:20; Exodus 20:12)
B. Disobeying or disrespecting our parents is disobeying God.

7. Parents: What is the main thing Jesus tells parents to do? (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6)

A. Whose is the primary responsibility for teaching children God's way, the church's or the parents'? (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

B. How often should parents talk to their children about God and his way? (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
C. Do you think the child will adopt godly beliefs and values if the parents do not seriously live these things before them? (Romans 2:21-24)
D. Will the Lord hold parents responsible for correcting their children? (1 Samuel 3:12-13)
E. What is the purpose of parental discipline? (Proverbs 22:15; 29:15)
F. If a parent will not discipline a child to prevent him from going wrong, does the parent love the child? (Proverbs 13:24)
G. How does God, our Father, show his love to his children? (Hebrews 12:5-11)
H. If a child does not learn to submit to authority while at home with his parents, how do you think this will affect his ability to submit to teachers, church leaders, employers, government authorities, and to God?
I. If a child does not learn by discipline to control himself and do things he doesn't want to do, how do you think it will affect his ability to cope with life's pressures later?
J. What characteristic of parents makes discipline not damaging but strengthening to a child? (Proverbs 13:24; Titus 2:4)

 

 

Growing Up in the Lord - My Relationships with Others

1. Introduction: To begin this lesson, read Matthew 18 and Romans 12:14-21.

A. Satan wants to divide people and make enemies. Jesus wants to unite people and make peace.
B. Christians should not be slaves to anger and resentment as many other people are. o Broken relationships serve Satan and hurt the work of Jesus in saving the world.
C. Imperfect human beings will always have their differences and problems With each other. But Jesus teaches us how to avoid many problems and quickly solve the ones that do come.

2. Pride: The Greatest cause of conflicts between people is pride and self-centeredness. (Matthew 18:1-5)

A. What were Jesus' disciples arguing about? (Matthew 18:1; Luke 22:24)
B. If we are always concerned about who is the greatest brightest, best, smartest, richest, most loved, has most authority, or should be treated best, etc., will we be more likely or less likely to run into conflict with others?
C. According to Jesus, what must we do to "self" if we are to follow him? (Matthew 16:24-25)
D. What did Paul say has happened to the "self" of a Christian? (Romans 6:6)
E. Did Jesus, our example, insist on his rights, or did he voluntarily lay them down because he loved others? (Philippians 2:5-8)
F. Should my main aim be to please myself, or to be redemptive toward others as Jesus was? (Romans 15:1-3)
G. If we "bear crosses" and "lose" our lives (or rights) to make it better for others, what will we "find?" (Matthew 16:25)
H. What is the guideline for all our relationships? (Ephesians 5:21)
I. Is this the way the world thinks? (Are Christians different?)

3. We Cannot Afford the Cost Of Broken Relationships: (Matthew 18:6)

A. How bad is it for a person to be the cause of offense or sin in another person's life? (Matthew 18:6-7)
B. If I have done wrong to another person and have not cleared up the matter or made it right, what does Jesus say about my worship to God? (Matthew 5:23-24)
C. If a wronged person will not forgive, can he receive the grace and forgive¬ness of God? (Matthew 6:14-15)
D. When a person is filled with resentment and bitterness, how do you think it affects the emotional climate of his family or his church?
E. What is necessary before outsiders can believe in Christ and be saved? (John 17:20-21; Philippians 2:14-16)
F. If our fights and divisions disgust outsiders so that they fail to believe in Christ, who will be partly blamed for the loss of their souls on the Day of Judgment?

4. Things That Offend: Because conflicts with others can threaten our own salvation and that of others, we must determine the things that offend and take them away. (Matt.18:7-14)

A. When we look for the causes of trouble between ourselves and another per¬son, where does Jesus tell us to start? (Matthew 7:1-5).
B. It will help to study and list the things in you that upset the other person.
C. Are you reacting too strongly to ordinary faults within the other person? In an imperfect world, people are not going to stop doing things that offend us. Much of the solution has to be in controlling our reaction to the wrongs. How does love react? (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
D. We should be as willing to give up things that cause sin and conflict as we would be to give up (Matthew 18:8-9)
E. A Christian should even be willing to be wronged rather than prolong an ugly conflict with another person. (1 Corinthians 6:7; Matthew 5:39-41)
F. If something I enjoy causes spiritual problems for another person, what should I be willing to do? (Romans 14:13-15,19-21)

5. Jesus' Example: Jesus has given us a way to clear up conflicts and deal with wrongs. (Matthew 18:15-20; 5:23-26)

A. What are the three steps Jesus gives for dealing with a person who has done wrong to you? (Matthew 18:15-17)
B. When one person has wronged another, does Jesus say which of them should be the first to go to the other? (Matthew 18:15; 5:23-24)
C. What, then, is important?
D. With what attitude or spirit should you approach a wrongdoer in order to help him? (Galatians 6:1)
E. Considering the damage that a lasting conflict does, how quickly should we try to resolve our conflict with another person? (Matthew 5:25; Ephesians 4:26)

6. We Must Forgive As God Forgives: (Matthew 18:21-35.)

A. Whose job is it to pay back people who do wrong? (Romans 12:19-20)
B. Why does our own salvation depend on forgiving others? (Matthew 6:14-15)
C. Who gains an opportunity when we keep anger and resentment in our hearts? (Ephesians 4:26-27)
D. Who is our example in forgiving others? (Luke 23:33-34)
E. Do you think forgiveness is a feeling or a decision? (Can a feeling be commanded?)
F. When people mistreat us, instead of paying back evil for evil, we Christians are to overcome evil with. (Romans 12:20-21.)

7. Summary: Many marriages, church fellowships, and working relationships have been saved and kept together simply because the people involved valued the relationship enough to do what it took to keep harmony. Little strains in relationships, like little tears in a garment, must be mended before they grow bigger. We must be willing to communicate or say "sorry" whenever it is needed. We can and must keep our relationships right. Our relationship to God depends on our relationship to others. Only when Jesus is Lord of our relationships can our lives be filled with his grace and power.

Growing Up in the Lord - My Finances

1. Introduction: To begin this lesson, read Matthew 6:19-34; Luke 12:13-21. The story is told of a person who left his wallet in his pocket when he was baptized, because he wanted his money as well as himself to belong to the Lord. If we accept Jesus as Lord of our lives, he has the right not only to receive our financial support for his work, but to tell us how to use what we keep for ourselves. Jesus teaches much about our attitude toward money and our management of it. In no other area is our Christianity more tested than here.

2. Why Study Finances?

A. Who is the real owner of everything? (Psalm 24:1; 1 Chronicles 29:11)
B. Besides giving our bodies and our abilities as a sacrifice to God, in what else should we serve him? (Proverbs 3:9)
C. At the judgment, we will answer to God about what? (Luke 19:11-27)
D. How will our faithfulness or unfaithfulness in handling money affect us in the life to come? (Luke 16:10-12; 19:15-17)

3. The Christian Attitude About Money:

A. The devil likes to blind people to reality (2 Corinthians 4:4). He wants us to think we are not really living until we can buy all the things we want. In contrast, what does Jesus say? (Luke 12:15)
B. How many kinds of evil are people willing to do because they love money? (1 Tim 6:10)
C. Love of money (greed) is a form of what sin? (Colossians 3:5)
D. What basic decision must a person make about money if he is to follow the Lord? (Matthew 6:24, 31-33. Compare Matthew 19:16-26)
E. Why is this decision so important? (Matthew 6:21)
F. What will over-concern about money and possessions do to our service to God?
(Luke 8:5-15)
G. If we have and , we are to be content. (1 Timothy 6:8)
H. Can a person decide to be content? (Hebrews 13:5)
I. Are happiness and contentment dependent on how much we have, or are they a result of inward attitudes about life? (Philippians 4:11-13)

4. Getting And Using Money:

A. How does God feel about laziness? (Colossians 3:23; Proverbs 20:13; 6:9-11)
B. On the other hand, what does the Lord say about worry over finances? (Matthew 6:31-33)
C. If, after we have done all we can, we worry over finances and other problems, are we trusting God?
D. How does God feel about people getting money dishonestly? (Micah 6:10,11; Proverbs 20:23; 21:6)
E. Now that we follow Christ, how should we feel about such dishonesties as cheating on the reporting of income and deductions, putting personal items on company expense accounts, misinformation on insurance claims, using company supplies and phones for personal purposes, changing the odometer reading on a car before sale, "calling in sick" when wanting off for another reason, ignoring parking tickets, knowingly writing hot checks, skipping scheduled payments, or moving away from an address without paying back rent and other bills owed? (Psalm 119:104)
F. What shows that Zacchaeus, who had been dishonest, really repented when he started following the Lord? (Luke 19:8)
G. Name five reasons for earning money:
H. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 -
I. 1 Timothy 5:8 -
J. Ephesians 4:28; Galatians 6:10 -
K. Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 9:14 -
L. Romans 13:7 -

5. Honoring God Through Our Offerings:

A. Though the New Testament leaves a Christian free to decide what portion of his income he will contribute to the work of the church (2 Corinthians 9:7), what Old Testament commandment reveals God's mind about the portion of a person's income that would honor God as a gift? (Leviticus 27:30,32; compare Genesis 28:20-22)
B. Considering that we have received so much more grace and help from the Lord than the Old Testament people did, do you think a Christian should be satis¬fied to give less to God's work than the O. T. people were commanded to give?
C. In deciding what portion of my income to give to God, should I take my standard from some weak, uncommitted Christian around me, or from the expressions of God's mind in the scriptures?
D. When God's people failed to support God's work financially, God said they
were him. (Malachi 3:7-12)
E. Upon receiving income, when were God's people to start giving to God, and of what quality were their gifts to be? (Exodus 23:19a; compare Exodus 13:12)
F. What do these examples say to us today about the honor due to God in giv¬ing?
G. In giving to God's work and to those in need, we are becoming more like God who loved us and gave his Son (John 3:16). Jesus said, "It is more to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35)
H. How does God feel about a person who gives freely and gladly? (2 Corinthians 9:7)
I. What has God promised to do for those who put God's kingdom first in their finances? (Matthew 6:31-33; Luke 6:38; Malachi 3:10,11)

6. Managing Our Finances So As To Honor And Serve The Lord:

A. Satan can use finances, just as he can drugs, drink or immorality, to bring people into conflict and bondage. If a Christian gets into a lot of unnecessary debt because he wants too many things, how will this affect his ability to serve God and others with his money and his life?
B. If he has a lot of debts, what should a Christian plan to do in order to free himself to serve God better?
C. In the story of Luke 9:11-17, what action of Jesus and his disciples at the end of the story shows that we are not to waste what we have, but use it carefully?

7. Conclusion: The Bible says a lot about how we use our money. This is one of the greatest tests of our loyalty to Christ as Lord. The Christian whose finances are under Christ's control will really stand out in a materialistic, immoral and undisciplined world. (Matthew 5:16)

Growing Up in the Lord - My Employment and Citizenship

1. Introduction: Jesus compared his people to salt and light when describing their influence for good in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Now that we are Christians under the Lordship of Christ, we are no longer to be conformed to the ways of the world, but we are to be transformed (Romans 12:2). Outsiders will see this change in us best in our behavior at work and in our community. In these areas we have some of our best chances to show the glory of God and affect the lives of lost people for Christ.

2. Employers And Employees For Christ:

A. Name two duties of a Christian employer to those who work for him:

1. Colossians 4:1; James 5:3-4
2. Ephesians 6:9

B. Why should an employer treat his employees rightly? (Ephesians 6:9)
C. Name three duties of a Christian employee:

1. Ephesians 6:5,6; Colossians 3:22-23
2. Titus 2:10
3. 1 Timothy 6:1

D. Should a Christian employee work well only when his employer treats him right? (1 Peter 2:18)
E. For whom does the employee really work? (Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:23)
F. If a Christian employee is insubordinate or dishonest or lazy, what does this cause the employer to do? (1 Timothy 6:1)
G. If a Christian employee obeys orders; avoids clock-watching, lateness and irresponsible absence; and does the best job possible even when unsuper¬vised, what does this cause an unbelieving employer to think about Jesus and his teaching? (Titus 2:9-10)
H. What principle of God's word should an employee follow if he is asked to do something wrong as a part of his job? (Acts 5:29)
I. What kind of business practice does God hate? (Proverbs 11:1)

3. Citizens For Christ: (Read Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-25)

A. From whom does all earthly authority come? (Romans 13:1)
B. Does God use earthly leaders and officials to direct and protect the earthly lives of people? (Romans 13:3-4)
C. If a person disobeys the civil authorities, he is really disobeying (Romans 13:1-2).
D. A Christian will obey, not because he might get caught, but because of (Romans 13:5)
E. We should submit to the authorities at how many levels? (1 Peter 2:13-14)
F. Do you think a Christian should consider it smart or clever to "get away" with law-breaking?
G. Taking a principle from Peter's teaching about masters and slaves, would you say that a Christian should obey an official because the official al¬ways does right, or because of the authority of the office held by the official? (1 Peter 2:18)
H. If a government should begin to mistreat Christians, or if enemies of Christians should start to slander them, what is the best way for Christ¬ians to counteract this? (1 Peter 2:13-15)
I. Does paying taxes have anything to do with pleasing God? (Romans 13:6-7)
J. Should a Christian want to get by without carrying his share of the tax load, while enjoying the benefits paid for by taxes? (Galatians 6:5; Acts 20:35)
K. What should a Christian do when there is some worthwhile community project that needs help? (Titus 3:1)
L. What do we owe our government leaders besides obedience and payment of taxes? (Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17)
M. Just because we live in a country where we are free to say any kind of thing about a leader, does this mean that a Christian should do so? (Titus 3:2; Exodus 22:28)
N. When we live in a country where we are free to choose good leaders through elections, do you think God will hold a Christian responsible to vote?
O. What is the greatest thing a Christian can do to help his government lead¬ers and to change things for the better in government? (1 Timothy 2:l-4; Proverbs 21:1)
P. What should a Christian do if his government orders him to do evil? (Acts 4:18,19; 5:29)

4. Conclusion: Christians should be the best employers, employees, and citizens of all. This will bring glory to our Lord and make others want to follow him.

Growing Up in the Lord - My Personal Spiritual Life

1. Introduction: Not all of a Christian's service to Christ is in a church program. They also serve him personally every day. This service includes personal Bible study and prayer, witnessing to others about Christ, and helping and encouraging people.

2. Serving Jesus In My Private Devotional Life:

A. Read the account of Jesus' powerful ministry in Mark 1:21-34. Then read what he did the next morning in Mark 1:35. What connection do you see between the two?
B. When Jesus was faced with a very important task, what did he do first? (Luke 6:12)
C. What was one thing that Jesus' apostles were always doing? (Acts 6:4; 10:9;)
D. What does the Lord say that I must always be doing? (1 Thess.5:17; Ephesians 6:18)
E. What are two especially important times for prayer? (Psalm 5:3; 141:2)
F. Before I eat my food, what should I do? (1 Timothy 4:4,5; Luke 24:30)
G. Instead of worrying, what am I to do? (Philippians 4:6,7; Luke 18:1). What will come to my heart if I do this in faith?
H. Is there any kind of trouble which I cannot hand over to God in prayer? (1 Peter 5:7)
I. What should be my approach in everything I do? (Proverbs 3:6)
J. Name some things Jesus teaches you to pray for (write just a word or two for each). (Mt 6:9-13; Luke 11:13; Ephesians 6:18,19; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Ps 51:10; James 1:5; Matthew 5:44; Genesis 24:4,42-44; James 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:20)
K. Name three things that will keep God from hearing your prayer.

1. Mark 11:25
2. Psalm 66:18
3. James 1:6-7

L. If my body lives by food, what does my spirit live by? (Mt 4:4)
M. Name seven things which learning God's word does for you.

1. Romans 10:17 -
2. Psalm 119:11 -
3. Ps 119:105 -
4. James 1:21 -
5. John 15:3 -
6. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 -
7. Romans 15:4 -

N. What does taking a "quiet time" for Bible study and prayer every day say about your attitude toward God? If you are "too busy" for a daily quiet time, what does this say?

3. Sharing Our Lord With Others:

A. When Andrew found Jesus, what did he do? (John 1:40-42)
B. When Philip began to follow Jesus, what did Philip quickly do? (John 1: 43-45)
C. After Jesus had healed the demon-possessed man at Gerasa, what did Jesus tell the man to do? (Mark 5:18-20)
D. What does the Lord tell us to do? (1 Peter 3:15)
E. How does God describe people who do not follow Christ? (Ephesians 2:1-12)
F. If your friend was dying with a disease and you knew a cure, what would you do?
G. If you knew of an outstanding bargain offered at a store, and your friends did not know about it, what would you do?
H. If you have found eternal life and blessing in Christ, and your friends don't know about him, what should you do?
I. Do you think you need to understand all the deeper things of the Bible be¬fore you can help a person with the basics of following Christ, or tell him about the good things you have already found?
J. 80% of new members come into the church because of being invited by a friend, relative or acquaintance. Knowing this should make me want to:
K. If you are anxious that people should not be lost, and you do what you can to bring them to Christ, you are thinking and working for the same things God does. (John 3:16.)

4. Encouraging And Helping Others:

A. Barnabas was called "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36). He encouraged and stood by which new convert while that convert was getting started in Christ's service? (Acts 9:23-28)
B. Which people in Bethany encouraged the ministry of Jesus by often having Jesus and his disciples in their home? (Luke 10:38-39)
C. How did Aquila and Priscilla help and encourage the preaching ministry of Apollos? (Acts 18:26)
D. What should each Christian want to do for those who are timid or weak in serving Christ? (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
E. How can we fulfill the law of Christ? (Galatians 6:2)
F. If a fellow-Christian falls into sin or unfaithfulness, what does the Lord tell you to do for him, and how? (Galatians 6:1)
G. When you convert someone from a wrong way, you do what? (James 5:19-20)
H. Should you hold back from talking to a brother or sister about his or her sin for fear of embarrassment?
I. How can Christians help each other? (Hebrews 10:24-25)
J. What statement of Cain, the first murderer, is the exact opposite of the spirit Christians must have? (Genesis 4:9)
K. If another person is in need or trouble, what does the Lord want you to do, as far as you are able? (1 John 3:16-18; Galatians 6:10)
L. When you do this, you are acting like (Acts 20:35).

5. Conclusion: Now that I belong to the Lord Jesus, I must not go on being "wrapped up in myself." I must develop sensitivity to God, always being con¬scious of his presence (Psalm 139:7-12). I must develop sensitivity to people and their needs as Jesus did.

A. This growth does not come automatically. It is a decision. Jesus said, "To everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away" (Luke 19:26). I can fall back and die spiritually, or I can go forward and "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord" (2 Pet 3:18)
B. Sit down right now and write down the practical steps you need to take in order to make the things in this lesson happen in your life: personal devo¬tions, witnessing and helping the weak. Those steps will be the steps that follow Jesus.

What It Means To Be A Disciple

 

1. All Christians Should Be Disciples:

    A. The Meaning Of "Go Teach": Mt. 28:19-20 (This phrase translates the following: Strong's #3100 matheteuo {math-ayt-yoo'-o} 1) to be a disciple of one 1a) to follow his precepts and instructions 2) to make a disciple 2a) to teach, instruct. Therefore, to teach all nations is to make disciples of all nations. This discipling is further accomplished by teaching disciples to observe the commands of Jesus. To be a disciple is to constantly learn to follow the teachings of Jesus.)

    B. Our Purpose: 2 Tim. 2:2 (The purpose of this series of studies is to train you to be a better disciple so that you may teach others to be better disciples.)

2. To Be A Disciple Is To Put Christ First:

    A. Christ Must Be First Before All Others: Lk. 14:26-33 (Jesus advocated that we love him above all other family and friends. Without this kind of love, you cannot be a true disciple. He illustrated incomplete discipleship with stories of a half-finished tower and an unfought battle. Is your christianity incomplete? Are you trying to call a truce instead of fighting Satan? To be his disciple you must have total love and total commitment.)

    B. You Must Love God More Than Anybody: Mt. 22:37-38 (The most important command is to love God. All other commands hang on the principle of love. You must love God with all your being. This is a totally consuming love.)

    C. The Kingdom Must Be First: Mt. 6:33 (Putting Christ first means seeking his kingdom first. This means if you are a true disciple, the church will be very important to you.)

3. To Be A Disciple Is To Imitate Christ:

    A. A Disciple Must Copy The Master: Mt. 10:24-25 (It is enough for the disciple to copy his master. Discipleship means to imitate the behavior of our Master, Jesus.)

    B. Follow His Steps: 1 Pet. 2:21 (Imitating Christ means following his example. Note this means following in his steps, not just in his general direction. Illustrate with walking through a minefield and being particular to follow each step.)

    C. Self Denial: Mt. 16:24 (Following Christ requires taking up a cross of self denial.)

4. To Be A Disciple Is To Continue In His Word:

    A. Learn From The Master: Jn. 8:31 (To be a disciple, a student of Jesus, you must study his word. Can you honestly consider yourself a student of Jesus if you never "sit at his feet" [study his word]?)

    B. Search Vs. Scan: Acts 17:11 (Jesus taught us to search the scriptures. There is a very real difference between an intense search and a careless scan. Illustrate with searching for a lost jewel as opposed to just scanning for it. God's word is a precious treasure. You should search diligently to find its jewels.)

    C. Be Skillful: Heb. 5:12-14 (The only way to become skillful in God's word is by reason of use, continual study. The more you study, the more you sharpen your skills in handling God's word.)

5. To Be A Disciple Is To Bear Fruit: Jn. 15:1-8 (Jesus taught we must bear much fruit. What makes a fruit tree a FRUIT tree?? Fruit! As a part of Christ, the vine, you must bring forth abundant fruit. This is what discipleship demands.)

 

The Challenge Of Putting Christ First

1. The Principle Stated: Lk. 14:25-33 (Jesus taught that true discipleship demands putting him first.)

2. What Hinders Us: Lk. 14:15-24 (This is a story of three different excuse makers. It illustrates different things that hinder us from putting Christ first. Their three excuses will be categorized; employment, possessions, and family. Also we will look at self as a barrier between you and God.)

A. Self: Lk. 14:26 (The word "hate" in this verse means to love less. He includes self in this group. You must love Christ more than yourself. Sometimes we allow our own selfish desires to stand between us and Christ. When you let what you want take priority over Christ's will, that is putting self before Christ.)

2 Tim. 3:2 (Paul lamented a time when people would love themselves more than God. Selfish self-love is listed with grievous sins. Therefore, it too is a grievous sin.)

Mt. 6:24, Mt. 16:24 (Jesus taught you cannot serve two masters. If you try to serve God and self, your allegiances will be confused. Illustrate with citizenship of two countries at once. Who will you be loyal to in time of war? Therefore, you must deny self and not let it hinder your discipleship. You must loose or give up your life in order to follow Jesus.)

Eph. 5:29 (This passage illustrates proper care for self. The proper perspective is that you take care of your, but understand that you serve God first - even before meeting those needs - Matt.6:33.)

B. Employment: Lk. 14:18 (The person who bought land allowed their farm work to prevent their attendance at the feast. This is an example of letting employment [or possessions] hinder your discipleship.)

Lk. 12:16-20 (The man who was so absorbed in his work was considered a fool by God. Look at how many times he referred to himself in vs. 17-19. His selfishness caused him to put his work before spiritual concerns.)

Jn. 21:15-17 (Jesus challenges Peter's love. "More than these" refers not just to a plate of food. It refers to the food they had eaten, fish. Fishing was Peter's way of life and his occupation before he met Christ. Christ challenges Peter to love him more than his own livelihood. Therefore, you must love Christ more than your employment.)

Eph. 6:5-7, Eccl. 9:10 (The proper perspective is that you work hard at your job. Be the best you can be, but not to the exclusion of serving God first.)

C. Possessions: Lk. 14:19 (The person who bought oxen allowed their possessions to prevent their attendance at the feast. This is an example of putting possessions [or possibly work] before the Lord.)

Lk. 12:15 (Life's joy and success cannot be measured by what you have. Instead it should be measured by what you are.)

Mk. 10:17-22 (The rich young ruler was very obedient but felt unsatisfied with his effort. Jesus listed all the commandments that pertained to relationships with your fellow man except "thou shalt not covet". Jesus knew he was a greedy man. By laying it out this way, Jesus exposed the man's greed. The man refused to repent which made him full of sorrow. Refusal to overcome greed for possessions will destroy your joy, your life.)

Deut. 8:11-14 (Greed for possessions will make you forget God.) 

Eccl. 5:18 (The proper perspective is that you work hard and enjoy what you gain, but not to the exclusion of serving God first.)

D. Family: Lk. 14:20 (The person who had married a wife allowed their family to prevent their attendance at the feast. This is an example of putting family before the Lord.)

Lk. 14:26 ("Hate" = "love less" in this context. You must love Christ more than all your family.)

Lk. 9:57-62 (At first it may seem Jesus was very strict with these people. However, a closer look reveals that some expressed interest in following Jesus until they learned he had no place to stay. After learning this they used family as an excuse to delay following him. They put their hands to the plow when they expressed a desire to follow Jesus. But they looked back when they saw the going would be tough and began to make excuses. Letting family hinder your service to God will make you unfit for the kingdom.)

Eccl. 9:9 (The proper perspective is that you love and enjoy your family, but not to the exclusion of serving God first.)

3. How To Put Christ First:

    A. Prioritize: Lk. 10:38-42 (Jesus commended Mary because she chose the good, important things. Like Mary, you must make a decision to put Christ before everything.)

    B. Set Your Mind On Heaven: Col. 3:1-2 (Set your cares and affections on heavenly things. Don't be too absorbed with earthly goals. Instead, make heaven your goal.)

    C. Seek To Fulfill The Needs Of The Church: Mt. 9:37-38 (Jesus saw the need for spiritual workers in the vineyard. Don't just see the church as something that is there to fulfill your needs, see the church as something that has many needs. Be consumed with what you can do to help fill the need for workers in the church.)

    D. Invest: Mt. 6:19-21 (Jesus said your heart will be where you put your treasure. If you invest the treasure of your time, money, and effort in the Lord's work, the Lord will become more important to you.)

4. Conclusion: Mk. 10:29-30 (Laying other things aside for Christ brings reward in this life, but especially the great reward of heaven.)

 

 

The Challenge Of Imitating Christ

 

1. God's Intended Purpose: Rom. 8:28-29 (God predetermined that those who love Jesus will conform to his image. Conforming to Christ's image does not mean being him, it means to be a close replica of him. Illustrate with hand-print in clay. The print is not the hand, but it is a close copy.)

2. Imitate His Knowledge: 1 Cor. 2:15-16, Col. 3:10 (God asks you to pattern your thinking after Christ's. Of course this does not mean you must attain the same level of knowledge as Christ, but you must imitate his mind set, his values, standards, priorities, motives, etc.)

    A. Perspective: Rom. 8:6-8 (The carnal mind set can not consistently submit to God's law. Before you can successfully control sin, you must have a spiritual mind. This means you must learn to value things as Christ values them. Illustrate with how the sinful mind sees [values] a beautiful woman verses how Christ sees [values] her.)

    B. Standards: Eph. 4:17-24 (This passage talks about the standards Christ expects us to live by. You must not live in immorality. Christ has not taught you to do this. Instead you must learn the standards Christ upheld.)

    C. Priorities: Jn. 6:38, 2 Cor. 8:9, Phil. 2:5-8 (Christ did not come from heaven for his own will, but for his Father's. He became poor for our sakes. Jesus shows a consistent pattern of putting a greater priority on the cause of God and the needs of others. You must arm yourself with this same attitude.)

    D. Motives: 1 Cor. 13:1-3 (It is not enough to do good deeds. What you do must be motivated by love.) Mt. 6:1 (Christ not only looks at your deeds but the reason you do them. To imitate the mind of Christ you must learn to imitate his motives.)

3. Imitate His Behavior: Mt. 16:24 (You must learn and practice self denial as exampled by Jesus. Bearing your cross does not mean tolerating inconveniences in life. It means crucifying, killing the sinful desires of the flesh.)

    A. Kill Sinful Desires: Rom. 8:13, Gal. 5:24, 1 Cor. 9:24-27 (The Bible teaches you to mortify, kill the deeds of the flesh, crucify it's passions and desires. You must constantly struggle to suppress the desires of your flesh and bring your life into submission to Christ's will. Paul compares being a disciple with athletic competition. You must exercise great self-discipline and try as though only one can win the prize.)

    B. Live The Holy Life: 1 Thes. 4:7 (God has called you to live a holy life. Holy means set apart. Does your lifestyle reflect a life that is set apart, different from worldly people around you?)

4. Imitate His Love: Jn. 15:13 (Jesus left an example of perfect love.) Mt. 22:37-40 (Jesus categorized love into two areas; an all consuming love for God, and loving your fellow man.)

  •  

       

  • A. Loving God: 1 Jn. 5:1-3 (Your love for God must be expressed in obedience to his law.)

    B. Loving Christians: Jn. 13:34-35 (Proper love among Christians identifies us to the world as God's children.)

    C. Loving Your Enemies: Mt. 5:43-48 (You must imitate God in loving your enemies.)

    D. Actual Love: 1 Jn. 3:18 (God's idea of love involves action, not just feeling. It is hard to force yourself to have a positive feeling toward others, especially your enemies. But you can change your attitude toward others and the way you treat others.) 1 Cor. 13:4-8 (Real love is reflected in how you treat someone, not how you feel toward them.)

The Challenge Of Continuing In His Word

 

1. The Desperate Need For Personal Study: Hos. 4:6 (God's people were destroyed for lack of knowledge. The same principle is true today.) 1 Cor. 3:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:2 (The word of God is spiritual food. A new Christian feeding on God's word is like a baby feeding on milk. How often do you spiritually starve yourself?)

    A.Search: Acts 17:11 (The Bereans were commended for regularly searching the scriptures to test the message of the apostles.)

    B.Constant Use: Heb. 5:12-14 (The more you learn, the faster you can learn. Your spiritual senses will become sharper the more you consistently exercise them.)

    C.Teaching At Home: Eph. 6:4, Deut. 6:6-9 (It is critical that you study and teach God's word in your home and to your children.)

    D.Learning In The Assembly: 1 Cor. 14:31, Deut. 31:11-13 (God intends for you to learn more of his word at the assembly of the church. Even children can learn at the assembly of the church. This is a valuable compliment to regular Bible study.)

2. What To Study For: 2 Tim. 3:16-17 (Paul outlines four types of things you can learn from God's word. You should search for each of these as you study.)

    A .Doctrine: Neh. 8:8 (This word means instruction, learning, that which is taught, precepts. It has to do with informing of the basics of right and wrong. You should study God's word to learn the basics of what is right and wrong, understanding the basics of what God is saying.)

    B. Reproof: 2 Tim. 4:2 (This word means proof, conviction, convicting one of his sinfulness. It differs from doctrine in that doctrine defines what is wrong and reproof demonstrate to the hearer wherein they have done this wrong. You should study God's word to find conviction of what your problems are.)

    C. Correction: Eph. 4:28 (This word means a straightening up again, rectification, restoration to an upright state, improvement. This picks up where the previous two leave off. Whereas doctrine identifies the sin, reproof proves to us our guilt of that sin, correction shows how to overcome the sin. You should search God's word to find information on how to overcome your problems such as the above passage on how to overcome stealing.)

    D. Instruction In Righteousness: Heb. 12:5 (This word means tutorage, education or training, discipline, instruction which aims at the increase of virtue. This differs from doctrine, reproof and correction in that it includes all of these kinds of teaching as they specifically relate to righteousness. You should search God's word for training from God in how to live your daily life.)

3. Steps To Follow: Prov. 2:1-5 (This passage outlines three specific steps to follow in order to gain spiritual understanding.)

    A. Hide His Commands: Ps. 119:9-11 (Hiding his commandments means memorizing principles in God's word. This will help you resist sin.)

    B. Apply Your Heart: 2 Tim. 2:15 (The word "study" means be diligent. You should be diligent and apply yourself to studying God's word.)

    C. Cry For Help: Jas. 1:5 (You should pray to God for the wisdom to understand his word.)

    D. Guaranteed Success: Ps. 1:1-3, 1 Tim. 4:15 (You will be blessed if you pursue God's word. Meditating on God's word brings the promise of spiritual profit.)

4. What The Word Will Do For You: Ps. 119:130 (God's word brings light, specific blessings to your life.)

  •  

       

  • A. Change Your Mind: Rom. 8:5-8 (God's word can help you change your perspective from carnal to spiritual which will help you resist sin.)

    B. Resist Sin: Mt. 4:1-11 (Jesus used the word as a defense against sin.) Ps. 119:9-11 (God's word will help you keep your heart and life clean.)

    C. Changed To Be Like Christ: Jas. 1:21-25, 2 Cor. 3:18 (Studying God's word is compared to looking at your face in a mirror. When you study God's word, be obedient and you will be blessed. When you look in this mirror, you also see the glorious life of Christ. The more you are obedient to God's word the more his word will change you to be made more like the glorious image of Christ portrayed in the scriptures.)

The Challenge Of Bearing Fruit

 

1. The Principle Stated: Jn. 15:1-8 (Jesus taught the necessity of bearing fruit. Without bearing much fruit, you cannot be his disciple.)

2. Two Kinds Of Fruit: 2 Cor. 9:10 (You can bear fruit by doing good deeds and by leading souls to Christ. Inside each fruit [good work] is a seed that brings more fruit and multiplies the spreading of God's word.)

    A. The Deed Done: 2 Cor. 9:6-8 (Their good work was generous giving to those in need. These good works planted seed that would result in some coming to Christ.)

    B. The Result: 2 Cor. 9:12-13 (The result of these deeds was that people glorified God [obeyed] because of the benevolent work being done.)

    C. Glorifying God: Mt. 5:13-16 (Again, your good works can cause others to glorify God. To glorify God means to submit to his will.)

3. Good Works: Col. 1:10 (God considers living a life of good works the same as bearing fruit.)

    A. Fruits Of The Spirit: Gal. 5:22-23 (These godly characteristics are considered fruit in God's eyes. These are the kinds of fruits that will help you be a part of leading others to Christ.)

    B. Christian Graces: 2 Pet. 1:5-8 (By adding these attributes to your life and abounding in them, you have the assurance that you will not be unfruitful.)

4. Saving Souls: Mt. 28:19-20 (Jesus commissioned his disciples to teach all nations and to instruct those who obey the gospel to keep his commands.)

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  • A. Called Fruit: Rom. 16:5 (A saved soul is referred to as the first fruit to Christ in the region of Achaia.)

    B. Erring Christians Also: Jas. 5:19-20 (If a disciple errs from the right way, we are encouraged to seek to restore them. This is a kind of fruit you can bear for God.)

    C. Doesn't Have To Remain: 1 Cor. 3:9-15 (This passage talks about our works [converts] being tried by fire. Even if your work [converts] does not stand the test of time, you still have your reward.)

    D. Expect Rejection: Ezek. 3:4-9 (God warned Ezekiel that some were stubborn people who would likely not listen. He said a great deal to prepare Ezekiel to be rejected.) Ezek. 3:17-21 (As long as Ezekiel did his job of warning others, God was pleased with him. The same is true with you. Your effort to lead others to Christ fulfills your part in bearing this kind of fruit. Whether or not others respond and remain faithful is their concern.)

    E. Teach: Acts 20:20 (Paul effectively taught publicly and from house to house. You may not be able to teach publicly but perhaps you can teach house to house. If you are not able to teach at all, your good life will help influence people so they will be willing to listen to other capable teachers.)

    F. Set Up Someone Else: Jn. 1:40-42 (Not much is said about Andrew as far as him converting thousands of people. However, he introduced his brother, Peter, to Jesus who taught Peter. In this way, through Peter's work, Andrew touched many lives.)

Doctrinal Studies

What we believe controls what we do.  For that reason alone we must be certain that we believe accurately what God has revealed to us in his word.  These studies on Doctrine deal less with moral issues, and more with the work and worship of the church.  We pray they are faithful to his word and a blessing to you.

Are Miracles For The Church Today?

On every hand we hear accounts of modern-day miracles. These stories come from newspapers, radio, television, friends and acquaintances - from every source.

Many people tend to use the word "miracle" in describing what are actually natural events - the birth of a baby, recovery from an illness, a close escape from an accident or natural disaster and so on. It seems that almost anything can be called a miracle in today's world.

With so much talk and attention devoted to miracles, this subject deserves the attention of all God fearing people. Let us, therefore, open our Bibles and see what God has to say concerning miracles.

Definition Of Miracles

First, we must all find a clear understanding of the word "miracle", as it is used in the Bible - an understanding of the word as God has used it.

The Greek word translated "miracle" in the New Testament is defined as follows by W.E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: "... power, inherent ability; is used of works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means a sign, mark, token ... is used of miracles and wonders a sign of divine authority ..."

I believe this is an accurate definition of the word, which can be established by God's word. Let's look at a few scriptural examples to bear this out.

A miracle is a sign to unbelievers. 1 Cor. 14:22: "Wherefore tongues are for a sign not to them that believe, but to them that believe not."

A miracle is a sign of divine authority. Mk. 16:17, 18 "And these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it sham not hurt them; they shag lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

A miracle is something done outside the laws of nature. 	Natural law governs the universe. When God made all things, He put laws in motion to govern the workings of his creation. For instance, water freezes at 32 and boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Something dropped falls toward the ground because of the law of gravity. A miracle goes beyond natural law.

For example, in Acts 2:1-11 (please read this for yourself), the apostles spoke in several languages they did not know. They themselves were of the Galilean dialect (vs. 7-8). The many languages they were enabled to speak are recorded (vs. 9-11). They did not learn these languages by the natural means of study, but spoke by a miracle of God. That is why all the onlookers were amazed (vs.12).

Another familiar example can be found in Mk. 8:1-9. Here, Jesus fed a great multitude of people with just seven loaves of bread and a few fishes.

The Purpose Of Miracles

Next, we need to understand the purpose of miracles. I feel that many people stumble at this point. This is because the scriptures are sometimes misapplied.

The miracles of the Bible were often used to confirm the fact that messages given to men were revelations coming from the mouth of God. In Mk. 16:17-20, Jesus told the apostles of all the miracles they would be able to perform. Note particularly verse 20: "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

Miracles also confirmed that particular men were God's spokesmen. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews has this to say in Heb. 2:3-4: "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; 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?"

In the Old Testament, God selected Moses to be the deliverer of Israel. Moses, however, had misgivings as to God's choice. In Ex. 4:1, He said, "But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee." But God displayed several miraculous signs through which Moses had his proof. See Ex. 4:1-8.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul also had problems establishing his credibility. Some refused to accept his apostleship. Paul reminded the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 12:12 of what they themselves had witnessed: "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."

Throughout the Bible, we read of men who, entrusted with direct revelations from the mind of God, were given miraculous signs to confirm those revelations. We can see how necessary this was. If God had not given signs to accompany new messages, any man, saying anything he so desired, could have claimed to be a prophet; and nobody could have proven anything to the contrary. God's prophets possessed God's power. This is why we must doubt the "revelations" of Joseph Smith and other modern day "prophets." Such men rewrite or replace the Bible, but offer no heavenly proof of their authority. A new message must have authority - the authority of divine miracles, the credentials of God.

Miracles were used to produce faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. John 20:30-31: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

It was through Christ's miracles that Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, became a believer. In John 3:2, Nicodemus said, "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God. For no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."

Physical healing was not the sole purpose of miracles. It was not at all the primary purpose. If such was the primary purpose, then Jesus was a "respecter of persons", because He healed only one sick man out of many at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9). Paul, who certainly possessed miraculous powers, left a friend and brother in Christ sick, rather than healing him miraculously (2 Tim. 4:20). In one instance, rather than being healed, a man was inflicted with blindness! (Acts. 13:7-12).

Are Miracles Needed Today

In view of the purpose of miracles - namely, to establish divine credibility in the servants and messengers of God - we need to ask ourselves a question: Are miracles needed today?

Miracles are not needed, to assist in revealing God's word, today. God has completed his message to man. In Jude, thought by many scholars to be the last book of the Bible ever written, we read this in verse three: "I exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." The word "once" is more accurately translated "once for all time." The Gospel message was delivered, and confirmed, once.

We do not need miracles to confirm a new message, because God's word is complete. According to Paul, the scriptures are sufficient for all our needs. In 2 Tim. 3:16-17, we read this: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

God has given us a completed set of laws. Any attempt to add to the Bible is a human intrusion into a perfect work. We do not need miracles to reveal God's word, because God's word has been given in its entirety.

Since God's word has been completed and written down, there is no longer a need to confirm by miracles that a man speaks for God. If we want to know whether or not a man is speaking God's truth, we compare what he says with what the Bible says. All things are now confirmed by the Bible. "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:19-20). In Gal. 1:8-9 we read: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him to be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." See also 2 John 9-11.

If one will look at the Bible as a whole, he will see that miracles are not overly emphasized in God's dealings with mankind. In fact, there are long periods of time when miracles are scarce, if not altogether absent. At particular times, the Bible shows forth an abundance of miracles. We find an array of miracles at the appearance of Moses, when the First Covenant of the Law was being established. The setting up of the Law and the establishment of the Kingdom of lsrael, was accompanied by a great variety of signs and wonders. We find another array of miracles at the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Second Covenant. Many miracles accompanied the setting up of the Church.

Something we must realize is that the history of God's relationship with man is not a continuous tale of miracles. As miracles have a divine origin, so are they used at special times to work out the Divine Plan.

Miracles Would Cease

Miracles were to last only until the completion of God's revelation to man. 	In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, we find that those brethren had a problem: They overemphasized the miraculous spiritual gifts. Paul deals with this problem in the 13th and 14th chapters of I Corinthians.

In chapter 13, Paul compares love with the spiritual gifts, showing that love is of greater value (vs. 1-7). He shows that love does more to make one Christ-like. Then, beginning with verse eight, Paul shows that love is more valuable because it will last longer than the spiritual gifts. We can relate to this in our own lives. When we buy a new car or new appliance, it is more valuable than an old item of the same type; the new item will last longer. Close friendship is more important than a casual acquaintance; the close friendship is more enduring. Paul tells us that love never fails. It is everlasting. But he goes on to say that prophecies shall fail, tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall vanish away. This knowledge is, of course, miraculous knowledge obtained by special revelation, as is spoken of in 1 John 2:20: "But ye have and unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." This differs from the type of knowledge gained by persistent study of God's Word for which we strive.

In 1 Cor. 13:9, Paul tells us that the spiritual gifts supplied partial knowledge. Having no New Testament, the early Christians relied on special revelations to learn God's will. And, of course, they relied upon the writings of the apostles that were available to them. But the early Christians were not able to read God's completed word. The Word had not been completed! Thus, there was a need for special knowledge through spiritual gifts, by which Christians could learn God's Word piece by piece. But, when something is completed the partial is done away with. And, in the tenth verse, Paul tells us, "That which is in part" (the spiritual gifts) shall be done away with when "that which is perfect" is come. What is "that perfect thing?"

The word "perfect" comes from the Greek word "teleios." According to W.E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (p. 174), teleios signifies "of things complete, perfect." With reference to Rom. 12:2 and 1 Cor. 13:10, Vine states that teleios refers "to the complete revelation of God's will and ways."

Could this "perfection" be referring to Christ, or, more specifically, to his second coming? There are two reasons why this cannot be so: 1) The Greek construction makes it clear. "That which is perfect" is a thing, not a person. 2) Christ is not divided into "parts" which make a whole.

In view of the fact that the preceding verses refer to God's manner of revealing his will to the early Church as a whole, we may infer that 1 Cor. 13:11 is also a reference to the Church. When the Church was in its infancy, it possessed the bits and pieces of God's Revelation (miraculous knowledge, prophecy, etc.); but there would come a time, Paul said, when the Church would put away childish things (spiritual gifts), and come to maturity at the complete revelation of God's will. (Please read Eph. 1:17-23; 3:1-10. Note that God's will was to be revealed to mankind by the Church. At some time during Earth's history, it was necessary for God to complete his message, else men could not know God's complete will for their life.)

In 1 Cor. 13:12, Paul spoke of the Church as it was in his time, how the early Christians were looking "through a glass darkly", how they knew "in part" but, in the future, Christians would see "face to face" and "know": i.e. they would have all necessary knowledge revealed.

In the 13th verse Paul concludes that faith and hope are greater than the spiritual gifts, because faith and hope will abide.

In fact, faith and hope will endure until Christ comes. Then, we will receive the end of our faith and hope will not be needed. But love, the greatest of these, will endure forever.

Miraculous gifts were made available only through the laying on of the apostle's hands. 	In Acts 8:5-7, Philip was preaching the Gospel and performing miracles in Samaria. But Philip was not able to pass on his miraculous abilities! It was necessary for Peter and John to journey all the way from Jerusalem so that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Ghost - (vs. 17 - "Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost")

Miraculous gifts were given by the laying on of the apostle's hands in the New Testament days. We find, however, two important exceptions to this rule. The apostles themselves received miraculous gifts directly from God without a medium. This was in answer to a promise (Acts 1:4-8) which was given by Jesus to the apostles. And this promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. This Holy Ghost baptism demonstrated to the Jews that the apostles were ambassadors of God. It also gave the Church a firm beginning.

In Acts 10 and 11, Cornelius and his house also received miraculous gifts direct from God. In this, God demonstrated that the Gentiles had an equal inheritance with the Jews in His Kingdom. Acts 11:17, 18: "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; What was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

Notice what Peter also said in Acts 11:15. "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." This was, of course, a reference to Pentecost. Between the day of Pentecost and Cornelius' conversion, there was a period of ten years according to biblical historians! Peter makes it clear that these two events, the two instances of Holy Spirit baptism, were not everyday occurrences in the Church. The first instance happened "at the beginning...." After a number of years, Holy Ghost baptism occurred again, with Cornelius and his household.

Holy Ghost baptism came in answer to a promise made, specifically, to the apostles. It also came as a confirmation of the Gentiles' place in God's plan. But scripture indicates that spiritual gifts, except for these special instances, were given by the laying on of hands. Only apostles could pass on these gifts.

Real Miracles Versus Modern "Miracles"

How do the supposed miracles of today compare with the miracles of the Bible? Let us first look at the characteristics of biblical miracles.

The miracles of the Bible were instantaneous. In 1 Kings 13:4-6, King Jeroboam's hand was immediately dried up by a young prophet, and then was just as quickly restored. Many alleged miracles of today are said to be performed over a long period of time.

The miracles of the Bible were complete. In Acts 3:1-9, Peter healed a man who had been crippled from birth, a man whose lameness was known to all. (In those days there were no public welfare programs to care for the unfortunate. It was a common practice for such people to wait at entrances to public places in order to beg for alms from passers by.) This man was left at the gate every day, so that those who frequented the temple knew his condition. Notice that when Peter healed him, he did not stumble around on wobbly legs: "He leaping up stood, and walked ... walking, and leaping, and praising God."

Many today use a statement by Jesus to prove the practice of miracles. In John 14:12, Jesus said to his disciples: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." If this statement had reference to miracles, then we should be observing people today who perform greater miracles than Jesus did. We should be able to see men raising other men from the dead at least four days after the body has begun decomposing, since Jesus did the same for Lazarus (John 11:14-44). Surely someone today could walk on water (Matt. 14:25).

In John 14:12, Jesus was not referring to miracles, but rather to preaching the Gospel. In His time, Jesus could only preach in a small geographical area. After Jesus' resurrection, the apostles, and subsequent generations, carried the message of salvation to the entire world. Sometimes thousands of souls would be saved in a single day, something Christ had never done. The apostles surpassed Christ in only one way - the number of souls converted by their sermons. These are the "greater works" to which Christ refers.

The miracles of the Bible were verifiable. In Matt. 9:1-8 there was a man, sick of the palsy, unable to walk. Jesus forgave this man his sins. The unbelieving Jews saw this as blasphemy. After all, they could not tell by the man's outward appearance that his sins were forgiven. Since they considered Jesus to be a false teacher, they thought that his pronouncement was blasphemy. Notice what Jesus said in vs. 5-6: "For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." Jesus was not afraid for his miracles to be investigated. They demonstrated His authority to unbelievers and skeptics.

Just as the lame man in Acts 3:1-9, everyone knew he was crippled. They also knew that he had been truly healed of his illness. See Acts 4:16.

Today we hear a great deal of testimony from people who say they have been healed, but one cannot verify mere testimony. Many claims are made, but where is the proof? Jesus said that not only would those who possessed miraculous gifts heal the sick, but would also "raise the dead" (Matt. 10:8). Have you witnessed the dead being raised? Since Jesus commanded his disciples to heal the sick and raise the dead, one should be just as easy as the other.

 

To the people of the Bible, there was no doubting when a miracle was performed. Miracles supposedly done today, such as the healing of an illness over a period of time, cannot be verified. "Undiagnosed illness," which many preachers claim to heal, cannot be verified. When a man claims to have been healed over a period of time by some miracle, and an unbeliever is "healed" over the same period of time from the same disease, the unbeliever has reason to scoff. Where is God glorified?

The miracles of the Bible did not involve deceit, nor were they accomplished by the power of suggestion. The miracles of the Bible were not cheap imitations, silly, or frivolous, and were not performed in a circus-like atmosphere.

There was no yelling, dancing or swooning, and the performance of miracles never made the doer rich! Jesus told his disciples in Matt. 10:8 to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: for freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses."

Faith was not required of the one being healed. The lame man at the temple gate was not expecting to be healed (Acts 3:1-9). What faith did Lazarus have when he was raised from the dead? Even Lazarus' family did not believe he could be raised; only Jesus believed. So called "miracles" of today are simply not in the same class with the true miracles of the Bible.

God Is Still Active

To say that God is not working through miracles today is not to say that he is retired or has ceased to be active. Quite the contrary - God still answers prayers today, though He is doing this providentially, not by miraculous means. Examples of God's providential care are abundant in the Scriptures. Notice how much good He accomplished in Joseph's life (Genesis, chapters 37, 39, and 40), but there are no miracles associated with Joseph's life. Also notice God's providential care of Ruth and Esther, in the books bearing their names.

God still acts, still answers prayers, still heals and sustains; but his healing now takes place within natural law, rather than beyond it. He uses doctors, medicines, the body's immune system and time to heal.

Miracles of God were always intended to be temporary. After their purpose was accomplished, miracles gave way to natural law. For example, when God created man, He created him of the dust of the earth. This was truly a miracle. Men today are not continuously created. Now men are formed by natural reproduction. The miracle gave way to natural law. That was, and is God's way.

Some become angry when others question the validity of miraculous claims. However, the scriptures teach it is all right to be skeptical. In fact, they teach us to investigate those things that are said to be from God. 1 Thess. 5:21 states: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

Many things happen in these days that are called miracles, but are not, in reality. The birth of a baby is most certainly an act of God, but not a miracle. If somebody survives a plane crash, it may be a providential act of God, but not a miracle - it lacks context and confirms no new truth. A person may in time recuperate from a serious illness - certainly such a thing may be an act of God's providence and care - but no miracle need have taken place. God does not act through miracles alone.

Miracles were never an end in themselves. God used them to prove and demonstrate His nature. But many today view "miracles" as the sole or major purpose of their religion. "Healing" has become a preoccupation, so that many preachers and religions are known more for "healing rallies" than for the beliefs they espouse. Let us all "set our affections on heavenly things" (Col. 3:1-3) and not be entirely concerned with the body, which is perishing day by day. In heaven, men will enjoy bodies free from disease and illness. Such life can only be ours through Jesus Christ, by obeying His gospel.

Authority Of Elders

"Ordain Elders in every city as I had appointed thee"

 

1.     God's Word authorizes us to have Elders -Titus 1:5

A.     There is scriptural authority for each congregation to have Elders.

B.     1 Corinthians. 12:28 "God hath set some In The ChurchGovernments

1        God intended to have some kind of structure, some kind of government, some kind of oversight in the church. The scriptures tell us this is the job of Elders.

C.     Act 20: 17 Elders are always listed in the plural in scripture.

D.    Act 20:28 Holy Ghost hath made you Overseers

E.     The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to give the qualifications these men must posses to fill this office. 1 Timothy 3:1-8, Titus 1:5-9

F.      The Holy Spirit instructed evangelist's to ordain or appoint men to this position.

1        Paul told Titus to "ordain Elders in every city as I have appointed thee"

2.     Recognizing that there is authority for a congregational eldership let’s consider the question, “Did God give them any authority?”

A.     Speaking to Elders, Peter notes that the Holy Spirit “Has made you overseers”- Acts 20:28

B.     Speaking of church authority, Hebrews says “Obey them that have the rule over you” –Heberws13:17

C.     To ask if Elders have authority is akin to if God gave parents any authority in the home.  It is a worthwhile question, but a question with a definite answer.

D.    Consider Acts 20:28

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock,
among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers,
to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

E.     Now notice 1 Peter 5:2

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers

F.      It seems obvious that it was the intent of God that these men, elders, be “overseers” in the church.  They are to oversee the church.  Could this be done with no authority?  I don’t believe that in these passages, God means “spectators” with no ability, responsibility, or authority to direct and guide.

G.    These men are also called Shepherds –Acts 20:28

1        Imagine a shepherd that was not allowed to tell a sheep to get off the highway.

2        Imagine a shepherd that was not allowed to drive the sheep away from poison water.

3        Imagine a shepherd that was not allowed to warn of a wolf or intervene when one attempted to attack the flock.

4        God's shepherds are to Guard, to Warn, to Protect

H.    God wants men that will lead, guide, oversee and authorized Elders to do this in the congregation.  Not only that, but he is going to require it of them.

1        Paul, in Acts 20 , commanded the elders to “take heed to the flock.”

2        Hebrews 13:17 says that elders are those who “must give account” and that they “watch for your souls

3        Romans 12:8 directs “he who rules” to do so with diligence.

I.        God also requires those under the eldership to submit to their elders in the church.

1        In Hebrews 13:7 he admonishes Christians to “Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation

2        Once again, Hebrews 13:17 “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive”.  That is pretty plain speaking isn’t it?  We would have no difficulty understanding that if it were said to children as in Ephesians 6:1-2.

J.        In matters of scripture, God’s word is the final arbiter.  No elder or any other man has the right to change, set aside, or add to the requirements of God’s word.

K.    But what about matters of judgment in a local congregation?

1        Elders have the final say, just like a father has the final say in his family.

a.       We must remember that this is because God placed them in a position of authority as overseers.  It does not mean that they will always be right, but it does mean that they are the one’s who will give account for the judgment decisions of the congregation, thus they must be allowed to make the final call in matters of judgment.

b.      It would be a Foolish person who would not consider others in their decision making but just selfishly want to have their own way.

2        Elders are limited in making these judgmental decisions to their local flock or congregation.

a.       1 Peter 5:2 “The flock of God which is among you” An elder cannot oversee more than his local congregation.

b.      An Elder's decision cannot be binding on any congregation except their local one.

c.       Those that they are among on a weekly basis.

3.     Let's notice some words the Bible uses to describe the relationships

A.     Obey

1        Ephesians 6:1 Children obey your parents in the Lord

2        Titus 3:1 Obey magistrates

3        Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you.

4        Here the same words are used to describe these different relationships.  Is there any reason to believe that they don’t mean the same thing?

5        Some object that the authority of an Elder is only his example.

a.       But based on these passages above, we would have to ask, is the only authority a father has over his children his example?

b.      What happens if a child refuses to do what the parent directs?  Should the parent say “Well, you're not following my example but that's okay.”?

6        The same God that said “children obey your parents” said “obey them that have the rule over you

B.     Submit

1        Ephesians 5:22 Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands

2        Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you and submit

3        Once again, the words are the same in both passages.

4        Christians, do you expect the wife to submit to the husband in the home?

5        Then should we not expect the congregation to submit to the elders?

6        There are some overbearing fathers and there are some extremely overbearing husbands and there are some overbearing elders.

a.       This type character really hurts families and churches.  The Bible warns fathers not to provoke their children to wrath; and Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He also tells Elders not to be Lords over God’s Heritage.

b.      Let’s be sure as husbands, fathers, and elders that we’re not overbearing.

7        With that in mind though, what should we do, or encourage others to do in a situation where those in authority are overbearing?  Should tell their children they don't have to obey, or a wife she doesn't have to submit?

a.       Some say "I wouldn't put up with that. You don't have to take that."

b.      A person who approaches a problem this way may end up being a home wrecker or a church wrecker.

c.       This does much mischief and harm to homes and to churches. All under the, often well intentioned, motive "I'm trying to help these people".

d.      People are not helped by breaking up their homes and we don't help people by tearing up a church.

e.       To do that is to be guilty of the very serious sin of causing division.

1.      Romans 16:17-18 says to mark and avoid those who cause division

2.      Galatians 5:20 Speaks of sedition's or divisions and says that they that do such shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

4.     Accountability for Elders

A.     The Bible says that evangelist's are to appoint Elders, Titus 1:5

B.     Paul said to an Evangelist (Timothy) concerning Elders: Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (1 Timothy 5:20).

C.     Lording over congregation is a violation of 1 Peter 5:3 and therefore is a sin.

D.    According to the Bible - an evangelist can rebuke and elder publicly when there is a serious sin issue.

E.     Note: It is wrong to try to solve a problem with an elder/eldership by backbiting and undermining an elder’s influence and/or authority.

5.     Consider what the Bible says about those who challenged the authority of God's designated leaders.

A.     Old Testament:

1        God chose Moses to lead Israel.

a.       Numbers 12:1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses "Hath the Lord spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us" "And the Lord heard it"

1.      When you speak against an elder you can be sure the Lord will hear you.

b.      "The anger of the Lord was kindled against them"

1.      Miriam was struck with leprosy. It was called sin. Very foolish thing.

2.      Aaron recognized and admitted his sin and Moses prayed for Aaron.

c.       This is the proper way to fix this kind of sin.

1.      The guilty one needs to repent. He needs to confess his sin.

2.      The one sinned against needs to forgive, and pray for the sinner.

3.      Deuteronomy 24:8,9  Remember what happened to Miriam

2        There was another person who challenged Moses' authority. That person was Korah (Numbers 16: 1) Korah and 250 princes

a.       They gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron

b.      They made accusation against Moses vs.11-13: accused Moses of making himself a prince vs.26:

c.       Moses warned the congregation to get away from these wicked men vs.31 -35

d.      They murmured again vs.41, notice that in this situation, the sympathizers died, the whiners died, the murmurers, the complainers died. Vs.49

e.       They provoked Jehovah God to anger.

f.        Please consider how serious this is. We must understand how God looks at this. It is no trivial matter with God.

g.       When you speak against an Elder - you speak against the one whom God has authorized to lead and guide his people.

h.      When you stand behind those who speak against Elders you are just as guilty as the spokesmen.

B.     New Testament:

1        1 Corinthians 10:10,11

a.       These are for our Example.  The Message: Don't murmur and complain like those who spoke against Moses and Aaron.

2        Act 20:28

a.       Speaking against an Elder is speaking against God because Paul told the Ephesian Elders - "The Holy Ghost has made you overseers"

b.      Act 20:29-31 Those who draw away disciples are called wolves by God.

c.       God looks at them as wolves scattering his flock. Perverse men speaking perverse things.

d.      This is exactly what Korah did. These priests Korah and the others rebelled against Moses. They spoke against Moses and they drew others after them.

3        Specific NT warnings

a.       Jude warns: Jude 8-10

b.      Peter Also 2 Pet 2:9-10

1.      Please do not speak against an Elder. Just as Korah, God is not pleased with murmuring, and will call murmurers to answer for it.

c.       Act 23:1-4 Paul and the High Priest

1.      Exodus 22:28 thou shalt not revile God, nor curse the ruler of thy people

2.      Was the high priest right in having Paul smitten on the mouth? No

3.      Was Paul right in calling a name? No

4.      Paul realized he had made a mistake.

5.      Paul acknowledged that what he had done was wrong.

a)      When a person sins, that's all they can do; acknowledge it. They can't undo it. When someone has spoken against an elder, when someone has drawn away disciples; they need to acknowledge their wrong.

b)      When a person acknowledges their wrong, that's all they can do. They need to be forgiven.

c)      Totally, completely, and unconditionally.

d)      1 John 1:9 If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin

d.      If men speak against elders and draw away disciples and come into your congregation and they won't acknowledge their sin, then the Bible is very plain.

1.      Romans 16:17-18 Those who cause division need to marked and avoided

2.      Paul says: Avoid them. Don't socialize with them Cut off your association that they may be ashamed and led to repentance.

3.      Don't be deceived by good words and fair speeches; Causing division is wrong, it is sinful. Don't be party to it.

6.     Many churches were destroyed in 1950s by backbiting, division causing people like Korah.

A.     1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

1        Korah and those other backbiting, division causing. People like Korah had their families destroyed. Maybe they were spreading that poison to their families.

2        When you have people with this nature - Their families will be destroyed . Look around and see if that's not so.

B.     Renegade preachers who came into congregation and challenged the authority of Elders over matters of judgment, primarily about church discipline.

C.     Mt. 18 1,2,3

1        Matters of Church Discipline:

a.       How long between step 1&2? Matter of judgment - Decision of elders

b.      How long between step 2 & 3? Matter of judgment - Decision of elders

c.       How long? Hour, day, week, month. Matter of judgment - Decision of elders

d.      If Elders say we're going to give this a little more time. Then Evangelists and everyone else stay out of it.

e.       The elder’s authority in matters of judgment is what God Ordained.

f.        Sometimes elders may backbite and speak against other elders' authority to make judgmental decisions for his congregation. This also is sin.

1.      "We withdrew from this person and we think you elders in another congregation must do the same thing at the same time."

g.       Decisions by one eldership are not binding on another congregation.

D.    If an elder from congregation A tells elders in congregation B "It's time for you to withdraw from one of your members." This elder is wrong - When to exercise discipline is a local matter. [Note:  We’re not considering advice here, but rather someone who tries to enforce his judgment on another congregation.]

1        It is sinful for anyone to backbite, gossip, or rail against others.  Be that elders, evangelists, or anyone else.

7.     Conclusion:

A.     God looks upon this criticism and challenging of authority with great distaste.

1        When this accelerates to the point of division God really hates it.

B.     Remember Korah as our example.

C.     God hates those who sow discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:19)

1        People who do this don't usually see themselves in that light.

2        This is a very deceitful sin. These people usually think they're helping things.

3        Burning down the barn is one way to get rid of rats. Effective but devastating.

D.    Brethren, let's recognize that God gave Elders authority to make judgmental decisions in their local congregations.

1        Let's mind our own business more. Let's respect and honor another.

2        Let's love as brethren and remember Ps. 133:1

 

Authority Of The Scriptures

A.     Jesus' View Of The Authority Of The Scriptures:

1        Have you never read?  Matthew 21:15,16,42; Mark 12:26,27

2        It is written.  John 8:17; Luke 24:25-27

3        In matters of doctrine.

a.       Resurrection  Luke 20:37,38; Exodus 3:6

b.      His exalted nature  Matthew 22:42-45; Psalms 110:1

c.       His mission  Luke 24:25-27; 44-46

4        In matters of morality and life.

a.       Facing temptation  Matthew 4:3-11

b.      Dealing with traditions  Matthew 15:3

c.       Even the least commands  Matthew 5:18; 23:23

5        The accounts in Genesis

a.       Creation  Matthew 19:4,5

b.      Cain & Able  Matthew 23:35; Hebrews 11:4

c.       Destruction of Sodom  Luke 17:28-32

d.      Flood  Matthew 24:37-39

6        It is of divine origin.

a.       David's Prophesy  Mark 12:26

b.      Law of Moses  Mark 7:10-13

c.       The source of truth  John 17:17

d.      Law can't fail  Luke 16:17

e.       My word won't pass away  Matthew 24:35

f.        Scripture cannot be broken  John 10:31-16; Psalms 82:6

7        The authority of the Bible is equal to the authority of Jesus himself.

a.       Why call ye me Lord?  Luke 6:46

b.      A wise man and a fool  Matthew 7:24-29

c.       Reject me...my words  John 12:48

 

B.     2 Timothy 3:15-17

1        All scripture is PROFITABLE for:

a.       The way of salvation

b.      Doctrine (teaching)

c.       Reproof (conviction)

d.      Correction (how to fix it)

e.       Instruction in righteousness  (how to keep it fixed)

2        That the man of God may be perfect (Complete)

3        Throughly furnished

4        Unto All good works

 

C.     Do We Have All Things?

1        Christ's words will judge us  John 12:48

2        John 14:25,26

a.       He shall teach you all things

b.      And remind you of all things

3        John 16:12-15

a.       He shall guide you into all truth

4        Matthew 28:19,20

a.       Teaching Christians to observe all things

5        2 Corinthians 5:17-20

 

God the Father

Jesus the Christ

Holy Spirit

Apostles

Word of reconciliation (Bible)

Us

 

6        Acts 20:27

a.       I declared all the counsel of God

7        2 Peter 1:2-4

a.       Hath given unto us (apostles) all things (see John 14:26)

b.      That pertain to life and godliness

c.       Great and precious promises given unto us (apostles)

d.      That by these (all things, promises) ye might be partakers.

8        1 John 1:1-4,7

a.       That which we have seen and heard (John 14:26) declare we unto you

b.      These things we write unto you that your joy may be full

9        1 Peter 1:10-12

a.       The things inspired by the Holy Ghost were preached unto you

 

D.    Alternatives To Biblical Authority.

1        The Pope

2        Modern Revelation

3        Anarchy

4        If we are to believe that only part of the Bible is applicable today, who shall we elect (allow) to decide what portions are and what portions are not applicable?

5        How can we know what is and is not `right' in our society today?

6        What is the Bible good for?  How do we know that?

 

E.     Other Related Passages.

1        You received the Word of God...from us  1 Thessalonians 2:13

2        2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

a.       Hold that which you have been taught by word, epistle...

b.      And establish you in every good word and work.

3        Psalms 119:105

a.       Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path

4        Psalms 119:97

a.       O how I love thy law!  It is my meditation all the day.

5        Psalms 1:1-3
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of the sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;  his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

6        1 Corinthians 10:1-11

a.       These things happened to a tribe of nomad slaves (Jewish) in a wilderness approx. 2000 years before the coming of Christ.

b.      They were living under a different covenant.

c.       It's stated purpose was for application to the lives of Gentile Christians in the Metropolis of Corinth.

7        2 Timothy 3:15-17

a.       Timothy, a mixed-breed Jewish Christian, traveling as an evangelist, was told to use the scriptures (specifically the Old Testament) in his life.

Is Instrumental Music In Worship Assemblies Scriptural?

It is common practice today for people to use mechanical instruments of music in their worship to God. However, churches of Christ generally do not employ their use. This is strange to many people and may seem strange to you. Because people don’t understand our opposition to such practices, we are often ridiculed and belittled for our convictions on this matter. Is such criticism in order? Or is there a real, biblical basis for the opposition of using instruments of music in worship to God?

Before we discuss this specific aspect of our worship to God, more needs to be said about worship in general. God is particular about the way He is worshipped. We are not at liberty to offer God any manner of service we choose. He has set forth a pattern for worship in His word, and it is our responsibility to follow this pattern.

To illustrate that God is concerned with the way we worship Him, consider the story of Nadab and Abihu. In Leviticus 10:1-2 the Bible says, "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord" They were offering worship to God by burning incense. But they did not do it in the manner that God required.

Rather than using the holy fire of the altar, they used strange fire which the Lord had not commanded them to use. Their sin was offering a form of worship that 1) was not according to the pattern set forth by God, 2) was more than God had commanded them to do. In doing more than God had commanded them, they had violated plain statements in the law of Moses. (Exodus 30:9) God punished them for these violations.

Therefore, if we offer worship which 1) is not according to the pattern God has set forth or 2) is a form He has not commanded us to do, creating a violation of scripture, we are committing essentially the same sin as Nadab and Abihu. Since God punished them, why should we think he would be any different with us?

The fact is, God is just as particular about the way we worship Him today as he was under the law of Moses. In Matt 15:7-9 Jesus said, "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you saying: These people draw near to Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men". To render acceptable worship to God, we must worship in a way that is consistent with His truth! And just like Nadab’s and Abihu’s was not accepted, our worship will not be accepted if it is not done in accordance with the revealed will of God.

Having established that God is particular regarding the way He is worshipped, this brings us to the question; "Has God established any specific pattern for our musical worship to Him?"

Actually, under the Law of Moses, they were required to use instruments of music. In 2 Chronicles 29:25 the Bible says, "And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets."

However, it is important to remember that we are not living under the law of Moses today. In Galatians 3:24-25 Paul says, ". ..the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." Though the law of Moses provides for our learning (Romans 15:4), we are not bound to keep it today. There were many things required under the law of Moses that we no longer do.

They were required to offer animal sacrifice (Leviticus 4:27-32), restricted in eating certain things (Leviticus 11:13-19), given special holy days (Leviticus 23:1-44), etc.. None of which is considered binding on Christians today. As a matter of fact, to bind these things from the law of Moses today is sin and will cause us to fall from grace. (Galatians 5:1-4, Colossians 2:14-17) If it is wrong to bring over these observances from the law, then why should we think it is right to bring over the use of instrumental music?

As said earlier, the things in the Old Testament were written for our learning (Romans 15:4) but our binding law now is contained in the New Testament. There are many things we do today that were done in Old Testament times, but they are done because the New Testament instructs us to do so.

Therefore, to settle the question regarding instrumental music, we must establish what the New Testament says about our musical worship to God. In Colossians 3:16 Paul said, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." He clearly instructed the church to sing, not play. Lifting our voices in praise to God is the pattern set forth.

It is noteworthy that in every New Testament passage where we are instructed how to offer musical praise to God, we are always told to sing and never told to play instruments. For example; 1 Corinthians 14:15 says, "...I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." Ephesians 5:19 says, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;" There are other New Testament passages that instruct the church similarly.

We have learned that God wants us to worship Him in the way He has directed. He has said that in our musical worship we are to sing, teach and admonish. The use of instrumental music violates these requirements given by God and as such, they are wrong! Our opposition to their use is sincere and biblically based. Will you join us in standing firm on God’s Word?
 
 

Must We Use Only One Container In The Communion?

There are many in the church who believe that we must use only one loaf of bread and one container in the observance of the Lord’s supper. It is maintained that the use of individual containers and breaking of the bread in more than one piece is a violation of the will of God. Is this view correct? Is the Lord interested in the number of bread pieces and containers present at the communion service? To explore the answer to these questions, a better understanding of the above view is needed.

The belief in only one container and one loaf of bread is based on certain definitions of the words "bread" and "cup" in the communion accounts found in scripture. In Luke 22:19 the Bible says, ‘And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you." To those who believe in using only one piece of bread in communion, this passage indicates Jesus took one loaf of bread, blessed it, pinched off a piece and ate it, then gave it to his disciples. They urge that to follow the example of Jesus, we must use only one piece of bread.

In similar fashion, the word "cup" is understood to mean only one container. In Mark 14:23 the Bible says, "And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them. and they all drank of it. "Those who believe in using only one container in the communion believe Jesus took one container, blessed it, gave it to his disciples, and they all drank from the same container. Again, they insist following the example of Jesus demands that each congregation must all drink of the same container.

Obviously, this belief depends totally on the above definitions of "bread" and "cup". But are these definitions correct? What is the cup of the Lord? Is it a literal container? What is the bread? Is it only one piece of bread?

In I Corinthians 10:16 Paul says "...The bread which we break, is it not the COMMUNION OF THE BODY of Christ?" In Mark 14:22 Jesus said of the bread, "Take, eat: THIS IS MY BODY". The Bible defines the bread of the Lord’s supper as the body of Christ! Therefore the oneness of the bread is in the fact that it is the one body that Jesus gave for our sins.

This is further proven by I Corinthians 10:17 where Paul says, "For we being many are ONE BREAD, and one body. For we are all partakers of THAT ONE BREAD. " If the one bread is one piece of bread, how could Paul and the church at Corinth partake of the same bread?! Obviously "the bread" is the body of Christ. No matter how many pieces are used by congregations of the Church of Christ, the church universal partakes of the same bread when we observe the Lord’s supper.

The same can be said of the cup of the Lord. Whereas those who believe in using only one container define it as a container, Jesus defined it as the blood of Christ. In Matthew 26:27-28 the Bible says, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for THIS IS MY BLOOD of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." And in Luke 22:20 the Bible says, "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, WHICH IS SHED FOR YOU. "Jesus said "the cup" is HIS BLOOD which is shed. Therefore, the oneness of the cup is in the fact that it is the one blood that Christ shed for our sins.

This definition corresponds with I Corinthians 10:16 where Paul says, "The cup of blessing which WE bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?..." Who is "we" referring to in this passage? In I Corinthians 1:2 the letter is addressed to "the church of God which is at Corinth ... with all that in EVERY PLACE call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord..." Obviously, "we" refers to 1) Paul (who was at Ephesus, over 300 miles away), 2) the church at Corinth and 3) Christians everywhere. And Paul said they bless the SAME CUP. Were they all drinking from the same container? Get this point! According to what Paul says, the church universal drinks of the SAME CUP! This can only be possible if we understand the cup to be the blood of Christ, not a literal drinking vessel.

Obviously the only way to truly believe in one bread and one cup is to understand them in the spiritual sense as defined by Christ. By realizing the bread is the body of Christ that was sacrificed and the cup is his blood, which he shed, we can understand that no matter how many PIECES and CONTAINERS are used, we all partake of only ONE BREAD and ONE CUP.

Sadly, the church remains split over this issue. Such division should trouble the heart of every Christian. Jesus prayed for the unity of his followers in John 17:21 when he said, "That they all may be ONE, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." It is tragic for God’s people to be divided over this issue.

It is each Christian’s responsibility to search out God’s word and learn the truth on this issue, that old wounds in the body of Christ might be healed. Give your attention to these questions and consider what the scriptures say. Study to insure that you are not perpetuating a division in the body of Christ over an issue the Lord has not bound. May we all come to unity under the guidance of God’s word.

Psalms, Making Melody And Instrumental Music

A Study Of Ephesians 5:19 And Related Passages

1. The Basic Argument: Eph. 5:19 (Those who believe in the use of instrumental music in worship to God sometimes make two arguments based on this verse in defense of instrumental music. They are as follows.)

    A. Speaking To Yourselves In Psalms: It is alleged that the Greek noun psalmos, translated "psalms" means a song performed with musical accompaniment. Therefore, the New Testament authorizes the use of instrumental music in worship to God.

    B. Making Melody In Your Heart: The phrase "making melody" translates the Greek verb psallo. This is the word from which psalmos is derived. It is alleged that psallo means to pluck a stringed instrument. Therefore, the New Testament authorizes the use of instrumental music in worship to God.)

2. What These Words Mean:

    A. Lexicons: (The following lexical definitions of psalmos will reflect the original meaning of the term and how its meaning evolved through the years. As with many words, its original, literal meaning and its later applications often differed. Thus, the question becomes not just what it meant originally, but what it means in 1 Cor. 14:15, Eph. 5:19, and Col. 3:16. Note below that Zodhiates speaks of the evolution of its meaning. Vincent contrasts its original signification with its use in the New Testament. The lexical definition of psallo will not be dealt with here since it is so similar to psalmos. Its meaning and usage is addressed in different places throughout this writing.)

      1.) Strong's: #5568 "...A set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode [accompanied with the voice, harp or other instruments; a 'psalm']; collectively the book of the Psalms..."

      2.) Zodhiates': Lexical Aids To The New Testament, pg. 1769 "...Actually a touching, and then a touching of the harp or other stringed instruments with the finger or with the plectrum; later known as the instrument itself, and finally it became known as the song sung with the musical accompaniment. This latest state of its meaning, 'psalm,' was adopted in the Septuagint. In all probability the psalms of Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16 are the inspired psalms of the Hebrew Canon. The word certainly designates these on all other occasions when it occurs in the New Testament, with the one possible exception of I Corinthians 14:26..."

      3.) Thayer's: Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament, pg. 675 "...a striking, twanging... a striking the chords of a musical instrument... hence a pious song, a psalm...one of the songs of the book of the Old Testament..."

      4.) Vincent's: Word Studies Of The New Testament, Vol. III, pg. 269-270 "...The noun psalm (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; I Cor. 14:26), which is etymologically akin to this verb (psallo in 1 Cor. 14:15 DEM), is used in the New Testament of a religious song in general, having the character of an Old Testament psalm... Some think that the verb has here its original signification of singing with an instrument. This is its dominant sense in the Septuagint, and both Basil and Gregory of Nyssa define a psalm as implying instrumental accompaniment... But neither Basil nor Ambrose nor Chrysostom, in their panegyrics upon music, mention instrumental music, and Basil expressly condemns it. Bingham dismisses the matter summarily, and cites Justin Martyr as saying expressly that instrumental music was not used in the Christian Church. The verb is used here in the general sense of singing praise."

     B. Root Meaning Vs. Context: (More needs to be said to establish that the meaning of a term changes and evolves through the years. Furthermore, we must illustrate where a term can take on a meaning in a given context that vastly differs from its original meaning.)

      1.) Giveth: "Giveth" in 1 Pet. 4:11 (KJV) comes from a word which means; to be a chorus-leader, lead a chorus, to furnish the chorus at one's own expense, to procure and supply all things necessary to fit out the chorus. In time, through the ordinary evolution of definitions, it come to mean; to supply, furnish abundantly. See Strong's #5524 in Strong's, Thayer's, etc. Obviously, the original meaning of the term doesn't fit the context of 1 Pet. 4:11. Thus we assign to it a later applied meaning. The same is true with psalmos in Eph. 5:19. The context must determine its meaning.

      2.) Lyric: According to The Century Dictionary of 1889 as quoted by Bales in Instrumental Music And New Testament Worship, pg. 109, lyric meant, "Pertaining or adapted to the lyre or harp... among the ancients, poetry sung to the lyre; in modern usage, poetry composed for musical recitation." This illustrates not only that words change, but that a word once associated with an instrument finally became associated with a song accompanied by an instrument, and then to the words of a song, sung in a lyrical, poetic way with no necessary connection to any instrument.

    C. Translations: (Credible translations consistently translate psalmos and psallo in such a way that reflects singing. If the meaning of these terms so obviously involves musical instruments, why aren't main line translations reflecting that? The hundreds of scholars that produced translations such as the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASV, RSV, etc. reflect our conclusion, that psalmos and psallo do not necessitate instrumental music. To find a translation that does otherwise, you must leave the mainstream and use versions that take great liberties with scripture and frequently betray the original languages.

3. What Early Christians Understood "Psalms" To Mean: (When attempting to define a Bible term, it is helpful to see how people from that general time understood and used the term. The sources cited in this section were Christian writers in the late first, second, third, and early fourth century. If the use of instrumental music is inherent in psalmos, it should be reflected in their usage of that term. If, on the other hand, they apply it to the idea of vocal music, this is a strong indication psalmos was commonly understood to indicate a religious song performed by singing.

    A. Eusebius Pamphilus: Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, pg. 213 (early fourth century) speaks of psalms and hymns as simply spiritual songs written by Christian brethren. No mention is made regarding these involving instrumental music in their performance.

    B. The Instructor: Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II, pg. 249 (possibly late first, likely second century) says the psalm is a melodious and sober blessing. He says Paul called it a spiritual song. Like the other sources, this early writing regards a psalm as simply a religious song. Nothing is said about it necessitating or even involving a musical instrument.

    C. Tertulian Against Marcion: Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, pg. 468 (second and early third century) speaks of psalms and hymns being performed vocally while instruments characteristically accompanied drunkenness. This is not to say that instruments by their nature incur revelry. It simply shows that the exclusively vocal performance of psalms was contrasted with instrumental use in secular music. If the use of instruments was inherent in psalms, why did Tertulian place psalms as opposite with songs accompanied with instruments? Furthermore, why did he depict psalms being performed vocally, not instrumentally?

    D. Tertulian To His Wife: Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, pg. 48 (second and early third century) speaks of a husband and wife chanting (singing) psalms and hymns together. If instruments inhere in the performance of psalms, why do these early Christians consistently speak of psalms being vocally performed? Though there was a time (under Moses' law) that psalms were performed with instruments, these sources show that the usage of psalmos does not necessarily include or require instruments, especially in New Testament times.

4. Instruments Would Be Mandatory: (If it is true that instrumental music is inherent in psalmos and psallo, passages like Eph. 5:19 would not only allow instrumental music, they would require it! Are musical instruments mandatory when offering musical worship to God? Are the proponents of instrumental music consistent with this argument?)

    A. Sing Psalms: Jas. 5:13 (In this passage, the KJV translates psallo "sing psalms". If the meanings of psallo and psalmos demand musical instruments, then we are required to play a musical instrument when we are happy. What of a person who cannot play? Is there no way such a one can express their joy in song? If psallo inheres instruments, that is precisely the case. If we can understand the term to indicate vocal music in Jas. 5:13, why can we not make the same application in Eph. 5:19?

    B. Commanded To All: Eph. 5:19 (The context of this passage applies to all Christians. All Christians are to abstain from drunkenness. All Christians are to be filled with the Spirit. All Christians are to sing. Since this context applies to all, whatever psalmos and psallo mean/require, they mean/require all to do. If they inhere musical instruments, all are required to use them. Anybody not using an instrument is not performing a psalm, they are not making melody.

    C. Consistency: Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16 (If psalms in these verses mean a song accompanied with instruments, do advocates of instrumental music only use instruments when performing psalms? Do they invariably perform hymns or spiritual songs without instruments? To do otherwise would contradict their contention that a psalm is a special kind of song to be performed with instruments.)

5. You Can Perform A Psalm Without An Instrument: (The information we have examined thus far indicates psalm does not necessarily include instrumental accompaniment. The lexicons testify to this fact. The dynamic nature of definitions testify to this fact. The contexts in which these terms are used prove this fact. We will now illustrate this fact through scriptural examples. We will examine cases where psalms were performed vocally, without musical instruments. This will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that psalmos and psallo do not necessarily involve or allow instruments of music.

    A. Quoted: Rom. 3:9-18 (This passage contains several quotations from Psalms. If psalms, by their nature are accompanied with music are we to understand Paul played a harp when he recited these passages? Of course not. Though this doesn't speak specifically to the issue of music, it does demonstrate that psalms can be recited without musical accompaniment.

    B. Read: Mt. 21:42 (Here Jesus quoted Ps. 118:22-23 and spoke of them reading the same. This was a psalm. Did he accompany it with musical instruments? Did they always accompany it with instruments when they read it? Once more, this doesn't speak specifically to the issue of music, but it does demonstrate that psalms can be recited without musical accompaniment, showing that instruments don't inhere in psalmos.

    C. Sang: Mt. 26:30 (This passage says Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn. The term "hymn" here refers to psalms of praise, especially Psalms 113-118. See Instrumental Music And New Testament Worship, pg. 62, and Vincent's Word Studies Of The New Testament, Vol. III, pg. 269-270. Note that Jesus and his disciples sang these psalms. The Bible doesn't say they played them. We read nothing of them being accompanied with musical instruments. The Bible simply says they sang these psalms. Did Jesus perform these psalms incorrectly? Do those who wish to use instruments of music understand better how to perform a psalm than Jesus?

    D. Sang: Mk. 14:26 (This is the same instance as noted above. It shows another passage of scripture which depicts psalms being performed by singing, not playing.)

    E. Jerome: As quoted in Instrumental Music And New Testament Worship, pg. 64-65 "Whichever way you turn, the plowman holding the plow-handle is singing 'Hallelujah,' the sweating reaper diverts himself with psalms, the vine-dresser pruning the vine with his curved knife is singing something from David." These people had their hands full, yet they performed psalms. Since their hands were busy working they couldn't have accompanied the psalms with instrumental music. They sang these psalms without instrumental music. Though this is not a Bible example, it is valuable in helping us understand the meaning of psalm. Furthermore, it aids in proving that psalms did not necessarily include instrumental accompaniment.

6. How The New Testament Says To Perform Psalms:

    A. Speaking: Eph. 5:19 (How does the Bible tell us to perform psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in this passage? Paul said these are accomplished by speaking and by singing. Those who wish to use instruments of music say psalms are to be played. The inspired Apostle Paul said they are to be spoken and sung! Making melody here (psallo) does not indicate playing an instrument. The making of melody here is accomplished in or with the heart. It has to do with singing heartily, with meaning.)

    B. Understanding1 Cor. 14:15 (This passage uses psallo, the verb form of psalmos. Notice the Bible says to sing [psallo] with the understanding. From the immediate context, verses 16 and 19 show that understanding has to do with understanding spoken words. So the singing [psallo-ing] involved spoken words, not mechanical instruments. Some argue that since the root meaning of psallo is to strike or twang something to make it vibrate, such as a stringed instrument, this must involve playing, not singing. However, through the evolution of this terms definition, it has come to indicate singing in the New Testament rather than plucking a string, the vocal chords being the object "plucked" and caused to vibrate. The bottom line is, whatever psallo does, it produces intelligible words in 1 Cor. 14:15. Playing an instrument does no such thing, but singing does. This supplies a Bible definition for psallo [verb], and by implication psalmos [noun]; to sing [verb], or the song that is sung [noun].)

    C. Teach And Admonish: Col. 3:16 (This passage tells us to teach and admonish with psalms. Whatever a psalm is, it teaches and admonishes. The sounds of an instrument do not teach nor admonish so their use in the performance of a psalm would violate what this passage requires of our musical worship. Furthermore, the verse says this is accomplished by singing. The performance of a psalm, a hymn, or a spiritual song is accomplished by singing. That's what the Bible says. Others may say that at least psalms also include playing, but the Bible says it is accomplished by singing.)

Speaking In Tongues In The Assembly

A common practice today for many who claim to be Christians is "speaking in tongues". It is maintained by many denominations that miraculous tongues are for the church today. It is not uncommon to see a preacher on stage interrupt his sermon with a fantastic series of strange sounds that cannot be understood. This, we are told, is speaking in tongues.

The same assemblies often witness several from the audience at once bursting out in similar fashion. This typically involves more than one speaking at a time, women speaking and "tongue speaking" that is never interpreted.

Is this really from God? Does God want Christians to behave this way in the assembly of the church? Does this represent the kind of tongue speaking that was done in biblical times? The purpose of this writing is to answer these questions with scripture and expose the modern practice of "tongue speaking" described above, as sinful behavior that is not from God!

According to the Bible, what is tongue speaking? In Acts 2:4 the Bible says, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." When they spoke in tongues, was this a series of syllables that the audience could not understand? In Acts 2:7-8 the Bible says the audience was amazed, "...saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" The tongue speaking in the New Testament was not undiscernable noise. It was people miraculously speaking in ordinary human languages which the speaker did not naturally know! Therefore the modem practice is nothing like what was done in scripture.

What about the practice of several speaking in tongues all at once? In 1 Corinthians 14:27 Paul says, "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret." The Bible says there must only be two or at the most three who speak in tongues. Furthermore, verse 31 says, "For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted." Thus we learn that only one at a time may speak in the assembly.

Clearly, the modem practice creates numerous violations of God’s word. But, violations of God’s word are not the only fruit this reckless practice produces. In 1 Corinthians 14:23 the Bible says, "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad ?" An additional fruit of this practice is that unbelievers will respond with ridicule, thinking the people who do these things are out of their mind!

This brings us to another element of this practice. Does God permit women to speak in tongues in the assembly? In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 God’s word says "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." Does it sound Like God wants women to be speaking in tongues in the assembly? Not only does God not want them to speak miraculous tongues in the assembly, he doesn’t want them to speak at all! Again, we see a blatant violation of God’s word in the practices of many denominations today.

The next violation in consideration is the practice of speaking in tongues without an interpreter. In 1 Corinthians 14:28 the Bible says of the tongue speaker, "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God." The scriptures are clear. If no one interprets what is said, the tongue speaker is to keep silent!

Some attempt to minimize the prohibitions given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 by saying they are only Paul’s opinion. But in verse 37 the Bible says, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." These are God’s commands! When people do things that violate these laws, it is sin! As the apostle says in 1 John 3:4, "...sin is the transgression of the law." When people transgress these regulations God has given for the church, they are not pleasing God. They are sinning!

Is God the author of this practice? When people claim God is guiding them to speak in tongues in this way, are they telling the truth? Clearly not! In 1 Corinthians 14:33 God’s word says, "For God is not the author of confusion; but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." The next time you witness the confusion of several, including women, simultaneously speaking tongues that cannot be understood and are not being interpreted, know this. God is not the author of these ungodly, unorderly practices.

This practice, as it is done by many today, is unscriptural and is nothing at all like the tongues spoken of in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 14:22 the Bible says "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe but to them that believe not..." In scripture, the stated purpose of tongues was to be a sign to persuade unbelievers. But this work of confirmation was to end.

In 1 Corinthians 13:8 the Bible says, "...whether there be tongues, they shall cease..." Tongues had a specific purpose, but the time has come when that work has ceased. 1 Corinthians 13:10 says tongues would be done away "when that which is perfect is come". The "Perfect" is the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), the complete will of God. When God completely revealed his New Covenant will, the miraculous gift of tongues ceased.

The above scriptures make it clear. The modem practice of "speaking in tongues" is not from God. It is nothing like the tongues spoken in the Bible. It is sin because it violates God’s word. Do you want to be a part of a practice that is so foreign to God’s word? Distance yourself from this folly and avoid the denominations that conduct assemblies contrary to God’s commands. Accept God’s purpose for tongues, and forsake the customs of men that violate God’s commands for the church.

The Lord's Day

The sabbath question and the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, are two separate and independent questions.  The sabbath has been abolished (Colossians 2:16-17) regardless of what can be proved about Christians assembling on the first day of the week.  All human beings need some rest, and likely those who assemble on the first day of the week get as much rest on that day as do the Seventh-Day Adventists who assemble on Saturday.  The fact that a great deal is not said about the first day of the week adds not one iota of strength to the Seventh-Day Adventists’ case for the sabbath.

The coming of the new covenant necessitated the abolition of the old, for He had to take away the first in order to establish the second (Hebrews 8:5-13; 10:9-10).  The system of shadows gave way to the system of substance (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10: 1-20).  Under the new covenant, it is not dishonoring to the Father to teach that the sabbath (which was a memorial of God’s rest after creation, Exodus 20:11, and a sign between God and Israel, Deuteronomy 5:15) was abolished with the system of shadows.  God “hath given all judgment unto the Son; that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him” (John 5:22-23).  It is fitting that in the new covenant we celebrate in the Lord’s Supper, an event, the death of the Lord for our sins, on the day of His resurrection, since without the resurrection it would have meant that Christ was a false prophet and did not die for our sins.  The work of Christ in dying for our sins, of purchasing the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28), is a more costly, glorious, and important work than the physical creation, and the resurrection is a divine declaration that Christ is God’s Son (Romans 1:4).

Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23), and the Son “over his house” which is God’s house (Hebrews 3:6; 1 Timothy 3:14).  The kingdom has been taken from Israel and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof (Matthew 21:42-43; Luke 12:32; Colossians 1:13).  Israel no longer constitutes God’s holy nation (1 Peter 2:5, 9).  It was fitting that the sabbath be abolished, for it was a sign between God and Israel (Deuteronomy 5:15).  It was fitting that Christ’s people meet on another day, and such they do (Acts.20:7).  Concerning our day of assembly, we must listen to Christ the head of the church (Hebrews 1:1-2).  Christ has abolished the shadow system through fulfillment and therefore we let no man judge us in respect of the religious days, including the sabbath of the old covenant, for the body, substance, or reality pertains to Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).  Our rest is found in Christ (Matthew 11:28-30) and this rest is consummated in eternity (Hebrews 3:6,14,19; 4:1-11).  (Compare John Willison, A Treatise Concerning The Sanctification of the Lord’s Day, Albany: N.Y.: G.  J.  Loomis & Co., 1820, pp.  49-52).  The “rest” He brings is indeed glorious as Isaiah foresaw (Isaiah 11:10).

 

Christ Raised On The First Day

If Christ had been raised on the sabbath day, He would not have been in the tomb either three days or nights or part of three days and nights.  When the women came to the tomb “on the first day of the week, at early dawn,” it was empty (Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1).  For Jews the day was from sunset to sunset, and although it was early dawn while “it was yet dark,” it was the first day of the week.  In the evening of the first day of the week Christ appeared to some disciples who were in a building (John 20:19).  Eight days later, which would be the first day of the week, “again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them.  Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst” (20:26).

“The term Sunday, or ‘day of the Sun,’ was the pagan designation, and it appears in the writings of the Christian apologists who were addressing pagan audiences…The phrase ‘first day of the week’ (literally ‘first of the Sabbaths’—the first day between the Sabbaths) was a Jewish expression based on the practice of designating the days of the week by their number leading up to the sixth (the Preparation) and the seventh (the Sabbath).  This was the common terminology of the New Testament and of early Christian writers from a Semitic background (as the Syrian Bardesanes...or Justin in addressing a Jew…).  ‘Lord’s Day’ and ‘eighth day’ were distinctive Christian names and will be discussed further” (Ferguson, p.  71).

 

Pentecost

The first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection and ascension marks the birthday of the church, for it was then that the kingdom came with power (Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:30-36).  The world now knew that Christ was reigning as King at God’s right hand, and would reign until death is conquered (Acts 2:34-35; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 20:11-21:5).  Peter said that Israel could know assuredly that God had made Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ.  Around three thousand obeyed the gospel that day (Acts 2:36-42).  On what day of the week was Pentecost? Pentecost always came on the first day of the week.  “And he shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it… And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering; seven sabbaths shall there be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meal-offering unto Jehovah” (Leviticus 23:11,15-16).  As Straub pointed out: “If we count the fifty days from the morrow after the Passover, as our Seventh-Day Adventist friends sometimes insist, the rules would apply just one year in seven, viz, when the Passover, with the rotation of the calendar, came on Saturday.  The Passover, with its set calendar date, came on each day of the week.” The morrow after the sabbath would always be the first day of the week, the day on which Pentecost was celebrated.  Christ was raised on the first day of the week, and the first day of the week was the birthday of the church on earth.

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper was started by Christ on a week night and in connection with the passover meal (Matthew 26:2, 17-29).  However, there is no case where it was observed on any day other than the first day of the week, and Paul showed that it was not to be taken in connection with a meal (1 Corinthians 11:20-22,33-34).  We do not observe a day, but we do observe an event on the first day of the week (Luke 22:19-20).  We are commanded to observe it (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25).  It was observed with regularity.  Paul mentioned the fact that they assembled for the Lord’s Supper, although the way some were conducting themselves made it impossible.  “When therefore ye assemble yourselves, together, it is not possible to eat the Lord’s Supper, for (1 Corinthians 11:20-21).  Paul spoke of “as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).  It was not an ordinary meal, for if they were hungry they could eat at home (1 Corinthians 11:33-34).  This indicated that they assembled with regularity, as is also evident from the fact that Christians are commanded not to forsake the assembling of themselves together (Hebrews 10:25).  When was their regular day of assembly? We know that Christians in Jerusalem did meet every day, although they did not meet every day for the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:46—notice their assembling is contrasted with their eating bread at home).  However, they did not have to meet every day, for the church in Troas did not meet every day.  Paul waited until they met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).  The church in Corinth assembled for the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-23, 26, 33-34).  Paul instructed them to give on the first day of the week, and this giving must have been done in connection with the assembly, for Paul wanted it done in order that no collections be taken when he arrived (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
It is certainly fitting that the observance of the Lord’s Supper be on the Lord’s Day.  It should be observed that Christians were never commanded to assemble to eat an ordinary meal, although, of course, it is right for them to eat together (Jude 12).

Acts 20:7

We are not told why Paul was seven days in Acts 21:3-4 and 28:13-14, but we are told, through what happened, why he waited seven days in Troas.  “...  we tarried seven days.  And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:6-7).  Observe: First, Paul was there a full week, but the only assembly of the Christians which is mentioned was on the first day of the week.  There was no hint of a sabbath day meeting, which would have taken place if the Christians had been Seventh-Day Adventists. 
Second, Paul evidently knew and the brethren in Troas evidently knew that Christians met on the first day of the week.  Paul waited for this meeting, and the next day he left according to his intentions (Acts 20:7,11).
Third, it was not a specially called meeting for the brethren to hear Paul.  Their assembly was related to a purpose which was unrelated to Paul’s preaching to them.  “…when we were gathered together to break bread.” This was the purpose of their assembly, just as the Lord’s Supper was the purpose of the assembly of the saints in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:20-21, 26, 33-34) on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).  The way it is stated indicates that it was not anything unusual but was the purpose of their assembly on the first day of the week.  Paul did preach to them, but his preaching was not the purpose for which they assembled.  The Seventh-Day Adventists sometime argue that Paul’s preaching to Jews in the synagogue on the sabbath proves he kept the sabbath day.  Does not his assembly with the Christians for the Lord’s Supper prove that this was the day that he assembled with Christians in a distinct Christian assembly? We know why he assembled with Jews on the sabbath, i.e., because that was the Jewish day of assembly, and if he wanted to preach to them in their synagogues he had to go when they assembled; just as one would go to the Seventh-Day Adventist meeting house on the sabbath if he wanted to go when they assembled for their regular weekly service.  Acts 20:7 tells us why these Christians assembled, i.e., to break bread.  This was not an assembly for a regular meal which they ate at home (Acts.  2:46; 1 Corinthians 11:33-34).

Fourth, when did they start the beginning of a day? Was it from sunset to sunset? McGarvey thought it started at sunset and the first day started on what we call Saturday night.  “Any time after sunset on that evening would be the Lord’s Day as they counted it, and after midnight, which was the time of breaking the loaf on that occasion, was on the Lord’s Day as we count it.”

If they met on Saturday night, the next morning when Paul left would have been on the same first day of the week.  However, Paul met with them on the first day of the week and planned to depart “on the morrow” (20:7) which he did after speaking “even till break of day, so he departed” (20:11).  “Morrow” has reference to “the next day” (Matthew 27:62; Mark 11:12; John 1:29, 35; 6:22; 12:12).  The word is used several times in Acts.  Cornelius was praying about the ninth hour of the day and after he had his vision he sent men to Peter.  “Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour” (Acts 10:3,7-8,9).  Peter had the same vision three days, and while puzzled about it the men from Cornelius came.  They lodged there “and on the morrow he rose and went forth with them” (10:16, 17, 23).  Paul was ready to depart on the morrow (20:7).  They were in Ptolemais “one day.  And on the morrow we departed” (21:7-3).  “So the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.  But on the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him…” (23:31-32).  Festus went to Caesarea, “and on the morrow he sat on the judgment-seat, and commanded Paul to be brought” (25:6).  This was called the next day.  “When therefore they were come together here, I made no delay, but on the next day sat on the judgment-seat, and commanded the man to be brought” (25:17).  Festus was telling Agrippa about it, and Agrippa said, “1 also could wish to hear the man myself.  Tomorrow, saith he, thou shalt hear him.  So on the morrow…” (25:22-23).

Jewett pointed out that the historical evidence indicates that early in the second century Christians met Sunday evenings (54).  Why did they change? “The younger Pliny, governor of the province of Bithynia in Asia Minor, in a letter to Trajan (A.D.  109), tells his lord that the Christians ceased to gather at the time of the evening meal at his command, by which he had proscribed all evening meetings in keeping with the Emperor’s edict against seditious assemblies.  It would appear, then, that Christians were forbidden to meet on Sunday evening, at least in the province of Bithynia, and it is quite possible that this proscription applied widely in the Eastern part of the Empire” (69; Pliny, Epistola, X, p.  97).  He speaks of their meeting before it was light (Book X, Letter 83).
Pliny did not identify which day of the week but called it “a certain stated day” (Galloway, p.  73).  “Sunday” was not used in his day “and it is unlikely that he was at home with the seven-day division of time by which Jews and Christians designated the day as the ‘first day of the week.’ If, in his letter to the Emperor, Pliny was referring to the Jewish Sabbath, as many Adventists claim, it is probable that he would have designated the day by that name, since both he and the Emperor were familiar with the Jewish Sabbath.  The fact that he does not designate the day implies that he had in view a day for which no specific name was current, the name ‘Lord’s Day’ being used only among Christians” (Jewett, p.  70).

F.  F.  Bruce thought if we compared Paul’s intention to depart on the morrow (20:7) with “till break of day, so he departed” (20:11), that “we infer that for Luke the day did not begin, in the Jewish way, at sunset, but in the Greek way, at dawn; it was therefore not on Saturday evening, but on Sunday evening, that they came together.” if it were from sunset to sunset, and they met on Saturday night, Paul would have left the brethren early Sunday morning.  If they met on Sunday night, and Monday started at the break of day, he left Monday morning.  If time was reckoned from midnight to midnight, they met on Sunday night, and leaving at the break of dawn meant that he left Monday morning.  Some say that if time was reckoned from midnight to midnight, they observed the Lord’s Supper after midnight and this would have been on Monday, since sunset on Saturday did not start the Lord’s Day but midnight Saturday night did.  (a) If they did not eat the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, they failed to do what they came to do on that day.  (b) The breaking of bread can refer both to the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26) and to an ordinary meal (Acts 2:46).  If after midnight was Monday morning, it may be that the breaking of bread in Acts 20:11 referred to an ordinary meal for Paul, for he is the only one indicated as eating.  “And when he was gone up, and had broken bread, and eaten, and had talked with them a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.  And they brought the lad alive (20:11-12).  Paul is the only one mentioned or implied in verse 11.  If it refers to a meal, they partook of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week; Paul ate a meal after midnight and then left at dawn.  The times mentioned are midnight and morning.  However, since the Lord did not date the beginning of the day as to whether it started at sunset, sunrise, or midnight, I see no ground on which to be dogmatic. 

Fifth, the only time we find mentioned on which the disciples observed the Lord’s Supper is the first day of the week.  A daily, monthly, or yearly service is not mentioned in connection with the observance of the Lord’s Supper by the church.  If the Seventh-Day Adventists maintain it did not say they did it every first day of the week, our reply is: (a) It did not say observe every sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11).  (b) Since Christians gathered on the first day of the week to break bread, they would do this whenever the first day of the week came around.  Paul did not say lay by in store every first day of the week, but it is clear that whenever that day came they laid by in store (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

1 Corinthians 16:1-2

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye.  Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 14:37).  This order was not given just to the church in Corinth; it had also been given to the churches of Galatia.  Was Paul ordering them to do something at home on the first day of the week? Does Paul ever specify, unless this is such a case, a religious duty to be done on a specific day at home? Is there any case where Paul commanded any Christian to do any religious service on the sabbath day? Is it not strange that Paul overlooked the sabbath day if it is as important as the Seventh-Day Adventists maintain? Do the Seventh-Day Adventists today lay by in store at home each first day of the week? Do they give financially in their services on the sabbath, and then the very next day, the first day of their work week, lay aside what they are going to give next Saturday?

Paul said to “each one of you lay by him in store” (16:2).  The word “lay” originally meant to “bring to a place,” “to place, put, lay” (Kittel, VIII, p.  152).  “Economically the word means ‘to invest money, Luke 19:21 ff.; each of you ‘set money aside’ in self-denial, 1 Corinthians 16:2” (p.  155).

Paul said “each one of you lay by him in store” (16:2).  The word “store” was used of a place where something was stored whether in a “treasure chamber, chest, or house’ e.g., state warehouse...temple treasury, or temple storehouse for offerings in kind...  The cultic treasuries provided an impulse for private money boxes (1 Corinthians 16:2)” (Kittel, III, p.  136).  As to whether it was laid by at home in a private money box, I shall return to this shortly.  S.  L.  Caiger said that the word was “a common term for collections...made in pagan Temples” (Archaeology and the New Testament, 1939, pp.  163-164).  Did churches have treasuries? They must have had, otherwise where did they put money which was being collected to send to Paul, for example? (Philippians 4:15-17) The church in Jerusalem must have had a treasury.  Money was collected, and distributed as there was need, and there must have been some place where it was collected and stored for distribution.  Possessions were sold and “parted them to all, according as any man had need” (Acts 2:44-45).  Each person did not go about distributing what he had received for the sale of his goods.  They had all things common by living out of a common treasury (Acts 4:32).  This is evident from the fact that they sold possessions “and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need” (4:34-35).  Can you imagine each apostle standing there with money piled at his feet until it was needed for distribution? It was laid at their feet, but it must have been kept some place while awaiting distribution.  Barnabas “brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (4:37).  Ananias kept back part of the price, and “brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (5:2).  As Jack McKinney pointed out, this is the background of the situation in Acts 6.  The apostles were evidently acting as the treasurers and they were so overburdened that they could not look after it all and do their main work of teaching.  There was a complaint that the Grecian widows “were neglected in the daily ministration” (6:1).  “And the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not fit that we should forsake the word of God, and serve tables.  Look ye out therefore, brethren...men...  whom we may appoint over this business.  But we will continue steadfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the word” (6:2-4).  The apostles had been doing this, and to continue it they would have had to forsake “the word of God, and serve tables” (literally in the Greek, to keep on serving tables).  They must have been doing it, for otherwise why at this time did they appoint men who were specially selected for this work?

What did serving tables mean? If the apostles had been serving meals to all needy Christians, and to others who were living out of the common treasury (for they had sold their possessions), they could not have done it all.  Furthermore, it would have been obvious that the food was not passed to the Grecian widows.  It is hard to conceive that they were at the eating table and being neglected in plain sight of others who were eating.  The apostles would have been the ones obviously and openly neglecting them.  However, the word “tables” is used today for “bank” in Greece.  The money changers in the temple had their money on tables, and this is the same word for tables in Acts 6:2 (John 2:15).  In Acts 4:32 “distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need” (4:35).  This was obviously in charge of the apostles, for the money had been laid at their feet (4:35).  It was money, not food, which the apostles were distributing (4:34-35,37; 5:1-2).  This was the “daily ministration” concerning which the Grecian widows were being neglected (6:1).  The seven were to be appointed by the apostles “over this business” (6:3).  The word for business is the word which is used for “need” in Acts 4:35 where “distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need” (4:35).  When this was done the apostles were able to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word rather than to the ministry or service of tables (6:2,4).

Paul spoke of some widows who were enrolled and supported by the church (1 Timothy 5:9-16).  Those who were not “widows indeed” were to be supported by others, that the church be not burdened (5:16).  Since they were regularly supported by the church, if they were widows indeed, the church must have had regular funds for their support.  How could the church have had funds for their support if there was no church treasury? 
Was Paul speaking of each man on the first day of the week deciding how much he was to give and placing it by itself at home? It this were the case, why did Paul specify the first day of the week? Is there any home duty which is done on just one specific day of the week? Could not a person as easily decide on any other day of the week as to how much he would give and set it aside then? Why would each first day of the week be the time when he would put some more money in his private money box? Would he not put into his private money box at home any money he received on any and every day of the week? If he were paid once a month would he not put it in his private money box on whatever day of the month he got the money?

If the sabbath day were bound on Christians, according to the regulations in the Decalogue, Christians would rest on the sabbath and the sabbath would have been an excellent time to figure out how much they were going to give, and take it out of one money box and put it in the special money box for the collection at home.  If they met regularly as Christians on the sabbath, why would not the sabbath have been the time for the church collection?

Of course, one day would have been as good as another for doing this, and in fact one would automatically put in his private money box at home any money he received on any day of the week unless he immediately paid some debt or purchased something.  There is no sense in doing it on one special day if it is done at home.  However, since the Christians did meet on the first day of the week, it does make sense for them to give on that day, and this explains why Paul said on the first day of the week and not on some other day. 

If the Seventh-Day Adventists are right, and each person on the first day of the week laid by money at home, it would frustrate Paul’s purpose for their laying by in store.  He said they were to lay by in store “that no collections be made when I come” (16:2).  If every Christian aid by in store at home, and if Christians met on the sabbath day for heir regular weekly assembly, Paul would have had either to visit ~ach one of them to collect what they had at home, or he would have said to make a special appointment for them to all come together in me place and bring the money to him whenever he came.

If they took it with them to a sabbath service, they would have to take it out of the place where they had laid by in store at home, and it would either have had to be placed in a church treasury on the sabbath or Paul would have had to be there to receive it from each of them.

Paul said, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye.  Upon the first day of he week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, hat no collections be made when I come” (16:1-2).  These are the only two uses of the word “collection” in the New Testament.  The collection for the saints was to be made before Paul got there, or otherwise there would be collections when he came.  Paul would have had to collect from each of them, instead of the collection being there waiting for him in the church treasury.  There would be that one collection, gathered over a period of time in their weekly assemblies, waiting when Paul got there; instead of Paul having to collect from each individual what he had laid by at home.  Only by weekly putting it into the one collection for the saints could Paul avoid numerous “collections” when he came.  The collections were made weekly so that when Paul got there “the collection for the saints” was waiting for him.

If “by him” was the only thing in the context, one could conclude that it could be at home, but in the light of the context it is clear that “the collection” was being gathered on the first day of the week over a period of time so that it would all be there waiting for Paul when he came “that no collections be made when I come.” The Seventh-Day Adventists’ interpretation necessitates collections for each individual when Paul came, instead of it all being there in the church treasury as “the collection” for the saints which they had gathered over a period of time.  When we remember that the Christians in Corinth regularly assembled for the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:18-34), and that Christians gathered for the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), it is clear why Paul specified the first day of the week for the contribution to be made in the assembly in order that the collection would be waiting when Paul arrived.

The Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10)

Is this the first day of the week, or is it the sabbath day? This passage by itself does not give any additional identification. 

First, if it were the sabbath day it does not prove that the sabbath is binding on us.  We know it has been abolished (Colossians 2:16-17).  Paul’s desire to be “at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost” does not prove that Pentecost is binding on Christians (Acts 20:16).

Second, it is not the sabbath just because Jesus said He was Lord of the sabbath (Mark 2:27-28; Matthew 12:8).  Jesus was affirming that His lordship included the sabbath (even of the sabbath) as well as the other days.  As Lord of all days He had the authority to abolish the sabbath, which He did (Colossians 2:11).
Third, “By this name he could not have intended to speak of the ‘Sabbath,’ for the word ‘Sabbath’ was then universally used by Jews and Christians for the seventh day” (J.  W.  Howson in Schaff’s commentaries).  In Acts, the seventh day is called the sabbath.

Fourth, Revelation 1:10 by itself does not prove that John assembled on that day, for he spoke of being in the Spirit, not of being in the assembly, on the Lord’s Day.  It certainly says nothing about John keeping the sabbath.
Fifth, Christ is frequently set forth in the New Testament as Lord (Romans 10:9; Acts 2:36).  We belong to Him by right of purchase (Acts 20:28).  In that day in “official terminology it” was used “especially as a title for ‘imperial’ “ (Kittel, III, p.  1096).  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia said, “In secular use it signified ‘imperial,’ ‘belonging to the lord—the emperor— and so its adoption by Christianity in the sense ‘belonging to the Lord’—to Christ—was perfectly easy...  it is even possible that the full phrase, ‘the Lord’s Day,’ was coined as a contrast to the phrase, ‘the Augustian day,’ a term that seems to have been used in some parts of Europe to denote days especially dedicated in honor of Caesar-worship” (p.  1919). 

“Lord’s Day is used by Christians with reference to the day of Christ’s resurrection, and the term is consciously distinguished from the Sabbath day...  The Sabbath is never referred to as kuriake, ‘Lord’s,’ or ‘lordly.’ It became common to omit the word ‘day’ after kuriake, leaving the adjective alone with the noun to be understood, (Revelation 1:10 reflects the earliest usage in giving the full phrase).  Thus in Modern Greek the word for Sunday or the first day of the week is kuriake.  This usage was well established at an early date, for in Christian Latin the word for Sunday was dominica, the exact translation of the Greek, ‘Lord’s”‘ (Ferguson, 71).

Sixth, the word “Lord’s” is used in the New Testament only in Revelation 1:10 and in 1 Corinthians 11:20, “the Lord’s Supper.  We know the Lord’s Supper sustains a unique relationship to Christ, for He instituted it in memory of His death for our sins.  The first day of the week sustains a unique relationship to Christ, for it is the day of His resurrection which made possible the church, the new spiritual creation; it is the day of the beginning of the church on earth; the day on which the saints assembled to partake of the Lord’s Supper; and as a day it speaks of a greater event—Christ’s resurrection, new creation, and our hope of resurrection and eternal life based on His resurrection—than the creation recorded in Genesis 1.

The Lord’s refers to something peculiarly belonging to Christ the Lord under the new covenant.  This is strengthened by the fact that the cup of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:21; 11:27), and the table of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:21) pertain to Christ and His new covenant.  They are not an old covenant cup or table.  Furthermore, the Lord’s death pertains to Christ’s death for our sins (1 Corinthians 11:26).  The Lord’s is in the adjective form in 1 Corinthians 11:20 and Revelation 1:10, but the noun form in the other passages (10:21; 11:27) including the Greek which is translated “Lord’s death” in 1 Corinthians 11:26.  How could this be the sabbath day, when the word used through the New Testament for the seventh day is the “sabbath”?
Seventh, as Hessey brought out in his Hampton Lectures on Sunday, the first day of the week has been known as the Lord’s Day in all the centuries following.  As Hessey said, “In no one place in the New Testament is there the slightest hint that the Lord’s Day is a Sabbath, or that it is to be observed Sabbatically, or that its observance depends on the Fourth Commandment, or that the principle of the Sabbath is sufficiently carried out by one day in seven being consecrated to God.  Whatever the Lord’s Day had, was its own, not borrowed from the Sabbath, which was regarded for religious purposes as existing no longer.  Nay more, when certain Judaizing persons had troubled the Church by insisting that the law of Moses was binding upon Gentile converts, the Apostles met in council.  Their decision was that certain things should be abstained from by the Gentiles, but they did not enjoin any positive ceremonial observance connected with the older Covenant, not even the Sabbath.  And to this it should be added that St.  Paul in writing to the Colossians (ii.16)...  In writing to the Galatians (iv.9,10), he says...No testimony can be more decisive than this to the fact that the Sabbath was of obligation no longer” (Sunday, 36-37). 

The Lord’s Day is not a sabbath day; therefore, we would not expect the first day of the week to have the characteristics of the sabbath day.  “Christian writers frequently reproach Jews for keeping the Sabbath: Aristides, Apology 14 (Syriac text); Epistle of Diognetus 4:5.  They argued that the Sabbath was not kept before Moses and therefore was not part of the permanent will of God: Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews 2-4; Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 19:2; 21:1 and frequently; Irenaeus, Against Heresies IV.  xvi.  2.  (Ferguson, p.  78).
Eighth, Ignatius (A.D.  30-107) made it clear that Christians did not observe the seventh day as a day of rest, and that their day of assembly was the Lord’s Day.  There are two versions of his Epistle to the Magnesians.  In the shorter version he wrote, “If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death.” In the longer version we read: “Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for ‘he that does not work, let him not eat.’ For says the (holy) oracles, ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.’ But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them.  And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days (of the week).  Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, ‘To the end, for the eighth day,’ on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ (Alexander Roberts, The Ante Nicene Fathers, Buffalo: The Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885, I, pp.  62-63).  By their keeping of the sabbath, it is obvious that Ignatius taught that they were to spend the sabbath day in a way very different from the Jews and not observe it, and that the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, was the unique day for the Christian.

J.  B.  Lightfoot in commenting on the first part of Ignatius’ statement said, “i.e.  ‘those who were brought up in the practices of Judaism.’ If the Jewish converts gave up the observance of sabbaths, a fortieri ought Gentile converts not to barter Christ for Judaic rites” (The Apostolic Fathers, N.Y.: Macmillan and Co., 1889, II, p.  128).  “This ‘living after the Lord’s Day’ signifies not merely the observance of it, but the appropriation of all those ideas and associations which are involved in its observance” (p.  129).  However, we observe an event (His death) on the day He arose (the first day of the week). 

Ninth, the Didache, or “The Teaching of The Apostles” was written around the beginning of the second century.  One does not endorse everything in this uninspired document in order to recognize its testimony to the existence of the Lord’s Day.  “And on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.  And let no man, having his dispute with his fellow, join your assembly until they have been reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be defiled… (J.B.  Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1962, I, p.  128).  The Didache contrasts the two ways: the way of life and the law of death.  Under the way of life it teaches that one should love God and his neighbor.  In the list of things one was not to do are prohibitions against murder, adultery, stealing, magic, sorcery, abortion, coveting, perjury, false witness, etc., but nowhere is there a command to keep the sabbath or a prohibition against working on that day.  The author must have known of the Jewish sabbath, but he speaks of the Lord’s own day and not of the Sabbath.

Tenth, there is an epistle, wrongly attributed to Barnabas, some of which is not later than the first half of the second century (Ante Nicene Fathers, I, p.  135).  There is an interpretation of Isaiah 1:13-14, and possibly also an allusion of Ezekiel 43:18,26,27.  (Hessey, 41; Galloway, p.  78).  Among other things we read: “Further, He says to them, ‘Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot endure.’ Ye perceive how He speaks; Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, (namely this,) when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a begin-fling of another world.  Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.  And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens” (ANF, I, p.  147).

Eleventh, Pliny, when proconsul of Bithynia, wrote a letter around 104 A.D.  to the Emperor Trajan concerning Christians.  He said, “They affirmed the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal.  From this custom, however, they desisted after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, I forbade the meeting of any assemblies” (F.  C.  T.  Bosanquet, The Letters of Caius, Plinius, Caecilius, Secundus.  London: C.  Bell & Sons, Ltd., 1912, p.  395).  Pliny had dealt with Christians who had been accused by others of being Christians, and his letter to Trajan told of what he had done with such, and asked additional guidance.  A later edition of Pliny translated “any assemblies” as “political associations” (Pliny Letters, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953, X.  xcvi, II, p.  405.  Translated by William Melmoth, and revised by W.  M.  L.  Hutchinson.  See Jewett, pp.  68-78). 

Twelfth, Justin Martyr (110-165) wrote, “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities and the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things....  But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.  For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration” (ANF, I, p.  186).  The president was the one who presided over the meeting.

In the Dialogue With Trypho he said, “The command of circumcision, again, bidding (them) always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, (namely through) our Lord Jesus Christ.  For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and (yet) remains the first” (I, p.  215).

One does not have to accept all his interpretations in order to accept this historical testimony to the day on which the Christians met, and the fact that the first day of the week, not the sabbath, was the day.

To Trypho he said, “Is there any other matter, my friends, in which we are blamed, than this, that we live not after the law, and are not circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers were, and do not observe sabbaths as you do? Are our lives and customs also slandered among you?” (IX, ANF, I, p.  199).  Trypho said “you observe no festivals or sabbaths” (p.  199).  “For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham” (XXIV, ANF, 1, p.  206).  There were sacrifices before Moses but not the elaborate system found in the law of Moses.

Thirteenth, Clement of Alexandria (A.D.  153-193-217, ANF, II, p.  165) wrote Stromata or Miscellanies around 190.  He said the Greeks and Hebrews recognized as sacred the seventh day, but Clement distinguishes it from the Lord’s Day and said, “And the Lord’s Day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: ‘And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out and arrive in four days.’ By the meadow is to be understood the fixed sphere, as being a mild and genial spot, and the locality of the pious; and by the seven days each motion of the seven planets, and the whole practical art which speeds to the end of rest.  But after the wandering orbs the journal leads to heaven, that is, to the eighth motion and day” (V.  xiv, ANF, II, p.469). 

He viewed the sabbath as a type of Christ our rest.  In commenting on the fourth commandment, he wrote, “The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest—abstraction from ills—preparing for the Primal Day, our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which all things are viewed and possessed” (VI, xci, ANF, II, p.  512).

“He, in fulfillment of the precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord’s Day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself” (VII, xii; ANF, II, p.  545).

One does not have to accept all the reasoning’s of a writer in order to recognize the fact that he testifies to the first day of the week, not the sabbath, as the distinct day on which the Christians assembled.
Fourteenth, “The New Testament apocryphal literature is almost worthless for information about New Testament times, but it is quite valuable as evidence for the beliefs and practices of those who wrote and those for whom they wrote.  As such we find it confirming the linguistic usage of the second-century church—eighth day as the Lord’s Day…, the Lord’s Day as the day of the resurrection…, Sunday as the day of meeting…, and the Christian rejection of the Sabbath (Ferguson, p.  74).

It is unnecessary to continue to trace references to the first day of the week down through the centuries.  The references which have been given are sufficient to show that Christians whose lives overlapped those of some contemporaries of the apostles recognized the sabbath was not binding on Christians, and that Christians met on the first day of the week.  James A.  Hessey, in Sunday, has traced it down through the centuries.  W.  B.  Galloway, who seems to try to transfer some of the things about the sabbath to the Lord’s Day, has given an extended discussion of the historical evidence extending into the fifth century A.D.  in his book The Decalogue And The Lord’s Day.

This historical material on the Lord’s Day undermines the claim, made by the Seventh-Day Adventists’ prophetess Mrs.  White, that the Roman Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

How shall I spend the rest of the Lord’s Day when I am not in the assembly? The Lord did not specify, other than assembling and partaking of the Lord’s Supper; so who am I to lay down a series of legislative requirements? As long as what we do on that day is within our control, should we not do those things which we think will help us and others as Christians? To some it may mean an extra rest; to others it may be an opportunity to spend more time with the family; to others time may be spent in reading and meditation; to others it involves visiting.  Is not spending time with one’s family as much our responsibility as a Christian as doing some other things people do and which they consider directly related to the work of the church?

Did The Catholic Church Change The Sabbath To Sunday?

Did the Pope change the sabbath to Sunday as the Seventh-Day Adventists claim? (Uriah Smith, Marvel, pp.  181-183; Mrs.  Ellen C.  White, The Great Controversy, pp.  53-54, 447-449, 452; Rome’s Challenge: Why Do Protestants Keep Sunday?, Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, n.d.)
First, the sabbath has been abolished, not changed to the first day of the week (Colossians 2:16-17).  The Lord’s Day is an entirely different day. 

Second, the Seventh-Day Adventists quoted Roman Catholic literature to prove that they changed the sabbath to Sunday.  The Seventh-Day Adventists view the Papacy as a vice-regent of Satan, “the arch-deceiver,” and that the “great apostate had succeeded in exalting himself ‘above all that is called Cod, or that is worshipped’—2 Thessalonians 2:4” (The Great Controversy, 53).  Surely one should not accept the Roman Catholic claim that they changed the sabbath to Sunday, without the proof that this is not just another claim of the vice-regent of the “arch-deceiver.” Why did Mrs.  White, supposedly an inspired writer, accept this claim of the Roman Catholic Church?

Third.  on the basis of what assumption does the Roman Catholic Church base the claim that the Roman Catholic Church changed the sabbath to Sunday? They teach that the change was made in the first century, and they claim that they made the change in the first century.  “St.  Paul enumerates the Sabbath among the Jewish observances which are not obligatory on Christians (Col.ii,16; Gal.iv,9-1O; Rom.,xiv,5).  The Gentile converts held their religious meetings on Sunday (Acts,xx,7; 1 Cor.,xvi,2), and with the disappearance of the Jewish Christian churches this day was exclusively observed as the Lord’s Day” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, N.Y.: The Encyclopedia Press, Inc., 1913, Vol.  XIII, p.  289). 

All Christians, Jewish and Gentile, met on the first day of the week to observe the Lord’s Supper.  Jewish Christians for a time observed the sabbath also along with the entire law of Moses (Acts 21:20-25).  However, it was not a part of the gospel and they were not allowed to bind it on Gentiles (Acts 21:21,25).  The article on “Sunday” said, “Sunday...for Christians began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in apostolic times, as the day set apart for public and solemn worship of God” (XIV, pp.  335-336).  “It is true that the church could not abrogate the natural law, but the apostles, as the divine infallible teachers of Christ’s Church, could and did change the time, the motive, and the details of the Sunday observance” (The Question Box, p.  410.  Edited by B.  L.  Conway, of the Paulist Fathers.  It was authorized by Patrick Cardinal Hays, Archbishop of New York.). 
The Roman Catholic Church claims that the sabbath was changed by the inspired men in the first century, and they assume that the Roman Catholic Church is the New Testament church which existed in the first century.  The Seventh-Day Adventists do not accept this assumption of the Roman Catholic Church; therefore, they should cease to quote the statement about the change of the sabbath which is based on the assumption that the Roman Catholic Church is the New Testament church.  Mrs.  Ellen C.  White knows that the Roman Catholic Church did not exist in the first century.  She knows it was a gradual development over centuries.  “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work...  The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing, and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church.  Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed” (The Great Controversy, pp.  49-50).  “This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above Cod.” “It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world” (p.  50).  “The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that ‘mystery of lawlessness’ (2 Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.) which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work.  Where and when did the Lord adopt this child of the papacy? What valid reason can be given for a change which the Scriptures do not sanction?” (p.  54) A child of the papacy would have to be born after the origin of the papacy and its origin took place centuries after the days of the apostles. 

Fourth, the sabbath was abolished by Cod in the first century (Colossians 2:16-17), and Christians met on the first day of the week as their distinct day of assembly (Acts 20:7).  The change was too early for the Pope to have done it. 

Fifth, the 1887 edition of The Great Controversy includes the statement of the publishers that: “We believe that the writer has received the illumination of the Holy Spirit in preparing these pages...the blessing of the Holy Spirit has been vouchsafed to her in large measure...the writer of these pages has drawn from the heavenly fountain, and received help from the sanctuary” (iv).  Mrs.  White herself wrote, “Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the scenes of the long-continued conflict between good and evil have been opened to the writer of these pages” (1950 edition, p.  12).  “As the Spirit of Cod has opened to my mind the great truths of His word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed,—to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially so to present it as to shed a light on the fast-approaching struggle of the future” (13).  If Mrs.  White had been an inspired prophetess, she would have known that the Roman Catholic claim is false, and that it is based on an assumption (that it is the New Testament church) which Mrs.  White herself did not accept.  Only a false prophetess would have endorsed such a false position, i.e., that the Roman Catholic Church changed the sabbath to Sunday.  As E.  P.  Woodward wrote, “If Rome is right in her claim of changing the day, then she is right in claiming to be the Apostolic church, for the first claim is based on the second.  Our Seventh-Day Adventist friends are at liberty to take either horn of the dilemma thus presented: —accept the Pope as the true Head of the Church, or renounce one of their fundamental doctrines” (Seventh-Day Adventism, p.  89). 

Sixth, the Protestant Churches did not follow the Papacy but the New Testament on this subject.  “The reformers, Knox as well as Luther and Calvin, held that The Lord’s Day is not to be identified with the Old Testament Sabbath.  They considered that the fourth Commandment was a part of the ceremonial law.  With the early Fathers, Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian and others, they made the Sabbath typical of the continual rest given to God’s people in this world and the next” (Fisher, History of Christian Doctrine, N.Y.: Charles Scribner and Son, Publishers, 1909, p.  60; Paul K.  Jewett, The Lord’s Day, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B.  Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971, pp.  100-106a.).  There are Protestants who think the sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday, but the fact is the sabbath was abolished, and the Lord’s Day is another day. 

Seventh, the Council of Laodicea could not have abolished the sabbath and instituted the Lord’s Day because the sabbath was abolished in the first century (Colossians 2:16-17), the bishop of Rome did not attend this Council, the bishop of Rome did not have supreme authority then, and it was a Council of the Greek, not the Roman, Church (Canright, SDA Renounced, pp.  243-244).  The Council of Laodicea, which met somewhere between 343-381 A.D., tried to keep Christians from binding Judaistic rites.  “Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s Day they shall especially honor, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day.  If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ” (Charles Joseph Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, Edinburgh, 1876, Vol.  II, p.  316.  Quoted by B.  Frank Rhodes, Jr., Gospel Advocate, Dec.  17, 1942, p.  1203; Canon p.29).

Mrs.  White said, “In the early part of the fourth century the emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout the Roman Empire” (The Great Controversy, pp.  53, 682).  The sabbath was abolished in the first century and Christians met on the first day of the week (Colossians 2:16-17; Acts 20:7).  However, the Lord’s Day was not a legal holiday.  Constantine made it a legal holiday (Canright, p.  240).  That Constantine called it “the venerable day of the sun” is of no more significance for us than the fact that Thursday was named after the German god Thor.

Mark of The Beast

Did Mrs.  White teach that Sunday keeping is the mark of the beast? Mrs.  White claimed the papacy changed the sabbath from the seventh day to the first (CC, p.  446).  “Roman Catholics acknowledge that the change of the Sabbath was made by their church, and declare that Protestants by observing the Sunday are recognizing her power” (pp.  447-448).  “What then is the change of the Sabbath, but the sign, or mark, or the authority of the Roman Church—’the mark of the beast’?

“The Roman Church has not relinquished her claim to supremacy; and when the world and the Protestant churches accept a sabbath of her creating, while they reject the Bible Sabbath, they virtually admit this assumption” (pp.  448; on page 280 in the 1887 edition).  When Mrs.  White endorsed this false claim of the Roman Catholic Church, she virtually admitted that it is the New Testament church, but she does not believe this and neither do I.  How can it be the mark of the beast when the sabbath was abolished, and Christians met on the Lord’s Day, long before the Roman Catholic Church came into existence? The 1887 edition said, “The change of the Sabbath is the sign, or mark, of the authority of the Romish Church.  Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false in place of the true Sabbath, are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. 

The change in the fourth commandment is the change pointed out in the prophecy, and the keeping of the counterfeit Sabbath is the reception of the mark” (p.  281).  Only a false prophetess would say that the Roman Catholic claim is right and that not observing the sabbath is a mark of submission to the authority of Rome.  How could it be in submission to Rome’s authority when the sabbath was abolished, and Christians met on the first day of the week, long before the development of the Roman Catholic Church? (Colossians 2:16-17; Acts 20:7).
David Goldstein, a Roman Catholic, pointed out that public worship took place in the first century on the first day of the week, and he cited 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Acts 20:7; and that the old law and the sabbath had been abolished.  This Catholic based their claim, that they changed the day to the first day of the week as the day of worship, on the assumption the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church.  “Having their historic sense beclouded by refusal to accept the fact that the Catholic Church dates back to the first Pentecost day, the defender of the abrogated day of weekly worship...slanderously declares that Sunday was substituted for the Sabbath by the ‘Apostate Church’ through Constantine.

“While it is a perversion of historic truth to declare that Constantine was the first to command Sunday observance, to him is due the credit for having made Sunday a legal day of rest.  By this civic act all Christians gained the free opportunity to practice public worship on the first day of the week.  Indeed, it was Constantine who removed obstacles to the attendance of Sunday worship; but he did not institute the public worship of God by Christians on the first day of the week, for the reason that this was already the established practice of the Church, which had persevered under superhuman difficulties” (Campaigners For Christ Handbook, Boston: Thomas J.  Flynn & Co., Inc.  1934, p.  182).

Mrs.  White said that “there are now true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion, who honestly believe that Sunday is the Sabbath of divine appointment.  God accepts their sincerity of purpose and their integrity before Him.  But when the Sun-day observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God...not until the issue is thus plainly set before the people, and they are brought to choose between the commandments of God and the commandments of men, that those who continue in transgression will receive ‘the mark of the beast”‘ (p.  449; page 281-282 in the 1887 edition).

Just before this she wrote, “Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false instead of the true Sabbath are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded.  But in the very act of enforcing a religious duty by secular power, the churches would themselves form an image to the beast; hence the enforcement of Sunday-keeping in the United States would be an enforcement of the worship of the beast and his image” (p.  449).

“There can, therefore, be no worship of the beast, nor reception of his mark, such as is contemplated in the prophecy, till it is enforced by the two-horned beast” (Uriah Smith, The Marvel of Nations, p.  185). 
The Supreme Court of the United States, which has outlawed prayer in the classroom, stands in no danger of making people observe Sunday as the sabbath in submission to the will of the Catholic Church.
As Canright asked, how can Seventh-Day Adventists be persecuted for not observing Sunday, and how can they escape bearing what they view as the mark of the beast, if they follow Mrs.  White’s counsel given in 1902 to observe Sunday if required by law? She warned, “The man of sin, who thought to change times and laws, and who has always oppressed the people of Cod, will cause laws to be made enforcing the observance of the first day of the week.  But God’s people are to stand firm for Him” (T, IX, p.  230).  In a communication of August 17, 1902, she answered the question “as to what you should do in the case of Sunday laws being enforced.  “The light given me by the Lord at a time when we were expecting just such a crisis as you seem to be approaching, was, that when the people were moved by a power from beneath to enforce Sunday observance, Seventh-Day Adventists were to show their wisdom by refraining from their ordinary work on that day, devoting it to missionary effort.”

“Give them no occasion to call you lawbreakers One does not receive the mark of the beast because he shows that he realizes the wisdom of keeping the peace by refraining from work that gives offense, doing at the same time a work of highest importance” (I, IX, p.  232).  “Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday” (p.  233).  Of course, they were to keep the sabbath (pp.  233-234).  “Sunday is a child of the papacy, exalted by the Christian world above the sacred day of Cod’s rest.  In no case are God’s people to pay it homage” (p.  235).  We do not pay homage to a day but to the Lord whose resurrection was on that day.
“Give Sunday to the Lord as a day for doing missionary work…This way of spending Sunday is always acceptable to the Lord” (p.238).  Why was not this Sunday keeping (and the mark of the beast, for it was required in these cases by law that they not work), since they assemble and also do missionary work on the Lord’s Day as do non-Seventh-Day Adventists?

The Thousand Year Reign

In John 18:36 Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence". Jesus plainly declares that His kingdom is not a worldly kingdom.

Many first century Jews did not understand this concept. They believed the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom centered in Jerusalem. This mistaken idea is reflected in situations like Luke 19:11 where Jesus spoke the parable of the pounds "because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear" The Jews thought the kingdom would be manifest in a physical, immediate way. Jesus gave the parable of the pounds in order to deny this and show the spiritual nature of the kingdom.

This same misunderstanding is evident in Luke 17:20 where the Pharisees asked "when the kingdom of God should come". Jesus responded to them in verses 20-21 by saying "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." From what Jesus has said, it ought to be clear to all that his kingdom is spiritual in nature.

In spite of this truth, many today are making a mistake similar to that of the first century Jews in expecting an earthly kingdom. Many believe that prior to the end of time Christ will establish a 1,000 year earthly kingdom centered in Jerusalem. This error is based largely on a misunderstanding of Revelation 20:1-10. However, this passage says nothing of an earthly kingdom, or of a 1,000-year reign of Christ.

To this point note Revelation 20:4 where the Bible says "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and THEY lived and reigned WITH CHRIST a thousand years." The 1,000-year reign discussed here is not of Christ but of martyred saints. This was a group of Christians who had been beheaded for the cause of Christ. This reign is not something promised to EVERY Christian of EVERY age but rather speaks specifically to their situation! Therefore, the idea of Christ reigning on earth for a thousand years is not found in this or any other passage.

Rather than teaching a 1,000-year reign of Christ, the Bible teaches his reign is eternal. In II Peter 1:11 the Bible says, "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the EVERLASTING KINGDOM of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Peter said the kingdom of Christ is an everlasting kingdom.

Additionally, since this "1000-year reign" doctrine holds the reign of Christ is at the end of time, it suggests His reign is yet future. But Jesus taught the kingdom was established in the first century. In Mark 9:1 He said, "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." This statement can lead to only three possible conclusions. Either Jesus lied and the kingdom is yet future; or some of those people are still living today and the kingdom is yet future; or Jesus told the truth, the Jews of His generation died at a natural age, and the kingdom was established in their time.

Not only does Mark 9:1 teach a first century kingdom but Paul also taught it. In Colossians 1:13 Paul said "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM of his dear Son": Paul considered himself a citizen of Christ’s kingdom. He connected his deliverance from sin with membership in that kingdom. How could Paul be part of a kingdom that had not yet been established? Surely the kingdom was established in the first century.

With all this evidence, should the faithful expect a future establishment of the kingdom of Jesus here on earth for 1,000 years? Certainly not! Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world", and "There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come. " Peter said the kingdom of Jesus is an "everlasting kingdom"! To expect a future, physical, 1,000-year kingdom is to deny all these plain statements of scripture.

What then is the kingdom of Christ? It has already been shown that it is a spiritual, eternal body, established sometime in the first century. To learn more specifically what the kingdom is, consider Matthew 16:18-19 where Jesus said "... upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." As Jesus spoke of the promise to build his church, he referred to this spiritual institution as the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, the church is the kingdom of Christ.

This kingdom was established shortly after the resurrection of Jesus on the day of Pentecost. First mention of the church as being currently existent is found in Acts 2:47 where the Bible says "Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to THE CHURCH daily such as should be saved." This is record of the events on the day of Pentecost, shortly after Christ’s death. We know the kingdom was to come in that generation, and we know the church is that kingdom. Now we can see with the establishment of the church in that generation, the expectations of the kingdom of God are realized in the church.

It is important to properly understand the kingdom of God. The Jews misunderstood the kingdom and this, along with other factors, led to their rejection of Jesus. If you fail to understand Christ’s kingdom, this might cause you to reject His kingdom rule through the church and decline entrance into that kingdom. Are you a part of Christ’s kingdom today? If not, you need to be. You, like Paul, need to be delivered from the power of sin and be placed by God into his everlasting kingdom.

The Work of an Evangelist

 

There are many congregations today among the Churches of Christ that are now employing an evangelist in a full-time capacity as “the minister” or “the preacher” of the local congregation. In many of these congregations the evangelist has become nothing short of what the denominational world has termed a “one-man pastor”. That he has become such is seen in the fact that he does nearly all of the teaching in a given congregation (if not all of it), and that he is looked to as the spiritual leader of that congregation. Many times he is placed above the elders in terms of respect for him and in seeking advice from him, and has gained a position of prominence in the local congregation that an evangelist should really never occupy, and is holding an office in the local congregation which an evangelist should never occupy.

Through the years, much discussion and debate has occurred between sincere brethren; some holding the view that it is entirely scriptural for an evangelist to do all of the teaching in a local congregation, and others holding that such a practice is entirely unscriptural. In attempting to uphold their beliefs, some brethren, on both sides of the issue, have taken positions which can neither be sanctioned nor defended by the scriptures. Rather than engage in a discussion on the real core of the issue, it has often occurred that brethren have spent their time quibbling about the petty “side. issues” which have arisen to cloud the minds of those who were seeking the truth. In some instances, the things discussed amounted to nothing more than “foolish and unlearned questions” which gender strifes, 2 Tim.2:23. In view of this, it is the intention of this study to dig down to the very core of the question and examine it in the light of God’s word. The strife and division which have ravaged the body of Christ should motivate each of us to study the matter with an open mind, and to put forth an honest and determined effort to unite together upon the teaching of the New Testament With a sincere desire toward reaching this result, your attention is invited to the discussion of these matters.

Matters Which Are Not The Issue

Since matters have arisen in past discussions, which have no bearing on the real issue, it is worth our time to clear away several things that form no part of this question.

First, the issue is not whether an evangelist can be supported by a local congregation. The scriptures plainly teach that a local congregation can support an evangelist In Gal.6:6, Paul writes: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” The word “communicate” means to “share with others, communicate, distribute, or be partaker” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). Since an evangelist teaches others in the word, it is plainly seen that he can be supported by a local congregation.

Second, the issue is not whether an evangelist can work with a local congregation. The New Testament abounds with examples of evangelists coming into a local congregation in order to perform a scriptural work there. In 1 Tim. 1:3, Paul writes to Timothy and says: “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” Furthermore, we read in Titus 1:5 that Titus was left by Paul on the island of Crete to work in the local congregations there. To Titus, Paul writes: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.” Of course, it will be necessary to discuss, at a more suitable place in this study, the exact nature of the work of Timothy and Titus at these two localities, but for our present purpose it is clearly seen that an evangelist can work within the local congregation.

Third, the issue is not how long an evangelist can spend in laboring with a local congregation. The Bible does not give a specific, maximum time period when the evangelist must leave or be guilty of violating the will of God. There are brethren who hold the opinion that it is entirely unscriptural for an evangelist to spend more than three years working in a given-congregation. No doubt they have taken this position because of Paul’s tenure at Ephesus, mentioned as three years in Acts 20:31. But it is unlikely that Paul spent three full years at Ephesus, for Acts 19:8-10 seems to indicate that it was only a period of two years and three months. The actual time he spent there may have been rounded off to be three full years, much the same as we do today when speaking of periods of time, but regardless of the length of his stay at Ephesus, the length of time that an evangelist may work with a particular congregation is not set down in scripture so as to form a binding example.

Fourth, the issue is not how much support an evangelist can be given for himself and his family. This, of course, will vary according to the financial needs that he has, the area of a given country in which he is living, and the ability of a given congregation to provide his support. Whatever his needs may be, the Bible teaches that he should be given a “living”. In 1 Cor. 9:14, Paul writes: “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” When support is not possible it may be that an evangelist will be obligated to do what Paul did at Ephesus, when he spake the following words to the elders of that congregation in Acts 20:30-34: “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” Or again, it may well be that in a given situation an evangelist, like Paul did at Thessalonica, would be wise to earn a living with his own hands at secular work. In 2 Then. 3:8, Paul gave his reason for so doing when he said: “Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you.” So the question of how much support an evangelist can receive is not an issue at all, and it is sad to see petty issues, such as the four just mentioned, occupy the minds of those who are supposed to be seeking the truth in regard to the work of an evangelist. Brethren, let us cease troubling one another with petty things, and avoid foolish and unlearned questions, which gender strife.

What Is The Issue?

If the aforementioned matters are no part of the issue in question, then what is the issue? The real issue is stated in the very title given to this discussion, namely, his WORK! It is not whether he can be supported, but rather what is he being supported to do? It is not whether he can work with a local congregation, but rather what is his work in that congregation? It is not how long he may work in a local congregation, but rather what is the work that requires him to stay? It is not how much support he can receive, or whether he receives any support at all, but rather what is he doing? This is the very test to make when examining the use of an evangelist in any congregation.

In 2 Tim. 4:1-5, Paul wrote to an evangelist named Timothy, and although he did not give, in this scripture alone, a complete list of an evangelist’s work, he did give some idea as to what his work should involve. Paul, realizing that his days on earth were fast fleeting away, gave this solemn charge to Timothy in the following words: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

These are some of the instructions that the aged Paul gave to a young man named Timothy, who was an evangelist of .Jesus Christ. But, as to the complete work of an evangelist, it is exemplified in the book of Acts, and fully outlined in the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. The latter three books are mentioned because Timothy and Titus were evangelists, and when Paul wrote to them in these epistles he was therein instructing them in regard to their duties and responsibilities. In view then of the importance of the contents of these three books to the subject under consideration, it is well worth the time to examine them and learn the things which Paul outlined for them to do as evangelists. Let the reader bear in mind that whatever their duties and responsibilities are declared to be in these books, the same duties and responsibilities rest upon the modern day evangelist.

The Work Of An Evangelist

(1) Charge some to teach no other doctrine and not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies: (1 Tim. 1:34)

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith; so do.”

Notice that Timothy was not left in Ephesus to take over the pulpit and become “the minister” of that congregation. In fact, Paul said that he left Timothy there, implying that he himself had been working there as well. Other duties seemed to have claimed the attention of Paul in Macedonia, and Timothy was left behind to continue a specific work which had not yet been accomplished. There is no comfort in this passage for those who seek to make Timothy “the minister” of that congregation, for no hint of such permanent work there is given.

(2) Put the brethren in remembrance of things they had already been taught:
(1 Tim. 4:6)

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

Part of an evangelist’s work is to bring us into remembrance of things we have already been taught As Peter said when he wrote 2 Pet. 3:1, to “stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.” Notice also that if Timothy did these things he would be “a good minister of Jesus Christ” and not “the good minister at Ephesus.”

(3) Be an example of what a believer in Jesus should be: (1 Tim. 4:12)

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

The life of an evangelist must be a complete example of what a believer in
Jesus should practice. How can he expect others to listen to the doctrine of
Christ if his own life does not adorn that doctrine in open display?

(4) Give attendance to reading, exhortation, and doctrine: (1 Tim. 4:13)

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

The specific work that Paul had left Timothy to perform would certainly require an effort in these three areas. In fact, they form a vital part of the work of any evangelist since his main function is to preach the word.

(5) Take heed unto himself and to the doctrine: (1 Tim. 4:16)

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Though some people would tell us that doctrine is not essential and that what one believes is of no great importance, Paul held a completely opposite view. He first instructs Timothy to take heed unto himself. An evangelist is certainly not in a position to help others until he has first applied the doctrine to his own life. Second, he tells him to take heed unto the doctrine and to continue in it.  It is important for any Christian, and especially for an evangelist who is teaching the doctrine to others, to make sure that he keeps himself within the doctrine of Christ; lest he lose his own soul and ruin the souls of those who hear him and become persuaded to obey what he teaches.

(6) Rebuke those who sin before the entire congregation: (1 Tim. 5:20)

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

I doubt that this is practiced today to the extent that Paul meant for it to be, but an evangelist has the authority given him and the responsibility resting upon him to, if necessary, rebuke someone for their sin, even in company of all the brethren. Paul himself had to face this same responsibility when Peter sinned at Antioch in Syria. The sin of Peter had spread among many of the Jewish brethren, even contaminating Barnabas, and since it was spreading publicly throughout the congregation, Paul had to rebuke Peter publicly for it, Gal 2:11-14. In most cases it may well be best to rebuke someone in private, and this course should be followed when possible, but when the sin of a person is spreading to others in the congregation it must be handled publicly.

(7) Additional instructions concerning his manner of life; particularly in regard to the love of money: (1 Tim. 6:10-12)

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
 

The love of money, as Paul said, has caused many to err from the faith; hence the warning to Timothy. An evangelist cannot covet wealth and discharge his duties at the same time. He is bearing a message which must not be watered down for sake of gain, and which is so important for the world to hear that be dare not get entangled with the pursuit of wealth. Consequently, Paul instructs him in the things he should follow, namely, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness.

(8) Not be ashamed of the testimony of Christ, but a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel: (2 Tim. 1:8)

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.

The precious testimony of Jesus Christ is such a glorious message that Paul reminds him never to be ashamed of it. Furthermore, even though an evangelist is not to pursue afflictions, yet if they arise because of the testimony of Jesus, he is to partake of them without shame.

(9) Hold fast the form of sound words which he had heard from Paul: (2 Tim. 1:13)

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

This exhortation is akin to that previously given by Paul in 1 Tim. 4:16. (See number 5) The words he had heard from Paul were the words of eternal life and, as such, were not to be held loosely, but rather held fast.

(10) Instruct other faithful men so that they will be able to teach others the word: (2 Tim.2:2)

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

An evangelist who is not training other men to teach by giving them instruction in the word is neglecting a vital part of his work. The gospel spreads and the church grows by the teaching of the word, and without faithful men who can teach others, the cause of Christ is severely hampered.

(11) Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ: (2 Tim. 2:3)

 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Whatever troubles and afflictions may come to the soldier of Jesus Christ, an evangelist is to endure them. Paul goes on to say in verse ten of this chapter that he endures all things “for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

(12) Study (give diligence) to show himself approved unto God: 2 Tim. 2:15)

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The most vital part of an evangelist’s work is the teaching of the word. Unless he studies (gives diligence) he will fail in his efforts to present the truth, defend the faith, and stop the mouths of false teachers.

(13) Avoid foolish and unlearned questions which cause strife: (2 Tim. 2:23-26)

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

In all cases where a question, by being discussed or debated, will bring about understanding, unity, and peace, an evangelist should eagerly engage in such discussions. But where the question is foolish and will cause nothing but strife and discord, it should be avoided. Paul instructs an evangelist to be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, and to instruct others in meekness. Such departures from these principles of proper conduct have resulted in strife and contention throughout the brotherhood of Christ, and much of the blame must be laid at the feet of evangelists who have not given heed unto these instructions by Paul. It is sheer hypocrisy for an evangelist to boast of his loyalty to the doctrine of Christ, when he has not been loyal to the instructions which Paul mentions in this passage. Brethren, 2 Tim. 2:23-26 is part of the doctrine of Christ, and it is time to give it proper place in our lives!

(14) Preach the word, reprove, rebuke, and exhort: (2 Tim. 4:2)

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

The four things which Paul lists here as duties of an evangelist do not require elaboration, but the last words of Paul’s instruction do demand a closer observation.  In those words he tells how the preaching, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting are to be done. They are to be done with “all longsuffering and doctrine.” First, longsuffering is demanded. An evangelist is not to fly off the handle at every little situation that arises. Second, the doctrine of Christ is to be applied when preaching, rebuking, reproving, and exhorting. Paul did not say to slander a person or group of people when doing these things. He said to use the doctrine and be long-suffering when so doing. We’ve had too many evangelists who wanted to do the four things mentioned first. but not apply longsuffering and doctrine when doing those things. The contention and division that exists in the Church today is present, in part, because of this neglect.

(15) Ordain elders and set things in order in the churches: (Tit. 1:5)

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

Far from being “the minister” of any of the congregations on the island of Crete, Titus was instead to set them in order and ordain elders in every city in which a congregation existed. This was the “cause” for which he had been left on the island by Paul.

(16) Speak the things that become sound doctrine: (Tit. 2:1)

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.

The word “become” means “comely” or “proper”. There is a certain manner of life that will become or make comely the doctrine of Christ. Paul tells the evangelist to speak these things to the disciples, and, in the verses immediately following this one, he instructs Titus to teach the aged men, aged women, young women, young men and servants the various things which, if practiced, will become or beautify the doctrine of Christ

The aforementioned things are all involved in the work of an evangelist that Paul outlined to Timothy and Titus in these epistles. In addition to these things, we learn from the book of Acts that an evangelist is to preach the gospel to regions which have not yet heard the message of Christ’s salvation (Acts 8:5), establish new congregations (Acts 14:23), ordain elders in each congregation (Acts 16:4-5), and work with weaker congregations in order to strengthen them (Acts 16:4-5 & Acts 18:27-28). All of these duties combine to make up the work of an evangelist. But, if it be urged that an evangelist can serve as “the minister” or “the preacher” for a local congregation, as some urge today, how then can an evangelist carry out the work which has been instructed by Paul? It cannot be denied that Timothy and Titus were instructed to do all these things, and neither can it be denied that an evangelist who is tied down to a local pulpit will find it impossible to comply with all these instructions. It is therefore an obvious conclusion that Timothy and Titus did not serve as “the minister” or “the preacher” for any congregation. Let those who support this practice find either Timothy or Titus so doing.

Is The Evangelist An Officer In The Local Congregation?

  This question is of great importance to the subject under consideration. If he is an officer in the local congregation, then any congregation, when fully developed, must have him as a permanent part of its organization. Furthermore, if he is a part of the organization of the local congregation, our ultimate task is similar to that pertaining to elders and deacons. We would then be required to not only work toward ordaining elders and deacons in every congregation, but also toward ordaining an evangelist to serve in every congregation.  However, the office of an evangelist is not an office or work within the local congregation, but rather an office within the church universal. In arriving at this conclusion, the following reasons are submitted:

First, he is not addressed in Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. In Phil 1:1, Paul writes, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” The only two groups of “ordained” officers in the local church are specifically named by Paul in the greeting of this epistle, namely, bishops and deacons. Where is “the minister” or “the preacher” at Philippi? It is obvious that he was not there, for the congregation there was fully developed, having within it the only two offices to which men were ordained.

  Second, bishops are set apart and ordained to rule and shepherd the congregation in which they were made overseers by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we read Paul’s instructions to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, telling them to “take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” You will notice that there was but one “flock” over which they had been made overseers by the Holy Spirit, not several flocks. Thus, their work, as it pertained to overseeing and shepherding, was with but one flock or congregation. But is this true of an evangelist? Can he perform the work of an evangelist in only one flock? On the contrary, his work, as we have already studied, will demand his presence in several different congregations, and even in places where there are no congregations. From this fact alone we can come to no other conclusion than the one which has been affirmed; he is an officer in the church universal.

Finally, this fact is made even clearer when one considers the work of an apostle and the sphere of his work, and compares it to the work of an evangelist. As an apostle, was Paul an officer in any local congregation? Was he “the apostle” in the church at Ephesus? The answer is that he was not. It is true that he was an apostle to the church in Ephesus, but he was not “the apostle” in the sense of being ordained to that office in the congregation. In like manner, Timothy was an evangelist to the church in Ephesus, but he was not ordained to be “the evangelist” or “the minister” in that congregation. His office, like that of the apostleship, was in the church universal, and still is!

How Is The Local Congregation To Be Taught?

If the evangelist is not an office in the local congregation and is not a permanent fixture there, how is the local congregation to be taught? The New Testament gives us two specific ways in which this may be done.

First, if a congregation has reached the point where it has an eldership, the elders should be teaching it. When Paul listed the qualifications of an elder, he said in 1 Tim. 3:2, “apt to teach.” Any elder who cannot teach the church is not qualified to be an elder. There are some, however, who believe the elder can fulfill this qualification by not addressing the assembly of the church, but by simply teaching privately as an individual to the members. But this idea is certainly not the only idea expressed in the words “apt to teach”. These words are a general statement that the elder must be capable of teaching, and if we examine other scriptures which relate to the elder’s responsibility as a teacher, we shall discover that he must be able to teach both publicly and privately. In Acts 20:28, he is told to “feed the flock”. The word “feed” means to shepherd the flock, and part of the work of a shepherd is to provide food for the flock. Now, a shepherd will no doubt be required to give individual attention to a sheep but he will also be required to feed the flock as a whole. The same is true of God’s shepherds, the elders. Their duties of feeding, leading, teaching, etc., will require them to work in a “one on one” situation as well as in group situations. Consequently, they must be able to teach the entire congregation in its assemblies.
In 1 Thess. 5:12, we learn that the elders at Thessalonica admonished the disciples there. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.” The only ones who would be “over you in the Lord” would be the elders, and notice that these elders admonished the brethren. In addition to this, Heb. 13:7 carries a similar thought in regard to elders teaching the church. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Again we see that those who were ruling (the elders) had been speaking the word of God to the church. Finally, in Titus 1:9, Paul lets the elders know what their responsibilities will be if they desire the office. Of them he says, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” This responsibility might be carried out before the assembly or in private with an individual, and it is very clearly seen that an elder must possess a great knowledge of the scriptures and be able to impart it unto others. His tool in this passage is “sound doctrine.”

Second, the church is to be taught by a plurality of men who are gifted or qualified to teach. Within the ranks of the local congregation there should be developed, by and by, men who are capable of teaching the church. That the early church had such men cannot be doubted. We learn in 1 Cor. 14:31, that Corinth had such a plurality of teachers. Paul said to them, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” The same thing was true of the congregation in Antioch, for we read in Acts 13:1, “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” The plan of God, then, for teaching the local congregation is with a plurality of elders who are “apt to teach,” and by other faithful men in the congregation who have the knowledge and ability to edify the church.

While the plan of God is for a plurality of teachers to assist the elders in teaching, there has arisen an abuse which needs to be corrected. There are some who hold the opinion that any male member should be able to fill the pulpit in a teaching capacity. This idea is simply not true. Not all men have the ability to impart knowledge adequately to others, and this was Paul’s argument when he wrote in 1 Cor. 12:17, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” Again, in verse 29, he asks these questions, “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?” The answer is obvious. Are we right then in insisting that all men teach the church when all are not teachers? Certainly not! Now, let it be stated that all men should be given the opportunity to teach if they are capable, but before just anyone is put into the pulpit, it ought to be made certain that he can edify the congregation. There has been too much “half-way” teaching in the past. The church needs men who are gifted, who study and know the scriptures, and who will make the effort to edify the congregation. The church or flock must be “fed,” and it will not do for someone to dump “scraps” out for the church to feed upon. Those who will not study, who simply sit down an hour or two before the assembly in order to work up a “quick lesson” have no business teaching the church.

Additional Comments On The Issue

Having examined how the local congregation should be taught, and having examined the work of an evangelist, let us notice what is happening among some Churches of Christ today in regard to the use of an evangelist. In some congregations, the Evangelist is being called “the minister” or “the preacher” of that particular local congregation and is being used in an unscriptural manner. The Bible teaches that a minister is a servant and that every member of the church is a servant and has a ministry. In Mark 10:43-44, the words “minister” and “servant” are used interchangeably. Jesus said, “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” Every Christian (women included) is a minister in the sense that be or she is a servant. And not only are they ministers, but the Bible teaches in Rev. 1:6 that they are also kings and priests.  In this scripture John writes, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” In view of the fact that all Christians are kings and priests, is it right to single out one individual and make him “the king” or “the priest” of a given congregation? We have pointed out to our Catholic friends and others that the office of “the priest” is unscriptural, but are we willing to repeat the same mistake in regard to “the minister” as an office in the local congregation? Upon the same authority that a man is set aside to be “the minister” he can also, by that same authority, be set aside to be “the priest.” If not, why not? The office of “the minister” or “the preacher” is opposed for exactly the same reason as the office of “the priest”; both are simply unscriptural and not found in the will of Christ.

The evangelist is being unscripturally used in many congregations today. He is being hired by a local congregation to do the teaching, even where there are qualified elders and teachers who are capable of doing this work, and should be doing it. Because of this, many elders have lost respect in the church, for if a member has a problem he takes it to “the minister,” thus, the elders become a mere “figurehead” in the local church. Not only this, but the presence of “the minister” makes it impossible for other brethren to speak and teach as they should. Without these men gaining the opportunity to teach, there is no way to qualify them for work as elders, evangelists, and teachers.

In many congregations “the minister” is expected to visit the sick, call on members who are out of duty, handle false teachers who may arise from time to time, etc. Whose responsibility is it to visit the sick? Is it the responsibility of “the minister” only? It is essentially the responsibility of any member, for Jesus said in Matt 25:36, “I was sick, and ye visited me.” The force of this statement applies to all Christians, for Jesus did not say, “I was sick, and ‘your minister’ visited me.” We cannot hire our visiting done for us! Not only that, but it is unreasonable for a preacher of the word to be tied down to hospital visits. You may recall, in Acts 6:2, when the congregation at Jerusalem had been neglecting the widows and word finally reached the ears of the apostles, that they made the following statement about the matter: “It is not reason that we leave the word of God, and serve tables.” Now, an evangelist is in much the same situation as they. It is true that he has a personal responsibility to visit the sick, widows, etc., (the same as every other Christian) but it is not reasonable for him to leave the word of God and serve tables. it is a shame, but congregations today are tying down evangelists to perform such tasks, while the world is dying without the gospel of Christ.
Whose responsibility is it to call on “out of duty” members? Paul said, in Gal 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Are evangelists the only ones who are spiritual? God forbid! Brethren, we are either carnal or spiritual, and, if spiritual, the passage applies to all of us. Notice that Paul said “brethren,” meaning that this is a task for all to perform. It must not be “hired” work for someone else.

One of the most serious results of this “minister-system” is that it cripples the church, both within the local congregation and within the church universal. It does so in many ways. It first cripples the local church by causing members to be slack in doing personal work. They have hired “the minister” to do it for them so they feel no need to personally teach others. Not only this, but it thwarts the development of teachers in the local congregation because they have no opportunity (or very limited opportunity) to teach the congregation. This crippling effect also takes its toll on developing elders, for they must be “apt to teach”.

Insofar as its ill effects on the church universal are concerned, it prevents the work of beginning new congregations from occurring as rapidly as it should because there are not enough evangelists to work in this area or phase of evangelizing. It is sadly the case today that many larger congregations, who can afford to support an evangelist, have tied him down to a local pulpit as “their minister” so that he is not free to completely do the work of an evangelist. Past and present practice has shown that even when new congregations are established, and elders and deacons are ordained, the evangelist who started the work will remain behind as “the minister” and become a permanent officer in that church. While others await the coming of the gospel message, “the minister” stays on in the congregation which has been “set in order”.  This leaves a congregation which does not take advantage of the elders and teachers in its midst. Many times it happens that an evangelist will eventually leave that congregation by going to another church which already has elders and deacons, to take over the pulpit duties in that congregation as its “minister.” In most cases, the congregation to which he went has lost its “preacher” and is looking for another one. Then, the congregation from which he has recently moved, hires another preacher to take his place, and a new and unscriptural office of “the minister” or “the preacher” is created. The whole process is an endless cycle of preachers exchanging pulpits. Brethren, these are not fictional situations; they are facts that happen constantly.

There are many congregations without the services of capable elders and teachers, and these are the congregations which need an evangelist to work with them in a scriptural capacity. However, many times their needs are neglected by other congregations because, although they could support an evangelist to work in that needy congregation, they keep him to do their work and their teaching, and will not free him to help the congregations who are truly in need.

Many good evangelists are tied down to their respective pulpits in churches which do not really need them, while the small, struggling congregations are completely neglected and dry up for lack of aid. It is a shame to see these small congregations who do not yet have elders and teachers, barely holding their own, and yet, the larger congregations who could help by sending an evangelist, keep that support for themselves by supporting a man (minister) to do their work for them. They have tied down an evangelist to the pulpit, created an office in the local congregation, and will not free him to do the real work for which he is called of God.

In addition to this problem, those who have created the office of “the minister” in the local congregation are not developing new preachers and teachers as they should; consequently, they have gone to the “seminary-system” of training preachers. A vast amount of money is spent to build colleges and preacher schools to train “professional ministers”. But what is the “finished product” of these schools? Are they producing men who fully do the work which Timothy and Titus were charged to do, or have the schools been training men to be “the minister” of a congregation? Perhaps the question will be answered most accurately by examining a “common use” being made of the men who are so “trained”. As soon as a congregation loses its “minister”, have they not many times contacted a particular “school” in order to find “a minister” for their congregation? Sadly, this is often the case. There is an endless cycle of men who are trained to fill local pulpits as “the minister”. In so doing, we have departed from the idea that the local church is capable of training and producing the Lord’s evangelists, elders, deacons, and teachers.

Let it be clearly understood that opposition is not directed toward evangelists who are doing a scriptural work in a local congregation. What is opposed is the “office” being created in local congregations and fed with seminary “pastors”. Where congregations are weak or needy, the evangelist has a scriptural right and responsibility to come in and work with that congregation and set things in order, Tit. 1:5. But when congregations have sound elders who can feed the flock, and are surrounded with individuals who can also teach, the work of an evangelist is not “permanently” needed in that congregation; especially in the manner in which he is being used today.

So, the issue is not whether an evangelist can be supported by a congregation; whether he can work in a local congregation; how long he can stay in a congregation; nor how much support that he can receive in his work. The issue is: What is he doing in that congregation? If he is setting things in order so that it can stand alone; if he is committing the word to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also; if, in short, he is doing the work of an evangelist, he has a right to exist for the time being as a part of that local work. But when he is filling an “office” in a local church which has been filled and vacated by various preachers through the years, he is not performing the work of an evangelist. This is the issue! With these remarks, the reader is left to meditate upon what has been presented. It is hoped that these comments will bring about a greater understanding of the subject in question, and a greater desire on the part of all who read this to work together in a scriptural order of evangelism and teaching.

What About Sunday School?

Do you know that there are many Churches of Christ who do not have Sunday school?

Do you know that there were no Sunday schools in any churches until about two hundred years ago?

Do you know that Sunday school is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible?

Are you surprised? Most people are. Yet all three of these statements are true.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says that Sunday school basically had its beginning in 1780 (Ready Reference, Vol. 9, page 672). A thorough search of the Bible will find no mention of Sunday school or bible classes or any practice similar to it. So churches today, who believe they should use the Bible as their guide, do not have Sunday schools.

How did the church of the Bible do it’s teaching? They taught in two ways: (1) individually, where ever they had opportunity and (2) collectively in the assembly.

Individually: Paul taught from house to house Acts 20:20. Older women were to teach younger women Titus 2:3-5. Fathers were to teach their children Ephesians 6:4. A husband and wife taught a preacher Acts 18:24-26. And Peter teaches a crowd that gathers when he heals a lame man Acts 3:11-26. In individual teaching, there seems to be little limitation given except to speak the truth in love Ephesians 4:15, and other regulations along these lines.

But the church, collectively, was given very specific instructions on its teaching. They were to assemble together: Hebrews 10:25 says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is,..." See also: Acts 20:7; Acts 14:27; Acts 15:30; 1 Corinthians 5:4; 1 Corinthians 11:17-20; 1 Corinthians 14:23, 26. The together assembly is also referred to in Acts 11:26 and James 2:2.

Some very specific instructions are given in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 to govern the teaching assemblies of the church.

Verses 3, 12, 19, 26 - The goal of the teacher is to edify the assembly.

Verses 7-11 - The teachers are to speak so they can be understood.

Verses 23, 26 - The arrangement of the assembly is "TOGETHER".

Verses 23-25 - Conversions can take place in the assembly.

Verses 27-29 - Tongue speakers are to be silent unless the tongues can be interpreted.

Verses 29, 31 - Qualified men are allowed to speak in the assembly.

Verse 29 - While one speaks, the others are to judge what is being taught.

Verse 31 - The teachers are to speak to the assembly one by one.

Verses 33, 40 - All things are to be done decently and in order.

Verses 34, 35 - Women are to be silent in the assemblies, not even asking questions. Also see 1 Timothy 2:11-14.

Verse 36 - These instructions are given to all churches everywhere. Also see chapter 4:17.

Verse 37 - These instructions are commandments of the Lord.

Verse 38 - If anyone does not acknowledge these commandments, he is not to be acknowledged in the assembly.

Verse 31 - This verse says that if these commandments are followed in the assemblies, all can learn and all can be comforted.

When God gives us commandments this specific for the teaching assemblies of the church, we cannot improve on them. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Also see 2 Peter 1:3; Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27; Isaiah 55:8-9.

We cannot improve on God’s commandments, and we should not even try to improve them. Proverbs 30:5-6 says, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Also see Galations 1:6-9 and Revelations 22:18-19.

Man has invented Sunday school in an attempt to improve on the church which God has designed and built. When God does something, man cannot improve on it. He will just mess it up. God’s church does not need man’s Sunday school.

 

What Happens At Death

In Hebrews 9:27 the Bible says, "And it is appointed unto men once to die..." Death is a strange phenomenon to most of us. At times our grief over the loss of a loved one is almost surpassed by the haunting curiosity; just what happens when we die? This question becomes more pressing when we consider the prospects of our own death. Do we just cease to exist? Is there really Life beyond the grave? Whereas these questions puzzle the human mind, God is most qualified to answer them. He speaks to us in his word and helps us to understand what happens at death.

To understand what happens at death, we must first understand more about the unique nature of man. Unlike any other life in creation, we are fashioned in God’s image. In Genesis 1:26-27 the Bible says, ‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;"

Jesus explained what is unique about human life in Matthew 10:28 where he said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but ARE NOT ABLE TO KILL THE SOUL; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" We are unique in that when our body dies, the soul or inward man does not die. This can be said of no other creature in all of creation.

Some argue that since death is the end of life that our death must completely end all of our life, and, therefore, no part of us lives after the body dies. Of course what Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 shows this is not true. Actually, most people do not understand death. Most see death as the absolute end of life. But the scriptures define death differently. In James 2:26 the Bible says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Here, James defines death as the separation of body and spirit.

Based on these scriptures we begin to see a clearer picture of what happens at death. At death the body dies, but the soul and spirit continue to live. This is further demonstrated by other passages. For example in Genesis 3:19 God said to Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Since it was Adam’s body that was fashioned from the dust (Genesis 2:7), it would be Adam’s body that returned to the dust at death.

But the scriptures show that something entirely different happens to the soul and spirit. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 Solomon says, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the Spirit shall return unto God who gave it." At death, the spirit does not die. It returns to God. Genesis 35:18 reveals that something similar happens to the soul. It says of Rachel, ‘And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died)..." When Rachel died, her soul did not die. It, like the spirit, departed her body!

This leads to the next question. What happens to the soul and spirit after they leave the body? In Luke 16:19-31 is recorded the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The Bible says in verse 22 that when the beggar died he, "...was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom": In the next verse we discover what happened to the rich man. ‘And IN HELL he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar oft and Lazarus in his bosom."

This story told by Jesus reveals that when a righteous person dies, their soul and spirit go to a place of comfort. But when a sinner dies, they are taken to a place of torment. Some argue that this was only a parable and cannot be understood to reveal what happens after death. You need to ask; did Jesus ever lie? When he gave parables, were they impossible situations or were they REAL LIFE SITUATIONS? Even if what Jesus told here was a parable, it still demonstrates truth regarding what happens when we die.

We now understand that death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. And at death the soul and spirit go on to either comfort or torment. Will this separated condition be our final state? In John 5:28-29 the Bible says, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Yes, the body will be brought out of its grave by the power of God at the end of time.

At the resurrection, the departed soul and spirit will be reunited with the body. God’s power will enable the body to come back to life. Then each person will be judged based on how they have lived their life. Those found acceptable will be taken to heaven. Those found lacking will be cast into hell, both soul and body! As Jesus said in Matthew 25:41, 46, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels And these shall go away into EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT but the righteous into life eternal."

Just how will you fare when you die? What will Jesus say to you at the judgment? When you die, will your soul and spirit be carried away by angels into sweet eternal rest? Or will you, like the rich man cry out from hell for relief from your torment? At the judgment will Jesus say to you, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you."? Or will he say, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."?

The beauty of knowing what happens at death is that it gives you opportunity and motivation to prepare while you still have life. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH THE WILL of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Give serious consideration to what will happen to you when you die. Give your life to Jesus so that you may be prepared to face your death some day.

Family Enrichment Series

 

The family holds a place of great importance in the Bible.  In the very beginning, God's plan included the family as the first institution ever created.  It should be no surprise then that there is much in the Bible about how God would have his children behave in their homes, as spouses, parents and children.  These studies are designed to help christian families to bring glory to God in their homes.

And Two Became One

"I now pronounce you husband and wife. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

How many times have we heard these words while witnessing the joining in marriage of a friend or family member? Our hearts are happy for them. We wish and quietly pray that their union will be as enduring as either or both of them are. Yet we're troubled. We've seen so many marriages fail. Some seemed doomed before they started. Others fell apart shortly after the honeymoon. Still others dissolved after many years together. But we quietly pray because we know that some do last "until death does part them."

Is success in marriage merely by chance? Many believe that if two people are united in marriage and remain together for the rest of their lives they are simply lucky. I believe that success in marriage can be guaranteed. In order for the guarantee to be valid BOTH parties must view their union, as well as their respective roles within the union, as God does. That is, they MUST make God's Word THEIR final authority. To put it another way, both parties must be willing to make Jesus Christ Lord of their marriage.

In Genesis 2:23-24, with the creation of the first woman, we find the establishment of marriage. In Matthew 19, in defending the marriage union before the Pharisees, Jesus referred to this original marriage by saying, "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Therefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:4-6)

There are certain teachings contained in the context of this statement that we will not address at this time. Our purpose here is to discover how two can become one.

First, notice that ONE woman and ONE man were created and brought together. (The homosexual relationship had no part in God's Plan for the family.) Notice also that the woman was made FOR the man (Genesis 2:18-22; I Corinthians 11:8-9). She was to be his companion and helper in life. The man was to function as the head of the union but they were both to rule as co-regents. (Genesis 1:28 points out that TOGETHER they were to multiply and replenish the earth; TOGETHER they were to subdue it; TOGETHER they were to have dominion over every living thing.)

Not only was the woman made FOR the man, she was made OUT OF the man, Man is commanded to love his wife as he loves himself. Why? Because "no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Eve was a part of Adam. She came from him. He could not hate her without hating a part of himself. This is the attitude God intended for a man to have toward his wife.

Second, they were to LEAVE their parents. It is essential that a leaving take place in order for bonding to occur. Many marriages are doomed because one or both maintain a stronger attachment for the home they came from than they do for the one they are seeking to build.

Third, they were to CLEAVE to one another. To be stuck together as if glued. The word cleave means "a bond which can't be broken." Two people glued in mind, in spirit, and in purpose so strongly that they become "one flesh." When man tries to dissolve a marriage, he is attempting to divide one in order to get two. But anytime "one" is divided the results will be less, not more.

Last, the marriage union is a joining together BY God. It was not to be disassembled by man. It is a sacred institution which must be viewed from God's perspective and not man's. Again, success in marriage will depend upon our willingness to let Jesus be the Lord of our marriage; to let God's Word, no, to EAGERLY ACCEPT GOD'S WORD as "final" on all matters. There is no room for pride. Instead, a spirit of humility must prevail. Our attitude must be that of our Lord's, "Not MY will but Your will be done." As the Psalmist said, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." (Psalm 127:1)

Except The Lord Build The House

The development of a happy home, built on Christian principles, does not happen by chance. Although two people may become one by following God's plan for marriage, they still have the day-to-day life experiences that must be dealt with.

Jesus' statement in Matthew 7:24-27 takes on a special meaning when considering the everyday pressures of the home. Jesus said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Life is filled with problems and difficulties, even for the Christian. Success is determined, not simply by acknowledging that we are a "Christian family" but by considering and applying godly principles to our marriage when problems arise. Of course, when we consistently follow God's Word we will automatically have fewer problems. Yet problems such as stress, parent-child relationships, marital intimacy, etc., will occur.

The "wise" builder was wise because he built upon God's Word. Notice he dug deep. He really wanted his house (life/marriage) to survive the elements of nature (pressures of life/marriage).

The "foolish" builder didn't see the need to waste his time in digging a foundation. He wanted to get on with his life. He was in a hurry. Too big of a hurry!

Many today enter marriage in a hurry. They don't take the time and effort to "dig deep" into God's Word to identify their role in the marriage relationship. Instead they get caught up in the modern day trends of our society, which treat the biblical guidelines for the man and woman in the home as foolishness.

Beginning with the fall of man in the garden there has been a clear distinction between the man and the woman. Man was given the responsibility to rule over his wife, as well as to labor and toil in the face of hardship for his existence. The woman was given the responsibility to help the man. Though she might desire to rule the man, she was to be in subjection to him. Additionally, she was to experience great sorrow in life as well as sorrow and pain in child birth (Genesis 3:16-19).

We see these principles stressed in the New Testament also. The man is given the responsibility of being the head or authority figure in the home (I Corinthians 11:3ff; Ephesians 5:23). The woman is given the responsibility of submitting to, and assisting her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24). The scriptures also strongly imply that in meeting this responsibility, her place was to be in the home (Titus 2:3-5).

The man is also commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the church. In Ephesians 5:25-33, the husband is told four times that he is to love his wife. The last statement in this text is that the wife "reverence her husband". It may appear on the surface that the man has the easy part (loving his wife) and the woman has the tough part (reverencing her husband). But, "loving" like Christ loved may not be as easy as one might think. On the other hand when the husband loves his wife like Christ loved the church, reverencing such a husband is more easily accomplished.

These concepts may seem foolish to the world, but remember, God's foolishness is wiser than men (I Corinthians 1:25) and His thoughts and ways are far above ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Train Up A Child In The Way He Should Go

The year was 1965. Lyndon Johnson ordered bombing raids over North Vietnam. Race riots in the Watts district of Los Angeles left 35 dead. The top pop songs were King of the Road, Downtown and, if you were a Beatles' fan, A Hard Days Night. Both the United States and the U.S.S.R. had men walk in space for the first time. And, for the first time, my wife and I became parents! It was a great, but confusing year. As Charles Dickens would say, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

My wife and I had planned for and looked with anticipation to this time in our lives. We wished to be parents, and we wished to be good ones. But now, with the birth of our first, we were scared to death. We had brought a new being into existence. God had given this being a soul, an immortal spirit, and had placed it in our care. The words of Solomon took on a special meaning to us; "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) Reality began to set in. How were we going to accomplish this solemn and important task?

Raising and nurturing children to be strong physically, socially, and spiritually has never been an easy process. But today parents face challenges that families have never experienced before. This is not said to discourage having children, but to stress the need to give special attention to raising the Christian child in today's promiscuous and corrupt society.

An excellent guide for Christian parents to follow in raising and nurturing children can be seen in Luke's description of the growth and development of Jesus; "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)

To grow in wisdom is to develop intellectually. Wisdom is not only the accumulation of knowledge, but the ability to use knowledge properly. As children learn facts they need also to learn common sense and good judgment. This is accomplished when children are allowed and encouraged to pursue their interests. What does your child like to do? Are there some things that come to them more naturally than others? How involved are you in their educational process? Do you visit regularly with their teachers?

To grow in stature is to grow physically. The parent should provide an atmosphere that will enhance physical development. A proper diet, which provides essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, as well as an opportunity for adequate exercise is necessary for physical growth. Most parents are aware of these facts, but since eating, sleeping and exercise are things we do naturally it can become easy to overlook a special need that a child might have. Is your child's growth comparable to other children his/her age? Are our child's activities fairly well balanced?

The next two areas of child development need special emphasis because it is so easy for parents to neglect. This is the spiritual and social development of a child. The scripture states that Jesus increased in "favor with God and man." As a child increases in favor with God and man he is well on his way to becoming a sound emotional being.

A child's spiritual development occurs as the child is taught about God and what his relationship to Him should be. Parents do well when they introduce the child to God early in life. This can be done in various ways. Bible stories, daily prayers, and the singing of spiritual songs in the home are extremely important. This lets the child know that God is important to Mom and Dad; that Mom and Dad love God and depend on Him for their very existence. Taking children to Church on a regular basis is important, but letting them know why we do what we do in the church assemblies is equally important.

It would do well for parents to consider God's instruction to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Here Moses instructed parents to first love God with all their heart and soul, to put His Word in their own hearts, and then to diligently teach it to their children both morning and night, at work and at play, till it became an extension of their very being.

How much time and attention are you giving to the spiritual development of your child in the home? Do you take opportunity to apply God's Word when dealing with your child's problems? Do you have a plan?

A child's social development is also a part of the parenting process. Helping children develop the ability to work with and get along well with others is a responsibility parents should take seriously. Some children are outgoing by nature and seem to always interact well with others. Some however, are shy and timid and need extra help in this area. With the peer-pressure older children face today, it is imperative for children to learn early to deal effectively with others. Interaction with other Christians within your congregation, as well as with those in other congregations, can be very helpful.

Being a parent, even in today's world, does not have to be frightening. Understand that the parent's role is to help children grow intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. This may not always be easy. In fact it will often be quite painful, but in the end it will be fun and exciting. The Psalmist said, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them." (Psalm 127:3-5a)

Five Lesson Conversion Series

These studies are designed to allow someone with limited knowledge of the scriptures to lead a friend or family member to understand and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are progressive in nature and should usually be a series of studies (one per week perhaps).  Occasionally,  it will be wisest to switch the order of the last two studies. 

These studies are also very valuable for members of the church to go through as they will give you a clearer understanding of how the Bible fits together as one whole book, showing God's purposes of salvation through Jesus in the entire Bible.

Part 1 - The Patriarchal Dispensation

1. The Creation

A. The General Creation:

And God Said: Gen. 1:1-3
Who Helped God: Jn. 1:1-3, 14, Job 26:13, Gen. 1:26

B. The Creation Of Man:

Male And Female: Gen. 2:7, 18-24
Immortal: Mt. 10:28, Eccl. 3:21

2. The Fall Of Man:

A. God Speaks His Law: Gen. 2:15-17
B. Satan Speaks His Lie: Gen. 3:1-5, Jn. 8:44
C. Man's Reaction: Gen. 3:6, 1 Tim. 2:14
D. The Physical Result: Gen. 3:16-19
E. The Spiritual Result: Rom. 5:12, Isa. 59:1-2

3. Cain And Abel:

A. The Story: Gen. 4:1-5
B. Rejected Worship: Heb. 11:4, Rom. 10:17, I Jn. 3:12
C. Worship Today: Jn. 4:23-24, Mt. 15:8-9

4. The Flood:

A. The Destruction Of Civilization:

The Story: Gen. 6:5-8, Gen. 6:13-16, 22
Four Things That Saved Noah: Gen. 6:8,
Heb. 11:7, Gen. 6:22, 1 Pet. 3:20

B. The Restructuring Of Civilization:

The Tower Of Babel: Gen. 11:1-9
Nations Today: Acts 17:26

5. The Promise To Abraham:

A. The Land Promise: Gen. 13:14-15
B. The National Promise: Gen. 12:2
C. The Seed Promise: Gen. 12:3, Gal. 3:16
D. Isaac: Gen. 21:1-5
E. Jacob: Gen. 25:21-26
F. Joseph And His Brothers: Gen. 35:22-26

6. The Israelites In Egypt:

A. The Slavery Of Joseph: Gen. 37-40
B. The Famine And Move To Egypt: Gen. 41-46
C. Moses And The Burning Bush: Exo. 2:1-15, Exo. 3
D. The Ten Plagues: Exo. 7-12
E. Across The Red Sea And On To Sinai: Exo. 14-19

 

 

Part 2 - The Mosaical Dispensation

1. A Lesson To Be Learned:

A. For Our Learning: Rom. 15:4

B. Goodness And Severity: Rom. 11:22

2. Israel Camped At Sinai:

*Nadab And Abihu: Lev. 10:1-2

A. Arrival At Sinai: Exo. 19:1-2

B. The Ten Commandments Given: Exo. 20:1-17

C. The Tabernacle Was Built: Exo. 25-40

D. The Giving Of The Entire Law: Exo. 24:3-7

E. The People Were Numbered: Num. 1:45-47

3. The Conquest Of Canaan And The Time Of Judges:

A. Spies Sent Into Canaan: Num. 13-14

B. Wandering In The Wilderness: Num. 14:29-34

C. Joshua Leads Israel Into Canaan: Josh. 1:1-9

D. Governed By Judges: Acts 13:20

4. The United Monarchy:

*Saul And Amalek: 1 Sam. 15:1-24
*Uzzah And The Ark: 1 Chron. 13:1-10, 1 Chron. 15:13

A. Israel Demands A King: 1 Sam. 8:1-7

B. David Becomes King: 2 Sam. 5:1-3

C. Solomon Becomes King: 1 Kings 2:10-12

D. The Downfall Of Solomon: 1 Kings 11:1-13

5. The Divided Kingdom:

The Young Prophet: 1 Kings 13:1-24

Naaman The Leper: 2 Kings 5:1-24

Josiah: 2 Kings 22:1-20, 2 Kings 23:1-3

Daniel's Prophesy: Dan. 2:1-38

Daniel's Prophesy: Dan. 2:39, Dan. 5:30-31

A. The Kingdom Is Divided: 1 Kings 12

B. The Northern Kingdom Falls To Assyria: 2 Kings 17:6 (About 721 B.C.)

C. The Southern Kingdom Falls To Babylon: 2 Kings 24:10-16 (About 606 B.C.)

D. The Return From Captivity: Ezra 1:1-4

E. Spiritual Reforms: Neh. 8:1-8

F. The Greeks Rise To Power: Dan. 2:39, Dan. 8:5-8, 20-21

G. Roman Rule: Dan. 2:40-43

H. God's Kingdom At The Time Of Roman Empire: Dan. 2:44-45, Lk. 2:1-11, Mt. 3:1-3

Part 3 - The Life Of Christ And HIS Kingdom

 

  1. The Birth Of Christ:

A. Prophesies:

Birthplace: Mic. 5:2

Escaped Massacre: Jer. 31:15

Called Out Of Egypt: Hos. 11:1

B. Fulfillment:

Birthplace: Mt. 2:1, 4-6

Escaped Massacre: Mt. 2:16-18

Called Out Of Egypt: Mt. 2:13-15

2. From The Early Years Of Christ To His Baptism:

A. Summary Of His Childhood: Lk. 2:40-52

B. His Work As A Carpenter: Mk. 6:3

C. His Baptism: Lk. 3:21-23, Mt. 3:13-17

3. The Teaching Of Christ:

A. The Kingdom Soon To Come: Mt. 4:17, Mk. 9:1

B. The Moral Standards Of The Day Deficient: Mt. 4:23-7:29

4. The Rejection Of Christ:

A. For His Kingdom Claims: Jn. 19:14-15

B. For His Teaching: Mk. 6:1-3, Lk. 19:45-48

5. The Death Of Christ:

A. His Final Entrance Into Jerusalem: Mt. 21:1-11

B. His Trial Before Pilate: Jn. 18:33-38

C. His Crucifixion: Mt. 27:27-50

6. The Kingdom Of Christ:

A. The Resurrection Connection: II Sam. 7:12-13, Acts 2:29-36

B. The House Of God: Isa. 2:2-3, I Tim. 3:15, Acts 2:16-17, 47

C. The Kingdom His Church: Mt. 16:18-19, Col. 1:13

7. The King Has A New Law For His Kingdom:

A. The New Covenant Prophesied To Come: Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:6-13

B. This Old Covenant Was Abolished: Heb. 10:9

C. Accomplished At The Death Of Christ: Col. 2:14, Heb. 9:15-17

 

 

Part 4 - God's Plan For Saving Man

 

 

 1. The Problem Of Sin:

A. Adam And Eve: Rom. 5:12, Ezek. 18:20

B. You And Me: Rom. 3:23, Gal. 5:19-21, Rom. 6:23

2. The Solution To Sin:

A. Christ's Death: Rom. 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:20-21

B. Your Obedience: Heb. 5:9, Rom. 1:16, II Thes. 1:7-9

3. The Form Of Doctrine:

A. Three Gospel Facts: 1 Cor. 15:1-4

B. How You Obey The Gospel: Rom. 6:17-18, Rom. 6:3-6

4. The Steps You Must Take:

A. Hear About Christ: Jn. 6:44-45

B. Believe In Christ: Jn. 3:16, Heb. 11:6

C. Repent And Turn To Christ: Acts 26:20, Lk. 13:3, 2 Cor. 7:10-11

D. Confess Your Faith In Christ: Rom. 10:9-10, Mt. 10:32-33

E. Be Baptized Into Christ: 1 Pet. 3:21, Acts 22:16

5. Examples In The New Covenant:

A. The Day Of Pentecost: Acts 2:22-47

B. Simon The Sorcerer: Acts 8:5-13

C. The Eunuch: Acts 8:26-40

D. The Philippian Jailor: Acts 16:25-33

E. Saul Of Tarsus: Acts 22:6-16

6. Some Will Not Obey The Gospel:

A. Not All Will Believe: Rom. 10:16

B. The Result Is Damnation: 1 Pet. 4:17-18

7. Some Will Obey And Then Fall Away:

A. A Fact Taught In Scripture: Lk. 8:11-14

B. The Result Is Damnation: 2 Pet. 2:20-22, Heb. 10:28-31

C. Those Fallen Can Return: Jas. 5:16-20, Acts 8:18-24

 

Part 5 - Christ's Kingdom, The Church

 

 

1. Christ Built Only One Church:

A. He Promised One: Mt. 16:18

B. Paul Taught One: Eph. 4:1-6, Col. 1:18

2. The Guide For Christ's Church:

A. One Mind: 1 Cor. 1:10-12

B. One Standard: 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 1:3

C. Guided By God, Not Man: Jer. 10:23, Mt. 15:8-9

3. The Organization Of Christ's Church:

Christ The Head: Eph. 1:22-23

No Human Hierarchy: Mt. 20:25-27, Mt. 23:5-11

Philippi: Phil. 1:1

Elders Titus 1:5-9, 1 Pet. 5:1-3

Deacons: 1 Tim. 3:8-13

A. Universally: 1 Cor. 1:2

B. Locally: 1 Cor. 1:2

4. What Christ Named His Church:

A. A Family Name: Eph. 3:14-15

B. The Body Of Christ: 1 Cor. 12:27

C. The Church Of Christ: Rom. 16:16

D. The Church Of God: 2 Cor. 1:1

E. The Church Of The Firstborn: Heb. 12:23

5. Worship In Christ's Church:

A. Singing: Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16

B. Prayer: 1 Cor. 14:15

C. Teaching: 1 Cor. 14:26-40

D. Communion: Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 11:23-30

6. Contributing To Christ's Church:

A. Congregational Giving On Sunday: 1 Cor. 16:1-2

B. Generous Giving: 2 Cor. 9:6-7

7. Membership In Christ's Church:

A. Membership Is Important: Eph. 2:16

B. Become A Member By Being Saved: Acts 2:47

 

Group Studies

 

We find that the Christians in Jerusalem were "daily in one another's homes" and that they "continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship". There is a great need today for Christians to spend time together during the week, sharing one another's lives and growing together in the Word of God. These studies have been designed with that in mind. There are several different series in this category, some completed, and some still in development week by week, we hope they can be used with great profit when strengthening your faith. We pray they will be a blessing to you.

 NOTE:  These studies have Word and Pdf files of each study attached to them.  You will find these versions much more printer friendly than the web page version so we recommend that for printing you download and print either the MS Word version or the Abode Pdf version.

 

A study of Acts

This section contains Bible studies on the book of Acts. Each study contains one page of questions to lead the searcher in his/her examination of the chapter(s) it covers. There are no leader guides, or answer sheets as many of the questions require the individual to consider and explain their own thoughts about certain people, situations, doctrines, or occurrences in the passage. These studies assume a moderate amount of personal Biblical knowledge. 

You can use these studies to guide or supplement your own personal study as you read through Acts, or they can be used with a small group who are studying Acts together.  If you are doing the latter, it might be beneficial to download and print either the Word document, or the pdf document as they will print as a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. 

Chapter 1

1) Introduction (1:1-2)

a) What is the former account mentioned in 1:1?
b) Who is Theophilus?

2) Christ's final message and resurrection (1:3-11)

a) What promise did he give the apostles?
b) What question did they ask him? What was his answer?
c) How did he ascend?
d) What were the apostles told to do?

3) The upper room (1:12-26)

a) Who was there?
b) What were they doing?
c) Where was Judas?
d) What qualified someone to replace him?
e) Who chose Matthias? How?

Chapter 2

1) Coming of the Holy Spirit (2:1-4)

a) Who did the Holy Spirit fill?

b) How did it look/sound?

2) The Crowd's Response (2:5-13)

a) Why were these people in Jerusalem?

b) Why was this confusing to them?

3) Peter's Sermon (2:14-39)

a) What time was the third hour of the day?

b) Why does Peter quote Joel?

c) Summarize Peter's sermon:

d) What is "the gift of the Holy Spirit (vs.38)?

4) The church grows (2:40-47)

a) How did they "continue in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship"

b) Can we do the same today? How?

c) Why did they sell their possessions and divide them among all?

Should we do that today?

Chapters 3-4

1) Healing the Lame man (3:1-11)

a) Why was this such an amazing healing?

b) How is this different from the modern day "Televangelist Healers" such as Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn?

2) Peter's Sermon (3:12-26)

a) Compare Vs. 17 to Luke 23:32

b) Beginning in Vs. 18, Peter appeals to the prophets. Why does he do that?

c) How did Peter say Jesus would bless them?

3) Peter and John arrested and in custody (4:1-22)

a) Who arrested Peter and John, and why?

b) What question do they ask Peter at his arraignment? (Compare Matthew 21:23-28)

c) Consider Peter's direct answer and contrast it with Jesus answering the same question with a question. Why did they answer differently?

d) They were threatened and commanded not to preach in Jesus name anymore. Explain Peter's response:

4) Their release and prayer for boldness (4:23-31)

a) Should we pray for relief from persecution or boldness in it's face?

5) Their Spirit of Oneness (4:32-37)

a) How can we promote and manifest this spirit in our church today?

Chapter 5

1) The First Church Discipline (5:1-11)

a) What did Ananias & Sapphira do that was wrong?

b) How did Peter describe their sin?

c) Where did they get the idea to do this?

2) Amazing growth (5:12-16)

a) In Vs. 13 "Yet none of the rest dared join them" Who are them and who is the rest?

3) The Apostles Arrested and Delivered (5:17-32)

a) Who arrested them and why?

b) How did they get out of prison?

c) The two charges the Sanhedrin Court brought against the apostles were 1) you disobeyed our command not to teach in Jesus name, and 2) you are trying to make us appear guilty of Jesus' death. How do the apostles answer these charges?

4) Gamaliel's Speech (5:33-42)

a) He mentions two revolutionaries who both drew away disciples and yet their movements both failed. Why does he tell these two stories?

b) What is his advise to the council?

c) Do they follow his advise?

d) What did the apostles do after they were beaten and released?

Chapter 6

1) The Seven Chosen to Serve Tables (6:1-7)

a) Why was there a need to appoint men for this task?

b) Who were the Hellenists?

c) What were the qualifications Peter told them to look for in choosing these men?

d) Who appointed them?

e) Were these guys deacons?

f) If so, what can we learn about the work of a deacon?

g) If not, what office did they hold?

h) How did their work differ from the Apostles?


2) Stephen Arrested (6:8-15)

a) How was Stephen doing miracles since only Apostle had done miracles up to this time?

b) Who were the people he was debating?

c) What did they accuse him of?

d) Was their accusation true? e) Explain what he looked like to those in the council

 

 

Chapter 7

1) Stephen's sermon to the Council (7:1-50)

a) Stephen begins with Abraham, why do you think he did that?

b) What is Stephen's theme in this sermon?

c) Why were the Pharisee's so offended by his sermon?

d) Why begin with a History lesson to these men who knew the Israelite History so well?

e) Do you see the recurring story line of the faithful servant of God rejected and persecuted by the unfaithful descendants of Abraham?

f) Give two examples from the sermon:

g) What did Stephen mean when he said "God turned and gave them up..." (42)?

h) Why would Stephen have brought the Temple into the sermon?

i) Does the Temple still matter at this point? Explain your answer:

2) Stephen makes it personal (7:51-53)

a) Why did Stephen get personal here? b) What does this teach us about effective preaching?

3) The Martyrdom of Stephen (7:54-60)

a) When they were "cut to the heart" why didn't they react like those who were "pricked in their heart" in Acts 2?

b) Why do you think God showed him this vision?

c) What did Stephen pray for?

d) Could/would you do the same?

 

 

Chapter 8

1) The church leaves Jerusalem (8:1-4)

a) Why did the church leave Jerusalem?

b) Who didn't leave and why?

c) What did they do when they left Jerusalem?

d) Does this exhibit a different heart/attitude than we have today? Why?

2) Phillip's work in Samaria (8:5-24)

a) Discuss the conversion of Simon. Why was he converted?

b) Compare and contrast Vs. 13 with Vs. 21-22;

c) Was Simon truly converted? d) Why did the Apostles send Peter and John to Samaria?

 

3) The Conversion of the Ethiopian (8:25-40)

a) What do we know about the Ethiopian's Character?

b) Read and give a brief explanation of Isaiah 53:7-8

c) What did Phillip preach? What did that inc lude?

d) What would biblically prevent someone's baptism?

e) What congregation did the Ethiopian become a member of?

 

Chapter 9

1) The conversion of Saul (9:1-19)

a) Why was Saul going to Damascus?

b) Who did Jesus say Saul was persecuting?

c) How was that possible since he had already ascended?

d) What does "It is hard for you to kick against the goads (pricks)" mean?

e) Was Saul quick or slow to repent?

f) Who did God send to teach Saul?

g) Did he want to go? Why?

h) At what point in this story is Saul saved? Explain your answer:

2) After Saul's conversion (9:20-31)

a) What did he do immediately after his baptism?

b) How did the Jews in Damascus react?

c) How did Saul leave Damascus?

d) What problem did he have in Jerusalem?

e) What was the result to the church of Saul's conversion (VS. 31)?

3) Miracles of Peter (9:32-43)

a) What was a result of his miracle in Lydda?

b) Why was Tabitha so well loved?

c) List a way you could possibly become more like Tabitha in your own life?

Chapter 10

1) Cornelius Sends for Peter (10:1-8)

a) List every quality mentioned about Cornelius
b) What had God noticed about him?
c) Why didn't God just tell him about Jesus?

2) Peter's Vision (10:9-23)

a) Why wouldn't Peter eat?
b) What type of animals were in the sheet?
c) What was the point of the vision?
d) What are some more character qualities of Cornelius mentioned here?
e) In what ways are you like Cornelius?
f) In what ways are you different?

3) Peter Meets Cornelius (10:24-33)

a) Why did Cornelius try to worship Peter?
b) How did Peter react?
c) Who did Cornelius gather to be with him when Peter arrived?

4) Peter's Sermon (10:34-48)

a) What does he tell Cornelius about God?
b) What does it mean "The Holy Spirit Fell on them"?
c) At what point in the story was Cornelius saved?

Chapter 11

1) Peter's Defense of Gentile Conversions (11:1-18)

a) Who were "those of the circumcision"?
b) Why did they "contend with" Peter?
c) In what way did Peter explain it to them?
d) What did the Spirit tell Peter not to do?
e) When did the Holy Spirit fall on Cornelius?
f) What did that remind Peter of? Why?
g) What does this teach us about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and how common it was?
h) Explain your answer:
i) How did "those of the circumcision" respond?

2) Barnabas and Saul (11:19-30)

a) Who did the first generation Christians preach to?
b) Then who did the second generation Christians preach to?
c) Why did Barnabas go to Antioch?
d) What was his mission (purpose) there?
e) What did he do to help accomplish this mission?
f) What "first" happened in Antioch?
g) Who was Agabus and what did he do?
h) Describe the heart of the new Christians in Antioch:
i) What practical way can you show the same heart as these Christians in Antioch?

Chapter 12

1) Herod takes Saul's place (12:1-4)

a) Who was Herod?
b) Who was the first Apostle killed & how?
c) Who did he arrest next?

2) Peter's Miraculous Release (12:5-19)

a) What was the church doing while Peter was in Prison? Why?
b) Who released Peter from Prison?
c) What did Peter think was going on?
d) What does that tell us about the reality of Visions?
e) Did Rhoda know Peter before this happened?
f) What did she do? Why?
g) Peter instructs them to tell James, but we just read (Vs. 2) James was killed. Explain:

3) The End of Herod (12:20-24)

a) What did Herod do, in these verses, that was so bad?
b) How did he die?

4) Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch (12:25)

a) Why were Barnabas and Saul in Jerusalem?
b) Who did they take with them when they returned?
c) Where have we heard of him before?
d) Herod was not killed for persecuting and murdering Christians, but was killed for his arrogant Pride. What does this teach you about the sin of Pride and taking God's credit for yourself?
e) Was his sin different than Moses' sin (Numbers 20:1-10)

Chapter 13

1) Barnabas & Saul Sent Out (13:1-3)

a) How many teachers did the church in Antioch have?
b) What did they do when they appointed Barnabas & Saul?

2) Barnabas & Saul In Cyprus (13:3-4)

a) What did Elymas do?
b) Here we are introduced to Saul's other name. What is it?
c) What did Saul do?

3) In Antioch of Pisidia (13:13-52)

a) What did John Mark do when they got to Perga?
b) Where did they go first in Antioch?
c) How did Paul get to speak to the people?
d) Where does Paul begin in his sermon?
e) How much background did he give them before getting to Jesus?
f) What promise does he reason from scripture with them?
g) Why do you think he mentions John the Baptist?
h) Notice how Paul consistently appeals to Old Testament Scripture. Why do you think he does that?
i) What fact does Paul hinge his argument on?
j) Paul uses three quotes from Psalms (2:7; 55:3; 16:10) Read each Psalm and summarize what it says about Jesus.
k) Why does Paul include a prophetic warning (Habakkuk 1:5)?
l) What did Paul & Barnabas finally tell the unbelieving Jews?

Chapter 14

1) Paul & Barnabas At Iconium (14:1-7)

a) Were they successful in Iconium?
b) Who were the main opponents?
c) Why did they leave Iconium?

2) Idolatry at Lystra, Paul stoned, they escape to Derbe (14:8-20)

a) What was amazing about the healing at Lystra?
b) When Paul looked at the man, he was that the man "had faith to be healed". What does that mean?
c) When Paul healed the man, what was the reaction in the city?
d) Who did they think Paul and Barnabas were?
e) Summarize Paul's sermon to them:
f) What happened that turned the crowd from wanting to worship Paul to stoning him?
g) How did Paul escape death?

3) They strengthen the new congregations as they return to Antioch of Syria (14:21-28)

a) When they returned, they stopped in cities where they had begun churches. Why?
b) What did they tell the new Christians?
c) If the church is the Kingdom, and these people were in the church, what did Paul mean by "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God"?
d) What did Paul & Barnabas do when they got back to Antioch?
e) How does Paul summarize the trip?

Chapter 15

1) Conflict over Circumcision (15:1-5)

a) Where did the troubling brethren come from?
b) What did they teach?
c) What sect were the Judaizers from?

2) The council at Jerusalem considers the matter (15:6-21)

a) Who gathered to consider this matter?
b) Summarize Peter's speech:
c) What were Peter's 3 main points?

1)
2)
3)

d) What authority did James appeal to?
e) What solution did James propose?

3) The Jerusalem Decree (22-35):

a) Who did the Apostles send with Paul & Barnabas?
b) Summarize the letter that the Apostles sent with Paul & Barnabas:
c) How did the church receive the letter?

4) Trouble over John Mark (36-41):

a) Why do Paul and Barnabas have contention?
b) Who went with Paul & where did they go?
c) Who went with Barnabas & where did they go?
d) Which one of them was right?

Chapter 16

1) Paul takes Timothy with him (16:1-3)

a) What can we know about Timothy from these passages?
b) Why would Paul have Timothy circumcised?
c) Does this tell us anything about choosing Evangelists today? If so, what?

2) The Macedonian Call (16:4-10)

a) What message did they deliver in the cities they visited?
b) What two places did the Holy Spirit forbid them to preach?
c) What did they conclude after Paul's vision?

3) The Conversion of Lydia (16:11-15)

a) What type of person was Lydia?
b) Explain: "The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul"?

4) The Conversion of the Philippian Jailor (16:16-34)

a) Why were Paul and Silas arrested?
b) Discuss their attitude and actions in prison
c) Explain the Jailor's actions after the earthquake:
d) Discuss Paul's answer to his question "What must I do to be saved?":

5) Paul refuses to depart secretly (16:35-40)

a) What did Paul demand the Magistrates do before he would leave? Why?

Chapter 17

1) At Thessalonica (17:1-8)

a) What did Paul teach in Thessalonica?
b) Who became envious and what did they do?
c) What was their accusation and why was this troubling?
d) Was it true?

2) In Berea (17:10-15)

a) What two characteristics exhibited their fair-mindedness?
b) What results happened here that were similar to Thessalonica?
3) At Athens (17:16-34)
a) What provoked Paul?
b) What was the reaction of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers to his teaching?
c) What was the Areopagus?
d) VS. 22 in KJV says "too superstitious" the NKJV says "very religious". What was Paul saying to them?
e) Summarize his sermon here:
f) Why did he quote the pagan Athenian poets?
g) What was the result? Was he successful?

Chapter 18

1) At Thessalonica (18:1-17)

a) Where did Paul stay? Why?
b) Discuss ‘compelled by the Spirit' (Vs. 5)
c) What did Paul tell the Jews? Why?
d) Who was emperor of Rome?
e) What did God tell Paul in a vision?
f) Who became ruler of the synagogue in Crispus' place
g) What did Gallio tell the Jews when they arrested Paul?

2) Paul returns to Antioch (18:18-22)

a) How long did Paul stay in Corinth?
b) Why did Paul have his hair cut off? Explain:
c) List, in order, the places mentioned that Paul traveled to (Vs. 18-23)

3) Apollos learns about Jesus (18:24-28)

a) Where was Apollos from? ______________________ What country was that?
b) Discuss the two qualities given to describe Apollos
c) What was he lacking in his knowledge of the Lord?
d) Who taught him more accurately?
e) How had they learned?
f) Considering Vs. 27, do you believe letters of commendation are scriptural/valid?
g) Should we send them when brethren travel?

Chapter 19

1) Paul arrives at Ephesus (19:1-10)

a) What did Paul ask the disciples when he met them?
b) What was their answer?
c) Paul then asks about their baptism. What about their answer would make him question their baptism?
d) What did he teach them about Baptism?
e) Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and harmonize that with this account
f) How long did Paul stay in Ephesus?
g) Was his work there very successful?

2) Unusual Miracles in Ephesus (19:11-20)

a) What were these unusual miracles?
b) Who were the sons of Sceva and what did they do?
c) What happened to them?
3) The Riot at Ephesus (19:21-41)
a) Where does Paul purpose to go next?
b) Who was Demetrius and why was he upset?
c) What world renowned Temple was in Ephesus?
d) What did Paul want to do?
e) Why didn't he?
f) What did the crowd chant? _______________________________ For how long?
g) Who calmed them down?
h) What was his reasoning and his suggested resolution?

Chapter 20

1) Journey to Troas (20:1-6)

a) How long did Paul stay in Greece?
b) Why did he make a last minute change in his travel plans?
c) What do Verses 4-6 tell us about Luke?

2) Miracle at Troas (20:7-12)

a) When [what day] did the disciples assemble?
Do you know why?
b) How long did Paul preach?
c) What happened to Eutychus?
d) Did Paul raise him from the dead, or merely realize that he wasn't really dead?

3) The trip to Miletus (20:13-16)

a) Why did Paul sail past Ephesus?
b) Why would Paul want to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost?

4) Paul exhorts the Ephesian Elders (20:17-38)

a) In vs. 21 Paul reminds them of his two-fold message. What was it?
b) What did the Holy Spirit testify in every city about Paul?
c) Would that frighten or discourage you?
d) What did Paul refrain from teaching them when he was in Ephesus?
e) What warning does he give them?
f) Where will these false teachers come from?
g) What can we learn from his warning?
h) Can you imagine how sad these people were? Consider Paul's faith stated in Vs. 24

Chapter 21

1) Warnings on the Journey to Jerusalem (21:1-14)

a) Where did they find disciples?
b) What did those disciples tell Paul?
c) Who did they stay with in Caesarea?
d) Who came from Judah, and what did he do/say?
e) Imagine the scene, the disciples actions, Paul's reply, and their response. Why do you think Paul was so insistent on going?

2) Paul Seeks Peace in Jerusalem but is Arrested (21:15-36)

a) Whom did Paul meet with in Jerusalem?
b) What rumors did they tell him were circulating about him?
c) What did they ask Paul to do?
d) Why did Paul do it? Wasn't this deceptive on his part?
e) When did the Jerusalem leaders write to/about the Gentiles?
f) Did this effort at peace with the Jews work?
g) What accusations were made by the Jews from Asia?
h) Why did they accuse him of bringing a Greek into the Temple?
i) The mob intended to kill Paul, how was he saved?

3) Addressing the Jerusalem Mob (21:37-40)

a) What did Paul do that surprised the commander?
b) Who had he thought Paul was?
c) What did Paul ask to be allowed to do?

Chapter 22

1) Paul's Defense (22:1-21)

a) Why did the people keep silent?
b) Who was Paul's teacher in the Law of Moses?
c) Does he criticize or compliment the crowd?
d) Jesus said "Why are you persecuting me?" Explain how Paul was persecuting Jesus:
e) What did the light do to Paul?
f) List the things Ananias told him:
g) When Paul returned to Jerusalem, he had a vision where he saw Jesus. What did Jesus tell him to do? Why?
h) What was Paul's explanation for why this was so?
i) Where did Jesus say he was going to send him then?

2) Paul's Arrest (22:22-30)

a) At this point the people begin to riot. Why do you think this provoked them?
b) What do they yell and do?
c) What was the commander going to do to him?
d) Why didn't he?
e) Who had greater right to Roman citizenship, Paul or the commander?
f) Why was the commander afraid?
g) The commander calls a court session to find out something, what was it?
h) Who does he call in as witnesses?

Chapter 23

1) Paul Before the Council (23:1-10)

a) What claim does Paul start with?
b) What does that mean?
c) What did Paul call the High Priest?
d) Why does he apologize?
e) What did Paul discern about his audience and how did he use that insight?
f) What was the result?

2) Paul's Arrest (23:11-22)

a) What does Jesus tell Paul?
b) What vow did a group of Jews make?
c) How many were there?
d) Who did they enlist to help them?
e) What was their plan?
f) Who found out about the plan?
g) Paul sent him to whom?
h) What did the commander do to defeat the plan and did it work?

3) Paul sent to Felix (23:23-35)

a) What was the commanders name?
b) Summarize the Letter sent by the commander to Felix:
c) What did Felix tell Paul and command to be done with him?

Chapter 24

1) Paul accused of sedition (24:1-9)

a) Who did Ananias & the elders bring with them?
b) How does he begin his speech?
c) What accusations does he make against Paul?
d) What does he say about Lysias?

2) Paul's defense before Felix (24:10-21)

a) How long had it been since Paul arrived in Jerusalem?
b) Why was Paul cheerful to answer for himself?
c) What did he deny?
d) What did he confess?
e) What is a "sect"?
f) What does Paul mean by "the Way"?
g) What doctrine does Paul reaffirm here?
h) Who does he blame for the riot?
i) He says that these witnesses against him have no right to speak because?

3) Felix's response (24:22-27)

a) Why did Felix not rule?
b) Who did he claim to be waiting on?
c) What did Felix command to be done with Paul?
d) Why did Felix call for Paul?
e) Was Felix converted?

Chapter 25

1) Paul appeals to Caesar (25:1-12)

a) Who is the next judge in the case against Paul?
b) What does the High Priest petition him for?
c) Why?
d) How long was it before Festus judged Paul?
e) Who, besides Paul & Festus was at the trial?
f) What three things did Paul claim to be without offense?
g) What does Festus suggest?
h) Why?
i) What is Paul's response?

2) Paul before Agrippa (25:13-27)

a) Who is his next judge?
b) Who was with him?
c) When he arrives, summarize the story told by Festus
d) What does Agrippa ask for?
e) What did Festus ask Agrippa to help him with
f) Why?

Chapter 26

1) Paul before conversion (26:1-11)

a) How was Agrippa different from the others who had judged Paul?
b) Where did Paul grow up?
c) What sect (denomination) of the Jewish religion was Paul before his conversion?
d) What rhetorical question did Paul ask?
e) What types of things did he do to Christians?
f) Why do you think Paul begins his defense with his pre-conversion life?

2) Paul retells his conversion(26:12-18)

a) What things does he mention here that are not recorded in the earlier accounts [Acts 9, 22]?

3) Paul after conversion (26:19-23)

a) Who did he begin preaching to?
b) What did Paul then begin to preach?
c) Paul mentions 3 main points in his message about Jesus, what are they?

4) Festus and Agrippa respond (26: 24-32)

a) What does Festus reply?
b) What does Paul assert about Agrippa?
c) What does Agrippa say?
d) What was their judgment about Paul?

Chapter 27

1) Voyage to Rome begins, Paul's warning ignored (27:1-12)

a) Who was placed in charge of Paul?
b) What type of person was he?
c) What was the trouble they faced in this journey?
d) Why was sailing dangerous now?
e) What does that mean?
f) What warning does Paul give?
g) Why did they disregard Paul's warning?

2) The storm arrives (27: 13-38)

a) What did they call the tempestuous head wind?
b) What things did they do to save the ship? ¬¬
c) What was the mental state of the crew and passengers when Paul finally spoke?
d) What good news did Paul give them?
e) How did he know that?
f) How long did this storm last?
g) What were the sailors attempting to do?
h) What did Paul tell them?
i) What did Paul do to encourage everyone?

3) Shipwrecked on Malta (27: 39-44)

a) What did the soldiers intend to do?
b) Why?
c) Why did the centurion stop them?

A study of Hebrews

This section contains Bible studies on the book of Hebrews. Each study contains one page of questions to lead the searcher in his/her examination of the chapter(s) it covers. There are no leader guides, or answer sheets as many of the questions require the individual to consider and explain their own thoughts about certain people, situations, doctrines, or occurrences in the passage. These studies assume a moderate amount of personal Biblical knowledge.

You can use these studies to guide or supplement your own personal study as you read through Hebrews, or they can be used with a small group who are studying Hebrews togegher. If you are doing the latter, it might be beneficial to download and print either the Word document, or the pdf document as they will print as a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. You can find links to them in the upper right hand frame on each study page.

Getting People Involved

This series of studies focuses on motivating and equipping people to become more involved in the work of the Kindgom of God. They are not designed to be studied in any particular order, but rather each one of them has a valuable lesson to be learned.

Doing What You Do Best

Introduction: Read Ephesians 4:16

1. Serving God:

A. How does a person serve God?
B. Why does God provide a diversity of spiritual gifts, talents and abilities?

2. God compares the church to a body: -Romans 12:4-8

A. Explain Paul's comparison of the human body to the church.
B. What impact would it have on our congregation if the members really believed
that each one is gifted and is invaluable to the spiritual health of all?

3. Each part of the body has a unique ability and function: -1 Corinthians 12:11,18-20

A. What would happen if every member of the body performed the same function?
(vs. 19)

4. No matter how different your talents or abilities are, they are important because they
come from the same place and are lead by the same purpose. -1 Corinthians 12:4-6

A. How does this passage correct the false assumption that certain abilities are
better than others?
B. Does 1 Corinthians 12:21-23 shed any new light on this thought?

5. The body will not work or grow correctly if every part doesn't do it's job. The loss of
any part hurts the whole. -Ephesians 4:16

A. Some Christians experience obstacles to serving God. What are some obstacles
one must overcome?
B. How would it be detrimental to the body if any supporting ligament were no
longer responsive?
C. How would this be true in the church?

6. An example and application

The story is told that a preacher once visited a woman who lived in a poorhouse. He noticed, hanging on the wall of her shed, a framed document. He asked about the certificate, and the woman told him that an aged and invalid gentleman for whom she had cared had given it to her. In appreciation for her care, the man had scribbled on the paper and presented it to her. She framed the piece and hung it on her wall. After considerable persuasion, he was finally able to take the document to the local bank where the manager exclaimed, "We've been wondering to whom the old gentleman left his money!"

A. As this woman lived in poverty, she held the deed to a fortune. Could the same
be true of us? Has God given you treasures that lie unknown and unused?
B. What do you believe is an ability, gift, or talent that God has given you to use
for the growth and strength of the body?

How Can I Make a Difference?

 Introduction:  Read Exodus 4:1-12

1. Thinking about it:

A. Ephesians 4:11What is the 80/20 rule? Where have you observed it in operation?
B. How does it show itself in a church family?
C. How does it hurt a church family?
D. What reasons (excuses) do church members give for not being involved?

2. God called Moses to make a difference: -Exodus 4:1-12

A. But Moses Made Excuses ...

1. "They won't listen." (Vs. 1)
a. Why is it incorrect to assume people are closed to God?
b. Why are such assumptions dangerous to the Christian spirit?

2. "I can't do it." (Vs. 10)

a. What personal fears often lie behind "I can't do it?"
b. What is the difference between "I can't do it" and "I don't want to do it?"

B. God's Answers To Moses' Excuses...

1. "What's in your hand?" (Vs. 2)
a. Literally, how would you answer this question (your talents, abilities, resources)?
b. What is the power of God's advice - starting with what you have?

2. "Lay it down" (Vs. 3)

a. What is really involved in surrendering my talents and gifts to God?
b. What is most likely to keep you from placing them at God's feet?

3. Questions for Reflection and Application:

A. What is the job of the Elders & Evangelists in a congregation? Eph.4:11-12
B. What is the job of those who are not officers in the church? Eph.4:12-16

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan emerged from the Washington Hilton and was shot. Even though he was serving as our President at the time, our government continued to function as though the attempted assassination had never taken place.   uring that same year, the sanitation workers of Philadelphia went on strike and brought the city to its knees.

The point? Even though most of us would say that the Presidency is far more important than garbage collection, the sanitation workers proved that they were (and are) indispensable. Now we could spend lots of time dissecting this example, but what we need to realize is that often people, like Moses did, underestimate their talents, gifts, or opportunities to serve the Lord.

C. How would you advise a new Christian on how to get "involved" at Anna St.?
D. What can you personally do to help someone new become involved?
E. Moses had his staff. David had his sling. What's in your hand?

 

Pray for One Another

Introduction...

Intercessory prayer, standing in the gap, lifting my brother up, pleading my sister's case are all different terms to describe one action; carrying a burden, need, or thanks for another person to God.
Children sometimes go to their mother and say "Will you talk to Dad for me?" We, as children in the household of God all have this same privilege; we can talk to our Father for them.

• When you are burdened with life, do you pull inward or express outward? Why?
• Do you pray more often when there is trouble or when all seems well? Explain.

What Does It Mean To "Stand In The Gap?" For Someone Else?

Psalm 106:23
So he said he would destroy them
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach [gap] before him
to keep his wrath from destroying them.

• What kind of person "stands in the gap" for another person?
• Did Moses intercede for them because Israel deserved it?
• Do you only pray for and help those who deserve it?

How Do We "Stand In The Gap" For Each Other?

James 5:13
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.
Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

• Why/How do we pray when we face "trouble?"
• Is it easy or difficult for you to pray leaving the results in God's hands? Why?

James 5:14-15
Is any one of you sick?
He should call the elders of the church to pray over him
and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.

• Would you feel comfortable calling church leaders for prayer?
• Do you believe that prayer can affect our physical health?

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

• Have you seen prayer bring positive changes in people?

Do you now, or have you ever kept a prayer journal?
Can you see value in keeping a record of answered prayer?

• If we confess our sins to God why should anyone else need to know about it?
• How can we provide more opportunities for mutual confession and prayer?
• What would it mean if we each were willing to be God's answer to prayers?
• How can we pray for you?

The People of the Towel

Introduction:  Read John 13:1-17

a) What qualities do people look for in a leader?

1) Jesus Knows Where He Came From - John 13:3

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power,
and that he had come from God ...

a) How did this awareness put permanent meaning into his temporary day to day?
b) Do you ever think about where you have come from? What is your source?

2) Jesus Knows Where He Is Going - John 13:1,3

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power,
and that he ... was returning to God ...

a) Why/How did this insight give him confidence and direction?
b) Give a Bible example of how this knowledge impacted someone's life.
c) Does this knowledge impact your life personally? How?

3) Jesus Knows What To Do Now - John 13:4-5

... so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing,
and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that,
he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet,
drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

a) Does knowing you are from God and destined for God lead you to service? In what way have you been different because of this?
b) Explain Romans 15:4?
c) What would you have done if Jesus wanted to wash your feet? Explain.

4) Conclusion

a) Who (not in this room) comes to mind when you think about people who have the humility and servants heart to "wash feet?" Why?
b) What would it mean to practice the humility of foot washing type service in your life? (pick one)
• In your marriage?
• With your children?
• In your job?
• In your home congregation?

The Root of Compassion

Introduction:  Read 1 Corinthians 13

1. The Character of God: -1 John 4:8

A. If you could use one word to describe the Character of God what would it be?
B. Explain what John meant when he said "God is Love"?

2. The Quality of Love:

A. Think of the most loving person you know. What do they do that makes you
believe they are loving?
B. How is love defined in our society?

3. Words translated Love:

A. Phileo - to have ardent affection and feeling - Friendship love, family
1. What are some examples of Phileo love? (Rom.12:10)

B. Agape - to have esteem or high regard. - Love without regard to self-interest

1. What are some examples of Agape love? (John 3:16)

4. Agape will improve the lives of those you love with concrete action -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

A. What aspect of love is the easiest for you to practice?
B. What aspect of love is the most difficult for you to practice?
C. Who can give an example of the patience of love?
D. Why doesn't love boast or keep a record of wrongs?

5. Compassion is an essential element of Agape: -1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

A. How can you know if your own giving is motivated by love?
B. What happens if generosity is not guided by love?

1. What does it become?
2. What does God think about it?

6. Love is the most enduring of qualities/gifts.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

A. Why does Paul contrast spiritual gifts with love?
B. How does love help us to grow up or mature?
C. Explain why love is greater than faith and hope.

7. Agape is Giving: Jn.3:16; Gal.2:20; Eph.5:25

A. God so love the world that he GAVE...
B. Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and GAVE...
C. The son of God, who loved me and GAVE...
D. List several ways you could express your love to fellow Christians by giving.

 

 

Great Stories of the Old Testament

This section contains Bible studies on some of the most well known stories from the Old Testament. Each study contains one page of questions to lead the searcher in his/her examination of the chapter(s) it covers. There are no leader guides, or answer sheets as many of the questions require the individual to consider and explain their own thoughts about certain people, situations, doctrines, or occurrences in the passage. These studies assume no personal Biblical knowledge of these stories, they are designed to introduce people to the stories and how their principles apply to the lives of Christians today.  The studies in Word and PDF format are designed to be printed and used in a group study format.

Noah and the Flood

Genesis 6-11

1. List everything you can that saved Noah

2. Draw and/or describe the Ark. What did it look like? What was it designed to do?

3. Did all the fish die during the flood?

4. How long did it take Noah to build the ark?

5. How long was Noah in the Ark?

6. How many people were on the Ark? Who were they?

7. What were the two different classes of animals Noah took on the ark?

8. How many of each class (or "kind") did Noah take on the ark?

9. What promise did God make when Noah offered a sacrifice?

10. Who did God make the rainbow covenant with?

11. How did man's diet change after the flood?

12. Why does God consider murder a sin?

13. What did Noah do after the flood?

14. What is there that we can learn from the story of Noah?

15. What are several specific things you will do (or not do) because of what you have learned in this story?

Abraham

Genesis 12-25

1. What were the promises God made to Abraham [Gen.12:1-3; 13:14-17]?

2. What land was he talking about?

3. Who are Abraham's descendants today?

4. Explain these NT passages [Rom.2:28-29; Galatians 3:29]:

5. In Genesis 23:3, many years later, Abraham makes it plain that he does not own
any of the land around Canaan. Did God fulfill the promises of Q#1 above? Explain.

6. What does Hebrews 11:8-16 teach us about this?

7. Who was Melchizedek? [Gen.14] was he Jesus Christ? [ Heb.7:1-10] Explain:

8. Who was Ishmael's mother? _________________________ Why did Abraham agree to this?

9. What does Genesis 16:12 teach us about Ishmael and his descendents?

10. Who are his descendants today?

11. How do Abraham's actions affect our world today?

12. Have the National and Land promises God made to Abraham in
Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-16 been fulfilled?

13. What do 2 Chronicles 1:9; & Joshua 23:14-16 teach about this?

14. Why did God destroy Sodom & Gomorrah [Genesis 13; 18-19]?

15. Why do you think God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? [Genesis 22]

16. What have you learned from this and what specifically do you plan to do about it?

Jacob & Joseph

Genesis 32-50

1. What did God change Jacob's name to and why? [Genesis 32]

2. List all 12 of Jacob's son's [Genesis 49]

3. Joseph's brothers hated him because he was his father's favorite, and because of his dreams.
    Why would Jacobs's favoritism cause the brothers to hate Joseph?

4. What was the theme in Joseph's two dreams?

5. Of all the things Joseph went through, what would be the most difficult for you? Why?

6. Read & consider Joseph's explanation to his brothers of his sale into slavery [Genesis 45:1-8]

A. What does this teach us about the plans and providence of God?

B. What does Romans 8:28 say about this?

C. How does Romans 8:29 define the "good" of vs. 28?

7. Who was Joseph's father in law? And what was "On" [Genesis 41]

8. Record a basic timeline of Joseph's life

9. Why was Joseph's statement in Genesis 50:24-25 a great declaration of faith?

10. What character qualities did Joseph have that you need to emulate more in your own life?

Joseph goes to Egypt

Genesis 37-50

1. What were Jacob's two dreams & what did they mean? (37:5-10)

2. Who did Joseph say the sin of Adultery would be against? (39:9)

3. How did Joseph do in prison? (39:21-23)

4. What was the butler's dream? (40:10-11)

5. What were Pharaoh's two dreams? (41:1-6)

6. What did they mean? (41:26-27)

7. Why did Jacob's other sons go to Egypt? (42:1-2)

8. Which son did not go? (42) ___________ Why?

9. What did Joseph accuse his brothers of? (42:9)

10. What did Joseph do when he saw Benjamin? (43:29-30)

11. How did the brothers react when Joseph revealed himself? (45:3)

12. Who did Joseph say had sent him to Egypt? (45:5-8)

13. Why?

14. How many people came to Egypt? (46:27)

15. What blessing did Israel give Judah? (49:8-10)

16. When/How was that fulfilled?

17. What was Joseph's last request? (50:25)

Moses - The Exodus

Exodus 1-14

1. What strikes you most about the life of Moses before he fled to the desert? [1-2]

2. What were the three different excuses Moses gave when God sent him back to Egypt? [4]

3. What were God's answers to his excuses? [4]

4. Joseph's brothers hated him because he was his father's favorite, and because of his dreams.
    Why would Jacobs's favoritism cause the brothers to hate Joseph?

5. List the 10 Plagues that God brought on Egypt [7-12]

6. What did God mean when he said he would ‘Harden the heart of Pharaoh'? [7]

7. How did God make his presence known to the Israelites? [13]

8. Paul compares the Israelites crossing the red sea [14] to baptism [1 Cor.10:1-4]. In what ways are they alike?

Into the Promised Land

Numbers 15-36

1. What was done with the man who broke the Sabbath? (15:32-36)

2. What is the difference between a presumptuous sin and an unintentional sin? (15:22-31)

3. Who led the rebellion against Moses and Aaron? (16:1-3)

4. What happened to Korah? (16:31-32)

5. How did Aaron stop the plague? (16:46-50):

6. How many died in the Plague?

7. How did God propose to settle the matter of leadership in Israel once and for all? (17:1-6)

8. Whose rod blossomed? (17:8)

9. What did God tell Moses to do to get water from the Rock? (20:8)

10. What did Moses do instead? (20:11)

11. What was his punishment for disobeying? (20:12)

12. What sin was Moses guilty of? (20:12)

13. Where did Aaron die? (20:22-29)

14. What did God do when the people complained again? (21:4-6)

15. When Moses prayed for the people, what did God tell him to do to save those bitten
by the fiery serpents? (21:7-8)

16. What did God tell Balaam? (22:12)

17. What happened when Balaam went with the men? (22:22-34)

18. What did Balaam do instead of curse Israel? (24:10)

19. How many times?

20. How many died when Israel was immoral with the Moabite women? (25:9)

21. Who did Moses appoint to take his place as leader of Israel? (25:18-20)

22. What was Joseph's last request? (50:25)

Israel gets a King

1 Samuel

1. Whom did Samuel appoint as judges over Israel? (8:1-4)

2. Why was this a problem?

3. How did the people want to solve the problem?

4. Who did God say they were rejecting?  and Why did He say that? (8:7-8)

5. What did Saul look like? (9:1-2)

6. Who did he tell Saul to look for at the Philistine Garrison? (10:2-8)

7. Summarize what Samuel told them at Mizpah. (10:17-20)

8. Was Saul there and eager to take his place as King? (10:21-24) Explain:

9. Read Samuel's sermon at Saul's Coronation. (12:1-15)

10. Does he rebuke them or comfort them?

11. What sign did Samuel call for and God deliver? (12:16-18)

12. What foolish thing did Saul do? Why? (13:1-15)

13. What was Saul's punishment? (13:13-14)

14. Why were there no weapons in Israel? (13:16-22)

15. Compare the Saul in 11:12-13 to the one described in 14:24-44?

16. Who saved Jonathan? (14:45)

17. Saul let the power of his position go to his head. He became self-reliant instead of
      reliant on God. Are you ever that way?

18. What could Saul have done to help him keep his heart right?

 

Miscellaneous Other Studies

This section contains Bible studies that do not easily fit into the other categories. Each study contains one topic and includes questions to lead the searcher in his/her examination of the subject it covers. There are no leader guides, or answer sheets as many of the questions require the individual to consider and explain their own thoughts about certain people, situations, doctrines, or occurrences in the passage. These studies assume a moderate amount of personal Biblical knowledge.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

1. What does Jesus say about this topic in these three passages?

A. Matthew 12:31-32

B. Mark 3:28-29

C. Luke 12:10

2. What is Blasphemy?

A. The word "blasphemy" is simply a transliteration of the Greek word blasphemia, which is derived from two different Greek words:

1. blapto = "to injure, harm; hinder," and

2. pheme = "to speak; a saying; a rumor."

B. Paul describes himself this way: "I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and
    a violent aggressor" (1 Tim. 1:13). Had Paul committed the unforgivable sin?

C. Who had he blasphemed?. (Acts 26:11).

D. Paul told King Agrippa, "I tried to force them to blaspheme" (vs. 11). Why?

3. Are there individuals guilty of blasphemy today? What do these verses say?

A. 1 Tim. 1:20

B. Col. 3:8-10

C. 2 Tim. 3:1-5

4. Blasphemy against God:

A. Men have blasphemed throughout the centuries.

1. Rom. 2:24

2. Rev. 13:6

3. 1 Tim. 6:1

B. Men have blasphemed Jesus [Matt. 27:39]

C. Men have blasphemed the Word of God [Titus 2:5 ]

5. Forgiveness for blasphemy:

A. What does Jesus say about forgiveness for these blasphemies? Matt. 12:31;
    Mark 3:28

6. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:

A. What happened:

1. Matthew 12:22ff [John 3:2]

B. Is it some specific words uttered out loud against the Holy Spirit?

1. Matt. 15:18-19

7. Some say that the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be committed today.

A. Why would they say this?

B. Do you agree?

8. Other Scriptures:

A. Acts 7:51 What were these people always doing?

B. Hebrews 6:4-8

C. What does it mean that those have "insulted the Spirit of grace" (Hb.10:29).

9. The scriptures mention five sins against the Holy Spirit, what are they?

New Testament

Following are Bible Study notes and outlines of all books of the New Testament. They're organized according to the order of books in the King James Version of the Bible. We plan to add new studies as they are finished.

The Gospels

The gospels consist of four narratives of the life of Jesus Christ told from different perspectives for different audiences. Matthew is a very Jewish gospel and presents Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies. Mark, the shortest of the gospels, says more about the kingdom than any other gospel. Luke addresses his gospel to a gentile dignitary and states that his purpose is to tell the gospel story chronologically. The last gospel, John is very different from the other three including many unique stories and spends almost half of his time on the last week before Jesus' crucifixion.

Matthew

This Section contains an Overview, Historical Information, Audio, Outlines and Studies on the Gospel of Matthew

Overview

Author

Matthew

Date
Written

Between AD 50 and 70

Time Span

About 37 years (4 BC-AD 33)

Title

From the book's author: Matthew

Background

The Old Testament ended
with the prophets of God predicting the coming of the Anointed One,
who would enter history to bring redemption and deliverance to His
people. Some 400 years later, the New Testament begins with the book
of Matthew revealing the fulfillment of these prophecies in Jesus
Christ, the long?awaited Messiah. Matthew, a Jewish tax collector for
the Roman government, is called by Jesus to become one of the Twelve
Apostles. Thus, his Gospel often gives an eyewitness account.

Where
Written

Possibly at Antioch

To Whom

Primarily to Jews, but
also to Gentiles who have become Christians

Content

Matthew's Gospel provides
the vital link between the Old and New Testaments. Matthew begins by
tracing the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph; the birth of Jesus to
the virgin Mary; the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist; and
Satan's temptation of Jesus while in the wilderness. Jesus speaks
more in Matthew than in the other Gospels, and his teaching
discourses include: the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), sending
out the Twelve (chapter 10); parables of the Kingdom (chapter 13);
fellowship of the Kingdom (chapter 18). During Jesus' final week, His
betrayal, trial, crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection take place.
Matthew concludes with the call of the Great Commission to all believers.

Themes

  1. Jesus came to save both
    the Jews and the Gentiles.

  2. There is one true
    God, but with the essence of 3.
  3. The standards of God
    are high, but the example of Jesus is perfect.
  4. Christ is sufficient
    for whatever need we might have.
  5. The ways of God are
    infinitely higher than the ways of the world.
  6. Jesus willingly laid
    down His life to redeem a sinful world.

Key
Words

“Fulfillment”,
“Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew quotes from almost every book
of the Old Testament to solidify further the claim that indeed Jesus
is the “fulfillment” of the promised Messiah, the Savior of
the world. The term “Kingdom of Heaven” is used repeatedly
by Matthew to introduce the Good News that God is present in Christ
and lives to reign in men's lives. This term appears nowhere else in
the New Testament.

Outline

1:1-2:23

Jesus' birth and infancy

3:1- 4:25

The preparation and beginnings of Jesus' ministry

5:1- 7:29

The Sermon on the Mount

8:1- 9:34

Jesus' ministry of miracles

9:35-11:1

Jesus' sending out the Twelve

11:2-25:46

The continuation of Jesus' ministry with claims and parables

26:1-27:56

Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion

27:57-28:20

Jesus' Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension

More

Extensive Outline

Chapter 1

  • The genealogy of Jesus Christ - 1
  • The birth of Christ - 18

Chapter 2

  • Wise men from the east - 1
  • The flight to Egypt - 13
  • Massacre of the male children - 16
  • New home in Nazareth - 19

Chapter 3

  • John the Baptist prepares the way - 1
  • John baptizes Jesus - 13

Chapter 4

  • Jesus tempted by satan - 1
  • Jesus begins His Galilean ministry - 12
  • Four fishermen called as disciples - 18
  • Jesus heals a great multitude - 23

Chapter 5

  • The Blesseds - 1
  • Believers are salt and light - 13
  • Christ fulfills the law - 17
  • Murder begins in the heart - 21
  • Adultery in the heart - 27
  • Jesus forbids oaths - 33
  • Turn the other cheek - 38
  • Love your enemies - 43

Chapter 6

  • Do good in secret to please God - 1
  • This is how you should pray - 5
  • Fasting should be seen only by God - 16
  • Lay up treasures in heaven - 19
  • The lamp of the body - 22
  • You cannot serve God and money - 24
  • Do not worry - 25

Chapter 7

  • Judge not - 1
  • Ask, seek, knock - 7
  • The narrow way - 13
  • You will know them by their fruits - 15
  • I never knew you - 21
  • Build on the Rock - 24

Chapter 8

  • Jesus cleanses a leper - 1
  • Jesus heals a Centurion's servant - 5
  • Peter's mother-in-law healed - 14
  • Many healed after Sabbath sunset - 16
  • The cost of discipleship - 18
  • The wind and waves obey Jesus - 23
  • Demon-possessed men healed - 28

Chapter 9

  • Jesus forgives and heals a paralytic - 1
  • Mathew the tax collector - 9
  • Jesus questioned about fasting - 14
  • A girl restored to life and a woman healed - 18
  • Two blind men healed - 27
  • A mute man speaks - 32
  • The compassion of Jesus - 35

Chapter 10

  • The twelve Apostles - 1
  • Sending out the twelve - 5
  • The coming persecutions - 16
  • Jesus teaches the fear of God - 27
  • Confess Christ before men - 32
  • Christ brings division - 34
  • Rewards for receiving Christ - 40

Chapter 11

  • John the Baptist sends messengers to Jesus - 1
  • Woe to cities that do not repent - 20
  • Jesus gives true rest - 25

Chapter 12

  • Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath - 1
  • Healing on the Sabbath - 9
  • Behold, My Servant - 15
  • A house divided cannot stand - 22
  • The unforgivable sin - 31
  • A tree is known by its fruit - 33
  • The Scribes and Pharisees ask for a sign - 38
  • An unclean spirit returns - 43
  • Jesus' mother and brothers send for Him - 46

Chapter 13

  • The parable of the sower - 1
  • The purpose of parables - 10
  • The parable of the sower explained - 18
  • The parable of the wheat and tares - 24
  • The parable of the mustard seed - 31
  • The parable of the leaven - 33
  • The parable of the tares explained - 36
  • The parable of the hidden treasure - 44
  • The parable of the pearl of great price - 45
  • The parable of the dragnet - 47
  • Jesus rejected at Nazareth - 53

Chapter 14

  • John the Baptist beheaded - 1
  • Feeding over 5,000 - 13
  • Jesus walks on the sea - 22
  • Many touch Him and are made well - 34

Chapter 15

  • Defilement comes from within - 1
  • A Gentile woman shows her faith - 21
  • Jesus heals great multitudes - 29
  • Feeding over 4,000 - 32

Chapter 16

  • The Pharisees and Sadducees seek a sign - 1
  • The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees - 5
  • Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ - 13
  • Jesus predicts His death and resurrection - 21
  • Take up the cross and follow Him - 24

Chapter 17

  • Jesus transfigured on the mount - 1
  • Epileptic boy healed - 14
  • Jesus again predicts His death and resurrection - 22
  • Peter and his Master pay the temple tax - 24

Chapter 18

  • Who is the greatest? - 1
  • Jesus warns of offenses - 6
  • The parable of the lost sheep - 10
  • Dealing with a sinning brother - 15
  • The parable of the unforgiving servant - 21

Chapter 19

  • Marriage, divorce and celibacy - 1
  • Jesus blesses little children - 13
  • Jesus counsels the rich young ruler - 16
  • With God all things are possible - 23

Chapter 20

  • The parable of the workers in the vineyard - 1
  • Jesus a third time predicts his death and resurrection - 17
  • Greatness is serving - 20
  • Two blind men receive their sight - 29

Chapter 21

  • The multitudes praise Him - 1
  • Jesus drives the money changers from the temple - 12
  • A fig tree is withered - 18
  • Jesus' authority questioned - 23
  • The parable of the two sons - 28
  • The parable of the wicked vinedressers - 33

Chapter 22

  • The parable of the wedding feast - 1
  • Pharisees test Jesus regarding taxes - 15
  • Sadducees question Him about the resurrection - 23
  • Scribes ask Him for the greatest commandment - 34
  • Jesus silences them all with a question - 41

Chapter 23

  • Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees - 1
  • Jesus laments over Jerusalem - 37

Chapter 24

  • Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple - 1
  • The signs of the times and the end of the age - 3
  • The great tribulation - 15
  • The coming of the Son of Man - 29
  • The parable of the fig tree - 32
  • No one knows the day or the hour - 36
  • The faithful servant and the evil servant - 45

Chapter 25

  • The parable of the wise and foolish virgins - 1
  • The parable of the talents - 14
  • The Son of Man will judge the nations - 31

Chapter 26

  • The plot to kill Jesus - 1
  • The anointing at Bethany - 6
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus - 14
  • Jesus celebrates passover with His disciples - 17
  • Jesus institutes the Lord's Supper - 26
  • Jesus predicts Peter's denial - 31
  • The prayer in the Garden - 36
  • Betrayal and arrest in Gethsemane - 47
  • Jesus faces the Sanhedrin - 57
  • Peter denies Jesus - 69

Chapter 27

  • Jesus handed over to Pilate - 1
  • Judas hangs himself - 3
  • Jesus faces Pilate - 11
  • Taking the place of Barabbas - 15
  • The soldiers mock Jesus - 27
  • The King on a cross - 32
  • The death of Jesus - 45
  • Jesus buried in Joseph's tomb - 57
  • Pilate sets a guard - 62

Chapter 28

  • He is risen! - 1
  • The soldiers are bribed - 11
  • The great commission - 18

Mark

This Section contains an Overview, Historical Information, Audio, Outlines and Studies on the Gospel of Mark

Overview

Author

Mark

Date
Written

Between AD 50 and 70. About 31/2 years (AD 29 ? 33)

Time Span

About 3½ years (AD 29-33)

Title

From the book's author: Mark

Background

A book of action focusing more on Jesus deeds than on His words, Mark
is the shortest of the 4 Gospels. It is generally accepted that the
preaching of Peter, a companion of Mark, is the source of most of
this Gospel's material. Mark also spends time with Paul and Barnabas
when he returns with them from Jerusalem to Antioch on their first
missionary journey. Mark leaves early, however, and returns to
Jerusalem. After this, Barnabas wants to bring Mark, his cousin, on
the second missionary journey. But Paul disagrees and leaves instead
with Silas. Mark later becomes a close friend and helper of Paul.

Where
Written

Rome (possibly while Peter and Mark are in prison).

To Whom

Generally to all Gentiles, but primarily?to the Romans.

Content

The Gospel according to Mark vividly portrays Jesus teaching,
healing, and ministering to the needs of others. Jesus is the perfect
example and the perfect sacrifice for people of all time. His public
ministry includes exhibits of His divine power over disease, nature,
demons, and even death. These miracles also reveal Christ's
compassion for a hurting world. However, opposition and hostility
grow against Jesus from the chief priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees.
Finally, Jesus willingly allows His arrest and crucifixion to take
place. But His Resurrection seals the ultimate victory for all who
trust Him to save them.

Themes

  1. Jesus is concerned about every aspect of our lives.

  2. Christ's actions paralleled His words, and so must ours.
  3. Christ's death on the cross paid the price for each of our sins
    if we obey Him.
  4. God loves absolutely everyone.
  5. Even as Christ came to serve us, so must we also serve others.

Key
Words

“Servant”; “Immediately.” The ministry of Jesus
Christ centers around His being a “servant” to all giving
His life as a ransom for many. Mark's Gospel uses the term
“immediately” many times to emphasize the importance and
urgency of believing in God's Son!

Outline

1:1- 1:13

The beginning of Jesus Christ's ministry.

1:14-8:26

Jesus' ministry of healing and teaching.

8:21-13:37

Jesus' instruction of His disciples.

14:1-15:41

Jesus' betrayal, trial, and crucifixion.

15:42-16:20

Jesus' burial and Resurrection.

More

Extensive Outline

Chapter 1

    * John the Baptist prepares the way - 1
    * John baptizes Jesus - 9
    * Satan tempts Jesus - 12
    * Jesus begins preaching in Galilee - 14
    * Four fishermen called as disciiples - 16
    * Jesus casts out an unclean spirit - 21
    * Peter's mother-in-law healed - 29
    * Many healed after Sabbath sunset - 32
    * Jesus continues preaching in Galilee - 35
    * Jesus cleanses a leper - 40

Chapter 2

    * Jesus forgives and heals a paralytic - 1
    * Matthew the tax collector - 13
    * Jesus questioned about fasting - 18
    * Jesus is Lord of the sabbath - 23

Chapter 3

    * Healing on the sabbath - 1
    * A great multitude follows Jesus - 7
    * The twelve apostles - 13
    * A house divided cannot stand - 20
    * The unpardonable sin - 28
    * Jesus' mother and brothers send for Him - 31

Chapter 4

    * The parable of the sower - 1
    * The purpose of parables - 10
    * The parable of the sower explained - 13
    * A lamp under a basket - 21
    * The parable of the growing seed - 26
    * The parable of the mustard seed - 30
    * The winds and waves obey Him - 35

Chapter 5

    * A demon-possessed man healed - 1
    * A girl restored to life and a woman healed - 21

Chapter 6

    * Jesus rejected at Nazareth - 1
    * Sending out the twelve - 7
    * John the Baptist beheaded - 14
    * Feeding the 5,000 - 30
    * Jesus walks on the sea - 45
    * Many touch Him and are made well - 53

Chapter 7

    * Defilement comes from within - 1
    * A Gentile woman shows her faith - 24
    * Jesus heals a deaf and mute man - 31

Chapter 8

    * Feeding the 4,000 - 1
    * The Pharisees seek a sign - 11
    * Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod - 13
    * A blind man healed at Bethsaida - 22
    * Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ - 27
    * Jesus predicts His death and resurrection - 31
    * Take up the cross and follow Him - 34

Chapter 9

    * Jesus transfigured on the mount - 1
    * A boy is healed - 14
    * Jesus again predicts His death and resurrection - 30
    * Who will be the greatest? - 33
    * He who is not against us is on our side - 38
    * Jesus warns of offenses - 42
    * Tasteless salt is worthless - 49

Chapter 10

    * Marriage and divorce - 1
    * Jesus blesses little children - 13
    * Jesus counsels the rich young ruler - 17
    * With God all things are possible - 23
    * Jesus predicts His death and resurrection a 3rd time - 32
    * Whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all - 35
    * Jesus heals Blind Bartimaeus - 46

Chapter 11

    * The multitudes praise Him - 1
    * A fig tree is withered - 12
    * Jesus drives out the merchants from the temple - 15
    * The lesson of the withered fig tree - 20
    * Forgiveness and prayer - 25
    * The authority of Jesus is questioned - 27

Chapter 12

    * The parable of the wicked vinedressers - 1
    * Pharisees test Jesus regarding taxes - 13
    * Sadducees question Him about the resurrection - 18
    * Scribes ask Him for the first commandment - 28
    * Jesus asks "How can David call his descendant Lord?" - 35
    * Beware of the scribes - 38
    * A widow gives all she has - 41

Chapter 13

    * Jesus predicts great destruction - 1
    * The signs of the times and the end of the age - 3
    * The great tribulation - 14
    * The coming of the Son of Man - 24
    * The parable of the fig tree - 28
    * No one but the Father knows the day or hour - 32

Chapter 14

    * The plot to kill Jesus - 1
    * The anointing at Bethany - 3
    * Judas agrees to betray Him - 10
    * Jesus celebrates the Passover with His disciples - 12
    * Jesus institutes the Lord's Supper - 22
    * Jesus predicts Peter's denial - 27
    * The prayer at Gethsemane - 32
    * The betrayal and arrest of Jesus - 43
    * A young man flees naked - 51
    * Jesus faces the Sanhedrin - 53
    * Peter denies Him and weeps - 66

Chapter 15

    * Jesus faces Pilate - 1
    * Taking the place of Barabbas - 6
    * Soldiers mock Him - 16
    * The King on a cross - 21
    * The death of Jesus - 33
    * Jesus buried in Joseph's tomb - 42

Chapter 16

    * He is Risen! - 1
    * Mary Magdalene sees the risen Lord - 9
    * Jesus appears to two disciples then the rest - 12
    * The Great Commission - 15
    * Christ ascends to God's right hand - 19

Luke

This Section contains an Overview, Historical Information, Audio, Outlines and Studies on the Gospel of Luke

John

This Section contains an Overview, Historical Information, Audio, Outlines and Studies on the Gospel of Luke

Acts

Following are Bible Study notes and outlines of Acts. They're organized from the general to the specific.  We will continue to add new studies as they are finished.

Acts - Book Outline

Acts of the Apostles


  
 

"…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Acts 1:8

 

Witnesses in Jerusalem

(1:1­8:4)

  1. The Power of the Church 1:1 -­ 2:47
    1. Introduction 1:1,2
    2. Christ's Resurrection Appearance1:3­8
    3. Christ's Ascension 1:9­-11
    4. Return to Jerusalem1:12­-14
    5. Matthias Appointed 1:15­-26
    6. Baptism of the Holy Spirit 2:1­4
    7. Speaking with Other Tongues 2:5­13
    8. The first gospel Sermon 2:14­-41
    9. The first days of the Church 2:42­-47
  2. The Growth of the Church 3:1 -­ 8:4
    1. Peter Heals the Lame Man 3:1-­11
    2. Peter's Second Sermon 3:12­-26
    3. Peter and John Are Arrested 4:1­4
    4. Peter before the Sanhedrin 4:5­-12
    5. Sanhedrin Commands them not to Preach 4:13-­22
    6. Apostles' Pray for Boldness 4:23-­31
    7. Early Church Voluntarily Shares 4:32­-37
    8. Ananias and Sapphira Lie 5:1-­11
    9. Apostles' Mighty Miracles 5:12-­16
    10. Apostles' are persecuted 5:17­-42
    11. First Deacons Appointed 6:1­8
    12. Stephen is Arrested
    13. Stephen's Sermon 7:1 ­ 7:53
    14. Stephen is Stoned 7:54-7:60
    15. Saul Persecutes the Church 8:1­4

Witnesses in Judea and Samaria

(8:5-12:25)

  1. The Witness of Philip 8:5-­40
    1. Philip Witnesses to the Samaritans 8:5­-25
    2. Philip Witnesses to the Ethiopian Treasurer 8:26-­40
  2. The Conversion of Saul 9:1­-31
    1. Saul See's Christ and is Blinded 9:1­9
    2. Ananias sent to Saul 9:10­-16
    3. Saul Healed and Baptized 9:17-19
    4. Saul Preaches at Damascus 9:20­-22
    5. Saul in Jerusalem 9:23­-31
  3. The Witness of Peter 9:32­ - 11:18
    1. Peter Heals Aeneas at Lydda 9:32­-35
    2. Peter Raises Dorcas at Joppa 9:36-­43
    3. Peter Preaches to Cornelius at Caesarea 10:1-11:18
  4. The Growth of the Early Church 11:19-12:25
    1. The Antioch Church 11:19­-30
    2. The Persecution by Herod 12:1­-25

Witnesses to the End of the Earth

(13:1-28:31)

  1. The First Missionary Journey 13:1 ­- 14:28
    1. Barnabas and Saul Are Sent from Antioch 13:1­3
    2. Cyprus 13:4­-13
    3. Antioch 13:14-­50
    4. Iconium 13:51 -­ 14:5
    5. Lystra 14:6­-20
    6. The Return Trip 14:21­-25
    7. Report on the First Missionary Journey 14:26­-28
  2. The Jerusalem Council 15:1­-35
    1. Debate over Gentiles Keeping the Law 15:1­5
    2. Peter Preaches 15:6-­11
    3. Paul and Barnabas Testify 15:12
    4. James Proves Gentiles Are Free from the Law 15:13-­21
    5. The Council Sends an Official Letter 15:22-­29
    6. Report to Antioch 15:30­-35
  3. The Second Missionary Journey 15:36-18:22
    1. Contention over John Mark 15:36­-41
    2. Derbe and Lystra 16:1­5
    3. Troas 16:6-­10
    4. Philippi 16: 11-­40
    5. Thessalonica 17:1­9
    6. Berea 17:10­-15
    7. Athens 17:16­-34
    8. Corinth 18:1-­17
    9. Return Trip to Antioch 18:18­-22
  4. The Third Missionary Journey 18:23-21:16
    1. Galatia and Phrygia 18:23
    2. Ephesus 18:24-19:41
    3. Macedonia 20:1­5
    4. Troas 20:6­-12
    5. Miletus 20:13-­38
    6. Tyre 21:1­6
    7. Caesarea 21:7-­16
  5. Paul Under Civil Authority 21:17-28:31
    1. Paul in Jerusalem 21:17-23:33
    2. Paul in Caesarea 23:34-26:32
    3. Paul in Rome 27:1-­28:31

 
 


Acts in Summary
Witness To: People Preacher Location Time Reference
Jerusalem Jews Peter Jerusalem 2 Years 
(A.D. 33­35)
1:1-8:4
Judea And Samaria Samaritans Philip Judea And Samaria 13 Years 
(A.D. 35­48)
8:5-12:25
The World Gentiles Paul World 14 Years 
(A.D. 48­62)
13:1-28:31

 


Historical Information on Acts

Acts of the Apostles


History and Background Information

This is the second of a two volume set of Luke's writings, it's companion volume being the Gospel of Luke. At the end of the gospel of Luke Jesus says "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." In this sequel, we see the fulfillment of Christ's words as the apostles carry the gospel to the world.


  1. Introduction:
    1. Luke has the distinction of being the only Gospel writer to produce a sequel to his book on the life and ministry of Jesus.
    2. It appears that Luke set out to show in two volumes how redemption came to mankind.
      1. Volume I relates the coming of a Redeemer who died for our sins, rose in triumph, and looked to the time when all men would share in salvation. Luke 24:46­47.
      2. Volume II takes up the narrative at that point and shows how the gospel went from Jerusalem to Rome in approximately 30 years.
      3. The Gospel he wrote tells about the things "Jesus began both to do and to teach. " Acts 1:1.
      4. Acts tells what he brought about through the Holy Spirit's continuation of his work. Acts 1:8; cf. John 16:13.
    3. Luke wrote well over one­fourth of the entire New Testament.
    4. The Acts of the Apostles is a crucial part of Holy Scripture.
      1. It tells of the establishment of the church.
      2. It describes the growth (amid frequent perils) of the church and records the gospel's amazing spread through the Roman Empire.
      3. It gives inspiring accounts of great persons who loved not their lives unto death..
  2. Background to the Acts of the Apostles.
    1. The author:
      1. Luke was not an eyewitness to the life of Christ (Luke 1:14), but he was a participant in many of the events of Acts (Acts 16: 10­ 17; 20:5­21:18; 27:1­28:16).
      2. He was with Paul at Rome during the imprisonment with which Acts closes. Acts 28:30­31; cf. Col.4: 14; Phile.24.
    2. When was Acts written?
      1. Acts closes abruptly with Paul under house arrest at Rome, waiting the outcome of his appeal to Caesar.
      2. The most reasonable explanation for the book's leaving us in the dark as to the outcome of the appeal is that the case had not yet been decided when Luke wrote.
      3. Paul and his company arrived at Rome in the spring of A.D. 60 and stayed there "two whole years" before going to trial. Acts 28:30.
      4. Thus Acts must have been written sometime in A.D. 62, just before Paul's trial and release.
      5. Note: Tradition tells us that Paul undertook additional missionary labors following his release, perhaps in Spain. Cf. Rom.15:24­28.
    3. The title of this book: The Acts of the Apostles.
      1. The book title's are not inspired.
      2. The book certainly does not tell all the acts of all the apostles; it doesn't even relate some of the acts of all of the apostles.
      3. Some have suggested that a better title might be the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Additional Background to the Acts of the Apostles.
    1. Luke was a physician (Col.4:14), and his medical background and interests seem to appear at times.
      1. He uses medical terms ("convulsed" (thrown down, ASV) and "examine" (look upon, ASV) in Luke 4:35 and 9:38.)
      2. In Jesus' saying about the camel and the needle's eye, Luke uses the technical term for a surgeon's needle; Matthew and Mark use another word which refers to a needle of whatever variety. Luke 18:25; cf. Matt.19:24; Mark 10:25.
      3. Saul did not merely have his sight restored, but "there fell from his eyes as it were scales"; he then "took food and was strengthened." Acts 9:18­19.
      4. Publius' father "lay sick of fever and dysentery." Acts 28:8.
    2. Why did Luke write?
      1. He saw the need to commit to writing an accurate account of the beginning and spread of Christianity. Cf. Luke 1: 1­4.
      2. It chronicles the triumph of the gospel over the hearts of men in a hostile world. Acts 2:47b; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:30­31.
  4. The Message of the Book of Acts.
    1. Acts is designed to trace the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Antioch to Rome.
    2. A simple outline of the book can be formulated on the basis of Jesus' statement at Acts 1:8.
      1. In Jerusalem. Acts 1:1­8:3.
      2. In Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:4­11 :18.
      3. In the uttermost parts of the world. Acts 11:19­28:31.
    3. As he was moved by the Holy Spirit, Luke showed how the purpose of God to save mankind was being worked out in human history.
    4. Its spread throughout the larger Roman Empire mainly through the efforts of Paul.
      1. Paul always began his preaching in each city among its Jewish population. Acts 13:5,14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:1,10,17; 18:4; 19:8; 28:17.
      2. Rejection by the Jews led to preaching among the Gentiles. Cf. Acts 13:46.
  5. Major Themes and/or Issues in the Book of Acts.
    1. The reliability of Luke as an historian.
      1. In the last century, critical thought generally held that Acts was a second­century document from a third­rate historian.
      2. Recent research in geography, archaeology, and history have so thoroughly vindicated Acts' trustworthiness as a document from the first century that such criticisms now appear absurd.
      3. Sir William Ramsay was trained in and accepted the German critical theories; when he actually began archaeological work in Asia Minor, he was forced to abandon the attitude he had learned toward Acts and eventually became one of the most ardent defenders of Luke's reliability. Cf. Ramsay's The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (1915).
      4. Acts reflects details that only a first­century author who was personally familiar with them could have related.
      5. Luke knew, for example, that . . .
        1. Cyprus, Achaia, and Asia were senatorial provinces governed by proconsuls. Acts 13:7; 18:12; 19:38.
        2. The chief magistrates of Thessalonica were called ''politarchs." Acts 17:6,8.
        3. The leading men of Ephesus were "Asiarchs." Acts 19:31.
        4. Laws and customs of the Roman world conformed to patterns that we have only recently been able to corroborate independently.
      6. Luke is now known to display a minute accuracy of detail which is unsurpassed in ancient literature.
    2. Some special features of Acts.
      1. The geography of the book involves three key cities.
        1. Jerusalem is the base for the church's evangelistic activity among the Jews for the first 12 chapters.
        2. Antioch is the center of activity among the Gentiles in chapters 13­21.
        3. Rome is the city of Paul's evangelistic enterprise as the book comes to a close.
      2. In terms of central personalities, Peter and Paul dominate respective halves of the book.
        1. Peter, apostle to the circumcision, is the central figure of the first 12 chapters; Paul, apostle to the uncircumcision, is the principle of the remainder.
        2. Even the miracles they performed in confirmation of their apostleship are recorded in parallel: healing lame men (3:2ff; 14:8ff), "miracles of harm" (5:1ff; 13:6ff), healings through secondary means (5:15; 19:12), casting out demons (5:16; 16:18), confronting sorcerers (8:18ff; 13:6ff), and raising the dead (9:36ff; 20:9ff).
      3. The activity of the Holy Spirit is given great notice in Acts.
        1. The outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost is in many ways the central event of the book. Acts 1:4­5; 2:1­13.
        2. The message preached and the signs performed in its confirmation are all attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit.
    3. The early expansion of the church.
      1. In the earliest days of the church, the church was confined to Jerusalem.
      2. The persecution of Christians following Stephen's martyrdom led to evangelization in the areas of Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1ff.
        1. Philip preached in Samaria. Acts 8:4­25.
        2. He converted an Ethiopian. Acts 8:26­39.
        3. He preached in the Gentile city of Caesarea. Acts 8:40.
      3. The first recorded instance of Gentile conversion is Peter's experience with Cornelius. Acts 10.
        1. This met with objections. Acts 11:1­3 I:
        2. As a result, however, the right of Gentiles to hear the gospel was affirmed. Acts 11:4­18.
      4. Near the time of Cornelius' conversion (A.D. 40?), the gospel came to Antioch.
        1. Preaching was first  to the Jews. Acts 11:19.
        2. An outreach was begun among the Gentiles. Acts 11:20­21.
      5. Antioch of Syria  now becomes the center of activity in the book.
    4. The missionary tours of Paul.
      1. The church at Antioch was founded by fugitives from Saul's persecution at Jerusalem. Acts 11:19.
        1. Many Gentiles were converted in this city. Acts 11 :20­21.
        2. The brethren at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to look into this unusual situation. Acts 11:22­24.
      2. Barnabas decided to seek the help of Saul in building up the church at Antioch. Acts 11 :25­26.
        1. He had shown confidence in Saul earlier, shortly after his conversion. Acts 9:26­27.
        2. Now he would bring him into a situation where the Lord's providence was to give an opportunity for the greatest missionary efforts in all history.
        3. Note: This is about ten years after Saul's conversion, and we do not know what was happening in his life during that time. Cf. Gal.1: 15­24.
      3. Three great missionary tours were sponsored from Antioch.
        1. The first tour covered the years AD 46­47 (Acts 12:25­14:28) and was followed by a conference at Jerusalem which debated the matter of Gentile obligations to the law (Acts 15:1­35).
        2. The second tour began in A.D. 48 and extended into late 51 or early 52 (Acts 15:36­18:22); the gospel was carried to Europe (Macedonia) and Greece.
        3. The third tour began in A.D. 52 and ended with Paul's arrest at Jerusalem in 57 (Acts 18:23­21:16); Paul's extended work at Ephesus for about three years was done in connection with this tour.
        4. Of course these dates are merely the best estimates available.
      4. The remainder of Paul's career in Acts is spent as a prisoner at Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome.
      5. Tradition relates a fourth missionary tour into the West (possibly as far as Spain) following his release from prison in Rome.
    5. The conversions in Acts.
      1. Acts has accounts of both conversions and non­conversions in its pages.
      2. General reactions to the preaching of the gospel in Acts may be summarized with Acts 17:32­34.
        1. Some mocked. Cf. Acts 26:24.
        2. Some listened out of politeness or curiosity. Cf. Acts 17:21; 24:24.
        3. Some believed. cf. Acts 18:8
      3. Paul's comments on human reaction to the gospel are recorded in 1 Cor. l: 18ff.
      4. The faithful preaching of the truth produces the same reactions today.
  6. Overview Guide to the Book of Acts.
    1. The gospel is preached in Jerusalem. Acts 1:1 ­8:3.
      1. Luke begins his second book with the same event that closed his first, the ascension (1:1­11). As the apostles waited in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, Matthias was appointed to replace Judas (1: 12­26).
      2. On the first Pentecost following the resurrection, Jesus' promise about the Spirit was fulfilled (2:1­13) and the message of the gospel began to be preached (2:14­41). This resulted in the establishment of the church (2:42­47). The second sermon of the book followed the healing of a lame man (3:1­10), which provided Peter with an audience (3:11­26). This episode created opposition with the Jewish authorities (4:1­22) and forced the early believers into an even closer fellowship (4:23­37).
      3. The first internal problem to threaten the church involved Ananias and Sapphira's sin (5:1­11). The apostles' ministry continued to be fruitful (5:12­16) and stirred up more intense opposition from the Jews (5:17­42). A second internal problem was resolved by the appointment of seven deacons (6:1­7). This section closes with an account of Stephen's preaching (6:8­10), his defense before the Sanhedrin (6.11­7:53), his martyrdom (7:54­8:1a), and the resulting persecution of other believers (8:1b­3).
    2. The gospel spreads to Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:4­11:18.
      1. The scattering of saints from the city resulted in the evangelization of Samaria (8:4­25). Luke tells next of the conversion of the Ethiopian treasurer (8:26­40) and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (9:1­31).
      2. Attention now focuses on the work of Peter. Luke tells of his healing of Aeneas (9:32­35) and raising Dorcas from the dead (9:36­43). The conversion of Cornelius is related (10:1­48), along with a resort of that event to the brethren at Jerusalem (11: 1­18).
    3. The gospel is preached throughout the world. Acts 11:19­28:31.
      1. The record of Acts shifts to the evangelization which had spread as far as Antioch in Syria and the joint ministry of Barnabas and Saul in that city (I }:19­30).
      2. Contemporary with the work at Antioch, James was murdered in Palestine by Herod Agrippa I (12:1­4), Peter was imprisoned and then released miraculously (12:5­ 19), and Herod died a tragic death (12:20­25).
      3. The remainder of Acts focuses on Paul's missionary tours and imprisonments. Beginning from Antioch in Syria (13:1­3), Paul and Barnabas preached Christ at Cyprus (13:4­12), Antioch of Pisidia (13:13­52), Iconium (14:1­7), and Lystra (14:8­18); from Lystra, where Paul was stoned and left for dead (14:19­20), they retraced their travel route and returned to Antioch (14:21­28).
      4. The preaching done among Gentiles on the first tour caused some Jews to protest the mission (15:1­5). The matter was debated (15:6­12), decided by revelation (15:13­21), and communicated to the brethren at Antioch (15:22­35). With this issue resolved, the second tour began. Paul and Barnabas separated company (15:36­39), and Paul selected Silas as his new working partner (15:40). Working in Asia Minor (15:41­16:5), Paul saw a vision of a man of Macedonia (16:6­10). Entering Macedonia, he preached at Philippi (16:11­40), Thessalonica (17:1­9), and Berea (17:10­15). Moving on into Greece, the gospel was preached next at Athens (17:16­34) and Corinth (18:1­17). This tour ended with the return to Antioch (18:18­22).
      5. Beginning the third tour by traveling through Galatia and Phrygia (18:23), Paul came to Ephesus and stayed longer than at any other place during his missionary tours (18:24­19:41). He revisited the churches of Macedonia and Greece (20:1­16) and at Miletus called the elders from Ephesus to himself in order to warn of false teachers (20:17­38). The group then sailed for Caesarea (21:1­14) and went on to Jerusalem (21:15­16). The third tour was at its end.
      6. In Jerusalem, Paul took a vow of ceremonial purity (21: 17­26). A riot stirred up by unbelieving Jews resulted in his arrest (21 :27­36), a public defense (21:37­22:29), and a hearing before the Sanhedrin (22:30­23:11). Because of a plot on his life, the Romans transferred him from Jerusalem to Caesarea (23:12­35). There he spent two years in prison under the procurator Felix (24:1­27). When Festus replaced him as procurator, Paul appealed for a hearing before Caesar (25:1­12). Festus asked Herod Agrippa II to help him in stating a formal charge to Caesar about Paul (25:13­27), and Paul was allowed to make a defense before Agrippa (26:1­32).
      7. In the course of his voyage to Rome (27:1­26), Paul and the company with him were shipwrecked (27:27­44) and landed at Malta (28:1­10). Three months later, the trip resumed, and Paul reached Rome (28: 11­16). He was kept under house arrest there and afforded the freedom to teach the gospel to those who would visit with him (28:17­29); this arrangement lasted for two years (28:30­31).
  7. Conclusion:
    1. Luke has given us a wonderfully compact history of the first 30 years of the church.
    2. The work of God going on in the world today is the continuation of this book.
 

Acts in Summary
 

Witness To: People Preacher Location Time Reference
Jerusalem Jews Peter Jerusalem 2 Years 
(A.D. 33­35)
1:1-8:4
Judea And Samaria Samaritans Philip Judea And Samaria 13 Years 
(A.D. 35­48)
8:5-12:25
The World Gentiles Paul World 14 Years 
(A.D. 48­62)
13:1-28:31

The Hub of the Bible (Acts 1:1-2:47)

The Events related in the first and especially the second chapters of Acts are events that it took the death of God's Son to bring about. This time has been prophesied and looked forward to for thousands of years. The end of the Old and the beginning of the New. God's Kingdom is here!
 

Acts 1:1-26

  1. A Time Of Waiting - We can look at the first chapter of Acts as a time of waiting. From the time of Christ's death on Passover to the establishment of His Kingdom on Pentecost was 50 days. During this time we find a calm. This waiting period was not just a time to sit around; there was much to do. It was a time for "last minute" instructions and the setting of final details - a time of final preparation for what was to come. Christ did not ascend until every detail was in place. In this chapter we find five events: An introduction to the book, Christ's final charge, Christ's Ascension, a prayer meeting, and the selection of Matthias.
  2. The First 40 Days:
    1. Introduction of Book - (Vs 1-5) For forty days Christ showed Himself to the Apostles. The context suggests he did this in a variety of ways that would supply the apostles with many infallible proofs of his resurrection. This is very directly related to the task he gave them - be witnesses to me (vs. 8). Christ also continued to teach the disciples. During this time it appears that the teachings centered around two items: the coming kingdom and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
    2. Christ's Final Charge - (Vs 6-8) The question that is asked here, at first glance, would appear that the disciples were still not getting the point of Christ's teaching. However, recall that Christ has been teaching about only two things: the coming kingdom and the coming of the Spirit. If the Spirit was about to come, then so was the kingdom - in this much the disciples were on track. However, they still didn't completely grasp the nature of the kingdom and Christ's response focuses on that.
      1. His kingdom would be spiritual. Their receiving of the Spirit would mark the time when they receive power. It is then that the kingdom is established.
      2. His kingdom would be international. Opposed to their belief of in Israel, Christ tells them they will go to all the world.
    3. Christ's Ascension - (Vs 9-11) The significance of this event is that it finalized Christ's work while on earth. As long as Christ was here, the Spirit would not come. No Spirit, No kingdom. Christ's ascension marks a "shift" in work. No longer is Christ on earth directing their steps, now. They are working as lead by Christ through the Spirit. The angels question obviously wasn't meant for response. Instead it was meant to cause action. Christ is gone, now get to work!
  3. The Last Ten Days:
    1. A Prayer Meeting - (Vs 12-14) Upon returning from the Mount of Olives, the disciples gathered themselves together and prayed. Lk 24:53 shows that they also engaged in worship to God. What they prayed about can only be speculated. However, we do see two important elements of their prayer: First, it was unified. All were together and were with one accord in their prayer. Second, it was continual or lasting. The context suggests that this was not a one time event, but rather a general statement of how they were spending the final days before Pentecost.
    2. The Selection of Matthias - (Vs 15-26) The other event we have record of in the last ten days before Pentecost is the selection of Matthias to replace Judas. Here we see the disciples, especially Peter, showing a deeper understanding of what is to come. He begins to apply Jewish Scripture (Ps 69:25; 109:8) to the events now happening. In the selection process, we see but one requirement: the individual must have been with the group from John's baptism to the day Christ ascended. The whole decision process is as follows:
      1. Scripture
      2. Common Sense
      3. Prayer
      4. Casting Lots

Acts 2:1-47

Dan 2:44. After the nation of Israel was ripped in two, after both nations were conquered by rival nations and carried away we find the mention of a kingdom that was yet to come. This kingdom was to be no ordinary kingdom for it was the kingdom of God - a kingdom that would never be destroyed, a kingdom that would consume all kingdoms. Mt 16:13-20. After making a confession of Christ's true identity, a promise was give to Peter - he would receive the keys of the Kingdom. It isn't until Acts 2 that Peter uses these keys. As he does, we see the kingdom of God being opened up for entrance.

  1. Setting Of The Event - Acts 2:1-13
    1. Pentecost - (Vs 1) This was the middle of the three annual Jewish feast (Deut. 16:16), it was known by several names (First Fruits, Harvest Festival, Feast of Weeks, and Pentecost). The feast was held 7 weeks or 50 days after the Passover. All good and devout Jews would be gathered together for this feast.
      1. Acts 1:4-8; Mk 15:42-47. The events in Acts 2 did not happen "right after" the crucifixion of Christ. Instead we see that seven weeks had passed.
      2. Some commentators note that Pentecost also became a celebration of remembrance for the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai.
    2. Wonders - (Vs 2-4) Suddenly they received what they were waiting for - the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Spirit was accompanied by 3 supernatural wonders - a sound like wind, divided tongues like fire, and speaking in tongues. It is apparent in the following verses what speaking in tongues was for, but what is the purpose of the sound like wind and divided tongues like fire? Two possible meanings 1) given to call the Jews together (Vs 6) or it could be that they are suggestive of the Holy Spirit:
      1. Wind - it is gentle, powerful, invisible (Jn 3:8), and it is the breath of life.
      2. Fire - it gives light, provides warmth, it purifies, and it is an emblem of God himself (Heb 12:29)
    3. The Audience - (Vs 5-13) Because of the Pentecost, the devout Jew was in Jerusalem. They were not all in one place, but rather came together at the sound. The wonders, especially the speaking in tongues, caused great confusion. After all, these men who were speaking were nothing more that simple Galileans. The only possible explanation - they are drunk!

Peter's Sermon - Acts 2:14-41

  1. Full Sermon? - We see from Vs 40 that what we have is not the complete sermon as taught by Peter. Rather what we do have is the meat - or the very heart of his teachings.
  2. Spoken by Joel - (Vs 14-21) To begin, Peter dismisses the idea of being drunk and instead relates the events to the Jewish prophet Joel. By quoting Joel 2:28-32, Peter grabs the attention of the devout Jews who would know their scripture. This quote also serves to introduce the theme of his message: Salvation.
  3. Hear these words - (15-24) Peter now turns his attention to a development of his theme. Not only is the purpose salvation, but salvation and Christ. Note that what Peter is preaching here is what we refer to as the gospel: the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
  4. David Says - (25-36) After establishing the theme of his message, Peter returns to proof that would be familiar to the listener - Jewish scripture. Instead of just quoting the scripture, Peter give the explanation in light of his theme - Christ and Salvation. He uses the scripture to convict the Jew of killing Christ.
  5. Conclusion - (37-40) Once convicted, the audience seeks a way out of their situation. "How do we call?" is the question they ask. And, in his call to action Peter tells them what they must do - repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.

Result Of Pentecost - Acts 2:42-47

  1. Growth - (Vs 42-43) Those that were baptized indicates that there were some who, unfortunately, walked away from the offer of salvation. But those who were baptized were together not just to enjoy the company of one another, but the context seems to indicate it was a time of strengthening for the new converts.
  2. Unity - (44-47) The second result of Pentecost was unity among the believers. Note the things they did to bring about unity. These are indicators of a real change in those that were converted.
    1. together
    2. all things in common
    3. sold possessions and divided according to need
    4. daily in temple and house to house
    5. praising God.

Applications:

  1. Church Unity - At the very beginning of the Church, we see what it means to really have unity. Instead of just "agreeing to disagree" we find that these people developed a concern for one another - to the point of selling personal possessions to meet the needs of another. What they did can be basically divided into three areas:
    1. Together daily - The believers were not just together 2-3 times a week, but rather every day! This daily interaction severed as a basis for the other things they did to bring about unity.
    2. All things in common - this does not mean the set up a commune, but rather made sure that the needs of each person was met. They did not sell everything they had else how could they be in their own house? The point is to meet all the needs of one another.
    3. Praising God - their time together was not just to socialize, but rather focused on give praise to the one who made all of this possible - GOD. With this focus, there was no time to bicker and backbite!
  2. Principle of Discipleship - another lesson we can learn from the believers here is the principle of Discipleship. Just because a person is converted does not mean the work is over. What we see at the end of Acts 2 is a summary of a some time together. While together, the apostles sought to strengthen the believers. If we are going to be active in the field, we need to be active in discipleship also.
  3. Sermons - We can also learn from this chapter the basic components of a sermon. Using Peter's sermon as an example we find at least five basic parts:
    1. Set-up - this part of the sermon brings together the occasion and briefly introduces the theme of the sermon
      1. Purpose - Instead of just rambling, a sermon should have a distinct purpose. Why are you speaking? What is purpose of this sermon? What do you want to teach?
      2. Text & Explanation - instead of just reading text, we need to take the time to explain it in light of the purpose of the sermon. Giving the sense of the text helps to convict and teach the listener
      3. Conclusion - obviously each sermon has to end. However, our conclusion should tie everything together and point the listener in a direction - edification, conviction, etc. . .
      4. Call to action - as part of the conclusion, a sermon should leave the listener with a choice to make - follow or reject this teaching.
    2. Focus of Teaching - Peter preached Christ. There can be no other focus in teaching than to teach Christ. Peter used the background of the audience to help them understand Christ. We need to find a ways to use what the audience already knows to help them

The Church in Jerusalem (Acts 3:1-8:4)

For the first segment of the churches existence here on earth, it was wholly found in Jerusalem. During this time the church grew tremendously in an atmosphere that has never been seen elsewhere. It truly was the "fullness of time" The membership exploded to well over 10,000 members. This is the church in it's infancy. It has existed in prophecy for thousands of years, now it is here, guided by the Holy Spirit through twelve seemingly very common men.


  1. The Progress of the Church 3:1 ­- 8:4
    1. Peter Heals the Lame Man In Temple 3:1­-11
    2. Peter's Second Sermon 3:12­-26
    3. Peter and John Are Arrested 4:1­4
    4. Peter Preaches to the Sanhedrin 4:5­-12
    5. Sanhedrin Commands Them Not to Preach 4:13­-22
    6. Apostles' Pray for Boldness 4:23­-31
    7. Early Church Share Possessions 4:32­-37
    8. Ananias and Sapphira Lie and Die 5:1­-11
    9. Apostles' Miracles 5:12-­16
    10. Persecution Begins 5:17­-42
    11. First Deacons Are Appointed 6:1­8
    12. Stephen's Sermon 7:1­-7:53
    13. Stephen Is Killed 7:54­ - 7:60
  2. At The Gate Called Beautiful. 3:1­-10
    1. The healing of the lame man. 1-­10
      1. This miracle was obviously not like the so called miracles of today. Here was a man who had lived his life as an undeniable cripple. Everyone around knew him as the beggar that lay at the gate Beautiful. Note that he was laid there "daily". It is very likely that he knew Peter and John (who had spent much time at the temple).
      2. "Fastening his eyes upon him" This is the very opposite reaction that most people give to a beggar, usually we look away as to avoid their eyes, yet this is the intentional looking of one who has something to give.
      3. Imagine his surprise when Peter reached out and took his hand… No-one had even taken his hand to "help him up", only to "pick him up"
      4. Another thought, here in the Temple, the common atmosphere inside was that of prayerfulness and somberness. Suddenly the silence is broken by the shouting, and dancing of a beggar. How contradictory this must have seemed to "proper holiness"
  3. On Solomon's Porch. 3:11­-26
    1. Peter's second sermon. 3:11-­26
      1. Peter takes every opportunity (for which purpose this miracle was done) to preach Jesus.
      2. We learned in 2:46 that these NT Christians were in this very temple daily. What were they doing there? Praising God, yes, and the apostles were preaching. This was part of their every day. Preach, preach, preach. I am given to wonder how long after Pentecost did a day go by without Peter preaching to someone?
      3. This sermon covers basically the same territory as the first sermon in Acts 2. It is interesting to note the difference in wording of the invitation:
        1. Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins
        2. Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.
      4. Heavy on OT Prophesy, for two reasons I think:
        1. Prophesy is convincing. If something is truly prophesied hundreds of years before, with clarity and accuracy (as opposed to nebulous babblings i.e. Nostrodomos) the is something beyond normal human agency at work.
        2. We must remember that at this point the gospel was only being preached to Jews (and to this point, only those devout enough to come to the Temple). Those who were raised knowing, studying, and loving this OT.
  4. In The Prison. 4:1­4
    1. The arrest. 1
      1. Notice it is the Sadducees who arrest them, not the Pharisees
    2. The reason for the arrest. 2
      1. Their objection was a purely doctrinal one. Peter was preaching the resurrection of the dead, a doctrine they staunchly denied. This alone wouldn't have been sufficient for an arrest, but when you add to it the unparalleled success of their preaching, the Sadducees were concerned.
    3. They are put in jail. 3,4
      1. But the damage was already done, another 5000 men. The church is obviously pushing, if not past 10,000 members already.
  5. Before The Sanhedrin. 4:5­-22
    1. The council 5,6
      1. Here are all the important religious rulers of the day, gathered, not to examine or try them but to punish or at least intimidate them.
    2. The examination of the council and the defense of Peter. 7­-12
      1. Peter pulls no punches, they had learned from Jesus that when dealing with the corrupt religious leaders of the day, plain spoken boldness was called for.
      2. His words are guided by the Holy Spirit directly here.
    3. The results of Peter's defense. 13­-22
      1. The undeniability was in the miracle. Unlike "someone watching me from home right now has a cancer in their stomach…it's been hurting and you were afraid to go to the doctor… don't be afraid anymore, because Jesus has healed you." This miracle was a fact impossible to be denied even by the rankest enemies.
      2. Their dilemma, "how to keep this miracle quiet". Their boldness in hard-heartedness is amazing. They are as resolute in their error as Peter is in the truth.
  6. In The Upper Room. 4:23-5:11
    1. The praise and prayer of the disciples. 23­-31
      1. Look at the essence of how their prayer differs from ours today. If we were imprisoned and beaten for preaching we would cry out to God (just as they did), but we would cry "Please stop our tormentors. Please make them quit and leave us alone." And at the very least "Please help us endure" All fine prayers I'm sure, but listen to the apostle's prayer:
      2. "And now Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word"
    2. The unity of the believers. 32­-37
      1. Considerations on the communal life of the early church in Jerusalem.
        1. This was not the case with all churches that the apostles set up, for Paul gives Timothy instructions for the rich Christians (1 Tim.6:8ff).
        2. It was not even a requirement of the Christians in Jerusalem (5:4)
        3. Many of these new Christians did not live in Jerusalem, but had merely come here for Pentecost, intending to return home immediately. Instead, they found the salvation of their souls in the Kingdom of God, which at this time existed only in Jerusalem.
        4. They didn't return home, they had limited money with them, no homes or jobs locally, these circumstances all contributed to the decision to practice this communal living.
        5. The may also have been a sense of immediacy about the return of Christ, alluring them to all remain together.
    3. The first church discipline. 5:1­-11
      1. This story is quite fascinating in Luke's choice to include it. We know that many evil things were done by many who were called christians (Simon -Acts 8:18-22; Demas -2 Tim.4:10; Diotrephes -3 John) and they were not struck dead. God doesn't always take the life of one who disobeys. This was true even in the OT. Many disobeyed without immediate death, yet a few (Uzzah, Korah, Those at Sinai that the earth swallowed) were immediately executed.
  7. On Solomon's Porch. 5:12­-16
    1. Signs and wonders and the increase of the word. 12­-16
      1. Tremendous miracles continue, further accelerating the growth of the church. It has to number well over 10,000 by now. I have read some estimates that figure nearer 50,000. Notice that multitudes were added.
      2. One last thought about these miracles, I would challenge Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, the Mormon Apostles, or any of the others who claim these miraculous powers to come to McKinney and walk through our hospital so that their healing shadows might relieve our suffering.
  8. In The Prison. 5:17­-20
    1. The second arrest. 17, 18
      1. This is just too much for the religious leaders. They are losing members by the thousands, and have to do whatever they can to preserve their places of prominence.
    2. The divine release. 19, 20
  9. On Solomon's Porch. 5:21a
    1. The apostles teach in the Temple in the early morning. 21a
      1. At this point there is no fear. They just walk out of the jail and begin preaching to the first people they meet.
  10. Before The Sanhedrin. 5:21­-41
    1. The assembling of the council and the apostles' trial. 21b-­28
      1. They arrest them without incident for fear of the people. How well they had perfected the clean outside and dirty inside. At least as efficiently as our politicians of today.
    2. The answer of the apostles. 29-­32
      1. Peter doesn't haggle, he get (and stays) on the issue. "It's you against God, and we must obey God, NOT YOU"
    3. The result of the defense and the advice of Gamaliel. The release. 33­-41
      1. There were, even in this pit of evil a few who had at least a measure of wisdom. One of these is Gamaliel. One wonders if he said anything at the beginning to discourage the arrests, or if he was touched or swayed in some way by Peter.
  11. The Spread Of The Word. 5:42
    1. They had one thing on their mind and one thing only…spread the word, spread the word, spread the word…
  12. On Solomon's Porch. 6:1­6
    1. The murmuring of the Grecian Jews. 1
      1. They have a legitimate complaint
      2. NOTE: This passage deals conclusively with the right of the church to spend "the Lord's money" on things as frivolous as food for church members. Everything that was purchased by anyone was purchased with the mystical "Lord's money". All money belonging to Christians is the Lord's money, whether it has laid in a communion plate or not. And if the church purchases food for the good of the church they are merely following the example set by the Jerusalem church.
    2. The action of the twelve and the church. 2­6
      1. We can hardly imagine elders so busy with the work of the word that they don't have time to feed hungry widows. What were they doing? Preach, preach, preach.
      2. They did not ignore these carnal needs, they delegated the authority to handle them to the first Deacons. Appointed here.
  13. The Increase Of The Word Of God. 6:7, 8
    1. Now we are no longer adding to the church, we're multiplying!
  14. At The Synagogue Of The Libertines. 6:9-12
    1. Not known if these were from Libertium or merely freemen. 9
    2. The evil means used by those who refused. 10­-12
      1. Suborning perjury is not a new tactic of corrupt leaders
  15. Stephen Before The Sanhedrin. 6:13 - 7:57
    1. The testimony of the false witnesses. 6:13, 14
      1. The perjury occurs, the charges are made before the council
    2. The face of Stephen. 15
      1. I don't know if it glowed, or what, but it was obviously, noticeably different than before. Why? I don't know, reminds me of Moses.
      2. It is telling about the council's mindset that this didn't stop the proceedings.
  16. Stephen's defense. 7:1-­53
    1. Abraham 7:2-8
    2. Patriarchs 7:9-14
    3. Egypt 7:15-19
    4. Moses 7:20-37
    5. The Exodus 7:38-41
    6. Idolatry 7:42-44
    7. David, Solomon, the Temple 7:45-50
    8. His application of the message to them 7:51-53
  17. The Result. 54­-57
    1. The message was effective. Why? Because Stephen made the application to them. He didn't talk about "principles of integrity and honor" and make no personal application to the audience. He said boldly (as Peter had been doing) YOU are the guilty one's.
    2. This stands in stark contrast to those who were pricked in the heart by Peter's message. When God's word is preached with boldness, love, and clarity, it will produce a result, sometimes welcomed, and sometimes hated. (Isa.55:11)
    3. He is granted the grace of God to see into heaven where he was headed in this awful hour of torment and death.
  18. Outside The City Wall. 7:58-60
    1. Stephen stoned to death. 58-60
    2. "Lay not this sin to their charge" Were there ever any more godly words spoken from the lips of a mere man?
    3. This man was truly a Christian in the sense of being like Christ, his savior (Lk. 23:34)
    4. I believe that the conversion of Saul may be directly attributable to this prayer.

The Church in Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:5-12)

Growth in Jerusalem the first days of the Kingdom was phenomenal! Truly the "time was fulfilled". Within days the church numbered near 10,000 and was drawing incredible attention, which is good for growth but now the persecution promised by Christ has begun. Stephen has given his life for the cause of Christ and a young zealous Pharisee named Saul has emerged on the scene as the chief antagonist of the Church. But instead of smothering Christianity, it serves only to fan the flame though the entire Judean world.


  1. Leaving Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-4):
    1. Time
      1. Stephen's Death - thought to be around A.D. 34 or 35
      2. "At that time" - does not refer to the particular day of Stephen's death, but the general time frame
      3. The "spreading" believed to have occurred around A.D. 37
    2. Great persecution drives Christians from Jerusalem (Acts 8:1)
      1. Many were taken from home and brought into prisons (Acts 8:3)
      2. Many were put to death (Acts 22:4; Acts 26:10)
      3. The Jews would beat them in attempts to get them to blaspheme (Acts 26:11)
      4. This persecution was at the direction of the chief priests (Acts 9:14; Acts 26:10)
    3. To avoid persecution, Christians spread throughout all of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1)
      1. Samaria was north of Judea and south of Galilee
      2. Apostles remained in Jerusalem - not told why at this point
      3. Some went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch (Acts 11:19)
      4. Some may have gone as far as Rome (Romans 16:7) - Andronicus and Junia were in Christ before Paul
    4. They went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4)
      1. At this point, Gentiles were still kept from the kingdom
      2. They were preaching to the Jews only (Acts 11:19)
      3. What seemed to be a horrible tragedy was actually God's providence providing for the world to be taught the Gospel!
      4. When we become discouraged about the task of spreading the Gospel, think of the daunting task facing the early Church!
  2. Philip in Samaria (Acts 8:5-25)
    1. Philip the evangelist, not the apostle
      1. This couldn't have been Philip the apostle because the apostles remained in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1)
      2. This was Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8), the same one that was one of the seven named to care for the widows in Acts 6:3-6
      3. Acts 8:14 also seems to speak of the apostles as not including Philip ("Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John")
      4. When named one of the seven, the apostles laid hands on Philip, giving him the power to perform the miracles that are mentioned in this chapter (Acts 8:6)
    2. The Samaritans
      1. Samaria was a country, but also a city (many refer to as Sebaste)
      2. Although it was north of Jerusalem, it was at a lower elevation (which explains the fact that Philip went down to Samaria)
      3. Samaritans were bitter enemies of the Jews (John 4:9 ". . . the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.") They were half-breeds, Jews that had been intermingled with heathen peoples.
      4. In what has been called the limited commission, Jesus had earlier instructed the disciples to not preach in the cities of the Samaritans, but only to the "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. 10:5-6)
      5. But Jesus, after his resurrection, had said the Gospel would be preached in all Judaea and in Samaria (Acts 1:8)
      6. Some Samaritans had heard the word taught before by Jesus and many believed (John 4:39-42),
      7. Nevertheless, the Samaritans had never heard the Gospel after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus until Philip (and many still held to the view that the Messiah would come and establish a kingdom and rebuild the temple on Mount Gerazim) (John 4:25)
      8. We know that these particular individuals were under the delusions of an impostor known as Simon (Acts 8:9-11)
      9. Some have said this work of Philip in Samaria was the stepping stone to the work among the Gentiles.
    3. The success of the Gospel in Samaria
      1. The people readily and unanimously accepted the word (Acts 8:6)
      2. The purpose of miracles for the early church was revealed, as the Samaritans were led to believe, at least in part, based on seeing the miracles Philip performed (Acts 8:6-7)
      3. These miracles may have been particularly needful to expose the fraud of Simon (Acts 8:9-11)
      4. When they believed, they were baptized (Acts 8:12) (the natural response to belief - Acts 2:38 and many other examples in Acts)
      5. Great joy came to the city (Acts 8:8)
      6. The apostles Peter and John came from Jerusalem to Samaria to encourage the believers in Samaria and confer the Holy Ghost upon them (Acts 8:14-17).
        1. It appears that Philip, while having the power to perform miracles, did not have the power to confer gifts to others. It was necessary that the apostles come for this task.
        2. The Samaritans had been baptized, receiving the remission of sins, but not miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:16)
    4. Disappointment in Samaria - Simon
      1. Simon had deceived the people of Samaria for some time, passing himself off as some kind of divine power (Acts 8:9-11)
      2. He also believed the teaching of Philip and was baptized (Acts 8:13)
      3. He was amazed at the miracles which Philip did (Acts 8:13 - the meaning of the word translated "wondered" carries the meaning of amazement at the miracles and signs). Contrasted with his own phony act, Simon was amazed at one that truly performed these miracles.
      4. This fascination with the power given to Philip is one sign of the trouble that was to fall upon Simon. Nevertheless, there is nothing from which we could conclude that Simon's belief or baptism was insincere. In fact, the Bible said he believed!
      5. Thus Simon, like the other believing Samaritans, was a baptized believer enjoying God's forgiveness. An amazing triumph for the early church!
      6. Simon, however, was the unfortunate early example of our ability to fall away from God's grace and of how to return to God
        1. Simon wanted to buy the power to bestow the gifts of the Holy Ghost to others (Acts 8:18-19)
        2. Given his background, it is perhaps not too surprising that Satan would attack the heart of Simon in this way
        3. Peter tells Simon in stern language that he is in sin and has no right to this power
    5. God's plan for Fallen Christians
      1. Peter told Simon his heart was not right in God's sight (Acts 8:21)
      2. He told him to repent of his wickedness and pray God for forgiveness
      3. This same plan is given in other parts of God's word (2 Tim 2:24-26; I John 1:8-10)
      4. Simon gives a sign of his repentance by asking Peter to pray for him (Acts 8:24)
    6. Peter and John preach in other villages of the Samaritans on the way back to Jerusalem
    7. Lessons from Samaria
      1. God's word was effective in bringing together former enemies
      2. God's word was effective in turning around the life of a former impostor that falsely claimed divine power
      3. While preaching the Gospel, seeming triumphs may end in disappointment (Matt. 10:20-22 - the parable of the sower). Nevertheless, one need not get down and must continue to preach to others as did Peter and John returning to Jerusalem.
      4. Christians can be forgiven for sins after baptism by repentance and prayer
  3. Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40)
    1. Philip is sent by an angel of God to the south to the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Gaza was about 60 miles southwest of Jerusalem.
    2. Philip comes upon a eunuch of great authority from Ethiopia (Acts 8:27)
      1. Not clear whether a Jew or a proselyte, but clearly a zealous man in making such a long journey (Ethiopia was south of Egypt in Africa)
      2. Candace was not an actual name, but was a name commonly given to queens of Ethiopia (like Pharaohs in Egypt or Caesars in Rome)
      3. He was in charge of the royal treasury
    3. He was studying the law (Isaiah) (Acts 8:28)
      1. He was making good use of the time by studying the law while traveling
      2. Apparently, this was a common practice among the Jews
      3. We too should use our time so wisely!
      4. Yet, the eunuch did not understand the word
      5. We should make sure not to just get involved in reading, but also to understand what we read - to meditate on it, pray about it, speak with others about it
    4. Philip speaks with the eunuch
      1. He is directed to join the chariot (Acts 8:29)
      2. Philip asks the eunuch if he understands what he is reading (Acts 8:30)
      3. Many people today may study, but are without understanding. Many like the eunuch may desire to understand, but can't. Our role should be to help others understand, and we should be careful that we don't assume that everyone does understand.
      4. The eunuch is unaware that the prophecy is of Jesus (Acts 8:34)
      5. Philip preached unto him JESUS (Acts 8:35)
      6. Notice Philip's preparedness even for a chance encounter to deliver the Gospel (we should strive for the same diligence)
      7. In response to the preaching of Jesus, the eunuch is prompted to ask about baptism (Acts 8:36). Preaching Jesus includes preaching baptism!
      8. Philip tells the eunuch that if he believes will all of his heart, he can be baptized (Acts 8:36-37)
      9. The eunuch confesses his belief and is baptized (Acts 8:37-38)
      10. During baptism, they both went down into the water, suggesting this was more than sprinkling or pouring. Furthermore, verse 39 says they came up out of the water.
    5. Philip is called away to Azotus
      1. This is the city formerly known as Ashdod
      2. It was 30 miles from Gaza and on the way to Joppa
    6. Philip then went to Caesarea
      1. He preached the Gospel in every city he came across on the way
      2. Lydda and Joppa were on that way and may have been his route (the result of which may have been the Christians discussed in Acts 9:32, 36)
      3. He apparently remained in Caesarea to establish his home there (Acts 21:8)
  4. Saul's Persecution of the Church (Acts 9:1-2)
    1. Saul had been given authority to arrest and bring bound any Christians found on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-2; Acts 26:12)
    2. This was a continuation of the his persecution which had occurred in Jerusalem (Acts 9:13; Acts 26:9-11)
    3. Damascus was about 150 miles northeast from Jerusalem. Apparently, some of the Christians that fled Jerusalem had gone to Damascus for safety.
  5. Saul's Conversion (Acts 9:1-19)
    1. The contrast is incredible - Saul is on his way to beat, imprison, and kill Christians when the Lord calls him to be "a chosen vessel" to bear His name before all people. Saul's life is truly a testament of how the Lord can save any one - even the "chief of sinners." (1 Tim 1:15) Saul's conversion demonstrates to us a pattern of the infinite mercy of God (1 Tim 1:16) - it shows perhaps more clearly than ever that God is "longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish." (2 Pet. 3:9)
    2. The Lord Appears to Saul (Acts 9:3-7)
      1. As Saul was traveling, a light out of heaven shone all around him (Acts 9:3)
      2. The time of the day was about noon (Acts 22:6), but the light was brighter than the noon-time sun (Acts 26:13).
      3. The risen Christ spoke to Saul (Acts 9:4)
        1. The voice was in the Hebrew tongue (Acts 26:14)
        2. Jesus asks Saul, "Why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9:4)
        3. When someone persecutes Christ's disciples, they are persecuting Christ himself. When we help or harm Christians, we do it to Christ himself (Matt 25:40, 45; Luke 10:16 - "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.").
        4. Interestingly, Paul answers this question later by saying that he did it ignorantly, in unbelief (1 Tim. 1:13). Paul had been sincerely convinced that was he was doing was right -thus he had lived in all good conscience (Acts 23:1)
      4. Paul asks whose voice it is (Acts 9:5). His use of "Lord" was to demonstrate reverence and probably does not reflect an understanding at this point that the voice is that of the Messiah.
      5. The Lord reveals his identity to Saul (Acts 9:5). Acts 22:8 reveals the specificity that he was Jesus of Nazareth, the one Saul was persecuting - this would leave no doubt who it was.
      6. "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 9:5) - "pricks" is rendered as "goads" in many versions. This is apparently a proverb that was used often in other writings. It had reference to a stick used with oxen to make them go faster or obey the plowman. If the ox kicked when pricked with the goad, he received a severer prod. This is a message to Saul to stop resisting the Lord - Saul may have had some realization that this really was the Messiah, but was attempting to suppress that conviction. Or it may have merely meant that Saul was only hurting himself in his present course.
      7. This got Saul's attention - he was trembling and astonished and asked Lord, what do you want me to do? (Acts 9:6)
      8. Apparently some manuscripts to not include the above proverb and the first part of verse 6 in this account in chapter 9. The belief is that they were borrowed from the parallel accounts in chapter 22 and 26. I'm not sure of the manuscripts, but no one doubts that these were legitimately parts of the other accounts (i.e. these are not spurious)
      9. Jesus tells Saul to go to Damascus where he would be told what he MUST do (Acts 9:6). What Saul was going to be told to do was not optional, it was something he MUST do! This question demonstrates that Saul was on the way to conversion.
      10. This appearance by Jesus was critical to Paul and his apostleship - Paul made clear that he was called to be an apostle by Jesus, not man (Gal. 1:1, 12; 1 Tim. 1:1). He was, like the other apostles, a witness to the risen Christ (Acts 1:22; Acts 4:33; Acts 9:27)
      11. Apparent contradictions (Acts 9:7; Acts 22:9; Acts 26:14)
        1. Were his fellow travelers standing or on the ground?
          1. Acts 9:7 - "stood speechless"
          2. Acts 26:14 - "And when we were all fallen to the earth"
          3. Some have suggested that "stood speechless" means only that they stopped and were speechless. The word used here and as defined by Thayer's (#2476) seems to me to make this plausible - that he was wasn't literally referring to standing, but more the idea of remaining.
          4. Others have said Paul may have been describing their conditions at different times.
        2. Did they hear the voice or not?
          1. Acts 9:7 - "hearing a voice, but seeing no man"
          2. Acts 22:9 - "they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."
          3. This seems to be explained by the fact that they heard a voice, but did not hear or understand the words Jesus was saying to Saul.
        3. Did they see anything?
          1. Acts 9:7 - "seeing no man"
          2. Acts 22:9 - "And they that were with me saw indeed the light"
          3. This again seems understandable in terms of the level of abstraction (as with the voice) - they saw the light, but did not actually see the man as Saul did.
    3. Saul Goes to Damascus (Acts 9:8-9)
      1. Many translate Acts 9:8 to say "he saw nothing" rather than "he saw no man." There is not necessarily an inconsistency in these two ideas, but "saw no man" could mean merely that the man (Christ) had left. Paul reveals in Acts 22:11 that he could not see. Furthermore, verse 9 says that he was three days without sight. Some have suggested that he could not make out any objects, as often occurs when one stares into a bright light.
      2. Saul had to be led by others to Damascus (Acts 9:8; Acts 22:11).
      3. This is another striking image of the one who had come to Damascus with authority to bind Christians now has to be led by the land into the city. Saul had been humbled!
      4. Saul fasted for three days (Acts 9:9). Verse 11 reveals that he was praying. Saul appears convicted by all the thoughts of the persecution he had administered to Christians.
      5. Many would suggest that Saul was saved at this point. He apparently realized the error of his ways, was determined to do what the Lord desired, and was now praying. However, the Lord had not told him what to do yet - that would come from Ananias in Damascus (Acts 22:16).
    4. Ananias' Vision (Acts 9:10-16)
      1. Ananias was a Christian (Acts 9:10), devoutly followed the law (Acts 22:12) and was well thought of by all Jews in Damascus (which presumably included the Christian converts) (Acts 22:12)
      2. The Bible only describe him as "a certain disciple" - not some great leader in the church. This is yet another example of how God uses a "small" figure to call some great person to Christ (e.g. Andrew with Peter - John 1:40-42)
      3. The Lord appears to him in a vision and instructs him to go to a road called Straight. (Acts 9:11) This street is believed to have been the main street of the city. It ran east to west and was about a mile long. Apparently the street still exists.
      4. The Lord specifically tells Ananias to go to the house of Judas to ask for Saul (Acts 9:11).
      5. Saul had a vision of Ananias restoring his sight. (Acts 9:12).
      6. Ananias' Response (Acts 9:13-14)
        1. Ananias hesitates at the Lord's command because he is aware of how Saul has persecuted the Church
        2. The news of Saul coming to Damascus with authority had preceded his arrival - the disciples were aware.
        3. This reaction is understandable and demonstrates how our past can sometimes hinder our effectiveness in teaching to others.
        4. It also shows how our own ideas can be so misguided! Ananias' instinct told him not to go to Saul, but the Lord had planned for Ananias to pave the way for one of His greatest workers - the writer of a substantial portion of the New Testament.
        5. As a sidenote, Ananias refers to Christians as saints, which shows this was used early in the church.
      7. The Lord's Response to Ananias' Objections (Acts 9:15-16)
        1. Jesus basically tells Ananias through the vision to "Go do it" (Acts 9:15)
        2. Jesus explains that Paul will bears His name to:
          1. The Gentiles (Gal. 2:7-8; Eph. 3:5-10). The Gentiles were mentioned before the children of Israel, perhaps signifying the special role Paul played in preaching to the Gentiles.
          2. Kings (Acts 26, before Agrippa). It is believed that Paul may have spoken before Nero (with a possible reference in 2 Tim. 4:16-17). Paul spoke before several Roman governors (Felix and Festus in Acts 24, 25).
          3. The Children of Israel
        3. Jesus also reveals that Saul, once the persecutor, will now suffer much for the sake of Christ. Paul did endure many afflictions for the cause (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Some of these persecutions are discussed later in the book of Acts.
      8. Saul is Baptized (Acts 9:17-19)
        1. Ananias is now ready to obey the Lord's command without hesitation (Acts 9:17)
        2. "Brother Saul" - this was a common way for Jews to refer to each other and does not reflect the idea that Saul had already become a brother in Christ. Paul himself explains that we are baptized into Christ (Rom 6:3-4)
        3. Ananias explains to Saul that he is to receive his sight and receive the Holy Ghost.
        4. Saul receives his sight. (Acts 9:17). The word "scales" comes from a verb meaning "to peel" - it was like small flakes being peeled from his eyes.
        5. After receiving his sight, Saul was instructed by Ananias that what he must do is be baptized (Acts 22:16). Saul was obedient - he was baptized and received the remission of his sins (Acts 9:18; Acts 22:16). Paul's conversion is another example of baptism being essential to salvation, and Paul went on to write much about the topic, most notably in Romans 6, explaining its necessity.
        6. After being baptized, Saul ends his fasting.
        7. He remains in Damascus certain days - we are not told how long.
    5. Although we will not be called in the miraculous way Paul was, we need to learn from his readiness to repent - to complete reverse direction and give his life a living sacrifice for Jesus Christ (Rom 12:1-2)
  6. Paul's Work at Damascus (Acts 9:20-25)
    1. Many were amazed at the change in Paul (now preaching Christ!) (Acts 9:21)
    2. Paul increased in strength and in his effectiveness in teaching Christ to the Jews (Acts 9:22)
    3. "Many days"
      1. Not told here exactly how long this was or what happened during this time
      2. Gal 1:15-18
        1. After Paul was converted in Damascus and his preaching there for a bit, he went to Arabia (to the southeast of Jerusalem)
        2. After this time in Arabia, Paul returned to Damascus
        3. It was three years later when he went to Jerusalem to go visit Peter
    4. After at least 3 years, Paul had returned to Damascus and the Jews sought to kill him. (Acts 9:23)
      1. They wanted to kill him so badly that they watched the gates day and night. (Acts 9:24)
      2. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 that it was the governor under Aretas the king that ordered the garrison to watch the walls
      3. But Paul knew about their efforts and the disciples helped him escape over the wall in a basket (Acts 9:25)
      4. It is rather ironic that the persecutor had now become the persecuted!
    5. Paul Flees to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30)
      1. Understandably, the disciples were leery of Paul and doubted the truth of his conversion (Acts 9:26). This was the first time Paul returned to Jerusalem since leaving to go to Damascus. They knew him as a great persecutor of Christians!
      2. But Paul had Barnabas to vouch for him - to tell his story to the apostles
        1. Barnabas told them that Paul had seen Christ - this was important because Paul needed to see the risen Christ to be an apostle (Acts 9:27)
        2. Barnabas told of his bold preaching in Damascus (Acts 9:27)
      3. During this time, Paul saw Peter and James, but none of the rest of the apostles (no mention of where they were) (Gal. 1:18-19)
      4. Barnabas' comments swayed the opinion of others
        1. Paul stayed with Peter for 15 days (Gal 1:18)
        2. Peter and James apparently help Paul in gaining the acceptance of others in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28)
      5. Paul preached there in Jerusalem (Acts 9:29)
        1. He spoke boldly there, even though danger lurked nearby
        2. He preached to the Grecian Jews, presumably the same ones that called for Stephen's death after Stephen had preached to them (Acts 6:9-15)
        3. Paul was among those consenting to the death of Stephen, and so he may have been attempting to correct the damage he had done earlier in falsely teaching to these Grecians
        4. Paul was not intimidated by the violent forces he was opposing
        5. Predictably, these Grecians attempted to kill Paul (Acts 9:29)
        6. The brethren in Jerusalem aided Paul by sending him to Caesarea and then to Tarsus (his hometown)
          1. This was a sign that Paul had been received and accepted by them
          2. Caesarea was about 70 miles from Jerusalem (to the northwest). It was a seaport from which Paul could sail to Tarsus
          3. Paul later gave the additional reason for leaving that the Lord had revealed to him that he should leave Jerusalem and go to work amongst the Gentiles (Acts 22:17-21)
    6. The Church enjoys a period of peace (Acts 9:31)
      1. The church, in all places where it existed, received a respite from the persecution that began after Stephen's death
      2. The main reason for the easing up is thought to be the Jews preoccupation with the concern that Caligula had ordered a statute of himself be placed in the temple at Jerusalem
      3. A new governor in Syria (Petronius) and a new ruler of Judea and Samaria (Herod Agrippa I) were also thought to contribute to the peace the church enjoyed during this time.
      4. The church was growing in number and in strength (Acts 9:31)
      5. Sometimes we become complacent and satisfied when things are going well - the NT church kept preaching and growing. In persecution or in peace, they were preaching the word.
  7. Peter at Lydda (Acts 9:32-35)
    1. Not clear if Luke is describing a time when Peter had come from Jerusalem or Luke is describing what Peter did when he was returning from Samaria (which is where Peter was when we last heard about him)
    2. The Apostolic Work
      1. Peter went to all quarters, all places where there were churches (which as mentioned earlier, may have been on his return from Samaria). (Acts 9:32)
      2. The apostles' work was to go confirm and exhort the churches - their work involved many congregations (their office was a universal office)
    3. Peter heals Aeneas (Acts 9:32-35)
      1. This was a person that was ill for 8 years (bed ridden). Therefore, this miracle would be one that would have a great effect because many presumably knew about it and knew this was no fluke.
      2. Peter makes clear that it was no power of his, but Jesus Christ was the healing power. (Acts 9:34)
      3. The results of Peter's work and the miracle
        1. All at Lydda and Saron saw Aeneas walk, and they turned to the Lord (Acts 9:35)
        2. Saron (or Sharon) was a section of country (not a city) that covered 30 miles in the area between Joppa to Caesarea
        3. Here no information was given about the particulars of their conversion (unlike many other accounts in Acts)
        4. The extensive success in these areas demonstrates the efficacy of miracles in leading many to Christ in the early church.
  8. Peter at Joppa (Acts 9:36-43)
    1. A disciple named Tabitha, or Dorcas, fell sick and died in Joppa (Acts 9:36-37)
    2. "Lydda was near Joppa" (v. 38) - Joppa was about 10 miles from Lydda
    3. The disciples called for Peter to come from Lydda to Joppa. It is not clear whether they expected the miracle of resurrecting Tabitha or they were just looking for comfort. Nevertheless, the haste of the disciples suggests they may have been looking for Peter to miraculously heal her.
    4. Peter, who had previously witnessed Jesus resurrect others (Jairus' daughter among others - Mark 5:35-41), now performs the miracle of resurrection. (Acts 9:40-41)
    5. Again, a miracle leads many to believe (Acts 9:42)
    6. Peter stayed in Joppa "many days" - presumably evangelizing the community (Acts 9:43)
      1. Peter stayed with Simon the tanner
      2. This was significant because the Jews regarded that occupation as abominable because tanners had to handle unclean animals
      3. Some have suggested that this showed Peter had become indifferent to ceremonial uncleanness, but Peter raises this concern in Acts 10:14
      4. This probably demonstrates that Peter had to "give a little" on the strictness he ascribed to preach in these other areas (cf. Paul in 1 Cor. 9:19-23)
      5. At most, this may show the lowering of his Jewish prejudices as a precursor to the events of Acts 10.
  9. The Gospel Comes to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48)
    1. Cornelius' background
      1. He was a centurion (Acts 10:1) - a leader of a thousand soldiers from Italy
      2. He was also a devout man that feared God, gave alms to the people, and prayed to God always (Acts 10:2). Thus, Cornelius was an appropriate man to bridge the gap between the Gentiles and the Jews.
      3. But most importantly, Cornelius was a Gentile and hence at this point was not saved! The Gospel to this point had only gone out to Jews and Samaritans. Being holy may not be enough to be saved!
    2. Cornelius' vision (Acts 10:1-8)
      1. Cornelius was praying when he received the vision (Acts 10:30). He was praying in the ninth hour (3:00 PM), one of the three periods of the day in which Jews prayed (also the third hour (9:00 AM) and the sixth hour (12:00 PM))
      2. Cornelius recognized the angel as being from God (Acts 10:4), yet said it appeared as a man in bright clothing (Acts 10:30)
      3. God heard Cornelius' prayers, even though he was a Gentile (Acts 10:4). Of course, opening the kingdom to the Gentiles had been God's plan from the beginning. The opening of the kingdom to the Gentiles was not an answered prayer to Cornelius - Cornelius was simply the one God chose for this momentous event.
      4. The instructions
        1. Send men to Joppa to call for Simon Peter
        2. Joppa was about 30 miles from Caesarea
        3. Philip was probably in Caesarea (Acts 8:40), but God had already decreed that Peter would be the one to open the kingdom to the Gentiles as he had the Jews in Acts 2 (Matt. 16:18-19)
        4. Peter would tell Cornelius what he needed to do (which was to baptized - Acts 10:48)
      5. Cornelius sent two servants and a soldier to escort Peter back to Caesarea (Acts 10:7-8). He told them about the vision, presumably so they could relate these things to Peter (Acts 10:8; Acts 10:22)
    3. Peter's Vision (Acts 10:9-17)
      1. On the next day after Cornelius' vision, Cornelius' messengers were getting close to the city. Peter was about to pray on the housetop when he fell into a trance (Acts 10:9-10) (the housetops used to be flat and were often used for worship in this way - Zeph. 1:5)
      2. The word translated "trance" is ekstasis and Thayer's describes its meaning in this context this way: "a throwing of the mind out of its normal state, alienation of mind, . . . [as of] the man who by some sudden emotion is transported as it were out of himself, so that in this rapt condition, although he is awake, his mind is so drawn off from all surrounding objects and wholly fixed on things divine that he sees nothing but the forms and images lying within, and thinks that he perceives with his bodily eyes and ears realities shown him by God."
      3. Paul had also been in a trance when he was in Jerusalem and Jesus appeared to tell him to leave the city (Acts 22:17)
      4. Peter became very hungry. It was noontime (the third hour), but Peter also might have been fasting (as was Cornelius). (Acts 10:10)
      5. The vision itself
        1. Peter saw a vessel coming down from heaven like a sheet
        2. It was filled all types of animals, both clean and unclean under the old law (Acts 10:12, 14)
        3. Under the old law, certain types of animals were to be avoided
          1. Every creeping thing was off limits to the Jews (Lev. 11:41-44)
          2. The old law's attitude (the attitude that Peter had before the vision) is well summarized by Lev. 11:46-47 ("This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.")
          3. This had been one of the major distinctions between Jew and Gentile, and so this had significance well beyond the issue of clean or unclean meats
        4. The voice told Peter to kill the animals and eat
        5. Predictably, Peter's response was revulsion - he had never, nor would ever, eat anything unclean (Acts 10:14). This seems to be a typical response from Peter - sharp, stubborn, and peremptory (as in Matt. 26:33 "yet will I never be offended" and in John 13:8 "Thou shalt never wash my feet").
        6. Like Peter, sometimes we may need to open our eyes and hearts to reconsider preconceived notions in light of God's word. But like Peter, we should not do so without the proper reflection on what God's word really teaches.
        7. The voice says that God has cleansed all these animals, and Peter should no longer reject them.
          1. This was the symbolic message that declared the Gentiles eligible for God's mercy and for a relationship with him.
          2. Under the new law, any kind of animal for which we give thanks is appropriate and clean before God (I Tim. 4:4)
        8. "This was done thrice" (Acts 10:16) - this probably refers to the command that Peter received that nothing was common that God had cleansed rather than to the entire vision. I say probably because it specifically mentions that the vessel then returned again into heaven, suggesting that this only happened once rather than repeating of the entire vision.
        9. Peter was unsure of the meaning of the vision - not that he didn't remember what happened, but he was confused as to what the spiritual meaning was.
          1. In some respect, this is somewhat understandable given the radical change in instruction he has received from God.
          2. Paul was already aware that the gospel would be brought to the Gentiles because Jesus had told him on the road to Damascus that he would preach to them and that they would receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 26:17-18)
          3. On the other hand, there was several prophecies that pointed towards this happening (God opening up to the Gentiles)
            1. Gen 12:3 "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
            2. Isaiah 11:10
            3. Isaiah 42:1, 6
            4. Isaiah 49:22
            5. John 10:16
    4. The Arrival of Cornelius' Messengers (Acts 10:17-23)
      1. Shortly after Peter came out of his trance, Cornelius' messengers arrived at Simon's house and asked for Peter (Acts 17:17-18)
      2. Peter was still thinking about the vision, and the Spirit told him that three men were looking for him. The Spirit further revealed that he had sent them (Acts 17:19-20). Knowing that the Spirit sent these individuals would help Peter understand that what was about to happen was truly the will of God.
      3. The messengers tell Peter that God through an angel had told Cornelius to send for Peter to hear from him. They also told Peter that Cornelius was a just man, one that feared God, and was well thought of by the Jews. (Acts 10:22)
      4. They stayed at Joppa for the night and left in the morning. (Acts 10:23). Peter had 6 Jewish Christians accompany him on the journey. (Acts 11:12). They are called "they of the circumcision which believed." (Acts 10:45). Although it is not clear, it may have been that Peter knew that having them for witnesses to this event would be useful. (as the doubt expressed by others in Acts 11 demonstrated).
    5. Peter's Visit to Cornelius (Acts 10:24-48)
      1. Cornelius was waiting for Peter with his family and near friends (Acts 10:24)
      2. Cornelius fell down and "worshipped" Peter (Acts 10:25)
        1. Although this is the word used to describe worship to God, the form used here indicates the homage shown to men of superior rank. (Thayer's, #4352). Therefore, this was not worship as to a god, but as to honor a man.
        2. Nevertheless, Peter saw it as inappropriate for a man to receive this kind of homage (Acts 10:26). He tells Cornelius to stand up.
        3. This ought to put to rest any thought of worshipping men who we may regard as great (as the saints of the Catholic Church). More directly, the Catholic Church asserts that Peter was the first Pope, yet he would not allow one to bow down before him. Yet today, the Pope accepts this form of reverence and much more!
        4. Paul and Barnabas had made similar comments when the people of Lystra referred to them as gods. (Acts 14:11-14)
      3. Peter and Cornelius went inside to the crowd of people that had gathered (Acts 10:27)
      4. Peter explains that the law would tell him that he should not go into the house of a Gentile (or one of another nation) (Acts 10:28)
        1. Apparently, it was well known that the Jews would not associate with others. The Jews were often accused of being haters of the human race. One historian said they hated all people, except their countrymen, as their enemies, and refused to eat or intermarry with them.
        2. This fact was certainly known by Cornelius and the group gathered.
        3. One example of this is the comment of the Samaritan woman in John 4:9.
        4. But this was perfectly illustrated by the comments of Jews about Peter going into the house of Cornelius (Acts 11:2-3) ("Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them."
        5. This demonstrates the great prejudice that would have to be overcome in Jews coming together with Gentiles in the church.
      5. Yet Peter now apparently has gotten what the vision was about, because he explains that the reason he is coming in is because God had told him that he should not call any man unclean. (Acts 10:28)
        1. Notice that Peter not only now comprehends the specific message about meats, but also comprehends the deeper meaning that the Gentiles were now acceptable before God.
        2. Peter says he came without gainsaying, or without questioning, as soon as he was sent for (Acts 10:29)
      6. Peter asks why Cornelius sent for him (Acts 10:29)
        1. It seems to me, that given Peter's understanding of his vision, that he should have had some idea of why he was called
        2. But perhaps Peter hadn't put it all together, and apparently the Holy Spirit had not revealed it to him.
        3. Peter may have just wanted to know if there were additional things told to Cornelius that he was unaware of.
      7. Cornelius relates his vision to Peter (Acts 10:30-32)
      8. And Cornelius says that he and the crowd are ready to hear Peter's instruction (Acts 10:33). Can't you just feel the anticipation in the room?
      9. Peter's sermon to the crowd (Acts 10:34-43)
        1. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35)
          1. A respecter of persons judges people by their outward circumstance - their status, their color, their nationality, etc. - not their inward man
          2. God now judges people of every nation fully on their own deeds (Acts 10:35; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:25)
          3. Peter now fully understands that the barrier between Jew and Gentile has fallen - that Gentiles may be accepted of God just as Jews may
          4. Col. 3:9-11
        2. The gospel of peace (Acts 10:36-37)
          1. Peter says that God's word preaches peace by Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36)
          2. Rom. 10:15 refers to it as the "gospel of peace"
          3. The idea of peace among Gentile and Jew must have been on the mind of the crowd, but the peace Peter speaks of is further reaching, including peace between God and man.
        3. "He is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36)
          1. Peter makes clear that Jesus is the Lord of all - of both Jew and Gentile
          2. Paul expressed the thought well in 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.")
        4. Cornelius and the crowd had some knowledge of Jesus before this meeting (Acts 10:37)
          1. As he mentions, the message of Jesus had gone throughout all Judaea (Acts 10:37)
          2. Peter sets the beginning of the preaching of the gospel as John's baptism
        5. The life of Jesus (Acts 10:38-39)
          1. Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power (Luke 3:21-22, Jesus' baptism and the descending of the Spirit)
          2. His life was spent doing good, including miraculous healings (Acts 10:38)
          3. God was with him (John 3:2). Jesus had always taught that the power he demonstrated was from God (John 5:19; John 9:3-7)
          4. The apostles were witnesses to his life, particularly the miracles he performed (Acts 10:39). Acts 1:8 - Jesus had instructed them to serve as witnesses.
        6. The death and resurrection (Acts 10:39-43)
          1. This is the essence of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4)
          2. The Jews slew Jesus (Acts 10:39)
          3. God raised him from the dead on the third day (Acts 10:40)
          4. Many witnesses saw him after the resurrection (Acts 10:40-41). Peter even mentions that they had a meal together (Luke 24:41-43)
          5. Peter and the other apostles had been instructed (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8) to tell others of this good news - that Jesus was the ordained of God (Acts 10:42), that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied of in the old law (Acts 10:43 - "to him give all the prophets witness")
          6. Jesus gives remission of sins to whoever will believe - including the Gentiles now
        7. The Holy Ghost falls upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-46)
          1. While Peter was speaking, the Holy Ghost fell on all that heard the word (Cornelius and those that were gathered with him)
          2. This was not by the laying on of the hands of the apostles as in Acts 8:17, but in the same manner as it fell on the Jews as the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (Acts 11:15 - "the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning")
          3. Apparently this happened before Peter had finished what he intended to say (Acts 11:15 - "And as I began to speak , the Holy Ghost fell on them . . ."; Acts 10:44 - "While Peter yet spake . . .")
          4. The giving of the Holy Ghost was manifested in the same manner as it was at the day of Pentecost - speaking of tongues and glorification of God (Acts 10:46; Acts 2:4, 11). This was how the Jews that were with Peter knew that the Holy Ghost had fallen on the Gentiles (Acts 10:45-46)
        8. The Gentiles enter the kingdom (Acts 10:47-48)
          1. Peter states that since they had received the Holy Ghost, they should also be baptized (Acts 10:47)
          2. John 3:5 - having been born of the Spirit, it was appropriate that they be born of water to enter the kingdom
          3. Peter commands them to be baptized (Acts 10:48) - notice that Cornelius had something to do even after his good deeds as a Gentile and even after receiving the Holy Ghost. Baptism of the Holy Ghost does not save! As with the Jews at Pentecost, repentance and baptism were necessary for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
          4. Although it is not explicit, no doubt the Gentiles were baptized ("Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.")
          5. The Gentiles asked Peter to stay there for "certain days" - this was probably so that they could receive further instruction. Likewise, it is important that we continue to grow and learn more even after becoming Christians.
  10. Peter Justifies His Preaching to the Gentiles (Acts 11:1-19)
    1. Some Jews are Upset About Peter's Behavior (Acts 11:1-3)
      1. Caesarea was about 70 miles from Jerusalem, but the word traveled throughout Judea that the Gentiles had received the word (Acts 11:1-2)
      2. Peter came to Jerusalem - probably at least in part to inform the others about what had occurred and explain to them that God had granted the Gentiles "repentance unto life"
      3. It is not clear how the apostles felt about the news, but certain Jews ("they of the circumcision") were upset and contended with Peter (Acts 11:2)
        1. These Jews were not aware of everything Peter was, and there response was similar to Peter's before he came to understand the visions from God
        2. They were upset that Peter had gone in to the home of Gentiles and had a meal with them (Acts 11:3). Surprisingly, their comments did not include complaints about him preaching the word to them or the fact that Gentiles were baptized.
        3. It is also interesting to note that Peter did not enjoy the kind of dominance that is seen in today's popes - to suggest he was the first pope is inconsistent with how he was treated here. The Jews showed no hesitancy in questioning him.
    2. Peter explains his actions (Acts 11:4-17)
      1. Peter, in methodical fashion, explains what had happened (Acts 11:4)
      2. Peter believes that the same things that convinced him that the God had accepted the Gentiles would also convince these Jews
      3. The main point of the defense was that he had done everything by Divine direction (Acts 11:5,9,12,13,15,16), even referring to the words of Jesus while he was living amongst them (Acts 11:16)
      4. Peter reveals now that Cornelius' messengers had told him that he was to speak words whereby they would be saved (Acts 11:14)
      5. Peter also explains that the Holy Ghost fell on them in the same manner as it had "in the beginning" - at the day of Pentecost (Acts 11:15)
      6. Remembering the words of Jesus were perhaps the final straw convincing Peter that God intended to open the kingdom to the Jews (Acts 11:16) - the giving of the Holy Ghost was a sign of divine acceptance.
      7. Peter explains that God had convincingly demonstrated this will and he could not resist that (Acts 11:17)
      8. Acts 11:12 - the KJV translates this as "And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting." (emphasis added) Others translate this as "making no distinction." Thayer's #1252 says that this means "making no difference, namely between Jews and Gentiles."
    3. The Jews are Convinced (Acts 11:18)
      1. After hearing Peter's explanation, the Jews held their peace, glorified God, and declared themselves that God had granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles.
      2. This demonstrated the effectiveness of the Divine method in showing that the God truly did accept the Gentiles.
      3. However, the doubts of Jewish Christians about the Gentiles continued even after this (Acts 15, Gal. 2:11-21; the book of Hebrews, to name just a few verses addressing this problem). Nevertheless, most of the subsequent debate was about whether Gentiles had to observe Jewish laws to be faithful Christians, not whether the Gentiles could be Christians.
  11. The Church at Antioch (Acts 11:19-30)
    1. Its establishment (Acts 11:19-21)
      1. Luke reverts back to the events of Acts 8 - the disciples were scattered as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch after the death of Stephen (Acts 11:19)
        1. Phoenicia was an area about 120 miles long and about 12 to 15 miles broad. It was north of Palestine and its cities included Tyre, Sidon, and Tripolis, but not Caesarea. The Mediterranean Sea bordered it on the west. It formed a part of the Roman province of Syria.
        2. Cyprus was a large island to the southwest of Antioch in the Mediterranean Sea. It was colonized by the Phoenicians.
        3. Antioch was the capital of Syria and was about 180 miles north of the northern edge of Phoenicia. There was a large population of Jews there because they were given equal political privileges to the Greeks. Josephus estimated that it was the third most important city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria.
      2. These disciples were only preaching the word to the Jews (Acts 11:19).
      3. Acts 11:20
        1. There is a dispute as to whether "the Greeks" refers to the Hellenistic Jews mentioned in Acts 6:1, or to Greek Gentiles. There is apparently some dispute about the manuscripts of Greek, in addition to disputes about the translation. Most conclude that this refers to Greek Gentiles, not Greek Jews.
        2. Many translations begin this verse with "But" rather than "And," to demonstrate a contrast with the latter part of verse 19 referring to preaching only to the Jews. If this is about the Greek Gentiles, it apparently happened after the preceding events of Acts 11, because everyone seemed to accept this (including Barnabas, sent by the church at Jerusalem).
        3. Some of those that preached the word had come to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene. Cyrene was a town in North Africa, a considerable ways from Antioch.
      4. God was with them - some understand this to mean miracles were performed, others that God's spirit was with those who preached and those who believed. Regardless, many believed and "turned to the Lord." As in Acts 9:35, we are not given any details of these conversions. (Acts 11:21).
      5. Barnabas Comes to Antioch (Acts 11:22-24)
      6. When the church in Jerusalem heard of the number of believers in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. (Acts 11:22)
      7. Barnabas was from Cyprus (Acts 4:36), was a Jew (Acts 4:36 - a Levite), and apparently was well thought of by the apostles (Acts 9:27). Remember that some of those that preached were from Cyprus. Given all of Barnabas' background, he was well suited to go work in Antioch.
      8. Sending Barnabas after hearing the report from Antioch was similar to the actions of the apostles in Jerusalem in sending Peter and James into Samaria after hearing it had received the word (Acts 8:14).
      9. Barnabas was happy about the work going on in Antioch and encouraged the disciples there to remain loyal to the Lord (Acts 11:23). Although we must always maintain such an attitude (James 4:8), the admonition was probably especially important in a pagan city such as Antioch.
      10. Barnabas - a good man (Acts 11:24)
        1. Luke takes a brief moment to describe Barnabas as a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and faith.
        2. A similar description was used when speaking of Stephen (Acts 6:8)
        3. Barnabas had demonstrated his goodness in giving the proceeds of land to the church (Acts 4:36-37) and speaking on behalf of Saul to the apostles (Acts 9:27)
      11. As a result of this work and the guidance of the Lord (Acts 11:21), many people were added to the Lord (Acts 11:24) (this would seem to be in addition to those mentioned in verse 21). There was now presumably a large church in Antioch.
      12. Paul Brought to Antioch (Acts 11:25-26)
      13. The work in Antioch was apparently too great for Barnabas to handle alone. It is thought that there were about 500,000 people in Antioch at this time.
      14. One historian records that this occurred in A.D. 43.
      15. The apostles had sent Paul to Tarsus after some had tried to kill him in Jerusalem (Acts 9:31). Tarsus was located in Silicia, and was relatively close to Antioch. Antioch was eighty miles from Tarsus, or about 12 hours by boat.
      16. Apparently Barnabas had some difficulty in finding Paul, because the word translated "to seek" connotes to search with difficulty.
      17. Notice the benefit of two working together. Peter and James had earlier been sent into Samaria together (Acts 8:14). We too should strive to work with others rather than making a go of it alone, particularly in large areas.
      18. Barnabas apparently understood how important it would be to bring the word to Antioch given the large Jewish population and the importance of the city in the Roman Empire.
      19. Barnabas displays his selflessness in getting Paul to help him in this work. He is not too ambitious or proud to seek the help of Paul. Surely, Paul was preaching in Tarsus, but notice that Barnabas opened a door of opportunity for Paul. Barnabas was so important in Paul becoming the great worker that he was. We should learn what great good we can do in leading someone to Christ is to greater service for Him.
      20. Paul and Barnabas remained for a year in Antioch, assembling with or in the church and teaching many people. (Acts 11:26) This helps us understand the role of the apostles and teachers such as Paul. It is appropriate to work with a congregation for a period of time in strengthening it, as Paul and Barnabas did in Antioch.
      21. The disciples called Christians
        1. Some have suggested that unbelievers originally called the disciples by this name in contempt or to ridicule.
        2. Others suggest the disciples used this name to refer to themselves.
        3. The meaning of the Greek word suggest some Divine force involved.
        4. No matter who may have used the term at this time, it was adopted by the divinely inspired Peter in I Pet. 4:16. Agrippa also uses this term when speaking to Paul in Acts 26:28.
        5. The Greek word translated Christian means a follower of Christ.
        6. Today, many that claim to follow Christ have taken on different names, ones derived from the names of men or by men. This name properly demonstrates Christ leadership and rejects the divisiveness engendered by taking the name of any man or concept (1 Cor. 1:11-13).
      22. The Famine and Relief (Acts 11:27-30)
      23. Prophets were sent from Jerusalem to Antioch. (Acts 11:27)
      24. Prophets meant those that spoke on behalf of God - at the time, those that had that miraculous gift. (1 Cor. 11:28-29). These were a part of the structure of the early church during the time of miracles (1 Cor. 11:28-29), and these individuals we learn operated to help other areas, such as Antioch.
      25. Agabus was one prophet sent to Antioch. He warned of a worldwide famine that was to occur during the reign of Claudius Caesar. The word "world" means the inhabited world. Some have suggested this was hyperbole, and meant only the Judea and the surrounding countries. Given that a collection was taken for the brethren in Judea, this may bolster support for the suggestion that this was the prophecy of Agabus.
      26. Claudius Caesar reigned from A.D. 41 to A.D. 54. Some suggest that the famine occurred in A.D. 45, others expand it to include A.D. 44 to A.D. 48.
      27. Josephus says that the famine included only Judea and was very severe. There were several historical famines during the reign of Claudius, of course some of which can't be included in this prophecy.
      28. The purpose of the prophecy was apparently to give time to the disciples to collect money and food in advance of the need, for the disciples responded to the prophecy by sending relief to the brethren in Judea. (Acts 11:29)
      29. They sent the money to the elders by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 11:30)
        1. It is not clear whether the elders refers to the elders at Jerusalem or some other place since it was not specifically said where the elders were.
        2. However, Luke later speaks of Paul and Barnabas being in Jerusalem (Acts 12:25)
        3. If it was Jerusalem, this visit to Jerusalem was not mentioned in Gal 1:18-2:1. This would probably be because their stay was likely brief and not one in which they stayed to work, but merely delivered the money.
        4. Regardless of where it was sent, the fact that the brethren in Antioch sent money to the elders of another church for distribution seems to destroy the objections of some to one church giving money to another church for distribution.
        5. The name of Christian was important in eliminating the former distinctions between the Jews and Gentiles. They could now unite under the same title.
  12. Peter Delivered From Prison (Acts 12:1-17)
    1. The Martyrdom of James (Acts 12:1-2)
      1. Herod's persecution of the church (Acts 12:1)
        1. This is Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great.
        2. He is believed to have ruled from A.D. 42 to A.D. 44, when he died. Therefore, the time of these events is thought to be about A.D. 43 or A.D. 44.
        3. Herod was a companion of Caligula, the Roman emperor. As such, he was given control over most of Palestine (including the addition of Judea, which had not formerly been under the control of Herod's predecessor)
        4. Herod set out to persecute "certain of the church." (Acts 12:1). This was probably motivated by Herod's desire to please the Jews (Acts 12:3)
      2. He orders James killed (Acts 12:2)
        1. This was the James originally called to be an apostle (Matt. 4:21). He was the first apostle to die, and his brother John was the last.
        2. This was the James whose mother had asked Jesus if her sons could sit on either hand of Jesus in the kingdom (Matt. 20:20-28). At that time, Jesus asked James "Are ye able to drink of the cup I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" James responded he was and Jesus prophesied that he would. The fulfillment of this prophecy occurs here when James gives his life for the cause of Christ.
        3. James was killed by the sword, apparently beheaded.
        4. We can speculate that the Holy Spirit intended James martyrdom for a few reasons
          1. To show the disciples that God did always plan to keep the apostles from harm. This also demonstrated that the apostles would not always be around.
          2. To show the early church that they were to be partakers in the sufferings of Christ
          3. To serve as an example of self sacrifice for the early disciples and us today!
        5. The death of someone as prominent as James pleased the Jews. (Acts 12:3)
    2. Peter Imprisoned (Acts 12:3-6)
      1. Sparked by the reaction of the Jews, Herod seeks to take Peter (Acts 12:3)
      2. The time this occurred during the year was revealed - during the feast of unleavened bread. This was during the first month of the Jewish year, or late March or early April.
      3. Herod captures Peter and places him in prison (Acts 12:4).
      4. He was put under the watch of four bands of four soldiers, one band for each of the four watches of the night.
        1. He was bound with chains to two of them (Acts 12:6). This allowed each guard to have a free hand to punish the prisoner if he tried to escape. The other two guards were guarding the first and second ward.
        2. There was also an iron gate outside of the prison (Acts 12:10).
        3. The high level of security may have demonstrated the importance of Peter or also the knowledge that Peter had previously escaped from prison (Acts 5:17-19)
      5. Herod intended to bring Peter forth for "trial"/execution after the Passover (Acts 12:4)
        1. The translation Easter here is rejected by many as wrongly supposing that Luke was referring to the Christian feast.
        2. Thayer regards this as the Jewish passover.
        3. Jewish law forbade execution during the passover feast, so Herod wanted to wait until after (again, to please the Jews)
        4. Prayer made for Peter (Acts 12:5)
        5. Having just endured the news of James' death, the disciples were surely troubled by the news about Peter. Moreover, Peter had been so instrumental in the spread of the gospel (opening the doors to the kingdom to both the Jews and Gentiles)
        6. They prayed intently or earnestly (Thayer's and many translations choose this in place of without ceasing) on his behalf. These prayers were shortly answered.
    3. Peter's Miraculous Escape (Acts 12:7-17)
      1. Given how much security there was, an escape was not humanly possible.
      2. But God miraculously provides for Peter's escape
        1. An angel came and a light shined in (Acts 12:7)
        2. This was not enough to awake Peter from his sleep, so the angel hit Peter on his side and told him to get up quickly. Many translations translate "raised him up" as "awoke him." (Thayer's #1453 - to arouse from sleep, to awake)
        3. The chains miraculously fell from Peter's hands
      3. While Peter was sleeping, he had unbound his girdle for comfort and his garment was loosely over him. He had also loosened his sandals. The angel tells him basically to get dressed to leave (Acts 12:8)
      4. Peter follows the angel out and the guards are unaware (Acts 12:9).
      5. Peter was so surprised that he didn't know whether his escape was a reality or some vision (Acts 12:9).
      6. Peter and the angel pass the first and second ward of the prison, a miraculous event in itself (Acts 12:10)
      7. Then the iron gate that opened into the city opened on its own (Acts 12:10). Although the KJV says "of his own accord," other translations render this "of its own accord." Thayer's agrees with the latter rendition (#844).
      8. Apparently, the prison was in the middle of the city, because the gates opened unto the city. When they were clear of the gate and passed through one street, the angel left the Peter. The miracle was performed and Peter could go out on his own. (Acts 12:10).
      9. Peter came to himself - he was in a dazed condition but regained his senses after the escape. (Acts 12:11). At that point, Peter realizes that God had miraculously delivered from the prison and from the hand of Herod. (Acts 12:11).
      10. Peter goes to the home of Mary the mother of John Mark. There the disciples were gathered praying. (Acts 12:12). This John Mark was the same one that Paul and Barnabas bring back with them to Antioch (Acts 12:25), so they surely heard word of this event. Mary's home was probably a place Peter and the disciples had frequented, given that this was the first place that Peter thought to go, the disciples were gathered there, and Rhoda knew Peter's voice (Acts 12:14).
      11. The door at Mary's house is locked - not surprising given the situation of persecution. Rhoda hears Peter knocking (Acts 12:13)
      12. Rhoda is so excited at hearing Peter's voice that runs in to tell the others and neglected to let Peter in (Acts 12:14)
      13. The disciples saw how excited she was and thought she was crazy when she told them Peter was outside (Acts 12:15). The word translated "constantly" is probably more appropriately "confidently." (Thayer's #1340, to affirm stoutly, assert confidently).
      14. When faced with Rhoda's confident reassertion that this was Peter, the disciples asserted that is must be "his angel." (Acts 12:15). The Jews believed in guardian angels (Matt 18:10 - "their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.").
      15. All of this demonstrates how slow the disciples were to believe. They had been praying for Peter, their prayer had been answered, and Peter is outside the door, but they are convinced that Rhoda is crazy or that it is an angel.
      16. Peter keeps knocking (Acts 12:16) (no doubt a little fearful he might be apprehended), and when the disciples saw him they were astonished (further demonstration of a lack of faith).
      17. Peter motions for the excited crowd to keep quiet, again apparently concerned about drawing attraction that might lead to his capture. (Acts 12:17) This doesn't demonstrate a lack of confidence in God, but a desire to do whatever was in his power to remain out of Herod's hands.
      18. Peter tells the disciples what had happened and asked them to share the story with James and the brethren there. (Acts 12:17). As with any miracle, the escape would demonstrate to others the divine power, God's care for his people, and the answer of their fervent prayers.
        1. This James is apparently the James that was the Lord's brother mentioned in Gal. 1:19. Peter recognizes James as a man of great influence by specifically mentioning him.
        2. James was present in Jerusalem when the question of circumcision was decided (Acts 15:13) and Paul refers to him as seeming to be a pillar (Gal.2:9).
      19. Peter then departs and goes to another place. Perhaps Mary's house was too well known for him to remain there. He may have left Jerusalem (Matt. 10:23 "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.")
    4. The Death of Herod (Acts 12:18-23)
      1. When day broke, the soldiers were very upset that Peter was missing (Acts 12:18). They were responsible for watching the prisoner and were held accountable with their own lives (Acts 12:19; Acts 16:27 - the Phillipian jailor)
      2. When Herod finds out, he questions the guards and commanded that they be killed for allowing Peter to escape (Acts 12:19). This was the ordinary Roman routine for this sort of situation.
      3. Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and remained for some time (Acts 12:19).
      4. Herod was upset with Tyre and Sidon (Acts 12:20)
        1. We are not told why Herod was so upset with these cities. They were seaports on the Mediterranean coast. They did a lot of trading with the areas Herod had control of (Acts 12:20 "their country was nourished by the king's country"). It is said the particular trade was Tyre and Sidon supplied lumber to Palestine in return for wheat and corn.
        2. Tyre and Sidon developed a friendship with Blastus, the king's chamberlain, the officer over his bedchamber. He had the duty of introducing visitors to him and remained in an adjoining room so that he would be ready when the king wanted him.
        3. They attempted to make peace with Herod (Acts 12:20).
      5. Herod sits upon his throne to make a speech (Acts 12:21). Josephus describes the day as one on which a vast multitude had assembled to see a festival and games. The festival was celebrated "for the safety of Caesar." He further says that on the second day of this festival, Herod appeared in a robe "made wholly of silver, and of a texture truly wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread terror over those that looked intently upon him."
      6. The people shouted his praise, referring to him as a god rather than a man. (Acts 12:22). Herod did nothing to reflect such praise, but rather apparently took in all the flattery. (Acts 12:23). Because he failed to give God the glory, God killed Herod with worms (Acts 12:23). Josephus describes that he immediately developed a pain in his bowels, was carried away to the palace, and died after five days of excruciating pain.
    5. The Return of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 12:24-25)
      1. After this event, the word of God grew and multiplied (Acts 12:24). This stands in contrast to the attempts of man to stop the growth of the church by persecution. As had become typical, the church flourished perhaps even more during persecution.
      2. Barnabas and Paul were in Jerusalem, apparently to deliver the money from Antioch for famine relief (Acts 12:25; Acts 11:29-39). The chronology does not make clear whether they left Jerusalem before or after Herod's death, but given the persecution, it is unlikely that they stayed for long (and thus may have left before his death). The word translated "ministry" describes the "ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection" (Thayer's #1248). The reference is to their delivering of the funds from Antioch (Acts 11:29-30). They were probably in Jerusalem just long enough to deliver the money.
      3. After delivering the money, they took John Mark back with them to Antioch.

The First Missionary Tour of Paul (Acts 13-15:35)

Paul and Barnabas were separated by the Holy Spirit from the church in Antioch to be sent out on the first missionary tour to foreign lands. It was wildly successful, establishing the church in many foreign ports. Paul would take three strictly missionary tours along with his trip in captivity to carry the Gospel to the very house of Caesar in Rome. Here begins the great mission to the "uttermost parts of the world".


  1. Introduction:
    1. Acts chapter 13 begins another part of history of the early church. Christ had said that the disciples would be his witnesses first in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and finally to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8). We have seen by the previous presentations how the preaching of the word in the name of Jesus began at Jerusalem and spread abroad. In Acts 11:19-26 we learned of the establishment of the church in the great Gentile city of Antioch in Syria. Here the disciples were first called Christians. Disciples of the church in Antioch had sent Saul and Barnabas on a relief mission to Jerusalem, from which they had just returned (Acts 11:27 ; 12:25). Now Antioch becomes the center from which the gospel spreads through a series of missionary tours in which Saul (soon to be called Paul) becomes the leader.
  2. Paul's First Missionary Journey.
    1. At Antioch of Syria. 13:1
      1. Antioch becomes the center from which the Gospel spreads. It is geographically situated on some of the main travel routes by land and by sea. Antioch is located about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, on the west bank of the Orontes River. In ancient times it was called the "Queen of the East" because of the beauty of its surroundings, the importance of its commerce, and its strategic location on intersecting caravan routes between the east, west, north, and south. Also called Caesarea. Population: 500,000.
      2. Prophets and Teachers. "Prophet" as used here probably differs little from "teacher." Both words signify those who speak for the Lord in exposition of His word, though "prophet" sometimes implies speaking by direct revelation. Those listed are:
        1. Barnabas - Joses surnamed Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement). He was a Levite of the country of Cyprus. Acts 4:36-37; 11:19-26.
        2. Simeon who was called Niger.
        3. Lucius of Cyrene. Cyrene was a place in north Africa. Lucius is thought to be the same person who is later a companion of Paul when the letter is written to the Romans (Rom 16:21). Tradition claims him to have been ordained a elder of the church at Cenchreae?
        4. Manaen - "Manaen" is the Greek way of spelling the Jewish name Menahem, and indicates that he may have been a Jewish boy who became closely connected with the Herod household. The word suntrophos (4939) (here translated "brought up with" or "foster brother") is somewhat of a question? It may mean to grow up together or even be a court title. He was brought up with Herod Antipas and probably his foster brother.
        5. Saul - Later called Paul. Born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia. From a devout Jewish family. Said he was "brought up" in Jerusalem.
      3. 13:2 - As these were engaged in ministering and fasting, the Holy Spirit gave a revelation (probably through one of the prophets) that Barnabas and Saul should be separated (873) (to appoint, set apart, one for some purpose - to do something) for a work to which He had called them.
        1. "Ministering" (3008) here is the word for participating in worship rites. It is the word that gives us the word "liturgy" for worship or service. Leitourgeo is a word regularly used in the Old Testament and the New Testament of the work of the priests and Levites in the temple. It is used by the Catholic church as a proof text for their priesthood. It is also used by Protestant churches as a proof text that only ordained clergymen may officiate at the worship services. This word is not limited to worship services only. Our word "liturgy" (which has special reference to the communion service) does come from this Greek word, but it was not used as such in New Testament times, but to later ecclesiastical practices.
        2. 13:3 - Fasting (3522) in this context is to be understood as a devotional exercise intended to solemnize the occasion.
        3. Laid hands on them. This was a means of appointment or ordination to a special work or office. Here the work is that of missionaries of the Church at Antioch. The Holy Spirit guided them and sent them.
  3. Cities Visited On Paul's First Missionary Tour.
    1. 13:4 Down to Seleucia. Seleucia was founded in 300 BC by Seleucis I Nicator, to provide a seaport for Syrian Antioch. This city was located near the mouth of the Orontes River, where it empties into the Mediterranean Ocean. The distance from Antioch to Seleucia by water was 41 miles, over land was 16 miles. It was often called Seleucia by the sea.
    2. From there sailed to Cyprus. It was an island of Asia in the Mediterranean. It is about 140 miles long and 50 miles wide. Its two chief cities are Salamis, at the east end of the island, and Paphos at the west end. Since Caesar Augustus had farmed out the copper mines of Cyprus to Herod the Great, considerable numbers of Jews had moved to Cyprus to work there. Barnabas was a native of the island, and acquainted with conditions there. Some evangelistic work had already been done there (Acts 11:19). The Church at Antioch was originally founded, in part, by men from Cyprus (Acts 11:20).
    3. 13:5 Arrived in Salamis. It was the largest city on the island of Cyprus. Located on the southeast part of the island. Were many synagogues in this city and therefore many Jews as well. Many of the Cypriots were mostly worshippers of Aphrodite or Venus, and whose worship included human sacrifice.
      1. They preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. Preaching to the Jews first and then to the Greeks as ordered by God.
      2. They also had John as their assistant (5257) (helper, deacon, minister). He is a cousin of Barnabas. The first mention of the presence of John Mark is made here; accompanied Barnabas and Saul from Jerusalem (Acts 12:25) and sailed with them from Seleucia.
    4. 13:6-12 To Paphos. Lot of Worshippers of Aphrodite here and a large temple and harlot priestesses who served in the temple.
      1. In Paphos the provincial center the group encounters a Jewish sorcerer, Elymas - Bar-Jesus, who had attached himself to the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus. The governor is described by Luke as a "man of understanding" that is "one possessing good sense and wisdom or perception." Due to the decay of belief in their mythological gods, many interested Romans turned to the study of other religions, especially that of the Jews. That is why an evil man like Elymas, who though a Jew, practicing arts of astrology, magic, and divination learned from the Babylonians, could attach himself to the Roman governor. The practice had become common among some Jews (Acts 19:13).
      2. Sergius Paulus desired to hear the gospel, but Elymas knew this would be the end of his influence. So he tried to turn the proconsul's hearing away from the preachers. At this point Saul (his new name of Paul is used here for the first time) took the lead. In harsh language he rebuked the sorcerer as "the son of the devil," one "full of all guile and villainy" and pronounced a sentence of blindness upon him. Immediately he became blind.
      3. The governor, seeing and being astonished, believed. He became a believer and followed the whole process of obedience to the gospel.
    5. 13:13 - Sailed from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia. Pamphylia was one of the provinces of Asia Minor (Turkey today). It was north of Cyprus about 100 miles, and had Cilicia on its eastern border, Lycia on its western, and Pisidia on the north, with the waters of the Mediterranean forming its southern boundary. Perga was the capital city of the province. It was located not on the seacoast but about 7 miles inland on the Cestius River. There was a mountain near the city a celebrated temple of Diana or Artemis. There are extensive Greek and Romans ruins in Perga.
      1. John Mark departs to Jerusalem. We do not know the reason for his leaving but we do know it displeased Paul. It caused a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas later in (Acts 15:37-40). Differences between Paul and Mark are settled later (Col. 4:10)
    6. 13:14-52 - Departed Perga to Antioch in Pisidia. Leaving Perga they traveled about 100 miles north to Antioch Pisidia. Luke does not mention the hardships of this journey but Paul makes later reference to them in (2 Cor. 11:26). This was a great city on the main route between Ephesus and Cilicia. There was a considerable Jewish population there.
      1. Paul preaches the gospel in Antioch Pisidia. Having been invited to speak Paul addressed the synagogue. He starts by greeting the two groups, the Jews "men of Israel" and Gentile God-fearers "ye that fear God."
      2. In Acts 13:16-22 This section is a reminder of the principal actions of God in Israel's behalf. Paul states the points the Jews usually made in reviewing how their faith had been created by God's mighty deeds on Israel's behalf. He chose Israel (v.17), led them from Egypt after the temporary bondage (v.17), bare them forty years in the wilderness (v.18), destroyed the Canaanite nations and gave them the land (v.19), raised up judges to rule them until Samuel (v.20), and then gave them King Saul (v.21). Finally the great King David was raised up. He was a "man after God's own heart" who would do all the Lord's will (v.22).
      3. In Acts 13:23-26 Paul affirmed that out of David's seed hath God according to the promise brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus (v.23). The promise referred to is that of 2Sam. 7:12, where Nathan promised David that while he slept that God would raise up one to sit on his throne. That fulfillment occurred as John the Baptist had begun to preach baptism of repentance (v.24). He himself bore witness to the coming of Christ by denying that he himself was the Messiah but that one was coming far greater than he (v.25). Paul then affirms "Brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us is the word of this salvation sent forth" (v.26).
      4. In Acts 13:27-30 The Jews in Jerusalem and their rulers had not understood the teachings of the prophets which were read in the synagogue every Sabbath and had fulfilled the predictions of the scriptures by putting Jesus to death (v.27), even when He was found innocent of any crime worthy of death (v.28). They took Jesus down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb (v.29). But God raised him from the dead (v.30). Mention of the burial emphasizes the actuality of death and thus the reality of the resurrection.
      5. In Acts 13:31-41 After the resurrection Jesus was seen for about 40 days by His followers. These were His witnesses among the people (v.31). Those who knew Him the best and the most personally recognized Him as the risen Lord and now testified that indeed He had risen from the dead. Paul states in (v.32) "We bring you good tidings of the promise made unto the fathers, that God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in that He raised up Jesus." Paul then quotes three Old Testament writings to prove the resurrection of Jesus (Psa. 2:7; Isa. 55:3; Psa. 16:10) (v.33-35). David died and saw corruption but Jesus raised from the dead and saw no corruption (v.36-37). Through faith in Jesus there is forgiveness of sins, it was not possible to be justified under the law of Moses (v.38-39). Beware and believe this message or you will perish - die in your sins (v.40-41).
      6. In Acts 13:42-52 This message heard for the first time by the people in Antioch Pisidia aroused much interest. They were asked to return and speak the next Sabbath (v.42). Many Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas and were encouraged by them (v.43). On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came to hear the word of God (v.44). This great interest caused jealousy among many of the Jews, and they contradicted and reviled the things spoken by Paul (v.45). Paul boldly states that the Jews had judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, "Lo we turn to the Gentiles" (Isa. 49:6) (v.46-47). The Gentiles were glad and many believed (v.48). The gospel spread through the whole region (v.49). The Jews stirred up leading women in the city and led an attack through the rulers of the city to drive them out (v.50). They shook the dust from their feet (Luke 10:11-12) and went to Iconium (v.51). A good church was left at Antioch Pisidia and the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (v.52).
    7. 14:1-3 - At Iconium. This city (Konya today) was in the region of Phrygia, and located near the border between Phrygia and Lycaonia. Iconium was about 60 miles southeast of Antioch Pisidia. Several Roman roads met at this point and therefore an important center for teaching the gospel. This region is also part of the Roman province of Galatia at this time. Iconium is the capital of Lycaonia in Asia Minor. It was a large and rich city, 120 miles north from the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Taurus mountains, and on the great line of communication between Ephesus and the western coast of the peninsula on one side, and Tarsus, Antioch and the Euphrates on the other.
      1. Many Jews and Greeks believed. This is very similar to what took place in Antioch Pisidia. They would seek out the local Jewish population, at the synagogue if there was one, and preach the gospel to them. Some Jews and some Gentiles would believe. The unbelieving Jews would cause opposition and Paul would be forced to move on. By going to the synagogue at Iconium they could reach the Jews and proselytes would put them in contact with other Gentiles. They performed many miracles here and stayed here a long time.
      2. 14:4-6 The multitude of the city was divided, some for and some against the apostles. When they heard of the plan to stone and abuse them they had to flee. Not only the envious Jews but also the Gentiles and rulers of the city were involved so they retreated to Lycaonia.
    8. 14:6-20 Flee to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia. Lycaonia was one of the ethnic provinces of Asia Minor in pre-Roman times. Lystra was about 40 miles to the southeast of Iconium, and Derbe was about 20 miles farther to the east. Lystra had been made a Roman colony by Augustus in 6 A.D. Derbe was in the extreme southeast corner of the Lycaonian plain, almost on the border between Lycaonia and Cilicia. It was the first city a traveler came to after passing through the mountain pass called "the Cilician Gates" as he traveled to the east towards south Galatia. Both these cities would have been commercial centers for the whole region. At Derbe there would have been a customs house, where customs on goods entering the country would have been collected. A temple and statue of Zeus just outside the city.
      1. In this Greco-Roman town of Lystra there was no synagogue, for the account states that Paul proclaimed the word in the streets of the town, by the gate and marketplace. Paul healed a lame man who had been crippled from birth (v.8-10). This miracle made the pagan multitude think their gods had come down in human form (v.11). Such superstition was common. So the Lystrans called Paul (Hermes, Mercury) and Barnabas (Zeus, Jupiter). The people intended to sacrifice to and worship them as gods (v.12-13).
      2. Paul states "why are you doing these things?" We are men just as you are. Turn from these vain things you are doing and serve the living God (v.15-18). We've come to get you to stop such idol worship, not encourage it.
      3. In verses 19-20 The enemies of Paul in Iconium and Antioch Pisidia heard he was at Lystra. The persecutors traveled a distance of over 100 miles in order to continue their active opposition to Paul and Barnabas, and to keep the Lycaonians from becoming involved in this new religion. These men persuaded the multitudes that Paul was an impostor. A short time ago they were ready to worship them, and now they give permission for them to be stoned.
      4. The visiting Jews did the stoning. They were satisfied they were stoning a blasphemer because Paul taught grace rather than obedience to the Old Law. Then Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city and they thought he was dead.
    9. 14:21-28 From Lystra to Derbe. Derbe was 20 miles away to the southeast. They preached the gospel to that city and converted many disciples.
      1. They then return to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch Pisidia. They go back to visit the new congregations they have just started. What great faith to return to these places they have been badly persecuted. Not only are men to be won to Christ, but the converts must be conserved! The welfare of the new Churches was more important than their own physical safety.
      2. They were strengthening, encouraging, and appointing the disciples they had made in these cities. Increasing their faith. They are warning the brethren of persecutions and affliction that will be coming upon them. Though persecution is unpleasant if they will continue with Christ to the end they will have eternal life in heaven.
      3. They appointed for them elders in every church (v.23). Prayer and fasting here as in (Acts 13:1-2) expound the seriousness of this selection.
      4. The return trip from the interior of Asia Minor to Antioch of Syria was told by Luke in a few words. The group passed through Pisidia, Pamphylia, and Perga (where they again preached), Attalia (from which they sailed), and finally back to Antioch of Syria (v.24-26).
      5. Attalia was a town on the seacoast, about 16 miles from Perga. Modern name is Antalya. Probably found no ship bound for Syria at Perga so traveled to Attalia to find a ship back to Antioch of Syria.
      6. On their return to the church which had sent them out, they gathered the whole congregation for a report. They told all that God had done with them and how the door of faith for the Gentiles had been opened (v.27). They stayed here a long time with the disciples (v.28). They had done all the Holy Spirit had intended for them to do and concluded the first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas traveled over 1200 miles and established more than half a dozen churches in the 2-4 years they were gone on this journey.
  4. The Troubles Over Circumcision And The Jerusalem Council. Acts 15:1-35
    1. 15:1 Men who came from Judea. These were men who were supposedly converted Jews from the sect of the Pharisees. In Gal. 2:4 they are referred to as "false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty." They came from Jerusalem to Antioch of Syria, and claimed to have been sent from the apostles.
      1. They were causing a great disturbance among the church in Antioch by their teaching that circumcision must be practiced and probably a few other Jewish customs as well.
      2. The Judaizers regarded circumcision (and the keeping of the whole law) as indispensable to salvation. They wished to force the keeping of the Law on the Gentile converts, and they claimed that the church in Jerusalem had authorized them to so teach, which was a false claim (15:24). It is very difficult for you and I to understand the vast importance of the Law to a Jew.
    2. 15:2 - Paul and Barnabas both knew that this was a false teaching. Paul received the gospel he preached through direct revelation from Christ (Gal. 1:11-12).
      1. Dissension (4714) - discord, strife, insurrection
      2. Disputation (4803) - discussion, questioning
      3. It was decided that Paul and Barnabas and certain others should go to Jerusalem with this question. In Gal. 2:2 tells us they went to Jerusalem because of a revelation. Gal. 2:1 tells us that Titus is one of the "certain others" that went with them.
      4. They went to Jerusalem because this is where the majority of the twelve apostles were. The Judaizers and some others probably did not regard Paul's opinion or authority as an apostle (Gal. 2:6-9). The date of this trip to Jerusalem is 51 A.D.
    3. 15:3 Sent on their way by the church. Passed through Phoenicia and Samaria. As they traveled through these cities they told of the success of their first missionary journey and the conversion of the Gentiles and there was great joy.
    4. 15:4 It was a journey of approx. 300 miles from Antioch to Jerusalem. They were received and welcomed. Paul and Barnabas told of the church work that God had been doing through them.
    5. 15:5-6 Certain "converted" Pharisees, stood up saying it was necessary to circumcise these Gentile converts and direct them to observe the Law of Moses.
      1. The apostles and elders came together to look into this matter. When we compare the language of 15:6 with that of 15:4, we are led to see that verse 6 speaks of a different meeting than verses 4 and 5 did. In that first meeting Paul and Barnabas had declared in detail the conversion of the Gentiles. Then the Judaizers stated their position, insisting that the Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to keep the law. At this point the meeting seems to have been dismissed. Then verse 6 introduces us to a second public meeting which continues through verse 29. Compare Gal. 2.
      2. The purpose of the second meeting was to enable the apostles to bring the whole church into agreement with themselves.
    6. 15:7-11 In this speech Peter, in agreement with Paul and Barnabas, clearly endorsed the position of freedom from the law. He emphasized three points:
      1. God had chosen Peter to preach to Cornelius and his house and they had been accepted by obeying the gospel alone and were not required to be circumcised.
      2. The law was a yoke which the Jews themselves were never able to keep.
      3. That Jew and Gentile shall be saved in the same manner, that is, by the grace of God and not by the Law.
    7. 15:12 Then Paul and Barnabas spoke of the miracles and works that God performed through them on their first missionary journey which further convinced the people God accepted the Gentiles. They appeal to what God had done and this was evidence that God approved their ministry.
    8. 15:13-21 James the Lord's brother is the next speaker. James was acknowledged as a great Jewish personality and had great influence (according to Josephus). James' name had been used by the Judaizers (Gal. 2:12) and perhaps they expected James to support their circumcision position. James agrees completely with Peter, Paul, and Barnabas and his summary restates several of their arguments already made.
      1. In verse 14, he approved what Simeon or Peter had said in appealing to the conversion of Cornelius. He quoted from the prophet Amos in agreement with the statements of Peter (Amos 9:11-12). This quotation predicted that the tabernacle of David would be reestablished and that the Gentiles would be included in the covenant.
      2. In verse 19, James states the Gentiles should not be troubled by the addition of any burden beyond that of acceptance of the gospel. However, he cautioned that a letter should be written to these Gentile Christians to urge them to (v.20) "abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood." James states the fact that "Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogue every Sabbath" as the reason these four things should be kept by the Gentiles.
    9. 15:22-29 The letter. Following James' suggestion that a letter be written (v.22), "Then it seemed good to the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to choose out men of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas called Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren." The reason for their coming is stated in (v.27) "they themselves shall tell you the same things by word of mouth." There would be no mistaking the message which came by word of mouth and by letter.
      1. In verses 23-29, the letter followed the suggestions made by James. The letter was to; the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Cilicia; from the apostles, elders, and brethren.
      2. In verse 24, the letter disclaimed responsibility of the Jerusalem church for the Judaizers who had gone out troubling the church with the false doctrine of keeping the Law.
    10. 15:30-35 Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Barsabas traveled back to Antioch from which they had been sent. The church was gathered together and the letter read and Silas and Barsabas exhorted the brethren and confirmed the message.
      1. The news brought rejoicing for the consolation it contained (v.31).
      2. After spending some time in Antioch of Syria, Silas and Barsabas were sent back to Jerusalem. But Silas saw fit to stay in Antioch (v.34) and would accompany Paul on his next (second) missionary journey travels.

The Second Missionary Tour of Paul (Acts 15:35-18:22)

Paul and Barnabas have an intense disagreement about taking John Mark with them on this their second missionary journey. The dispute was so intense that they decided, evidently for the good of the work, that they would go their separate ways. We have no information on Barnabas' work other than that he took John Mark and went to Cyprus. Paul, on the other hand chose Silas and set out on his second great missionary tour.


  1. The purpose of the second Missionary Journey and the contention over John Mark (15.36-41):
    1. Paul's purpose in the second tour is to revisit all of the churches planted by Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey. They were also to deliver to the churches, the letter from the apostles concerning what was expected of them concerning the keeping of the law of Moses.
    2. The time elapsed between the first and second journey is estimated to be around 7 years. The second journey lasted an estimated 3 years and covered a distance of approximately 3500 miles.
    3. Contention over John Mark
      1. The reason for the contention was:
        1. John Mark was the nephew of Barnabas (Col 4:10) and Barnabas felt strongly about taking him with them. And-
        2. John Mark had started the first missionary journey with them and had for some reason left them and returned home when they were in Perga of Pamphylia (Acts 13.13). Paul obviously viewed this as desertion, and for that reason opposed taking him with them on this trip.
    4. Paul and Barnabas separate
      1. Because the contention was so "sharp" they went separate ways. Paul chose Silas to accompany him, and Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus.
      2. Silas - A highly respected member of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15.22) who was also a prophet (15.32). He and Judas had been selected to accompany Paul and Barnabas from Jerusalem to Antioch to confirm by mouth that which was written to the gentile churches concerning the law of Moses and the law of Christ.
      3. Barnabas - This is the last mention of Barnabas in the book of Acts. However, Paul's mention of Barnabas in 1 Cor 9.6 shows that he was busy in the work of the ministry. Paul's later writings show that their was no animosity held by Paul toward Barnabas or John Mark, and that his confidence in John Mark was restored. ( Col 4.10-11; 2T
    5. Syria and Cilicia - No details are given concerning their trek through Syria and Cilicia, except to say that they confirmed the churches. Which would indicate that they found them in good standing and presented to them the letter from the apostles.
  2. Derbe and Lystra (16.1-7)- Derbe was the last place visited on the first missionary tour. Lystra was the place where Paul had been stoned and left for dead.
    1. Timothy - It is assumed that Timothy was converted by Paul on his first missionary tour because of the reference in 1 Tim 1.2. He had been taught the old testament scriptures by his mother and his grandmother (II Tim 1.5; 3.15) and had earned a good reputation as a believer among the church in the area in which he lived.
    2. Evidently Paul saw great potential in Timothy and desired him to go with them. Paul circumcised Timothy in order to appease Jewish prejudices which they might encounter on the journey.
    3. The Spirit forbids them go unto Asia or Bithynia - After going through Phrygia and Galatia, the Holy Spirit forbids them go into Asia (south) and Bithynia(north). This along with the Macedonian vision seems to show that the Holy Spirit was directing them away from past labors (as Paul had sought to visit all of the churches planted on the first tour) and is directing them to new ground (Europe).
  3. Troas (16.8-11)- Bore the name of the ancient city of Troy, the sight of which was about 4 miles away.
    1. Macedonian vision - Paul's call to go into Europe. Paul understands the vision as Gods call to preach the gospel in Macedonia, and immediately makes preparation to go.
    2. Luke introduces himself in verses 10 and 11 by using the 1st person pronouns of us and we.
    3. There is no mention of their preaching at Troas, but other verse indicate the there was a church there. (2 Cor 2:12; Acts 20.6).
  4. Philippi (16.12-40) - "the chief city of that part of Macedonia and a colony" Philippi was a Roman colony and the capitol city of Macedonia.
    1. The conversion of Lydia - The fact that Paul did not go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and that these women were meeting by a river to pray would appear to indicate that there was no synagogue in Philippi. Lydia was a seller of "purple". Her home of Thyatira was famous for it purple dyes. She either sold the dyes or cloth that had been dyed. "Whose heart the Lord opened".
      1. When hearing the gospel preached, Lydia didn't harden her heart, but rather was believing. Her heart was of the good ground that Jesus described in the parable of the sower. Lydia and her household believed and were baptized (most likely in the river by which they met.)
    2. The damsel with a spirit of divination - She was possessed of a demon, by which she was a soothsayer or was able to foretell future events, or discover secrets by other than human means. She was slave to some men who made great profit from her unfortunate condition.
      1. When she met Paul and Silas, she professed that they were servants of the most high God, much like demons often proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God (Luke 8.28). Paul recognized her condition, and called the demon out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ or by His authority.
    3. Paul and Silas cast into prison.- The woman's owners when seeing that their hope of easy riches was gone sought justice from the city magistrates or governors, citing that they (Paul and Silas) were Jews (to stir up prejudice) and that they had taught customs which were not lawful for Roman citizens to receive or observe. Under Roman law, it was unlawful to practice any new religion. Jews were allowed to practice their own religion as long as they didn't attempt to proselyte Roman citizens. Hence the preaching of Christ was preaching a new religion and subjected them to prosecution and punishment.
      1. The woman's owners stirred up the people to create a mob like atmosphere, which influenced the magistrates to tear off their clothes (Paul and Silas') and beat them with rods (2 Cor 11.25) and cast them into prison, giving strict instructions to the jailer not to let them escape.
    4. The Philippian Jailer - The jailer having received strict instruction of the magistrates, put Paul and Silas in the most secure place in the prison (the inner part) and even put their feet in the stocks. Stocks were not only a way of securing prisoners, but also a form of torture. Normally they were made to put the feet (which were spread wide apart to cause great discomfort) hands and the head in. But in this case only the feet were put in. Despite the fact that Paul and Silas had been dragged before the magistrates, publicly beaten with "many stripes", cast into prison and placed in the stocks, at midnight they were praying and singing praises unto God. The Holy Spirit record the fact that the prisoners heard them. How strange they must have thought it to hear men in this condition praying and singing praises to God.
      1. Apparently the jailer didn't hear them, because when the earthquake shook the prison to its foundation and opened all of the doors, it woke him up. Seeing the doors opened and presuming that the prisoners were gone, and knowing that he would have to pay for their lives with his own (Acts 12.19; 27.42) He prepared to take his own life. It is difficult to imagine what must have gone through his mind at that time, perhaps he thought of his wife and his family, or perhaps of how vain his life had been, and the unfairness of the circumstance in which he found himself. But the sound of Paul's voice telling him that they were all still there and to do himself no harm brought a charge of hope and relief. He called for a light and confirmed that which Paul had told him.
      2. The jailer had apparently heard some things about Paul and Silas. Perhaps he had heard of the testimony that the demonic possessed woman had made that they were the servants of the Most High God that show unto us the way of salvation. By whatever means, the jailer connected the earthquake and the safety of the prisoners with Paul and Silas, because he came trembling and fell before them and asked them "what must I do to be saved?".
      3. Their answer was pure and simple Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Not only him, but his household if they obeyed the command and everyone everywhere who would likewise believe. The next verse says that they spake unto him the word of the Lord. (..how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard). The instruction to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ was impossible for the jailer to do at that instant, because he had not heard of him. Much like Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch, they preached unto him and to his household Jesus.
      4. And afterward he took them (somewhere away from the prison) and washed their stripes (they apparently had received no treatment for their wounds before that time) and was baptized he and all his straightway. In the new testament conversions, baptism was always done immediately. The jailer took them to his house and fed them, and rejoiced in the new life which he now lived. What a great change had taken place since the few hours before when he had stood ready to take his own life.
    5. Paul and Silas go free - Whether it was because of the earthquake, or another reason, the attitude of the magistrates toward Paul and Silas was much different the next morning, and they sent word to the jailer to release them. Paul having an understanding of the law and of the injustice that they had suffered at the hands of the magistrates, makes a point by refusing to go unless the magistrates themselves come and fetch them out, throwing in that what they had done to them (publicly beating and casting into prison uncondemned men who were Romans) was illegal being Roman citizens.
      1. The punishment to the magistrates for their actions could be as severe as death, so it is no wonder they quickly obliged Paul's request and fetched them out of prison themselves. Afterward they pleaded with Paul and Silas to leave Philippi to avoid further trouble. After saying goodbye to the church there (the nucleus of which would appear to be the household of Lydia and the household of the jailer) Paul and Silas departed.
      2. Luke's change in the narrative to third person beginning with verse 40 and lasting until chapter 20, seems to indicate that he (Luke) remained in Phillipi until Paul returned there during his third missionary journey.
  5. Thessalonica -(17.1-9)
    1. To the Jews first - In every place that Paul traveled, he always went to the Jew first to preach the gospel (Romans 1.16). Here he reasoned with them the necessity of Christs suffering and crucifixion and resurrection. Many of them believe, among whom are many devout Greeks (proselytes) and chief women (women with high social standing).
    2. But, the Jews who do not believe( moved with the jealousy of having so many of their Jewish brethren converted to Christianity) align themselves with the undesirables of the city and create a vigilante mob which attacks the house of Jason in hopes of finding Paul and Silas. When they are not there, they drag out Jason, and some of the other brethren and bring them before the rulers of the city.
    3. They describe Paul and Silas and the whole Gospel movement as "these who have turned the world upside down". The effect that the preaching of the gospel was having, could probably not be summed up any better than that. It was tremendous. The uproar caused by the Jews and the accusations that they made were troubling to the city rulers, so that they took custody of Jason and the brethren, and after apparently giving them some kind of warning about disturbing the peace, they let them go. The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas on.
  6. Berea (17.10-14) - The city where the people were more noble, because they searched the scriptures to see if the things which Paul, Silas, and Timothy preached unto them were so. Because of their sincerely, many believed and the work was fruitful. But when the Jews from Thessalonica heard about their presence in Berea, they immediately came there to once again stir up trouble against them.
    1. The brethren therefore send Paul away from the city, but Silas and Timothy remain. Apparently the presence of Silas and Timothy was not as troubling to the Jews as was the presence of Paul.
  7. Athens -(18.1-18) Paul was escorted by some of the brethren of Berea to Athens. Before they returned, Paul sent them instruction to send Silas and Timothy to him as quickly as possible.
    1. Paul's spirit is stirred when he sees that the city was wholly given to Idolatry. This spurred Paul to preach the gospel. As usual, he first sought the audience of the Jews, and of the Gentile worshipers. He preached the gospel in the synagogue and in the marketplace, and there he encountered some of the Greek philosophies and their disciples.
      1. The Epicureans got their name from Epicurus. His object was to find in philosophy a practical guide to happiness. His disciples were known as the school of the "garden" from the garden in Athens from which he instructed them. He taught that enjoyment of tranquil pleasure was the greatest thing to which man could aspire.
      2. The Stoicks were the advocates of the philosophy founded by Zeno who taught that God was the soul of the world, or that the world was God. He taught that everything was governed by fate and denied the immortality of the soul. The name Stoicks came from the word for porch. They were known as disciples of the porch, for it was from a porch that Zeno taught them. The Stoicks sought to live in harmony with nature conformably with reason and the demands of universal good, and in the utmost indifference to pleasure, pain, and all external good or evil. This was their fundamental maxim.
      3. The ethical system of the Stoics has been commonly supposed to have a close connection with Christian morality; but the morality of stoicism is essentially based on pride, that of Christianity on humility; the one upholds individual independence, the other absolute faith in another; the one looks for consolation in the issue of fate, the other in Providence; the one is limited by periods of cosmic ruin, the other is consummated in a personal resurrection.
      4. Paul encountered both classes of philosophy in Athens. They (in their philosophical and intellectual arrogance) said of Paul "what will this babbler say". The word for babbler here means "seed picker", they compared Paul to a little bird who picks up seeds for food, as if he was an ignorant man who had picked up some crumbs of knowledge, They also said that he was a proclaimer of strange gods, because he preached Chris and the resurrection.
    2. Paul Preaches on Mars Hill - The Stoicks and Epicureans escorted Paul to Areopagus or Mars Hill. There were several hills within the walls on ancient Athens among them were
      1. The Acropolis on which were built many temples of gods and heroes, the chief (building) of which was the Parthenon.
      2. The Areopagus or Mars Hill - here met the council of Areopagus, a criminal tribunal. The hill stood just north of the marketplace where Paul encountered the Stoicks and Epicureans. He was brought here so that they might listen more conveniently (not to be tried). 3) The Pnyx - on which assemblies of the citizens were held.
    3. Verse 21 tells us that the Athenians and the people who sojourned there were eager to hear anything new. This explains why they were so willing to hear Paul, not so much out of a sincere desire to know God, but more for a means of entertainment to satisfy their desire to know something new.
    4. Paul, surrounded by a crowd of Greek philosophers and curious onlookers seizes the opportunity to preach the gospel. He begins his speech by saying that he perceived that in all things they were to superstitious. The Greek word for superstitious is "hos deisidaimonesterous from "deido" to fear and "daimon" deity. The Greeks used it in the good sense of pious or religious or the bad sense of superstitious. The American Standard Version translates it religious.
    5. Perhaps Paul's point is that they were too religiously superstitious. He tells them of the things that he had observed while in their city. As was mentioned earlier Paul was stirred when he saw that the city was wholly given to idolatry.
    6. It has been written of Ancient Athens that there were so many idols there, that it was easier to find a god than a man. From where Paul stood on Mars Hill, he could see the Acropolis and all of the temples that adorned it. He points out to them that he had these idols which were so prominent in their city. And that in passing by he had noticed an inscription on one of these images that said TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Paul used this inscription to introduce to the Athenians the only true God, who was truly unknown to them.
    7. Paul tells them that he declares unto them the God who created all things. That He does not dwell in temples mad with hands (the earth is His and the fullness thereof). He has no need that we should make Him a dwelling place. He is not worshipped with men's hands. He doesn't need man to do things for Him for His survival. But rather He is the giver of life and all that sustains it. We are His creation. The Greeks like the Jews thought themselves the superior race of people. But Paul points out that we all have the same origin from God, and that he also has determined the boundaries of where we may live and the duration of our lives.
    8. All of the things that God has created and given to man should turn our hearts to seek after Him, to strive to know more about Him and His will toward us. He uses the illustration of a blind man groping in the dark, as those not enlightened by the word of God grope blindly to find Him. But He is not hard to find because He is near to all of us. In fact, it is in Him that we move and breath and have our very existence. We are totally dependent upon Him for life and all that sustains it. Even their own poets acknowledged that we are God's offspring. If we are therefore God's creation why should we have such a low concept of what God is like (gold, silver, or stone carved and molded by man)?
    9. God in times past has overlooked this ignorance, but now commands all men to repent, because He has revealed to us all truth through His Son Jesus Christ. By whom He will judge all men at the day which He has appointed.
    10. When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection from the dead, some of them mocked. Neither the Epicureans or the Stoicks believed in the resurrection. Therefore, when Paul spoke to them concerning the resurrection, they thought it foolishness and they mocked. Some of them apparently were not totally opposed to Paul's teaching because they said that they would here him again on this mater (much like Felix in chapter 24). Paul had preached to them the truth, they had heard it, and rejected it.
    11. Paul therefore departs from them to seek more fertile ground in which to plant the seed of the Word. Paul's' efforts were not wasted here however, as we find that several of them believed. Among them were Dionysius the Areopagite (a member of the council of Areopagus) and Damaris (probably a woman of high social position).
  8. Paul in Corinth (18.1-18) - Corinth was between 40 and 50 miles west of Athens on the Isthmus of Corinth. Because of its geographical location, Corinth was a great city of commerce. Corinth was also known for its lax morals.
    1. Priscilla and Aquilla - As was Paul's custom, upon arriving in Corinth he sought out the Jews. One of the Jews which he met was a man named Aquilla. Aquilla and his wife Priscilla had just recently come to Corinth from Italy. The Jews had been commanded by the order of Claudius to leave Rome, because of the constant tumult that they instigated. It is easy to see from the stories revealed in the book of Acts, why this would be true.
      1. Aquilla shared the same trade with Paul, that of tent-making. Every Jewish boy was carefully taught a trade. A Jewish rabbi once said that a father might just as well teach his son to steal if he failed to teach him a trade. It is unclear whether or not Aquilla and Priscilla were already Christians before meeting Paul, or if they were converted by Paul.
    2. Paul preaches to the Jews - Soon after Paul's arrival at Corinth, Silas and Timothy arrived also. Although Paul had given them instructions to come as quickly as possible to Athens, it appears that they never made until after Paul had already left.
      1. Their arrival at Corinth brings a great lift to Paul. The scripture says that after their arrival, that Paul was "pressed in the spirit" or he felt a strong impulse to do the work of preaching the gospel. .He preached powerfully to the Jews, but many would not hear him, but "opposed themselves" (or would not do that which was for their own good, in accepting the gospel)
    3. "And blasphemed "(indulged in reproachful and reviling language toward Paul and Christ). Paul shook his raiment (much like Jesus had told the disciples to shake the dirt off of their feet from the homes of those who would not receive them, when he had sent them out by twos.) As a testimony against them, and then tells them that their blood is on their own head, or that they have had their opportunity and rejected it, therefore, they were responsible for their own fate as a result. He now would turn to the Gentiles.
    4. Paul turns to the Gentiles - Paul left the synagogue and entered the house that adjoined it. The house was owned by a man named Justus - the revised version give his name as Titus Justus. Not much is known about him, but some think that he was the Titus that later became a companion of Paul. Many of the Corinthian believed the things taught them by Paul (the gospel) and were baptized, including the chief ruler of the synagogue named Crispus (whom Paul baptized personally I Cor 14)
    5. Paul received a vision from the Lord, in which the Lord reveals to him that he should not be afraid, but continue to preach the word, because there were many people in Corinth who would obey the gospel if given the opportunity to hear it. It had to be somewhat discouraging to Paul that everywhere that he went, he had to endure the hatred and violence brought on by those who opposed the gospel (primarily the Jews).
    6. Apparently there must have been some threat of violence against him in Corinth, but the Lord encourages Paul with these words, and Paul continues there for a year and six months, preaching the word. Toward the end of this period, the Jews mad their move against Paul. They caught him on one of the appointed days of the Roman court, and drug him before Gallio. They mad the accusation that Paul was teaching the people to worship contrary to Roman law (once again that he was teaching a new religion).
    7. Paul prepared to make hi defense, but before he could, Gallio threw the case out, stating that if they had brought Paul before him because of a crime committed against someone he would have heard them, but because they were merely splitting hairs over names and words in a religious dispute, that he would not hear them ( they could settle this matter themselves). He ordered the guards to clear the court.
    8. The Greeks (whether these were soldiers, or other Greek citizens is unclear) caught Sosthenes (the chief ruler of the synagogue and beat him before Gallio, who apparently was indifferent to it. Some suppose that he was beaten as a punishment for bringing a religious dispute before the court. Paul remained in Corinth for some time after these events.
  9. Paul Returns to Antioch (18.19-22) After his stay in Corinth, Paul took with him Aquilla, and Priscilla and sailed to Ephesus, where he reasoned (or made arguments from the old testament scriptures to show that Jesus was the Christ) with the Jews for a short time, before leaving for Jerusalem to keep a Jewish day (which one is unclear. Some suppose that it was Pentecost). Paul left Aquilla and Priscilla in Ephesus, and sailed to Caesarea, went inland to Jerusalem where he apparently kept the feast day, and greeted the church there before returning to Antioch, thus ending his second missionary journey.
  10. The journey lasted about 3 years. During the tour, churches were established at Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, and perhaps in other places as well. It was during his stay at Corinth that the first and second letters to the Thessalonians were written.

The Third Missionary Tour of Paul (Acts 18:23-21:16)

Ephesus is the scene of the majority of Paul's 3rd missionary journey. He teaches daily, converting multitudes of the local Diana worshipers and through this effort founding churches in cities for a hundred miles around. He stayed here longer than any other single stop in his missionary tours that we know of.


  1. Paul's Journey Begins - Acts 18:23
    1. Probably began around 54 A.D.
      1. Verse says that Paul "went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia." We know Paul began the journey in Antioch. Acts 18: 22-23. Where Paul went after leaving Antioch is something of a guess because the scripture simply tells us in Acts 19:1 that Paul arrived in Ephesus. Ephesus is more than 1000 miles from Antioch (an estimated journey of about 40 days plus any stoppages). Therefore, it is safe to say that Paul made some stops between Antioch and Ephesus. However, exactly where those stops were made is something we just do not know.
      2. Boles in his book on Acts states that Paul most likely went to Tarsus after leaving Antioch. After leaving Tarsus, Boles believes that Paul headed northwest through Galatia and then southwest through Phrygia. This path might have taken Paul through cities such as Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (in Phrygia).
    2. The Lesson: The Importance of Strengthening Christians: Whatever the path Paul followed, we do know the purpose for his trip. The Bible says that Paul went to cities "strengthening all the disciples." Paul's obvious purpose was to return to churches that had been established and to strengthen or build up those churches. This process of strengthening existing congregations appears elsewhere in Acts (Acts 14:22; Acts 15: 32-41). The lesson for us is an important one. To often we focus on teaching the Gospel and baptizing souls into the body of Christ. Our focus here is good since baptism is the method by which we obey the Gospel and become members of the Kingdom. However, Christians can fall from grace and Paul understood this. (Gal. 1: 6-9; Gal. 5: 1-4). The Bible repeatedly makes this clear. (John 6: 63-66; Heb. 6:1-6; II Pet. 2: 20-22). What we need to understand is that we need to go beyond simply baptizing folks. New Christians are extremely vulnerable since they are relatively unskilled in the Word. (Heb. 5: 12-14). This lack of strength and spiritual root makes new Christians tempting prey for false teachers. (Acts 20: 28-31; II Pet. 2; II Tim. 4: 1-5; I Tim. 4: 1-6). Paul understood this danger and recognized his duty to build up these new Christians and new congregations. We too need to accept this additional responsibility to strengthen new brothers and sisters in Christ. (Acts 20: 35; Rom. 14: 1; Rom. 15:1; Eph. 4: 11-12; I Thess. 5: 14; Gal. 6:1)
  2. Apollos in Ephesus - Acts 18:24-28
    1. Luke now abruptly jumps in his story. Rather than tell us about Paul's stops between Antioch and Ephesus, he tells stops to let us know what is going on in Ephesus while Paul is en route from Antioch.
    2. This is the first mention of Apollos, but he is mentioned elsewhere in the scriptures. (I Cor. 3:4-6, 21-23; I Cor. 4:6; I Cor. 16:12; Titus 3:13). These verses show that Apollos became a great worker in the Church and evidence that Paul developed a relationship with him. Some scholars have even suggested that Apollos might be the author of the letter to the Hebrews. Whether this is true is at the very least subject to serious debate, but it is clear that Apollos was an important and dedicated servant of the Lord.
      1. The scripture tells us that Apollos was a Jew born in Alexandria and was "an eloquent man, mighty in the scriptures." That Apollos was from Alexandria is significant. Alexandria was a famous city located in Egypt and named after Alexander the Great. The city was renowned as a center for learning and hosted what at the time was the largest library in the world. The Greek work translated eloquent is logios (3052). The word means "learned, a man of letters, skilled in literature and the arts." It can also mean "skilled in speech, eloquent." Accordingly, the word may or may not mean that Apollos was a great orator. Regardless of his speaking abilities, we can surmise that Apollos was a very influential Christian. This can be seen from the trouble in Corinth caused when certain brethren began to divide based on their allegiance to certain Christian teachers (I Cor. 1:11-17). At first glance it may seem a contradiction that Apollos was "mighty in the scriptures" and still in error as to baptism. There is no contradiction. The phrase "mighty in the scriptures" indicates that Apollos knew the Old Testament well. Accordingly, although knowledgeable concerning the Old Testament, we can see how Apollos might still be ignorant of true Christian baptism.
      2. Verse 25 makes it clear that Apollos was a man of zeal and sincerity in his service to God. He taught publicly "the things of the Lord." The verse says that Apollos was "instructed in the way of the Lord" and taught diligently (or accurately: akribos - 199) the things of the Lord. However the verse states that Apollos knew "only the baptism of John." In other words, what he taught was accurate, but incomplete. To understand the distinction, suppose one taught that belief was essential to salvation. This would be accurate, but incomplete.
      3. Of course, in a sense what was missing from Apollos' teachings made them inaccurate. Aquilla and Priscilla understood this and in verse 26 "took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of the God more perfectly." The are several lessons that we can glean from this story
        1. Zeal is not a substitute for knowledge: From the phrase "more perfectly" we can infer that Apollos' knowledge was imperfect and was perfected by the teaching of Apollos. This imperfection existed despite all of Apollos' zeal, sincerity, and hard work. Zeal without knowledge is less than satisfactory. Paul spoke of Israel as being in this situation. Rom. 10:1-9. Because of their ignorance, Paul prayed that they "might be saved" and noted that Israel had "not submitted…unto the righteousness of God."
        2. Women can teach outside of the Church: The Bible is clear that women are not permitted to teach in the assembly. (I Cor. 14:34-35; I Tim. 2: 11-15). However, the Bible places no such prohibition on the women in a private setting. Indeed, this story is an example of how effective a woman can be in a teaching role. Other verses confirm the woman's role in influencing and teaching others. (Rom. 16:1-2; Phil. 4:3; Titus 2:3-5).
        3. We ought to correct error: So many times we hear things taught in error from the pulpit or from a brother or sister in a private setting and do not take the opportunity to correct the error. Would the later verses concerning Apollos be in the Bible if he continued to teach the baptism of John and never taught Christian baptism? The answer is no. Apollos then would only be teaching confusion rather than truth. When we confront error, no matter how sincere the person, we have an obligation to correct it (Prov. 17:15; Prov. 24:24; Prov. 28:4; Isaiah 5:20; Ezek. 13:22; Mal. 2:17; Luke 17:3; Rom. 1:32; Eph 5:11; I Tim. 5:20; II Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15). More and more the church has become complacent in this area and it represents one of the gravest dangers to the spreading of the Kingdom in our generation. Of course, this does not mean that the church should overreact and become insensitive to the human weaknesses that afflict us all. We need to be firmly for the truth and against error, but we need to do so with a spirit of humility and compassion (Gal. 6:1-3).
        4. Good instruction to a single individual can affect many: Apollos was one man who was misinformed concerning baptism. Aquilla and Priscilla took the time to properly teach Apollos and it had a tremendous ripple effect. In Acts 18:27 we learn that Apollos went into Achaia (specifically Corinth - Acts 19:1) and helped the Christians there a great deal. In Acts 18:28 the Bible states that Apollos "mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
        5. Baptism is important: While other verses establish that baptism is an essential element in our conversion (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:1-7; I Pet. 3:21, etc.), this verse provides a sort of illustration of the importance of baptism. If baptism was unimportant or a matter of personal taste, why would Apollos need to be corrected? The misunderstanding Apollos had was serious and in need of correction. While this does not establish that baptism is essential (we can leave that to the other plain verses in the Bible), it does establish that the subject is an important element of Christian doctrine that must be correctly understood. It is not a subject that can be left to personal interpretation and preference.
  3. Paul in Ephesus - Acts 19
    1. Paul confronts the disciples who knew only John's baptism: Apollos is away in Corinth and Paul arrives in Ephesus. This fulfills the contingent promise he made when he last left Ephesus (Acts 18:21). Upon his arrival, Paul finds disciples who are in the same state that Apollos was in prior to meeting Aquilia and Priscilla- they only knew the baptism of John (Acts 19:3). This is not surprising since Apollos had been teaching the baptism of John publicly in Ephesus (Acts 18:25). Something clues Paul into the fact that these disciples were lacking in spiritual knowledge and that something was missing. Therefore, Paul asks whether they had received the Holy Ghost. There answer in the King James Version is translated "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." This phrase should probably be understood to mean that these disciples had not heard that the Holy Ghost had been given. In other words they had heard of the Holy Ghost (which is not surprising since John the Baptist spoke of the Holy Ghost - Matt. 3:11; John 1:33), but had not heard of the pouring out of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
    2. The Baptism of John and the Christian Baptism: That the baptism of John was insufficient is plain from this chapter (Acts 19:3-5). In verse 4, Paul states that the baptism of John was a baptism of repentance and a commitment to accept Jesus when he arrived as the messiah (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16). It was a baptism that preceded Jesus and looked forward to Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection. (Matt. 3:11-12; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3-18). Individuals were baptized with the baptism of John after hearing Jesus speak (Luke 7:24-30). The inferiority of this baptism is evident once one understands the purpose and basis for Christian baptism. Christian baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, which is the Gospel (Rom. 6:1-7; I Cor. 15:1-4). John's baptism could never do this because it preceded this Gospel fact. Once Jesus died, was buried, and arose, the only correct baptism became the Christian baptism, which embodied this core fact of the Gospel. In addition, it is clear from the account in Acts that John's baptism could not impart the Holy Ghost because the Holy Ghost came after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and was thus received only through Christian baptism (Acts 2:38). Apparently these disciples had received John's baptism after it was no longer in force. Accordingly, they were re-baptized (Acts 19:5).
    3. Paul lays hands on the re-baptized disciples: In verse 5, after being properly baptized, the disciples received the "gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). What occurs in verse 6 is the bestowing of supernatural gifts by Paul as an outward sign of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. The Bible teaches that these supernatural gifts would only exist for a limited period of time (I Cor. 13: 8). Moreover, it is clear that these gifts could only be bestowed by the laying on of hands by the apostles (Acts 8:5-17).
    4. Paul begins his public preaching in Ephesus: Having taught the existing disciples the way of God more perfectly, Paul turns to teaching publicly at Ephesus. He begins in the synagogue speaking boldly for three months concerning the kingdom of God. This in and of itself is a valuable lesson to us. Paul preached to the Ephesians boldly, with confidence, and with power. Too many times, even if we happen to muster the courage to speak to someone concerning Christ, we deliver a timid and uncertain rendition of the Gospel. We should not be ashamed of the Gospel and preach it with a confidence that is based on the power of that Gospel (Rom. 1:16). Interestingly, verse 8 says that they he was "disputing and persuading." The word "persuading" seems to infer that Paul had some success in his preaching. However, it is clear that not everyone accepted Paul's teachings. The individuals who did not believe began to speak evil of Paul and his teachings.
    5. Paul withdraws from the synagogue: Verse 9 says Paul departed from the synagogue once the unbelievers began to speak evil of the Gospel. The word translated departed is aphistemi (868) and means to withdraw. The same word is used in I Tim. 6:5 to indicate a termination of fellowship. Paul also separates the disciples who were gathering at the synagogue to worship and brings them into a more sheltered environment for worship (Acts 20:28-29). This was not the result of some cowardice by Paul, but Paul's care and concern for these disciples. Paul had done the same thing in Corinth (Acts 18:6-7). Paul and the disciples withdrew to the "school" of Tyrannus. This is not a school as we would think of it. The Greek word here is schole (4981) and means a place of leisure. The name Tyrannus is interesting in that the name means tyrant. Whatever the demeanor of Tyrannus we know nothing about him other than what is stated in this verse.
    6. The Gospel spreads throughout Asia: Paul stayed in Ephesus teaching in the school of Tyrannus for 2 years. While he was there everyone in the province of Asia had the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Interestingly, this occurred even though Paul apparently stayed in Ephesus. The implication being that disciples taught by Paul were out preaching the Gospel in other areas of the province.
    7. Special miracles wrought by Paul: God worked miracles that were particularly wonderful through Paul while he was at Ephesus. These "special miracles" included the healing of the sick by handkerchiefs that were from Paul. Paul could heal by proxy without being present himself! The purpose for these wonderful miracles probably was to confirm the teaching of Paul, but also might have been a prelude to Paul's showdown with the Ephesian exorcists.
    8. The Ephesian exorcists: In verse 13, the Bible speaks of vagabond Jews who were exorcists. The term vagabond here is the Greek word perierchomai (4022) and means a wandering individual. In other words, these were essentially Jewish gypsies who professed to have the power to cast out devils. Jesus may have alluded to these individuals during his ministry (Matt. 12:27; Luke 11:19). The word exorcist is from the Greek word exorkistes (1845) and refers to one who binds by an oath or a spell. These exorcists were individuals who used sorcery to cast out devils. Josephus writes of these exorcists and states that the exorcism they practiced was invented by King Solomon and was so effective that the evil spirit could never return to its host. The method employed by these individuals is described by one commentator as follows: The exorcist applied to the nose of the possessed the bezil of a ring, under which was a certain root prescribed by Solomon, and so drew out the evil spirit through the man's nostrils. The possessed then fell to the ground, and the exorcist commanded the evil spirit in the name of Solomon never to return, and then recited one of Solomon's incantations. To give full assurance to the bystanders that the evil spirit had really left the man, the exorcist placed a vessel full of water at some distance off, and then commanded the ejected spirit to overturn it, which it did.
    9. The exorcists employ the name of Jesus: These exorcists apparently heard Paul preach and probably witnessed the miraculous power the Paul wrought. As a result, seven sons of Sceva decided to attempt to cast out devils "by Jesus who Paul preached." The Bible says that Sceva was a high priest. Some scholars think that the Greek should be translated as ruler. This controversy does not affect the meaning of the scriptures in any fashion and is simply yet another example of the meaningless mental gymnastics that clutter a good deal of today's commentaries.
    10. The evil spirit embarrasses the exorcists: In verse 15, once the exorcists invoke the names of Paul and Jesus, the evil spirit responds and states "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?" The evil spirit most likely spoke through his host as appears to be the case in other instances in the Bible (Mark 3:11). But the evil spirit does not stop there. In verse 16, the evil spirit overcomes the exorcists and runs them out of the house "naked" and "wounded." To say the least, the exorcists were powerless and the evil spirit humiliated them.
    11. News of the exorcists' humiliation spreads: News of the exorcists' humiliation spread throughout Ephesus and "a fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified." This fear seems to mirror the same fear that was produced by the judgment against Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:11). What is significant is that the "name of the Lord Jesus was magnified." The Ephesians had come to understand that the name of Jesus was a powerful name that must be used correctly, as the episode with the Ephesians demonstrated.
    12. The book burning: The fear that fell upon the city was apparently extremely profound, so profound that it produced a mass confession by Christians (verse 18) and non-Christians (verse 19) who practiced magic. This mass confession is interesting because it demonstrates the prevalence of magic and the practice of magic at that time. Moreover, it shows that some Christians had held onto the practice after their conversion. Through the defeat of the Jewish exorcists, the individuals who repented came to see the error of their trust in magic and became aware of the very real power of God. This confession culminated in a mass burning of magic books. The scriptures place the price of the books destroyed at "fifty thousand pieces of silver." How this translates into today's dollars depends on if the monetary unit referred to is Greek or Jewish. The weight of the commentaries seems to be that the Greek monetary unit was the intended reference. If this is true, then Boles puts the value at around $10,000. Whatever the monetary unit, it was a substantial sacrifice. In verse 20, the scripture states that, as a result, the word of God "mightily grew" and "prevailed." That the word of God fared so well might have been aided by the fact that the Ephesian magicians had left their belief system because it had proven unreliable. Accordingly, many of these folks probably represented the "good ground" that Jesus speaks of that is earnest to hear God's word and honest in its response (Matt. 13:23).
    13. Lessons from the Ephesian exorcists:
      1. Money and Christianity often do not mix: While the Bible does not explicitly say so, historians and Bible scholars state that the Jewish exorcists worked for money. Perhaps they saw a moneymaking opportunity by incorporating the name of Jesus that was able to work such wonders through Paul. The Bible demonstrates time and time again that a profit motive and worship do not mix (I Tim. 6:9-10). This is not the only instance where the combination of money and worship was met with disapproval. Jesus threw out the moneychangers in the temple (Matt. 21:12-13). In an a very similar story, Simon the sorcerer was rebuked for trying to offer money to purchase the power to work miracles (Acts 8:14-24). Ananias and Sapphira were killed for their dishonesty in giving money to the church (Acts 5:1-11). The lesson for us is that money, profit, and advantage should be the last thing on our mind when it comes to serving and worshipping God. Unfortunately, there are many false teachers who lead many astray in order to profit on their misplaced devotion (II Pet. 2:1-3). We often look at this as reprehensible and pride ourselves in our belief that we are not guilty of such vile actions. However, we may be guiltier than we suspect. While this is often a matter that people contend is an area where judgment is exercised and there are no hard and fast rules, we need to carefully consider how our congregations handle money and what are actions are towards Christian brethren. The church is not a place to develop business contacts our "network." It is a place of worship and only worship.
      2. The name of Jesus must be properly handled: If there is one thing that really sticks out about this story, it is how powerful the name of Jesus can be when it is properly handled. Just a few verses before this story Paul is working miracles in the name of Jesus. These jealous and/or opportunistic exorcists try to tap into this power. The problem is the name of Jesus cannot be used effectively for improper purposes. Jesus taught that just because people worked in his name did not automatically render them righteous in the eyes of God (Matt. 7:21-23). The world needs to learn this lesson. Mankind has become so gullible and unable to discern between truth and falsehood that anyone invoking the name of Jesus is often assumed to be a Christian. Perhaps even worse, it also works the other way. Individuals with negative views on religion based on television evangelists or something else often assume that anyone invoking the name of Jesus is crooked, stupid, narrow-minded, intolerant, and/or weird. This is a shame. The truth is that the name of Jesus is powerful when used appropriately. Accordingly, those of us who teach in his name carry a very grave responsibility to make sure that we teach in a manner that glorifies and honors our Savior.
      3. True repentance is more than saying you are sorry: The Ephesians who practiced magic did more than merely express their regret at being involved in the
        occult. The Christians did more than merely make a half-hearted promise to do better. They removed the problem. True repentance involves more than a feeling of sorrow, it is a godly sorrow that produces a change (II Cor. 7:8-13). Many Christians may not appreciate this distinction.
    14. Paul Makes Future Plans and Deploys Evangelists to Macedonia (Acts 19:21-22)
      1. Paul plans his future journey: Paul plans his future journeys in verse 21. Once again, Paul demonstrates his continuing concern for churches that he previously established. Paul obviously wanted to visit Jerusalem. The purpose for visiting Jerusalem was to deliver assistance to the needy saints residing there (Rom. 15:25; I Cor. 16:1-3). Paul then wanted to visit Rome. Paul expressed this same desire in his epistle to the church at Rome (Rom. 1:13; Rom. 15:23-24; 28). As an aside, Paul clearly wrote I Corinthians while at Ephesus (I Cor. 16:8-9; 19). The events recorded in verse 21 and the following verses most likely occurred after he authored this letter.
      2. Paul tarries in Ephesus: In verse 22, Paul elects to stay in Ephesus for awhile. Paul mentions this same intention in his letter to the Corinthians (I Cor. 16:8-9). Most commentators agree that the reason for Paul's decision to stay was that the festival of Artemis was near. The festival was a major event at Ephesus and the city would be filled with visitors who would come to celebrate, observe or participate in the games that took place during the festival, and worship Diana. Ephesus was host to the temple of Diana. The many visitors provided Paul with a tremendous opportunity to preach the Gospel. The commentators believe that this was the reason for Paul's decision. Paul dispatches Timothy and Erastus. This Erastus may or may not be the same Erastus mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament (Rom. 16:23; II Tim. 4:20).
    15. The Uproar Over Diana (Acts 19:23-41)
      1. Ephesus and Diana: As previously mentioned, Ephesus was the site of a temple dedicated to Diana. It was also the site of a major festival that attracted numerous visitors to the city. In Ephesus there were silversmiths that made silver shrines or miniature temples that worshipers of Diana often purchased. Sales were probably brisk during the festival. Demetrius was one of the silversmiths and he feared that Paul's teachings would dampen sales. The reason for this fear appears to be that Paul had succeeded in converting many idolaters to Christianity (verse 26). This caused a considerable amount of trouble. Verse 23 says that "there arose no small stir about that way." The Greek words used render the meaning that there was a dispute concerning the way. Accordingly, the Bible makes it clear that this was a dispute that involved Christianity.
      2. Demetrius incites a riot: Demetrius determined to do something about Paul's anti-idol teachings. Accordingly, in verses 25-28, Demetrius calls together the silversmiths and points out that Paul's teachings threaten to curtail demand for their silver shrines and threaten Diana. This enraged the silversmiths and they began to cry "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." This mini-riot soon snowballed as the whole city became caught up in the confusion. Unfortunately, the silversmiths elevate their own greed over the truth that was preached by Paul (Prov. 15:27; Eccl. 5:10; Jer. 17:11; I Tim. 6:9-10; James 5:3). This story is quite similar in certain respects to the story of the Philippian damsel who landed Paul and Silas in jail (Acts 16:16-24).
      3. The mob seizes Christians: Obviously the mob that had come together wanted to take their frustration out on Paul. However they were apparently unable to seize him. Unable to lay hold of Paul, in verse 29 the crowd seizes Gaius and Aristarchus, both of whom traveled with Paul. According to the commentators, this Gaius is not the same Gaius we read about elsewhere in the Bible (Acts 20:4; Rom. 16:23; I Cor. 1:14; III John 1). Aristarchus was from Rome (Acts 27:2) and was a great help to Paul in his ministry (Col. 4:10; Philemon 24).
      4. Paul's desire to aid his fellow Christians: After grabbing these men, the mob went into the theater. In verses 30-31, Paul learned of it and wanted to go to the mob and confront them. The disciples, realizing the danger, prevented Paul from going to the mob. In addition, "certain of the chief of Asia" also persuaded Paul to stay away. These "chiefs" were officials elected to oversee the games and festival. In short, these were very important men who had befriended Paul. What is ironic about the help from the "chiefs" is that these men presided over the festival that celebrated idolatry. Somehow Paul was able to make influential friends such as Felix, Festus, and these chiefs. This is an interesting lesson for those who think that Christian influence can never be used with respect to powerful individuals. This story also illustrates the boldness of Paul. He was ready to march in and defend his fellow Christians even if it meant his life (I John 3:16). The story should shame us when we fail to stick up for Christian principals in a relatively sheltered setting or when we run down brethren to those outside of the Church. Once the silversmiths and the Ephesians who had joined them were inside, chaos ensued. The mob was disorganized and confused.
      5. The Jews make a half-hearted attempt to raise a defense: The Jews, obviously concerned since they too opposed idol worship, desired to put up a spokesman. They obviously feared that they might eventually bear the brunt of the angry mob's wrath. They put forth a spokesman named Alexander. Alexander tries to quiet the crowd to talk, but the crowd notices that he is a Jew and cries the same chant ("Great is Diana of the Ephesians") for two hours. Alexander never gets an opportunity to speak.
      6. The town clerk restores order: Finally, the town clerk, an elected official, steps in and restores order. The town clerk starts off with "flattering" speech concerning Ephesus and its reputation as a city that worshipped Diana. After appealing to this sense of civic and religious pride, the town clerk then argues that Paul's teachings cannot change the renowned allegiance of Ephesus to Diana. The town clerk obviously underestimated the power of the word of God (II Cor. 10:1-6; Heb. 4:12) In making this argument, the town clerk means to convey that Paul is not the terrible threat they were professing him to be. The town clerk goes on to point out that Paul had not attacked Diana in any way (again painting Paul as harmless). This statement is interesting because it may give us an insight into Paul's method of teaching. From this statement one might infer that Paul had not directly attacked idolatry, but had used indirect teaching to convince many Ephesians that idolatry is wrong. We know from the scripture that Paul was not always so gentle (e.g. Rom. 1-2). Finally, the town clerk points out that the law forbids the mob from taking the law into its on hands. The town clerk observes that any dispute should be brought before the appropriate tribunal. The town clerk noted that not following his advice may provoke a response from Rome. This is enough to quiet the crowd and the crowd disperses.
  4. Paul Goes to Macedonia, Greece, and Troas (Acts 20:1-12)
    1. Paul leaves Ephesus for Macedonia: In Acts 20:1, Paul leaves Ephesus after his confrontation with the Ephesian silversmiths. There is no reason to believe that Paul left Ephesus because of the silversmiths. Paul had already decided to leave Ephesus before the riot broke out (Acts 19:21-22). From Ephesus, Paul goes to Macedonia. The Bible does not explicitly disclose where exactly Paul went. However, it is possible to glean a little detail from other books in the Bible. Paul probably went to Troas where he expected to find Titus, but Titus was not there. Paul then departed from Troas for Macedonia (II Cor. 2:12-13). Eventually, Titus caught up with Paul in Macedonia (II Cor. 7:5-6). Paul had previously written to the church at Corinth that he would come to Corinth after passing through Macedonia (I Cor. 16:5-8). We do not know for sure where Paul went while in Macedonia. Possible cities where scholars suggest that Paul visited include Phillipi, Thessalonica, and Berea. This makes sense given Paul's habit of visiting existing churches.
    2. Paul continues to Greece: Acts 20:2 says that Paul left Macedonia after giving the Christians there "much exhortation." Once again, we see Paul's concern for the newly established churches and his care for the new converts. After leaving Macedonia, Paul went to Greece, and probably stopped in Corinth (II Cor. 1:15-16).
    3. Paul changes plans and heads back through Macedonia: Paul stayed in Greece three months. During this stay, Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16:1). Paul then wanted to sail to Syria but "the Jews laid wait for him." While it is unclear what the plot was, it obviously was serious because it caused Paul to abandon his plans and to go out of his way through Macedonia.
    4. Paul's group: From Macedonia, Paul traveled to Asia with quite an entourage of fellow Christians. The entourage might be explained by the fact the Paul was carrying a contribution from various churches to Jerusalem (II Cor. 9; Rom. 15:25-27). The idea might have been safety in numbers. In the group were some individuals that are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible: Aristarchus (Acts 19:29; Acts 27:2; Col. 4:10); Timothy; Tychicus (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7; II Tim. 4:12; Tit. 3:12); and Trophimus (Acts 21:29; II Tim. 4:20). Sopater may possibly be the same individual referred to as Sosipater in Rom. 16:21, but that is subject to much controversy. Secundus and Gaius of Derbe are not mentioned elsewhere. Gaius is not the same Gaius mentioned in Acts 19:29 because that Gaius was from Macedonia (Derbe is in Galatia).
    5. Luke joins Paul in Philippi: In Acts 20:5, the scripture changes person, indicating that Luke has joined the group. Luke was apparently left in Phillipi judging by the changes in person in the scripture in Acts 16. Luke rejoins Paul in Phillipi as Paul made his way back through Macedonia on his way to Asia (Acts 20:6). For some reason, a portion of the party went ahead to Troas while at least Paul and Luke remained in Phillipi for the Passover. Exactly how much of the party and who went ahead to Troas is the subject of much debate. The outcome of this debate does not make a single bit of substantive difference. Why Paul and Luke tarried is unclear. Luke may have needed time to prepare for the journey. Paul may have wanted to remain so that he would have an opportunity to preach to the Jews who were gathering for Passover. In any event, after Passover, Luke and Paul sailed from Neapolis (the port of Phillipi) for Troas. The journey apparently lasted 5 days. Paul's previous journey from Troas to Neapolis only lasted 2 days (Acts 16:11).
    6. Paul preaches in Troas (Acts 20:7-12): Verse 7 is a crucial verse that gives us critical insight concerning how and when Christians should worship. From this verse we learn that the early Church gathered on the first day of the week and had communion. This is confirmed elsewhere in the Bible (I Cor. 16:1-2). Some have raised questions about this verse based on the fact that the Jewish day began at sundown. The concern is that, according to the Jewish calendar, the "first day of the week" really begins at sunset rather than midnight. This concern seems to be more academic than spiritually significant. It is quite clear that the early church followed this example. Justin Martyr in his second Apology to Antoninus Pius describes the early church's worship service as taking place on Sunday and including communion. The Greek words here translated as "break bread" are the same Greek words used in Acts 2:42. Accordingly, there is little doubt that this verse refers to the communion service. In verse 8, Luke mentions that the Christians were gathered in the upper room and that the room was full of lights. The purpose of this detail has been the subject of much speculation. For example, some say that the lights were used to make it clear that nothing untoward was going on so late at night and some say that the lights mark the solemnity of the service. Whatever the purpose of the reference, it is evident that it carries no real spiritual significance. In verses 9-12, we read an account of Paul raising dead young man. Eutychus fell asleep during Paul's sermon and fell to the street below. Verse 9 says he was "taken up dead." Notice that the scriptures do not say "taken up for dead." The implication being that Eutychus was actually dead. Paul went down to the street and "fell on him." Apparently Paul actually laid down on top of Eutychus and embraced him. This action imitates both Elijah (I Kings 17:21) and Elisha (II Kings 4:34). After doing this, Paul told the people that the Eutychus was alive again and then he returned upstairs to break bread an eat. Here the reference can be either to the communion service or to an actual meal. The weight of the commentary seems to be that it was a common meal. In any case, Paul was right. Eutychus was alive and his resurrection was a great boost to the Christians who were present.
  5. Paul's Farewell to the Elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:13-38)
    1. Paul's Journey to Ephesus (Acts 20:13-16): In verse 13, Paul's companions set sail from Troas to Assos, which is approximately 30 miles by sea. Paul decides to travel to Assos by land, which is approximately a 20 mile journey. There is no explanation in the Bible as to why Paul made this decision. After leaving Assos, Paul and his group traveled to Mitylene, which is the capital of the island of Lesbos. The trip from Assos to Mitylene was about 30 miles. From Mitylene, the group traveled the next day to Chios. The following day they traveled to Samos, but apparently did not stop there and went on to Trogyllium in Asia Minor. The Greek word paraballo (3846) is translated as "arrived," but seems to indicate that the group went beside it or brushed by it on their way to Asia Minor. The next day the group sailed into the inlet and arrived at Miletus. Miletus is about 28 miles southwest of Ephesus and was a major seaport. Paul was determined to arrive in Jerusalem by Pentecost (perhaps to take advantage of the opportunity to influence the masses that would surely be gathered there). In order to expedite his journey, Paul elected to avoid stopping in Ephesus. After all, Paul had many friend at Ephesus and the risk of being compelled to stay longer than he intended was the motivation for Paul's decision to go to Miletus.
    2. Paul's Speech to the Ephesian Elders (Acts 20:17-38): Upon arriving in Miletus, Paul sends for the Ephesian elders. His address to the Ephesian elders tells us much about Paul and the lessons that we can learn from his ministry.
      1. Paul reminds the elders of his humility and sincerity: Paul begins by pointing out to the elders that they had known Paul and his actions. Paul then states that he had served the Lord humbly, sincerely, and steadfastly through much persecution from the Jews. The importance Paul placed on humility can be seen in the frustration he expressed when the Corinthians' attacks on Paul forced him to defend his apostleship and validate is ministry (II Cor. 12). Humility is a critical characteristic for a Christian to cultivate (Rom. 12:3; James 4:10; I Pet. 5:5). Pride has no place in our service to God. Likewise, sincerity is something that should influence our service to God. Worship that is insincere is worthless in the eyes of God (I Cor. 5:18; II Cor. 1:12; II Cor. 2:17; Phil. 1:9-10; Titus 2:6- 8; I John 3:16-19). Paul points out here that he persevered despite the plots against him concocted by the Jews. What a shame that we let far less keep us from serving God or "finishing our course" (Gal. 6:9; Heb. 12:1; I Pet. 1:13).
      2. Paul preached the complete message of the Gospel to all: Paul emphasizes that he "kept back nothing that was profitable" for the Ephesians. This was probably important since this would be Paul's last message to the Ephesian elders. He wanted them to know that he had taught them everything that they needed to know. Paul understood that the Church would face threats from false prophets (Acts 20:29-30). Accordingly, Paul probably wanted them to know that there was nothing else and that any additions or alterations to the Gospel that he had taught only perverted the Gospel as certainly not beneficial (Gal. 1:6-9). In short, Paul held nothing back. We need to do the same. Too many times we shy away from subjects because that might offend the hearer. If the message comes from God, it not only should be but also must be taught. We need to be bold in proclaiming the Bible's message (Rom. 1:16), but we need to make sure that perspective and compassion temper our boldness (Gal. 6:1-2). Paul taught this message both privately and publicly. We need to do the same thing. Our obligation to teach God's word does not only exist on Sunday morning once every month or two when we are on the schedule to speak. Our obligation to teach is a continual one. Aquilla and Priscilla were able to correct Apollos by teaching him privately. The Church has had much more success in converting sinners when a Christian takes time to study privately with someone. Rarely do we see someone walk into a service a sinner with no prior teaching and walk out after the service converted. Private teaching plays an important role in our efforts to win souls. Paul goes on in verse 21 to state that he has taught the same message to the Jews and to the Greeks. This was a major statement at the time. There had been much controversy over the inclusion of Gentiles in the Church (Acts 11:1). Paul never blinked at this concern and forcefully proclaimed that the Gospel is for all whom will obey it. (Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-29). The reference to repentance and faith generally describe the subject matter of Paul's teachings. It is unimportant that baptism is not specifically mentioned here. Paul makes it quite clear in is teachings and in recounting his own story of conversion that baptism is a necessary step in salvation through the Gospel (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:1-7; I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-29; Col. 2:10-15).
      3. Paul foretells his future afflictions: Paul mentions his journey to Jerusalem and states that he goes "bound in the spirit." This phrase could mean that the Holy Spirit was compelling Paul to travel to Jerusalem. It could also mean that Paul felt personally compelled to travel to Jerusalem. The latter seems more likely since Acts 19:21 states that "Paul purposed" to go to Jerusalem. Paul states that he does not know specifically what will happen in Jerusalem. However, in verse 23, Paul acknowledges that he has been warned through the Holy Ghost that future afflictions will come. We can see examples of these warnings in the scripture (Acts 21:4; Acts 21:10-14). How different we are! We wake up every morning taking for granted our religious freedom and squandering our tremendous opportunities. Paul woke up every morning knowing that afflictions awaited and yet searched for opportunities to serve the Lord. Despite this knowledge, Paul does not intend to pull back, but instead intends to preach the Gospel even if it costs him his life. Paul had the ability to properly assign priorities in his life even placing serving God above his own life (Matt. 10:39). Paul seemed to almost relish suffering for God (II Cor. 12:10). While it may seem difficult we should endeavor to develop the same attitude (Acts 5:41; Rom. 8:17; I Pet. 2:20). We should look at the temptations and perils that infrequently face us (when compared to the early Church) as opportunities to show the power of God's Word in our life and score a victory for God against Satan (James 1:1-12). Paul also emphasizes the need he feels to finish his course. If any one could sit back and take it easy and coast into heaven, it was Paul. However, Paul refuses to let up and consistently warned others to endure until the end (I Cor. 9:24-27; Gal. 6:9; Phil. 3:8-15). If Paul could not give up, neither can we. If we can persevere, perhaps we can have the same sense of satisfaction and peace that Paul enjoyed at the end of his life (II Tim. 4:6-8). In verse 25, Paul tells the elders that he will not see them again.
      4. Paul's admonition to the elders and his warning concerning false prophets: In verse 26-27, Paul again emphasizes that he has preached the entire Gospel and has declared "all the counsel of God." Paul states that he is "pure from the blood of all men." This is obviously a reference to the fact that no souls would be lost from Paul's failure to teach, because Paul had declared the entire "counsel of God." The Ephesians only had themselves to blame if they failed to heed Paul's preaching (Acts 18:6). This idea of innocence is illustrated in the Old Testament story of the watchman (Ezek. 3:18-21). After assuring the elders that they had heard the entire message of God, Paul exhorts them to take this message and feed the Church. Paul urges them to "take heed" to themselves. Elders are obligated to be examples to the congregation (I Pet. 5:1-3). Paul also instructs them to watch over and feed the Church. Elders have a duty to teach and watch over the souls of the congregation (I Tim. 3:1-7). In fact, elders are specifically charged with the duty of effectively dealing with false teachers (Titus 1:5-16). Interestingly, Paul commands the elders to watch over "all of the flock." The obvious message is that an elder should treat each and every soul as important as demonstrated in the teachings of Jesus (Matt. 16:26; Luke 15:4-32). Paul brings home the gravity of the elders' duties to the Church by reminding them that this Church was purchased with the blood of Christ (I Cor. 6:20; Eph. 1:7; Eph. 5:25; Col. 1:14; I Pet. 1:18-19). Paul then goes on to warn the elders that false prophets would attack the Church. The word grievous is from the Greek word barus (926) and means violent, cruel, or unsparing (Matt. 7:15). Paul's prediction was correct. Ephesus suffered a great deal from false teaching (Rev. 2:1-7). Hymenaeus and Alexander (I Tim. 1:20), Phygelus and Hermogenes (II Tim. 1:15), and Diotrephes (III John 9) are all false prophets mentioned in the Bible that can be traced to Ephesus. Paul states in verse 30 that some of these false prophets would come from within the Church. This should be a lesson to us that we remain watchful and refuse to accept some teaching that is inconsistent with the Bible simply because the person teaching the false doctrine wears the name Christian. In verse 31, Paul describes the deep and sincere efforts he made to warn of these false teachers.
      5. Paul concludes his charge to the Ephesian elders: Paul commends these elders to God. Paul will not see them again, so he leaves them in the very best of hands. In addition, Paul commends them to the Word "which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." The power and importance of the word of God cannot be overstated (John 17:17; Titus 3:14-17; Heb. 4:12). In verses 33 and 34, Paul makes it clear that his motives were pure and that he had not preached for monetary gain or other benefit. Instead, Paul points out that he had worked to support himself. Not only had Paul worked to support himself, but he also worked to help support those that were with him (I Cor. 4:!2). This was a difficult subject for Paul because this had been a source of criticism by his opponents. In fact, Paul defended his right to obtain church support to the Corinthians (I Cor. 9:1-15). In verse 35, Paul goes a step further and points out that he has showed them how they ought to support the weak. Paul, a tentmaker, somehow found the ability to give to the needy in Ephesus. Through those actions, Paul taught the importance of working to enable such help to be given (Eph. 4:28). Paul quotes Jesus as saying "It is more blessed to give than to receive." It is unclear how Paul had knowledge of this quote, but it is almost certain that some of the words of Jesus that were not specifically recorded by the Gospel writers were passed along and shared orally. After concluding his charge to the elders, Paul prayed with the elders. The elders were overcome with sadness since they would never see Paul again and they express these emotions by weeping and hugging and kissing Paul. It is interesting to note that the Greek word translated "kissed" is kataphileo (2705) and means to kiss again and again. The elders then accompanied Paul back to the ship.
  6. Paul's Journey to Jerusalem: (Acts 21:1-16)
    1. The Journey to Tyre (Acts 21:1-3): After leaving Miletus, Paul and his companions sailed south to Cos, which is a small island approximately 40 miles from Miletus. They apparently made the journey in one day. The next day the group sailed to Rhodes, 50 miles southeast of Cos. From Rhodes, they traveled to Patara. Once at Patara, the group found a boat sailing to Jerusalem and decided to get on board. The reason for the change in boats might have to do with the nature of the journey from Patara to Jerusalem. The two cities were over 400 miles apart and traveling between the two required sailing over the open seas. The group's boat may not have been able to handle such a journey. The ship actually went to Tyre first because it was supposed to unload cargo there.
    2. The Tyre Disciples Warn Paul (Acts 21:4-6): Paul and his group found disciples at Tyre so they stayed there seven days. "Finding" is from the Greek word aneurisko (429) that means to find by searching. Paul and his group did not simply happen upon these disciples but actively sought them out. These disciples warned Paul that dangers awaited in Jerusalem. This warning is consistent with the warnings given by the Holy Ghost (Acts 20:23). During their stay, Paul's group made preparations for their journey to Jerusalem. "Accomplished" is from the Greek word exartizo (1822) and means to equip fully. After these seven days, Paul and his group left Tyre. Much like the Ephesian elders at Miletus, the disciples in Tyre (men women, and children), followed them to the boat and prayed with Paul's group before they left by boat. It is unclear whether they left on the same boat that brought them to Tyre.
    3. The Journey to Caesarea and the Prophet Agabus (Acts 21:7-14): After leaving Tyre, Paul's group sailed to Ptolemais and stayed with the brethren there one day. Ptolemais was approximately 30 miles south of Tyre. After leaving Tyre, the group went to Caesarea and stayed with Philip the evangelist. It is unclear whether the group made this trip by land or sea. Philip mentioned here is not the apostle Philip. This is the Philip that converted the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. He has become an "evangelist." The word "evangelist" is from the Greek word euaggelistes (2099) and means a preacher of the Gospel. This is also the same Philip that was one of the seven in Jerusalem chosen to assist the widows (Acts 6:1-6). Philip had four virgin daughters who had the gift of prophecy. These women provide additional support for the lesson that women had an important role in the church. These women obviously prophesied in a private setting (I Cor. 14:34-35). Paul and his group stayed several days at Caesarea. While they were there Agabus, a prophet from Jerusalem, arrived. This may be the same Agabus that foretold of the great famine (Acts 11:28). Agabus came to Paul and took Paul's garment and bound his own hands and feet and prophesied that Paul would be bound in Jerusalem by the Jews and delivered to the Gentiles. Having heard this, Luke and the rest of Paul's companions try to persuade Paul to stay away from Jerusalem. Paul refused to heed their pleas. In verse 13, Paul indicates that he was affected by their pleas in that it was breaking his heart. However, Paul refuses to listen and shrink away from his mission. Paul states that not only is he willing to be bound, but he is also ready to die for Christ. This is consistent with the dedication Paul showed throughout his ministry (Acts 20:22-23; II Cor. 12:15; Phil. 3:8; II Tim. 2:10). If only we had a sliver of such determination. After seeing that Paul would not be persuaded, his companions gave up and said "the will of the Lord be done." Finally, Paul's companions understood that Paul was doing the Lord's will. Too often we let our desires and our concerns get in the way of doing the Lord's will. We need to stop worrying about our wants and desires in this life and start paying more attention to our destiny in the eternity that is to come.
    4. The Journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:15-16): Paul and his companions left Caesarea and traveled to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was 64 miles south. Unfortunately for Paul and his companions, it was uphill. Some of the disciples at Caesarea accompany Paul to Jerusalem. One of these disciples is Mnason of Cyprus who was an "old disciple." The better translation is "early disciple." In other words, Mnason was converted early in the history of the Church. Mnason, through some method had the ability to procure lodging for Paul and his companions.

The Fourth Missionary Tour of Paul (Acts 21:17-28:31)

Jerusalem is the scene of providential events which would at length lead Paul to the throne room of Rome. It was not a short journey, but lasts several years through many trials and prisons. But, as in his other missionary journey's, Paul brings many souls to Christ and furthers the cause of Christianity wherever he goes. This missionary journey is one directed entirely by forces beyond Paul's control.


  1. Introduction
    1. The Apostle Paul seemed to be a man who was either at a riot or on his way to one. This is a study of Paul's journey through the Jewish and Roman legal system, his struggles, his constant faith, and his never wavering desire to preach the gospel of Christ.
  2. Chapter 21
    1. Vs. 17 - 20
      1. Paul arrives in Jerusalem where he is gladly received. The next day he meets with James (the apostle, son of Alphaeus) and the elders. He then gives a report of his work with the Gentiles. Paul does not glorify himself but declared to them "what things god had wrought" by him. After hearing the report they glorify God, but then report of a glitch. Even though thousands of Jews had obeyed the gospel, they could not let go of the law of Moses.
    2. Vs. 21 - 22
      1. These Jewish Christians had heard false reports that Paul had taught Jewish converts to forsake Moses, not circumcise their children, and not to practice customs. This was not true. Paul had taught that circumcision had nothing to do with man's relationship with God (I Cor. 7:19, Gal 5:6) The charge against Paul was true only in the sense of his denying these customs were necessary to salvation. James and the elders asked Paul what was to be done about this. This misunderstanding had caused a lot of people to become very upset, and to question Paul.
    3. Vs. 23 - 26
      1. James and the elders have a plan to smooth things over. Paul probably would not have an opportunity to explain the false statements about him, but he could perform an act that everyone would hear about and would show that he had respect for the law of Moses. Paul would go along with four men who had taken a Nazarite vow and would join them in the purification ceremony and pay their expenses. This would show the Jews that there was no truth to the things they had heard about Paul. Paul went along and did what they asked of him. This presents a problem: It seems that Paul's actions disagree with his own teachings. But we must remember Paul's statement in I Cor. 9:20, "unto the Jews, I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews." In Romans 14, Paul teaches charity and patience towards those that are "weak in the faith" and continue to practice certain Jewish customs.
    4. Vs. 27 - 29
      1. Jews of Asia, not those of Jerusalem, see Paul in the temple. These were Jews, which had probably heard his teaching before, hated him, and had persecuted the church. They make wild, hasty accusations against him and thereby stir up the people against him. His accusers had seen him with Trophimus, a Greek from Ephesus, and now falsely assume he had brought Trophimus into the temple, defiling it. They then take hold of him.
    5. Vs. 30 - 36
      1. This disturbance grows until "all the city was moved (moved- 2795- thrown into commotion) , and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew (drew-1670- a person forcibly and against his will) him out of the temple." As they drug him away to kill him, word got to the chief captain of the band (5506- Roman commander of a thousand soldiers). When the soldiers got to Paul, the mob stopped beating him. Paul was then bound with chains. As the chief captain could not learn who he was, because of the confusion, he commanded him to be taken to the castle. When they arrive at the castle, the mob had become so violent, that the soldiers had to carry Paul. The mob was crying out, "Away with him."(142- to take from among the living by force)
    6. Vs. 37 - 40
      1. Before he was taken into the castle, Paul was able to speak with the captain. When the captain realized that Paul could speak Greek, he realized that he was not an Egyptian outlaw, whom he had supposed. The Paul explained that he was a Jew of Tarsus, an important city. Paul was then given permission to speak. When the mob became silent, he addressed them in Hebrew.
  3. Chapter 22
    1. Vs. 1 - 21
      1. We now begin the first of several pleas made by Paul in his self-defense. Paul spoke to them in his and their native tongue, Hebrew, which would show himself a Jew and familiar with the law. Paul explains that though he was born in Tarsus, he received his Jewish education in Jerusalem from Gamaliel (a rabbi held in high honor). He then explains his zeal toward God in that he persecuted others as they were persecuting him. Paul had been given much authority by the high priest and the body of Jewish elders to persecute Christians. He then tells of his conversion.
    2. Vs. 22 - 23
      1. The crown listened to Paul's testimony up until the point that he declares Christ said, "Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." They hated the Gentiles and they could not believe that their messiah had given these orders to Paul. When Paul said this, the crowd again broke out into an angry mob. Their intense rage was shown in 3 acts: 1. They screamed loudly to kill him. 2. They threw off their clothes. 3. Threw dirt into the air.
    3. Vs. 24
      1. The chief captain, not understanding Hebrew, didn't know what Paul had said. He did recognize that the crowd was once again out of control and nothing Paul could say would help. He then ordered Paul to be scourged until they received a confession.
    4. Vs. 25 - 29
      1. To escape the scourging, Paul claims Roman citizenship. It was unlawful for a Roman citizen to be scourged in this way. Paul was born in Tarsus. Tarsus was not a colony of the Romans, but it was free. It is unclear how Paul is able to claim Roman citizenship.
    5. Vs. 30
      1. After all of this, the chief captain still did not know what the Jews had accused Paul of. To find out, The next action would be to order the Sanhedrin council to assemble to hear Paul.
  4. Chapter 23
    1. Vs. 1 - 5
      1. Paul begins his defense by looking right into the eyes of the council and stating his clear conscience. This resulted in Paul receiving a strike to the mouth. This was due possibly because he approached them with such boldness with his stare or maybe because he spoke to Ananias so informally by not properly addressing him. Paul then responds by accusing the high priest of hypocrisy. It was against Jewish law to punish a man unless he is worthy (Due. 25:1-2). He must be allowed to make his defense. So here we have the high priest breaking the law. Paul is now accused of reviling the high priest. Paul responds by saying he did not know he was the high priest. This causes some confusion. It is unlikely that Paul did not know who the high priest was. It may be that he meant that at the time of the strike he spoke without thinking and recognizing whom he was addressing. Some say that because of his bad eyesight, he did not see who he was addressing. Whatever the reason, Paul acknowledges that he was out of line and quotes Ex. 22:28, showing he knew the law.
    2. Vs. 11
      1. In prison, Paul must have been very discouraged. Twice he had to be rescued while trying to preach the gospel to his own people in Jerusalem. In his gloom, Christ appears to him, comforts him, and assures him that he will be able to fulfill his desire to preach the gospel at Rome (Act 19:21).
    3. Vs. 12 - 15
      1. Forty Jews conspire and take an oath to kill Paul.
    4. Vs. 16 - 22
      1. Paul's nephew learns of the conspiracy. He then informs Paul and the chief captain.
    5. Vs. 23 - 24
      1. The chief captain commands two centurions to prepare 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen to deliver Paul safe to Felix.
    6. Vs. 25 - 30
      1. The chief captain (Claudius Lysias) wrote a letter to the high official (Felix, the governor). The letter truthfully explains what has happened, why Paul is being delivered to him, that his accusers were told to appear before Felix, and that Paul is not yet considered a convict, but someone who was rescued from a mob.
    7. Vs. 31 - 33
      1. The 200 soldiers had been commanded to take Paul to Antipatris, by night. Antipatris was half way between Jerusalem and Caesarea and probably out of reach of Paul's conspirators. The next day, the 70 horsemen continued to escort Paul to Felix in Caesarea.
    8. Vs. 34 - 35
      1. At their arrival, Paul is delivered to Felix. After Felix had examined the letter and questioned Paul's claimed province, he agreed to give Paul a fair trial when his accusers had arrived. In the meantime, he would be kept in Herod's judgment hall.
  5. Chapter 24
    1. Vs. 1 - 9
      1. The malice against Paul was strong enough that Ananias and the elders came down from Jerusalem to press charges against Paul they brought with them a Roman lawyer, Tertullus. He begins his statement by flattering Felix. He accuses Paul of being a dangerous nuisance who starts riots among the Jews all over the world, a leader of the Nazarenes (this probably meaning Christ and his followers was said with a sneer), and that he had profaned the temple. He explains that they would have dealt with him according to Jewish law, but the chief captain came and took him away, and ordered them to come before Felix. The Jews backed Tertullus up, of course.
    2. Vs. 10 - 21
      1. Paul begins his defense by flattering Felix, just as Tertullus did. Paul defends himself by saying he arrived at Jerusalem only twelve days prior. He explains that they did not find him arguing or stirring up the people anywhere in the city. Paul explains that they could not prove any of their accusations. Paul had nothing to be ashamed of and held nothing back. He admitted to being a Christian and worshipping God in the way that his accusers called a sect or heresy. "The way" that Paul spoke of was not against the law and the prophets, but a fulfillment of them. His hope of the resurrection was the same hope that the Jews had. Despite of being accused of wrong doing, he had always lived in such a way as to have a clear conscience toward God. Paul further explains that he had come to Jerusalem to bring money to the poor saints in Jerusalem. It was while he was completing the ceremony of purification that some Jews found him in the temple. There was not a multitude or a riot at the time. Those accusers were not here. If they had something on Paul, why weren't they here? Paul then challenges the men present to tell of what crime they had found Paul in, if there was one. Paul admits to one thing: That he did preach the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees accused him.
    3. Vs. 22 - 23
      1. Felix had a knowledge of Christianity. He would have probably released Paul, if not for trying to please the Jews. He said that he would decide the case after seeing the chief captain. Felix then ordered Paul to be kept under guard, but with some freedom and permission for his friends to see to his needs.
    4. Vs. 24 - 27
      1. After a few days Felix and his wife called for Paul and listened to him as he preached Christ. His preaching frightened Felix, probably because of some conviction, and Felix sent him away. Felix said he would hear him again when it was convenient. Felix talked with him often, hoping Paul would offer him money for his freedom. Two years later, Porcius Festus took Felix's place as governor. To please the Jews, Felix left Paul in prison.
  6. Chapter 25
    1. Vs. 1 - 5
      1. Three days after arriving in Caesarea, Festus went up to Jerusalem. On his arrival, the high priest and other Jewish leaders, met with Festus and again made charges against Paul. They asked a private favor of Festus. They wanted him to send Paul to Jerusalem, so that hey could murder him on the way. Festus denies them and tells them to go back with him to Caesarea and go through the proper legal system, if they had anything on Paul.
    2. Vs. 6 - 12
      1. Several days later and back in Caesarea, Paul is again brought back to the court to defend himself. The Jews, after coming down from Jerusalem, once again made many false accusations against Paul that they could not prove. Paul pleads not guilty to all of their charges. Festus, realizing that this is a religious dispute and wanting to gain favor with the Jews, asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem to be tried by him. Paul ends his defense by appealing to Caesar. Paul states that if he is a lawbreaker, then he is ready to die, but if he is not, then he wants proper justice. Festus acknowledges Paul's appeal and gives it to him.
    3. Vs. 13 - 21
      1. Several days later King Agrippa and his sister, Bernice, made a visit to Festus. Festus tells Agrippa of all his dealings with Paul. Agrippa decides to hear Paul himself.
    4. Vs. 22 -27
      1. The next day Agrippa and Bernice entered the court with a lot of ceremony and honor. Festus explains to Agrippa that the Jews want to kill Paul, but he himself has found nothing to charge him with. But Festus is in a dilemma. He has agreed to allow Paul to appeal to Caesar, but he has no charge to send with him. This seemed unreasonable to Festus, and correctly so. He hoped this hearing before Agrippa would give him something.
  7. Chapter 26
    1. Vs. 1 - 3
      1. Paul begins his defense before Agrippa. Paul was glad to have the opportunity to speak, knowing he would have another opportunity to preach Christ. He was especially grateful that King Agrippa knew the Jewish religion and would hear Paul with patience and understanding.
    2. Vs. 4 - 11
      1. Paul briefly tells of his training and his beliefs before his conversion. Hid early life was open and known to all of them. The Pharisees had firmly and persistently hoped in the promise of God that a Messianic Kingdom would be established. Paul was now a prisoner for that which the Jews believed so strongly. Paul preached that Jesus fulfilled the promises. The Jews denied this, and Paul's preaching infuriated them. Paul asked the question why it was so difficult for them to believe that God raises the dead. Paul explains that he also did persecute Christians and thought as they all did.
    3. Vs. 12 - 19
      1. Paul tells the story of his conversion.
    4. Vs. 20 - 23
      1. Paul tells of his missionary work, and that it was his preaching that caused them to try to kill him. Due to God's help, he was present there and still preaching Christ.
    5. Vs. 24 - 27
      1. As Paul continued to defend himself, Festus rudely interrupted, and accused Paul of madness. He did not understand Paul's enthusiasm concerning visions and resurrection from the dead. Paul denies this accusation and declares the truthfulness of his teaching. Paul then turns to Agrippa and acknowledges that Agrippa did understand what Paul was teaching. Paul then corners Agrippa. Agrippa is now challenged to reject the prophets or believe Paul.
    6. Vs. 28
      1. This verse could mean several different things: 1. Agrippa acknowledges that he is almost convinced to become a Christian. 2. Agrippa is saying, "with small effort you are trying to persuade me to be a Christian. 3. "In this short time, you think you will make me a Christian?"
    7. Vs. 29
      1. Paul answers Agrippa by saying it was his prayer that he and everyone would not only (almost; or with little or great effort; or in little or great time) become a Christian, but be fully persuaded as he himself was. He wished everyone to be in his condition, as a Christian, except for the bonds, of course.
    8. Vs. 30 - 31
      1. Paul's words had made a good impression on them. He had not won them to Christ, but he had won their favor. They agreed that he was innocent.
    9. Vs. 32
      1. Paul had appealed to Caesar only because Festus had tried to get him to go to Jerusalem to be tried. If those events had not occurred, Paul could have now been freed. But the Roman authorities now had to ensure his safe journey to Rome.
  8. Chapter 27
    1. Vs. 1
      1. After an unknown period of time, it was decided that "we", that is Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus, would be shipped to Italy. "Augustus" pertains to the roman emperor. The centurion, Julius, was a man of great importance and authority. Paul was being shipped along with other prisoners.
    2. Vs. 2
      1. The ship they sailed on belonged to Adramyttium, a seaport of Mysia, in Roman Asia. Aristarchus was a travel companion of Paul (Act 19:29, 20:14) and was also imprisoned with him (Col. 4:10).
    3. Vs. 3
      1. The first leg of the trip was sailing from Caesarea, up the coast to Sidon. There, Julius was very kind to Paul and permitted him to leave the ship and visit for a while with "friends to refresh himself." Festus and/or Agrippa had probably told Julius to treat Paul courteously. Other prisoners did not have this privilege.
    4. Vs. 4 - 6
      1. From Sidon they s sailed along the coast of Cyprus to Myra in Lycia. In Lycia, they switched to ship from Alexandria that was sailing to Italy. This ship had a cargo of wheat and was carrying 276 passengers.
    5. Vs. 7 - 8
      1. The going was very slow, against the wind, from Myra to Cnidus. The ship then changed course and sailed for Crete to get protection from the wind.
    6. Vs. 9
      1. A lot of time had now past as they had been fighting the wind. It had come to a time of the year when sailing the Mediterranean was considered dangerous. "The fast", that is the day of atonement (Lev. 16:29-30, 23:27, Num. 29:7) had past. They kept time by counting from the day of atonement.
    7. Vs. 10
      1. Paul warns them of hurt and damage as the voyage continues.
    8. Vs. 11 - 12
      1. The centurion chose not to listen to Paul, but sail to Phonic. He did this because he trusted the captain and ship owner and because the harbor of Pheonice was better to winter in than the harbor of fair havens.
    9. Vs. 13 - 14
      1. As a favorable wind blew they were pleased and sailed again. Shortly thereafter, a northeast wind of hurricane strength blew in.
    10. Vs. 15 - 20
      1. The wind was so strong that they had to let the ship go with the wind. The sailors fight the storm.
    11. Vs. 21 - 26
      1. After much work, no food, and having lost all hope, Paul encourages. He begins by telling them they should have listened to his earlier warning. He then explains that an angel of God came to him and told him that he would appear before Caesar and all that sailed with him would be saved. He tells them to be courageous, even though there will be a shipwreck.
    12. Vs. 27 - 30
      1. When the 14th night came the sailors felt they were coming towards land. As they drifted, the sailors took depth measurements and found that they were indeed headed for land. They cast out anchors, hoping to snag something that would stop them from wrecking. Some of the sailors pretended to let down anchors, as they let down the lifeboat. They wanted to escape the shipwreck.
    13. Vs. 31 - 32
      1. Paul convinces the centurion to cut the lifeboat. He told the centurion that if the men did not stay aboard, he would be killed.
    14. Vs. 33 - 38
      1. Paul encourages the men to eat for their health and tells them that no one will lose even a hair from their head. Paul set a courageous example to the men. Paul the n gave thanks to God and ate. All the men were then encouraged and ate also. After they had eaten they cast off the cargo of wheat.
    15. Vs. 39 - 40
      1. As daylight came, they didn't know where they were. They saw a creek that they would try to run the ship into in order to save it.
    16. Vs. 41 - 44
      1. The plan did not work. The ship ran aground onto a sand bar and stuck. The waves began to destroy the ship. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping, but the centurion wanted to save Paul and would not allow it. He gave the command to those that could swim to shore, do so; and to the rest, drift to shore on lumber from the broken ship. All made it to land safely.
  9. Chapter 28
    1. Vs. 1 - 6
      1. The island on which they wrecked was Malta. The islanders were very kind to them and helped them. While gathering firewood, a venomous snake got mixed up in the firewood. When driven out, it bit Paul on the hand and remained fastened. The natives were very superstitious. They could obviously see that Paul was a prisoner, presumably of some great crime. When the snake bit Paul, the islanders felt that it was Paul's due justice coming to him. When he shook it off, without harm, the islanders went to the other extreme by calling him a god. It is noteworthy to recognize Paul's carefree attitude in regard to the snake. Paul had 2 promises on which to have confidence: 1. The promise of Christ to his disciples concerning snakes (Mk. 16:18; Lk. 10:19). 2. The promise that he would preach the gospel in Rome; therefore he would not die getting there.
    2. Vs. 7 - 11
      1. Nearby the shipwreck, the chief man of the island lived. He showed hospitality to Paul, Luke and probably Aristarchus and at least one soldier, or maybe even Julius. Some think the entire company with Paul. While there, Paul healed Publius' father, who was suffering from dysentery. Word of this got around quick, and Paul healed many that came to him from the island. The people of the island were very grateful to Paul. They bestowed great honor to them and gave them supplies that were needed. They had lost everything in the shipwreck. After 3 months they entered another ship from Alexandria that had wintered in Malta.
    3. Vs. 12 - 14
      1. From Malta, they sailed north to Syracuse on the island of Sicily, and stayed there for 3 days. From Syracuse they sailed to Rhegium in Italy. From Rhegium, a favorable wind blew, so the sailors made great time to Puteoli. In Puteoli, Christians were found and invited them to stay for a week. From there, they went on to Rome. Paul had finally reached Rome, but not as had expected (Rom 15:22 - 29).
    4. Vs. 15
      1. On the way from Puteoli, Christians from Rome had came down and met Paul at the Three Taverns, which was about 33 miles from Rome, and at Appiiforium, which was about 43 miles from Rome. Paul thanked God when he saw these brethren and was greatly encouraged. Vs. 16) On their arrival in Rome, the prisoners were delivered to the captain of the guard. Paul however was allowed to live by himself with one soldier. Due to the favorable terms used by Festus and Paul's good conduct and helpfulness on the voyage, the officer in charge was influenced to give Paul every privilege in his power.
    5. Vs. 17 - 22
      1. After 3 days in Rome, Paul called the Roman Jews together to explain why he was in Rome. He explains that he has done nothing against the Jewish people and customs, nor had the Romans found him guilty of anything. Paul also had to explain why he was a prisoner. He explains of his appeal to Caesar to save his own life and that it was for "the hope of Israel" that he is bound. It was the hope of Israel that a messiah would bring in the kingdom of heaven. Paul also suffered for his hope of the resurrection from the dead, which Paul preached and which proved that Jesus was the Christ. The Jews acknowledged that they had not heard of any bad things concerning Paul, but they did want to know what he thought about Christianity, that they had heard bad things about.
    6. Vs. 23 - 29
      1. A day was arranged that the Jews went to Paul and heard him preach Christ from morning to evening. Some believed and some did not. They left him after he quoted a prophesy concerning their spiritual dullness and that the Gentiles would listen to the salvation that had come to them.
    7. Vs. 30 - 31)
      1. "Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

Special Study: Preaching in the Book of Acts

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? …When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. What power their preaching had. It cut men to the heart. Does yours? How has preaching changed since the times of the book of Acts? How often are hearts pricked by the Word during the preaching in your congregation? What were the sermons preached by the apostles like?


Introduction:
 

You're sitting in church listening to another inadequate sermon on a subject that deserves so much more. If you are frustrated to a mind numbing level, how must the visitor feel? Is this the way god intended for our teaching and preaching to be done in his church? Does this level of teaching represent our best effort?

The bible is its own best instruction manual. As with so many other subjects, there is no better way to learn to preach effectively than to use the sermons from the bible as a textbook on how it should be done.

Following are fifteen sermons from the book of acts and a short analysis of each. The preaching in the book of acts had a large impact. It was this preaching that converted the world to Christianity. Those who heard it were either stirred to obey or enraged to persecute. What was the impact of the last sermon you preached.

Sermon At The Establishment Of The Church Acts 2:14-40
 

"But Peter, standing up(took the initiative) with the eleven, raised his voice (spoke loudly enough to be heard) and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. "For these are not drunk, as you suppose (had an understanding of the listeners and used their level of knowledge and understanding as a starting place), since it is only the third hour of the day. "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (immediately went to the scriptures as a source for his own validity and authority) Joel And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' Men of Israel, hear these words: (an imperative statement to demand their attention. An attention getter) Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--(gave them credit for what they knew and once again used their current level of knowledge as a starting point. This shows that Peter knew his audience quite well) Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; (without hesitation he accuses them of the sin that they are guilty of) whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. (at every turn he keeps the focus on Jesus and what He did especially His resurrection) For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. (with this new assertion he finds his authority in the scriptures) Ps 16:8-11Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in Your presence. 'Men and brethren, (attention getter) let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.(he sites evidence that was available to them) Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke (continues citing the scriptures as his authority) concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. (again gives them credit for what they know) Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. (tied back into the event that brought them all together) For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Ps 110:1 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (began with what they knew and ended with Christ) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (the things Peter had to say obviously were convincing to these people many of whom had just a few days earlier had been shouting, "crucify him".) Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (answering a question is one of the most important thing a gospel preacher can ever do. His answer was short and to the point and answered their question with exactly the information they needed.) And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."

Sermon After The Healing Of The Lame Man: Acts 3:12-26
 

"So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?(had an understanding of the listeners and used their level of knowledge and understanding as a starting place), The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.(without hesitation he accuses them of the sin that they are guilty of) And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.(gives credit and authority to Jesus for the man being healed and in so doing also ascribes to Jesus Prince of Life and Just) Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.(he gave them a way to save face but nevertheless did not abdicate them from their responsibility) But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.(uses the scriptures for his authority) (There are many times that the speakers attribute something to the "prophets". We will call these generic references) Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,(this is a call for action within the body of his sermon, something we don't do enough of) and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. Generic For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. Deut 18:15-19 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.(using the scriptures he tries to create fear in the hearts of the listeners about the end of time.) You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'(he gives them credit for who and what they are using that to try to move them to action) Gen. 12:3 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."(his sermon was cut short by the guards who took them captive. I wish I could have heard the rest of it)

Sermon Before The Council: Acts 4:7-12
 

"And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"(this is the only opening he needed to preach the gospel) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, (started with the current event) let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.(gives Jesus the credit) This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' (quoted the scriptures for his authority) Ps 118:32 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (he started with his own defense and ended with salvation in Jesus) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. (many things revealed here about what it takes to preach the gospel. The boldness of these men was clear, but it was not because of their great education or training but rather their conviction in what they believed. The council could say nothing against it. The fact they had no education or training gave the council no ammunition at all. The power of the message of Jesus is unstoppable)

Stephen's Sermon That Got Him Stoned: Acts 7:1-60
 

Note: This whole sermon is based on the Old Testament story.

"Then the high priest said, "Are these things so?" And he said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, 'Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.' (he starts with a subject they know well) (this also shows his strong Bible knowledge) Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,' said God, 'and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.' Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to the Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt till another king arose who did not know Joseph. This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?' But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?' Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying, 'I am the God of your fathers-- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses trembled and dared not look. Then the Lord said to him, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I have surely seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt." This Moses whom they rejected, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.'(no matter what topic the preachers in the book of Acts start with, they always end up talking about Jesus) This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, (by mentioning the fact that the fathers did not hear Moses, he is setting them up for when he explains that they are doing the same thing in not hearing Jesus) saying to Aaron, 'Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: 'Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.' Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?' (when he reached this point he stopped rehearsing the history of Israel and began focusing his attention on the listeners. He had just shown that God is not interested in Temples built by mans hands. These people greatly celebrated their Temple. That is why he began explaining to them where they were going wrong) You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (these were not kind words) Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it." When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; (sometimes preaching the truth will bring this result) and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Peter's Sermon To The House Of Cornelius Acts 10:34-43
 

"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (introduction) The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ-- He is Lord of all-(he begins his sermon with Jesus) that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, (the resurrection is almost always used as proof of Christ authority and divinity. While miracles are used also, the resurrection is offered as the final and conclusive proof.) not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." (at this time the spirit fell upon them and Peter called for them to be baptized and they were) Generic

Paul's Sermon In Antioch Synagogue: Acts 13:15-41
 

"But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." (it was traditional for visitors to a synagogue to be given an opportunity to speak. Knowing this, Paul often to advantage of the opportunity) Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. (this is essentially the same sermon outline that the Apostles had been using. Israel was promised a Messiah who would be of the lineage of David and Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah.) Generic Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior-- Jesus-- after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. (he offers the testimony of John as proof that Jesus is the Messiah) And as John was finishing his course, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.' Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. (he gives them credit for being the nation of God and the ones salvation is being sent to first) For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. (he makes a very clear distinction between the Jews of Jerusalem and the ones here in Antioch. His tone is not accusatory at all like it was with Stephen and Peter earlier in Acts) But God raised Him from the dead. (once again the resurrection is central in telling the story of Jesus) He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings-- that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You.' Ps 2:7 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.' Isa 55:3 Therefore He also says in another Psalm: 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' :Ps 16:10 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. (He calls on them in a generic sense to follow Jesus. He doesn't specifically call for them to be baptized. It may be that his plan was to preach here over the course of several sabbaths instead of calling for immediate obedience and risk being ran out of the synagogue for good.) Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: Behold, you despisers, marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.' " (he gives them a warning to not fall into the trap that the prophets predicted that the people of Jerusalem would. He had already insinuated that these in Antioch were not like the people in Jerusalem) Hab. 1:5 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. (Paul's approach of using a conciliatory tone obviously worked) But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. (Paul probably knew that these Jews were "loose cannons" and he was proven right by this display of envy on the following sabbath.) Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. (in the lesson that Stephen gave, he took a very direct and accusatory approach. His teaching was rejected. In the sermon, Paul took a none condemning, diplomatic approach. While he bought some more time, his message was still ultimately rejected. Sometimes the teaching of Jesus is going to be rejected no matter what approach we use.) For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' " Isa 49:6 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Paul planted and watered but the increase came from God in the way that God wanted it) And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

Paul's Sermon In Lystra: Acts 14:11-18
 

"Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out (the apostle always took the initiative in declaring God to unlearned men) and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." (this was common theme in Paul's teaching. To offer as proof of God all the good things of nature. In doing this he gives Jehovah the credit he deserves that the heathen hadn't been giving) And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them. (as teachers of God's word we need to resist the temptation to allow people to put us on a pedestal. This is what creates teachers appealing to itching ears)

The Sermons At The Jerusalem Conference: Acts 15:7-21
 

"And when there had been much dispute, (even within the church there are going to times of "much dispute". These are times for turning to the word of God and level heads exercising discretion) Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." (Peter sites the things that God had done for the Gentiles in making the case for the acceptance of Gentiles without placing them under the burden of the law. He didn't offer his opinions and he didn't attack the personalities involved.) Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. (a calm recitation of the facts) And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: (Note: Amos 9:11-12) After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things.' Known to God from eternity are all His works. (James uses the prophets for his proof that the Gentiles are to be accepted.) Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."

Sermons In Thessalonica's Synagogue: Acts 17:1-4
 

"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, (Paul had found a good starting point in every city that he visited. He found the people that was the closest to the truth as possible and gave them a chance to obey the truth. He rarely found wholesale change in these efforts but he would always win a few souls and give the church a foothold in that city so that more gentiles could be reached) Generic explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

Paul's Sermon At The Areopagus: Acts 17:16-34
 

"Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. (this establishes another part of his mode of operation, that is to meet with people in the market place, whoever happened to be there, and reason with them.) Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, "What does this babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods," because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. (the resurrection was a central part of the apostles teaching) And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean." (opportunities are usually created by working toward an end, not by some happening of fate) For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. (what an opportunity. In the seat of the one of the worlds most dominate religions, Paul is going to get to explain the Christian religion. That would be like getting invited to speak to the largest denominational church in town.) Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; (both a veiled compliment and accusation) for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: (this was a stroke of genius. In doing this he gives them the credit for at least knowing that there was a God that they had failed to find. He gives them credit for trying. He also declares to them that their reach for God had fallen short. He is going to explain to them about the one true God of heaven and His son and show them that He is the God that they do not "know") God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (he offers as he has done before, nature as the evidence of one all powerful supreme being) for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' (by using one of their own prophets to validate a truth of Genesis, he would hope to be more convincing. If their own prophets recognize this fact, it must be true.) Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. (using this assertion, he shows how ridiculous it is for man to make an idol with his own hands and call it a god. That which is created could never be greater that the creator.) Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (he calls them to action) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (his discussion is leading up to Christ and he offers the resurrection as proof of His right to judge the world of this ignorance that he had mentioned) And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter." (his method was effective) So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Paul's Sermon Till Midnight At Troas: Acts 20:7-11
 

"Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. (preaching in the assembly) (length of sermon was obviously not an issue) There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, "Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him." Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.

Paul's Sermon To The Elders Of Ephesus At Miletus: Acts 20:17-38:
 

"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. (this was an exclusive audience so his message was tailored to fit) And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (a personal recount of the time he had spent with them) And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. (because of his close relationship with these men he is telling them what is going to happen to them) Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (in no uncertain words he told them of the things that will happen and even of their own number men would rise up. This is a very direct, no beating around the bush method of teaching) So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Paul's Defense In Jerusalem To The Jews: Acts 21:40- 22:23
 

So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying, (took advantage of the opportunity when all attention was on him to speak to the Jews about Jesus. He honoured them by speaking in the Hebrew language) Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now." And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished. Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.' And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus. Then one, Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.' So I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'" And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" (he was using his personal story to tell them of Jesus. He was stopped before he got that far because of their terrible hatred of the Gentiles) Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air,

Paul's Defense Before Felix: Acts 24:10-21
 

"And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so. Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: "Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, (everytime there is preaching in the book of Acts there is a certain willingness and cheerfulness on the part of the speaker, even when their own death is on the line. To many today look at preaching to Gods people as a drudgery and a duty that must be done) because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, 'Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.'" (the resurrection of the dead and Christ resurrection was always central to what they said)

Paul's Defense Before Agrippa: Acts 26:1-30
 

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: (nothing like gesturing with your hands to add visual communication to the audio) I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. (honor and decorum always are called for) My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? (resurrection was always central to their theme) Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come-- that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." (Paul is using his personal story to bring the discussion to Christ) Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" (ridicule comes with the territory) But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe." (when Paul got the feeling that his defense was over he called for action on the part of Agrippa, whom he seem to know something about) Generic Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains." When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them;

NOTE: These are no doubt just a small collection of the sermons preached during the years of the record of the book of Acts and they are no doubt in many occasions abridged versions of what was really said.

  1. Additional Notes On The Material Used.
    1. There are over 17 individual quotes and references to the Old Testament.
    2. The material was always directed at the audience. It was never just general info.
    3. Not one sermon on adultery, lying, commitment or how to worship in Acts. Every sermon was aimed at turning people into disciples of Christ.
    4. There was always respect for the crowds background, knowledge and culture.
    5. Begin with current situation and end up with Jesus and an appeal for obedience.
    6. They always used a strong train of thought and never rambled. Linear logic.
  2. The Methods Of Delivery
    1. They were never vague or uncertain in what they said. They were always clear, concise and many times "pointed the finger" of accusation to the guilty.
    2. They preached the truth without regard for personal safety, popularity or what might happen to them afterwards.
    3. They asserted themselves but were never intrusive. When opportunity availed itself they always took the lead and spoke with authority.
    4. They used personal stories and testimony when needed.
    5. They preached like they meant it and many times died for it.
  3. Weaknesses Heard In Today's Preaching
    1. Setting
      1. Most of our local teaching is done in the church assembly
      2. Somehow we seem to not consider the opportunities we have on a daily basis to preach to the people we come in contact with.
    2. Method
      1. At times there appears to be a lack of conviction
      2. Some ramble with no train of thought
      3. The apostles preached without the benefit of notes. They preached from the heart the things that they deeply believed and knew that people needed to hear. This kind of impromptu knowledge is missing from many of our lessons today.
    3. Material
      1. There is a general weakness in Bible knowledge
      2. Little to no usage of the prophets
      3. Not enough focus on the resurrection
      4. It seems that most sermons are subject driven instead of text driven. I think I'll preach about "__" instead of "This passage has a wonderful message…"
      5. Often sermons are to generalized. Not enough detail, sin is not specifically defined and named plainly enough.
      6. Unfortunately there is frequent sloppiness in preparation.
      7. And a lack of observable conviction.

 
 


The Settings And Circumstances: 

Sermon 

Location 

Circumstance 

Speaker 

Listeners 

Invited 

Acts 2:14-40 One place  Because of miracle Peter  Visitors to Jerusalem No 
Acts 3:12-26 Gate of Temple  Because of miracle Peter  People at the temple No
Acts 4:7-12 Before the council  In own defense Peter  Council Yes 
Acts 7:1-60 Before the council  In own defense Stephen  Council Yes 
Acts 10:34-43 Cornelius house  Invited to private home Peter  Cornelius' family & friends  Yes 
Acts 13:15-41 Antioch Synagogue  Invited to speak Paul  Local Jews Yes 
Acts 14:11-18 Gate of Lystra  Because of miracle Paul  Multitude @ Lystra No 
Acts 15:7-11 Council at Jerusalem  To settle a dispute Peter &  Jerusalem Elders, Apostles, etc.  Yes 
Acts 15:13-21 Council at Jerusalem  To settle a dispute James  Jerusalem Elders, Apostles, etc.  Yes 
Acts 17:1-4 Thess. Synagogue  Invited to speak Paul  Local Jews Yes 
Acts 17:16-34 Areopagus  Invited to speak Paul  All those gathered at this place  Yes
Acts 20:7-11 Church assy @ Troas  Church assembly Paul  Local church members Yes/No
Acts 20:17-38 Unknown  Paul called Elders Paul  Elders of Ephesus Yes 
Acts 21:40 - 22:23 Stairs of barracks  Responded to mob Paul  Jerusalem mob No 
Acts 24:10-21 Legal hearing  In his own defense Paul  Felix and Jews in attendance  Yes 
Acts 26:1-30 Auditorium  In his own defense Paul  Agrippa and Audience  Yes

 
 


The Materials That Were Used
 

Sermon

OT Quotes 

Subject Matter

Tone

Major Points

Acts 2:14-40 Joel 2:28-32, 

Ps 16:8-11, 

Ps 110:1, 

Jesus is the Messiah & you crucified Him  Accusatory. You by wicked hands…  Fulfilled prophets 

Attested by God with miracles including tongues. Resurrected. 

Acts 3:12-26  
Generic, 

Deut 18:15-19 

Gen. 12:3 

Jesus is the Messiah & you crucified Him  Accusatory You denied the Holy one…  Fulfilled prophets in suffering. Like Moses. A day of Judgment in coming 
Acts 4:7-12 Ps 118:32  Man was made whole by Jesus. You builders have rejected Him  Accusatory. By you builders  The healed man proved the Authenticity of Jesus. The prophets predicted your behavior. 
Acts 7:1-60 Whole Sermon  Jesus is the completion to the Old Testament story.  Accusatory. You stiffnecked, uncircumcisd,  God would send a prophet like Moses. God doesn't need temples made with hands. 
Acts 10:34-43 Generic  Salvation in Christ is available to all men as the prophets had said.  Message of hope and salvation  Jesus, sent to Israel is authentic because of miracles and resurrection is for all men. 
Acts 13:15-41 Generic, Ps 2:7, Isa 55:3, 

Ps 16:10, 

Hab 1:5, 

Isa 49:6, 

Jesus sits on the throne of David. He was rejected, crucified & resurrected. Through you can be justified.  Conciliatory

The rulers in Jerusalem rejected him but not you. 

Fulfilled the prophets. Sits on the throne of David. John prepared the way. He was resurrected with corruption. Call for action. 
Acts 14:11-18 None  The God of Heaven is responsible for all good things.  Why are you doing… scarcely restrain…  We are the same as you. God of Heaven witnessed by things in nature did this good work. 
Acts 15:7-21 Amos 9:11-12  The Gentiles are to be accepted and no yoke of the law placed on them  Disputing ended by civil discussion  Peter saw H.S. given to Gentiles. James cites prophets as authority. 
Acts 17:1-4 Generic  Using the prophets to show that Jesus is the Christ  Reasoned Explained demonstrated & persuaded  Using the prophets
Acts 17:16-34 None  There is one God of Heaven that you don't know and He is calling for repentance.  You are to religious God doesn't need our hands. Nature is a proof of Him. His Divine nature is above physical things. He calls on men to turn to Him. The resurrection of Christ is the proof. 

 
 
 


Major Sermons in Acts

Several important sermons and speeches are recorded in the Book of Acts. Over twenty are included, with the majority coming from Peter (7 total) and Paul (11 total). Below are listed the more significant, together with the theme and Bible Reference.

 

Sermon Theme Bible Reference
Peter to crowds at Pentecost Peter's explanation of the meaning of Pentecost Acts 2:14­40
Peter to crowds at the temple The Jewish people should repent for crucifying the Messiah Acts 3:12­26
Peter to the Sanhedrin Testimony that a helpless man was healed by the power of Jesus Acts 4:5­12
Stephen to the Sanhedrin Stephen's rehearsal d Jewish history, accusing the Jews of killing the Messiah Acts 7
Peter to Gentiles Gentiles can be saved in the same manner as Jews Acts 10:28­47
Peter to church at Jerusalem Peter's testimony d his experiences at Joppa and a defense d his ministry to the Gentiles Acts 11:4­18
Paul to synagogue at Antioch Jesus was the Messiah in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies Acts 13:16­41
Peter to Jerusalem council Salvation by grace available to all Acts 15:7­11
James to Jerusalem council Gentile converts do not require circumcision Acts 15:13­21
Paul to Thessalonian Synagogue Sufferings and resurrection of Christ Acts 17:1-4
Paul before Areopagus Paul's indictment of idolatry and showing the true God they ignorantly worshipped Acts 17:16-34
Paul to Ephesian elders Remain faithful in spite of false teachers and persecution Acts 20:17­35
Paul to crowd at Jerusalem Paul's statement of his conversion and his mission to the Gentiles Acts 22:1­21
Paul to Sanhedrin Paul's defense, declaring himself a Pharisee and a Roman citizen Acts 23:1­6
Paul to Felix Paul's defense, says arrested for teaching resurrection Acts 24:10-21
Paul to King Agrippa Paul's statement of his conversion and his zeal for the gospel Acts 26
Paul to Jewish leaders at Rome Paul's statement about his Jewish heritage Acts 28:17­20

Special Study: Evangelism in the Book of Acts

New Testament church growth is fascinating and all too foreign to our modern church experience. How did the church grow so quickly and effectively in the book of Acts? Is it merely that we live in a generation of hard hearted and stiffnecked people, or are there strategies or methods that we are failing to follow? What did evangelism under the direct, miraculous, guidance of the Holy Spirit look like and how did it differ from what we see and do today?


Introduction:

  1. Evangelism - the teaching and promotion of the good news of Jesus Christ for the purpose of conversion.
  2. The Acts of the Apostles is the historical account of the initiation of this process. repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem - Lk. 24:47.
  3. Luke reiterates the closing words of his previous treatise of what Jesus began to do and teach up until his ascension: infallible proofs of resurrection, promise of the Holy Spirit, instruction to wait in Jerusalem, and the commission as witnesses.
  4. Jesus gives a four phase plan in which the world would be evangelized. 1:8 - you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth
    1. Jerusalem
    2. Judea
    3. Samaria
    4. Rest of the world
  5. These phases overlap and are interrelated.
  6. Overview of Phases:
    1. Jerusalem
      1. Pentecost - Acts 2
        1. The first episode of evangelistic preaching
        2. The audience included not only locals but also Jews from every nation under heaven. (v. 5)
        3. They were attracted by the sound and were amazed by the miraculous tongues. (v. 6-12)
        4. Peter preached Jesus whom they had crucified as Lord and Christ. (v. 22-36)
        5. Many responded positively to the message and were added to the church (v. 37-41)
        6. Conversion continued on a daily basis. (v. 47)
      2. Solomon's Porch - Acts 3
        1. While going to the temple for prayer, Peter and John got the attention of the
        2. people when they healed a lame man. (v. 1-10)
        3. Peter credited God with the miracle and convicted the multitude of the
        4. crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (v. 12-26)
        5. The apostles were arrested by the temple guard but many more believed.
      3. The apostles were imprisoned and put on trial several times during this period and were released the first time due to the significant miracle and fear of the multitudes and the second time because of Gamaliel's advice. This persecution served only to empower and embolden the apostles and the church. (5:42)
      4. Pattern
  7. The apostles (and church) followed an evangelistic pattern of :

-performing miracles and preaching to the attracted crowd
-teaching in the temple daily (5:42)
-individuals homes (5:42)

  1. They consistently followed a course of civil obedience when restrained.
  2. Their work produced good results.
    -that day three thousand souls were added to them (2:38)

    -the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (2:47)

    -many of those who heard the word believed . . . the number of the men came to be about five thousand (4:4)

    -and believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes (5:14)

    -the number of the disciples was multiplying (6:1)

  1. Chapter 6 indicates a turn to more difficult times for evangelism in Jerusalem.
    1. The resistance to "The Way" and indignation against it had reached a climax. Six men were chosen to help serve the widows in the church and also teach publicly. Stephen preached to the Jews in chapter seven and was subsequently stoned to death. Because of this, a great persecution arose against the church and many christians were scattered to surrounding areas which officially began a new phase of evangelism.
  2. Judea
    1. The initial advent of Christianity for the areas surrounding Jerusalem also began at Pentecost. Some of the converted Jews of chapter two were most likely from Judean cities. Therefore, Pentecost planted the seeds of Christian fellowships all around Judea.
    2. Also, since Jerusalem and all the public work of the apostles and church were so close to these villages, the scriptures indicate that multitudes of them gathered there and were influenced. (5:16)
    3. However, the most pronounced Judean evangelistic effort occurred following the great persecution of chapter eight. The text indicates that some of the scattered christians came to Judea. (8:1)
    4. Immediately after the great persecution, the apostles stayed at Jerusalem.
      1. However, following Paul's conversion, Peter went out and visited all the area including Joppa where many believed on the Lord because of his work. (9:31-42)
  3. Samaria
    1. Samaria probably did not receive new christians from the Pentecost events.
    2. The greatest influx of the gospel occurred following Stephen's death and the persecution. (8:1-25)
      1. Phillip, one of the six, went to the city of Samaria to preach the gospel.
      2. He followed the same pattern of miracles and preaching.
      3. They believed his teaching and were baptized.
      4. Peter and John visited to confer the miraculous ability.
    3. Peter and John left and preached the gospel to many Samaritan villages. (v.25)
    4. Following Paul's conversion, Peter visited all parts of the country. (9:32)
    5. Following the persecution and Paul's conversion, the church enjoyed peace and prosperity - Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified . . . they were multiplied. (9:31)
    6. Then, an extremely important event occurred at the house of Cornelius as God showed Peter and the Jewish Christians that the gospel was for the Gentiles also. - Acts 10. This opened up a brand new evangelistic arena.
  4. Gentiles
    1. The apostle Paul was given the special assignment of taking the gospel to the gentiles,
    2. "apostle to the gentiles". He would ultimately make three evangelistic, missionary
    3. Journeys westward through Asia and southern Europe and finally make a final trip to Rome where he would complete his ministry. The infrastructure for the West Asian and European church had already been laid through the return of the converted Jews from Pentecost back home. (e.g. Aquila and Priscilla)
    4. Mission to Galatia
      1. Paul and Barnabas were commissioned by the Holy Spirit and conferred by their Church in Syrian Antioch to begin an evangelistic trip through Galatia (13:1-3).
      2. With John Mark as their assistant, the team sailed first to Cyprus, the home of Barnabas. The targeted Salamis and Paphos, two principle cities.
      3. As was their usual pattern, they preached first at synagogues where Jews and Gentile God fearers were present. Then they turned to the Gentile public.
      4. This mission focused on large cities such as Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra Derbe. The word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region, 13:49.
        1. However, they found strong resistance from the unbelieving Jews who followed them and stirred up the Gentiles against them even causing Paul to be stoned.
      5. After making many disciples, they backtracked through those same cities and strengthened the souls of the disciples - 14:22. They exhorted the christians and appointed elders in every church. - 14:23
      6. Paul and Barnabas returned to their home-base of Antioch and stayed there a long time.
    5. Aegean Mission
      1. Following the Jerusalem council concerning gentiles and the Law of Moses, Paul and Barnabas delivered the report to Antioch. They decided to go and revisit the places where they had preached on the previous trip and see how the disciples were doing. However, a sharp contention arose over John Mark as he did not complete the first mission with them but returned home. Therefore, Barnabas took John Mark and went back to Cyprus, and Paul chose Silas and went westward into Galatia.
      2. They strengthened the churches as they went (15:41), and returned to Derbe and Lystra. They picked up a young disciple named Timothy and added him to the mission. The churches in this region were strengthened in faith and increased in number daily. (16:5)
      3. The team wanted to preach in "Asia" (the region of Ephesus) and Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. Instead, Paul had a vision of a Macedonian Man calling for them. So, they headed for Phillipi, the "foremost city" of that region.
      4. The following events contain the conversions of such people as Lydia and the Jailer. The team suffered punishment here as they were beaten and placed in prison.
      5. They continued the mission into Macedonia through such places as Thessalonica and Berea convincing many Gentiles and stirring up the jealous Jews who followed them from city to city.
      6. To avoid trouble, Paul went ahead to Athens to wait for Timothy and Silas. While there, he was stirred up by the idolatry and preached the gospel.
        1. He reasoned with them from their perspective finding common ground and even quoting one of their own poets. (Acts 17)
      7. Paul went into Corinth and found Aquila and Priscilla. He stayed their eighteen months teaching. He left went to Ephesus on way back to Syria. (Acts 18)
    6. Third Missionary Journey
      1. This started out from Antioch as a repeat of the second trip. They went through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples. (18:23)
      2. He stayed at Ephesus for a while, then went through Macedonia and encouraged them with many words on his way to Greece where he stayed three months. (20:2) He then returned to Asia with a group of workers from various places.
      3. Paul is bound to return to Jerusalem for Pentecost. (20:15)
    7. Trip to Rome
      1. Paul appeals to Caesar during his trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea. He eventually makes it to Rome where he is allowed to live under "house-arrest" and then in his own rented house as he freely taught the gospel to many visitors.
  5. Principles and Applications:
    1. Strategy:
      1. Strong base of operation
        • Jerusalem
        • Antioch
      2. Launched work in incremental waves
        • progressive extent of the three mission trips
        • concentric areas
      3. Team Effort
        • two by two - Lk. 10:10
        • the general pattern in Acts
        • individually was the exception
      4. Focused on population centers
        • Phillipi, "foremost city" of Macedonia
        • the missions focused around population centers
        • to establish more strong bases.
      5. Reinforced the established work
        • important part of work was to revisit established churches
        • strengthen any weak links in the chain.
    2. Public Teaching:
      1. Exposure to large audiences
        • synagogues
        • public assemblies, i.e. Ephesus and Athens
      2. Reasoned with them
        • description of how Paul approached teaching others
        • simple presentation of the evidence
      3. Taught from their perspective
        • common ground
        • Acts 17 - Athenians - extra-biblical reasoning and familiar literature
    3. Personal Teaching:
      1. Private meetings
        • Paul met Lydia at a place common for prayer (16:13)
        • Phillip met the eunuch through providential meeting (Acts 8)
        • Teaching in homes - (20:20)
      2. Taught Jesus as the ground of salvation
        • Phillip preached Jesus to the Eunuch (8:35)
        • Paul told the jailer "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (16:35)
      3. Became all things to all men
        • Paul submitting to purification rites on return to Jerusalem (21:26)

Special Study: The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts

  1. Joel 2:28-32 "all flesh"
    1. Reception of Power Promised in Act 1.
      1. Outpouring of H.S.
      2. Baptism of H.S.
      3. Number one concern of H.S. in Acts? Establishment and Expansion of church.
      4. Book of Acts concentrates on the charismatic side of the H.S. from a historical perspective.
      1. General Outline: Outpouring, presence, and purpose of H.S. in Acts.
      2. Luke builds up in chapter one of Luke, the Coming Messiah in Luke two. He does the same with the H.S. in Acts as he sets out to build up in chapter one of the coming H.S. in chapter two.
      3. After chapter 21:11, the remaining 11 chapters contain no reference to the H.S. Is this significant? Does this indicate a change in the role of the H.S.?
        1. No. The remaining chapters flow from the H.S. revelation of Paul's future/shipwreck.. In fact, the remaining chapters demonstrate what I believe is behind the narrative; underlying protectiveness and continued help of the H.S. of God.
      4. Acts provides evidence of the gift of the indwelling, examples of being filled with and comforted with the H.S.
      5. H.S. is involved in establishment of leadership.
      6. Acts reveals the necessity of H.S. in matters of ethics and moral issues.
      7. H.S. is involved in reception of gifts both miraculous and otherwise.
      8. Christians were filled with joy and with the H.S.
      9. Boldness and power were results of the H.S. in Acts.
      10. Acts sets the tone for the duration of the miraculous through the H.S. by establishing limitations on who had the ability to transfer such gifts.
      11. Acts sets the tone on the question of "speaking in tongues."
      12. Acts sets the tone on the question of what is meant by "baptism of the Spirit."
      13. Acts is a showcase of what God designed His Spirit to accomplish in His kingdom.
      14. The kingdom of Israel was a shadow of what God desires to accomplish through the H.S. in the inward man. Isaiah 63:10-13 and Haggai 2:5.
    2. Basic Outline Of Acts Of Holy Spirit
      1. Outpouring (Joel 2:28-32)
        1. Acts 1-2, 10:17-48, 11:12-16, and 15:8.
        2. Fulfillment of OT prophecy.
        3. Reception of power AFTER the H.S. was poured out.
        4. Spirit given to ALL who would obey.
      2. Presence
        1. H.S. concern was for the expansion and establishment of church.
        2. Immediately and directly involved in affairs of the church.
        3. From creation to regeneration-Titus 3:4-7 (John 3) chaos to order.
        4. 3000 souls saved-Acts 2.
        5. 8:29-39, 10:19, 11:12, 13:2, 15:28, 16:6, 21:11, 20:23-28
        6. Ethical implications- 5:3-9, 7:51
        7. Miraculous gifts- 8:17-18, 19:6
      3. Purpose
        1. Vast and Comprehensive.
        2. Ezek. 36:25-27 Unique and Special
        3. Jesus delivered on Promise of Father and Power.
        4. Providential Active! H.S. is never inactive! Life of Paul!
    3. Appendix on "Poured out or forth"
      1. Definition of the two words under consideration:
        1. ( 1 ) EKCHEO
        2. ( 2 ) EKCHUNO
          1. Thayer states that the meaning of these two words is identical, page 201.
            1. "To Pour out, b. Metaph, to bestow or distribute largely. The Passive, is used of those who give themselves up to a thing, rush headlong into it."
            2. "To pour out, to shed as blood, to gush out, to spill, splatter; Metaph. to give largely, bestow liberally; pass. to rush headlong into anything, be abandoned to" Bagster.
      2. Liddell-Scott on pace 526-527
        1. Pour out, pour away, hence spill a vessel; to be drained.
        2. Of words-pour forth, utter.
        3. Pour forth like water, squander, waste.
        4. Spread out
        5. Throw down
        6. Shed, shake off
        7. Passively-to stream out or forth
        8. Metaph. to be cast away or forgotten
        9. Give oneself over to any emotion, to be overjoyed.
        10. Poured forth, unconfined.
      3. In everyone of these the idea is that of unlimited outpouring.
      4. The Parsing of "hath poured forth" in Acts 2:33. Third Person, Singular Number, First Aorist Tense, Indicative Mood, Active Voice.
        1. Third Person-The subject is being spoken of.
        2. Singular Number-Only one is under consideration.
        3. First Aorist- "The function of the aorist there is a matter of tremendous importance. The time of action is past. The kind of action is punctiliar." Summers. "The aorist these expresses action in its simplest form, undefined; it does not distinguish between complete or incomplete action. The aorist treats the action as a point . . . But time is expressed by the augment-punctiliar action in past time, generally. In narrative the difference between the aorist indicative and the imperfect indicative is just this: the aorist indicative expresses punctiliar action in past time, while the imperfect indicative expresses durative action in past time" David.
        4. Indicative-the action is real, not potential.
        5. Active-the subject is doing the acting.
      5. Grammatical Exegesis of Acts 2:33
        1. Jesus poured out upon all flesh (vv. 16-17) the Holy Spirit in one point of time in the past by the time of Acts 2:33.
      6. Application of this Exegesis.
        1. Thus Jesus' action was a one-time, point action in the past by the time of Acts 2:33.
      7. Comparison with other passages having the same construction.
        1. John 2: 15-At one time and point in the past Jesus poured out the money-changers' money (all of it).
        2. Titus 3:6-At one time and point in the past the Spirit was poured out for Paul and Titus (and all men, Acts 2:33, 39). (All of it.)
        3. Rev. 16:1-4, 8, 10, 12, 17-At one time and point the bowls of wrath (all that they contained) were poured out upon Rome bringing about its total destruction.
      8. The parsing of "was poured out" in Acts 10:45. Third Person, Singular Number, Perfect
        1. Tense, Indicative Mood, Passive Voice.
        2. Third Person-The Subject is being spoken of.
        3. Singular Number-Only one is under consideration.
        4. Perfect Tense-
          1. This is the Greek tense of "completed action" i.e., it indicates a completed action resulting in a state of being. The primary emphasis is on the resulting state of being. Involved in the Greek perfect are three ideas: an action in progress, its coming to a point of culmination, its existing as a completed result Ray Summers.
          2. The tense in Greek called perfect is really a present perfect. The perfect presents the action of the verb in a completed state or condition . . . The perfect expresses the continuance of completed action. It is then a combination of punctiliar and durative action . . . The perfect indicative generally expresses the present result of a past action . . . (examples) gegrapha-I wrote and the statement is still on record. elalutha-I came (punctiliar) and am still here (durative). Davis.
        5. Indicative-The action is real, not potential.
        6. Passive-Subject is being acted upon, not acting.
      9. Grammatical Exegesis of Acts 10:45.
        1. The Holy Spirit had in the past been poured out (punctiliar, Acts 2:33) and was still present and available (durative) for the Gentiles. This-was proven by the tongue-speaking going on (v. 46; cf. 1 Cor. 14:22).
      10. Application of this Exegesis.
        1. Thus Acts 2: 17-39 teaches that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a promise for all men. Thus Acts twice (2:38 and 10:45) says God gave the Holy Spirit for all men. So Peter wants to know how could he withstand God in not being the baptizer so they might receive what God had promised and given-the Holy Spirit.
      11. Comparison with other passages having the same construction.
        1. Only one, Ro.5:5. The love of God had in the past been shed abroad in their hearts and was still abiding having the result of giving them hope.
      12. A listing of every time these words are found in New Testament.
        1. Matt. 9: 17-Spilled wine from old wineskins.
        2. Matt. 23: 35-Shed righteous blood.
        3. Matt. 26:28-Poured out Jesus' Blood.
        4. Mark 14:24-Ditto.
        5. Luke 5:37-Spilled wine from old wineskins.
        6. Luke 11:50-Shed prophet's blood.
        7. Luke 22:20-Poured out Jesus' blood.
        8. John 2:15-Poured out money-changers' money.
        9. Acts 1:18-Gushed out-Judas' bowels.
        10. Acts 2: 17-18-Poured out Holy Spirit.
        11. Acts 2:33-Poured forth what you see and hear (Holy Spirit).
        12. Acts 10:45-Poured out-the gift of the Holy Spirit.
        13. Acts 22:20-Shed Stephen's blood.
        14. Rom. 3:15-Shed martyr's blood.
        15. Rom. 5:5-Shed abroad-Love of God.
        16. Titus 3:6-Poured out-Holy Spirit.
        17. Jude 11 (Margin)-Gave themselves away through Error of Balaam. Ran riotously in.
        18. Rev. 16:1-4, 8, 10, 12, 17-Poured out Bowls of Wrath.
        19. Rev. 16:6-Poured out saints' blood.
      13. In all of these the idea is a total, complete, absolute, unlimited operation!!!
    4. Appendix on John 3:30-36
      1. Notice the pronouns.
        1. 30 "He must increase"-i.e. Jesus
        2. 31 "He that cometh from above"-i.e. Jesus
        3. 32 "He hath seen and heard and bears witness"-i.e. Jesus
        4. 33 "His witness"-i.e. Jesus'
        5. 34 "He whom God sent"-i.e. Jesus
        6. 34 "He giveth not the Spirit by measure"-i.e. Jesus
        7. 35 Father hath given "all things into his hand"-i.e. Jesus'
      2. Notice tense of verb "Giveth."
        1. The Parsing of "Giveth." Third person, Singular number, Present tense, Indicative mood, Active voice.
          1. Third Person-the person spoken of (he, she, or it).
          2. Singular-only one person acting.
          3. Present tense-Going on at the time under consideration.
          4. Indicative mood (or mode)-
            1. "Only in the indicative mode in Greek do the tenses show time absolutely. The main idea of tense is the 'kind of action,' the state of action. Even in the indicative, time is a secondary idea. Continued action, or a state of incompletion, is denoted by the present tense-this kind of action is called durative or linear. The action of the verb is shown in progress, as going on." Beginner's Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Wm. Hershy Davis, page 25.
            2. "Tense is the quality of the verb which has to do with action, i.e., time of action and kind of action. As to time of action there are three possibilities: past, present, or future. As to kind of action there are (for present consideration) two possibilities, linear or punctiliar. Linear action is action regarded as a point (.), i.e. action contemplated as a single perspective. The present tense indicates progressive action at the present time- e.g. "he is loosing." Essentials of New Testament Greek by Ray Summers, page 11.
          5. Active Voice-The Subject of the Sentence is doing the acting.
        2. Application of the above grammatical analysis. At the time that John wrote the book, the Spirit was being continually given not by measure (by Jesus or God). Compare Acts 2:33; 38-39; 5:32; John 7:38-39; 14:16-17, 26;15:26; 16:7; Gal. 3:14; 4:6; 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1 :21-22.
      3. Notice King James translation.
        1. "Unto him" is not in the Greek text at all.
        2. "God giveth"-"God" is not in four out of seven authorities cited by Berry's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, and is not even inserted in Nestles' Text. But, even if it is the original text, the verse would read that God continually gives the Spirit not by measure.
      4. Notice various translations.
        1. Revised Standard Version: "For it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit."
        2. New American Standard Version: "For He gives the Spirit without measure."
        3. New English Bible: "So measureless is God's gift of the Spirit."
        4. Wuest's Expanded Translation: "for not by measure does he give the Spirit."
        5. Helen Montgomery, The New Testament in Modern English: "God does not give the Spirit sparingly."
      5. Application of verse.
        1. Not too many believed the testimony of Jesus but John the apostle, writing several years after the glorification of Jesus, claims the giving of the Spirit by Jesus to all believers to be one of the proofs of his claim to be God's own Son and Prophet. See John 7:38-39 and Acts 2:33, 38-39.
        2. This passage categorically states that Jesus (or God if the variant is accepted) does not give the Spirit by measure. This forever buries the measure theory. Furthermore, how could one have a "measure" of the Holy Spirit, a person? One either has the Holy Spirit or he has not ( Rom. 8: 9) ! The reply usually is, "I really mean a 'Measure' of his power. '' But if this is what we mean, let us say what we mean! There is enough confusion in the world without using expressions which are misleading, especially when we can just as easily leave them alone. There are those who confuse the power given by the Spirit and the Spirit himself. Let us seek to determine when the scriptures speak of the Spirit as a gift and when it speaks of the gift of the Spirit.
    5. "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit" Acts 1:4-8
      1. Question- What is this promise and what does it mean?
        1. Some believe:
          1. This promise was just to the twelve apostles and that it was a special "measure" of the H.S. guiding them to all truth (miraculous, inspiration, etc...), others contend it was a special anointment enabling them to speak in tongues, prophecy, have visions, and do other miraculous deeds, still others contend that (Calvinism) one must be "baptized with the H.S." (i.e. testify in the heart) before he/she can ever begin to look in the direction of God for salvation. What is the truth?
        2. Let's look at some things that it is not:
          1. Not anything administered by anyone other than Jesus.
          2. Not anything that took place before Pentecost- New and Unique.
          3. Not to perform miracles-Lk.10:17-20 OT prophets did.
          4. Not for inspiration-Mt.10:19 OT prophets.
          5. Not specifically to speak in tongues- 1 Cor.12:11 (Spirit Himself determines this!) Balaam's ass could speak but was he baptized with the H.S.?
          6. Not to be filled with the H.S.- John the Baptist Lk.1:41,67.
          7. Not to be "clothed" with the H.S.- Lk.24:49. (with power!) 2 Chron.24:20.
          8. Not to make one a "son" of God- Gal.4:6, Eph.1:14, and Acts 2:38.
        3. Note the passages that deal with this subject:
          1. Mt.3:8-12 (Who was he addressing?), Lk.3:13-17, and John 1:31-34.
        4. Note also that an additional promise in Acts 1:8 was given- Power, after the H.S. would come upon them!
          1. H.S. would come upon them.
          2. 2. They would receive Power. (John 14:26 and 16:13).
          3. The Spirit is the power-giver not the power itself.
        5. Compare:
          1. Acts 1:4-5 with Acts 2:16.
          2. Acts 1:4-5 with Acts 2:33.
        6. The pouring is not the immersion. The apostles were immersed as a result of the pouring out! (coin in glass).
          1. Mt.3:7-12 with Acts 2:33.
        7. The baptizing and outpouring were different ways to refer to the same event!
      2. Acts 10?
        1. This is another occurrence of what happened in Acts 2 (Baptism of the H.S. (See Acts 11:15-17). Here, it acts as a sign to the Jews that Gentiles are received into the Kingdom as well as Jews!
    6. Notes on Miracles:
      1. Purpose of Miracles in the Bible demonstrates they were temporary in nature:
        1. Miracles of Christ-
          1. John 10:32-38
          2. John 11:11-16, 20:30-31.
        2. Apostolic Era-
          1. served as credentials-Acts 2:43, 5:12, 2 Cor.5:18-21, and 12:12.
          2. tool for message to be delivered unerringly-2 Peter 1:21, 1 Peter 1:10-11, and 1 Cor.2:6-13.
          3. confirm word spoken-Mark 16:15-20, and Heb.2:1-4.
        3. N.T. demonstrates by example and command that miracles were temporary
          1. Acts 8:5-25
          2. Acts 19:1-6
          3. 1 Cor.13:8-13.
    7. Tongues
      1. First instance of tongue speaking: Acts 2:8-11
      2. Second: Acts 10
      3. Third: Acts 19:1-6
      4. Only other passages are found in 1 Cor.12-14!
        1. Tongue speaking began on Pentecost- special function.
        2. Not a test of salvation- 1 Cor.12
        3. Not a sure indication of spirituality- Corinthians were the most carnal minded people Paul met!
        4. Love, faith, and hope are permanent elements of God's People!

LARD'S QUARTERLY. Moses Lard started a paper in September of 1863 in which many essays | on the Holy Spirit and his influences in the world were discussed. This paper had an excellent spirit of controversy in the attitude of love. Several essays in this publications are worthy of quoting.


Moses Lard: "Being now through with stating preliminaries, I proceed to make an application of them to the position or doctrine which it is the more especial object of this article to defend. That position is this: That the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians. (He then cites as proof Romans8:11 and 1 Corinthians6:19, RR) . . . In what sense must we take the clause, "which dwelleth in you?" To this inquiry we have two different replies involving two opposite theories.

The first is, That we are to take the clause literally; and hence to hold that the Holy Spirit actually and literally dwells in Christians.

The second is, that we are to take the clause not literally but figuratively; and hence to hold that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians not actually and literally but representatively or through the truth.

But what kind of dwelling is this last? Let the language be understood. When it is said that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians not actually and literally, but merely through the truth or representatively, the implication clearly is, that the Spirit itself does not dwell in them at all. On the contrary, the truth only dwells in them, and this stands for or is in the place of the Spirit. This unquestionably is the meaning of the language. Which now of these two theories are we to accept as the correct one? Of course the answer must depend on the acceptation in which we take the clause, "dwells in you." In what sense are we to take it?

The rule by which the answer to this question is to be determined is this: A word, whenever met with, is to be taken in its common current sense, unless the subject-matter, the context, or a qualifying epithet forbids it. This rule is universal and imperative. What the phrase "dwells in" means is perfectly clear; namely, to live in or inhabit as a home. This, then, in the sense in which we must take the clause, unless prevented as the rule requires. Now, as to a qualifying epithet there is none; and a glance of the eye at the context is enough to satisfy us that there is nothing in it to prevent the clause being taken in its common acceptation. The only item, then, remaining to be considered is the subject-matter.

But what is this? The subject of the sentence in hand is, the Holy Spirit; the thing said of it, that it dwells in Christians; and these together constitute the subject-matter or the thought presented in the sentence for consideration. Now if the subject-matter involves anything to prevent the clause being taken in its ordinary sense, it must be the Spirit itself. Does the Spirit itself, then, prevent it? and if so on account of what?

1st It cannot be on account of anything in its nature, For of the nature of substance of the Spirit, strictly speaking, we know nothing. Of course, then, we cannot affirm that it is such as to prevent the Spirit dwelling in Christians. From this source, therefore, nothing can be deduced forbidding the clause being taken in its usual sense.

2nd It cannot be on account of its inability or want of power. Surely no one will deny that the Spirit dwells in Christians on the score it cannot. We know of no limits to its power; hence we must use no language which implies any.

3rd Nor can it be because it will not To assert this would be presumptuous indeed. We know nothing to justify it; neither does the word of God teach it...It is hence inadmissible.

4th Neither can it be owing to anything in the office of the Spirit in the work of redemption. For all we know of office we learn from holy writ; and it is simply certain that we learn nothing there against the notion that the Spirit dwells in Christians; and hence nothing to forbid the clause being taken in its usual sense.

But without being more lengthy, I feel safe in concluding that we know of nothing respecting the Spirit to prevent the clause in question being taken in its common current acceptation. Of course an arbitrary meaning is out of the question. I hence decide that the clause, "dwells in you," is to be taken it its ordinary literal sense. To this conclusion we are absolutely tied down by the preceding law of exegesis. We could not reject it if we would.

From all of which it follows that the assertion: "the Spirit dwells in you," cannot be taken in any other than a literal current sense. Therefore that the Holy Spirit actually and literally dwells in Christians is indisputably affirmed in the word of God; and hence cannot be rejected.

But in reply to all this we shall be told that God is said to dwell in Christians (2 Corinthians 6: 16), that this is not a literal, but representative indwelling, that is, a dwelling "through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:22); and that consequently in this sense must we regard the Holy Spirit as dwelling in Christians.

This is the strong, and I believe regarded as the decisive, refutory argument of those who deny a literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is proper therefore to subject it to a severe examination. In the first place, then, I admit its premises and deny its conclusion. In other words I admit, first, that God dwells in Christians; and, second, that this dwelling is not literal but through the Spirit. But on what ground is this admission made? Simply on the ground that the word of God actually asserts what is admitted. But can we grant so much respecting the case of the Holy Spirit, and on the same ground? Not at all. For though the Holy Spirit is certainly said to dwell in Christians; it is not said to dwell in them through something else. Hence one of the things which is said of God is not said of the Holy Spirit, and this is the very thing in issue. The difference, therefore, between the two cases is the difference between an actual assertion of holy writ, and in a mere inference of the human mind. If it were anywhere asserted in the Bible that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians through the truth, through faith, or through anything else, no one need contend for a literal indwelling. An epithet qualifying the phrase, "dwells in," in one place, might, I think, be fairly assumed to qualify it in every place.

But such an epithet we have not; and certainly it would be a most dangerous procedure to assume it.

Had the Bible said that God dwells in Christians, without an epithet qualifying the phrase, dwells in, then by every law of interpretation known to the learned world should we have been compelled to assert a literal indwelling. Now what in that case we should have been compelled to do, I hold that in this we are compelled to do. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians; and this indwelling is no where qualified by an epithet. We are thus compelled to believe it literal. But why? Can this question be answered on any other ground than this: That inspiration itself designed to make a difference between the indwelling of God and that of the Spirit? One thing is certain, a deep difference is inscribed on the verbiage of the two cases; and this with me is conclusive that a corresponding difference exists in the facts described.

But the proposition, that God dwells in Christians not literally but through the Spirit, instead, it seems to me, of disproving that the Spirit dwells literally in them, establishes it. For how can God dwell in Christians through the Spirit if the Spirit itself does not dwell in them? When men say that the Spirit dwells in Christians through the truth, they claim for the truth a literal indwelling; yet when God is said to dwell in them through the Spirit, they deny of the Spirit a literal indwelling. Are they consistent?

But why should any one doubt that the Holy Spirit dwells literally in Christians? It cannot be on the ground that it is not clearly enough asserted. Still by some it is doubted, and we repeat, why? Is it on the ground of our inability to comprehend and explain the fact and mode of such indwelling? We fear that this has much to do with the case. But is this a legitimate ground of doubt? In some case it is, I grant, but not in this. Such is the nature of the fact asserted that we cannot comprehend it. This we are compelled to confess. Now instead of this inability being a just ground of doubt, it seems to me that it should be just the reverse. For the more sensible we feel that we cannot and do not comprehend a fact, the less reason we have to question what the Bible says concerning it. Of all the possible grounds upon which a doubt might be founded, this should be last.

Surely a literal indwelling is not doubted on the ground that we have no sensible evidence of the Spirit's presence. For neither a priori nor from the Bible have we any reason to conclude that such evidence would be afforded us. And gratuitously to assume it, and then make the assumption a ground on which to doubt the indwelling, is most unwarrantable indeed.

But it is perhaps doubted on the score that we have no conscious evidence of any emotions excited within us by the Spirit. I cannot admit it. I am distinctly conscious at this instant of the presence in my mind of a love, joy, and peace, or exquisite sweetness, as I am of the purpose to end the sentence I am now writing; and these are called in the word of God "the fruit of the Spirit." But as a rejoinder to this we may be told that men who are acknowledged not to have the Spirit, are no less vividly conscious of the same emotions. I positively deny it. That they have at times a love, a joy, a peace of a certain kind, I grant; but they are not the broad love, the ineffable joy, and the deep unperturbable peace of the Christian. Only one thing more need be added here, that we are never conscious of an emotion as from the Spirit. Consciousness avouches only the emotion, the Bible announces whence it is.

From all of the foregoing, therefore, it appears that we have no just ground on which to deny the literal indwelling of the Spirit. Hence such indwelling must be accepted as the clear authoritative teaching of holy writ. If this conclusion be not legitimate and fair I confess my inability to conceive the circumstances which could render it so."

Comparison Chart Of H.S. In Acts

Occurrence Purpose Realized
Acts 2:38 (Conversion) NEW LIFE Titus 3:5-7, John 3:3-6,Gal.4:28-29, 2 Cor.3:5-6, 1 Cor.6:11, Ro.8:10, Gal.3:14, John 16:8-14, and Mt.28:19-20.
Acts 5:32, 2:38-39 (Reception of H.S. as a gift) INDWELLING OF H.S. Isa.32:14-17, 59:20-21, 44:2-3, Eze.11:17-20, 36:26-27,39:27-29 and Joel 2:28-29. John 7:37-39, Ro.8:9, 5:5, 1 Cor.6:19, 12:13, Gal.3:5&13-14, 4:6, 3:2, 5:22, 1 Thess.4:7-8, 1 John 3:24, 4:13, and 2 Tim.1:14.
Acts 2:31-33 (Resurrection) RESURRECTION OF LIFE Ro.8:11&23, 2 Cor.1:21-22, 5:1-5, Eph.1:13-14, Gal.5:5, 6:8, and 1 Peter 3:18.
Acts 13:52, 4:31 (Filled with H.S.) FILLED WITH THE H.S. Eph.5:18 (Not everyone had miraculous gifts!), Acts 9:17-18, 6:3-5 (7:55), 11:24, and Eph.3:16-19.
Acts 9:31 (Comfort of H.S.) THE COMFORTER John 14:16-18 (parakletos), Ro.14:17, 2 Cor.1:4, 7:6, Eph.2:22, 1 Thess.1:6, Heb.6:4, 1 Peter 4:14, and 1 John 3:24.
Acts 1:8 (Promised Power) POWER OF H.S. Ro.15:13, 1 Cor.6:14, 5:4, 2 Cor.1:18, Eph.3:7, 16&20, 1 Thess.1:5, 2 Tim.1:7-8, and 2 Peter 1:3.
Acts 5:1-10, 7:51 (lying to H.S.) GRIEVING THE H.S. Isa.63:10-13, Hag.2:5 Heb.10:28-29, Eph.4:30, and 1 Thess. 5:19.
Acts 13:4, 9:31 (Walking in H.S.) BEING LED BY H.S. Gal.5:16-18&25, 2 Cor.13:14, and Ro.8:4-5&14.
Acts 15:8-9 (witnessing) THE WITNESS OF H.S. John 5:6-9, and Ro.8:16.

Notes:


Paul's Letters

Paul was last one chosen to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ. The story of his work and travels is told in the last half of the book of Acts (his conversion and calling as an Apostle are recorded in Act 9 & 22 & 26). At various times, during his travels he wrote letters (Called “epistles”) to congregations and individuals, usually to address some particular problem or situation facing the recipients. In most of his letter's Paul follows the general pattern of explaining a theological concept or principle and then applying those principles to the actual day to day lives of his readers. Paul wrote thirteen letters that have been preserved for us:

Ephesians

 

Following are Bible Study notes and outlines of Ephesians. They're organized from the general to the specific. We will continue to add new studies as they are finished.

 

Ephesians -Book Outline

    1. Greeting; 1:1-2.
    2. Doctrinal Foundation—Chapters 1, 2, 3.
      A. Blessings we have in Christ from God. 1 :3-14.
      B. Paul's prayer for our enlightenment. 1 :15-23.
      C. Once dead, now alive with Christ. 2 :1-10.
      D. Once aliens, now fellow-citizens with the saints.
      E. :11-22.
      F. Paul's prayer for our strengthening. 3:1, 14-19
      G. Parenthetical discussion of Paul's ministry. 3 :2-13.
      H. Praise. 3 :14-21.

    3. Practical Application—Chapters 4, 5, 6.

      A. Keep the unity of the Spirit. 4 :1-16.
      B. Walk as becometh saints. 4:17-5:20.
      C. Subject yourselves one to another. 5 :21-6 :9.
        1. Wives and husbands. 5 :22-33.
        2. Children and fathers. 6:14.
        3. Slaves and masters. 6:5-9.

      D. Put on the whole armor of God. 6:10-20.

    4. Conclusion. 6 :21-24.

      A. Tychicus sent. 6:21-22.
      B. Benediction. 6 :23-24.

 

Historical Information on Ephesus

    Ephesus, capital of the Roman province of Asia, was a thriving commercial and religious center. Paul had viewed his mission at Ephesus as crucial to the evangelization of Asia Minor. Indeed, the city's central location and influence earned it an important place in biblical and ecclesiastical history. At the time of John's writing, the church of Ephesus was troubled led by [else teachers and lacked its former high level of devotion. The city declined after the fifth century A.D. and is now uninhabited ruins.

    Paul's Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18:23-21:16)
    Paul embarked on his third journey from Antioch in the spring of A.D. 53. Once again he headed north through the Cilician Gates to visit the churches of southern Galatia and Phrygia that he had established on his first journey. But Paul's ultimate destination appears to have been Ephesus, which he had visited briefly while homeward bound on his second journey (Acts 18:19).

    Ephesus, the foremost city of Asia Minor in Paul's day, is situated on the mouth of the Cayster River, which empties into the Aegean Sea. The importance of the city was threefold -- commercial, religious, and political. Ephesus was the terminus of the great trade route that passed through Asia Minor from Mesopotamia. The harbor, which was maintained against silting by regular dredging, was also ideally situated on the north-south route along Asia Minor's coast, but neglect of the harbor eventually led to the demise of the city. As a religious center, Ephesus was the guardian of the temple of Artemis (Diana), the mother goddess of the region. Her image, according to legend, fell from heaven and was maintained in a splendid temple (Acts 19:35). An annual spring festival devoted to the worship of Artemis included athletic, dramatic, and musical contests. Ephesus was politically important as the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and there the Roman governor resided. The theater at Ephesus (Acts 19:29) seated 25,000. From the theater, the marble-paved Arcadian Way led westward to the harbor.

    Paul spent approximately three years ministering in Ephesus (Acts 20:31), longer than in any other city. He obviously recognized the strategic importance of Ephesus for reaching all of the province with the gospel. Indeed, during his two years of teaching in the school of Tyrannus, "all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 19:10). Paul was assisted in this outreach by such able disciples as Timothy, Erastus, Gains, and Aristarchus. It was probably during this period that the churches of the Lycus Valley— Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossae (Col. 1:2; 4:13)—were founded. During his ministry at Ephesus (probably in the spring of A.D. 56), Paul responded to some troubling reports he had received concerning the church at Corinth In the Epistle known as First Corinthians, Paul rebuked the church divisions and disorders and replied to a number of inquiries the Corinthians had raised (I Cor. 7:1; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1).

    A riot staged by Ephesian silversmiths, whose business had been hurt by Paul's preaching (Acts 19:23-25), led to Paul's departure from the city. He then went to Macedonia (Acts 20:1) where he undoubtedly visited the churches at Philippi and Thessalonica that had been established on his second journey. While ministering in Macedonia in the autumn of A.D. 56, Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth, both correcting some misunderstandings regarding his authority and ministry and encouraging the collection for the Jerusalem saints. Paul then journeyed south to Corinth, from which he wrote his Epistle to the Romans some time during the winter of A.D. 56/57. His purpose in writing this letter was to set forth a thorough statement of the gospel message and to prepare the church for his intended visit.
    Heading north again from Corinth to Macedonia, Paul next sailed from Philippi to Troas, where he spent a week ministering (Acts 20:3-12) before continuing. south by ship along the coast. Paul's eventual destination was Jerusalem, and he wanted to arrive by the feast of Pentecost (Acts 20:16), but he paused long enough at Miletus to summon and bid farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38). Departing from Miletus, Paul continued by sea to Caesarea and ministered there for several days before ascending the hill country to Jerusalem. The apostle arrived in the Holy City late in May, A.D. 57. His third journey, from Antioch to Jerusalem, had taken four years and involved approximately 2,700 miles of travel.

 

Reconciled and set in Temple (Eph.2:11-22)

    v. 11-13
     
    ¨ After explaining that it is by the grace of God that we are saved, Paul challenges the people at Ephesus to remember who they once were. It is important for us as Christians to remind ourselves everyday that before coming into contact with the blood of Christ, we were unacceptable to God. We were sinners, just as those at Ephesus were.
    ¨ In his reminder, Paul uses the term "Gentiles in the flesh". This is to further emphasize the point that they were lost before Christ. The term "Gentile" was used in the Old Testament in reference to those who were outside the chosen ones of God. He then combines that term with "in the flesh". This has two purposes. It further emphasizes the fact that they were not considered God’s people because they did not have the outward sign of the covenant between God and His people. It also relates the point that before submission to Christ they were walking according to the lusts of the flesh. (Rom 8:8-9)
    1. Circumcision -  Referred to those who were sanctified or recognized by God. Physical circumcision was a sign of the covenant of God.
    2. Uncircumcision – A negative term used to describe those who did not have the promises of God. They did not have the physical mark.
    ¨ By being the "Uncircumcision" they were lost:
    3. Aliens
    4. Strangers
    5. Foreigners
    6. Without hope
    7. Without God
    ¨ By being baptized into Christ they become the "Circumcision"; recognized by God and brought near.

    v.14-18

    ¨ Christ is the peace between Jew and Gentile. His death on the Cross destroyed the Old Law, which was a conflict between the two groups. Jews thought that they kept the Law by obeying the physical commands and requirements (ex. circumcision). This was the enmity between the two because the Gentiles did not adhere to those things.
    ¨ If Jew and Gentile are to be together, there cannot be any barriers between them.  Those who follow Christ are to be at peace with their bretheren. Therefore Christ destroyed that barrier, and in turn allowed both groups to become one. Gal 3:28
    ¨ Not only did he bring both groups together; he reconciled both to God. It’s easy to see that, without Christ, the Gentiles had no hope of salvation. The Jews, however, were supposed to be the chosen ones of God. They needed reconciliation as well because they had fallen out of favor in God’s eyes. (Rom 10:30-32, Gal 5:4)
     
    v. 19-22

    ¨ By being in Christ ( baptism ) they are no longer considered outsiders. They are to be considered as God’s children and have all of the benefits: hope, a Savior, a God.
    ¨ They have been added to the Church just as a builder lays bricks. Christians are referred to as lively stones (I Pet 2:5).
    ¨ Just as builders start with a foundation, Paul makes emphasizes to the Ephesians that they were laid on a foundation. The foundation itself is Jesus Christ.
    1. Some might misunderstand verse 20 to say that the Apostles and Prophets were part of the foundation. However it should be said here that by saying "the foundation of" he is only referring to the fact that these men were instrumental in spreading the fact that Jesus Christ is the son of God. (I Cor 3:10-11)
    2. Christ is the chief cornerstone in that every stone that adds to the building must be perfectly aligned with Him, or it does not fit.
    ¨ The whole building refers to the Church, as a body of believers of like faith. That body of believers is the temple; the place where worship is given to God. The temple is no longer seen as a physical place or building.
    3. We as Christians are also considered a temple, in Christ. Not only does the Church worship God as a group; but we as individuals worship in our daily activities. We should be that place where God dwells in the Spirit.

 

Paul’s ministry Explained (Eph.3:1-21)

    Ephesians 3:1  "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,"
    "Cause" = Bringing together the Jews and Gentiles into one body the Church, Household
                     of God, the habitation of God. (Acts 2:19-22)
    "prisoner of Jesus Christ"  = A prisoner the preaching of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
    (Acts 21:27 -33), Bound at Jerusalem for teaching "against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple."
    Eph. 3: 13 "Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory"

    Paul's was suffering because the will of God for the Gentiles was being carried out.

    Ephesians 3:2-5  "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; "

    "Dispensation" = 3622. oikonomia, oy-kon-om-ee'-ah; from G3623; administration (of a household or estate); spec. a (religious) "economy":--dispensation, stewardship.
     

         1.  It was the arrangement of the Lord that Paul would preach to the Gentiles
                (Acts 9: 15)  "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear
                  my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will show him how
                  great things he must suffer for my name's sake."
                  (Acts 22: 21)  "And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."
                  (See also Acts 22:15-18)

    2. The mystery was made known to Paul by revelation of the Spirit (verse 5).
    (John16: 13)
    3. Paul wrote (afore) previously and explained the mystery.  (Acts 1:9-10, 2:11-18)
    4. Ephesians can know the same knowledge by reading. (verse 4)
    5. This knowledge was not given to other dispensations  "AS" it is revealed to apostles and prophets.
      a. It was made known in other ages: Abraham (GEN. 22: 18  "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.")
      b. With the coming of Christ and His new covenant, the mystery had to be explained.

    1. To the apostles:  (Acts 10:9-48) Peter on the housetop, seeing a vision of animals to kill and eat.
    2.  Then to Jews: Gal. 3: 14  "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 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."
    3.  Now to the Gentiles here in the letter to the Ephesians.

    EPHESIANS 3:6 "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
    1. Fellowheirs  = 4789. sugkleronomos, soong-klay-ron-om'-os; from G4862 and G2818; a co-heir,
            i.e. (by anal.) participant in common: --fellow (joint) -heir, heir together, heir with.

    2. Same body = 4954. sussomos, soos'-so-mos; from G4862 and G4983; of a joint body, i.e. (fig.) a fellow-member of the Christian community: --of the same body.

    3. Partakers of the promise = 1860. epaggelia, ep-ang-el-ee'-ah; from G1861; an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; esp. a divine assurance of good): --message, promise.

    4. In Christ = The source

    5. By the Gospel = The method used to invite and admit the gentiles.
    (Romans 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.")

    Ephesians 3:7 "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 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; 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:"

    Unsearchable = 421. anexichniastos, an-ex-ikh-nee'-as-tos; from G1 (as a neg. particle) and a presumed der. of a comp. of G1537 and a der. of G2487; not tracked out, i.e. (by impl.) untraceable:--past finding out, unsearchable.

    Ephesians 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, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."

    A. Could it be that through the church (one body containing both Jews and
          Gentiles) angelic beings learn the "manifold wisdom of God"?

    B. I Corinthians 4:9 "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it
          were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to
          angels, and to men."

      Spectacle = 2302. theatron, theh'-at-ron; from G2300; a place for public show ("theatre"), i.e. general audience-room; by impl. a show itself (fig.):--spectacle, theatre.
    C.   Hebrews 12: 22  "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the
           living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of
           angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are
           written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men
           made perfect,"
           When one becomes a participant in the Church (the body), he is also in the
           presents of angels.

    D.  I Peter 1:11 " Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ
          which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of
          Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that
          not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now
          reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the
          Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look
          into."
       Yes, it is true the Church is the way God makes known his manifold wisdom, fulfilling his plan that was before the world. (Eph. 1:4 " According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:")

    Ephesians 3:14  "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,"
    A. Paul submits to the God the Father, who is the originator of the whole family.
    Eph. 4: 6  "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

    Ephesians 3:16  "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
    A. Paul prays that God would bless and strengthen them through the Spirit.
    B. That they would let Christ dwell in them by faith, and they would be rooted and grounded in love.
    C. By doing these they "may be able" to understand the:

    1. bredth = Heb.2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the
          angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by
          the grace of God should taste death for every man."
          It embraces all men Jews and Gentiles.
     
    2. Length = John 13:1 "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."
    They would understand how far Christ love would go.

    3. Height = John 17:24 "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
    The height of Christ love is the aim of his love. (John 14:1-3)

    4.  Depth = Luke 5: 32  "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
    The love of Christ goes to the lowest depths of human sin. His love is offered to the vilest sinner.

    Ephesians 3: 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

             A.  Paul magnifies and praises the power of God and his care for us.
     

Walk in unity (Eph.4:1-16)

    Context:
      1. This passage represents an important transition in the flow of Ephesians.
      2. Similarly to Romans 12, it is a shift from theological to practical, doctrine to duty, position to practice.
      3. The "therefore" of verse 1 draws the reader to consider all that was previously mentioned about the blessings of the position in Christ and to now respond appropriately.
      4. Verse 1 appears to be an introduction to the rest of the letter.

     

    I. PROMINENCE OF UNITY – v. 1
     

      1. Unity is of first importance – first order of business.
      2. Tremendous effect on the church (1 Cor 3:16) and world (Jn. 17:21)

    II. PLEA FOR UNITY – v. 1
     

      1. "Prisoner" of the Lord – literally and spiritually – setting a tone of humility
      2. Beseech – encourage, beg
      3. Live your life consistent with high and holy calling in spirit and character.
      4. Worthy – "balanced scales"  life corresponding to or matching up to position
      5. Accepting the blessings of the gospel means accepting the responsibility living up to the principles and values inherently interwoven into it.

    III. STEPS TO UNITY – vs. 2-3

    Starts with the individual Christian – personal to collective.
    A progressive pathway of attitudes and actions.
     
     

      1. Humility – a compound word, judge or think of self with lowliness
          Greeks nor Romans had a word to represent this despised thought.
          " Esteem others better than yourself" "do not think more highly of yourself
          than you ought to think"   It gives proper perspective and allows compassion
          and mercy while disallowing self-seeking competition.

     

      2. Gentleness or meekness – mild spirited, opposite of harsh. Not timed but a
          tamed, wild animal.  Having the power to harm of retaliate but choosing
          not to.  Power under control.

      3. Patience – longsuffering, the ability to continue in meekness.

      4.  Forbear in love -   these attitudes leading to the act of forbearance,
           putting up with weaknesses and differences of others for the sake of Christ and
           that persons good.

      5.  Diligently pursuing unity – the ultimate purpose.  Keeping the unity of the
           Spirit through peace.  Disharmony disrupts the leading of the Spirit and
           eventually the sealing of the Spirit.

    IV. BASIS FOR UNITY – vs. 4-6
     

      1. One body – I Cor. 12:13 – baptized into one body.
      2. One Spirit – Eph. 2:18 – access by one Spirit to the Father.
         Eph. 1: 13 – sealed with the Holy Spirit
      3. One hope – Col. 1:27 – Christ in you, the hope of glory.
      4. One Lord – I Cor. 8:6 – one Lord, Jesus Christ.
      5. One faith – Jude – 3 – the faith . . . once for all delivered to saints.
      6. One baptism – I Cor. 12:13 – by one Spirit all baptized into one body.
      7. One God – I Cor. 8:6 – one God

    These foundations of Christianity provide automatic unity to believers whose duty it is to maintain and promote it.
     
    V. UNITY IN DIVERSITY vs. 7-15
     

      1. "But" – a change in thought, answers the obvious question.
      How can you have unity when people are so different?

      2. Diversity – not of groups but of individuals – personalities, abilities.

      3. Context: the dispensing of gifts by Christ – Ps. 68:18
      He secured or led captive those who were in captivity to sin and death.

      4. Christ in the heart of the earth before ascension to His Throne.

      5.   Progression:

        Christ gave gifts . . . He gave some:  apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
        These were put in place in order to equip God’s people.
        In order to for them to perform works of service or ministry.
        In order for the entire body to be built up.

     

      6. The goal or mark

     

            Unity of faith and knowledge of Christ
            Perfect man – maturity/completeness
            Measure of Christ – conformed to His image
            No longer deceived by false teachers but speaking truth in love.
            Growing up into Christ, the head of the body.
       

    V.  UNIFIED EFFORT – v. 16
     

      1. From Christ – the whole body is joined together by every joint structure
      All parts contribute to structure and stability.

     

      2. For effective working – every part does its share. – joint participation.

     

      3.   This causes growth of the body for the purpose of edifying itself in love.

     

Walk in Love, Light, Carefulness (Eph.5:1-17)

    LOVE:

       vs. 1-2 are, rather a summation of thoughts expressed in the previous 8 vs. Looking back to vs. 25 a list of sins is given; lying(vs. 25), sinning in anger(26), stealing (28), corrupt communication(29), bitterness, anger, clamour, and evil speaking. As we examine this list it becomes evident that the direction of these sins is toward others. That is, whereas some sins are committed in our hearts, or they have no bearing on others, these sins are directed toward someone. They have to do with our attitude and the way we treat others. For instance, when we lie, we tell a lie to someone. When we act in anger, our intent is toward the one who angered us. When we steal, we steal from someone. When we speak evil of someone, it is obviously toward the person about whom we are speaking. I think the attitude behind these sins can be well described as malice. Often times in our legal system, people are charged with crimes described as being done with, "malice of forethought..." This refers to the intent with which the crime was committed. We are told in vs. 32, that rather than having these sinful ways, to instead be; kind, tenderhearted, forgiving.
       As is often the case, when we are instructed to do away with an aspect of our sinful life, we are also given a replacement for it. Vs. 2 of chapter 5 describes this as walking in love, that because God has forgiven us we are to walk in love. Love is also something that is directed toward someone. When we are kind, it is toward someone. When we are forgiving, we forgive someone. It is the positive way of treating others, and is part of the life of the new man, the thing that we are to replace the malice with.
      Christ is ever our example in this endeavor. Christ sacrificed himself for us. He was, to God, a sweet-smelling savor to cover the evil stench of our sins. But, when I think of sacrifices, I tend to focus on the death that took place, rather than the life that was lived. However, the life that Christ lived, is what made him a suitable sacrifice.
       When Christ spoke, he spoke the truth. If he told someone that he would do something, he would do it.
     

    JOHN 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
     

    Jesus said that he would raise the temple of his body in three days.
     

     MARK 16:1-6 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
     

    Jesus did exactly what he said that he would.His words were also the truth, because they were the words of God.

     JOHN 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me..
     

    God's words are the truth.

     JOHN 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
     
     Jesus' attitude toward others was always one of love. Everything that he said was edifying. Even when he was angry, his speech was edifying.

     MARK 11:15-17 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;16  And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.17  And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

      He was very angry, as I suspect that any of us would be if people came to our house to do evil. The scriptures say that when Jesus drove out the moneychangers, he taught them.
     
     When Jesus was angry, rather than doing evil to those who had angered him, he helped them, and drove sin away. Rather than leaving them to live in sin, he corrected them. Helping them come closer to God.
    Jesus was the epitome of love giving his life so that we could be forgiven. Jesus never stole, but instead, gave freely. Such as, when he fed the great multitude, in

     MAT 14:16-20 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.17  And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.18  He said, Bring them hither to me.19  And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.20  And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full..
      To sum up, Jesus was a kind person who was tenderhearted. One who had sympathy and compassion toward man, and who was forgiving rather that full of malice. His life is an example to us of how we ought
    to be.
     
     

    LIGHT (VS 3-14):

      While it is simple, and maybe even a little redundant, to walk in light is, to not walk in darkness. The sinful things listed in this passage are part of a lifestyle of darkness. The "old" man.

            COL 3:5-9 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness,      inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:6  For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:7  In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.8  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.9  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;.
     

     (This list sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it.) It is this darkness that Jesus died to save us from. VS.6 of the text tells us that these are the things that cause God's wrath to come on those who walk in darkness. We, as ones who walk in light, should be dead to sin, and serve it no more, but rather serve God
     
     ROM 6:11-18 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.14  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?17  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
     

     Instead of walking in sin and darkness, we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice
     

    ROM 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

     We, in our sacrifice, should be a proof of what is right. Thus making that which is of darkness manifested.  By walking in light we both make manifest the evil of those who walk in darkness, and reprove them by our unwillingness to partake. "Reprove", here meaning to convict, or convince them of the error of their ways. It is much the same as one who goes to a fancy dress dinner, and, not knowing the rules of etiquette, begins to eat with his hands and pick his teeth with his fork, and tuck his napkin into his shirt. Then seeing that this is obviously not the proper way to behave, begins to mimic the behavior of others at the table. Perhaps even yielding to the advise of others at the table. Walking in light may give this opportunity as well VS. 14 of text. We, as proper examples of walking in light, can then show them the light that is found in Christ.
      I think that this is largely the goal that is being taught in this passage. A concept that can be characterized  with

     MAT 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

     While the admonition given here is vital for our relationship with God, it is pointed out so that we will realize that our behavior should be a guiding light to those in darkness and give us opportunity to spread the Gospel.
     
     

    CAREFULNESS…

     This portion is well characterized as carefulness. Vs15 uses the word circumspectly which Strong's defines as: 199. akribos, ak-ree-boce'; adv. from the same as G196; exactly:--circumspectly, diligently, perfect (-ly). This pretty well describes being careful. We are to be diligent to be wise and not foolish.

    MAT 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:25  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.26  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:27  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

     The key to walking circumspectly is to do the commands of God. Jesus is again our example, because he never wavered. He never failed, but was exactly right, diligent.
      Many in the world want us to believe that all we have to do to please God is follow our heart, and do whatever makes us feel good, and God will be happy. Cain found that that is not how God operates.

     GEN 4:1-12And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.2  And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.3  And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.4  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:5  But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.6  And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?7  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.8  And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9  And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?10  And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground..11  And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

    Cain thought that his offering should be good enough, but God was not pleased. He was however, pleased with Abel's offering.

    HEB 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

      This tells us that the difference between their worship was that Abel's offering was made by faith. Since we know that faith comes by hearing

Enemy, Energy, Equipment (Eph.6:10-24)

    These last few verses of the Book of Ephesians inform us of the energy we must have, the enemy we must face and the equipment we must put on in order to stand.

    ENERGY
    Ephesians 6:10  "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
    Strong = 1743. endunamoo, en-doo-nam-o'-o; from G1722 and G1412; to empower:--enable, (increase in) strength (-en), be (make) strong.

    Our power to defeat the enemy comes from Jesus Christ, not ourselves.  We must take upon ourselves the strength of His ability. We often times grow weak when facing the enemy, example: Heb.12: 3 "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."

    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."

    To resist the evil day (to withstand #436), we must take our stand (unmoveable, 1Cor.15: 58), to do this effectively must understand the enemy and use the equipment (strength of his ability).

    ENEMY

    Ephesians 3:11  "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

    Wiles (3180 - cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery) When we meet temptation & evil to us it appears the physical is attacking.  This is why we fail to defend and are over taken.  We try to fight in the physical also.  It is not the physical we wrestle against, but the spiritual that rule in the hearts of men.   Jesus realized this when he advised his disciples not to fight in:

     John 18: 36  "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

    Jesus also recognized this when speaking to the Jews in:
    John 8:44 "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."  (see also: Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11;  2 Cor. 4:4)
     

    EQUIPMENT
     
    Ephesians 6:14 "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
     
    Paul gives a description of the equipment that we are to prepare ourselves with.
    Being equipped with these tools we can make our stand against the devil and his devices.

    1. Loins girt about with truth (Eph. 6:14)
            Put your belt on!  A belt is gritted (fastened) around the loins (hips).
            The belt is important to the soldier. It helps to hold other parts of equipment in place
            and allows freedom of the hands for other equipment (one who has no belt must keep
            pulling his pants up!)

    2 Breastplate of righteousness (Eph.6: 14)
            Protect the vital organs!  A holy life, a life regulated according to the testimonies of
            God, As the breastplate defends the heart and lungs, so does righteousness. The life
            of God in man defends everything on which man's spiritual existence depends (the
            heart).

    3 Feet shod with preparation of Gospel (Eph. 6:15)
            Tie your shoes! Since a Christian is to stand, a sure footing is required.
            The feet are parts of the body that are very tender. Without shoes one may find it
            hard to walk. The smallest pebble or thorn can cause the biggest warrior to sit down
            and stop fighting.

    4. Take up shield of Faith (Eph. 6:16)
            Walk behind your shield!  A shield it used to deflect incoming arrows before it reaches
            the soldier. If we will hold up our faith in front of us many of the devils arrows will be
            deflected and we will be able to stand longer.
     
     5. Helmet of Salvation (Eph. 6:17)
            Wear your helmet! A helmet protects the head where decisions are made and knowledge
            is stored. One cannot make sound decisions if he is injured. I believe the helmet of
            salvation is best described in: I Thess. 5:8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober,
            putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation."

            The "HOPE" of salvation is the earnest expectation of heaven!
            When one doubts his salvation, he will not make the right decisions for his service.

    6. Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17)
            Are you pack'n heat?  The soldier is of no use without his sword. The sword is the
            precision tool used to affect the work. Without the word of God the Christian soldier
            is useless in his cause. The word of God makes the Christian soldier a soldier.

    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."
     

    Ephesians 6: "18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

    Paul asks earnest prayers and requests for all the saints, their perseverance and that he would speak boldly the gospel of which he is suffering bondage.
     

    Ephesians 6:21  "But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: 22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen."

    Tychicus = Trusted Brother in Christ by Paul.  Paul used Tychicus the same way to the Colossians: Col. 4:7 "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: 8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;"
    Paul also considers sending Thymus to Crete (Titus 3:12).
     

General Letters

The letters that appear after the Paul's letters in the New Testament were written by different people. Hebrews is an early Christian sermon whose author is unknown. The books of James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude all bear the name of their respective authors. They are commonly called the “General Epistles”.

Revelation

The book of Revelation stands alone as apocalyptic literature in the New Testament. It is addressed to seven congregations in Asia Minor and was written by the Apostle John while he was in exile on the island of Patmos.

Old Testament

 

Following are Bible Study notes and outlines of all books of the Old Testament. They're organized according to the order of books in the King James Version of the Bible. We plan to add new studies as they are finished.

 

The Books of Moses

The first five books of the Bible are called the “Pentateuch” which is a Greek term meaning "the five books." The Pentateuch includes the first five books of the Bible — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books are often called “the Law,” but in addition to many of God's laws they include history, poems, songs, and narratives about God's dealings with His people from t