The Book of Acts

The Book of Acts was written around 60-63 AD for the man Theophilus, who was recipient of Luke's earlier Gospel.

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 1

1 The former treatise1 have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost2 is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.3

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey4.

13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room5, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus6, and with his brethren.

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about and hundred and twenty7,)

16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity8; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.9

19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles

1 In the Gospel I wrote to you earlier, O Theophilus, I set down in writing an account of all that Jesus began to do and teach,

2 Until the day he was received back into heaven, after he--through the Holy Spirit--had given final orders to the apostles whom he had chosen.

3 It was to these same apostles that Jesus showed himself alive after his suffering and death on the cross for forty days afterward by many infallible proofs as he discoursed about the Kingdom of God.

4 At one point, when he was with them as a group, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, “Which,” he said, “you have heard me speak of.

5 “For John truly ‘baptized with water,’ but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now!”

6 Now when the disciples were gathered together at one point, they asked him: (Lord--will you now free Israel from Rome?)

7 But he answered: It is none of your business to know what the Father has in mind, and when He will do it.

8 All you need to know is that you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will testify about me throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then the rest of the world! (However, you will see, as our story develops, that the apostles did not immediately do this, and that God had to light a fire under them to actually get them to go out and spread the Gospel as Jesus had commanded.)

9 Now after Jesus had said these things, in their sight he ascended in a cloud of glory until he was lost to view.

10 And while they gazed, awestruck, toward heaven, two men in white robes appeared, standing by them.

11 They said: You men of Galilee--why do you stand and gaze up toward heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken from you up to heaven, will return in similar manner.

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is under a mile from Jerusalem and within the amount of distance a Jew can travel on the Sabbath.

13 When they reached the city, they entered an upper room in a house, where they lodged. Those staying there included: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Jude the brother of James.

14 These all, with one heart, devoted themselves to prayer with some of Jesus’ women followers, along with Miriam his mother, and his kinsmen.

15 During this period, Peter stood up amongst the hundred and twenty (chief) disciples of Jesus, and said:

16 Men and brothers: There is a prophecy that must be fulfilled which David made under the inspiration of the Spirit regarding Judas--the betrayer who led the mob to Jesus.

17 For he was numbered among us, and was a part of this ministry.

18 (As was prophesied,) Judas wound up purchasing the potter’s field with his blood money. And (--as his body hung on the tree until the rope broke--) he fell down and burst his bowels.

19 Note: Everyone living in Jerusalem knew about this, and they even named the field Aceldama, which, in the native tongue, means the Blood Field.

20 (Peter continued:) For it is written in the Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

21 So I suggest that from amongst the group of followers here who have been a part of our group during Jesus’ ministry,

22 Who were with us from the time of John’s baptism until Jesus was taken from us--that we choose and ordain one of them to replace Judas and give testimony of Jesus’ resurrection along with us.

23 So they selected two worthy candidates: Joseph called bar Sabbas, nicknamed Justus; and Matthias.

24 And they prayed, saying: You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men--show which of these two you want for this position,

25 So he can participate in the ministry and apostleship from which Judas, through his sin, fell so he could go to his own true place in hell.

26 So they cast lots and Matthias won, joining the eleven as the twelfth apostle (replacing Judas).

1. Presumed to be the Gospel of Luke.

2. It is important to note that the doctrine of the Trinity is not fully understood by the apostles yet, and that the Holy Spirit in this point in time is understood to be a euphemism for “the power of God” or “the inspiration of God.” Jesus’ words are thus perfectly consistent with the Jewish notion of the Spirit to this point, and the apostles understand His words to be saying they shall receive power (i.e. miracle-working power) after the Power of God comes upon them.

3. A point missed by most is the fact that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He arose with a “shout,” “the voice of the archangel” and the “trump of God,” since 1 Thess. 4:16 says this is how He returns, and this passage says Jesus will return in like manner as He left.

4. Probably meaning 2000 cubits, although in Exodus 16:29, the literal commandment seems to forbid leaving one’s house at all. By the time of Christ, however, rabbinic rulings had broadened this to the point that one could travel several miles under certain conditions.

5. This reference to “an upper room” has given birth to a common false belief about the events of Acts 2, which will be dealt with in the commentary notes for that chapter. The complete understanding of this notation is that this is simply where some of the apostles were staying in Jerusalem, and nothing more.

6. This is the last mention of Mary.

7. This number is suspiciously low. Since the Gospels record that the elders feared an uprising of the people if they took Jesus during the Passover Day because “the world is gone after him” (John 12:19), it is mind-boggling to number the followers of Christ at a paltry 120 members, especially as Paul (1 Cor. 15:6) mentions 500 believers. In all probability, this number refers not to the believers in Jerusalem, but to the number of apostles and elders in the faith, including also those from amongst the 70 disciples Jesus sent out in the Gospels. These elders may eventually have become a Christian Sanhedrin over time, and the number of 120 coincidentally equals the men in the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah, a Jewish quorum of the 2nd Temple period that made rabbinic clarifications to the Torah. This notion is given some credence by the fact that this group of 120 vote to elect Matthias to replace Judas, and we can presume it likely that only those who were long-term believers would have been qualified to choose between the two men. Note also that Peter uses the word “us” in verse 21, suggesting that this group has been with Christ from the time of John’s ministry, adding further credence to the idea that they are elders of the church and not a mixed group of apostles and lay people.

8. Recall that blood money can only be used for public works, and so this is why the Sadducees purchase a burial field with it.

9. Incorrectly thought by some to be a “contradiction” to the account in Matthew that Judas went out and hung himself. But since Judas hung himself during Passover, his corpse was undisturbed for days afterward due to religious prohibitions against touching a dead body. Finally, the rope broke and his body fell down, resulting in the unpleasant sight Peter refers to.

 

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.1

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where the were sitting.

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.2

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.3

6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?4

8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.5

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven6, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.7

16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

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 son and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

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

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 know:

23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with ad oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell8, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou of my right hand,

35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.9

39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:10 and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

1 Now when the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) had arrived, they were in one accord (at the Temple).

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire Court of Women where they were sitting.

3 And (--as had happened at Sinai when the Law was given--) cloven tongues of fire appeared upon their heads.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in different languages as the Spirit enabled them to.

5 At this time, devout Jews from across the world were staying in Jerusalem for the Feast.

6 When they heard the noise, the crowd came to investigate, and they were puzzled because everyone heard them speaking in their own languages.

7 They were all amazed, saying to one another: Look--aren’t those people speaking all Galileans?

8 How is it we all hear them speaking fluently in our native languages?

9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, (Hebrew-speaking) Judeans, those from Cappadocia, Pontus, and Turkey,

10 Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Cyrenians, and strangers from Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretes and Arabians--all of us hear them talking, in fluent dialects, about the wonderful deeds of God!

12 And they were dumbfounded, asking each other: What does this all mean?!

13 Others, mocking, said: These men are drunk on sweet wine!

14 But Peter, arising with the eleven other apostles, proclaimed: You men of Judea, and all you who dwell in Jerusalem--know this, and give attention to my words!

15 These are not drunk as you think, since it’s only the third hour of the day.

16 But this is an example of what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

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 son and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

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

22 You men of Israel, listen carefully! You all know about Jesus the Nazarene--a man who proved he had God’s approval by the miracles, wonders and signs he performed among you.

23 This same Jesus, who was allowed to fall into your hands by God’s sovereign foreknowledge and will, you took and--using the wicked Romans to do your dirty work--crucified and murdered.

24 But God raised him up, having freed him from the pangs of death, because it was not possible that the grave could hold him back.

25 David prophesied about this, saying: I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Sheol), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brothers, let me speak freely about the Patriarch David, who is dead and buried, and whose tomb is here to this day.

30 David, being a prophet, and knowing that God had given his oath that a descendant of his--physically speaking--would be raised up as Messiah to sit upon his throne,

31 Foresaw and wrote that the same Messiah would die and be resurrected from the dead so his soul would not be left in Sheol, neither would his flesh rot and turn to bones.

32 It is this same Jesus that God resurrected, and we are all witnesses to it!

33 Therefore Jesus, having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of (authority to baptize in) the Holy Spirit, has now sent forth the Holy Spirit as you now see and hear.

34 For David is not the one who ascended into heaven, as he admitted when he wrote: The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou of my right hand,

35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

36 Therefore, let all the house of Israel know, in no uncertain terms, that God has made this same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!

37 Now when the crowd heard this, they were struck to the core with the implications of all this, and they asked Peter and the other apostles: Men and brothers--what shall we do?

38 Then Peter responded: Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins--and you will receive the promise of the Holy Spirit!

39 For this promise is made to you, your children, and to (the Gentiles) that are “afar off,” as many as the Lord our God will call!

40 Peter continued on with many other words, testifying about Jesus and calling the people to repentance, telling them: Save yourselves from this perverted generation (that Jesus prophesied would reap the judgment of God).

41 Then those who responded to the message were baptized joyfully, and that same day three thousand new souls were added to the Messianic community.

42 And they walked zealously in the apostles’ doctrines , fellowshipping together, taking Communion, and praying constantly.

43 Awe came upon everyone, for the apostles performed numerous signs and wonders.

44 And all the believers were like brothers, and called none of their possessions their own,

45 But sold their goods and possessions, distributing the proceeds to everyone who was in lack.

46 And they worshipped daily in the Temple in one accord, (taking Communion), and eating the love feast at various homes in a spirit of joy and absolute singleness of heart (and mind),

47 All the while praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord daily added to the church as many as who were destined to be saved.

1. There is an absolute distinction between the “one place” listed in verse 1 here and the reference to “an upper room” in the last chapter. The group was almost certainly gathered in Solomon’s Porch (Acts 5:12) off the Court of Women, or in the Court of Women itself, since that court was the only place where commoners could “sit” in the Temple. As the text notes in 3:11, Solomon’s Porch was the group’s usual gathering place. The fact that the word “house” is used in no way substantiates the notion this event takes place in the Upper Room. The House was a term for the Temple.

2. This awesome event takes place during Pentecost and would have had incredible significance to the Jews who observed it. What we call Pentecost was the Jewish Festival of Shavuot, which, although the culmination of an agricultural Festival, also commemorated the giving of the Law at Sinai. Shavuot means “weeks,” and refers to a seven-week period after Passover in which the Jewish people sanctify themselves to represent Israel’s existing as a holy nation.

Jewish legend held that at the time the Law was given on Mount Sinai, the voice of God issued forth in all known languages and visibly formed as tongues of fire upon the heads of all who were present. Each was then asked personally if he would abide by the terms of the Law.

The Jews would have seen this as a direct parallel with the most important event of Jewish history, and some would have understood it to mean that the Kingdom of God had come to earth, and that the Law was now being written in the hearts of the people as prophesied in the Old Testament. It is at this time that the Chabod, the radiance or Glory Cloud of God, comes upon the apostles, manifesting in tongues of fire, while the Holy Spirit now activates His power through the apostles that will enable them to do great works, but more importantly to witness for Christ. A by-product of this is that the Holy Spirit manifests Tongues and enables the apostles to praise God supernaturally, speaking languages they do not normally know.

 

Some other interesting facts about Pentecost

Pentecost commemorates the marriage of God to Israel, and by extension Christ to His church.

The apostles would have stayed up all of the night before, praying and studying the Torah.

All would have been dressed in white.

It was by tradition the birthday of King David.

 

3. The foreigners are in Jerusalem because Pentecost/Shavuot is one of the three Festivals (the others being Pentecost and Tabernacles) during which the Jews are commanded to appear in the Holy City.

4. Further substantiation that these are not “120 believers from the Upper Room,” but the 12 Galilean apostles, and perhaps a few others.

5. Should be translated as: “Sweet wine.” It is incorrectly rendered as “new” wine because the wine was sweetest when newly made. Also, note that the crowd accuses them of being drunk on gleukos, which is incorrectly thought by some to be grape juice!

6. Note again that Peter doesn’t stand up with 120 believers, but only the “eleven” are specifically mentioned as being present.

7. It is noteworthy that the power of the Spirit upon the believers appears to the onlookers as something akin to human drunkenness. Despite the assertions of some, it is preposterous to believe that those observing the apostles equated Galileans speaking in known human languages with drunken behavior.

8. A false doctrine has arisen in Pentecost because of verses like this, which holds that Jesus went to hell and atoned for sin there. That doctrine is unsubstantiated by Scripture and is ultimately formed by misunderstanding an English translation of Greek text. The word here is Hades, the abode of the dead, not Gehenna, the flames of hell.

9. Yet another false doctrine arising both in and out of Pentecost is derived from this verse, asserting that forgiveness of sin is not accomplished except through baptism. However, baptism is simultaneous with repentance in the culture, and this is the basis upon which Peter makes his comments that otherwise could seem to suggest that baptism literally washes away sin. As we read through the writings of Paul, who breaks down the salvation process on a forensic level, we see a clarification lacking in other apostolic writings that baptism does not literally wash away sin, but rather is an outward response to an inward belief of faith. Romans 4:4, in fact, clearly declares this principle when it notes that Abraham received circumcision not as an efficacious act, but as only an outward sign of the righteousness and justification he already had beforehand.

10. More evidence these events take place at the Temple--only the Temple mikvah facilities could have handled baptizing 3000 converts at a time.

 

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 3

1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful1, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.

12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; who ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer2 to be granted unto you;

15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out3, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

1 One day, Peter and John went to the Temple for the daily prayers at 3 PM.

2 There was a certain man born crippled, who was laid every day by the Beautiful Gate to beg alms from those going into the Temple.

3 When he saw Peter and John walking up, he automatically held up his bowl, asking for alms.

4 Peter, setting his gaze on him along with John, said: Look at us!

5 This caught the man’s attention, and he looked over at the two, expecting them to give him some money.

6 But Peter said: Silver and gold I have none of--but what I do have, I give to you: In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!

7 Then he grasped the man by the right hand, and pulled him to his feet. As he did this, the beggar's feet and ankles were strengthened to bear his weight!

8 Leaping up, the man stood, walked, and then followed Peter and John into the Temple court, walking, jumping, and shouting praises to God.

9 Everyone there saw him walking and praising God,

10 And they knew this was the man who regularly sat and begged alms at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple; and they were awestruck at what had happened to him.

11 And as the man who had been healed embraced Peter and John, all the people hurried over to Solomon’s Porch, astonished at what was going on.

12 When Peter saw the crowd gathering, he spoke to the people, saying: You men of Israel--why are you surprised at this? Or why are you staring at us, as if--through our own power or holiness--we are the ones who made him walk?

13 The God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did this to glorify His son Jesus--the one whom you gave over to Pilate and denied in the governor’s face when he was determined to let him go.

14 You denied the Holy and Just One, and asked for a murderer (--bar Abbas--) to be released to you;

15 And you killed the Prince of Life, whom God raised from the dead. We are witnesses to that fact!

16 And it is through faith in the person and position of Jesus that made this man, whom you all see and have known, strong enough to walk! Yes, faith which is through Jesus made him perfectly sound, and this happened before your very eyes!

17 Now brothers, I know that it was through ignorance that you rejected Jesus, as also did your rulers.

18 But these things, bad as they were, happened to fulfill what God had prophesied through the mouths of the prophets: that the Messiah would suffer--and he has thus fulfilled those prophecies!

19 Repent now, all of you, and turn to God so your sins may truly be blotted out, and God will send you the appointed times of (spiritual) refreshment.

20 And also send back this same Jesus Christ we’ve been preaching about to you.

21 But for now, heaven has received him until the times of complete restoration of all things God foretold by the mouths of all His holy prophets since the world began comes to pass.

22 Truly, Moses warned our ancestors when he said: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel onward, have likewise foretold these times we’re in.

25 You are the descendants of the prophets, and inheritors of the covenant that God made with our ancestors when He told Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

26 It was to you first that God sent His son Jesus--whom He raised from the dead--to bless you in turning every one of you from his iniquities.

1. Most scholars identify this as what is otherwise known as the Nicanor gate, a huge edifice that separated the Court of Gentiles from the Court of Women. That gate, named for a Greek captain slain by the Hasmoneans, was magnificently beautiful, around 50 feet wide and 60 feet tall, having been crafted in Corinth from bronze polished so brightly that it looked as if the gates were made of gold. A new theory holds that the true rendering of the text should be the “ripe gate,” referring to a different gate through which fruit offerings passed during the Feast of Tabernacles.

2. Barabbas.

3. Note that baptism isn’t mentioned in connection with the blotting out of sin!

 

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4

1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,

2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.1

3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,

6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.2

7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;

10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

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

22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet3: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

37 Having land4, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

1 As they continued to preach to the people, the priests, the Levite in charge of the guards, and the Sadducees accosted Peter and John.

2 They were furious that the two were teaching doctrines affirming resurrection from the dead, using Jesus as proof of that.

3 So they dragged Peter and John off and locked them away until morning, for it was now dusk.

4 But before they did this around five thousand men believed the message about Jesus.

5 Now the next day, the city rulers, the Jewish elders, the Torah teachers,

6 Together with the former High Priest Annas, the current High Priest Caiaphas--with John, Alexander, and the rest of Caiaphas’ kinsmen--gathered at Jerusalem (and formed a sanhedrin to deal with the issue).

7 When they had brought Peter and John (along with the healed man) and stood them up in their midst, they demanded to know: Through what sort of power, or as whose representatives, have you done this miracle?

8 Then Peter, filled with the (wisdom and boldness of) the Holy Spirit, answered: You rulers of the people, and elders of Israel:

9 If you’re inquiring as to how this crippled man was healed and made whole,

10 Be it known to you, and all Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, and whom God raised from the dead--by him does this man now stand before you made whole!

11 This is the stone which was rejected by you builders that has become the chief cornerstone!

12 Neither is there salvation in any other name, for there is no other name given under heaven to men by which we can be saved!

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and understood that they were lay people with no religious training from any known yeshiva of Israel, they were amazed; and they noted them as having been disciples of Jesus.

14 And seeing the man standing there (whom everyone in town knew was the beggar from the Beautiful Gate), they had no answer to explain away this miracle.

15 But when they ordered the three out from the council chamber, they conferred among themselves,

16 And said: What shall we do to these men? (We thought that when Jesus died, this would all be over, but) they have done an amazing miracle in front of everyone in Jerusalem, and we can’t explain our way around it!

17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them, and order them not to speak or teach to anyone in the name of Jesus.

18 Then they called Peter and John back into the chamber and ordered them to stop all evangelizing and teaching in the name of Jesus.

19 But Peter and John stood up to them and replied: You tell us--do you think God would have us obey you rather than Him?

20 We have seen what we have seen, and have heard what we have heard, and God forbid we do other than shout it from the housetops!

21 So after the council threatened them further, they released them because they could think of no charge to fabricate against the two, what with thousands of people in the Temple courts glorifying God over what had been done.

22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old (and everyone in town had seen him crippled and begging in the same spot for decades).

23 Once they were released, Peter and John went back to the community, and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.

24 When the other followers of Jesus heard that, they lifted their voices to God in unison, and said: Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them.

25 By the mouth of your servant David, you said: Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

27 Truly Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Gentiles, and all the people of Israel banded together against Your holy child Jesus, whom You anointed (Messiah),

28 To fulfill what was in control of Your hand, and in Your divine plan from the beginning.

29 Now, Lord, look down and see their threats, and grant to Your servants the boldness to speak Your Message,

30 By stretching forth Your hand to heal, and allowing signs and wonders to be done in the name of Your holy child Jesus!

31 After they prayed this, the place they were assembled at was shaken, and they were (again) filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the Message of God with boldness.

32 And the multitude of believers were of one heart and soul, and none of them claimed their possessions as their own, but they shared what they had with all fellow believers who were in need.

33 And with great miracle-working power, the apostles testified to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, and great grace from God was on all the community.

34 Neither was there any within the community who lacked anything, for as many who were wealthy and had land or houses sold them and brought the money,

35 Giving it to the apostles to distribute as needed, and they, in turn, gave to every man as he had need.

36 And a man named Joses, who was nicknamed Barnabas--meaning Son of Consolation--by the apostles, a Levite from Cypress,

37 Sold some land he had there and brought the money, presenting it to the apostles to use as they thought best.

1. Recall that the Sadducees absolutely reject the doctrines of miracles and a Resurrection.

2. Here is another example of the Sadducees either using their own Sanhedrin or else forming one on the spot to deal with the problem of Christianity. It is not until Chapter 5, when Gamaliel is mentioned, that we first see the true Sanhedrin in operation, it being called a “Senate.”

3. An idiom meaning to give the apostles the authority to disburse the funds as they saw fit.

4. This is an extremely important verse. The Torah forbade Levites from owning land (Num. 18:20, Deut. 15:27), yet we see that Barnabas, a Levite, owned land in Cypress. This was permissible because, as determined by the sages, parts of the Torah applied only to the land of Israel itself. Thus, Levites who lived outside of Israel were exempt from observing laws like this.

 

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 5

1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?1 why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.2

11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.

13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.

16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate3 of the children of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought.

22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,

23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.

29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.4

33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel5, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

36 For before these days rose up Theudas6, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that the should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

1 But there was a man named Ananias who, with Sapphira his wife, sold some land.

2 He and his wife held back part of the proceeds, while still claiming they had donated the entire amount to the apostles to use as they thought best.

3 But Peter said: Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to cause you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and keep back part of the money you sold the land for?

4 After selling your land, wasn’t the money yours to do with as you wished? Why have you plotted like this in your heart? It is not men you have lied to, but God!

5 At hearing these words, Ananias fell down dead--and a great fear fell upon those who heard of this.

6 Some young men in the community then rose up, wrapped him in a shroud, carried him out of the city, and buried him.

7 Three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.

8 Peter asked her: Did you sell some land for such-and-such a price? And she said: Yes--for that price.

9 Then Peter told her: How is it that you both conspired to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out as well!

10 Immediately, Sapphira fell down dead at Peter’s feet, and the young men returning from Ananias’ burial came in and found her lying there. Then they carried her out to bury next to her husband.

11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon as many as heard of these incidents.

12 And the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people; and the Messianic community, with one heart, gathered regularly in Solomon’s Porch.

13 Others were afraid to join them publicly, but everyone esteemed them.

14 And many more believers were added to the ranks of the Lord, both men and women.

15 So many people believed, that they brought the sick out into the streets, laying them on sleeping mats and couches, that even Peter’s shadow would fall upon some of them (and heal them).

16 People also came in from the countryside around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and the demon-possessed, and every person was healed.

17 Finally, it was too much for the High Priest, and he rose up with his fellow Sadducees in rage,

18 And ordered the apostles arrested and jailed.

19 But that night an angel of the Lord opened the doors and brought them out, saying:

20 Go stand in the Temple, and spread the testimony of this life to the people!

21 When they heard that, they returned to the Temple early in the morning and continued to teach. Meanwhile, Caiaphas and his cronies came together and convened both their city Sanhedrin, along with the Great Sanhedrin of Israel, to come up with a joint solution to the problem of the disciples. Then they ordered them all brought forth from the prison (for interrogation).

22 But when the officers came to the jail and found them gone, they returned, saying:

23 The jail was locked tight, and the guards were standing outside the doors--but when we unlocked them, the prisoners were gone!

24 Now when the High Priest, the Levite over the Temple guards, and the chief priests were told this, they wondered what new problems would now arise.

25 Then someone came in and told them: The men you jailed are out in the Temple courts, teaching their doctrines to the masses!

26 The Levite in command of the guards then went out with his officers and escorted them peacefully to the assembly, because they feared the crowds might stone them (if they abused the pair in public).

27 So when they had brought them before the assembly, the High Priest spoke,

28 Saying: Didn't we give you a direct command not to teach as representatives of Jesus?! Instead, you've filled Jerusalem with your doctrines, and on top of that, you're blaming us for Jesus' death (when it was the Romans who crucified him)!

29 Then Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God, rather than man.

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus--whom you slew and crucified on a tree--from the dead!

31 God exalted Jesus to His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to lead Israel to repentance and provide forgiveness of its sins!

32 And we are bearing witness to these things--as is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those obeying Him as their ruler (rather than you hypocrites)!

33 When they heard this, Caiaphas’ faction was enraged, and began clamoring for their execution.

34 Then the President of the Great Sanhedrin, Hillel’s grandson Gamaliel--a Pharisee expert in the Torah who was respected by everyone--stood up in the assembly and called for the apostles to be escorted from the chamber.

35 After they were gone, he spoke: You men of Israel, be careful what you do regarding these men.

36 Remember that in days past, Theudas rose up as a self-appointed revolutionary, gathering a band of four hundred followers, all of whom were eventually slain or put to flight and brought to nothing.

37 After him, Judas the Galilean arose in the days of Augustus‘ taxation and drew many of the people to him in rebellion. He died, in turn, and his followers scattered to the four winds.

38 So this is my advice: Stop harassing these men, and leave them alone. If this plan and what they do is of men, it will bear no fruit and die of its own accord.

39 But if it is of God you cannot stop it, and you will find yourselves actually fighting against God! (And you know there is no hope for you in that event.)

40 So the two Sanhedrins agreed with his suggestion, and after they summoned back the apostles and gave them a beating for good measure, they told them not to speak as Jesus’ representatives. Then they released them.

41 The apostles left the meeting, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer as the ambassadors of Christ,

42 And they did not cease to teach and preach Jesus Christ daily in the Temple and in every house they visited.

1. This is an important verse to contradict the legalistic teachings of some ministers and denominations. Tithing, though established in principle in the Scripture, and though a vehicle through which God blesses both giver and receiver, is not a requirement, nor is there a call to Christians to sell all they own in order to serve Christ.

2. One reason such a harsh judgment falls on this pair is that those who sold their goods off to give them to the community were thereafter put on the dole of the church, which saw to their needs. Ananias and Sapphira were thus committing an act of fraud against the church, intending to accept the charity of the church in meeting their everyday needs while keeping hidden a reserve of cash.

3. Only now is the true Sanhedrin, chaired by Gamaliel, called to assess the question of Christianity.

4. This verse is typically viewed as saying, “God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.” The problem with this notion is that it takes what Peter affirms in Acts 8 to Simon is a gift of God, and suggests it instead can somehow be earned through mere obedience. It also contradicts Paul’s words to the Galatians that the Holy Spirit manifests because of faith alone, apart from their obeying commandments. So to determine what Peter is really saying here, we must first note that verses 28 and 29 seem to set the stage for what is said in verse 31. Next, we see that Peter is not speaking in a present or future tense (i.e. not “God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey him”); he is actually speaking in the past tense (“and we are witnesses of these [things] and the Holy Spirit which God gave to the ones obeying Him,” in Greek). If we then note that the word translated as obey is rarely used in the New Testament, and means to obey someone as a ruler, we can see that Peter is actually responding to the elders’ attack in verse 28 condemning the apostles for not obeying their command to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Peter thus is not making some theological point that the Holy Spirit is earned and activated through obedience, but he is saying that those who have rejected the commands of the elders to disavow Christ, in favor of following God rather than man, are the ones whom God is doing miracles of the Spirit through to testify who and what Christ is. This attack on their authority thus propels the Sadducees into a fury in the next verse, causing them to want to kill the two apostles.

5. Gamaliel, whose name means “God is my reward” is one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He was the first Jewish sage to be given the exalted title of rabban, meaning “our master.” Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel, is in many ways the chief cornerstone of rabbinic Judaism. Paul was supposedly a student of his, and mention of Paul is thought by some to be seen in Shabbat 30b of the Talmud, which mentions a student of Gamaliel who “displayed impudence in matters of learning.”

 

Some sayings of Gamaliel

 

Make to thyself a teacher; and remove thyself from what is doubtful; and do not often tithe by mental valuation.

--R. H. Charles, ed., The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, vol. 2.

A Gentile once brought fish to Rabban Gamaliel He said, “They are permitted, but I have no wish to accept them from him.”

--Betzah 3.2, Danby, Mishna, p. 185. Apparently, even Gamaliel--although he denied Shammai’s edicts against Gentiles were binding--had his own prejudice against interacting with Gentiles, to the point of refusing food from them!

 

6. Often cited by skeptics as an error, for Josephus mentions a “Theudas” arising a decade later than this event. Actually, Theudas is usable as a nickname for a variety of Greek names such as Theodosius, and Gamaliel is probably speaking of someone other than the man Josephus refers to.

 

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 6

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

2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.2

3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost3 and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.4

7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests5 were obedient to the faith.

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians,6 and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,

13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.7

15 And all that sat in the council8, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of and angel.

1 In time, as the community swelled with members, complaints arose on the part of Greek-speaking proselytes to the faith against the Jewish believers, because their widows were being short-changed in the daily dole.

2 Then the twelve called the whole multitude of disciples together and told them: It’s not good that we must set aside preaching the Message of God to go hand food out at tables.

3 Therefore, brothers, select seven men from among you of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint over this ministry.

4 And we will devote ourselves full time to prayer and ministry of the Message.

5 The idea pleased everyone, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, along with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte from Antioch.

6 These were brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid hands on them and ordained them for this ministry.

7 So the Message of God went forth, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem greatly increased. Even many of the priests came to obey the faith.

8 And Stephen, full of the dDivine power of God’s grace, performed great wonders and miracles among the people.

9 Then some (proselytes to Judaism) from the synagogue of the Libertines (--the Freed Slaves--) who were made up of Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians and some from Turkey, argued with Stephen.

10 But they were unable to counter the wisdom of the Spirit by which he spoke.

11 So they came up with some false witnesses who made a charge against him, saying: We heard this man speak blasphemously against Moses and God!

12 And they stirred up the people, the city leaders, and the Torah teachers, who rose up and dragged Stephen off to the Sanhedrin.

13 False witnesses were brought in, saying: This man continually blasphemes this Holy Place and the Torah!

14 We’ve heard him claim that Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Holy Place, and will change the traditions we inherited from Moses!

15 And all that sat in the Sanhedrin, who gazed upon him, saw his face shining as if it were the face of an angel.

1. Here again, the bigotry of the Jews against Gentiles is shown, for even though this was the Spirit-empowered church of Acts, fleshly prejudice resulted in Gentile converts being treated as second-class in comparison to Jews.

2. ‘Serving tables’ isn’t meant in the sense of serving in the way a waitress does, but means to sit at a table and receive or distribute funds in the way Levi, for instance, sat at the receipt of custom when Christ called him.

3. “Full of the Holy Ghost” is not a reference to having Charismatic gifts, but refers to the anointing and wisdom of the Spirit as the second part of the verse illustrates. “Holy Spirit,” remember, was a synonym in Judaism for the wisdom or power of God before it was understood as the third Person of the Trinity.

4. An example of ordination and empowerment. It should be noted that Hebrews 6 lists the laying on of hands as one of the six essentials of Christianity.

5. This may be the only record in the New Testament of Sadducees converting, though not all Sadducees were of the same social class.

6. These appear to be Hellenistic groups.

7. Although distorted by false witnesses, this verse is crucial in deriving some of the teachings of the early church that are contradicted by some of my Messianic brethren today who believe God requires all believers to observe Mosaic Law. From their words, we can see that Stephen apparently taught that the Temple, heart and soul of Jewish worship, was going to pass into history and be destroyed, and with it Mosaic Law would somehow be overturned and ‘changed.’ This doesn’t mean that Stephen and the early believers threw the Torah into the trash and ceased to keep the customs and commandments they had grown up in, but certainly the place of the Torah in the believer’s life, along with its function and purpose, were forever altered because Christ had fulfilled it in its entirety, and placed the spirit of Torah into the hearts of those who were His. Stephen’s ultimate point was probably the very message that Paul came to embrace: that God would not accept someone on the basis of their obedience and lifestyle (in fact, the time was coming when most of the commandments couldn’t even be followed with the fall of the Temple), but God would require all to come to Him through faith in Messiah, the true Temple of mediation between Man and God.

8. Whether this “council” is the Great Sanhedrin or the Sadducee city council is unclear. The fact that Paul is present suggests it was former, but one cannot say with certainty.

 

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 7

1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so?

2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,

3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.1

4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.

5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.

6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.

7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.

8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eight day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.

9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,

10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance

12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.

14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,

16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.

17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,

18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.

19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.

20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:

21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.

22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.

23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.

24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:

25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.

26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?

28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?

29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.

30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,

32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.

33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.

34 I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.

36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel2 which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively3 oracles to give unto us:

39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,

40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.4

45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus5 into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;

46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

47 But Solomon built him an house.

48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

50 Hath not my hand made all these things?

51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels6, and have not kept it.

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

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.7

57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul8.

59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.9

60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.10 And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

1 Then the High Priest asked: Are these accusations true?

2 To this, Stephen replied: Men, brothers, and elders of Israel, listen! The God of glory revealed Himself to our ancestor Abraham when he was a dweller in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,

3 And He told him, Go leave this country and your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.

4 So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. Then, after his father had died, God led him to this land, where you all live now.

5 But He did not give it to him at that time as an inheritance, nor did Abraham even set foot on the land where Jerusalem now is, but God promised that He would give it to him, and his descendants after him, as their own--even though Abraham as yet had no son.

6 God also prophesied to him that his descendants would travel to a strange land, and the people there would bring them into bondage and mistreat them for four hundred years.

7 “And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge,” God said, “and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.”

8 And God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. So Abraham had Isaac, and circumcised him on his eighth day of birth. Then Isaac had Jacob (and did likewise), and Jacob had the twelve Patriarchs (continuing the custom).

9 But the Patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him,

10 And delivered him out of his afflictions, giving him favor and wisdom in the eyes of Pharaoh, the King of Egypt; and Pharaoh made him the overseer over Egypt and all that was his.

11 In time, a great drought and famine hit both Egypt and Canaan, bringing great trouble, and our ancestors could find nothing to eat.

12 But when Jacob heard that wheat was to be had in Egypt, he sent our Patriarchal ancestors there first.

13 The second time they went there, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, and introduced them to Pharaoh.

14 Then Joseph sent them back with a message to his father Jacob to return with all his family, totaling seventy-five people.

15 So Jacob went down into Egypt and died, as did the Patriarchs.

16 All of them were carried into Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham bought from the sons of Hamor, the founder of Shechem.

17 But when the time of the promised deliverance God swore about to Abraham drew near, the Hebrew population exploded in Egypt,

18 Until another Pharaoh came to power who did not know about Joseph.

19 This Pharaoh plotted against our people, and forced our ancestors to expose their male newborn children, intending to kill off our race.

20 In this time Moses, an exceedingly handsome child, was born and then brought up for three months in his father’s house.

21 Then, when they finally cast him out and exposed him to the elements, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and raised him as her own son.

22 This resulted in Moses learning all the wisdom Egypt had to offer, and he became mighty in word and deed.

23 Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart that he should visit his brothers, the children of Israel.

24 And seeing one of them being mistreated, he defended the man being abused, and slew the Egyptian harming him.

25 He thought that this would show his brother Jews how that God was going to use him to deliver them from bondage, but they did not understand.

26 For the next day, when he came upon two of them fighting, he broke them up, hoping to make peace between them, saying, “Men, you are brothers! Why fight like this?!”

27 But the instigator, who started this by wronging his neighbor, pushed him back, saying, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us?!

28 “Will you kill me, as you did the Egyptian yesterday?!”

29 Hearing this, Moses fled Egypt, and was a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

30 And after forty years there (--when he had completely abandoned any thought of being a deliverer to his people--) an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a burning bush.

31 When Moses beheld the sight, he was amazed. Then, as he came up to investigate, the voice of the Lord came to him,

32 Saying, “I am the God of your ancestors--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob!” Then Moses shook in fear and dared not look.

33 The Lord told him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for this is holy ground you stand upon.

34 “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their cries. I have come down to deliver them. Get up--I will now send you into Egypt!”

35 The same Moses, whom they had refused, saying, “Who made you a ruler and a judge?” was the same one God sent to be a ruler and deliverer through the power of the angel who had appeared to him in the bush.

36 So Moses brought them out after showing them signs and wonders in Egypt, the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years.

37 This is the same Moses who said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

38 It was also Moses who was with the congregation in the wilderness and was intercessor between it and the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and who--with our ancestors--received living words of wisdom for us.

39 Our ancestors would not obey him, but rejected him as their hearts turned back to Egypt (and its ways).

40 For they said to Aaron: “Make us idols of some gods to lead us, for we do not know what has happened to Moses, who led us out of Egypt!”

41 Then they made a calf at that time (to honor the goddess Hathor/Isis), and performed a sacrifice, being proud of what they had created with their own hands.

42 So God stepped back and allowed them to worship the evil beings of the heavens (represented by heavenly bodies), as was acknowledged in the Scriptures: O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

44 These same ancestors of ours had the Tabernacle of Witness with them in the wilderness, the one God revealed to Moses in outlining its design and construction.

45 That same tabernacle our ancestors, in turn, took with them when Joshua led them into the Promised Land, with God driving out before them the Gentiles who had lived there previously. This happened until the days of David.

46 Now David found favor with God, and he asked permission to build a temple to the God of Jacob.

47 But it was Solomon who actually built Him a house.

48 In any event, the Most High does not live in temples made with human hands, as the prophet Isaiah said:

45 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

50 Hath not my hand made all these things?

51 (My point in all this, is that the Jewish people have a bad habit of initially rejecting the man God wants to use to deliver them. That, or they kill the prophets God sends to call them to repentance--and how you are proving that!) You stubborn people, uncircumcised in heart and hearing--you always resist the Holy Spirit (and His call to repentance)! As your ancestors did--so you do!

52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? Your ancestors, in their days, slew the ones who warned them, and when the Just One came, you became his betrayers and murderers!

53 Yes, you--who received the Torah that was ordained and handed over to you by angels, but still have not kept it!

54 Now when they heard these denunciations, they exploded with rage.

55 But Stephen, being filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed up into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand.

56 He announced: Look! I see a vision of the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!

57 Then the entire assembly howled with anger and covered their ears (at this blasphemy) as they charged at him.

58 They dragged him outside of Jerusalem to stone him, and the witnesses (--who had to throw the first stones--) left their cloaks with a young man named Saul to stand watch over.

59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!

60 Then he knelt down and cried loudly: Lord, don’t hold this sin against them! And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

1. It should be noted, as verse 4 shows, that Abraham disobeyed this command and stayed with his father until the man died. Only then did he follow the course God showed, and again he only partially obeyed since he took Lot with him.

2. Though usually presumed to be a manifestation of Jesus, the “angel” had to be an angel, and not Jesus! We know this because the Book of Hebrews makes the distinction between the Law given by angels, and the New covenant proclaimed by the Son of God Himself.

3. “Lively” is better understood as: “Living.”

4. The Jews believed that Moses was given a vision of a heavenly Temple from which he designed the earthly Tabernacle.

5. The “Jesus” mentioned here is actually Joshua. Remember that Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua. Stephen’s point is that just as the Hebrews could not be led into the Promised Land by Moses, but by Joshua, so God was showing that one will not enter heaven through obeying the commandments given through Moses, but only through following Jesus.

6. Jewish tradition held that angelic messengers sent from God gave the Torah. Angels were also believed to have watched over the camp of Israel, and to disburse judgment on those who had committed impropriety, which Paul alludes to in 1 Cor. 11:10.

7. A problematic verse for Trinitarians for no mention is made of the Holy Spirit. One can speculate, however, that the Holy Spirit is not seen in this Theophany because He is presented in the Scripture as working directly on the earth as the agent of God’s drawing mankind to salvation (John 16:7-15).

8. Otherwise known to us as Paul. Thievery was commonplace in Jerusalem, and it would have been appropriate for a guard to be set over the people’s clothing during a public stoning.

9. Yet another verse contradicting the doctrine of “Soul sleep.”

10. This is what Christian forgiveness is: Releasing the offender from the debt he owes, and asking God to do likewise (Luke 23:34). The wronged person’s “feelings” are irrelevant, because forgiveness is based on an act of will, not a feeling.

 

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 8

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death1. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem2; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.3

4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

8 And there was great joy in that city.

9 But there was a certain man, called Simon4, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women5.

13 Then Simon himself believed6 also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me7, that none of these things which ye have spoke come upon me.

25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

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

27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch8 of great authority under Candace9 queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.10

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

40 But Philip was found at Azotus11: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

1 And this man Saul voted to affirm Stephen’s execution. At that same time, a great persecution arose in Jerusalem against the church, and the believers (--especially the Hellenistic ones--) were scattered abroad throughout Judea and Samaria. The apostles, however, remained in Jerusalem.

2 Meanwhile, some devout men carried Stephen out to be buried, and wept greatly over his passing.

3 As for the man Saul, he became a terror to the church, going from house to house, kicking in doors and hauling men and women off to the dungeons.

4 But those who were scattered abroad proclaimed the Message of the Gospel wherever they went.

5 Then Philip went down to a chief city of Samaria and preached the Messiah to the population.

6 And the people, with one heart, accepted what Philip told them when they saw and heard about the miracles he performed.

7 For demon spirits came out shouting from those who were possessed by them, and many who were suffering debilitating diseases, and those who were lame, were healed.

8 And there was great joy in that city.

9 But there was a man there named Simon who had previously been a practitioner of the Black Arts, using sorcery to bewitch the people of Samaria and make a big name for himself.

10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest in that city, listened to his opinions, for they said: This man is the great Power, representing God Himself!

11 They had respected him for a long time because he had ensnared them with his sorceries.

12 But when they believed the message Philip brought about the Messianic Kingdom and the person and position of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

13 Then Simon believed as well, and after being baptized joined himself to Philip, and was amazed at the miracles and signs he saw.

14 Now when word reached the apostles back in Jerusalem that Samaria had received the Message of God, they sent Peter and John,

15 Who went down and prayed for the Samaritans to receive the the Holy Spirit.

16 You see, He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they were only baptized (in water) in the name of the Lord Jesus.

17 So they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 Now when Simon observed that the Holy Spirit had been imparted through the apostles laying hands on the people, he offered them money,

19 Saying: Give me also the authority to impart the Holy Spirit on whomever I lay hands upon!

20 But Peter responded: You and your silver can perish together for the gall to think that the gift of God could be purchased with mere money!

21 You have no part in this sort of ministry, because your heart is not right in God’s sight!

22 Repent of your wickedness, and beg God to forgive the evil motivations of your heart if He will!

23 For I perceive that you have fallen prey to a deadly poison, and are bound by iniquity!

24 Then Simon answered: You two--please pray to the Lord that none of these things you’ve spoken will come upon me!

25 And Peter and John, after testifying and preaching the Message of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel in many Samaritan villages as they went.

26 As for Philip, the angel of the Lord spoke to him, and said: Get up, and travel south to the desert trail that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.

27 Philip then arose and went, and he chanced to come upon a high court official who oversaw the treasury of the Kandake of Ethiopia. He had come to Jerusalem to worship (at a Festival),

28 And was now returning in a chariot, sitting and reading a scroll of Isaiah the prophet as he went.

29 Then the Spirit told Philip: Go up and walk with this chariot.

30 So Philip ran up to the chariot, listening as the man read from Isaiah. He asked the man: Do you understand what you’re reading?

31 The official replied: How can I, unless someone explains it to me? Then he asked Philip to sit with him in the chariot.

32 The verses of Scripture the eunuch read were these (from Isaiah 53): He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 The official then asked Philip: Tell me--is the prophet speaking about himself, or some other man?

35 Then Philip spoke, and starting with those Scriptures, preached Jesus to him.

36 As they traveled on, they came upon a body of water, and the official said: Look--here is water. What prevents me from being baptized right now?

37 (Philip responded, If you believe with all your heart, then you may. To this, the official replied: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!)

38 So he halted the chariot and both men went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

39 When they were walking out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away so the official saw him no more, and he went on his way home, rejoicing.

40 Philip, meanwhile, found himself in Ashdod, and passing through it and the region, he preached to everyone until he came to the great port of Caesarea.

1. The language here and in chapter 22:20, suggests that Paul may have literally voted to condemn Stephen, which means that he must have been a member of the Great Sanhedrin.

2. This persecution was not wholly an attack on Christianity; it seems to have been a by-product of an overall revolt, for a time, against Hellenism occurring several years after the Crucifixion. It’s during this period that the ruling Shammaiites may have expelled all non-Hebrew Jews and Proselytes from Jerusalem. The Hebrew apostles, it will be noted, remain in the city while the non-Hebrews are forced to leave.

3. Further evidence Paul was not merely a scholar, but that he held some degree of political power.

4. There is in Samaria an ancient heretical sect of Christians called Dositheans, after their founder Dositheus, an early disciple of John the Baptist who led an Essene-type group of 30 disciples. Dositheus may have later been one of the original 70 disciples of Christ. Simon Magus is thought by some to have been a disciple of his, and Dositheus has the distinction of being dubbed the first Christian heretic, although the apocryphal information we have about him comes from later centuries.

Hippolytus, writing in the 3rd century recorded some of his Gnostic-like statements: Of the universal Eons, there are two growths, without beginning or end, springing from one Root, which is the Power, Silence, invisible, inapprehensible. Of these, one appears from above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind, ordering all things, male; and the other from below, The Great Thought, female, producing all things. (George Robert Stow Mead--Fragments of a Faith Forgotten.)

5. The first time women are specifically mentioned as being baptized.

6. Although frequently claimed by some--particularly those advancing “Once saved, always saved” doctrine--that Simon wasn’t truly a believer, the word here is the same used throughout the New Testament for those who truly believe and accept Christ. There is thus no textual justification for a claim that Simon had a “said faith, rather than a real faith.”

7. Simon’s request that the apostles pray for him, though frequently criticized, is perfectly consistent with Jewish practices going back to Moses, who was the intercessor for the Israelites. Note that Peter does not command Simon to confess his sin to him and receive absolution (as Catholicism and Orthodox faiths would teach), but instead tells him to beg God directly for forgiveness.

8. “Eunuch” should be understood as a ‘high court official,’ not that the man was literally a eunuch, for true eunuchs were forbidden from entering the Temple (Deut. 23:1).

9. A transliteration of the Kandake, a title of Ethiopian (Cushite) royalty, not a proper name as Candace is today.

10. Often used as Scriptural verification against the doctrine of infant baptism, for clearly Philip understands that baptism is for those who truly believe in Christ. However, this verse is probably a later addition to the text.

11. Otherwise known as Ashdod, a major (Philistine) city in the Gaza strip south of Joppa. It was listed in Joshua as part of the heritage of Judah, but never actually taken.

 

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 9

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,1

2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way2, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

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

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

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

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

8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints a Jerusalem:

14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive the sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.3

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

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

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

21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?4

22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:5

24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians6: but they went about to slay him.

30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.7

32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.8

33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.

34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed9, they laid her in an upper chamber.

38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

1 Now Saul--still fanatically vowing to root out and slay the disciples of the Lord--went to Caiaphas, the High Priest,

2 And asked him for documents appointing him as an Inquisitor to the Damascus synagogues, and giving him the authority to bring back in chains any men or women who were followers of “the Way.”

3 So he departed with these, and as he was approaching Damascus, suddenly the radiance from heaven shined round about him.

4 And he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him: Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?

5 He answered it: Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said back to him: I am Jesus, the one you’re persecuting. You are wasting your time, butting your head against a wall! (For you will not overcome my church!)

6 Then Saul, trembling in fear and astonishment, said: Lord, what do you want me to do? So the Lord said back to him: Get up, and go into the city, and you’ll be told what to do.

7 Meanwhile, the men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sounds of a voice but seeing no man.

8 And Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind, and his traveling companions led him by the hand until they entered Damascus.

9 And for three days he was blind, and took neither food nor drink.

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias! So he answered: Behold, I am here, Lord!

11 And the Lord said to him: Get up, go to Straight street, and ask at the house of Judah for a man called Saul, from the city of Tarsus, who is praying even now,

12 And has seen a vision of a man named Ananias coming and putting his hand upon him to restore his sight.

13 Then Ananias replied: Lord--I have heard from many about this man, and all the evil he has done to your righteous ones in Jerusalem;

14 And here he has the authority from the chief priests to apprehend all who call upon you as Lord here in Damascus.

15 But the Lord answered him: Go! For he is a chosen vessel of mine, to proclaim who and what I am to the Gentiles, to kings, and to the children of Israel!

16 For I will show him how greatly he will have to suffer for the sake of who and what I am.

17 So Ananias went as he was told, and came into the house of Judah; and laying hands on Saul, he said: Brother Saul, the Lord--even Jesus--who appeared to you as you traveled down the road to here, has sent me so your sight may be restored, and that you might be filled with the Holy Spirit.

18 And immediately it was as if scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. Then he arose, and was baptized.

19 After eating some meat, his strength returned. Thereafter, Saul remained for a while with some disciples from the Messianic community in Damascus.

20 Afterward, he began to preach in the synagogues that: “Jesus is the Messiah and king of Israel!”

21 But all who heard him were shocked, saying: Wasn’t this the man who destroyed those who called Jesus Lord in Jerusalem, and who came here to bring his followers back to Jerusalem in chains to the chief priests?

22 But Saul argued increasingly more powerfully on this point, and confounded the unbelieving Jews at Damascus, proving (Scripturally) that Jesus is the Messiah.

23 After a long time of this, some of the unbelieving Jews decided they’d had enough of him, so they schemed to kill him.

24 But word got back to Saul of their planned assassination and of their teams of assassins watching the city gates, day and night, in hope of killing him.

25 So the disciples smuggled him out of the city by night, lowering him over the wall on a braided rope.

26 When Saul returned to Jerusalem, he tried to join the community there, but they were all afraid of him and refused to believe that he was a true follower of Christ.

27 But Barnabas took a chance on him and brought him to the apostles. He explained how Paul had seen the Lord as he went, and that he had spoken to him. He also testified how Paul had boldly preached as an ambassador of Jesus in Damascus.

28 (So the apostles accepted him) and he accompanied them in and out of Jerusalem.

29 He spoke boldly as an ambassador of Jesus, focusing on heated debates with the Hellenistic Jews, but they sought to kill him too.

30 When the brothers in Jerusalem found out about this, they brought him down to Caesarea and then sent him home to Tarsus.

31 Then (with Saul gone), the groups of believers in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace again, and were strengthened, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. And their ranks swelled with new members.

32 And it came to pass, as Peter was making a sojourn to visit the various groups of believers, he came to the community who dwelt in Lydda.

33 There, he found a certain paralytic man named Aeneas, who had lain in bed for eight years.

34 And Peter told him: Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole--get up and make your bed! At Peter’s word, Aeneas got up immediately.

35 And all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and embraced Jesus as Lord (as a result of this miracle).

36 Now at Joppa there was a well-known woman disciple named Tabitha--Dorcas in Greek--who was renowned for her good deeds and the alms she gave the needy.

37 While Peter was in the area, she fell sick and died, and after they gave her a ritual baptism for the dead, they laid her body out in an upper room.

38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, and since the believers heard Peter was there, they sent two men to him, asking him to immediately come to them.

39 Then Peter arose and followed them back. When they arrived, Peter was escorted to the upper chamber where the body was. In it, all the local widows were mourning, and they showed Peter the cloaks and clothing Dorcas had made for them while she was alive.

40 But Peter ordered them out of the room, then kneeled down and prayed. Then, turning to the body, he said: Tabitha, arise! And she opened her eyes, and when her gaze fell upon Peter, she sat up.

41 And he took her by the hand and helped her up; and when he had called the righteous and the widows, presented her alive to them.

42 And word of this spread through all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord Jesus.

43 Peter thereafter stayed for quite some time in Joppa, lodging with a man named Simon who was a tanner of skins.

1. That Paul goes to Caiaphas rather than to Gamaliel, who heads the Sanhedrin, is noteworthy. The influence of the High Priest was questionable outside of Jerusalem, with the true control over the synagogues resting with the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. Based on the tolerance that Gamaliel espouses toward the Christians in chapter 5, there may have been a disagreement between Paul and Gamaliel on how to deal with the Movement, and Paul may have been forced to cooperate with the Sadducees to get his commission to oppress the Christians.

2. “The Way” (haddas) was the original name by which the Christians called themselves.

3. This is a good proof text for the notion that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is not received upon conversion (Paul has already become a believer), but that a “second blessing” of the Holy Spirit is available to Christians.

4. It is likely that word of Paul’s sudden “conversion” reached Jerusalem and bought him time to begin preaching the Gospel, for the authorities there may have surmised it was a bluff on Paul’s part to worm himself into the good graces of the Christian community.

5. By this time, it was apparent to all that Paul’s conversion was real, and that he was an unparalleled threat.

6. “Grecians” means Hellenistic Jews of Hebrew descent (the Gentile proselytes, remember, had been expelled from Jerusalem earlier).

7. It is fascinating to note that Paul was far from being Spirit-led at this point, for after he is forced from the area because of his admirable--but carnal--zeal, the church goes through a time of peace and edification. The fact that Judea, Galilee, and Samaria are mentioned suggests Paul had been traveling back and forth in these regions preaching, and that he was not limiting his mission to Jerusalem.

8. Twenty miles NW of Jerusalem, near the Mediterranean.

9. This is what Paul refers to when he talks about those that are “baptized for the dead” (1 Cor. 15:29). This was a Jewish ritual immersion of the body prior to burial, symbolizing the Resurrection.

 

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 10

1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

2 A devout man, and one that feared God1 with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.

3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day and angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.2

16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he who ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

24 And the morrow after, they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is and unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.3

29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that of the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?4

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

1 Now there was a certain chief centurion (--a Principale--) in Caesarea named Cornelius, an officer in the “Italian Band.”

2 Cornelius and his household were “God-fearers” (--semi-proselytes to full Judaism). He was also very generous, giving alms to the people, and always offering prayers to God.

3 Around three PM one day (as he prayed), he had a vision of an angel of God coming into the house and calling out: Cornelius!

4 When Cornelius looked at him, he was terrified, and said: What is it, Sir? The angel replied: Your prayers and alms have come up to God in testimony of you.

5 So now, send messengers to Joppa, and summon Shimon, surnamed Peter,

6 Who is staying with one named Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seashore. He will tell you what you should do.

7 After the angel who had spoken departed, Cornelius summoned two household servants, along with a trusted legionnaire who was his personal attendant.

8 And after telling them what had happened, he sent them to Joppa.

9 The next day, as they were approaching the city, Peter went up to the roof of the house to pray at noontime.

10 He became very hungry, and asked for some lunch. But while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

11 And he saw heaven revealed, and from it descended a great sheet let down together by the four corners like a sack (holding something inside). It fell down to earth and unfolded,

12 Revealing its contents to be all sorts of (non-Kosher) four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds.

13 And a voice spoke, saying: Rise, Peter! Kill and eat!

14 Peter replied: No, Lord! I have never eaten impure or unclean meats!

15 But the voice said a second time: What God has cleansed, do not call “unclean”!

16 Three times the voice said this, and then the sheet was snatched back into heaven.

17 Now while Peter was totally confused about what the vision meant, the men sent from Cornelius had asked where to find Simon’s house, and they now arrived at its gate.

18 They called out, asking whether a man called Shimon, surnamed Peter, was staying there.

19 And while Peter, back on the roof, was wondering about the vision, the Spirit said to him: Behold--three men are seeking you.

20 Get up, go down to them, and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them here.

21 So Peter went down to the men who had been sent by Cornelius, and said to them: I am the man you’re asking about. Why have you come?

22 And they said in response: Cornelius the centurion--a just man and “God-fearer”--who has a good reputation among all the Jews, was commanded by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house so he can hear whatever you have to say to him.

23 So Peter called them in and let them stay the night. Then, the next morning, Peter went with them. A few of the brethren from Joppa also went along.

24 It took them a day, and then they entered Caesarea, where Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his relatives and good friends.

25 As Peter entered his yard, Cornelius came up to him and fell at his feet, doing obeisance to him.

26 But Peter lifted him back to his feet, saying: Stand up! I myself am also just a man.

27 And as Peter continued talking with him, he entered Cornelius’ home and saw the many people who were assembled there.

28 Peter spoke to them, and said: You know that it is a violation of our (oral) Torah for a man to keep company with, or even enter the house of a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.

29 Therefore, I came to you without hesitation as soon as I was summoned. Now--why have you sent for me?

30 Cornelius answered: Four days ago, I was fasting to this very hour, and at the ninth hour I was praying in my house when a man appeared before me dressed in shining raiment.

31 He said: “Cornelius, your prayers and alms have come up to God in testimony of you.

32 “Send messengers to Joppa and summon Shimon, surnamed Peter. He is staying in the house of a man named Simon, a tanner living by the seaside. When he comes, he will tell you what you should do.”

33 Thus, I immediately sent word to you, and you are kind to have come. So here we are, at God’s disposal, to hear everything He commands you to tell us.

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: I see now it is indeed true that God prefers no man over another.

35 But in every nation, He accepts one who honors Him and lives uprightly.

36 The message that God sent to the children of Israel, declaring peace (with God), through the preaching of Jesus Christ--the Lord of all--

37 Is a message I am sure you are aware of. It was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and originated in Galilee after the baptism that John preached about.

38 That message, was, of course, about how God anointed Jesus Christ of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power--who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

39 And we are witnesses of all the things he did, both in the lands of the Judeans and in Jerusalem itself--up until they slew him, and hung him on a “tree.”

40 But God raised him up on the third day and showed him once again alive,

41 Not to everyone, but to those chosen by God to be witnesses--even us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

42 And he ordered us to preach to the people, and affirm that he is the one whom God ordained to judge the living and the dead.

43 To him, all the prophets affirm that through who and what he is, anyone who believes in him will receive the remission of their sins.

44 Now while Peter was speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all of those who heard the message.

45 And the Jewish believers who came with Peter were astonished to behold the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon Gentiles,

46 For they heard them speak with Tongues, and glorify God. Then Peter responded by saying:

47 Can any man forbid these to receive water baptism, seeing they have received the Holy Spirit just as us?

48 And Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they begged him to stay with them for a few days.

1. This means he was in the class of God-fearers: Gentiles who had accepted the God of Israel but stopped short at either becoming circumcised or following the full Torah. Cornelius, having his own household and appearing to have such significant authority, suggests he was a chief centurion, or Principale, who received double the usual wages for a Roman officer.

2. This verse is sometimes used to substantiate the notion that God has overturned the Jewish dietary laws for believers. That is a largely a misuse of the event and text, which was meant to break the ice in permitting Peter to interact with and accept Gentiles into the faith. It’s true that Christians are not mandated to follow the rules of Kashrut in their eating, but this verse is not a good basis for that conclusion.

3. Nowhere in the Torah does it say that it is unlawful (against Torah) for a Jew to enter a Gentile’s house. Peter is referring to the oral law of Shammai’s 18 edicts, which mandated separation between Jew and Gentile. This verse is thus 100% substantiation that the apostles held that the oral law of the Pharisees was equally binding to that of the written Scriptures--which does not substantiate the notion but rather contradicts it and shows how they would have to be broken of that belief!

4. Absolute proof to contradict the legalistic teachings of groups claiming that forgiveness of sin is not accomplished until baptism. Here, we see Cornelius and his household accepted by God and filled with the Spirit prior to baptism because they had heard and accepted the Gospel message, not because they had believed and were then baptized!

 

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 11

1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision1 contended with him,

3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:

6 Upon 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.

7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.

12 And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house:

13 And 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;

14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

16 Then 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.

17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

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

20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent for Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

23 Who, 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.

24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

26 And 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 Christians2 first in Antioch.

27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth3 throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwell in Judaea:

30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

1 Meanwhile, the apostles and brothers in the community back in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the Message of God.

2 But when Peter returned to Jerusalem, some (Shammaiite) Jewish believers confronted him,

3 Saying: You went in to the house of uncircumcised Gentiles and ate with them! (What’s the matter with you?!)

4 But Peter related the story from the beginning, and told them:

5 I was praying in the city of Joppa, and in a trance I saw a vision. I beheld a sheet let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came to me.

6 When I looked at it, I saw non-Kosher four-footed beasts of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air.

7 And I heard a voice tell me, “Arise, Peter--kill and eat!”

8 But I said, “No, Lord--for nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth!”

9 But the voice answered me from heaven again, and said: “What God has cleansed, call not impure!”

10 This happened three times, and then the sheet was taken back to heaven.

11 At the same time, three men sent from Caesarea arrived at the house I was staying at.

12 The Spirit had me go with them, doubting nothing. Also, these six other members of the brethren went with me, and we all actually went into the man’s house.

13 And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood before him and said, “Send men to Joppa, and call for Shimon, whose surname is Peter,

14 “Who will tell you words whereby you and your household shall be saved.”

15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as He did upon us at the beginning.

16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

17 So then, since God saw fit to give them the same gift He gave to we who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ--who was I to oppose what God was doing?

18 When they heard these things, they relaxed and glorified God, saying: Then God has apparently granted repentance to eternal life to the Gentiles as well!

19 Now those who had been scattered abroad after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cypress, and Antioch, preaching the Message--but only to the Jews.

20 But some of them from Cypress and Cyrene, when they arrived at Antioch, spoke to the Gentiles as well, telling them about the Lord Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and many Greek Gentiles believed, and turned to the Lord.

22 Word eventually reached Jerusalem about this, and the church there assigned Barnabas to go to Antioch.

23 When he got there and saw how much grace of God was on display, he rejoiced and encouraged them to devote themselves, body and soul, to the Lord.

24 This Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and because of him many were added to the ranks of the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas left for Tarsus to find Saul.

26 When he did, he brought him to Antioch, and for a whole year they joined themselves to the church there, and taught many people. It was at this time in Antioch that the disciples first called themselves Christians.

27 And in those days, prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch.

28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and proclaimed by the Spirit that there would be a great drought and famine throughout the land. This prophecy came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

29 Then the disciples, each as they were able, decided to send relief to the brothers who dwelt in Judea.

30 They did this, entrusting the money to Barnabas and Saul, who delivered it to the elders.

1. Undoubtedly, these were authorities in the church that were tied to James (Gal. 2:12). This group of Shammaiite believers would form the core of the Judaisers, who drove Paul mad as they followed after him, trying to force the Gentile Christians to adopt circumcision and Mosaic Law.

2. The word “called” (chrematizo) in the verse often refers to someone articulating on behalf of God, suggesting it may have been by specific Divine will that the word originated!

3. “Dearth” means a drought, which then causes a famine.

 

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 12

1 Now about that time Herod the king1 stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.

2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter2 to bring him forth to the people.

5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John3, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.4

16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.5

17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that the should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.

21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made and oration unto them.

22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.

23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.6

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with the John, whose surname was Mark.

1 Now about that time, Herod Agrippa (--Antipas having been removed by Caesar, and banished--) took action to persecute certain (leaders) of the church.

2 And he had James, the (older) brother of John, slain with the sword.

3 When he saw this pleased the Judean leaders, he moved to take Peter as well during the Feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread.

4 So Agrippa took Peter into custody, and jailed him, placing sixteen soldiers to keep watch over him until he could (slay him publicly after Passover).

5 Peter thus was locked in prison, but the church prayed to God day and night for him.

6 (Then the day approached when Herod would end Peter’s life.) But that night, Peter had been sleeping between two guards, his arms chained securely, with other guards watching the locked gate of the prison.

7 Then an angel of the Lord came to him, shining in a great radiance that lit up the prison, and he poked Peter in the side and pulled him to his feet, saying: Get up quickly! The chains also fell off Peter’s hands.

8 The angel spoke further, telling him: Get dressed, and put your sandals on! Peter did this, and the angel said: Pull your cloak around you, and follow me.

9 And Peter left the prison, following the angel, but this was all so unbelievable that he thought he must be having a vision.

10 When they were past the first two guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads out into the city, and it swung open for them. They went out, crossing the street, and the angel left Peter.

11 When Peter’s senses came back to him, he said to himself, Now I know for sure that God has delivered me from Herod, and from the plots of the Judeans!

12 After pondering this, he arrived at the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered together in prayer.

13 As Peter knocked at the gate, a servant named Rhoda came out to see who was there.

14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that she didn’t even let him in, but ran inside and told them that Peter was out at the gate.

15 They told her: You’re insane! But she insisted it was true. Then they said: It must be his guardian angel!

16 But Peter kept pounding, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.

17 But he, gesturing for them to be quiet, related how the Lord had delivered him from prison. And he told them: Go tell James and the brethren about this. Then he left Jerusalem for another city.

18 Now as soon as dawn came, the soldiers panicked over Peter’s disappearance.

19 And when Herod Agrippa called for Peter, who obviously could not be delivered, he interrogated the guards and then had them executed. Then he left Judea for Caesarea, and stayed there.

20 Now Herod had recently been in an angry dispute with Tyre and Sidon, but representatives of both cities came on a peace mission. Since they had earlier gotten in good with Agrippa’s chamberlain Blastus, they offered terms for peace since their country relied upon Agrippa’s sphere of influence for sustenance.

21 And on a certain day Agrippa, dressed in sartorial apparel, sat upon a throne and made a speech to them.

22 And the people, mesmerized, shouted: This is the voice of a god, not a man!

23 And because Agrippa accepted their praise without giving God the glory, an angel of the Lord smote him, and he was eaten up from the inside out by worms. And so he died.

24 But the Message of God grew and spread among the people.

25 Barnabas and Saul eventually returned from Jerusalem (after delivering the donations), and they took young John Mark with them.

1. Herod Agrippa, who ruled from 37-44 AD, and was Rome’s replacement for Antipas, who fell out of favor.

2. An outrageous alteration of the text by the KJV translators. “Easter” absolutely should be translated, “Passover.” It is also probably referring to the second Passover held a month later for those who were not able to participate in the first.

3. This event takes place a few years after the Crucifixion, and by this reference to the “mother” of Mark, we know that Mark’s father has died, and that Mark was still too young to have assumed the headship of the house.

4. The people at that time believed that one’s guardian angel appeared as a duplicate of the person he had charge over.

5. It is interesting to note that the group is incredulous over Peter’s freedom despite the fact they had been praying for it!

6. Josephus on Herod’s death

Now when Agrippa (who ruled from 37-44 AD) had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honor of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain Festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which Festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity through his province. On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theater early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun’s rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, (though not for his good,) that he was a god; and they added, "Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature." Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, "I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am bound to accept of what Providence allots, as it pleases God; for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner."

When he said this, his pain was become violent. Accordingly he was carried into the palace, and the rumor went abroad every where, that he would certainly die in a little time. But the multitude presently sat in sackcloth, with their wives and children, after the law of their country, and besought God for the king’s recovery. All places were also full of mourning and lamentation. Now the king rested in a high chamber, and as he saw them below lying prostrate on the ground, he could not himself forbear weeping. And when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, being in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh year of his reign; for he reigned four years under Caius (Caligula) Caesar, three of them were over Philip’s tetrarchy only, and on the fourth he had that of Herod added to it; and he reigned, besides those, three years under the reign of Claudius Caesar; in which time he reigned over the forementioned countries, and also had Judea added to them, as well as Samaria and Caesarea.--Antiq. XIX viii, 2.

 

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 13

1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.1

3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost2, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.3

5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus:

7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

8 But Elymas4 the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.5

14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

23 Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh on after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in sepulchre.

30 But God raised him from the dead:

31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.6

40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

42 And when the Jews7 were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles7 besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes8 followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

1 Now within the membership of the church of Antioch were a number of prophets and teachers. These included: Barnabas, Simeon, nicknamed Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and finally Saul.

2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said: Set apart Barnabas and Saul from you for the work I have called them to.

3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they laid hands upon them (to ordain them for service), and sent them away.

4 So the two, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, journeyed to Seleucia, and from there, they sailed to Cypress.

5 Finding themselves in Salamis, they preached the Message of God in the Jewish synagogues, and John Mark assisted them.

6 When they had traveled about the island to Paphos, they encountered a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet called bar Jesus,

7 Who had attached himself to the Proconsul of the island, Sergius Paulus. Now Paulus was a well-read and intelligent man, and he summoned Barnabas and Saul, desiring to hear the Message of God they were preaching.

8 But “Elymas”--whose name means “sorcerer”--argued against them, hoping to turn the Proconsul away from the faith.

9 Then Saul--using the name Paul by then--was filled with the Holy Spirit, and fixed his gaze upon him,

10 Saying: You child of the devil, full of subtlety and vice, and enemy of all righteousness! Will you not stop perverting the correct ways of the Lord?!

11 Now behold--the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind, not seeing the sun for a while! At this, immediately a mist and darkness fell upon the man’s eyes and he stumbled about, trying to find someone to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the Proconsul, when he saw with astonishment what had happened, believed the teaching about the Lord.

13 Now when Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia, and here John Mark left them to return home to Jerusalem.

14 When they departed Perga, they made their way to the Antioch in Pisidia, going into its synagogue and sitting down on the Sabbath day with the congregation.

15 After the reading from the Old Testament, the officials of the synagogue sent someone over to tell them: You men and brothers--if you have any word of encouragement for the people, please say it.

16 Then Paul stood up, and extending his hand (to quiet the assembly), said: Men of Israel, and any “God-fearers,” please listen.

17 The God of Israel chose our ancestors and raised them up when they were living as outsiders in the land of Egypt. Then, with His mighty, outstretched arm, He brought them out of it.

18 And for about forty years He endured their misbehavior in the wilderness.

19 And after He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their lands to His people by lot.

20 And after this, he provided judges over the people for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

21 Later, they desired a king and God gave them Saul, the son of Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin. He reigned for forty years.

22 And after God removed him, he raised up David to be their king, about whom He testified and said: I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

23 Of David’s line of descendants has God, according to His promise, raised up a savior for Israel, Jesus.

24 When John the Baptist, prior to his arrival, preached his baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

25 And as John fulfilled his purpose and ministry, he said, “Who do you think I am? I am not the Messiah. But there is one coming after me, whose sandals I am not even worthy to loose!”

26 Men and brothers, you children descended from Abraham; and also you Gentile “God-fearers”--this message of salvation is sent to you!

27 For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers--because they did not recognize who he was, nor did they understand the voices of the prophets that are read every Sabbath--fulfilled the prophecies about him by condemning him.

28 And though they found no legitimate cause to slay him, they still wanted Pilate to crucify him.

29 And when they had fulfilled all the prophecies about him, they took him down from the “tree,” and laid him in a tomb.

30 But God raised him from the dead!

31 And he was seen for quite a few days by those who had followed him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who even now testify of that to the people.

32 And we proclaim to you the good news--how the promise that was made to our ancestors,

33 Is now fulfilled in the time of us, their descendants, for He has raised Jesus up from the dead. As it is also said in the second Psalm: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

34 Now so far as his being raised from the dead by God, never to see corruption, God also said: I will give you the sure mercies of David.

35 And He said in another Psalm: Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

36 Now David, after he had served his own generation of people by God’s will, died and was lain in the grave as were his ancestors before him, and his body moldered away in corruption.

37 But he, whom God raised up again, saw no corruption of his body.

38 So be it known to you, men and brothers, that we preach to you there is forgiveness of sin only through this man!

39 And by him, all who believe are made right with God--even for (intentional) sins that could not be justified through Mosaic Law and its sacrificial system.

40 So beware, lest what has been warned by the prophets comes to pass upon you:

41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

42 Now after the service ended and the people were departing the synagogue, they asked that Paul explain more of these things at the next Sabbath.

43 Meanwhile, many of the Jews and “God-fearers” followed Paul and Barnabas after the service was over, and the pair continued explaining their doctrines, encouraging them to continue in God’s grace.

44 The next Sabbath, almost the whole town came together to hear the Message of God.

45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealously and spoke against Paul’s doctrines, contradicting and denouncing them.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold, and said: It was required that the Message of God should be spoken to you first, but seeing that you thrust it away from you, and prove yourselves unworthy of everlasting life--we turn to the Gentiles!

47 For so has God ordered us, saying: “I have called you to be a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth!”

48 When the Gentiles heard this they rejoiced and glorified the Message of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

49 And the Message of the Lord was proclaimed throughout all the region.

50 But the (unbelieving) Jews stirred up the religious and upright women, along with the key men of the city, and brought persecution upon Paul and Barnabas, causing them to be driven from the area.

51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them and went to Iconium.

52 Meanwhile, those who had received their message were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

1. This is a crucial verse showing the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, and part of His function, for it is specifically the Holy Spirit who determines the means by which God’s overall will is brought about on the earth.

2. Note again that they are not sent out by Christ, or by God, but by the Holy Spirit.

3. Cyprus, a large island nearly 200 miles long, had a population of over a million people, with its own proconsulate located at Paphos.

4. “Elymas” is a title meaning a sorcerer or wise man. “Bar-Jesus” means “Son of Jesus” or “Like Jesus.” This trickster may have been passing himself off as a miracle-worker in the same vain as the Lord.

5. It is at this point that John Mark, possibly homesick, or else afraid of the mountain journey, returns to Jerusalem. This will eventually cause Paul to separate from Barnabas when the latter desires to take him on another missionary journey (Acts 15:40). It should be noted, however, that the Spirit did not tell them to take Mark in the first place.

6. This is the first acknowledgment of the inferiority of the Mosaic covenant in comparison to the New covenant of Christ’s atonement. Paul is very likely referring to the fact that within Mosaic Law there is no sacrifice for willful sin, but only sins committed by accident. Thus, the Mosaic sacrificial system was inferior to the sacrifice of Christ, whose sacrifice atones for all sin--unintentional and deliberate!

7. “Jews” and “Gentiles” are an anti-Semitic addition to the text to enforce the notion of Jews rejecting Christ while the Gentiles embrace him; they do not appear in any early manuscripts and came to be placed here based on the problems caused by “the Jews” later in the chapter. Actually, both Jews and Gentiles received the word preached by Paul and Barnabas.

8. These would be Gentile converts to Judaism or else “God-fearers” who did not keep the full Torah but who had rejected polytheism.

 

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 14

1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,

6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 1

7 And there they preached the gospel.

8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:

9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,2

10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.3

14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.

19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up4, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia5:

26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.

1 Eventually, in Iconium, the two went into the synagogue and preached with such power that a host of Jews, and even Greeks, believed.

2 But the unbelieving Jews caused trouble by stirring up the Gentiles and prejudicing them against the brethren.

3 So the two remained there for a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who confirmed their testimony of his grace by exhibiting signs and wonders through their hands.

4 But the population of the city was split, with some supporting the Jews, and some the apostles.

5 And when things turned violent, with a mob of Gentiles, Jews, and local leaders seeking to drag them off and stone them,

6 Paul and Barnabas got word of it and fled to Lycaonia, taking refuge in the cities of Lystra, Derbe, and the surrounding area.

7 And there they preached the Gospel.

8 Now there was a man sitting at Lystra unable to rise or walk, for his feet had been crippled from his mother’s womb.

9 This man had been hearing Paul’s sermons (and was visibly filled with faith). So Paul fixed his gaze on him, and perceiving that he had the faith to receive healing,

10 Cried out: Stand up on your feet! And the man did so, and began to leap and walk!

11 When the populace saw what Paul had done, they cried out in their native tongue: The gods have taken the form of men (and come down to visit us)!

12 They decided Barnabas was Jupiter (Zeus) and Paul was Mercury (Hermes) because he did most of the speaking.

13 The priest of Jupiter, from the temple outside the city, even brought oxen laden with garlands to the city gates and made ready to sacrifice them to the pair before the people.

14 When the two apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard about this, they rent their clothes and ran to the scene, crying out:

15 Sirs--why are you doing this? We are men, no better than you are, and preach that you should turn from these false gods to the living God, who made the heavens, earth, the sea, and all that lives in them!

16 This God in times past looked the other way, allowing the peoples of the earth to walk in their own ways.

17 Even so, He still showed us His goodness and reality by sending rain and blessing our crops, giving us harvest seasons, and letting our hearts rejoice with food and joy.

18 But despite their words, the two were barely able to keep the people from sacrificing to them.

19 Meanwhile, certain Jews from Antioch came to stir up trouble, rousing the people, who stoned Paul and threw him out of the city, thinking him dead.

20 But as the disciples encircled him, he got to his feet and returned to the city. The next day, he left with Barnabas for Derby.

21 After preaching the Gospel there and teaching many, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Strengthening the hearts of the disciples, and encouraging them to continue in the faith, saying: We shall only enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation!

23 And when they ordained elders in every congregation, and prayed and fasted, they commended them into the hands of the Lord, upon whom they had believed.

24 And after they had journeyed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

25 After they had preached the Message in Perga, they went down into the port of Attalia.

26 From there they sailed to Antioch, the place from where they had been entrusted to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed.

27 When they arrived and the church was gathered together, the two reported all that God had done through them, and related how God had extended his grace to open the door of faith to the Gentiles.

28 And there they (recuperated and) stayed for a long time with the disciples.

1. Paul, in 2 Cor. 1, would later write of this period, saying: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”

2. This is an important verse. I know some even today who hold the unscriptural view that God is sovereign, and will heal whom He will, whether that person has no faith or great faith. Here, we see proof that the degree of belief one has plays a part in whether he can receive a blessing God offers to all.

3. One reason the people dub Barnabas Jupiter (Zeus), and rush to honor him, is that local legend held that Zeus had once visited the region in human form and had not been treated with proper deference, sending a famine as punishment.

4. The language can suggest the possibility that Paul died and was raised from the dead by God. If so, this may be the basis of his claim in 2 Cor. 12:2 that he had been caught up to the 3rd heaven.

5. Attalia was an interesting seaport, built atop a flat limestone mesa, with an inner anchorage that was an aperture between the cliffs, and a series of walls protecting an outer anchorage that could be blocked by a large chain.

 

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 15

1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.1

2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.

4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees2 which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers no we were able to bear?3

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.4

12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:

14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,

16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

19 Wherefore my5 sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:

20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from thing strangled, and from blood.6

21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.7

22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law:8 to whom we gave no such commandment:

25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.

28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;9

29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, the delivered the epistle:

31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.

33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.

34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.

35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;10

40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

1 Meanwhile, certain men came down from Judea, and taught the Gentile brethren: Unless you receive physical circumcision, as taught by Moses, you cannot be saved!

2 When Paul and Barnabas wound up in a heated argument with them on this issue, the church decided that Paul and Barnabas, along with some of those on the other side, should go to Jerusalem and ask the apostles and elders about this question.

3 And having been sent out by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, relating how the Gentiles had been converted to the faith--and their report brought great joy to all the brethren.

4 When they finally made it to Jerusalem, the church, including the apostles and elders, received them, and the group related all that God had been doing through them.

5 But then rose up the (Shammaiite) Pharisees who had come into the faith (and caused this problem), who said that it was necessary for the Gentiles to become full converts to Judaism, becoming circumcised and keeping the Law of Moses as they did.

6 So the apostles and elders met together to consider this issue.

7 After some heated debate, Peter stood up and said: Men and brothers--you know that a long time back, God made a choice that I should be the one from whom the Gentiles would first hear the teaching of the Gospel and turn to it in faith.

8 And God, who knows the heart, showed His approval of them by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us,

9 And made no distinction between them and us, purifying their hearts by faith.

10 Now therefore, why challenge God by going one better than Him by putting the yoke of (keeping the written Law--with the oral Law that accompanies it--) on the Gentile disciples, which neither we, nor our fathers, were ever able to bear?

11 We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (--and not by keeping the Law, nor by adding the Law to that grace--) that they and we shall both be saved!

12 Then everyone was silent, and listened to Paul and Barnabas, who declared the many miracles and wonders God had performed amongst the Gentiles through them.

13 After the two finished speaking, James spoke up, saying: Men and brethren, listen to me.

14 Simeon has related how God, at the beginning, made a visitation to the Gentiles to select out of them a people for Himself, to bring honor to His name.

15 The prophets foretold this, and wrote:

16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

18 From the beginning of time, God knew what He was going to do.

19 Thus, my ruling is that we not trouble those among the Gentiles who have turned to God,

20 But that we write to them, instructing them to abstain from idolatry, from fornication, from (meat that has not had the blood drained from it), and from committing murder,

21 For, from days of old, Moses has been preached by people in the synagogues of every city each Sabbath when they read the Scriptures (so the Gentiles are probably familiar with these precepts already).

21 (Alternate reading): (As for those brought up in Judaism, we need not write anything to them,) for Moses has been preached in the synagogues of every city each Sabbath when they read the Scriptures (so they know the right things to do anyway).

22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, and the church as a whole, to send some representatives with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to deliver the message. So they sent Judas, surnamed bar Sabbas, and Silas, two chief elders in the community.

23 And they wrote and sent letters with them, which said:

The apostles, elders and your brothers send greetings to our Gentile brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.

24 Since we have heard that some from our community have gone out from us, and said some things that troubled you (--namely, that you must become circumcised, and start keeping the Law of Moses--) we want you to know that they were not acting with our approval, and we gave no such order.

25 And having assembled and come to unanimous agreement on this issue, we have sent some representatives with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

26 Two men who have not hesitated to risk their lives in proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ.

27 Thus, Judas and Silas will confirm what we have said, and reiterate it to you personally.

28 For it seemed good to both the Holy Spirit and us to lay no greater burden of you than these necessary things:

29 That you must not participate in ceremonies in which meat is sacrificed to idols.

That you must not commit murder (for vengeance or any other reason).

That you must not eat meat from an animal that has been strangled, rather than having its blood drained from it first.

And that you must avoid sexual sin.

If you observe these things, you will be doing just fine. Farewell!

30 So when they were dismissed, they went to Antioch, and when they had gathered the host of believers together they read the letter.

31 When they read the letter, everyone rejoiced (and was very relieved).

32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets themselves, encouraged the brethren with many words, and strengthened them.

33 After they had been there for a time, they returned to the apostles with the blessings of the brethren there.

34 However, Silas decided to stay for a while.

35 Paul and Barnabas also stayed in Antioch with many others, preaching the Message of the Lord.

36 But eventually Paul said to Barnabas: Let’s return and visit the brothers in every city where we preached the Message of the Lord, and see how they’re doing.

37 Barnabas agreed, but wished to take John Mark with them.

38 But Paul would not even consider taking the one who had left them in Pamphylia instead of continuing on with them to the work.

39 And the dispute grew so heated (with neither man budging), that they broke their joint ministry, and Barnabas sailed off to Cypress with Mark.

40 Paul, meanwhile, chose Silas and left after being commended to God’s grace by the brothers in the church.

41 So they went throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

1. It is here in this, the paramount chapter of the Book of Acts, that the great conclusion will finally be made that the keeping of Mosaic Law plays no role in the salvation of mankind, and that the Gentiles are not required to keep either that covenant or its ordinances.

The point must first be made that verse 1 is by no means limited to physical circumcision! The Shammaiite believers who have caused the problem are preaching that the Gentiles must receive circumcision and keep the Torah (see verse 24), probably based on Exodus 12:49, in which God commands that non-Hebrews who dwell in the theocracy of Israel keep the same Torah. Remember that the Hillelite Pharisees accept the notion of “God-fearers”--Gentiles who worship the God of Israel but who either keep the 7 Noachide commandments or else most of the Torah apart from circumcision--while the Shammaiites at this point reject the notion.

2. These were followers of Shammai. (See What you never knew about the Pharisees.)

3. This “yoke” is the keeping of not only the 613 laws of Moses, but the 1000+ points of extraneous minutiae added to it by the elders. Remember that Peter, in Acts 10, considers this an equal part of the Law together with the Scriptures.

4. This magnificent confession of how salvation comes isn’t fully detailed out yet, for only Paul seems to have clearly understood the process on a detailed forensic basis. But here we see that even in the early years of the church, there was an understanding that God was bringing people into covenant with Him based on His mercy, and not based on their obedience to a certain lifestyle.

5. It is interesting to note that James--not Peter--steps forward to settle the issue.

6. These simple ordinances are based on the 7 Noachide commandments, which tradition held God gave out in the time of Noah for the nations to live by. Below follows a list of the commandment given by James and its Noachide counterpart:

Commandment: Abstain from meats offered to idols

Counterpart: Abstain from idolatry

Commandment: Abstain from fornication

Counterpart: Abstain from fornication/incest

Commandment: Abstain from blood

Counterpart: Abstain from murder (Most theologians believe this refers not to murder, as I suggest, but to drinking blood, which is possible. However, noting the way people in that part of the world behave even today, where one can be killed for even a slight insult as a matter of personal honor, murder is an acceptable understanding of what they were talking about. The Greek will also sustain that view.)

Commandment: Abstain from eating things strangled

Counterpart: Abstain from eating a living animal

It should be noted that the commandment to abstain from eating things strangled is very controversial. First, not all manuscripts have this in them. Second, the word for “strangled” refers to animals killed in a non-Kosher manner by being slain and then prepared with the blood still in the carcass; or possibly to an animal quartered without first slaying it in a humane manner. If the first point is the correct understanding, the text could legitimately be understood as commanding that Christians eat only Kosher meats. A problem with this view is that Paul later (1 Cor. 8) grants permission for the Gentiles to eat meat that has been prepared in an idolatrous temple, which obviously means non-Kosher. If the second understanding is correct, it fits with the Noachide prohibition of eating a live animal. Another possibility is that the Council is merely commanding the Gentiles to abstain from eating practices that somehow include the intake of animal blood, which was considered a delicacy by some although it was a violation of Gen. 9:4. Still another possibility, advocated by Stern, Matthew Henry and others, is that this prohibition was not a mandate dealing with true repentance or salvation, but rather a courtesy so that the observant Jewish Christians would not be offended or caused to stumble by possibly being given non-Kosher meat by Gentile believers. The last possibility is that this refers to some sort of Pagan religious practice, but there is insufficient evidence to verify that.

 

Left out are the remaining commandments of: Abstain from theft; Abstain from cursing God; Establish courts of justice.

 

7. There is insufficient time to delve deeply into the problem this verse causes for some of my Messianic brethren who incredibly use it to deny the words just spoken and claim it “proves” God does indeed desire all to keep Mosaic Law! For now, the point must be made that this verse is vague and should not be used to build such a critical doctrine on. In any event, the later writings of Paul absolutely demolish the notion that God commands the Gentiles be ordered to observe Torah (despite the attempts by some Messianics to pervert those words as well), and in Acts 21:25--which occurs at least seven years after Acts 15--James still relates that the Gentiles should not keep the Torah!

8. Again, this is not saying that the Gentiles must stop at circumcision, but this is a Jewish manner of speech that asserts they must keep all of the Torah. It could be paraphrased thusly: “Some have caused you consternation by claiming that you must be circumcised, and also keep the whole of the Torah.

9. This is one of the most important verses in the New Testament! Despite the man-made commandments and doctrines of a host of denominations, Scripture indicates that only these four sins can cause an otherwise believing Christian to lose his salvation. Also, note that the Christian elders wisely limit the guidelines for the Gentiles to negative commandments--which therefore could never be misunderstood as some sort of basis for earning salvation through righteous living--and the list only illustrates the salvation-killing sins of idolatry and sexual sin (and possibly murder as I suggested). Any teacher or religious denomination claiming that a sincere Christian is damned if he fails to observe some sort of commandment apart from these four is in direct contradiction to the Scripture here, for according to the Holy Spirit, “no greater burden than these necessary things” is to be laid upon sincere, believing Christians! All else is either voluntary, or else the fruit that comes out of true fellowship with Christ.

10. This is, by and large, the last we hear of Barnabas. It is also interesting to note that even the great apostles, Paul and Barnabas, were not so Spirit-led or Spirit-anointed that this decision was made by other than both men being stubborn and refusing to yield their positions.

 

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 16

1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:1

2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,2

7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we3 endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;

12 And from thence to Philippi,4 which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side5, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed6 with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

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

18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.7

19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,

20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

23 And when they had laid many stripes8 upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.

27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.9

28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I ?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.

36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.

37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.

38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.10

39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

1 In time, they came to Derbe and Lystra, and there they encountered a young disciple by name of Timothy. He was the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer--however, his father was a Greek.

2 Timothy had a very good reputation amongst the brethren in Lystra and Iconium.

3 Paul was impressed, and desired that Timothy would go with him and Silas on their missionary journeys, so he performed a circumcision ceremony upon him because the Jews thereabouts knew he was only half-Jewish, with a Greek father (which caused a natural prejudice against him in some people’s minds).

4 As the trio passed through the various cities, they proclaimed the decrees to be kept that had been passed by the apostles and elders back in Jerusalem.

5 And so the churches were firmly established in the faith, with new members joining daily.

6 Now when they had passed through Phrygia and part of Galatia, the Holy Spirit forbade them to preach the Gospel in (eastern) Turkey.

7 So they came to Mysia, planning to enter Bithynia (--northern Turkey--) but the Spirit didn’t want them to go there either.

8 So they passed by Mysia and went on to Troas (in western Turkey)

9 There, Paul had a vision one night, seeing a Macedonian man begging him to: “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”

10 (It was here in Troas that I, Luke, joined them,) and after Paul had seen the vision, we immediately sought to journey into Macedonia (--northern Greece--) confident that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel to them there.

11 Thus, we sailed straight out from Troas to Samothracia, and the next day we headed to Neapolis.

12 From there, we went to Philippi, a Roman colony and the main city of that part of Macedonia, where we stayed for a number of days.

13 And during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we left the city and went out to a river, supposing we might find some Jews praying there, and we sat down and talked with some godly women who met there.

14 There was a woman named Lydia, a dealer of purple dye from the city of Thyatira who worshipped God. The Lord opened her heart to the Gospel, and she accepted the things spoken by Paul.

15 When she and her household were baptized, she spoke to us, saying: If you believe me faithful to the Lord, come stay at my house! She would not take no for an answer (so we did).

16 Now one day as we headed to prayer, a woman who had control of a demon spirit of divination encountered us. She was well known in town and had brought her masters a lot of money through her fortune-telling.

17 She began following Paul and us, crying out: These men are servants of the Most High God, who are here to show us the way of salvation!

18 She did this for days and days. Finally, Paul--having had enough of her--turned to her, and said to the demon: I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it did, right then and there!

19 When the woman’s owners saw that their hopes of future profit were now gone, they dragged Paul and Silas to where the local rulers were gathered in the public marketplace.

20 They forced them before the local magistrates, saying: These men--being Jews--are stirring up trouble in this city!

21 They’re trying to proselytize, and indoctrinate us into (religious customs that aren’t a part of any of the state-sanctioned religions, so we Romans cannot observe them)!

22 So the crowds rose up against them and the magistrates rent their clothes, giving orders that the two should be beaten.

23 And when they had beaten them severely, they cast them into a dungeon with orders for the jailer to watch them.

24 Having received his orders, the jailer put them in the most secure area of the prison, and bound their feet in stocks.

25 Now at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, and the other prisoners heard them.

26 And suddenly a great earthquake hit the town, and the prison foundation was shaken. The doors were forced off their hinges and the prisoners freed from their bonds from the strength of the earthquake.

27 The jailer awakened, and seeing the prison doors open, assumed the prisoners had fled. So he drew out his sword to commit suicide (in hope of sparing his family).

28 But Paul shouted out: Don’t harm yourself--we’re all here!

29 Then the jailer called for a torch, and ran to investigate. Shaking in fear (--thinking they may have somehow been responsible for the earthquake--) he fell down before Paul and Silas,

30 And then brought them out of the cell, saying: Sirs--what must I do to be saved?!

31 They told him: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your entire household will be saved!

32 And they proclaimed the Message of the Lord to him and his household (who lived at or near the jail).

33 That same hour, the jailer washed and cleaned their wounds. Then he and his household were immediately baptized.

34 When he later brought them into his quarters, he set meat before them and rejoiced, believing in God with his entire household.

35 The next morning, the magistrates (--fearing the two might have brought bad luck to the town--) sent officers telling the jailer: Let them go!

36 And the jailer told Paul: The magistrates have said to let you go, so depart in peace!

37 But Paul said to the men: They have beaten us--Roman citizens--in public, with no trial, and thrown us in jail, and they expect us to sneak out of town?! You tell them to come escort us out publicly!

38 So the men went and told the magistrates this. Then the magistrates were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were both Roman citizens (for it was a death penalty offense to beat them without trial).

39 And so they came themselves (in humility), and escorted them out. Then they politely requested that they leave the city.

40 So the two left the prison and visited Lydia’s house. And after speaking encouragement to the brethren, they left.

1. This marriage is very unusual, and we can only wonder how a Jewish woman would come to be married to a Gentile unbeliever. Paul, in 2 Tim. 1:5, relates that Timothy’s mother and grandmother were godly women, which makes this scenario all the more puzzling since the Jews, even apart from the prejudice of Shammai, were loathe to give their children in marriage to Gentiles.

2. “Asia” meaning parts of Turkey.

3. Often missed by readers, this humble notation of “we” indicates it is at Troas that Luke joins up with Paul.

4. Paul arrives here around 50-51 AD. It is interesting to note in verse 9 that Paul sees a vision of a man inviting him to come and minister, yet his greatest conversions here are amongst women like Lydia. Paul seems to have had a special fondness for the people of Philippi, despite the being beaten and imprisoned there, and Polycarp mentions that he wrote several letters to the Philippians.

5. Paul goes to the river because it was by rivers that Jews in the Diaspora were accustomed to meet and worship together on the Sabbath if there was no synagogue. Also, this was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, known as “the Day of the Sabbaths,” for the word “Sabbath” is plural, not singular.

6. In the Greek, the text says not that the demon possessed the woman, but that she had control over the demon!

7. It is interesting to note that the demon was expelled despite the woman’s lack of desire for deliverance. Note also that the demon does not come out immediately, but after some time passes.

8. These are Roman-affiliated authorities, and thus they do not practice the Jewish punishment of “39 stripes,” but instead they opened Paul and Silas up from head to toe with a flagrum, or else beat then with rods.

9. He seeks to commit suicide because if the prisoners escape without killing him themselves, it would have been considered dereliction of duty, and both the man and his family would have been slain by the authorities.

10. Because it was death, under Roman law, for magistrates in the provinces to beat a Roman citizen without trial. Unnoticed by most people is that Silas was also a Roman citizen.

 

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 17

1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was synagogue of the Jews:

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks1 a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

9 And when they had taken security2 of Jason, and of the others, they let them go.

10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.3

12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler4 say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus5, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereto thou speakest, is?

20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.6 Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

33 So Paul departed from among them.

34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

1 After passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica where there was a Jewish synagogue.

2 And as Paul’s habit was, he went there and preached for three Sabbath days, reasoning with the Jews from the Scriptures,

3 Expounding on the concept that the Messiah would have to suffer and then rise from the dead, concluding: “And this Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Messiah!”

4 And some believed, and joined themselves to Paul and Silas. These included many devout Greek proselytes and “God-fearers,” and quite a few important women as well.

5 But the unbelieving Jews, jealous, gathered some thuggish people into a group and stirred up the city, breaking into the house of Jason in hope of dragging Paul out to mob justice.

6 But when they found Paul and his company gone, they hauled off Jason and some other brethren to the city magistrates, shouting: These men are part of the group who have been turning the world upside down, and now they’re here in Thessalonica,

7 And Jason has been giving them shelter! All of them preach against the decrees of Caesar, saying the real king of the earth is someone named Jesus!

8 The magistrates and citizens of the city were greatly worried when they heard the crowd make these accusations.

9 So when they had assessed a fine to Jason and the rest, they let them go (with a stern warning).

10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away to Berea by night. There, they went straight to the local Jewish synagogue.

11 Now the Jews here were more honorable than the Jews of Thessalonica, for they received the Gospel message with open-minded joy, and searched the Scriptures daily to verify the message they had embraced.

12 Therefore, many Jews believed, including a large number of honorable Greek men and women.

13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica heard that Paul was preaching the Message of God at Berea, they came there and stirred up the people.

14 And immediately the brethren sent Paul off in a ship, but Silas and Timothy remained behind.

15 Those who took Paul away sailed to Athens, then they returned home with Paul’s order for Silas and Timothy to return as quickly as possible.

16 Now while Paul waited in Athens, his spirit was stirred up when he saw how the whole city was bound by idolatry,

17 And so he argued the faith in the synagogue with the Jews and the “God-fearers”; and also daily in the marketplace with anyone who was willing to debate him.

18 Then some of the intelligentsia of the city--Epicurean and Stoic philosophers--took notice of him. Some said: What is this beggar talking about? Others supposed: He seems to be proclaiming a religion dealing with new gods. They thought this because Paul was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

19 So they took and escorted him up to the Areopagus--the public debate forum at Mars’ Hill--and asked: Would you explain what this new doctrine you’re speaking about pertains to?

20 For you are relating things we have never heard before, and we would like to understand what you mean.

21 You see, Theophilus, the Athenians, and those who visit there, spend their time either telling or listening to the most current news and thoughts.

22 So Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ Hill, and said: You men of Athens--I see that you are way too superstitious!

23 For as I passed by the various shrines of the city, I found a shrine with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Well, it is this God, whom you worship without knowing anything about, that I have come to speak of.

24 This is the God who made the earth, and all that dwells in it. And since He is Lord of heaven and earth, He does not live in man-made temples.

25 Neither does He need men to provide for his needs through their sacrifices, seeing that it is He who gives life and breath to all things,

26 And was the One who created all men through a single progenitor at the beginning, and determined when and where each empire of men should rise, fall, and dwell in the meantime.

27 It was His intent that they would seek after Him, and by groping their way to Him, they would find Him--though He is never far from any of us.

28 For through His will, we live and breathe, as even your own monotheistic poet Aratus noted when he said, We are also his offspring.

29 So, since we are the offspring of one single, unfathomable God like this, we should not bring Him down to our level by trying to fashion profane images of Him made of gold, silver or stone.

30 God tolerated that ignorant practice in times past, but now He demands all men everywhere repent,

31 For He has appointed a day [of judgment] in which He will righteously judge the world through the one agent He ordained to do this, whom I speak of. And God has shown proof of that to all men by resurrecting that man from the dead!

32 When they heard Paul speak of rising from the dead, some laughed. But others said: We’d like to hear from you again about this.

33 So Paul left the crowd on Mars’ Hill.

34 Even so, a few men followed him and believed, among whom was Dionysius, a senator of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, along with some others.

1. Again, God-fearers.

2. Meaning that they assessed a fine.

3. It is amazing how some teachers pervert the words of Scripture here to justify some of their anti-Charismatic skepticism. The people of Berea eagerly received the words of Paul, and searched the Scriptures--not with skepticism to see if they would be forced to believe doctrine they didn’t like and couldn’t invent arguments against to fit their preconceived notions; but they searched the Scriptures to confirm the message they had already joyously accepted and wanted to believe!

4. Though translated “babbler,” the word actually means “seed-picker,” which is a slang term for a beggar.

5. Otherwise known as Mars’ Hill, where people could set up their soapbox and debate their beliefs with the crowd. It is interesting to note that Paul, who attempts here to reach the masses on an intellectual level, has only limited success and abandons preaching Christ in this fleshly manner, relying on the anointing of the Spirit from this point further.

6. Paul here seeks to make use of a local legend about “the unknown god,” which held that a plague once struck Athens, and after sacrifice to the normal pantheon of gods proved fruitless, someone got the idea of making a sacrifice to an unnamed deity as a last resort. The plague ended at that point, and thereafter a monument to this unknown deity was erected in Athens.

 

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 18

1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;

2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:)1 and came unto them.

3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tent-makers.2

4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.3

7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.

8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia,4 the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:

15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.

16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.

17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue,5 and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.

20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;

21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.

23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord,6 knowing only the baptism of John.

26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.7

27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

1 After his experiences in Athens, Paul left for Corinth.

2 Where he met a Jewish man named Aquila who had been born in Pontus. Aquila had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla after Claudius Caesar (in 49 AD) had expelled the Jews from Rome (because of fights between Christian and non-Christian Jews there).

3 Since Paul was a tent-maker by trade, as were Aquila and Priscilla, he lodged (and worked) with them.

4 And Paul spoke every Sabbath, persuading Jews and Greeks (about the Gospel).

5 When Silas and Timothy caught up with him from Macedonia, Paul began preaching full time, proclaiming to the Jews that Jesus was Messiah.

6 But when the Jews rose up in opposition and denounced his message, Paul shook the dust from his robe at them, saying: Your blood be on your own heads--I am innocent of it! From now on, I will take the Message only to the Gentiles!

7 And he left the synagogue and went to stay next door at the house of Justus, a man who worshipped God.

8 But Crispus, the president of the synagogue, and his household, believed the Message and received baptism along with many other Corinthians.

9 Then the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision one night, saying: Don’t be afraid! Don’t hold back--but preach everything you’ve been told to say!

10 For I am with you, and will allow no man to assault and harm you, for I have many people in this city (and they need you).

11 So Paul stayed there for a year and a half, teaching the Message of God among the people.

12 Now (in 52 AD) when Gallio was made Proconsul of Achaia, the (unbelieving) Jews rose up en masse against Paul and brought him to Gallio’s court.

13 They said: This man convinces men in our community to worship God in a manner that conflicts with our Torah!

14 But before Paul even got a chance to open his mouth, Gallio replied: (You bother me with this?!) If this were some great matter of Roman law being broken in your community, I would hear the case!

15 But if it’s a question of your religious Law--its teachings, and who deserves to hold what title--don’t waste my time with it! You deal with religious matters yourselves! (Get these Jews out of my sight!)

16 So he had them driven out from his judgment seat.

17 Then the crowd (--afraid that the Proconsul had now marked the Jews as troublemakers--) took Sosthenes, the new president of the synagogue, and beat him in the town square before the judgment seat as Gallio watched, totally refusing to intervene.

18 After this, Paul stayed in Corinth for quite a while, then took leave of the brethren and sailed to Syria along with Aquila and Priscilla. Earlier at Cenchrea, it should be noted, he had shaved his head after taking a (Nazirite) vow.

19 They wound up in Ephesus, where he left the two, but Paul himself went into the synagogue to reason with the Jews.

20 When the Jews there asked him to remain, he had to decline,

21 And instead bade them farewell with these words: I must absolutely keep the upcoming Feast in Jerusalem, but I will return if God permits! So he sailed from Ephesus.

22 After landing in Caesarea and staying long enough to greet the church there, he continued to Antioch.

23 After spending some time there, he left and visited the regions throughout Galatia and Phrygia in that order, strengthening all the disciples.

24 Now there was a certain Jewish (proselyte) named Apollos who had come to Ephesus. He was a native of Alexandria with a gift for speaking, and he had a vast knowledge of the Scriptures.

25 He had been given instruction in the doctrines of the Lord, and being a zealous man, he spoke fervently about the Lord and His doctrines (of repentance), but only from the perspective of John the Baptist.

26 When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they met up with him and explained the fullness found in Christ of what John had been proclaiming before him.

27 When Apollos decided to go into Achaia, the brethren in the church gave him a letter of introduction, encouraging the believers there to receive him. After arriving, he was a great help to all those who, through God’s grace, had seen the light, and believed.

28 By his bold public speaking and knowledge of Scripture, he articulately managed to convince many Jews there that Jesus was the Messiah.

1. The expulsion occurred in 49 AD after violence flared up between Christian and Orthodox Jews.

2. This may be literal, although the occupation of tent-maker was rather uncommon. It may be that the occupation was that of fashioning prayer shawls, a slang term for which was “tent-maker.”

3. At this point, Paul finally has had it with the constant attacks by his own people who just cannot accept the message he has been given. This will forever mark a turning point in Christianity, where the emphasis will shift to bringing Gentiles into the faith while the ministry to the Jews will wither and the Messianic movement declines and gradually fades from the scene.

4. Gallio, brother of Seneca, was proconsul of the region in 51-52 AD, which was comprised of a dozen allied cities. Gallio’s tolerance for Christianity proved most helpful in permitting the movement to take hold in the region, but unfortunately he died of malaria after only one year.

5. Sosthenes, who may later have become a believer (1 Cor. 11).

6. Many Bibles follow the wording of manuscripts that say Apollos was teaching “the things about Jesus,” but “the things of the Lord,” as rendered by the KJV, seems to fit the context better in that it could refer either to God the Father, or else to a Messiah Apollos knows is coming, but does not know has come. There is no good reason to assume that Apollos knew of Jesus before Priscilla and Aquila explained who He was to him, given the fact that he is preaching from the perspective of John.

7. Because of the attitudes of some Christians who believe that women may not teach men, it is noteworthy that a woman here helps to instruct an educated man who becomes a believer.

 

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 19

1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.1

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

7 And all the men were about twelve.

8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

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

10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know;2 but who are ye?

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men:3 and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:

27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.

34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?4

36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.

39 But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give and account of this concourse.

41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

1 And it came to pass, that while Apollos was ministering at Corinth, Paul, having traveled overland, arrived at Ephesus, and finding some disciples there,

2 He asked them: Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And the men replied: We did not know that there was a Holy Spirit for us to receive!

3 So Paul asked: Then in whose name were you baptized? They said: We have received John’s baptism.

4 Paul then told them: John instituted a baptism of repentance, but he made it clear to the people that they should believe on the one coming after him, who was Jesus the Messiah.

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6 And after Paul laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in Tongues, and prophesied.

7 There were about twelve men involved in this incident.

8 Paul then went into the synagogue there and for three months boldly argued and proclaimed the things concerning the Messianic Kingdom.

9 But when some of them were hardened in their hearts against his message and rejected it, they went on to denounce “the Way” to the community. So Paul left the synagogue, taking those who believed with him, and they continued to meet and debate in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (daily from 11 AM to 4 PM).

10 He continued at this for two years, so everyone in that part of Turkey, Jew and Gentile, heard the teachings about the Lord Jesus.

11 And God performed some unique miracles at Paul’s hands,

12 So that even scraps of cloth or articles of clothing that had made contact with him were taken to the sick and laid upon them, and they were healed of diseases, and evil spirits came out of them.

13 About this time, some itinerant Jewish exorcists took notice of Paul’s effectiveness against demons, and decided to incorporate the name of Jesus in their exorcism ceremonies. So they found some possessed people and began saying: “We command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches!”

14 Now there were seven sons of a chief mystic named Sceva who were doing this (and one day they tried it on a particularly powerful demon).

15 But the man who was possessed by the demon simply turned to them, and said: Jesus I know personally, and Paul I’ve heard of--but who...are...you?!

16 Then he leapt at them and beat the lot of them so badly that they fled naked from the house.

17 Word of this incident spread to all the Jews and Gentiles dwelling in Ephesus, and a great fear came upon them; and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly esteemed because of it.

18 And many, as a result of this, became believers and admitted their sins and the sorts of lives they had been living.

19 Many others who believed, former practitioners of occult arts, brought their books dealing with the supernatural and fortune-telling, and burned them publicly. These manuscripts were near priceless, and were tallied as having a value of fifty thousand pieces of silver!

21 After the success of his ministry there, Paul eventually decided--after passing through Macedonia and Achaia--to return to Jerusalem, saying: After I go there, I must also go on to Rome.

22 So he sent Timothy and Erastus, his two assistants, before him into Macedonia, but he remained in Turkey for a while longer.

23 About this same time, a disturbance arose concerning “the Way.”

24 For a silversmith named Demetrius, who had a business making silver idols of the goddess Diana (Artemis) and made a lot of money for him and his fellows,

25 Called together his fellow guild members, and said: Men, you know that making idols is what has made us prosperous.

26 In addition, you see that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Turkey, this man Paul has convinced people that idols made with human hands are not real gods!

27 Because of him, not only is our livelihood threatened, but the temple of Diana--who Turkey and all the world worships--is itself at risk of being rejected and losing all relevance and influence!

28 When they heard this, the men were whipped into a frenzy and began to shout: Great is Diana of the Ephesians!

29 The whole city was filled with confusion, and having caught two Macedonian companions of Paul, Gaius and Aristarchus, they rushed in a mob to the amphitheater.

30 And though Paul would have tried to enter in and reason with the crowd, the brethren restrained him for his own good.

31 Now certain key people in Turkey, friends of Paul’s, sent word to him to not go into the amphitheater under any circumstances.

32 Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, and others another, and the whole place was in confusion, with most not even knowing why they were there.

33 Eventually, the Jews thrust Alexander out of their midst to try to calm things down, and he gestured with his hands for the crowd to quiet down so he could make a defense.

34 But when everyone saw that he was a Jew, for almost two hours they cried out: Great is Diana of the Ephesians!

35 When finally an official of the city calmed the people down, he said: You men of Ephesus--who doesn’t know that this city is dedicated to Diana, whose image (in the form of a meteorite) was sent down to earth from Jupiter (Zeus)?

36 Seeing as no one can deny this, you should calm down and not take action into your own hands.

37 For you have brought these men here, who technically have committed no crime. They have not robbed temples, nor have they blasphemed your goddess.

38 So if Demetrius or any of his allied craftsmen with him have a legitimate charge to lay against them, the court is opened and the magistrates are there. Let both sides present their case!

39 And if you have other matters to bring up--then do so in a lawful assembly.

40 Otherwise, word may get back to Caesar about this uproar, and Rome may turn its attention to us--and we’ll have no answer to give!

41 After saying this, he dismissed the mob and told them to go home.

1. This statement is mind boggling, for any Jew--even if He had yet to understand the true nature of the Spirit--knew about the Holy Spirit. These may have been some sort of God-fearers who had heard the message of John and were walking in the light of John’s message without much knowledge of Judaism beyond that. It is also noteworthy that Paul takes for granted that if these are believers, they should have experienced the Charismatic release of the Spirit in their lives as happens in verse 6. This is something he no doubt would ask many Christians today, who might respond with, “Well, we’ve believed and been baptized, and we’re sealed with the Spirit.” To which Paul might reply, “That’s not what I asked.”

2. Better translated as: “Jesus I know personally, and Paul I’ve heard of.”

3. This is a great example of what true repentance means--absolutely destroying any tie to the works of darkness that we have been bound with. In our own time, the correlation would be to stop watching psychics on TV, trash the books on astrology, the pornography, the Marilyn Manson CDs, etc.

4. The reference is apparently to a meteorite that crashed into the area and was taken for an image of Diana (Artemis). Ephesus was especially devoted to Diana and boasted one of the largest temples in the known world, which was dedicated to her.

 

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 20

1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,

3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.

4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.

6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

7 And upon the first day of the week,1 when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.2

11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.3

14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.

15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.

16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.

17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,

19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:

20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,

21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.4

36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.

37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,

38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

1 After the crowd died down, Paul summoned the disciples to him and embraced them in farewell. Then he departed to Macedonia.

2 After going through the province and exhorting the churches with many words, he continued on into Greece.

3 He was there for three months, but when the unbelieving Jews set a trap for him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to go overland by way of Macedonia.

4 And the following people accompanied him into Turkey: Sopater of Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica, Gaius of Derbe, Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus, who were from Turkey.

5 These went before us, and waited for us to catch up at Troas.

6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the season of Unleavened Bread, arriving to meet them in Troas after five days. Then we remained there for a week.

7 On Sunday, when the disciples met together to (take Communion) Paul--who was leaving the next morning--preached until midnight to them.

8 And many menorahs were lit in the upper chamber where everyone was gathered together.

9 A young man named Eutychus was sitting on the windowsill nodding off, for Paul was being especially long-winded that night. As he drifted off, he fell out the window from the third story of the building, and was picked up dead.

10 Paul rushed down and fell upon the boy, embracing him. He said: Don’t worry--he’s not dead; his life is in him!

11 When Eutychus came around and was taken back upstairs again, Paul went back to preaching and continued speaking until dawn. Then he departed.

12 So Eutychus was sent home alive, and all were very relieved.

13 Meanwhile, we got on the ship again and sailed to Assos (on the island of Lesbos), intending to meet Paul. He’d told us to do this

while he traveled across the island on foot.

14 When Paul rejoined us at Assos, we headed for Mitylene.

15-16 After sailing there, the next day we made Chios, and the following day Samos, landing and staying at Trogyllium. The next day, we arrived at Miletus, bypassing Ephesus because Paul had made the decision to sail on instead of visiting, for he did not want to spend any more time in Turkey. He was determined to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost if possible.

17 But from Miletus, he sent word to Ephesus, calling the elders of the church to him.

18 When they arrived, he told them: You know from the first day that I arrived in Turkey what sort of man I was the whole time I was here.

19 I served the Lord in all humility through many tears and temptations on the part of those Jews who plotted to destroy me.

20 You know that I showed and taught you every useful thing I could, holding nothing back as I preached in public, and went to the church gatherings from house to house.

21 I testified both to Jews and Gentiles the message of, "Repentance in God's sight, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

22 I am now bound to go on to Jerusalem with no idea what awaits me there.

23 All I know is that the Holy Spirit speaks prophetically through people in every city I visit, warning me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me.

24 But these things will not intimidate me! Neither will I back off to protect my own life! I will finish my course with joy, completing the mission the Lord Jesus sent me on: testifying to all about the Gospel of the grace of God!

25 Look now--I sense that all of you, to whom I preached the Message of the Messianic Kingdom, will never see me again.

26 So I call you to witness this day that I declare myself innocent of any man’s blood.

27 For I have not held back proclaiming all that God wanted me to tell you.

28 Keep careful watch, then, you overseers of the flock the Holy Spirit has given you. Feed the church of God that Christ purchased with his own blood!

29 For I know that after I am gone, Satan will send wild wolves amongst your flock, not sparing any of the lambs.

30 Even among your own group shall men arise and teach heresy, seeking to draw disciples to themselves.

31 Therefore, watch carefully, and remember that for three years I tearfully warned you about this, day and night.

32 Now, brothers, I leave you in God’s hands with the Message of His grace, which will build you up and provide you an inheritance with those who are set apart as His people.

33 Remember, I never sought for any man’s money or clothing!

34 In fact, you know that I, and those with me, worked normal jobs to see to our needs.

35 I did things like this as an example to you, so that you could see in every way how--by honest, hard work--you should support the weak, and remember the teaching of the Lord Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

36 When Paul had finished saying these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

37 And they all wept and embraced Paul, kissing him,

38 Grieved above all at his statement that they would never see him again. Then they walked him down to the ship.

1. The first clear record of the Gentile believers worshipping on a Sunday. As noted elsewhere, this was probably not the result of a formal move of the Sabbath to Sunday, but rather grew out of the need for the Gentiles to meet on their own special day for worship and instruction while the Jewish Christians continued to observe the regular Sabbath.

2. Because of verse 9, it is usually presumed that the boy was dead and Paul restored him to life. In the Jewish culture, however, “Dead” can also mean unconscious. As Paul in the next sentence denies he is dead, the apostle may have healed him, rather than restored him to life from the dead.

3. It was much quicker walking overland from Troas to Assos, compared to sailing around the island of Lesbos, and so Paul, probably in hope of meeting others to witness to, heads overland while Luke and the remaining entourage sail to join him.

4. Nowhere else is this saying of Jesus recorded.

 

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 21

1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:

2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.

4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.1

5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.

8 And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist2, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.3

12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

15 And after those days we took up our carriages4, and went up to Jerusalem.

16 There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.

17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousand of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:5

21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses,6 saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow7 on them;

24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.8

25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing,9 save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks10 also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in a uproar.

32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.11

35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?

38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest and uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?12

39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

1 And it came to pass after we left them, that we sailed off on a straight course to Coos, and the next day we reached the island of Rhodes. From there, we disembarked at Patara.

2 Finding a ship sailing for (Phonecia on the cost of Lebanon), we boarded and set forth.

3 When we reached the isle of Cypress, we passed it on our left side and sailed on to Syria, departing at Tyre, where the ship was going to offload its cargo.

4 Finding some disciples there, we fellowshipped with them for a week, and some by the Spirit repeatedly spoke prophetically to Paul that he should not set foot in Jerusalem.

5 When our visit was over, everyone--including the wives and children of the men--walked with us out of the city to the seashore. Then we knelt down, and prayed.

6. When we bid each other farewell, we boarded our ship and they went back to their homes.

7 When we reached Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, where we greeted the brethren, visiting for a day.

8 The next day, those of us in Paul’s company left for Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist. He was one of “The Seven,” and we stayed with him.

9 This Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

10 We stayed there for many days, and finally a prophet named Agabus came from Judea.

11 When he arrived, he took Paul’s belt and tied up his own hands and feet, saying: Thus says the Holy Spirit--so shall the Jews at Jerusalem tie up the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles!

12 When we heard this, both we and those from there urged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.

13 But Paul answered: Why are you crying and trying to break my heart? I am prepared not only to be bound, but to die in Jerusalem as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus!

14 And when Paul could not be persuaded to change his mind, we gave up, saying: The Lord’s will be done.

15 After those days, we gathered our baggage and went up to Jerusalem.

16 Along with us went some disciples from Caesarea, who brought with them Mnason of Cypress, an early disciple, whose house we would stay at.

17 When we reached Jerusalem, the brethren there greeted us gladly.

18 The next day, Paul and we went in to see James, and the church elders of Jerusalem were there as well.

19 When Paul had greeted them, he related what wonderful things God had been doing among the Gentiles through his ministry.

20 When they heard it, they glorified the Lord. Then they said: You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews here in Jerusalem are believers--and all of them are zealous for the Torah.

21 But a false rumor has circulated about you, claiming you’ve been telling the Jews living with the Gentiles abroad that they should abandon their Torah observance, cease circumcising their children, and stop keeping Jewish traditions.

22 (Now we know that this is untrue, but you’ve never been popular with many people here, so) what can we do? Eventually, everyone will know you’re here (and trouble may follow).

23 So we have an idea and suggest you do this: We have four men here who are ready to take Nazirite vows.

24 Take them, and sanctify yourself with them, and cover the costs for their ritual sacrifices. Shave your head along with them, and then everyone will know that the rumors they’ve heard about you are untrue, and that you are still a Torah observant Jew.

25 Now as concerns the Gentile believers, we’ve already written and concluded that they are not required to convert to full Judaism themselves, but they must only keep from participating in rituals involving sacrifices to other gods, from murder, from meat with the blood in it, and from sexual sin.

26 So Paul agreed and joined the men, the next day sanctifying himself with them, and going into the Temple to give notice as to when the ritual sacrifices for the Nazirite vow should be made for them.

27 When the seven days of this were almost over, some Jews from Turkey recognized Paul in the Temple courts, then stirred up the people and laid hands on him,

28 Shouting out: Men of Israel, help! This is the heretic who denounces observant Jews everywhere, and tries to convince people to forsake the Torah and the Place! He’s also the one who brought (uncircumcised) Greeks into the Temple, and profaned the Holy Place!

29 They said this because they had earlier seen him in the city accompanied by Trophimus, who was from Ephesus. So they assumed Paul had brought him into the Temple.

30 And all the city was stirred (fearing the wrath of God upon the nation for such a defilement of the Temple), and they threw Paul out of the Temple courts and shut the gates behind him.

31 Now as they went about to kill Paul, word reached the chief officer of the Roman garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

32 The man immediately took some centurions and their squads, and ran for the Temple (next to their fortress). When the mob saw the chief officer and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

33 Then the commanding officer came up and took him, ordering him to be bound (hand and foot) with two chains. After that, he demanded to know who he was and what he had done.

34 The crowd spoke all at once, with some saying one thing, and others another, and when he could not figure out the problem from the commotion, the officer commanded Paul to be taken next door to the Fortress Antonia.

35 When they reached the stairs, the soldiers actually had to carry Paul upon their shoulders, for the crowds were whipped into a fever pitch, ready to kill.

36 The crowd, meanwhile, followed after, mobbing them and crying out: Away with him!

37 As Paul was about to be led into the fortress, he shouted to the officer in Greek, saying: May I speak to you? Surprised, the officer replied: You can speak Greek?!

38 Are you that fellow they called “the Egyptian,” who caused a revolt among the people, and led four thousand murdering insurrectionists out in the desert?!

39 But Paul said: No--I am a Jew and citizen of Tarsus, an important city of Cilicia. I beg you--let me speak to the people and calm them down!

40 When he agreed, Paul stood upon the stairs and gestured for the people to be silent. When they calmed down, he spoke to them in classical Hebrew.

1. A debate exists amongst theologians whether Paul was out of the will of God in going to Jerusalem. Some feel he was being headstrong and rebellious, while others believe that God was merely warning him about what was to come as he followed His will. Personally, the language of the text suggests to me that Paul was indeed being headstrong and was out of God’s perfect will, but within His permissive will in returning to Jerusalem.

2. Presumably, Philip, the deacon of Acts 6:3, for the reference to “the Seven” probably relates to the seven appointed deacons therein. Interestingly, Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus claimed in the late 2nd century that this Philip was the apostle, and that two of his virgin daughters were buried with him at Hieropolis, while a third was buried at Ephesus. In fragments from the Dialogue of Caius a few decades later, however, the assertion is made that the deacon Philip and his four daughters were all buried at Hieropolis.

3. Sometimes used to claim that Agabus, although a true prophet, didn’t quite get it right, for technically the Romans are the ones who bind Paul. That assertion is incorrect, since the prophecy is perfectly true in the sense in which it is made, for Paul is indeed taken and abused by the Jews who desire to kill him, a result of which is that he does wind up bound in Roman hands.

4. Not talking about horse-drawn carriages, but referring to the group’s baggage.

5. Keep in mind this is almost 30 years after the Crucifixion, and we see the Jewish believers at Jerusalem are still 100% Torah-observant and zealous for the Torah, yet affirm the Gentiles need not be!

6. We now see one of the key points of Scripture that has been misunderstood by Christianity. Note specifically that James is repeating the criticism that Paul is accused of telling the Jews (rather than the Gentiles) not to keep the Torah!

7. A Nazirite vow.

8. We now have a choice on what to believe James is saying, and these are the options:

 

James is telling Paul to lie and pass himself off as an observant Jew when he knows that Paul is actually living a non-observant lifestyle.

James knows that Paul himself is still a Kosher Jew, but that Paul’s exempting the Gentiles from keeping the Torah has been misrepresented as a repudiation of the Torah for both Jews and Gentiles. Paul should thus show he is still fully observant and that he affirms the Torah still applies to Jews.

 

Christianity primarily believes that option 1 is correct, that Paul had concluded that no one need keep the Torah, but that James, in order to keep peace, wants him to pretend to be observant. The truth, of course, is that there was a system whereby the Jewish believers retained their cultural and religious identity by remaining Torah observant, whereas the Gentiles were granted exemption from this because there was no good need for them to do likewise. See What You Never Knew About the New Testament’s View of the Law for more information.

 

9. James very clearly confirms the Gentiles are exempted from ‘walking orderly and keeping the Law’ as Paul is confirmed to be doing in verse 24, and reaffirms the decision of Acts 15 that they need only observe a handful of “necessary things.” Keep in mind this is almost 10 years after the council of Acts 15, which is a direct refutation of the doctrine advanced by some Messianic extremists who teach that God meant for the Gentiles to become fully observant, and integrate with Judaism.

10. Although untrue, the charge that Paul had brought uncircumcised Greeks into the Temple would, and did, arouse the anger of the populace, for such an act violated the Torah and could bring the wrath of God down upon the Jews as a people, even though they were innocent, as chronicled in some Old Testament examples such as David's numbering the people.

11. The Fortress Antonia, which abutted the Temple. Bear in mind the Procurator didn’t normally reside in Jerusalem, and so this officer is the Roman in charge of the city at this time.

12. “The Egyptian” was a false prophet from the mid-50s AD who gathered a following of 4,000 men to assault Jerusalem. Felix’ army defeated him on the Mount of Olives, and most of his followers were slain during their attempted re-enactment of the attack on Jericho. (This false prophet claimed that the walls of Jerusalem would fall.) The Egyptian himself is thought to have escaped the carnage, not to be heard from again, although he may have been killed in the fight. This is why the Lysias asks Paul if he could be that man.

 

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 22

1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.

2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)

3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel1, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

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

5 As also the high priest2 doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

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

7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not3 the voice of him that spake to me.

10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.

11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,

13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.

15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.4

17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;5

18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive the testimony concerning me.

19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:

20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death,6 and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.7

23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,8

24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.9

30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council10 to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

1 Men, brethren, and elders of Israel, hear the defense I would now make for myself!

2 Now when they heard him speaking in the true Hebrew tongue, they quieted down all the more. So he went on.

3 I am truly a Jewish man born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, yet brought up here in Jerusalem as one of the pupils of Gamaliel (in the yeshiva of Hillel). I was taught all our rich traditions of how to keep the Torah, and was zealous before God, as you all are today.

4 And I persecuted the followers of “the Way,” even to death, binding and casting into dungeons both men and women,

5 As the High Priest will agree, along with all the members of the (city) Sanhedrin, from whom I received letters to the brethren appointing me an Inquisitor, and authorizing me to capture all the Christians in Damascus, and bring them back in chains to Jerusalem for punishment.

6 Now as I was traveling there and neared Damascus around noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone round about me.

7 And I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me: “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

8 And I answered the voice, “Who are you, Sir?” And he said back, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting!”

9 Now my traveling companions indeed saw the light, and were afraid, but they didn’t understand the voice of him who spoke to me.

10 And I asked: “What shall I do, Lord?” And the Lord said to me, “Arise, and go into Damascus; and there you will be told of all the things you are appointed to do.”

11 I was blinded by the glorious light I saw, and had to be led by the hand into Damascus by those accompanying me.

12 Now in Damascus lived a devout man, fully observant in the Torah, named Ananias. He had a good reputation among all the Jews in the city,

13 And he came to me. Then, standing before me, he said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight!” And right then, I could see, and looked upon him.

14 And Ananias told me, “The God of our ancestors has chosen to reveal His will to you, and that you should see the Just One, and hear him speak to you.

15 “For you will testify to all men about what you have seen and heard.

16 "So why wait? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling upon the Name of the Lord.”

17 Now later, when I was praying at the Temple here in Jerusalem, I fell into a trance.

18 And I had a vision of Jesus appearing to me, and saying: “Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem now, for they will not accept the testimony you have about me.”

19 And I said, “Lord, they all know how I imprisoned and beat, in every synagogue, those who believe in you.

20 “And when the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I was standing by, and cast my vote for his death. I even watched the clothing of those who stoned him!”

21 But he said, “Go! For I will send you far away, to the Gentiles.”

22 Now the crowd (--many of whom were ardent followers of the teachings and traditions of Shammai--) listened intently up until the point they heard the word “Gentiles.” Then they exploded in rage, saying: May the earth be rid of this man! He does not deserve to live!

23 And they shouted, cast off their cloaks, and threw dust in the air (to show their outrage and rejection of the message they heard).

24 The commanding officer then ordered that Paul be brought into the fortress and interrogated with the lash to find out why the crowd had just exploded.

25 But as they stretched him out with leather thongs (between two whipping posts), Paul spoke to the centurion who stood by, asking: Is it in keeping with the law of Caesar to whip a Roman citizen who has had neither trial nor conviction?

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commanding officer: Be careful what you do--this man is a Civis Romanus!

27 Then the man came to Paul, and asked: Is it true that you hold a rank of Civis Romanus? And Paul said: Yes!

28 The commanding officer then said: I paid a lot (--five hundred drachmas--) for that privilege and the freedoms that come with it! But Paul’s response was: I was born a free Roman citizen!

29 Then those who were about to interrogate him stood back from Paul. The commanding officer was afraid as well, for he had ordered a Roman citizen to be bound (and mistreated) without trial.

30 The next day, because he still needed to know why the Jews were in such an uproar, he released Paul from his bonds, and ordered the chief Sadducee priests and their Sanhedrin to appear before him. Then he had Paul brought down and set before them.

1. Recall that Gamaliel is the grandson of Hillel, and president of the full Sanhedrin.

2. Paul must be referring to Caiaphas, who though not the High Priest at this point, was still around and well known to the Jews. Ex-High Priests were still considered to hold the title for life because the Torah required them to serve for life, although the Romans (and then the Herods after 49 AD) appointed the High Priest according to whomever paid the best bribe.

3. “Heard not” should be understood as: “Understood not”(John 12:29).

4. This verse is used by those who teach that baptism literally washes away sin, and thus is necessary for salvation. Were this a stand-alone verse that doctrine might be true, but further clarification from Paul's other writings show that baptism cannot possibly be the vehicle which cleanses one from sin. (Only faith does.) There has always been a debate amongst the rabbis whether baptism did, or did not, wash away sins, and Ananias may even have believed this was so and made this statement based on his belief, but the statement is invalid as doctrine based, as mentioned, on subsequent theological statements by Paul. It is akin to some of Job's or his friends' musings in the Scriptures, which may be a correct record of their words, but which are not meant to be taken as wholly accurate theology. We otherwise could view the latter part of his sentence, rather than the former part, as confirming it is faith that cleanses from sin, when Ananias says to 'call on the name of the Lord.'

5. A problematic verse for some who chafe at the thought of someone’s being “slain in the Spirit” or else somehow not fully under self-control.

6. Paul is probably being literal, and referring to having formally voted in a meeting of the Sanhedrin to execute Stephen, which means he was a member of this body.

7. If there was ever proof that the face of opposition to Christ and the Gospel are the followers of Shammai--this is it! Notice that the hostile crowd listened patiently to Paul’s message about Christ until the mention of Gentiles--then they exploded in rage. This is exactly the attitude that the Shammaiites held toward Gentiles, and shows the influence of Shammai in this period of Jewish history. The followers of Hillel would have had no such reaction to the thought of reaching out to Gentiles.

8. Eastern customs showing absolute rage and renunciation of false religious teachings.

9. It was a death sentence for an officer to abuse a Roman citizen who had not had a trial. Curiously, many have been puzzled as to the means by which Paul was a Roman. The simple answer is that Tarsus had supported Julius Caesar* in his rise to power, and many of its people had been granted the rights of citizenship for that support. Paul, who was obviously from a well-to-do family, was undoubtedly a descendant of those who had earned this privilege. Citizenship could also be granted if a family had dwelt in Tarsus for at least four generations; or it could be purchased for 500 drachmas.

 

* Tarsus, it should be noted, was nicknamed Juliopolis.

 

10. “Their council” appears to refer to the Sadducee Sanhedrin that ran the city, not the Great Sanhedrin headed by Gamaliel.

 

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 23

1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

2 And the high priest Ananias1 commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall2: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?

5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee:3 of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in piece of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

11 And the night following the Lord stood by him,4 and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.

14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.

15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

16 And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.

18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.

19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?

20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would inquire somewhat of him more perfectly.

21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.

22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou has shewed these things to me.

23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;

24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.5

25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:

26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.

27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.

28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:

29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.

30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.

31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.

32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:

33 Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;

35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's  judgment hall.

1 Then Paul, fixing his gaze upon the Sanhedrin, said: Men and brethren, I have lived with a clear conscience before God up to today--

2 That was as far as he got before the current High Priest, Ananias, commanded those standing by Paul to hit him on the mouth.

3 Then Paul told him: And God will smite you, you hypocrite! You dare sit to judge me, in accordance with the Torah, yet command me to be struck in contradiction to it?!

4 Those standing by Paul said: Do you curse God’s High Priest?!

5 Immediately, Paul responded: Brothers, I did not know he was the current High Priest, for it is written: Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

6 But when Paul noted that part of the assembly were Sadducees, and another part Pharisees, he cried out: Men and brethren, I was--and continue to be--a Pharisee, taught everything I know by Pharisees. I am being persecuted simply because I refuse to deny the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead (which these Sadducees will go to any lengths to silence)!

7 When he said this, the animosities between both groups manifested, and they began arguing with each other.

8 You see, the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, nor are there angels, nor does man have an immortal soul--but the Pharisees believe these things.

9 And a great cry arose, and the Pharisee Torah teachers rose up and grabbed Paul from one side, arguing with the Sadducees and saying: We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not risk fighting against God!

10 The other side was just as angry, and when things got so hot that the commanding officer thought Paul would be pulled in half like a wishbone by both groups, he ordered some troops to remove him from the chamber to the safety of the fortress.

11 That night, the Lord appeared next to Paul, and said: Cheer up, Paul! For as you have testified of me here in Jerusalem, you must also testify of me in Rome.

12 Now when day came, some Judeans banded together and bound themselves under a curse if they touched food or drink before they had killed Paul.

13 Over forty men were involved in this plot.

14 So they came to the chief priests and elders, telling them: We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will not eat or drink until Paul lies dead at our hands!

15 So do this: Have the Sanhedrin send word to the chief Roman officer to bring Paul here tomorrow for some questioning. We’ll see to it he never makes it here alive!

16 Word of this plot reached the son of Paul’s sister, and he rushed to the fortress to let Paul know.

16 (Alternate reading): The son of Paul’s sister happened to overhear word of this plot, and he rushed to the fortress to let Paul know.

17 Paul then called a centurion over to him, saying: Bring this young man to your commander--he has important news for him.

18 So the centurion took him to his commander, and reported: Paul the prisoner summoned me and said to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.

19 Then the commander took him by the hand and led him out of earshot, asking: What is it you have to tell me?

20 The nephew replied: The Judeans have agreed to send word to you to bring Paul to the Sanhedrin tomorrow under a pretext of questioning him.

21 But don’t do it! For a band of over forty men will be lying in wait to ambush him, and they’ve made a vow that they won’t eat or drink until they’ve killed him. Their plans are ready even now, and they’re only waiting for you to agree to bring Paul to them.

22 So the commanding officer let the young man go, telling him: Don’t let anyone know you told me these things!

23 Then he summoned two centurions and told them: Assemble two centuries of troops to march to Caesarea. I want seventy mounted troops and two hundred spearmen to go as well! They will depart three hours after dusk!

24 Include a horse for that man Paul as well, and get him to governor Felix safely!

25 After this, he sat down and wrote the following letter:

26 Claudius Lysias sends greetings to the most excellent governor Felix.

27 The prisoner I send to you was rescued from the Judeans, who wanted to kill him. Having understood he was a Roman citizen, I came with some troops and rescued him.

28 And when I sought to investigate the matter they had against him, I brought him to their local Sanhedrin.

29 I get the impression their problems with him are of a religious nature, and nothing against our law that renders him worthy of death or prison.

30 When word reached me that the Judeans had a band lying in wait to kill him, I sent him to you immediately, and informed his accusers that they should make any accusation against him in your presence. Farewell.

31 Then the soldiers, as commanded, took Paul by night to Antipatris.

32 The next day, the foot soldiers returned to the fortress, leaving him in the care of the seventy mounted cavalry.

33 When they reached Caesarea, they handed Paul and the dispatch over to the governor.

34 After he had read the dispatch, the governor asked from what province Paul was from, and Paul answered: Cilicia. When he heard that, the governor said:

35 I will hear your case, then, when your accusers come here. And he commanded Paul to be kept in Herod’s old judgment hall.

1. A particularly bad priest, noted in the Talmud as stealing Temple offerings for his own use.

2. A term for a hypocrite who looks pious from the outside but is wretched the inside.

3. Grammatically, Paul is affirming that he continues to be a Pharisee, not that he had once been one. “Son of” should be understood not as referring to Paul’s father being a Pharisee (which he probably was), but that Paul was a disciple of Pharisaic teaching. The word translated as “Pharisee” is plural (Pharisees).

4. Once again, in contrast to the unbiblical doctrines of some teachers who deny it is possible for Jesus Christ to appear on the earth before the 2nd Coming, here we see from the Scripture that Jesus appeared to Paul in prison.

5. Praefect of Judea from 52-60 AD.

 

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 24

1 And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator name Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.

2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,

3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:

6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.

7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,

8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.

9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.

10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:1

11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.

12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:

13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.

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

15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.

18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.

19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,

21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way2, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.

23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.

24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come Felix trembled, and answered, go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

27 But after two years3 Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

1 After five days, the High Priest Ananias came down with (his Sanhedrin), and also brought along a skilled speaker named Tertullus, who made their case against Paul to the governor.

2 When Paul was summoned forth, Tertullus began his accusations against Paul by flattering the governor, saying: Since under your skilled rule we have had peace in the nation, and been blessed with many good reforms on your part,

3 We all, in every region, accept and appreciate your goodness to us, most noble Felix.

4 But so that I impose upon as little of your precious time as possible, I beg your patience to briefly state our concerns.

5 We have found this man to be a persistent plague! Everywhere he goes, he stirs up sedition amongst the Jews--and furthermore, he is one of the chief ringleaders of the sect of the Nazarenes!

6 He also came and profaned the holy Temple, and we took him and would have judged him by our own laws.

7 But the chief officer Lysias came and, using extreme force, took him from us,

8 Commanding we, his accusers, to present our case to you, so you could make the determination of the facts regarding our accusations of him.

9 The Judeans present then mouthed their agreement with Tertullus’ statement.

10 Finally, the governor beckoned for Paul to speak. He replied: Since I know you have been in authority over the region for a number of years (and already have knowledge of some of the issues I will relate), I am relieved to be able to present my case to you.

11 So you have a clear understanding of the background of all this, know that I arrived twelve days ago to come worship in Jerusalem.

12 And my accusers did not, at any time, find me arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor causing any disturbances amongst the people, in the synagogues, nor in the city itself.

13 Neither can they offer one iota of evidence for the accusations they have made against me.

14 But I do admit this to you: I am indeed a member of “the Way,” which they dub a heretical movement, and--in accord with its precepts--I worship the God of my ancestors, believing all the things written in the Torah and our prophets,

15 Which give us confidence in God of an upcoming resurrection of the dead, when both just and unjust men shall live again, a doctrine that many of them affirm as well.

16 Because of this belief, I always try to live with a clean conscience toward both God and man.

17 It has been years since I have been in Jerusalem, and my purpose in coming was to bring alms to my people, and to make sacrificial offerings at the Temple.

18 But then some Jews from Turkey (--enemies of mine--) found me undergoing ritual purification in the Temple with certainly no crowd around me, nor arguing with anyone.

19 It’s these men who, if there is any charge to be laid against me, ought to be here laying it out.

20 Otherwise, if these men here found evidence of some specific crime on my part when they interrogated me at their Sanhedrin--

21 Other than my proclamation I’m being questioned about today that, “I am being persecuted simply because I refuse to deny the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead!”

22 When Felix heard this--because he already was familiar with the movement of “the Way”--he put off the accusers, saying: When Lysias, the commanding officer, comes down, I will have a more comprehensive understanding of these things concerning you.

23 So he assigned a centurion to watch Paul and keep him under limited house arrest, instructing him not to forbid any of his friends or acquaintances to aid or meet with his prisoner.

24 A while later, Felix--after his Jewish wife Drusilla had joined him--sent for Paul and listened to his doctrines about faith in Christ.

25 But as Paul touched on the subjects concerning righteousness, godly living, and the upcoming judgment of God, Felix was afraid and upset, telling him: Go your way for now--when I have more time, I will call for you again.

26 He also hoped that Paul might bribe him for his freedom, and this is why he would send for him every so often.

27 After a couple of years of this, Portius Festus took the seat of authority from Felix. And because Felix, on his way out of office, wished to depart on good terms with the Jewish leaders, he left Paul imprisoned.

1. Paul is being polite, and Tertullus hypocritical, for Felix was a thoroughly corrupt judge. Starting as a slave and working his way into the court of Claudius, who appointed him governor, Felix was eventually recalled to Rome by Nero to explain an overly-violent response to a riot between Jews and Gentiles in Caesarea. Josephus notes that the Sadducees sided with Felix against the Jews he slew in the riot, showing some collusion between them and him.

2. “That way” refers to Christianity. Remember that Christianity was originally called haddas, or “the Way.”

3. This should be 60 AD.

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 25

1 Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,

3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.

4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.

5 Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.

6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.

7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews1 a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.

11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice2 came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is certain man left in bonds by Felix:

15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.

16 To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which in accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.

17 Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.

18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:

19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.

21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus,3 I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.

22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. Tomorrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth.

24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.

25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.

26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, o king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.

27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

1 Now when Festus arrived in the province of Judea, he left Caesarea to go up to Jerusalem after three days.

2 There, the High Priest and the Jewish leaders brought up the issue of Paul, and they made a request:

3 The group wished Festus to summon Paul to Jerusalem--but they asked this in order to set up an ambush and kill him.

4 Festus, however, replied that Paul must be kept at Caesarea, where he would shortly return to.

5 Let those leaders among you who can go, he told them, accompany me and make any charges there, to his face, if he is guilty of some wickedness.

6 Festus stayed in Jerusalem for over ten days before returning to Caesarea. The day afterward, he was ready to hear Paul’s case and took his place in the judgment seat. Then he commanded Paul to be brought forth.

7 When Paul arrived, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem lodged a list of serious accusations against him, none of which they could prove.

8 Paul, meanwhile, answered for himself, and said: Neither against the Jewish Torah, nor against the Temple, nor against the laws of Caesar am I guilty of any offense.

9 Festus, however, wanted to get in good with the Jewish leaders, so he said to Paul: Would you be willing to go with me to Jerusalem and have me hear and judge the case there?

10 Then Paul answered: I am standing right now before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I should be judged! So far as the Judeans go, I have done no wrong as you very well know.

11 For if I am a criminal, or have committed any crime worthy of death, I am willing to die. But if I am innocent of these things my accusers say about me, no man should hand me over to them. I therefore (exert my rights as a Roman citizen and) formally appeal to Caesar himself!

12 Then Festus, after conferring with the Sanhedrin, said: So you appeal to Caesar? Fine--to Caesar you will go!

13 Now some time after this, Herod Agrippa II (--who had taken the throne after Antipas died in exile and Agrippa I was struck dead by God--) visited Caesarea with his (notorious) sister Berenice, to pay their respects to Festus.

14 When they had been guests for a number of days, Festus made mention of Paul’s case, saying: There is a certain man left under arrest by the former governor Felix.

15 The elders and chief priests in Jerusalem told me about him when I was there, and asked me to make a snap judgment against him.

16 But I told them, “We Romans do not simply hand men over to die before allowing them the opportunity to face their accusers, and give answer to the charges.”

17 Therefore, when they made their way here, I immediately held court and commanded the man in question to be brought forth.

18 When he got here and the accusers started speaking, they offered no charges as I thought they would (--sedition and the like).

19 Instead, this all seemed to be regarding some sort of local superstitions regarding a man named Jesus who was dead, but whom Paul swore was now alive.

20 And because I wasn’t certain about what all this meant, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be judged there regarding these issues.

21 But when Paul instead appealed to be judged by the august Nero, I commanded him to be kept safe until I could send him on to Caesar.

22 Agrippa II then told Festus: I’ve been wanting to hear this man! And Festus answered: Tomorrow you shall indeed hear him.

23 The next day, when Agrippa II and Berenice arrived in great pomp and splendor, they entered into the court with the chief military officers and key men of the city. Then, at Festus’ command, Paul was brought.

24 Festus said: King Agrippa, and all men present with us, you now see this man, whom the multitudes of Jews both at Jerusalem and here insist should not live any longer.

25 But when I discovered that he had done nothing worthy of death, and since he had appealed to the august Nero, I determined to send him there.

26 However, I’m not sure precisely what to write my lord Caesar about him, and so I’ve brought him here especially to you, King Agrippa, in hope that after we examine him in proper legal form, I may know exactly what to write Caesar about him.

27 For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner without at least listing the crimes against him.

1. “The Jews” should be understood as a reference to the Sadduceean authorities with whom Rome worked and wished to keep in good graces.

2. “Bernice” (Berenice), a beautiful woman, was Agrippa’s sister, not his wife, although the pair were supposedly in an incestuous relationship. She was also sister to Drusilla, Felix’ wife.

3. Not Augustus Caesar, but a hereditary title appropriated by the Caesars after the Augustus’ death.

 

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 26

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

2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the thing whereof I am accused of the Jews:

3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:

7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

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

9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme;1 and being exceedingly mean against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

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

14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue,

Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,

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.

19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.2

29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:

31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

1 Then Agrippa II said to Paul: You’re allowed to speak freely. Paul then lifted his hands, and replied:

2 I am delighted, King Agrippa, to give a response to you today over the things the Judeans have accused me of.

3 This is especially so, given the fact I know you to be an expert in all the customs and beliefs of the Jews. I ask only that you would be patient and hear me out.

4 The Judeans know well my life history, from my youth in Jerusalem, onward.

5 If they would admit it, they would tell you that I was brought up as an ultra-Orthodox Jewish Pharisee.

6 I’m here now, being tried over our confidence in the promise God made to our ancestors,

7 The same promise our twelve tribes devotedly serving God, day and night, expect will come. It’s for the sake of my confidence in this promise, King Agrippa, that the Judeans accuse me.

8 Why should you men think it unbelievable that God would raise the dead?

9 But I admit that I once thought it right to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

10 These acts I did in Jerusalem, where I shut many of the righteous up in dungeons, having received authority from the chief priests to do it. And when they were executed, I even cast a voting pebble to affirm their deaths!

11 And I often punished these people in every synagogue, and tortured them into cursing Jesus. I was so determined to stop them, I even hunted them down in foreign cities.

12 Thus, I came to make the journey to Damascus, with the authority of, and a commission from, the chief priests.

13 At noon, O King, I saw on the trail a light from heaven greater than the sun that encompassed me and those who accompanied me.

14 And when we were all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me in Hebrew, which said, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? You are only kicking pointlessly against the ox goad!”

15 And I said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

16 “But get up, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason: To make you a minister and a witness both of the vision you have seen of me, and other things you I will manifest to you,

17 “Delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles to whom I will now send you,

18 “To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to the authority of God, so they can receive the forgiveness of their sins and obtain an inheritance with all who are sanctified by their faith in me!”

19 Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.

20 But I first showed the people of Damascus and Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea--then the Gentiles after this--that they should repent and turn to God, and do things in keeping with true repentance.

21 This is why the Judeans apprehended me in the Temple, and wished to kill me.

22 Having obtained God’s deliverance, time after time, I continue to this day, testifying to people, great and small, relating none other than what Moses and the prophets foretold:

23 That the Messiah should suffer and be the first to rise from the dead. Then he would give enlightenment to both Jews and Gentiles.

24 As Paul was speaking in this way, Festus cried out: Paul--you’re crazy! Your overmuch education has made you insane!

25 But Paul answered: I am not mad, most noble Festus. I speak only the sober truth.

26 The King, here, understands what I’m talking about. These things are no secret to those who live in this part of the world.

27 King Agrippa, you believe the prophets, don’t you? I know you believe them!

28 Then Agrippa II said (sarcastically) to Paul: You almost persuade me to be a Christian.

29 And Paul (lifted his chains and) said: I would to God that not just you, but everyone who hears me today was almost or fully persuaded to become as I--except for these chains.

30 When Paul said this, the King, the Governor, and Berenice, along with the rest of those sitting there, arose.

31 When they retired to talk among themselves, they concluded: This man has done nothing meriting death or imprisonment.

32 And Agrippa II concluded to Festus: This man might have been set free had he not appealed to Caesar.

1. It is important to note that Paul here has basically admitted to torturing Christians to death. At minimum, he has admitted torturing some into blaspheming Christ, and some no doubt resisted to death.

2. This is said sarcastically. Also, the Greek isn’t clear, and can actually mean something like, “A little while more, and you’ll persuade me to be a Christian.”

 

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 27

1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band.

2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

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

4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

7 And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;

8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past,1 Paul admonished them,

10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.

11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.

13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:

17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps,2 undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.

18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

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

21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.

23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

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

26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;

28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.

29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,

31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.

32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.

34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.

35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.

38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

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

40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.

41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

42 And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:

44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that the escaped all safe to land.

1 And when the decision was made that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners into the care of a centurion named Julius, an officer in the Caesarean Band of troops.

2 Boarding a ship from Adramyttium, we set sail, intending to hug the coast of Turkey. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, also accompanied us.

3 The next day, we dropped anchor in Sidon, and Julius thoughtfully allowed Paul to venture ashore and refresh himself at the home of some friends.

4 When we left there, we sailed on the leeward side of Cypress because the winds were against us.

5 After passing through the waters of Cililicia and Pamphylia, we made it to Myra, a city of Lycia.

6 There, the centurion found a (huge) Alexandrian ship bound for Italy, and we transferred to it.

7 The going was slow for many days, and we fought the winds all the way to Cnidus. Eventually, we found ourselves on the leeward side of Crete, near the port of Salome.

8 After passing it with great difficulty, we made it to the “Fair Havens,” an anchorage at Lasea.

9 Now after a good bit of time spent there waiting for a favorable wind, sailing was becoming dangerous to risk, it being past Yom Kippur in October. Paul thus spoke to those in charge of the ship, saying:

10 Gentlemen, I believe that to sail now will place this ship, its cargo, and our lives at peril.

11 Nevertheless, the centurion took the word of the navigator and the owner of the ship over Paul’s.

12 And because the anchorage there was unsheltered, the overall consensus was to not spend the winter there, but to gamble that we could reach Phoenix, a Cretan port exposed only on the southwest and northwest that would make a good place to spend the winter.

13 When a light southern wind came up, they thought this was their best chance and sailed off, hugging the coast of Crete.

14 But not long after this, a tremendous storm arose. The Greeks call it Euroclydon (a Nor’easter).

15 When the ship was caught up in it with no hope of tacking against it, we let her sail with the wind.

16 Driving hard past the bottom of an island named Clauda, we managed, with great difficulty, to maneuver a boat that hung over the stern onto the deck.

17 Once it was on deck, we ran hawsers around it and passed them under the keel to strengthen the ship (for the hull was twisting and threatening to come apart). Then the crew, fearing we would be driven onto sand banks, dropped a sea anchor and let the ship drift.

18 In the face of a tremendous gale the next day, we (were getting desperate and) threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.

19 The third day, we even threw the spare rigging and equipment overboard.

20 When many days passed in this tempest with not so much as a glimpse of the sun or stars, all hopes of survival left us.

21 But after days without food, Paul rose up and stood amidst the crew, saying: Gentlemen, I told you so! You should have listened to me and not left Crete, only to sail into calamity and loss!

22 But cheer up! For I assure you that not one of you will die, though the ship will not be saved.

23 This night, an angel of the God I belong to and serve, appeared and stood at my side.

24 He said: Fear not, Paul--you must be taken before Caesar, and God has also agreed to spare the lives of all those sailing with you!

25 Because of this, gentlemen, cheer up--for I believe it shall happen just as God had it told to me,

26 Although we must be shipwrecked on an island.

27 When the fourteenth night came and we were being driven up and down the Sea of Adria, around midnight the crew (thought they heard surf breaking on land).

28 They dropped a sounding line to check the depth and found a hundred and twenty feet of water beneath the keel. Soon they checked again, but this time found only ninety feet.

29 Fearing we were about to run aground, they tossed four anchors from the stern and prayed to see daylight.

30 Some of the crew lowered the ship’s lifeboat into the water on the pretext of hauling out anchors from the bow (to kedge away from the shoals due to our supply of manpower), but their plan was actually to flee.

31 Paul (realized this and) said to the centurion and his troops: Unless these stay with the ship, you cannot be saved!

32 The troops then cut the lines to the boat and let her fall away.

33 When day neared, Paul begged them all to eat some meat, saying: This is the fourteenth day you have been without food!

34 Therefore, I urge you to eat some meat to gather your strength, for not one hair on your heads will come to harm.

35 After saying this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then, after breaking (and distributing) it, he began to eat.

36 Then they were all encouraged, and also ate some dried meat.

37 The whole company of the ship were two hundred and seventy-six souls (including the centurion and his hundred men).

38 When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and cast the grain overboard.

39 When day came and they saw land, they did not recognize where they were, but discovered a small bay with a beach they hoped to ground the ship on.

40 After taking up the stern anchors, they were at the mercy of the sea again, and they lowered the rudders and hoisted the mainsail to the wind, making toward shore.

41 But then they encountered two contrary currents that forced the ship aground, and the bow was stuck on a reef while the stern finally broke off from the waves battering it.

42 The Praetorians, meanwhile, wanted to kill the prisoners, lest any swim away and escape.

43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, forbade this, and ordered anyone who could swim to abandon ship and swim for shore.

44 And the others who could not swim, grabbed boards and whatever flotsam they could, and jumped into the water, making for shore. And in these ways, everyone escaped to the safety of shore.

1. A reference to the fast of Yom Kippur, which occurs in September or October. Roman law forbade sailing in winter from the month of November, hence the reason the captain wishes to sail despite the potential of storms.

2. “Helps” is the same word used in 1 Cor. 12:28 as a ministerial gift, which shows us that ministry is one of uplifting and helping the church to stand against the winds of trial.

 

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 28

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

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

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

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

5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.

6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.

8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.

9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:

10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.

12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.

13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:

14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.

15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appiiforum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard:1 but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.2

17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.

18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.

19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.

20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.

22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it in spoken against.

23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

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

29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,

31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him

1 In time, we found that we had wrecked upon an island called Malta.

2 And the foreign-speaking people were very good to us, for they kindled a fire and sheltered us because of the cold and rain.

3 Now while Paul had gathered some sticks for the fire and was laying them down, a viper crawling away from the fire struck and fastened itself onto his hand.

4 When the foreign-speaking people saw the poisonous viper hanging from his hand, they said amongst themselves: This man must be a murderer, who even though he survived the sea, is not going to be allowed to escape punishment for his crime.

5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and felt fine.

6 The people watched, expecting his arm to swell up or Paul to fall over dead. But after they’d watched him for a long time and saw him doing fine, they changed their minds and decided he must be a god.

7 Now in the same area were lands of the chief citizen of the island whose name was Publius, who received us and extended courtesy to everyone for three days.

8 Now the father of Publius was stricken with fever and dysentery, and Paul went into his chamber and prayed. Then he laid hands on him and healed him.

9 After he did this, others on the island with diseases came and were healed too.

10 The people esteemed us with honors, and when we left the area they gave us the provisions we needed.

11 Three months later, we left Malta in an Alexandrian ship that had spent the winter there. She had a figurehead of the twin gods and was named the Castor & Pollux.

12 Reaching Syracuse, we stayed there three days.

13 From there, we tacked about, arriving at Rhegium, and after a day, a south wind came up and blew us to Puteoli,

14 Where we found some brethren and were allowed to spend seven days with them. Then we continued on toward Rome.

15 And in Rome, when the brethren there heard of our approach, they came to meet us as far as the forum of Appius on the Appian way, and the three taverns there. When Paul saw them, he thanked God, and was encouraged.

16 When we finally reached Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to Afranius Burrus, the Praetorian Praefect. Paul, however, was allowed to live under house arrest with a soldier who was chained to him.

17 Now after three days, Paul summoned the Jewish leaders, and when they came, he said to them: Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against the people, or against the customs of our ancestors, I was still taken as a prisoner in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.

18 When they examined me, they would have released me, finding no crime worthy of death in my case.

19 But when the Judeans spoke against that, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, though I had no desire to condemn my own people in doing so.

20 This is why I have summoned you, to see and speak with you, because it is for The hope of Israel (--the Messiah, and the resurrection--) that I am bound with this chain.

21 And the leaders said: We haven’t received any letters from Judea about you, neither have any of the brethren who have come here from there had anything bad to say about you.

22 But we’d like to hear your opinions, for as regards this sect who believe in Jesus, we know that Jews everywhere speak against it.

23 And when they had arranged a convenient day, many Jews came to where he was staying, and Paul preached to them from morning until evening, showing from the books of Moses and the writings of the prophets that Jesus was the Messiah.

24 And some believed what he said, and some did not.

25 And when they could not come to a consensus among themselves, they left with this one last word from Paul: Well did the Holy Spirit speak to our ancestors through the prophet Isaiah,

26 Saying: Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

28 Be it known to you, that the salvation of God is offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it!

29 After Paul said this, the Jews left, arguing amongst themselves.

30 Paul, meanwhile, lived for two years in his own rented house, and welcomed all who came to him,

31 Preaching the Messianic Kingdom and the things pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ in all confidence, with no one forbidding him.

1. The “Captain of the (Praetorian) Guard” was Afranius Burrus, the Praetorian Prefect who appears to have treated Paul well, and who also, with the Stoic Seneca, kept Nero on a reasonably benign path. According to Tacitus, Nero did not judge cases personally appealed to him, delegating that to the Praetorian Prefect. Paul’s second judgment, in which he was found guilty and martyred, would have been under Gaius Ofonius Tigelinus, Burrus’ replacement from 62 AD, who was noted as a particularly odious and cruel Sicilian. Tigelinus is portrayed in the old movie Quo Vadis if you get a chance to see it.

2. During this time, Paul was allowed to live in a house, although he would have been chained to this soldier (or a cadre of soldiers working in shifts) to prevent his escape. I have always wondered if this member of the Guard could have been the “thorn in the flesh; a messenger of Satan” that Paul refers to 2 Cor. 12:7, but that can only be the case if the usual date for the writing of 2 Cor. is in error. Certainly, this soldier would have been the representative of Nero, who would have heard and reported every word Paul said, while watching every act of his. An apt term for him would indeed be “the messenger of Satan.” If Paul had likewise been chained to the centurion keeping watch on him in Caesarea a couple of years earlier, he may have been the thorn in the flesh. Otherwise, a more traditional view would be that the thorn was either bad eyesight (unlikely), or else a demonic spirit who constantly stirred up problems for Paul wherever he went through the local authorities, the unbelieving Jews, and the Judaisers who would follow after him to pervert the Gentile believers, which may be the most likely possibility.

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