Notes and References


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Acts of the Apostles

A Bible Study

Acts Chapter 11


Acts 11
1And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

We were told in Acts chapter 9:31 that the church had "rest" in Jerusalem after the persecutions of Saul had ended. So now there were more believers in Jerusalem again. In Acts 8:1 - all believers fled Jerusalem, except the apostles. The apostles stayed. Why? This was their commission. They must preach the kingdom message! Why do we separate the Kingdom message from the Grace message of Paul? Paul separated it himself in his epistle to the Galatians.

Galatians was written shortly after the contention in Acts chapter 15, where Jewish believers were coming from Jerusalem, trying to convince the Gentiles that they had to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses in order to be "really" saved. Now Paul's letter reminded them of how they had received the Spirit, "Oh foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you!" Paul separates the two kingdoms of heaven and of earth with the allegory of Ishmael and Isaac in Galatians 4.

Galatians 4:21-22
21Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

The bondmaid was Hagar, Abraham's servant, who had a son named Ishmael. The free woman was Sarah, Abraham's wife, who bore Isaac.

Galatians 4:23
23But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Abraham, at Sarah's beckoning, went and had a child with his servant girl, by fleshly thinking the promise would come. Not So! God would have Sarah pregnant at 90 with Abraham's seed when he was 100! The promise!

Galatians 4:24-29
24Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai (Moses' Law), which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar (Hagar).
25For this Agar (Hagar) is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, (Law) and is in bondage with her children (Jews).
26But Jerusalem which is above is free (Grace), which is the mother (Sarah) of us all. (Jews and Gentiles)
27For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

The law of Moses contending with and persecuting the law of liberty or grace!

Galatians 4:30-31
30Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman (LAW), but of the free (GRACE).

Law and grace do not mix! Again I say, the two do not mix! You Gentiles, cast out the Law of Moses! It does not mix with liberty. Liberty is NOT LICENSE to sin! Liberty is to live freely in Jesus without condemnation, constantly looking over your shoulder for the coming judgment and punishment from God! God does not remove blessing if you do not follow the Law of Moses! Instead, he blesses even more if you follow after the Spirit!

Galatians 5:1-4
1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Moses' Law!)
2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Paul makes it very clear, to follow part of that law for justification (somehow God will bless you more or love you more) makes you debtor to the whole! AND you fall from grace! Why? Are you unsaved? No! Following the law is the law of self-righteousness. I am holy because I don't do this and this and this. I am sanctified, because I do this and this and this. Be careful, anything you do of yourself, is not the righteousness of God! I would rather have His righteousness, than anything I could try to muster on my own! Grace is faith + nothing!

Acts 13:39
39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

As we see again Peter returns to his commission. If God had not told Peter to go to Cornelius, he would never of stepped foot into the house of a Gentile! Gentiles are unclean filthy dogs! Christ did not tell them to go to Gentiles! We see still the preparation of the kingdom on earth and the Mashiac waiting to return upon the repentance of Israel. 10+ years later, the apostles are still in Jerusalem. Things are not moving ahead very speedily. The "mystery", that salvation would go forth to the Gentiles, will come through a revelation to the Apostle Paul, and has not yet been fully revealed. Here we are back in Jerusalem, with children of Hagar the bondwoman, the law keepers among the believers.

Acts 11
3Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
4But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

You cannot get any clearer picture than that of this! Peter broke the Mosaic Law! "You went in to the house of the UNCIRCUMCISED!" Peter had to go on and testify with six witnesses, to prove it was God who sent him. Peter was the preeminent apostle!

Look at it from a Jew's perspective:

We just sit and read these verses like these are all believers like in our church today! We have been schooled in error, that at the resurrection of Jesus these Jews were no longer Jews but now Christians loving everybody! They are not! They are Jewish believers, big difference! They did not keep company with anyone but Jew only! You and I would have been shunned! Pentecost was Jew only! It was not the birthday of the church! All of the miracles here in Acts up until this point were to only Jews!

So now Peter must explain why he went to the house of the uncircumcised Centurion, Cornelius.

I am not going to reread these same scriptures from Acts 10 except here in these verses tells us 6 brethren accompanied Peter.

Acts 11
5I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
6Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
7And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
8But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
9But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
10And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
11And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
12And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house:
13And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
14Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
15And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

Acts 11
16Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
17Forasmuch 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?
18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Matthew 3:11-12
11I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

This baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, is a complete purification! Even for a dirty dog Gentile! "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

Acts 11
19Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

Stopping here! "None but Jew only", they were not preaching to everyone!

Acts 11
20And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians (Greek Jews), preaching the Lord Jesus.
21And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
22Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church (assembly) which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
23Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
24For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Antioch was about 310 miles or so from Jerusalem. Depending on the form of transportation, would have been up to a 3 week journey! Then the Lord is preparing for an influx of Gentiles he moves upon Barnabas to seek for Saul, another 100 mile journey.

Acts 11
25Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Why the new name? Because Gentiles were not Jews! They were not proselytes! They were disciples of Jesus, purified by the fiery baptism from heaven. So what are they? Christian! See how we get so confused by wrong teaching? We do not understand why Paul's gospel message is so sacred. It is a revelation! It is a mystery kept secret from the foundation of the world! It is now unfolding 10+ years after Jesus' resurrection. We must find the true liberty we have in Christ, and it only comes from the Apostle Paul.

Acts 11
27And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
28And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
29Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
30Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

The treasuries of the believers in Jerusalem ran dry. Which is so true of any form of communism, you eventually run out of money when the majority of the people are recipients. This situation occurred because the believers thought the kingdom was coming soon and when it would arrive, there would be no worries about money.

First of all, who was the relief going to? "The Brethren" - not all the poor.
Where was it going to? "Judaea / Jerusalem"
Who was sending the offering? The "Christians"
Who was making the delivery? Barnabas and Saul
How much did they give? "every man according to his ability" Not a percentage of income, but a free will offering.

Barnabas and Saul are now teamed up and things are going to break loose for the world! We should be holding our faith as a precious gift, not taking for granted the liberty which we all enjoy here in the United States particularly. We have freedom to worship, yet we do not! We have the bible in every shape and language, we don't know what's in it. Our electronic devices have free bible study apps, we don't download them. I marvel at Christians who only crack open their Bibles on Sunday and some not even then. We are ripe for deception! What kind of deception? Ignorance of the word and of grace. Fighting against God, forgetting the price for which we were purchased out of our own filth. We have become lazy, allowing ignorant men to teach us in error. We have believed all sorts of false doctrine, only to our own shame. We have turned into the children bondwoman, with our legalism and hatred for the sinners. We have forgotten what grace means. We have forgotten the power of the Holy Spirit to purify the sinner, having a form of godliness, but denying His power's ability save the sinner to the uttermost. We want to "see" immediate results. We have become the Jew who stoned Stephen, who had the face of an angel. We need to repent and turn to our first love. For the promise is to all men. Faith plus nothing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise, that we all might have everlasting life!