Introduction to Acts – Acts was written by Luke, the same man who recorded the Gospel of Luke. He was a physician from Rome and was not one of the Twelve. He did not see Jesus (that we know of from Scripture), but, being an educated man, he set out to write accurately via many interviews it is supposed, and in some sort of chronological order. He has great credibility. This Book is a fantastic report about what the first apostles did after Jesus left earth. It is early church history.

Acts 1:

v1: Who is Theophilus? It’s a Greek name meaning “beloved of God” or “loving God.” Luke addressed his gospel to this same name, but there addressed him as “most excellent” Theophilus. This may imply that he was a Roman officer because Paul addressed Felix (Acts 23:26; 24:3) and Festus (26:25) with the same title. Some believe he was writing to Theophilus ben Ananus, the High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem from 37-41 A.D. and brother-in-law of the evil Caiaphas who hated Jesus. There is an outside chance that Theophilus was not anyone in particular. If so, Luke’s written work was intended for anyone who finds favor with God by being open to Truth.

v3: Reveals that a resurrected Jesus stayed on earth appearing to various people for 40 days.

v6: Reveals that Jesus disciples still thought that Jesus was going to make physical Israel the leading nation on earth. But this was just before they were all baptized in the Holy Spirit.

7-8: Times or epochs are fixed by God and we are not to know them, but we shall receive power from the Holy Spirit to give testimony of Jesus “even to the remotest part of the earth.” This last phrase in quotes in significant. There are two interpretations: 1) it refers to only the known world at that time, or 2) it literally means what it says. The context of verse 8 is referring to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which was about to occur for the disciples. If the above #2 is correct, since they never traveled to the remotest part of earth after receiving this Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Scripture here strongly indicates that this experience would continue until Jesus returns (Matthew 24:14). In other words, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit did not die out with the first generation of believers as some Christians believe today. This verse 8 is a direct quote from Jesus, according to Luke. If #1 is correct, this arguments fails. I deeply love and respect believers on both sides of this issue. Unfortunately, the issue can be extremely divisive. I like emphasizing areas of agreement (there are thousands of them) when fellowshipping with various believers. With what Satan has accomplished in these last days in our culture, the Christian Church needs to be united. Unity can accomplish much for the Kingdom of God (Philippians 2:2 & Psalms 133:1). This Baptism of the Holy Spirit issue will arise again in further verses and in 1 Cor.13, and, again, there are two interpretations involved. For the record, Acts 2:39 ends the debate for me – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for the Apostles, their children, and for all those who are far off – as many as God calls to Himself. This includes us.

v9-11: Jesus ascends into the sky and out of the disciples sight. Then two “men in white” (angels) said He would return to earth in this same manner.

12: “A Sabbath Day’s journey.” This refers to the distance from Mount Olives to Jerusalem. I was in Israel in August of 1977 and I walked this distance. It is no more than 3/5 of a mile. The Jewish leaders made up their own rules about the Sabbath. Any travel more than 3/5 of a mile was “work.” I’m not saying that this verse is advocating this man-made rule, it simply illustrates how ingrained that definition was at that time.

14: Tremendous unity and devotion to prayer, and women were there right in the midst of it all with the men. That’s great to see. Critics do not realize how liberating Christianity is for women. The Jewish tradition was to usually separate men and women when they pray or attend the Synagogue. In fact, when I went up to the “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem (a remnant of the Jewish Temple that King Herod built), I was allowed to go up only to the right side with men, women were on the left. In Synagogues, men would sit in front while women were in the back.

v15-26: When back in Jerusalem, Peter spoke to about 120 people about the Old Testament prediction of Judas, the betrayer. The Psalmist said that another person had to replace him, and so they determined, by praying that God’s will be done via drawing lots, that Mattias would be the one.

Acts 2:

1-12: Jesus had told the apostles to meet at this place at this time, and the Holy Spirit descended upon all of them, plus others and they began to speak in tongues. Some devout Jews from different nations staying in Jerusalem, and they heard their own language being spoke by men who did not know what they were saying (because the Spirit was giving them utterance). They were proclaiming the mighty deeds of God. I think Jesus alluded to this historic event in Luke 12:49 when He said, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”

13: Some people just thought they were drunk. It never fails, anytime God does something great on earth, there will be a group of critics who cannot perceive what God is doing.

14-21: Peter takes charge and addresses the crowd explaining that this event was a fulfillment of Joel’s OT prophecy (2:28-32) and marked the beginning of the Last Days. Many Christians do not realize that the “Last Days” began with Christ’s first coming. This is also confirmed in Hebrews 1:1-2.

22-26: Peter further explains that Jesus and His death and resurrection is mankind’s hope.

27: A great OT prophecy of how the Messiah’s body would not decay (Psalms 16:10).

29-41: Peter preached a great salvation message, again, using OT Scriptures, and about 3,000 people were saved. He also confirmed the Scriptures were not claiming that Jesus was just the son of David but also the Son of God.

Special Note on v39: Describing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit experience, God’s Word says that it was for the apostles, and their children, and for all who were far off, and anyone else who God calls to Himself. So this includes all believers from that time through today and beyond until the End comes. This verse debunks the view that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was merely a temporary event that does not occur today as “Cessationists” assert.

v41-47: Among the disciples, many miracles continued which put people in awe of them. The early church flourished as they became one in spirit. They shared possessions so all had enough provisions. More souls were added to the Kingdom. Jesus said that this Holy Spirit experience would give believers power. The state of the disciples just prior to this experience was terrible. Peter was still reeling from his denial, all of them had fled in fear of the Romans and Jewish leaders, and they were all slow to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. To top it all off, as Jesus’ crucifixion was eminent, some were arguing amongst themselves about who was going to be the greatest in Heaven! What a dramatic change when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. This grand event got the Church going. I think it was what Jesus was looking forward to when He mentioned there was a “fire” that He ever so wanted to be kindled (Luke 12:49). History records that from its start, Christianity was the fastest growing religion of them all.

Personal testimony: After being saved for less than a year in 1971, I was moved by an old movie called “Barabbas” starring Anthony Quinn. While not very Scriptural, it contained something that made me literally get on my knees and plead with God to fill me with everything He’s got so that I would never become deceived, even by an angel of light. I suddenly felt something enter me and knew at that point that God answered my plea. I knew I had arrived where God wanted me and that I would never fall into error. It was a comforting and secure feeling. Little did I know at that time what it would involve. Within days, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons tried to convert me but failed. Not because I knew Scriptures well because I didn’t. In fact, I was ready to go with each one after a few visits, but God would not let it happen. With the Mormons, I was ready to pray with them, but they suddenly looked at each other in confusion and did not know what to do. With the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I plead again with the Lord to show me if they were right on. He suddenly said, “They do not have the love of My Son in them.” When I told them that at the beginning of their next visit, they became furious and left suddenly never to be seen by me again. Wow! I thank God to this day for filling me with His Holy Spirit for my guidance and protection. Don’t get me wrong, I find Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons polite and nice, but error is error. I wonder how many new converts to Jesus experience a derailment attempt by Satan shortly after being saved? Certainly the parable in Matthew 13 covers this to some extent.

Acts 3No reason to be Anti-Semitic

1-16: A great healing for a man lame from birth. Because people were very familiar with him (v10), it indicates that he was no phony “plant” plotted by Peter and John to “sell the crowd” about Jesus’ miracle power and resurrection. This guy suddenly leaped and praised God. It’s more difficult for critics to explain away this one.

17: As Peter was pointing his finger at these Jews for crucifying Jesus, he quickly adds that they acted out of ignorance. This is good because it indicates that he did not hold any grudge against these people. Furthermore, Jesus did cry out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Over the centuries, some ill-meaning so-called Christians have blamed the Jews calling them “Christ-killers.” There is no reason to do this other than an unclean heart. It wasn’t all the Jews that killed Jesus, only the arrogant religious leaders using the Roman government to do their dirty work (it was unlawful for Jews to execute people under Roman rule). Many Jews loved Jesus. The first Christians were Jews. This is the proper historical perspective.

19-26: Peter’s message was geared for the Jews. They seemed to be listening….but then…the priests and Sadducees are about to descend upon them all with their nastiness in the next chapter. This was Satan trying to snatch away the precious seeds of salvation that Peter had just sown into the hearts of those listeners (Matthew 13:19-23).

Acts 4:

1-12: Again the prominent Jewish leaders did not like two things: 1) someone ELSE was teaching the people, and 2) it was all about Jesus. In those days they had clout. They seized the disciples and put them in jail until the next day for it was already evening. Many were converted, however, so this simple plan of taking away the truth from the people was not working. Powerful Jewish priests surrounded the disciples and demanded to know by what authority or name they do things to the people. Peter boldly proclaims the name of Jesus, whom the priests crucified, to be the authority by which a man was healed. Peter further quotes from Psalms 118:22 that “the stone which was rejected by you (priests), the builders, became the cornerstone.” Peter concludes with the most “UN-PC” statement he could say in today’s culture, “And there is salvation is no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” I do not believe that Peter would or even could say this to these priests’ faces without being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

13-17: The “nasties” could not deny the miracle of the lame man. This seemed to temper any punishment for the disciples, especially realizing that the people viewed them favorably. The priests, however, were still determined to silence this Jesus talk.

18-20: When told to shut up about Jesus, Peter says a powerful statement that we need to heed today, “…for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” Christians who do the will of God and who desire to live a godly life, will meet with resistance from this world – always (2 Timothy 3:12). I’ve often said, if there is no persecution of some form coming at me, I must not be flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit. But the good news is that we will have tremendous impact upon those who are open to God, and a great reward awaits us in eternity. So be encouraged.

21-31: After being threatened by the priests, they were released. They proceeded to have a praise and prayer meeting with friends of the faith. They quoted Scripture and worshiped, and were then filled again with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the Word of God with boldness.

32-37: The Holy Spirit caused these new believers to become unified, all their earthly needs were met as they shared with one another. Some sold valuable things and gave the disciples the money to be used for the group. This is when Barnabas got his spiritual start, at least he was first mentioned in the Scriptures here. His name implies that he was an encourager, a consoler, and an exhorter.

Comment: Some people use verses 34-36 as a justification for socialism or even communism. However, Scripture never advocates that heathen governments force believers and unbelievers do do this. It only works among believers and when the Holy Spirit is allowed to take things over. Just my opinion.

Application for Today: This chapter reveals how important the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is to us. From this, God gives many gifts to individuals for the building up of His Church and to preach His Word of salvation to others. If not done already, seek and ask for it so you can do greater exploits for Jesus (see Luke 11:9-13). Do not seek this to be more spiritual or so you can lord it over others, but rather to SERVE brothers and sisters in Christ to make them stronger.

Acts 5:

1-11: A scary lesson when the Holy Spirit is moving so mightily as this – don’t lie to Him, we will not get away with it.

12-16: Awesome supernatural healings and demonic deliverances. Many people with demons are mentioned in Scripture. Modern intellectuals tend to believe that those cases were based on ignorant superstition. Their underlying assumption is that there is no Satan or demons. That’s not what Jesus said. While science has uncovered many great things, it does not know all things. In fact, I suspect that there is much more unknown facts about life in this world than known facts. Science, unfortunately, at times has become arrogant because it has come such a long way in the last 60 years. But epilepsy, for example, seems to be described in the Bible and Jesus cast out the demon causing it (Matt.17:15). Modern science has determined that epilepsy can be caused by physical brain damage that can be seen via a scan. I certainly would not put these cases into the category of demonic activity. With most cases, however, there is no physical malady causing the seizures. Could there be a spiritual element that man’s science will never perceive? Logic says it’s possible, but modernists tend to shrug off such “old-fashioned notions.” We, as modern believers, must be careful not to “throw out the baby with the bath water” on this issue. While recognizing the value and truth to some scientific claims, we also must be aware that Jesus did not teach lies about this world and the state that it is in. We must also be careful not to judge why someone may have demonic activity. There is an array of possibilities, some of which are not even close to being that person’s fault. So let us not cast  stigmas with this issue.

17-18: When the Holy Spirit is moving mightily, you can always count on the devil’s counter punch. In this case it took the form of jealous religious leaders taking the believers’ freedom away (jail).

19-20: God’s great intervention. He will do this to assure that His Plan will be carried out. Remember the words of Jesus regarding His Kingdom spreading, “And the gates of Hades will not over power it” (Matt.16:18).

21-28: Quite comical at this point. God supernaturally got the guys out of prison without the guards even knowing. When they were ordered to bring them out the next day, they were nowhere to be found….except right back in the Temple still preaching Jesus! The disciples didn’t even run away. So they are “politely dragged back” to the Jewish leaders for another “conference” and were told not to speak in the name of Jesus. Then came verse 29…

29: A magnificent response to the high priest’s command, “We must obey God rather than man.” Yes!

33-39: These disciples came within a cat’s whisker of being murdered by the High Priest’s command. God used a wise and influential man named Gamaliel to prevent it. He reasoned that there have been other men who claimed to be great along with some followers, but after the leader was slain, the movement came to a halt. Therefore, he said, if this “Jesus thing” is of men, it will naturally die out on its own over time. BUT, IF IT IS OF GOD, YOU CANNOT STOP IT. I’m guessing it was of God.

40: Despite taking Gamaliel’s advice, they still saw fit to flog the disciples. In our culture, we are shocked at the power of these leaders and lack of human rights. They were equivalent to any mean-spirited religious or anti-religious zealot throughout history. It is interesting, however, to note that of all religious groups it has been Christians and Jews who have been persecuted the most. My advice to open-minded folks, find out WHY.

41: The disciples, after being whipped, rejoiced because they had been considered worthy to suffer shame and pain for Jesus’ name sake. Could you and I do that today?

42: And they kept right on doing what God wanted them to do, and I’m sure their backs were still stinging. Satan deceived Eve via her senses (taste and good feeling). God now perfects His power through human willingness to endure pain (injury to those senses) for His Glory. Early Christianity spread quickly mainly because believers were willing to be tortured/killed for believing.

Acts 6:

1-7: This is the first time “deacons” were selected to see to the physical needs of the early church.

8-14: Stephen, full of God’s anointing, became a target for Satan. These wicked men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen had the same spirit as the Pharisees who hated Jesus. They cared not for the people who were healed. They just wanted to silence God’s voice to the people. They were very religious, but full of “dead men’s bones.” The same spirit exists today in groups and individuals who go out of their way to suppress God’s Truth or to spread lies about people who are serving God.

15: The Holy Spirit sets the stage for one great speech.

Acts 7

v1-50: After the enemies of Truth falsely accused Stephen in front of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council), Stephen proclaims a beautiful historical record of “Christ Types” from the Old Testament: 1) Abraham had no worldly inheritance, 2) Joseph who was rejected by his own people (family), 3) Moses who was rejected as a leader and ruler while in Egypt, and 4) all the Jewish prophets who were killed by Jewish leaders. All these people were later raised up and given great honor by God, just like Jesus.

v51-53: Stephen describes the true spirit in these “nasties” as “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart” while “always resisting the Holy Spirit.” Their fathers did the same. So after orating on their murderous Jewish leadership history, Stephen turns to those present leaders and proclaims they are guilty of ALL the leaders’ past sins.

v54-57: While seeing and describing a beautiful vision of the glory of Jesus, the “nasties” pounced all over Stephen and killed him. Stephen was the first of millions of Christian martyrs. But as martyrdom escalated during the first couple hundred years of the church, converts increased rapidly. When so many people were suddenly willing to die for something, people began to take notice and investigate. In 313 A.D. when Constantine made Christianity a legal religion via the Edict of Milan, persecution and martyrdom ceased (at least for a while), but much of, but not all, Christianity became ritualized and dead, people were forced to become “Christian” as the roots of the Roman Catholic Church began to grow. Sadly, these actions still give Christianity a bad name today among the critics. They do not want to realize that God’s Spirit was not doing all that. Fortunately, there always existed an “underground Church” that preserved Truth, even through the violent Crusades and the horrible Dark Ages when the Roman Catholic Church killed millions of believers while not allowing anyone but priests to read the Bible.

This spirit that “always resists the Holy Spirit” still exists in our society today. Solomon was correct when he exclaimed, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). This spirit seeks to pervert and suppress the Truth while targeting Christianity. This force (both religious and secular) will not prevail against God’s Kingdom development, however. If it weren’t for His persistent help and intervention on the behalf of His people, the church, like Israel,  would have been destroyed centuries ago.

Note: For years I wondered why this lengthy oration from Stephen got recorded into Holy Scripture. There had to be an important reason. Then when I realized that those “70 Weeks” prophesied in Daniel were NOT separated between the 69th and 70th week, it made perfect sense. Jesus fulfilled all that was prophesied in Daniel Chapter 9:24, so He completed the 70th week. The first 3 1/2 years was His earthly ministry and the last 3 1/2 years was completed with Stephen’s murder that typified Jewish leader rebellion against God. For a more detailed explanation, see my commentary on Daniel Chapter 9.

Acts 8:

1-8: The same day that Stephan was murdered, a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem, so many were scattered. Saul, a Roman citizen and a Pharisee, was glad to see Stephan die and he ravaged homes to drag new believers off to prison. But the Word about Jesus continued to spread. Wherever it spread, there were demons driven out of people and great healings. People were rejoicing greatly.

9-11: Simon (not Peter) used to practice astounding magic in Samaria and claimed to be great. People thought he was a demonstration of God’s power.

Application for Today: Is there sorcery today? It takes many forms and disguises, especially since humans have becomes so educated and intellectual. Many facets of the “New Age Movement” involves “channeling.” They delve into a spiritual realm for the purpose of gaining something, but it’s simple demonic activity fooling those folks. Anything dealing with the occult is sorcery. The word “occult” simply means “hidden.” So the word itself is not always used in a context that is denounced in Scripture. When there is the promise of hidden powers, however, watch out! This promise is extremely alluring to the fallen human race. God wants us to plug into Him for power (this will keep us humble and responsible). Any other source will be satanic if it’s supernatural. Divination is also sorcery – fortune-telling, tarot card, Ouija boards, tea-leaf reading, palm reading, anything seeking hidden knowledge (especially for power).

There are witchcraft groups today, some claiming to be good witches (no such thing). I know a man in my church who had severe, disabling headaches almost every day for years. They started suddenly and out of nowhere. Tests showed nothing wrong. He later discovered there was a witchcraft group meeting in one of our public businesses led by the son of the owner who found out that this man was a Christian. So they prayed curses over him. Well, as soon as he knew the source of his pain, people laid hands on his forehead and the severe pain quickly moved to the back of his head. Then hands were laid upon the back of his head and the pain instantly returned to the front. They hands were laid all over his head and the pain instantly left. All was accomplished through the precious name of Jesus Christ. I know it is difficult to believe that such wicked groups exist in a “civilized, educated society,” but remember that there is a spiritual void in all of us, and unless the Lord  fills it, something else will, no matter how many college degrees we earn. High IQs do not insulate from deceptive supernatural powers.

12-17: An example of salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit being a separate experience. Some Christians believe that we automatically get the baptism of the Holy Spirit at salvation. We certainly need the Holy Spirit active in us telling us the truth about Jesus at salvation, but the BAPTISM of the Holy Spirit as described in this New Testament Book is almost always a separate experience. See also Acts 19:1-6.

18-24: After responding to the Gospel and being baptized in water, Simon offered money to get this power to do miracles. This revealed his evil heart. We do not know from Scripture if Simon’s magical arts included supernatural power from demons or slight-of-hand craftiness. I suspect that foolery existed back then but not to the extent of development today. Can you imagine the effect David Copperfield or David Blaine could have back then? In those days, anyone with just a little crafty brain could probably figure out some simple tricks to amuse, or more importantly, cause people to fear them. Hence, the power over people emerges. This can be addicting. Simon probably liked this and still wanted to have it, thus the quick denunciation from Peter in verse 20. Simon’s real inner character arises in verse 24 when he did not even want to pray for himself, but rather have Peter do it for him. He had no interest in a relationship with the Father. In fact, he was in bondage due to iniquity (sin – either his own or relatives from 3 or 4 generations back) [Exodus 20:5]. Simon also was bound up with bitterness. Because his heart was not right with God, he did not seek to be free from these powers. He just wanted more power to maintain the attention and reverence from the people (verse 11).

We do not know what happened to Simon Magus following this account. However, some scholars and historians think he may have gone to Rome with his magic tricks and became quite the celebrity. Some think he influenced the beginning of gnostic thinking, that is, secret knowledge leads to salvation of one’s soul. Still others think he later locked horns with Peter in Rome, then died when he leaped from a tall building due his belief he could fly. None of these claims have been verified, however.

25-38: A eunuch was reading a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah but needed help to understand to whom it was referring. Philip told him it was about Jesus. The man was quickly converted and baptized in some water next to the road. Why a eunuch? I’m not sure if it’s significant. Possibility = people back then tended to view people who could not have children (especially women) as cursed of God. It was a difficult stigma to bear. So, just maybe (this may be a stretch) God was telling people that ALL people are valuable and useful in His service. Who knows, this eunuch’s conversion may have resulted in him having hundreds of spiritual children (converts) which is actually better than having unsaved natural children when you really think about it. If the water was muddy, would that be okay? Why not? The River Jordan’s water was not Holy, but the Spirit that embraces the new convert is.

Acts 9:

Saul was a strict Pharisee, very educated, feared and respected. He thought that Christians represented a false religion and were a threat to Judaism. He really did think he was doing God a favor by going after the followers of Jesus.

1-22: I’ve always maintained that “sudden radical transformations” indicate that God is real and that the Bible is His Truth. There has been no other way, creed, or book that has suddenly and radically changed millions of humans from bad to good more than the Bible. If man just made up the Bible with no divine guidance, then a sudden “Saul-to-Paul” experience could never happen. A science teacher friend of mind taught evolution for years. When he surrendered his life to Jesus, the first thought he had was, “Evolution is a lie.” There was no time to read the Bible or be taught against evolution. How could that happen if Jesus weren’t alive in spirit today?

v5: “pricks” referred to “goads.” These were long poles. At one end was a small spade for removing mud from plows while the other end had a sharp point for prodding the oxen. It was this pointed end to which the Lord was referring. So the Lord must have been “jabbing” Saul via his conscience for some time. But Saul was very much entrenched in his theology and was not going to change….until he met the Kings of Kings!

23: The “nasty spirit” is at it again. You can always count on a satanic counter punch when the Holy Spirit moves in a big way.

24-30: God protected Saul from a plot against his life. Satan must have realized this man’s potential to do damage to his kingdom of darkness here on earth. Saul gains credibility with other disciples. They had trouble trusting his story at first.

31-35: Peter heals a paralyzed man and everyone who lived in that town turned to the Lord.

36-43: Peter raises Dorcas form the dead in Joppa and many more believed in Jesus as a result.

Acts 10:

v10-23: Peter’s vision – I think God wanted Peter to eventually preach to Gentiles and this was His way of showing a staunch Jew that Heaven is open to all races of people.

v24-26: This is another case of where someone less than God was starting to be worshiped and it was stopped right away by that person. Throughout Scripture, both men and angels stopped others from worshiping them. The only person who did not stop it was Jesus. This is extremely revealing. It is a difficult point for cults to handle because they all deny the deity of Christ. Either Jesus was God in the flesh or He was sinning by accepting worship that belongs to God only.

v27-46: Peter realizes the purpose of his vision and preaches about Jesus to a group of Gentiles who were also baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

v47-48 – Here’s a rare case where men where baptized in the Holy Spirit before being baptized in water. I guess we cannot put God in a box or in a manmade religious formula.

Acts 11:

1-18: Some early Jewish Christians rose up against Peter because he ate with Gentiles. Peter shared his recent experience about how God showed him that Jesus is for all people, not just the Jews. Ironically, today many people think that Jesus is not for the Jews! What a mixed up world we live in.

19-21: Even those Jewish believers who were scattered from Jerusalem due to persecution also began preaching Jesus to Gentiles (or Greek-speaking Jews) with excellent results. Things were starting to move in favor of Christianity.

22-26: A very good man named Barnabas, who also was full of the Holy Spirit, teamed up with Paul at Antioch and many were saved. This is when believers in Jesus were first called Christians. The rise of Christianity was extremely rapid from its humble beginning. All other religions took considerable time to develop and spread. Not so with Christianity and the Holy Spirit on the loose. This ties in with what Jesus said to His disciples about His death – it would be to their advantage that He dies for then He will ascend into Heaven and be able to release or to send the Holy Spirit to earth. This Spirit would lead to Truth and glorify Jesus.

Acts 12:

v1-11: quite an effort by the Holy Spirit to get His church going. It demonstrates God’s power over Satan. I always wonder about the method God chooses to do miraculous feats. This time they did not get out of prison from an earthquake or being bodily transported like Philip. It also shows us how much God knows about our circumstances – Peter was just about to get summoned by Herod’s men for probable execution as he did with James, John’s brother. When praying, sometimes people “fill God in” on all the details of a situation. I know it can serve as a good release for us, but I’d rather just cut to the quick when I pray since God knows all.

v12-19: Here they all are, praying for Peter while he was in prison, he gets miraculously set free, knocks on their door and Rhoda gets so excited that she leaves him knocking outside that door to tell the others, and then they don’t believe her! I get a chuckle out of this every time I read it. The humor continues in verse 18: “when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers…” Sadly, they were executed for “letting Peter escape.”

v20-25: This Herod was the son of Herod who murdered Bethlehem’s babies. Moral of this story – do not take credit for great speeches!

Acts 13:

v1-3: Fasting & prayer is important to get desired results, especially when sending out someone for ministry. Paul needed that special power in verses 10-11.

v4-12: While teaching in a synagogue Paul was opposed by a magician named Bar-Jesus (translated Elymas). Because of the Holy Spirit being in Paul he was able to discern the evil in this man. Paul rebuked him with strong words and the Holy Spirit struck the man blind for a time. This led many to believe in Jesus in this Jewish synagogue.

v13-43: Paul speaks at length in a synagogue and goes into great detail about Jewish history and tied it in with Messianic prophecy fulfillment done by Jesus. At meeting’s end, they wanted to hear him again the following week…but trouble would be waiting.

v35: Paul quotes an OT prophecy from Psalms 16:10 that predicts that the Messiah would not decay but rise from the dead.

The rest of this chapter basically outlines Paul’s last ditch effort to reach the Jews, but due to those ones with the “nasty spirit'” he finally turned most of his attention to the Gentiles from that point on (v46). This clearly marks the end of the Old Covenant (Daniel’s 70 weeks) if not sooner.

Acts 14:

This chapter continues to describe the fast-growing church and the powerful miracles done to convince people of the authority and reality of Jesus Christ. It also documents Satan’s persistent attempts at snuffing out this movement before it took off. These attempts were primarily threats of physical pain and/or damaging reputations of the preachers. Satan, of course, works behind the scenes by motivating people with unclean hearts toward God to go out of their way to put down the Holy Spirit’s work. Fortunately, each satanic attempt to snuff out Truth failed. Unfortunately, these attempts did succeed in turning off some individuals to the Truth.

v12-15: Problem w/Jupiter and the sacrifice = due to the great miracles performed, people thought that Greek gods came down and embodied Paul and the other disciples, thus they wanted to offer sacrifices to these gods. Of course, that would not be good. Paul put a quick stop to being worshiped and told them who God really is.

v19-22: Nasty ones returned and got Paul stoned so badly that people thought he died.

Verse 22: Luke, the narrator of Acts, was quoting the disciples when he wrote, “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.” Yes, as Christians we will face satanic barrages that try to make us reject the salvation message, and, after we are saved, the resistance will continue to try to keep us off God’s path. This is why Jesus described the only correct way through this life as being a “narrow road” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Acts 15: The “Ouch” of Circumcision

v1-21: A final nail into the “circumcision-necessity-to-be-saved” or any other “ritual-or-good-work” coffin. Jews surprised? Yes and no. Not sure how many Jews were aware of the prophecies of Gentile salvation. Even among those who knew, I think it was still difficult at first to see it fulfilled due to so many prejudices they had against non-Jews. Remember, even Peter needed a direct vision from the Lord (3X) in order to “get it.”

Significance of circumcision in NT: Originally in the OT,  circumcision demonstrated the cutting off of uncleanliness. The excess of male foreskin enables bacteria to grow since cleaning that area takes extra effort which may not occur all the time with every man. Of course in OT times, mankind knew nothing about germs, so it was a symbol of a “cutting away” (separation) from the unclean world (pagan nations). Instead of the removal of undesirable flesh to be clean under the spiritual New Covenant, we need a spiritual surgeon to cut away the sin from our hearts to have eternal life. While physical circumcision is painful and does not save souls, spiritual circumcision does. It involves admitting our sin to God and letting Him be our Boss.

What God did in the natural realm during OT times, He accomplishes in the spiritual realm in NT times (1Cor.15:46; Hebrews 9:1-28, Hebrews 10:1). A good example of this concept is Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt:

Egypt = the world
Jews = Christians
Moses = Jesus the Deliverer
Pharaoh = Satan
Giants in Canaan = major obstacles for Christian growth
Canaan = the abundant life in Christ (or maybe Heaven).

What the Jews experienced throughout their history can be paralleled by the Church in history. For example, the persecutions, the attempts from this world to snuff them out, and the restoration (Israel becoming a nation in 1948 and the Christian church being restored and revived back to the people through the Reformation. People actually started to get Bibles and read them for themselves). Prior to the Reformation, during the Roman Catholic reign, this was illegal. So it seems that God took about 4,000+ years of our time to paint some sort of picture of who He is and what He will be doing.

v20: Why this rule about abstaining from things contaminated by idols, fornication, and eating animals killed by strangulation? One reason was the early Christian leaders wanted to reduce stumbling blocks to Gentiles by not adding a lot of Jewish rules to their lives, and they wanted to show the Jews that these offensive things in Jews’ eyes should not occur within the Gentile Christian population. So it was an effort to please both sides. To be clear though, these restrictions were not necessary for salvation any more than circumcision is. In addition, these were things commonly practice by gentiles and could lead them to backslide back into paganism. The animal blood rule, however, finds its origin in Genesis, long before the Law of Moses came. Today’s science tells us that there is a high risk of disease if humans eat or drink animal blood. Thorough cooking kills all bad germs though.

v38-40:

After sharply disagreeing with Barnabas concerning taking Mark along on a trip, Paul went his own way with Silas. Paul then mentions that he left with the blessing of the brethren. Maybe this was Paul’s way of saying, “See, I was right.” Not sure if that was the intention, though. Paul could get feisty at times. This shows that even super spiritual mature Christians just cannot agree on all things. The amazing thing is that God still works through divisions between people.

Acts 16:

v1-2: Timothy had a Jewish mom but a Greek dad. This could be a stumbling block to strict Jews, but Timothy had a great reputation.

v3: It’s great that circumcision is not necessary for salvation. The NT makes this very clear. So then, why did Paul have Timothy circumcised? In Acts 16:3 it says, “Because of the Jews” and them knowing that Tim’s father was a Greek. We must realize that to a Jew, circumcision was deeply ingrained. So Paul did not want to flaunt this revelation of freedom in the Jews’ faces thus giving them a better chance to receive the salvation message of Jesus Christ. Paul knew that these Jews would not listen to Timothy unless he was circumcised. In those days “Greek” to a Jew meant “pagan/idol worshiper.” I assume that Paul believed that if they did got saved, that they would eventually see the full truth behind what saves and what does not save.

Application for Today: An updated version of this scenario would a born-again person sharing the Lord with a person who has deeply ingrained beliefs that are not of the Spirit of God. Merely ripping up their beliefs in their face could cause them to stumble (reject anything you say), and I would not want to destroy what the Holy Spirit is trying to currently do with them. I trust that God will show us all truth as long as we stay close to Jesus and value Him more than all else. Paul advocates this same concept in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

v6-7: The Holy Spirit prevented them from going to certain places. Most likely because of what happened in verses 9-10.

v16-21: A demon speaking through a woman proclaiming that Jesus was “a way of salvation.” The truth is He “THE” way. After Paul cast out that demon, her ability to make money for the local fortune tellers was gone, so they dragged Paul and Silas to authorities.

v22-34: After being physically beaten with rods many times, they were thrown into the “inner” prison and shackled. Rome’s maximum security had deplorable conditions. Their reaction? They praised the Lord with hymns! Would you and I do that today? No lawyers, no ACLU, no trial, no rights…but God not only took care of His precious treasures, He freed them. Locked prison doors were suddenly opened and their chains were off! When freed, what was their main concern? Not escaping, but preventing the jailer from committing suicide and sharing the Good News of eternal life with him. Their jailer, of all people! And it worked, and later his whole family got saved. Ya gotta love that.

Application for Today: We must be open to share Jesus with anybody.

v35-40: Paul’s feisty nature shows. He wasn’t going to be released from prison until the magistrates came to him in person. It was his way of showing them how wrong they were in beating them in public without a trial. When they came and showed fear about what they did to a Roman citizen, he agreed to leave after making his point. Romans citizens had rights. In fact, some of our laws and rights of today are based on Roman law. So Rome did have some good aspects to it.

Acts 17: PC and Racism Today

v1-9: Paul reasoned with the Jews concerning Jesus, His suffering, and His rising from the dead. Some believed, some did not, and some went out of their way to smear Paul and any other believer. I do not think anything has changed today. If we share Jesus publicly, we will cause the same three types of people to arise.

v10-11: What the more “noble-minded” people did at Berea should also be done by all believers. They “searched the Scriptures daily” to determine Truth. Furthermore, as a result, many were saved, even some prominent folks.

v16-21: Paul conversed with some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Most of them, however, were more into high-level thinking, and the pride that goes with it. He did get at least a couple of converts, but the Scripture is not clear whether or not they were philosophers or people that just happened to be listening. When Paul talked about the resurrection, some thought he was crazy.

v23: “To an unknown god” inscription – this encourages us to tell people about Jesus because most people, even back then, somehow sense that there is a supreme being who made things.

v24-25: Big cultural revelation – God does not dwell in in temples made by man. And He does not need us or anything else. He wants us, but doesn’t need us – big difference.

v26: This verse claims that there is only one race of people on earth – the human race, who is of one blood. Political Correctness efforts to decrease racism will not work. Embracing the Biblical view will. PC tends to emphasize differences, and demands all to respect those differences (which includes paganism in some cases). Cultural respect is preached at the majority group but not to the minority groups. PC tends to educate people about all religions except Christianity, and when it does mention Christianity, it is often not a fair representation. PC never strikes at the root of the racism problem – sin. The Biblical view tends to focus upon our similarities – what we have in common (same Creator, same enemy, same temptations, same remedy for temptations). Furthermore, when a person realizes they are a sinner, they can begin to admit specific wrong attitudes and seek the “new heart” that only Christ has the authority to give. I’ve seen several churches with mixed “races” and they get along very well. The media, however, doesn’t seem interested in finding out WHY this is happening. John 14:17 says, “… the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him (Jesus) or know Him….”

v26-27: God has appointed many things, such as timing of events and habitation boundaries for one reason – to motivate people to seek Him.

Acts 18:

v3: Reveals that Paul was a tent maker.

v5: Paul devoted himself completely to studying the Word. We all need to do this.

v6: Again Paul meets with resistance and blasphemy from a group of Jews, so he announces that he will primarily preach to the Gentiles now. Quite a proclamation coming from one who was so devoted to his people. This may be one of the earmarks of the closing of the Old Covenant (or the 70 weeks prophesied by Daniel in Chapter 9 – see my commentary on that chapter). God then gave him a vision that God had many people yet in that town, so Paul continued to reach out to Jews (v19).

v7-11: Paul departs and settles in another town. While there, God gave him a night vision assuring him of safety and an anointing. He stayed a year-and-a-half. God also reveals that He had many people in that city. I think this suggests that these people did not get saved yet but would soon if Paul stayed and preached. Jesus did say, “My sheep hear My voice.” He knows who His kids are and which ones are not.

v12-17: Then Paul’s enemies did finally rise up against him again and brought him with charges to the proconsul Gallio. Before Paul could say a word in his defense, Gallio drove them all away citing that he does not care about their trivial, meaningless differences within their religion. So the Jews grabbed a believer named Sosthenes, who was the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the judgment seat of Gallio. He was not concerned.

v24-28: Apollos was demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. He was familiar only with the baptism of John. So two believers, Priscilla and Aquila, took him aside and explained more accurately the way of God. The Bible does not elaborate on whatever error he preached. In any case, he responded so well that he powerfully refuted the Jews in public debate by demonstrating from the OT Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.

I remember flying home from Israel in 1977, and I was seated with a Jewish boy and his mom. I was reading the Bible and started to engage them in conversation. When she saw that I was reading in Isaiah (I chose this on purpose), she was quite amazed that a Christian would be reading from one of her major prophets. So I started to show both of them the prophecies of the Messiah and how they related to Jesus…and they listened. That’s all I know.

Acts 19: Different Altars, Same Results.

v1-10: When Paul meets some new disciples his first question was whether or not they received the Holy Spirit when they believed in Jesus. When they were clueless to the question, Paul laid his hands on them and they got it! This is good support for the belief that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation. Far too many Christians think this happens automatically at salvation. It’s true that the Holy spirit must be at work during salvation because He leads to all Truth, but being baptized in Him is quite different! A similar story is found in Acts 8:14-17.

Note: Speaking in tongues is 1 of 9 supernatural gifts from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit experience (1Cor. 12:8-10). The gift of tongues can be an earthly language not learned by the person, or tongues of angels which no one would understand (1Cor.13:1). The Holy Spirit prays through the person for the purpose of witnessing to the unsaved, or to prophesy (speak) a message to a group of believers. If spoken aloud so that all can hear, the gift of interpretation of tongues follows via a person who has that gift so that the message can be explained in a language the group understands (1Cor.14:27). Some Christians believe that Romans 8:26-27 describes a type of “tongue” that individuals can use in their private prayer lives. Other Christians disagree. I agree, however.

Do tongues occur now? This is a major division between Christians today. Some believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as described in Acts was given only for the early church’s development, and it is not needed anymore because we now have the complete Holy Scripture. They may site 1 Corinthians 13: 8-10 that says, “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues they will cease, if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away…..For we now see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully….”  They interpret “but when the perfect comes,” as being the Bible. If they are correct, then knowledge as also been done away with! Clearly, the “perfect” is Jesus coming back. Then, and only then, will “we know fully.”

Others believe that once God gives gifts, He does not take them back (Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”). They also interpret 1 Cor.13:10 (“the perfect comes”) as referring to the Second Coming of Christ rather than the Bible. They believe the context is determined by the phrase “face to face” which, they believe, indicates seeing Jesus in person.  The clincher verse for me, however, is Acts 2:39: “For the promise (Baptism of the Holy spirit is the context) is for you (people listening at that time) and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” Those people “far off” and ones “called to God” are you and me! I’ve always maintained that the best way to interpret Scripture is to lay aside man’s ideas and theories and pet doctrines, be anointed by the Holy Spirit, and let Scripture interpret Scripture. Sometimes this is easier said than done, however.

One final reason I believe tongues if for today is that if God saw the need for those gifts then, they are also needed now. Mankind’s needs do not change over time. Unfortunately, when imperfect man gets a hold of supernatural things, there are abuses and errors. If some spiritual actions are phony or counterfeit, there has to be the real thing in existence. We never will see a counterfeit $3 bill, for example. So let us not throw out the baby with the bath water with this issue. Now please realize that there are very good, dedicated lovers of Jesus on both sides of this issue, but I firmly believe that this experience is not only valid today but advocated by God as well.

What did “the lads” prophesy? The Bible does not tell us, but it’s safe to say that it wasn’t the next World Series Champion being the New York Yankees. If you think this is a biased statement, check out Hezekiah 3:22 to confirm my accuracy!

Diana = a Greek and Roman female goddess associated with Astarte which is a fertility/sexual lust deity. Worship of these false gods could result in arousing lustful desires and carrying them out. Self-control and dignity were thrown out the window. Not good, and, we know now it is addicting. There are not many statues of Diana in our culture today, but there is plenty of “altars” (access points) to pornography and drugs to duplicate the same results. The devil does not care under what name these attitudes and behaviors are done, he just wants the same results. In OT times, Molech and Baal worshipers used to slay their young children, today we have legal abortion under the name of women’s rights. Different names, different altars, but the same results.

8-12: Miracles continued with both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) being saved. Opposition eventually arises and Paul goes elsewhere, but the news about Jesus is still spreading fast throughout all of the west coast of Asia Minor at that time.

13-17: An excellent account from Scripture revealing how important it is to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ if we are to perform the supernatural. One cannot simply pretend, then recite “the magic words” and expect demonic powers to obey. Some Christians have been sort of guilty along these lines when they’ve tried to whittle God down to formulas, i.e., if you do A, B, and C, then God HAS to do D. As C.S. Lewis so aptly put, “He’s not a tame lion” referring to Aslan the Lion who represented Jesus in the Chronicles of Narnia series. We do not boss God around.

18-41: The spirit of God was now moving mightily throughout many people. As a result many destroyed witchcraft books and repented from their evil practices. Eventually, a silversmith started losing money because people were not buying man-made idols anymore, so he stirred up trouble against the believers. One thing led to another and a whole assembly of people were gathered, most not knowing why they were there. Then the Gentiles, being prejudiced against the Jews in the crowd, started hailing their false gods loudly. Finally, a wise clerk stood up and quieted the crowd and reasoned with them to take any matter up in their court system because if they didn’t, this assembly would be construed as a riot (unlawful assembly) and the Romans would not be merciful to any of them. This worked, and they went away. The overall “feel” for this chapter for me is….when a group of people are totally sold out to God, great things happen and more people get saved despite the inevitable opposition.

Acts 20: Paul was not a prosperity preacher!

v1-12: Lots of traveling, preaching, teaching, and healing.

v22-23: The Holy Spirit is preparing Paul for more persecution awaiting in Jerusalem, and Paul is willing to go that route for Jesus.

28-30: A warning to all Christian groups that once we know truth, men will come and try to lead us after themselves not after the Lord, even men within our own group. My men’s fellowship group had this happen. Suddenly there were three men joining us for a while. After three meetings with them, we had to tell them not to return because they were stifling the group, confusing the group, and, come to discover a bit later, one wanted to use us for some “spiritual pipe dream” that had no church backing. If we had allowed these men to stay in our group, God’s purpose for us would have been derailed.

33: It’s nice to see that Paul never “soaked” people for money. In fact, he labored himself for his sustenance. One of the biggest complaints against Christianity is caused by money-hungry leaders. Now I know the critics are guilty of “throwing out the baby with the bath water” on this issue by rejecting all of Christianity, but it still grieves my heart that some Christians are guilty of this.

35: Interesting note – this quote that Paul attributes to Jesus was never recorded in the Gospels. This is the only place in the Bible that says Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It is safe to assume that the Apostles told Paul that He said this. Again, Luke records many names and towns where people came from to add historical credibility to his words. Another possibility is that Paul heard Jesus say this during a vision.

Acts 21 – An interesting aside. For the most part, this chapter sets the stage for the next chapter. Paul, despite being warned by the Holy Spirit that he would be arrested if in Jerusalem, was willing to go even if it meant his death. Sure enough, the Jews seized the moment and stirred up people against him so that the Roman authorities had to snatch Paul away from the mob. Paul, now being protected from the mob, gets permission from the Roman soldier to address the crowd.

v9: Mentions four females who were prophetesses, all daughters of Philip the Evangelist.

Acts 22:

Now the stage is further set for Paul’s speech to the Jewish Council, or Sanhedrin as it was called. This comprised of the top Pharisees along with the High Priest. A modern allegory would have a Biblical Creation Scientist speaking to a panel of arrogant, staunch evolutionists. Paul told of his strong Jewish background and his supernatural experience on the road to Damascus.

v3: Reveals that Paul studied under Gamaliel’s strict interpretation of the Law, therefore Paul knows the Law better than most.

v8: Jesus equates persecuting believers on earth the same as doing it to Him. He also said, “If you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40). We are indeed the Body of Christ.

v22-30: The audience had enough of Paul! When he was about to be flogged, they stopped when they found out he was a Roman citizen. Paul would appear in a more civil environment – “the Council” or Sanhedrin (not a nice place).

Acts 23:

v1-11: Hatred based on deep religious convictions can be tragic and dangerous. Muslim extremists have it. Certain Jews in Paul’s day had it. Sadly, so-called Christians have had it throughout history, especially in the Dark Ages. Instead of civil debates used as persuasion, these people resort to physical violence and stifle free thought and religious freedom. I believe this hate is driven by evil spirits that have crept into people’s souls. The Bible identifies Satan as a god of violence (Isaiah 14:12-20 and Ezekiel 28:14-16).

According to history, Ananias was a wicked man who held the position of Jewish High Priest in Paul’s day. Most Jews did not like him. He would take people’s tithe’s that were supposed to go to the other priests and give it to Roman officials for his personal gain (bribery). A few years after Paul made this pronouncement that God would smite him, Ananias was slain in a war. His enemies found him hiding in an aqueduct, dragged him out, and killed him with a horrible death, according to the Jewish historian Josephus. The term “whitewashed wall” meant “hypocrite” – clean on the outside but corrupt on the inside. Paul accused Ananias of breaking the Law by ordering Paul to be struck. As soon as Paul finds out Ananias’ position, he was respectful because that was the law.

v12-22: God intervenes on Paul’s behalf and saved his life from a conspiracy to murder him.

v23-35: Paul is safely sent to Governor Felix in Caesarea.

Acts 24 – Paul is now in custody awaiting to be heard by Roman rulers. He is allowed certain freedoms during his stay and Felix, the Roman ruler, actually called upon Paul to talk to him more about Jesus and actually became afraid at one point. So God used Paul’s imprisonment to give solid testimony concerning Jesus, judgment, and the resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous to people in high places. After two years, Felix was replaced by Festus. Felix did not release Paul in order to do a favor to the Jews that were railing against Paul (v27).

Acts 25:

The Jews that were of the “nasty spirit” had the same problem with Paul as they did with Jesus. The ultimate charge against Jesus was blasphemy and that’s what they continually tried to charge Paul with because this charge had a death sentence. They wanted Paul dead for the same reasons as they wanted Jesus dead – jealousy (Jewish religious leaders lost power over people) and a refusal to admit and repent of sin. One problem with Jews killing Jews was Roman law forbade it, so they were constantly trying to persuade the Romans to kill undesirables. From the official Roman viewpoint, Paul was not guilty of a crime at all and certainly not warranting a death sentence. In fact, Festus felt stupid to send a prisoner through the Roman court system without any charges against him.

The appeal to Caesar is like someone today appealing to the Supreme Court. The fact that he was a Roman citizen would help his case in that forum, plus it kept Paul away from his enemies and gave him more time to live. Festus initially wanted Paul to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul preferred Rome because it would be less adverse to him. This delay also set the stage for Paul’s witness to King Agrippa and others who would be present. God uses, and sometimes orchestrates our situations so that His Word can reach certain people.

Acts 26 – Paul gives his significant, prestigious, and intellectual background to King Agrippa. Then launches into his vision of Jesus followed by the Gospel. Agrippa’s initial reaction was that he thought Paul was crazy. Then later said something to the effect of in a short time Paul would convert him. We’re not sure if he was being sarcastic at this point or not.

v18: Anyone not in the light of Christ is in the “dominion of Satan.” The Bible is so un-PC! So narrow-minded and judgmental! Can anyone with “tickling ears” stand to read it? Scripture says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2Tim.4:3). Just think of all the myths people in of day have embraced – evolution, alien invasion, New Age, etc.

Acts 27 – Paul Sent to Rome; The Intellect vs. The Spirit

Paul, full of the Holy Spirit, was a prisoner on a ship, headed for Rome, full of non-believers. He told the head centurion that if they continued sailing against that tough wind, they would die in a shipwreck. But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than by Paul because of their knowledge of the high seas. Well, the story proved Paul to be correct, but thankfully they eventually listened to him and, although they did get shipwrecked, all 276 survived because they listened to Paul’s specific directions. Over the 40 years of reading Scripture, I never saw those two verses come to life as they did for me. Moral of the story = our intellect is important and valuable (God made them that way), but it must be in submission to God.

Acts 28:

v1-10: They arrive safely on the island of Malta, so Rome is getting closer. I’m not sure if the snake was of the “pit viper” variety although it is safe to assume it was poisonous because of the native response when they saw it fasten onto Paul and the fact that it was called a “viper.” How much venom is injected depends on the snake’s will or happenstance. Vipers sometime withhold venom if they’re just trying to get you away and, sometimes, if they have recently bitten prey, they are temporarily out of venom. Sometimes their timing with injection is off. So when people get bitten, there may be maximum or minimum or somewhere in between amounts of venom actually injected. Chances of maximum venom are good, however. We cannot know how much Paul got, but God used it to impress the natives and get the “healing ball rolling” as a testimony to His Kingdom to these people who, surprisingly, treated the shipwrecked guys very well. I say surprisingly because these island people were barbarians, yet they had some sense of justice from their belief in “some sort of Divine intervention.”

I’m always excited the way our Lord arranges our circumstances so that He can do something through us. May we always be sensitive to what the Spirit may be accomplishing rather than complaining if things do not go our way. I shudder to think what would have happened to Paul’s surrounding people had he been a complainer. His life reflected that sweet “surrendered soul.” God is so pleased to see it in us.

v11-16: Paul arrives in Rome. He meets other believers and could stay by himself having only one soldier to guard him.

v17-20: Paul gives a little background about why he is there to some leading Jews.

21-27: These leading Jews knew nothing about Paul or his legal ordeal but wanted to know about his faith. Some believed while others did not. So Paul quoted Isaiah to them explaining how they would not want to believe.

This book ends with Paul being frustrated with the Jews who were rejecting the Gospel. For the next 2 years, however, he had total freedom to preach to whoever would listen. Apparently his legal matters never went further because his accusers never made it to Rome.