Christs Final Charter and Promise, WORLD EVANGELISM. In five NT
references, Jesus directly charges His disciples to go and preach the
gospel to all the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:45-48;
John 20:21-23; Acts 1:8). Here His Great Commission is preceded by His
promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Empowerment for world
evangelism is tied inseparably to this promise. There is obvious need
for power if people are to fully perceive the gospel. But prior to
that, another issue awaits resolution. The Spirit has come to convince
us to go. We need power to serve effectively, to heal the sick, and to
deliver those possessed of unclean spirits. But let us first receive
the Holy Spirits first anointingpower to actto go. Then, He will
give 1) power to find the lost; 2) authority to boldly declare Jesus as
the Son of God; and 3) power to establish His churchlocally and
worldwide. The intended borders of expansion are clear: Jerusalem
(local), Judea (national), Samaria (cross-cultural) and the end of the
earth (international). Jesus last earthly command points to His power
and His pathways for global evangelism.
Spirit Filled Bible.
The angels first addressed the disciples as men of Galilee. As far as
we know, all the disciples except Judas Iscariot came from the region
west of the Sea of Galilee.
Then the angels awoke them from their reverie, as they looked into heav en. Why were they gazing up into heaven? Was it sorrow, or worship, or wonder? Doubtless it was a mixture of all three, though primarily sorrow. So a word of comfort was given. The ascended Christ would come again.
Here we have a clear promise of the Lords Second Advent to set up His kingdom on the earth. It is not the Rapture, but the coming to reign that is in view.
1. He ascended from the Mount of Olives (v. 12).
1. He will return to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4).
2. He ascended personally.
2. He will return personally (Mal. 3:1).
3. He ascended visibly.
3. He will return visibly (Matt. 24:30).
4. He was received up in a cloud (v. 9).
4. He will come on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 24:30).
5. He ascended gloriously.
5. He will return with great power and great glory (Mt. . 24:30).
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997, c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary
Act 1:11 - Which also said, ye men of Galilee,.... And which was said by them, not to reproach them with their country, but partly to let them know that they knew them, who they were, and from whence they came; and partly to observe the rich and distinguishing grace of God in choosing such mean and contemptible persons to be the apostles of Christ, and eyewitnesses of his majesty: why stand ye gazing up into heaven? reproving them for their curiosity in looking after Christ with their bodily eyes, who was no more in common to be seen this way, but with an eye of faith; and for their desire after his corporeal presence, which they were not to look for; and as if they expected he would return again immediately, whereas his return will not be till the end of the world: and besides, they were not to remain on that spot, or stand gazing there; they were to go to Jerusalem, and abide there, as Christ had ordered, till they should receive the Holy Spirit in an extraordinary way; and then they were to preach a crucified Christ, and declare that he was risen from the dead, and was gone to heaven, and was ordained to be the Judge of quick and dead,
This same Jesus; and not another; the same in person, in body and soul:
which is taken up from you into heaven; who was taken up in a cloud out of their sight, and received into heaven, where he will be till the times of the restitution of all things; and which might be matter of grief to them, because of the loss of his bodily presence; though it should have been rather joyful to them, since he was gone to the Father, and as their forerunner, to prepare a place, and make intercession for them:
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven; he shall come in the same flesh, in the same human nature; he shall come in the clouds of heaven, and shall be attended with his mighty angels, as he now was; he shall descend himself in person, as he now ascended in person; and as he went up with a shout, and with the sound of a trumpet, see Psa_47:5 so he shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; and, it may be, he shall descend upon the very spot from whence he ascended; see Zec_14:4 and it is a notion of the Jews, that the resurrection of the Israelites will be there: they say that "when the dead shall live, the Mount of Olives shall be cleaved asunder, and all the dead of Israel shall come out from under it; yea, even the righteous which die in captivity shall pass through a subterranean cavern, and come out from under the Mount of Olives. Gill's Commentary
|Verses 21 and 22 Whoever was to be chosen had to be able to fulfill two requirements:
a) He had to be one who had accompanied the disciples during the three years of Christs public ministry from His baptism to His Ascension.
b) He had to be able to testify as a reliable witness to the resurrection of the Lord. (Believer's Bible Commentary)
of lots was a common practice in the Old Testament. The priests used
lots to chose the scapegoat (Lev. 16:8) and to divide the promised land
among the twelve tribes of Israel (Num. 26:55; Josh. 14:2).
Solomon wrote in Proverbs that, "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD" (16:33) and, "The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty" (18:18).
However, this is the last mention of casting of lots in the scripture. After the coming of the Holy Ghost, direction comes directly from God to the believer through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26; Jas. 1:5). (Andrew Womacks Commentary)
This is the only example of believers speaking in known languages
recorded in the Bible. The other instances of speaking in tongues (Acts
8:18 [implied]; Acts 10:45-46; Acts 19:16), were evidently the heavenly
languages unknown to men. his speaking in tongues was not as many have
The gift of speaking in tongues is no different than the ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11. A true minister of God is also operating in a supernatural gift when he preaches or teaches. Peter was being used of the Holy Spirit just as much when he preached to this crowd as when he spoke to them in tongues. Yet no one expects him to simply open his mouth and have God supernaturally control it.
The Holy Spirit inspires and anoints a preacher, but the minister's will is still intact and the degree to which the Holy Spirit uses the message is largely dependent on how much the individual yields to His control. This is how it is with speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit gives the individual the utterance but the individual must exercise his faith to speak (Mk. 16:17) and believe that the result is inspired by God (Lk. 11:9-13).
Failure to understand this one truth has caused many people to ask the Lord for the gift of tongues and then wait for the Lord to supernaturally move their mouth. If nothing happens, they say that the Lord must not want them to speak in tongues or it would have happened.
This is no more true than to say that every person the Lord has called to preach is preaching or every person He has given a prophecy has prophesied. We have to step out in faith. (Andrew Womacks Commentary.)
and wonders were present which resulted in attracting large crowds (Mk.
16:17-20). There was anointed preaching and teaching which produced the
conversion of many people (1 Cor. 1:21). Those who believed were
obedient to the commands of the Lord (Jn. 14:15). There was great love
among the brethren (Jn. 13:35) that manifested in action (Jas.
There was daily communion with the Lord and other believers (1 Jn. 4:20). There was great joy in the hearts of the saints and they had a singleness of heart (Mt. 6:22-24). As mentioned in verse 47, they were praising God which always happens when someone has really been touched by the Lord, and there was continual growth as the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (those who were being saved-NIV). (Andrew Wommacks Commentary)
Act 4:1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,
Act 4:2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
Act 4:3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
Act 4:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
The first persecution of the church was about to start. It arose from the religious leaders. The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees rose up against the apostles
The Sadducees resented the fact that the apostles were teaching people; they felt this was their job, and they were annoyed by the proclamation in Jesus of the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection would discredit them, so they wanted to discredit it. Here we see that the religious people didnt have great problems with the lame man being healed; it was the resurrection of the dead they had problems with. Whereas today even in the church of Christ the reverse is true, there are so many Christians who will not accept that the miraculous is for today. Take note hear one miracle plus preaching of the gospel and 5,000 men were saved and that doesnt necessarily include the women and children. The gospel and the miraculous are meant to go together. We should have expectancy for the miraculous. God hasnt changed.
Addressing the Sanhedrin
Act 4:5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,
Act 4:6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at
Act 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of
Act 4:9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
Act 4:10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
Act This is the "stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'
Act Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Peter and John has been held captive overnight to appear before the council the next day. Annas and Caiaphas are in the background here; these are the two men who condemned Jesus to die. Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin.
Peter had denied Jesus in front of a servant girl just a few weeks earlier. Now, he boldly proclaims the Lord Jesus in front of the council and the High Priest. But now Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost which Jesus had said would empower them to witness. (Acts 1:8). Peter and John were supposed to be on trial, but Peter uses this as a means to openly talk about how they were guilty of crucifying the Messiah. V12. We cannot save ourselves and neither can anyone else, but Jesus can.
The Name of Jesus Forbidden
Act Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
Act And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
Act But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
Act saying, "What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in
Act But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name."
Act So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
Act But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
Act For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Act 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.
Act For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
The Sanhedrin were perplexed, those uneducated men were gathering the crowds. How could Peter and John do this? They assumed it was a rub off effect from the years they had spent in the company of Jesus, that made the apostles bold, but what they did not reckon with is the empowerment that Peter and John had since the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Those men were full of the Holy Spirit and because of this they could go forth boldly with confidence. Boldness in the face of persecution is a testimony to the power of God at work in our lives. Did their threats stop Peter and John? Not a bit of it, they knew that Jesus had given them a commission, they had a work to do, the good news had to go forth, they stated that they were going to boldly proclaim God's word. They must obey God rather than the council here. Imagine being in this situation, here was Peter and John boldly and fearlessly defying the Council and Im sure the common man was not in the habit of defying them, but those men boldly proclaimed their Lord and because they had the support of the crowds the Sanhedrin could not touch them, for that would have been punishing them for good works, the man who they had healed was present, the grandness of the miracle is emphasised in the mention that the man was over forty years old and had been lame for a long time. The Sanhedrin set free and Peter and John and they went on their way to report the happenings to their friends, probably either the other ten apostles or the one hundred who had met together previously.
Act And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
Act So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
Notice how Peter and John sought out their fellow believers after being set free from the court of the Sanhedrin. It is so good to have fellowship with like minded people and I think here this was a fairly natural reaction after leaving the hostility of the Sanhedrin. They had been threatened by the highest authority of the nation, and commanded not to preach again in the name of Jesus. They had a choice whether they should obey them and be silent, or whether they should leave Jerusalem and preach elsewhere, could not but be an interesting subject of inquiry, and they very properly sought the counsel of their brethren, and looked to God for direction, an example which all should follow who are exposed to persecution, or who are seeking direction as to the path to take.
In verse 24 we see the saints cried to the Lord in prayer. They addressed God with a word meaning Absolute Master, a word seldom used in the NT They praised Him first as the Creator of all things and therefore vastly superior to the creatures who were now opposing His truth.
an absolute ruler (despot): - Lord, master.
In verses 25-26 we see how the saints adopted the words of Psalm 2.
Act who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
Act The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'NKJV
Act The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
Jesus is referred to as the anointed, (Ps. 2:2), says, "against his anointed" while this passage says, "and against his Christ."
Matheson states The idea is that their effort of opposition to the divine will proved to be a stroke of alliance with it. ... They met together in a council of war against Christ; unconsciously to themselves they signed a treaty for the promotion of Christs glory. ... Our God does not beat down the storms that rise against Him; He rides upon them; He works through them
Psa 2:1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
Psa 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed,
Actually, the Psalmist here points forward to the coming of the Kingdom of God coming to invade earth, and kings and rulers seeking to thwart that purpose.
Act "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of
Act to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
Act Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
Act by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."
Act And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness
The early Christians realized that things would come against the Kingdom so they applied the words to their own circumstances. The disciples asked the Lord to speak the Word through them. It was through performing miracles. The working of miracles is part of preaching the Word.
Now lets look at verse 31 when the saints prayed, the place was shakena physical expression of the Holy Spirit being present. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, showing their obedience to the Lord, their walking in the Spirit, their giving of themselves fully and completely to their Lord. Then they continued to speak the word of God with boldness, but with an ever increasing boldness for this was an answer to their prayer in verses 29 and 30. We will see in chapter 5 and following how this was the beginning of a new season where it was no longer just the one or two being healed but we see all were healed, it was also a time were the early church totally surrendered themselves to Jesus Christ.
Act Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything which he possessed was [exclusively] his own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all. (Amplified Bible)
Act And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.
Act Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,
Act and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
Act And Joses who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of
Act having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
In verse 32 what do we see? I want you all to look closely here. They are all of one heart and one soul and none claimed to be a superior Christian, none claimed they had more than their brother. Why is it that when todays Christians experience the power of the Holy Spirit, so often pride gets in? And yes they fall flat, and instead of being on the mountain tops they land deep in the valleys. Pride often gets in the way.
4:3235 When hearts are aflame with love for Christ, they are also kindled with love for one another. This love manifests itself in giving. Thus the early believers expressed the reality of their common life in Christ by practicing a community of goods. Instead of selfishly holding on to personal possessions, they looked upon their property as belonging to all the fellowship. Whenever there was a need, they would sell lands or houses and bring the proceeds to the apostles for distribution. It is important to see that they distributed whenever a need arose; it was not an arbitrary equal division at one particular time.
When lives that are utterly dedicated to the Lord we witness the power of God at work. In powerful preaching and demonstration of the Kingdom the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. It seems that when God finds people who are willing to turn their possessions over to Him, He gives their testimony a remarkable attractiveness and force.
, 37 These verses are a link with chapter 5. The generosity of Barnabas is mentioned here in striking contrast to the hypocrisy of Ananias in chapter 5. As a Levite, Joses ... named Barnabas by the apostles would not ordinarily have owned land. The Lord was to be the portion of the Levites., We do not know how or why he obtained the land. But we do know that out of love he sold the land and laid the money at the apostles feet.
Now lets ask ourselves some questions. Where is the Church of today in relation to the early church? Where do we as individuals stand in our walk with the Lord? We talk about being full of the Spirit, but really it should be for others to say or to notice, it is not for us to boast. What fruits of the Holy Spirit are in evidence in our lives? Do strangers meet us and know in a very short time we are different? If not, why not? The gifts of the Spirit are given for a reason. Signs and wonders should be in demonstration in our lives.
FOR HIS SERVICE, FOR THE FURTHERANCE OF THE
Act 7:1 The high priest asked Stephen, "Are they telling the truth about you?"
Act 7:2 Stephen answered: Friends, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he had moved to Haran.
Stephen begins to assert his identity as a true Jew by tracing Jewish history as his defense here . He concludes his statements by saying that just as the Jewish nation as a whole had resisted God throughout history, so they were resisting God now by rejecting the Messiah, Jesus Christ, whom God had sent (see verses 52-53)
Act 7:3 God told him, "Leave your country and your relatives and go to a land that I will show you."
Act 7:4 Then Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, Abraham came and settled in this land where you now live.
Act 7:5 God didn't give him any part of it, not even a square foot. But God did promise to give it to him and his family forever, even though Abraham didn't have any children.
Act 7:6 God said that Abraham's descendants would live for a while in a foreign land. There they would be slaves and would be mistreated four hundred years.
And God took His people out of Egypt some 430 years after they arrived there, but they were not slaves all the time At the time when God made this promise to Abraham he was a man of mature years without any children. Yet Abraham believed God's promises, he may like lot's of us today have gone ahead of God and His plan, but He believed God's report.
Act 7:7 But he also said, "I will punish the nation that makes them slaves. Then later they will come and worship me in this place."
Act 7:8 God said to Abraham, "Every son in each family must be circumcised to show that you have kept your agreement with me." So when Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him. Later, Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons.
God did punish Egypt we all know the story of the Red sea, and e see in verse 8 how Abraham and His descendants obeyed God's instructions regarding circumcision.
Act 7:9 These men were our ancestors. Joseph was also one of our famous ancestors. His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave to be taken to Egypt. But God was with him
Act 7:10 and rescued him from all his troubles. God made him so wise that the Egyptian king Pharaoh thought highly of him. The king even made Joseph governor over Egypt and put him in charge of everything he owned.
Act 7:11 Everywhere in Egypt and Canaan the grain crops failed. There was terrible suffering, and our ancestors could not find enough to eat.
Act 7:12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there for the first time.
Act 7:13 It was on their second trip that Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family.
Act 7:14 Joseph sent for his father and his relatives. In all, there were seventy-five of them.
Yet even in Egypt God had mightily used the Jewish people. Once again let us realize that the wisdom which Joseph had was not worldly wisdom but wisdom that came straight from God, from walking in fellowship with God Himself.
In Genesis 46:26, it is stated that there were 66 males that came with Jacob into Egypt. This number is excluding Jacob himself and Joseph and his two sons who were already in Egypt. Therefore, adding these four, Genesis 46:27 brings the total male Israelites who came into Egypt to 70 (Dt. 10:22). That makes Stephen's count five more than the count of Genesis 46:27.
It is probable that Stephen was quoting from the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures) which adds the four sons of Manasseh and Ephraim and one grandson of Manasseh (Num. 26:29, 35) to the list of Genesis 46:20. Therefore, there were 70 male Israelites, excluding Ephraim's sons, and Manasseh's son and grandson, and 75 including them. (ANDREW WOMMACK'S COMMENTARY)
Act 7:15His father went to Egypt and died there, just as our ancestors did.
Act 7:16Later their bodies were taken back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor.
Act 7:17Finally, the time came for God to do what he had promised Abraham. By then the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased.
Act 7:18Another king was ruling Egypt, and he didn't know anything about Joseph.
Act 7:19He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them. He even made them leave their babies outside, so they would die.
Act 7:20During this time Moses was born. He was a very beautiful child, and for three months his parents took care of him in their home.
Act 7:21Then when they were forced to leave him outside, the king's daughter found him and raised him as her own son.
Act 7:22Moses was given the best education in Egypt. He was a strong man and a powerful speaker.
Moses had the best education of the known world of that time, and Stephen here inspired by the Holy Spirit tells is audience and us that Moses was a powerful speaker. For Moses to be, "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" meant that he was certainly no "dummy," as he claimed to be when trying to dodge God's call so it would seem his claims to be a poor speaker may be part of this too. (Ex. 4:10-16). Josephus, who wrote a history of the Jewish people in the first century, said that Moses was general of the Egyptian army and defeated the invading Ethiopian army. It would seem that Moses simply lied to God in an attempt to excuse himself from service. I don't know about you, but I can see elements of Moses behaviour regarding His call in me, I am very happy to sit here and write this, but put me anywhere near a platform and I am shouting at God, that it's not me, I can't preach. This study has God talking to me on this, I must totally submit my tongue to Him before it is too late. I have been happy to sit and write but have allowed fear to inhibit me greatly regarding public speaking, although I have done so on occasion.
Act 7:23 When Moses was forty years old, he wanted to help the Israelites because they were his own people.
Act 7:24 One day he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of them. So he rescued the man and killed the Egyptian.
Exo 2:12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
I believe this is the only place in the Scriptures where we are informed of the age Moses was when he struck down the Egyptian.
Act 7:25 Moses thought the rest of his people would realize that God was going to use him to set them free. But they didn't understand.
We do not have an explanation as to why Moses supposed the Jews would have readily accepted him as the one who God would use to set them free from their Egyptian slavery, but there is a reason which would seem to be obvious. Moses was supernaturally spared death as an infant and became part of the royal family of the Egyptians. After Moses knew God's will for his life it was logical to think that God would use his position and prestige to accomplish His will.
We should not forget that God often uses nobodies for His Kingdom purpose.
1Co 1:26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
1Co 1:27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
1Co 1:28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
1Co 1:29 so that no human being might boaast in the presence of God
1Co 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Moses knew something of the call of God on his life when he killed the Egyptian, we can see that from this passage. Killing this Egyptian was not the way God had planned to bring about the Jews' freedom nor was it God's timing. We donft just need to know Godfs will for our lives but His timing in our lives. The trouble is we often think we can go ahead of Him but we canft. I know speaking for myself I wish I had started to learn that lesson when I was in my teens or twenties, but the Lord has had so many lessons to teach me along the way, some of them have been very hard, for His way and His timing is surely best.
Act 7:26 The next day Moses saw two of his own people fighting, and he tried to make them stop. He said, "Men, you are both Israelites. Why are you so cruel to each other?"
Act 7:27 But the man who had started the fight pushed Moses aside and asked, "Who made you our ruler and judge?
Moses, as a Prince of the Egyptian Royal household was in a position of leadership over any Jew in Egypt. This man was possibly referring to the position that Moses was seeking to occupy as the man whom God had appointed over the Israelites to lead them to independence. This means that Moses' motives for killing the Egyptian the previous day were known and rejected by the Jews. They probably knew him as a Jew by birth but did fully at this time accept him as one of them.
Act 7:28 Are you going to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?"
Act 7:29 When Moses heard this, he ran away to live in the country of Midian. His two sons were born there.
Act 7:30 Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses from a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.Ah now we see it is Moses time, the years in Midian were years to allow him to mature and be ready for the task God had for him. This process took forty years.
Act 7:31 Moses was surprised by what he saw. He went closer to get a better look, and the Lord said,
Act 7:32 "I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Moses started shaking all over and didn't dare to look at the bush.
Act 7:33 The Lord said to him, "Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy.
Act 7:34 With my own eyes I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now I am sending you back to Egypt."
Act 7:35 This was the same Moses that the people rejected by saying, "Who made you our leader and judge?" God's angel had spoken to Moses from the bush. And God had even sent the angel to help Moses rescue the people and be their leader.
It is without doubt one of the reasons Stephen was emphasizing Moses' rejection was to draw a comparison between Moses and Jesus.
Act 7:36 In Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the desert, Moses rescued the people by working miracles and wonders for forty years.
Act 7:37 Moses is the one who told the people of Israel, "God will choose one of your people to be a prophet, just as he chose me."
In verse 37 Stephen quotes Moses from Deuteronomy 18:15, where Moses prophesied that the Messiah would be chosen to be a prophet likening Him to himself. The Jews rejected Moses, and yet God exalted him to become their leader, ruler and judge. Likewise, Jesus was rejected by the Jews, but God exalted him to be both Lord and Christ.
Act 7:38 Moses brought our people together in the desert, and the angel spoke to him on Mount Sinai. There he was given these life-giving words to pass on to us.
Act 7:39 But our ancestors refused to obey Moses. They rejected him and wanted to go back to Egypt.
Act 7:40 The people said to Aaron, "Make some gods to lead us! Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don't know what's happened to him now."
Act 7:41 Then they made an idol in the shape of a calf. They offered sacrifices to the idol and were pleased with what they had done.
Act 7:42 God turned his back on his people and left them. Then they worshiped the stars in the sky, just as it says in the Book of the Prophets, "People of Israel, you didn't offer sacrifices and offerings to me during those forty years in the desert.
Act 7:43 Instead, you carried the tent where the god Molech is worshiped, and you took along the star of your god Rephan. You made those idols and worshiped them. So now I will have you carried off beyond Babylonia."
1Ki 11:7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem.
How foolish could any man to whom God had given great knowledge and wisdom be as to build false gods because they had lost sight of that which should have been their first love, the one and only true God. Both Aaron and Solomon done this but we can see it reflects the condition of the nation, both done those things to please people rather than God. There is more to it than that though.
Jer 32:35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
The worship of Moloch was also a part of the worship of Baal. In the worship of Moloch, children were burnt as sacrifices.
The Lord forbade His people to do this (Lev. 18:21; Dt. 18:10) and prescribed the death penalty for anyone who disobeyed this commandment (Lev. 20:2).
Act 7:44 The tent where our ancestors worshiped God was with them in the desert. This was the same tent that God had commanded Moses to make. And it was made like the model that Moses had seen.
Act 7:45 Later it was given to our ancestors, and they took it with them when they went with Joshua. They carried the tent along as they took over the land from those people that God had chased out for them. Our ancestors used this tent until the time of King David.
Those verses are referring to the tent of the tabernacle which God instructed Moses to build and take with them during their wilderness years.
Act 7:46 He pleased God and asked him if he could build a house of worship for the people of Israel.
Act 7:47 And it was finally King Solomon who built a house for God.
God used Solomon to build His Temple. Amazingly this was the same King who built the Molech god. We as Godfs people must keep our eyes focused on our first love, lest we stumble.
Act 7:48 But the Most High God doesn't live in houses made by humans. It is just as the prophet said, when he spoke for the Lord,
Act 7:49 "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? In what place will I rest?
Act 7:50 I have made everything."
Act 7:51 You stubborn and hardheaded people! You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did.
Act 7:52 Is there one prophet that your ancestors didn't mistreat? They killed the prophets who told about the coming of the One Who Obeys God. And now you have turned against him and killed him.
Act 7:53 Angels gave you God's Law, but you still don't obey it.
Act 7:54 When the council members heard Stephen's speech, they were angry and furious.
Act 7:55 But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked toward heaven, where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side.
Act 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, KJV
Stephen had demonstrated to them how they were no better than their ancestors, they had rejected the greatest prophet of all, the one who was God and man, their Messiah, although they did not recognize Him. The Greek word used in verse 55 in the for "steadfastly" is "atenizo," which means "to gaze intently, look earnestly, steadfastly, set eyes." Stephen didnft just glance up. He purposely focused his full attention on Jesus. He was rewarded with a glimpse of the risen Christ standing at the right hand of God, which enabled him to endure the agony of being stoned to death.
The key to us being able to endure any of the afflictions the devil sends our way is to look beyond the problem unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Heb 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Act 7:56 Then Stephen said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!"
Stephen saw the heavens open and the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, His Lord at the Fatherfs right hand.
Act 7:57 The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once they all attacked Stephen
People are often offended at other people's claims regarding their spiritual experiences. In this case though, these Jews were mostly offended by Stephen's reference to Jesus, who they had condemned as being a blasphemer, being exalted to the right hand of God.
Act 7:58and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him. The men who had brought charges against him put their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. This same young man Saul, went on to persecute the believers-in-Jesus until the time of his own miraculous conversion.
Act 7:59 As Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out, "Lord Jesus, please welcome me!"
Act 7:60 He knelt down and shouted, "Lord, don't blame them for what they have done." Then he died.
Luk 23:34a Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
Can you see the similarity in the attitude Stephen had at the time of his murder as the Lord Jesus Himself had as he hung on that cross. Stephen showed real evidence of how Christ had transformed his life. He knew what it was to have the compassion and mercy upon those who were murdering Him as Jesus did. He wants us to have compassion like He has, and be able to forgive like he forgives. This surely is the Lordfs desire for all of us, to be able to love like He loves, to show mercy as He shows mercy.
Act 8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
This is the same man who later encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road and his life as radically and totally changed forever.
The Church Persecuted and Scattered
Act 8:2 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.
Act 8:3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
The apostles were not scattered with the other believers. Very possibly Saul was under conviction while performing those actions against believers. God was just about to step in though and reveal Himself in the person of Jesus to Saul. This is surely a reminder to us that God can transform the lives of even the worst of sinners.
1Ti 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
1Ti 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
1Ti 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen
Philip in Samaria
Act 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
The believers being scattered was necessary for the cause of the gospel. The believers took the gospel of Jesus everywhere and people were saved, healed and delivered.
Act 8:5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there.
Act 8:6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.
Act 8:7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed.
Act 8:8 So there was great joy in that city.
They preached and proclaimed the gospel of Christ. Philip proclaimed Christ in Samaria and signs wonders and miracles happened. The message of who Christ is and what He has done for us is central to the gospel message, it should never be about what we can do for Christ. When we truly move ourselves out of the picture, die to selves then we should start to see those things happening in our cities. It was not just the message which Philip had to deliver that attracted the people but seeing miracles in the Name of Jesus. They recognised the force behind the man was God Himself, for Philip was a man driven and empowered by the Spirit of God.
My prayer is to see this type of deliverance and joy throughout this city, throughout this nation, and indeed all the nations of the world. It can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ.
Earlier in this chapter we saw that Philip preached the gospel with demonstration of the Kingdom and power.
Act 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is desert.
Act 8:27 So he arose and went.
Philip was faithful in all things, we see here he was immediately obedient to the voice of the angel of the Lord speaking to him telling him to go to the desert without having full revelation as to why he was going there prior to going
And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,
Act 8:28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
But the Lord knew exactly who Philip would meet hence he was encountered by the angel who directed him towards the place where he would chat with the Ethiopian eunuch.
Act 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near and overtake this chariot.
The Holy Spirit led Philip to overtake the chariot the Ethiopian eunuch was travelling in and when Philip heard him reading from Isaiah the Spirit directed Philip to ask him a question.
Act 8:30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, Do you understand what you are reading?
Philip asked the eunuch Do you understand what you are reading?
Act 8:31 And he said, How can I, unless someone guides me? And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
The eunuch was obviously seeking understanding and God knew his heart so he sent Philip into what we would describe today as a divinely orchestrated appointment.
Act 8:32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
Act 8:33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.
The passage above which the eunuch was reading is taken from Isaiah 53 7-8. This was a great situation for witnessing about Jesus. It is wonderful when the Holy Spirit leads us into situations like this, where His guidance is so obvious.
Sometimes though the Lord will lead us to speak to those who are not this receptive, because He loves them too. We may not always be led to people like this eunuch, but that does not mean that the Lord has not directed us to speak to them. We must seek the Spirits guidance in what we do, we should pray daily for Divine appointments.
Act 8:34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?
Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
So Philip had the chance to witness to the fact of how Jesus Christ, Gods only Son was the lamb who was slain. He then led the eunuch to a saving faith.
Act 8:36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?
It is possible that Philip included instruction about water baptism in his preaching regarding the cross and Jesus, possibly after he led him to Christ.
It is possible that Philip included instruction about water baptism in his preaching regarding the cross and Jesus, possibly after he led him to Christ.
Act 8:37 Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may.
Philip we see wanted the eunuch to be fully affirmative of his faith prior to being baptized.
And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The eunuch had no hesitation in affirming this, infact, as I read I can feel the excitement bubbling up inside Philip according to Andrew Wommacks commentary was translated about 20 miles. He just appeared suddenly in the city of Azotus and he continued to preach the gospel there as he passed through and in every other city until he came to Caesarea.
this new convert, he was ready to commit the whole of his life to this Jesus- the one he had searched for, for so long.
Act 8:38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
So Philip at the eunuchs request and on confession of his faith baptized him in water.
Act 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.
Philip was translated , he was caught up and moved elsewhere. Imagine the wow factor that the Ethiopian eunuch would have when this happened, not only him but those who accompanied him. When people see demonstration of the kingdom and power they cannot do anything else but believe.
Act 8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
Philip was translated about 20 miles to Azotus and he went on preaching in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
Act 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest
Act 9:2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
We know that Saul had been present at the stoning of Stephen then in Acts 8.3 we learned that he was actively persecuting Christians. What we can see of Saul in those two verses here is zeal, but so wrongly directed. He was religious and zealous for what he thought was the cause of God without knowing God in a personal manner. If he had known God he would have recognized Jesus as the Christ. So he was still making murderous threats against Christians and was in fact now part of instigating action against them. An encounter with Jesus Christ was about to change his life forever.
Act 9:3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
Act 9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
This strong powerful light, the glory of our God shone brightly from the heavens, so startling was this and so weighty was the presence of God that Saul fell to the ground. Now when I think of how Saul must have felt when the Lord asked him why he was persecuting Him, but he did not straight away know who was talking to him.
Act 9:5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.
Saul asked a question recognising that the one who spoke to him was Lord, was deity but he did not yet know that this was Jesus the Christ, but Jesus answered him and this one moment in time, this encounter with Jesus Christ was enough to turn his life totally around- Saul the persecuter would become the Apostle Paul.
Act 9:6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
Act 9:7 The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
Act 9:8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he
opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
Act 9:9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Notice how immediately Sauls life was being turned around instead of persecuting Jesus and his followers he was ready to obey what the Lord told him to do. Saul was blinded for three days, he had probably witnessed the light of the glory more powerfully than any man or woman had previously seen it. We know that the men with him saw something of the light, but did they see what Saul saw. I am not so sure because just as in Acts 22:9 we see they had no understanding of the voice, of what they heard I personally question whether they saw what Saul was perceiving of the light of the glory. The men who were with him took him into Damascus.
Saul did not eat and drink for 3 days, he was waiting on God for direction. As a religious man in the past he would know what it was to fast but now he has heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him, he will recognise that voice again, he has left behind religious piety, and hatred and found relationship and it was time to make up on lost time and get to know this Jesus he had so falsely persecuted.
Act 9:10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.
Notice that when God spoke to Ananias his immediate response was Yes Lord. He did not hesitate.
Act 9:11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
The instructions the lord gave Ananias were detailed and specific.
Act 9:12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
The Lord even explains the vision which Saul has had re Ananias laying hands on him for his site to be restored. Now remember Saul was a baby Christian and yet he had clarity in his vision, How many of us have been Christians for years but seldom and maybe even never have experienced that kind of clarity in visions and dreams?
Act 9:13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.
Act 9:14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
I used to think we should ask no questions of God as to whys and wherefores, but that is hardly Biblical. We do find here though that Ananias may have asked the Lord a question but in having that answered He had faith to believe God at His word and act in obedience.
Act 9:15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Act 9:16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Act 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Ananias acted on what the Lord told him instead of what he had heard
from others. This is real faith, especially considering all he had previously
heard of this man Saul was that he had persecuted, tortured and killed
believers. Saul not only received his sight but when Ananias lay hands on Him
he received the Holy Spirit- was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Notice also how straight away having heard and understood God's report regarding Saul, Ananias calls him "brother."
In Acts 22:12-16, we can see that Ananias also spoke to Saul about the call that God placed on his life, presumably from the information the Lord gave Ananias when He spoke to him in Acts 9:15.
Act 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
A Holy Spirit encounter and the scales came right off Sauls eyes not just in a physical sense did he receive his sight but in a spiritual sense, then he got up and was baptized.
Act 9:19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
I imagine that Saul not only receive food to eat at this time but that Ananias played a part in explaining more to him of the things of God, explaining the Word, giving Saul spiritual food and he would be strengthened in body and spirit. Then Saul spent several days being disciple by the Damascan disciples and I am sure Ananias was still among them.
Act 9:20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.
Immediately Saul preached in the synagogues, he just had to share the good news of Jesus Christ, that this is indeed the Son of God.
Act 9:21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?"
What a change. Here we have the man who came to persecute Christians now speaking to others about Jesus Christ.
Act 9:22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
Yet Saul grew in strength with Gods help and he totally baffled the Jews in Damascus because his testimony was powerful, his life was turned around, changed entirely and he was convincing others that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah!
Act 9:23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him,
Act 9:24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.
So now we have the persecutor who has become the persecuted, the Jews planned to kill him.
Act 9:25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
Gods protection was over Saul and other believers helped him escape.
Act 9:26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
Put yourself in the disciples shoes, they had heard so many stories, maybe even witnessed Saul persecuting Christians, we cannot blame them for being unsure of him and questioning whether he was maybe only wanting to infiltrate them to do them harm in the long run.
Act 9:27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
Barnabas though took him and explained something of his Damascus Road experience. They then accepted Saul amongst themselves by faith.
Act 9:28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Saul spoke freely and boldly in the name of the Lord in Jerusalem where he had once persecuted the saints.
Act 9:29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him.
Grecians Jews refers to Jews whose first language was Greek, as opposed to the Jews who spoke Hebrew.
Act 9:30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Act 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.
This was a time when God was building up and strengthening the church, encouraging them and they were learning more about how to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit, they lived in awe of the Lord, yes they found intimacy but they did not lose that sense of awe and reverence and respect, they increased in numbers as they walked in obedience.
Act 9:32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda.
Act 9:33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years.
Act 9:34 "Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up.
Act 9:35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Here we see a demonstration of the kingdom and power many came to Jesus when they witnessed how God had healed the paralysed man.
Act 9:36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas ), who was always doing good and helping the poor.
Act 9:37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.
Act 9:38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come at once!"
Act 9:39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Act 9:40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.
Why do you think the disciples didn't raise Dorcas from the dead? Why did they have to send for Peter? It wasn't because only apostles had the power to raise someone from the dead. Jesus said in John 14:12 that those who believed on Him would do the same works that He did, and that included raising people from the dead. He also said in Mr 9:23, "All things are possible to him that believeth." Peter himself had explained that the miracles which he performed were not because of who he was but because of faith in the name of Jesus. Peter was a man who walked in faith. There are many possible reasons why these disciples didn't see Dorcas raised from the dead without Peter's assistance. It is probable that they were hindered by unbelief, as Peter and the other apostles had been in Mt 17:20. Jesus had to help them when their unbelief had prevailed, and now that he had become strong, it was Peter's turn to help others.
We too should be seeing this outworking of the Kingdom and of faith, we are those who believe. Lord help our unbelief.
Act 9:41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.
Imagine being amongst that group of believers who had seen their friend and sister in Christ lying lifeless, dead before their very eyes and here Peter presents Tabitha before them as very much alive, walking towards them.
Act 9:42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.
Once again this demonstration of the Kingdom and power had many come to a believing faith in Jesus Christ.
Act 9:43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
This Simon is only mentioned in Scripture in connection with Peter staying in his house (Ac 9:43; 10:6, 17, and 32). Tanners were considered unclean people by the Jews because they handled dead bodies. (Andrew Wommacks Commentary)
Act 10:1 there was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius,a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,
Act 10:2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms
generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
This is the second recorded account of a Gentile being converted to Christianity, the first having been the Ethiopian Eunuch. We are introduced to Cornelius as a man who feared God along with all his household, he was a praying man, but at this time he did not yet know Jesus.
Cornelius was a very godly man, but that was not enough. He had to believe the truth of the Gospel, and that's why the angel instructed him to send for Peter. His godly character had the Lord respond and send someone to share with him the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, if he had refused to believe on Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, trusting instead in his good character to make him accepted by God, he would have been destined for hell.
Act 10:3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!"
The ninth hour was the hour of prayer at the temple in Jerusalem.
Act 10:4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.
Act 10:5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.
The angel knew that Cornelius needed to hear the gospel message, but he was not there to preach the Gospel that was assigned to Christian believers. If we dont witness, angels are not going to do it for us. Angelic encounters, visions and dreams may draw the seeker towards a relationship with Jesus but it is the message of the Gospel spoken or read that will set them free. They need to know about the Jesus who died for them.
Act 10:6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do."
Act 10:7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.
Notice how Cornelius had an urgency about him, he acted on this as soon as the angel departed. He called on his servants and a Godly soldier who also waited on him and started to explain the angelic visitation, then sent the three of them to Joppa which was about 35 miles from Caesarea.
Act 10:8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Act 10:9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
Act 10:10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
The trance referred to here is being so dominated by the Spirit of God that his mind was not functioning in its normal state but he was seeing, hearing, and thinking only on the divine images and messages being given to them by God. It is very clear, from this verse and Ac 10:19, that trances and visions are the same things.
Act 10:11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
Act 10:12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
Act 10:13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
This vision was to illustrate to Peter that the Gentiles were no longer to be considered unclean but fellow heirs (Ephesians 3:6), along with the Jews, of God's mercy and salvation through Jesus
(Acts 10:28). This was accomplished by offering Peter all types of animals to eat, animals that were unclean according to Leviticus 11:1-23 and Deuteronomy 14:3-21. Peter refused to eat, as any good Jew would, but the voice of the Lord was insistent that God had cleansed them and that Peter should eat. This was done three times, to establish the fact that the Lord was making a change in what was considered clean and unclean. The Lord followed up this vision with a word of knowledge that three men were at the door seeking Peter and that he was supposed to go with them. When he found out that these men were Gentiles, the meaning of the vision became obvious.
Act 10:14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."
Act 10:15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."
Act 10:16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
Peter questioned the Lord on this and the Lord was assuring him that he must change his way of thinking not only as regards food but in regard to his attitude towards Gentiles for Christ had come to save the Gentiles too. We see here how we must seek to see people the way God sees them.
Act 10:17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate.
Act 10:18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
Act 10:19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you.
Act 10:20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."
God prepared Peter for this encounter, otherwise doubts may have come into Peters mind as to the wisdom of going with total strangers. There were three of them and they could have been falsely representing themselves and plotting against him. Having heard the voice of God on the matter though we will see how Peter obeys.
Act 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, "Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?"
Act 10:22 And they said, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you."
Act 10:23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
Act 10:24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
The angel had not told Cornelius to gather his family and friends but we see that right from point go Cornelius was a witness.
Act 10:25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
Act 10:26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."
Peter refused Cornelius' worship, knowing that worship is reserved for God alone He was setting a precedent that all ministers should adhere to. It is easy for people to think too highly of the one who brings God's Word to them, but a minister who is truly preaching Jesus will make it very clear, as Peter did, that Jesus is the only one to be worshiped.
Act 10:27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.
Act 10:28 Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
This should be our reaction to people of every tribe and every nation, God loves them all and we should not shun people who are different from us, such as those who come from a different socio economic background. The dirty looking alcoholic or drug addict begging on the street is loved by God. God can impact and change their lives. God wants us to see them through His eyes.
Act 10:29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?"
Act 10:30 So 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,
Act 10:31 and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.
Act 10:32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.'
Act 10:33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God."
Act 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
Act 10:35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
Peter now understood that the Gentiles were completely accepted by God into His family through belief in Jesus and not by becoming a proselyte to Judaism. Since God had accepted them, Peter accepted Cornelius and his kinsmen and even ate with them. But when men were sent from James at the Jerusalem church to obtain a firsthand report Peter and the six men who were with him (Acts 11:12) withdrew from Cornelius and separated themselves for fear of what the Jews might think. Peter could not claim ignorance when Paul rebuked him in Galatians 2:11-14. Peter was the first apostle to receive the revelation that the Gentiles could be saved.
Act 10:36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus ChristHe is Lord of all
Act 10:37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
From this we can see that Cornelius and the others gathered here had already heard something of Jesus.
Act 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Peter was giving a short ,but very descriptive, summary of the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus was anointed with power and with the Holy Spirit. He used this power to do good, not evil. He healed the sick and set people free from the devils bondage. Jesus showed us the perfect will of the Father by healing all who came to Him for healing. Sickness and disease is sent from the devil, he is the oppressor, it does not come from God whose nature is that of a healer.
Act 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.
Act 10:40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,
Act 10:41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
After his resurrection Jesus appeared to believers not unbelievers, there is no record of Him appearing to any unbelievers.
Act 10:42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.
Act 10:43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
The Greek word for remission was "APHESIS." Which means "freedom; (figuratively) pardon" (Strong's Concordance) and was translated "deliverance," "forgiveness," and "liberty."
Act 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
The Gentiles here received the baptism of the Holy Spirit simultaneously with the new birth. In other cases, the Spirit baptism came later. The Pentecost experience was not limited to the jews it was for people of every tongue and of every nation.
Act 10:45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
Some scholars speculate that this took place as many as ten years after the Day of Pentecost. Certainly, Peter, and possibly some of these other Jews, had been born again and walking with the Lord for a long time in such close relationship that his shadow had healed people (Ac 5:15) and others had been raised from the dead (Ac 9:41). Yet they were totally surprised to see God's acceptance of the Gentiles, even though it was clearly prophesied in Old Testament scriptures (Isa 11:10, 42:6, 49:6, 22, 60:3-16, 62:2, 66:19; Jer 16:19-21; and Mal 1:11) and Jesus Himself spoke of it (Mt 8:11-12, 21:42-43; Lu 4:25-27, 13:29; and Joh 10:16).
This illustrates that the Lord doesn't bring us into all truth instantly; there is a growth process (Isa 28:10). All believers have enough "blind spots" that we have no right to adopt a know-it-all attitude. "If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1Co 8:2). (Andrew Wommacks Bible Commentary)
Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
Speaking in tongues was a proof here that Cornelius and these other Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost.
Act 10:47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
Peter now saw no reason why the new believers should not be baptized in water. Here we see that water baptism came not only after their conversion but after a Spirit baptism. So he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
Act 11:1 Now the
apostles and the brothers who were throughout
Act 11:2 So when
Peter went up to
Act 11:3 "You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them."
There was a degree of contention here; surely God meant this salvation for the Jews only they thought.
Act 11:4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order:
Act 11:5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me.
Act 11:6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air.
Act 11:7 And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'
Act 11:8 But I said, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
Act 11:9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.'
Act 11:10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.
Act 11:11 And behold,
at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me
Act 11:12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.
Act 11:13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter;
Act 11:14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.'
Act 11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.
Act 11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
Act 11:17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?"
Act 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life."
tremendous moment in time, here we have Gentile believers receiving the baptism
of the Holy Spirit, and just in a similar fashion to that which the apostles
had done in Acts 2. Until that moment Peter like the others had had closed
prejudiced minds - God was the God of
the Jews. God took Peter to Cornelius
not because He needed Peter to do something to help him, but for Peter to watch
God in action, and for what he witnessed to overcome the prejudice in Peter's
heart, as well as the hearts of the other Jewish Christians. "The Holy
Spirit fell upon them" (Acts 11:15) as Peter was only beginning to
speak. Peters testimony was backed by the "six brothers" (Acts
11:12) - Jewish Christians - who had accompanied Peter "from
Joppa" (Acts 10:23) to Cornelius' house. God spent days preparing
with Peter, having him lodge with someone who works with unclean, dead animals,
showing him visions, and talking to him. God let the six Jewish Christians at
least witness the Holy Spirit falling upon Cornelius' household. But God turned
the hearts of the Jewish Christians in
Act 11:19 Now those
who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled
as far as
Phonecia is roughly modern
Act 11:20 But there
were some of them, men of
Act 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
Act 11:22 The report
of this came to the ears of the church in
Act 11:23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,
Act 11:24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Act 11:25 So Barnabas
Act 11:26 and when he
had found him, he brought him to
Why did the church in
Firstly, the cultural wall between Jews and gentiles had already been breached, so Barnabas wasn't being sent on a controversial mission that required apostolic leadership credibility.
Secondly, Barnabas was a Greek Jew from "
Thirdly, Barnabas, the "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36) will have put his gifts to good use in having "encouraged them" (Acts 11:23)
Fourthly and most
importantly, the leaders in
Saul told the
apostles and Barnabas in Jerusalem "how he had seen the Lord on the
road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus
in the name of Jesus"(Acts 9:27), he most likely included the Lord's
declaration to Ananias, who baptized Saul that he was, "a chosen
vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles" (Acts 9:15). It was
time for the chosen vessel of the Lord to be put to full use, starting with a "whole
year" (Acts 11:26) of teaching "a great many" (Acts
11:26) new Gentile believers in
Act 11:27 Now in
these days prophets came down from
Act 11:28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).
Act 11:29 So the
disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the
brothers living in
Act 11:30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
At this time, the persecution of the church was done mainly
by the Jewish authorities against those within their reach in
So we can learn from this chapter not to be prejudiced, to go where God sends us to share the Gospel message, and to offer help, support and encouragement where and when we can. We also can see how we should be so thankful that the Gospel message was for us Gentiles too and for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were prepared to give as they were able to, so many Christians today are worried about having money for a rainy day, I wonder what would happen if we just gave as God asks us to give. Our brothers and sisters are struggling with serious poverty in many places in this world. Imagine wondering where your next meal is going to come from, because there is absolutely no food there and you have 52 orphans in your care to feed too- some are crying with starvation- yet in the midst of it all you are still praising God this has been the position on many occasions in Ugandan Street Kids Ministry the ministry I am involved with as a UK Co-ordinator, I feel so helpless at times, but try to help as able. But we have seen many blessings, God has blessed the Ministry with new improved Orphanage accommodation just in the nick of time. God moved in a miraculous way. We give thanks to Gods people who have given donations. An old lady visited 2 nights before they were going to be made homeless and they fed her food meant for some of the kids, they were running out of food too and after she had eaten they prayed for her and she prophesied release of Gods favour for provision over them- the following day they had the funds necessary to pay 3 months rent in advance for the new accommodation and moved in on the day they would have been made homeless.
Acts 12:1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.
The word "church" comes from the compound Greek word "EKKLESIA," the Greek word means "calling out" ("EK" - "out" and "KALEO" - "to 'call'") (Strong's Concordance). The word EKKLESIA, technically, could identify any assembly of people, like how it was used in Acts 19:39 to refer to a town assembly and in Acts 7:38 to refer to the assembly of Israelites who came out of Egypt. However, the word is typically used to distinguish those who, through faith in Christ, have been called out of the world into the kingdom of God.
The word "church" identifies the body of Christ as a whole (Matthew 16:18; Colossians 1:18, and 24) and can also refer to a local part of the body of Christ (Romans 16:5; 1Corinthians 1:2; Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, and 18). Nowhere in Scripture does it refer to a building that the saints meet in. The church is not brick and mortar but born-again people. The only scriptural reason for different assemblies, or churches, is location.
Doctrinal differences were meant to be resolved (1Corinthians 1:10) and are not a justification for division in the universal church.
1Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
So you have to wonder how we arrived at the church of today with all the divisions ?
Acts 12:2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword,
This was James the son of Zebedee, one of the apostles that he killed.
Acts 12:3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.
Acts 12:4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.
. Four soldiers were watching Peter on each shift, or a total of sixteen soldiers who guarded him throughout the four watches of the night a twelve hour period.
It seems like heavy security for a preacher. Possibly Herod was aware of the disciples' previous miraculous escape from prison, and he wanted to make sure that no one rescued Peter and attributed it to God as a miracle. Just as when the priests sealed Jesus' tomb, Herod's precautions were useless against the power of God, and they served only to verify the miracle that God performed.
Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Acts 12:6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.
Peter was well aware that Herod planned to kill him--as he had killed James the next morning. In the natural, this looked like the end for Peter. Yet Peter was not wringing his hands, pacing the floor, or even praying Lord help me. He was fast asleep. Peter had amazing faith in the Lord. Peter who had bitterly denied the Lord because he was afraid of persecution had changed so much since Pentecost, the past was behind him. The way this verse describes the soldiers guarding him it looks as if two of the soldiers were chained to him, one on each side, and two soldiers were outside the cell, guarding the door. Having the two soldiers chained to Peter was different from the way the apostles had been imprisoned before (Acts 5:23) and could mean they did nt want another escape.
Acts 12:7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands.
Acts 12:8 And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me."
Acts 12:9 And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
Acts 12:10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.
Acts 12:11 When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."
Acts 12:12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
Acts 12:13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer.
Acts 12:14 Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate.
Acts 12:15 They said to her, "You are out of your mind." But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, "It is his angel!"
Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.
Acts 12:17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Tell these things to James and to the brothers." Then he departed and went to another place.
Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.
God is the God of the supernatural. Can you picture this situation, Peter was not only bound in chains but he was chained to two guards. Herod must have felt there was no way of escape for Peter. But God! God sent His angel to set Peter free from all the chains and rescue him. The sentries and guards were unaware of anything happening, even Peter believed he was seeing a vision when all this took place. The glory of the Lord shone into the prison. The light shining in the prison didn't wake Peter up; the angel had to hit him in the side. Peter must have been in a deep sleep. There is no mention here that the chains were unlocked. Could it be that Peter's arms were made to pass through the metal chains, much as Jesus walked into a room when the doors were shut? (John 20:19). Outside the gates the angel disappeared and Peter realized this was no vision. Im sure he would realize this was Gods intervention. They were all praying inside the house of John Marks mother Mary and they were probably bringing Peter before the throne room and most likely had asked for Gods intervention yet here we see the similarity to us today. When the servant girl Rhoda heard his voice at the gate she was overjoyed and went to tell the others, who then accused her of being out of her mind. After all it couldnt be possible or could it? Peter kept knocking and when they opened the door they were amazed that he was there. Their prayers had been answered but their faith had not quite been up there to believe that they would see Peter freed.
Acts 12:18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter.
Acts 12:19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.
Acts 12:20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food.
Acts 12:21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them.
Acts 12:22 And the people were shouting, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!"
Acts 12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
Herod thought of himself as a god and exalted himself . He did not see that what had happened regarding Peter was the act of God causing him to be set free miraculously by Gods intervention, The prison sentries were put to death, blamed for their supposed negligence. He must have enjoyed the cries of the people saying that Herod had the voice of a god. Herod received a severe punishment, he would not give glory to God, he would not acknowledge God and yet after all this happening I believe he would be convinced of the reality of God but no way would he acknowledge him, instead he wanted to steal Gods glory. The punishment here was more in keeping with punishments under the Old Covenant but Herod was an unbeliever who denied God so he was not under New Covenant promises.
Acts 12:24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.
Gods Word never fails, it went forth and it multiplied. The testimony of what God was doing in personal lives bore witness and it invoked a response.