Notes and References
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Acts of the Apostles
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ACTS FINAL THOUGHTS
These are just some random thoughts I jotted down in no particular order.
WHAT I LEARNED BY STUDYING THE BOOK OF ACTS
Even with the best of intentions, with men of the most noble of character, socialism as an economic system fails, leaving its participants destitute. By the time Acts 11 rolls around, some 7-10 years after the resurrection, the Gentile believers were sending offerings to the saints at Jerusalem, and continuing in Acts 21, where Paul delivered an offering from all the churches of Asia. Anyone who quotes social justice or equality of wealth and refers to the early chapters of Acts, need to be pointed to the later chapters where the people were utterly destitute and in need of alms.
THE APOSTLE PAUL
The Apostle Paul, a man of conviction, courage, strength, and spirit, extraordinarily stayed true to his calling in the preaching of "his" gospel, whom, with the power of the Holy Spirit turned the world upside down. He overcame, by the grace of God, extraordinary circumstances and barriers.
15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me
daily, the care of all the churches.
4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
THE 12 APOSTLES WERE NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS
The 12 are only listed by name and their exploits are not recorded save those of Peter, which are later mirrored by Paul, proving Paul's apostleship and authority in Jesus Christ. Peter is only recorded up until chapter 12 and no longer mentioned except his words at the council of the apostles at Jerusalem in Acts 15. Paul is the main character from Acts 12 to Acts 28. This book is more notably as a whole the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
The gospel of the kingdom is a Jewish gospel and was intended for the Jews only. The Mashiac, Jesus, was to come and rescue a thankful and rejoicing people, and sit upon His throne of righteousness and rule the earth from Jerusalem. All the nations of the earth would come to Jerusalem for salvation.
What was misunderstood is that this prophetic plan came in two parts, the suffering sacrificial messiah and the triumphant messiah. This plan was not hid from Israel, but was plainly written of in the Old Testament scriptures. This gospel was for the Jew only and sent initially to the Jew only. Jesus said he came for the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" in Matt 15 and Mark 7. The Gentiles were to be saved through the Jews, Soley because of the twofold rejection of the mashiac of Israel, first, the rejection by His murder and second, the rejection of the gospel of His resurrection by his twelve witnesses, was the gift of grace offered to the Gentiles. God would raise another apostle up from among the people. Acts 9, Saul Paulus is to take the gospel to the Gentiles and to all the then known world. Psalm 2, Zech 14:39,
8:22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
THERE WERE TWO CODES OF CONDUCT FOR BELIEVERS
One to the Jew, The Mosaic Law
One to the Gentile, The Law of the Holy Spirit
This was first settled 24 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ! There were no Gentiles being sought after in Jerusalem!
15:20 But that we the apostles write unto them Gentile believers, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Now 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
21:20 And when they the Apostle James and the elders at Jerusalem heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother Paul, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
2:7 But contrariwise, when they the apostles at Jerusalem saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
2:15 Having abolished in his flesh (Jesus Christ) the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
8:8 So then they that are in the flesh (the law keepers) cannot please God.
So now understanding the conflict between the two codes or doctrines and reading the epistles of Paul under this context, we can rightly divide his thoughts and teachings regarding the flesh or the carnal mind trying to please God through ordinances, which is impossible, and the spiritually minded following the personal instruction of the Lord, which in truth is a higher standard, but on an individual case basis as well. What freedom!! I don't have to please God according to anyone's standards but only that of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside me!
THE STONING OF STEPEHEN WAS ILLEGAL ACCORDING TO MOSAIC LAW
The consenting eye witness of his illegal death was Saul Paulus. Now understand this, Luke is the author of this book. Who told Luke of this account of his testimony in the council and that the face of Stephen was like that of an angel? Who told Luke of Stephen crying out at the last to forgive those who killed him? 3,2,1 - Paul! How haunting his death must have been, to a man who, during his own ministry, bore in his flesh the continual physical punishment for not only the death of Stephen, but the countless others of whom he caused much harm. Oh yes they absolutely are in heaven, but oh how they suffered beforehand! I wonder if Paul counted each stripe, or stone, or imprisonment as nothing, knowing he deserved a much greater punishment than those, but Jesus Christ gave him grace and mercy and saved him.
THE MYSTERY OF THE SALVATION OF THE GENTILES
This revelation was hidden until Paul. In Romans 16:25 Paul calls it "My Gospel" according to the "The Mystery" revealed to him.
3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me Paul the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
3:5 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;
3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
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.
3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
1:25 Whereof I Paul am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
KEY WORDS TO REMEMBER IN ACTS AND OTHER SCRIPTURES
- people = Jews
- strangers = Jews
- saints = Jews
- elect = Jews
- Grecians = Jews
- rulers = Jews
- Greek = Gentile
- heathen = Gentiles
- Barbarians = Gentiles
- Gentile = every race that is not Semitic (Shemite or Shem) of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
PETER WITNESSED THE FIRST BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF A GENTILE
I did not realize before this study, it was over TEN years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that the Gentiles were not included in the gospel message nor were they sought after to hear it. Acts 10 is proof. Although Peter and six others witnessed the baptism of the Holy Spirit of Cornelius and his house, they were one, "astonished" and two, it did not change their course or the audience of the apostle's gospel message in Jerusalem, where after this experience Peter promptly returned. It was not until Paul, and the revelation of the mystery revealed, were the Gentiles recipients of the gospel message. Even outside of Jerusalem, the recipients of the gospel were "None but Jews only", Acts 11:19.
JAMES, THE BROTHER OF OUR LORD, GAINS PREEMMINANCE OVER PETER
Although it is not it is not specifically stated, whether it be of age as elder or because of relationship to the Lord Jesus, James seems to have the final say at the meeting of the apostles at Jerusalem during the confrontation of Paul and the other apostles. Peter's words were profound and rang with the truth as it lined up to what he had witnessed some 14 years earlier in Casearea at the house of Cornelius and with the revelation to Paul, that the believer is purified by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 15 Peter is speaking.
15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
I believe, no matter the sentence of James nor the rest save Peter, held no weight regarding the Gentiles. It was this conclusion by Peter, to whom the keys of the kingdom were given and no other by the Lord Jesus, in Matt 16:17-19, that Peter's and Paul's is the doctrine of the Gentiles which is no law whatsoever, but faith alone.
If we do not believe it is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ that purifies us, then our hope rests in our flesh and by our good deeds. We are doomed because no man can be made righteous by following the Law of Moses or any other moral law of men. Righteousness does not come from ourselves period.
3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Peter was right! Paul was right! I feel proud to be a Gentile, now saved by GRACE!
JEWISH BELIEVERS NEVER QUIT BEING JEWISH
Those believers in Jerusalem never quit temple worship, observances, or sacrifice. The apostles preached daily in the temple (Acts 5;42), Peter at Solomon's porch (Acts 3:1-11), and James some 30 years later still "zealous of the law", in Acts 21.
THIS BOOK IS A LAWFUL TESTIMONY
Luke Jesus is speaking.
11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:
11:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;
By these witnesses' accounts, the righteous judgment of God, allowing the destruction of the temple, of Jerusalem, and the scattering of the Jews into all nations in AD 70, is directly a result of the murder of their mashiac of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the rejection of the second offer of salvation by repenting of His murder and believing in His resurrection, both with proof of mighty signs, wonders, and miracles. Now the blood of the prophets, the mashiac of Israel, and the apostles were upon their hands, not to mention the countless other martyrs.
I tell you this now, keep your eyes upon Jerusalem and Israel, for in them the final scenes of God's prophetic timeline are being played out. The opening act was the re-formation of the state of Israel, May 14, 1948. The second act was the reunification of Jerusalem in June 7, 1967 or 6/7/67.
THE FIRST "CHRISTIANS" WERE AT ANTIOCH, SYRIA
Some 10 years after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, Antioch, Syria, was the birthplace of the "Christian" church, not Pentecost, not Jerusalem. Christian, a name the Gentiles believers could cling to as well as Jews.
PAUL'S ENEMY WERE THAT OF THE BRETHREN, JEWISH BELIEVERS
Paul vehemently defended "his gospel" to the Gentiles, that no law of the Jews be placed upon them for salvation, but that salvation is faith in Jesus Christ, purified and sealed by the Holy Spirit, plus nothing.
Some of Paul's epistles seem to put rules upon the converts, but these rules were for living in this world, in their times, associating in the Jewish synagogues, obeying civil law (which is not like our society, where we are the government and we should actively participate or protest and have a Christian duty to do so), and even addresses specific situations applying only to specific people, such as the offering being collected and sent to Jerusalem by Paul at Pentecost.
Paul's gospel clearly states, the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of righteousness, the gift of justification, the gift of grace, all come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as a gift from God the Father.
Acts Jesus is speaking to Paul.
26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
Jesus Christ did it all once and for all, the past, the present, and the future! Rejoice!
SOME OF THE "FOREVER DOCTRINE" OF THE CHURCH IS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT
The Sunday offering collection, 1 Cor 16:2 was a one-time offering on Saturday evening right after the Sabbath, "upon the first day of the week", when the believers would gather for an evening meal, for the poor saints in Jerusalem that Paul was going to deliver at the feast of Pentecost.
Sunday meetings, same as above, Acts 20:7, "upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread", was Saturday evening Jewish time, not Sunday morning .
Nothing wrong with doing it, I am just saying it is not scriptural.
MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, AND JOHN ARE MOSAIC LAW
Jesus was under Mosaic Law, to fulfil the law, to keep all of the law. He spoke the law. He performed the law. He was the perfection of the law. With all of that, the law does not pertain to us as Gentiles. The ministry of Jesus does not reflect the finished work of the cross. Those of you who might bristle at these words need to remember that if you want to live by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, I hope you are a Jew, because Jesus would have had nothing to do with you while he was alive here on earth before his crucifixion and resurrection. More on this is in my final point.
THE MIRACLES OF THE APOSTLES DID NOT START AT PENTECOST
First of all this prophecy was to Israel - Jews - now read it correctly:
2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh (Jews); and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
Now Pentecost in Acts - Jews only - no Gentiles or non-Jews were present, Peter was speaking to a crowd:
2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, (Jews)
The apostles were commissioned and empowered by the Lord Jesus (Matt 10) before he died and again after His resurrection (John 20:22), before His ascension into heaven. In the latter scripture He breathed upon the 11 apostles and they received the Holy Spirit. The miracles were mighty and had to be signs as from God. Peter here was describing the Lord's ministry:
2:22 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
So now only the apostles had this power as the true witnesses of the Lord Jesus' life, death, burial, and resurrection. Only two others were mentioned as having done miracles, Stephen and Philip, of whom the apostles had laid hands upon them and conferred power upon them to minister, but even with that anointing could not baptize their converts in the Holy Spirit, but had to call for the apostles (Acts 8:15-17).
This is an important point to be made. If all believers had this same power as the apostles, where was the true witness of the Lord's ministry and of their authority? The great signs and wonders were only accredited to the apostles in Acts 2:43, 4:33, and 5:12 - then Paul Acts 15:12, 19:11, 12.
Now some 10 years later a Gentile receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. What happened? Israel has for the most part already rejected the second offer of salvation, now salvation is offered to the Gentiles from the man who holds the keys to the kingdom, Peter (Acts 10).
My point? These apostles had a special anointing of power directly from Jesus Christ himself, including Paul. There have been none like them since. The promise from prophecy was only dreams, visions, and to prophesy, and other tongues. Mainly every time we read of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the immediate evidence was the tongues.
28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
Can't get around that one in scripture, for those who would deny it today. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 -are listed the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in believers.
ACTS IS THE FULFILLMENT OF JESUS' WORDS
The gospel shall be preached in Jerusalem (Acts 1-22), Judaea (Acts 10), Samaria (Acts 8), the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 11-28).
THE APOSTLES WERE NOT PERFECT
The apostles had flaws in doctrine and deeds.
- Acts 15, Gal 1&2 - Paul disputed vehemently with the apostles and believing Jews
- Gal 2 - Peter played the hypocrite in Antioch as well as Barnabas
- Acts 15 - Sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas that they part ways
- Acts 15, Acts 21 - James clung to Mosaic Law and appeased Jewish law-keepers
I LEARNED NOT TO TAKE FOR GRANTED THE POSSIBILITY OF LEARNING SOMETHING NEW
At some point, those of us who go to church regularly, or study the bible regularly, may think you have attained some level of knowledge that you really do not want to, or think you need to, take the time to learn more. I thought I knew the book of Acts pretty well. As far as geography, or history, the characters, maybe, but the meat, the doctrine, the truth, the unlearning of the things I had been taught in ignorance, and the sharpening of the sword (which meant the painful grinding off of rough edges or removal of things I held dear in my belief system) was the focus for me personally of this study.
Reading the bible in the light of the knowledge that it was written to Jew only from Genesis 12 - the Gospel of John, the beginning of Acts and some of the epistles, like Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, Jude, 1, 2, and 3 John made sense of their words, understanding they were writing to those still fully keeping the Law of Moses. Of course after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we do not keep the Law of Moses nor were we ever required to as Gentiles. The destruction of the temple in 70 AD made it impossible for any Jew to continue to keep fully the Law of Moses.
I now have more joy, more love, and more appreciation of what my salvation really means. I truly was without hope. There were no promises in the bible that applied to me. As a Gentile, cut off, judged, and destined for everlasting destruction, save for the cross of Christ, I would be in that number.
FINALLY THE MOST PROFOUND THING I LEARNED
The Jews are a blessed people, an holy nation, an "ethnos" of the same race, a family. With only few exceptions in the Old Testament and up until the book of Acts, no Gentile had God's blessing or intervention.
The Jewish people were the heirs of salvation, of the seed of Shem, the Shemites, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were the only subjects of prophecy, blessings, and cursings. The only time Gentiles or the Gentile nations were dealt with by God, were in direct relationship with their affairs regarding Israel, or in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham's nephew was vexed by the wickedness there. All others are not mentioned and cutoff without hope.
I always imagined how wonderful it would have been to see the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry, to sit at His feet as Mary did, or to witness His miracles, or even feel the touch of God.
Jesus would have called me a dog! If you are not a Jew, He would have called you a dog too! You would have been shunned!
15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
15:23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
15:27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
If He said that directly to me, would I have been so brave as this woman? Or would I have gone away hurt and angry, being rebuked for just trying to save my kid! Would I have accepted the rebuke and pressed Him, accepting my position as dog, to try to get even a crumb from the master's table?
This woman accepted her position as "dog", still expecting GOOD from Him. Her expectation was not of greed or of evil intent, but that of love for a child, which the God of heaven and earth looked upon her, had compassion upon her, knowing the adoption was soon coming, but could not speak of it until all things were complete. This was the glimpse of the shadow of the "mystery" revealed to Paul, being shown here to the apostles that mercy was indeed going to be extended toward the Gentiles as well.
So I realize I could not possibly have been numbered among the Lord's disciples, nor those of his inner circle, much less sit at his feet, but excluded and prohibited from even being in His presence or in proximity.
BUT NOW! Through my faith in Jesus Christ, I am His child, His love, His forgiven, purified, and adopted heir, and I will be with Him FOREVER! And now to you also is this opportunity offered to believe in Him so that you may have Everlasting Life!!