I recommend Tim McGrew, a Christian apologist and philosopher. Many YouTube videos about the gospels and Acts of topics such as: who wrote them, internal and external evidence of their reliability, alleged contradictions and historic errors.

The book of Acts (and the gospel of Luke) were both written by Luke. He was a companion of the apostle Paul and was highly educated. He interviewed many people and drew from his long relationship with Paul. He was, therefore, very familiar with many the many details of what occurred in the apostolic era (including the life of Christ and the apostles). Luke wrote both books for Gentile Christians.


I find it remarkable that in the book of Acts there is no mention of the creation, of Adam and Eve, of the flood of Noah. The earliest events mentioned from the Torah are: (1) Abraham and the patriarchs, and (2) Moses with the Exodus.

 The word "immediately"

(Acts 1:1) The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

Luke is referring to the gospel of Luke.

(Acts 1:2) Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost [Spirit] had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

(Acts 1:3) 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:

(Acts 1:4) 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.

(Acts 1:5) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost [Spirit] not many days hence.

(Acts 1:6) When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Jesus restores the kingdom to Israel in the new heavens and new earth.

(Acts 1:7) 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.

(Acts 1:8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost [Spirit] 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.

These are the last words Jesus spoke. The apostles probably interpreted the word "power" to refer to political power, as evidence that Jesus intended to set up a political kingdom.

The apostles accomplished the goal of evangelizing as spelled-out in this verse. In using the phrase "uttermost part of the earth" Jesus was not intending to refer to China or the Americas. Why would he promise that the apostles would accomplish something which they simply could not and did not accomplish?

They probably at the time did not understand the implications of the Holy Spirit coming upon them. This account was written after the fact so it uses verbiage based on their increased knowledge.

Probably they prayed a lot about being good witnesses of Jesus. They had already been sent out 2 by 2 so they had experience with this kind of evangelizing; they probably expected they would be doing this again. In fact, based on this expectation, it is odd that they sort of got stuck in Jerusalem; they only ventured away when they heard that others had gotten converts in other regions.

As disciples of Christ, the Holy Spirit was already indwelling them — this occurs at baptism. But there was to be an additional coming upon them of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians treat this as something that occurred only in that day for the purpose of validating the Christian message, to show the Jews that God was at work in a new way. Certainly, one of the purposes of Jesus' miracles was to show this, but it seems far-fetched that this was the only purpose for the spectacular manifestation of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost; works of the Holy Spirit such as this should occur in every age. But I am not satisfied with the way Charismatics reflect the notion that the Holy Spirit comes upon us today; it seems fake and forced, ritualized and institutionalized.

(Acts 1:9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Jesus comes with clouds just as he was taken up in clouds.

As Jesus ascended into the sky his body slowly vanished from the physical realm. Probably the clouds were not the usual kind of clouds many thousands of feet in the sky but, rather, special clouds that appeared to hide the transition so the physical body wouldn't suddenly shockingly disappear. Elijah's ascent into the spiritual realm was similar.

(Acts 1:10) And while they looked stedfastly [intently] toward heaven [sky] as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel [clothing];

Angels are spiritual creatures living in the spiritual realm yet they can manifest bodies wearing clothing. We should not be surprised if they can do genetic engineering.

These angels appeared without them noticing.

This was an apparition, that is to say, a physical manifestation noticeable by humans of physical entities from the spiritual realm.

(Acts 1:11) 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.

The first apostles of Jesus were all from Galilee as was Jesus himself.

(Acts 1:12) Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.

(Acts 1:13) And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, 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.

Jude and Judas are the same word. The text reads "Judas of James", meaning perhaps son or perhaps brother (but would you refer to your brother with the word "of"?).

After having scattered for a while, they collected together as a group again.

(Acts 1:14) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

This group waiting for whatever it was they were told to wait for consisted of the 11 apostles, Mary, some women, and the brethren of Jesus. In the next verse we learn there were 120 total so surely the brethren were not all blood brothers of Jesus. I believe Mary remained a virgin for her entire life; perhaps some of these brethren were children of Joseph from a previous marriage. Probably, many of these "brethren" were not relatives of Jesus at all.

These were hanging around, waiting, all with the same purpose. They spent their time in prayer and asking God for direction. I imagine they were a bit apprehensive of what would happen soon, and they were certainly still grieving over the loss of their teacher.

Mary the mother of Jesus was with them. I wonder if she told stories about Jesus as a child and a young boy and into adulthood? If she did it is odd that only one story made it into the New Testament. Perhaps they were too self-absorbed to talk about such things, or perhaps the culture of the day didn't speak of such things.

Probably much of their prayer time was spent reciting liturgical prayers, Jewish prayers. For supplication they probably prayed for God's will in whatever he was to do soon. They probably counted down the days in anticipation. They each probably had times of doubt, about whether following Jesus had been all for nothing. They likely had a strong hope that a political kingdom of Israel was about to begin; I suspect their prayers reflected this.

(Acts 1:15) And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

(Acts 1:16) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost [Spirit] by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

Peter is in error: it was not necessary to replace Judas; to have exactly 12 apostles. Later, Paul became an apostle as did some others.

(Acts 1:17) For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

(Acts 1:18) Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

(Acts 1:19) 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.

The word "Aceldama" is Aramaic. Therefore, the language of the common people of Jerusalem was Aramaic.

(Acts 1:20) For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick [office] let another take.

The office of bishop was established by the apostles. Some Christians wish to downplay the importance of this office (or any Church office) but doing so is unbiblical.

My complaint about the way this was managed throughout church history is twofold...

  1. The bishops were not qualified
  2. The bishops were unconcerned with the spiritual well-being of the Christians at large
  3. The bishops turned the Church into a ritual based institution

However, we should also note that the bishops fought severe heresy, developed the Nicene creed, established all the essential, foundational doctrines, and many were martyred for the faith. In studying the Church we simply can't neglect to consider the role of bishops. The earliest of the church fathers emphasized them as did all the church fathers. Bishops are apostolic and are, therefore, an integral part of the Christian faith.

We should wonder how Peter came to have such a command of the Old Testament?

(Acts 1:21) Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

Peter proclaims that an apostle must be someone who spent the duration with Jesus. Later, however, there are other apostles not meeting this qualification. As usual, Peter's proclamation was totally arbitrary and not from God.

(Acts 1:22) 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.

(Acts 1:23) And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

(Acts 1:24) And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

There is no evidence Peter's prayer was answered; when they drew lots, one of the two would be chosen and we never again hear of Matthias. This is not a good way to discern God's will.

(Acts 1:25) That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

(Acts 1:26) And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

They did not need to replace Judas to give exactly 12 apostles. Not too long afterwards there were additional apostles.

(Acts 2:1) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

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

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

(Acts 2:4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

They spoke in other languages unknown to them but known to the listeners. This use of tongues was not a personal prayer language nor was it a speaking in gibberish as is common in Charismatic meetings.

The Holy Spirit miraculously empowered them. This is a foundation of Christianity, that the Holy Spirit provided miraculous power and knowledge to the apostles so they could write and teach about things they had no first-hand knowledge of. The Jews have a similar foundation, that Moses and other writers could write accurately in the Old Testament about things they had no direct experience of. This provides much of the ammunition used by skeptics to "prove" these religions as based on falsehood. It requires faith to be a Jew or Christian, and a belief in miracles that God not only can plant his holy and true word within the pages of the Bible, but that he did this very thing. But we must not forget that the Bible came from the Church and that the Church provides the basis of Christianity, not the Bible only.

(Acts 2:5) And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

(Acts 2:6) Now when this was noised abroad [the sound was heard], the multitude came together, and were confounded [bewildered], because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

This was not a charismatic speaking in tongues but, rather, miraculous speaking in a language known by the hearers but not the speakers. I wonder whether each speaker only spoke one language or whether they would switch?

(Acts 2:7) And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

(Acts 2:8) And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

(Acts 2:9) Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

(Acts 2:10) Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

(Acts 2:11) Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

(Acts 2:12) And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

(Acts 2:13) Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Peter's Speech

A very long speech. How could anybody have memorized it upon hearing it only one time so they could write it down later? Obviously they didn't. Perhaps the Holy Spirit later replayed it in the mind of someone who wrote it down. Or, more likely, perhaps Luke composed the words presented here from eyewitness accounts of what was said; in other words, it's historical fiction.

(Acts 2:14) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, 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:

(Acts 2:15) For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

(Acts 2:16) But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

The passage in the book of Joel is speaking specifically of the Israelites but Peter applies it to the Church.

(Acts 2:17) And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Peter quotes this passage from the Old Testament. He is quite a scholar; he probably spent a lot of energy learning scripture during his 3+ years with Jesus.

We should wonder how Peter came to have access to all these Old Testament scrolls? Perhaps his house was next to a synagogue. But even so, how did he have time when he returned home occasionally to look up all these passages and memorize them? Perhaps he had an educated servant make copies of select passages and he carried this with him?

The Holy Spirit was to come upon all flesh, Jews and Gentiles. Notice that this was to occur in the last days. Therefore, the Church age is the last days. Notice that both men and women would be prophets; we see this occurring in the New Testament. Young and old will all participate in prophecy and teaching; this was probably limited to the older men in Jewish culture.

(Acts 2:18) And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

(Acts 2:19) And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

(Acts 2:20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Natural cataclysms.

(Acts 2:21) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Refutes the Protestant doctrine of salvation by "faith only". In this verse you are saved by calling on the name of the Lord. The act of calling is a work; a "faith work," but a work nonetheless.

(Acts 2:22) Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

(Acts 2:23) Him, being delivered by the determinate [predetermined] counsel [plan] and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked [lawless, Gentile] hands have crucified and slain [killed]:

Jesus' crucifixion wasn't by accident; it was a necessary part of the plan of redemption.

This verse refutes unconditional election. God's plan (counsel) and his foreknowledge go together. Calvinists must of necessity separate them.

(Acts 2:24) Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

(Acts 2:25) 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:

The earliest historical period in this speech is David and the purpose in mentioning it is to show that Jesus was prophesized in the Old Testament.

(Acts 2:26) Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

(Acts 2:27) Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither wilt thou suffer [allow] thine Holy One to see corruption.

Peter is quoting from a Psalm of David; he is not saying this verse refers to Christ, to the Messiah. Later, in verse 31, Peter applies this to Christ.

Even though the physical body decays after death, the yet-future resurrection "undoes" this when God re-creates an eternal physical body. In the case of Jesus, he was not dead long enough for his body to decay, although surely some of the effects of death on the body had occurred.

If Satan's plan were allowed by God to prevail for eternity, all souls would languish in the lower spiritual realms dominated by Satan. But Christ freed everyone from this by visiting this region (called sheol or hades) and bringing the redeemed into a higher spiritual realm to live with him.

(Acts 2:28) Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

(Acts 2:29) 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.

Peter acknowledges that David was talking about his own death in the passage he quoted.

(Acts 2:30) Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

David lives in the sense that his line of descendants will continue, ultimately with Jesus Christ as one of these.

(Acts 2:31) He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

The word "flesh" refers to the body, in this case, the resurrected body of Jesus.

(Acts 2:32) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

(Acts 2:33) Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Spirit], he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

We should wonder why it's emphasized so strongly that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, after all, as second person of the Trinity he is God also and has always been so. The only sensible explanation is that he deified human nature.

(Acts 2:34) For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

(Acts 2:35) Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

(Acts 2:36) Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

(Acts 2:37) 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?

(Acts 2:38) 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 [Spirit].

Notice the two requirements of salvation...

  1. repentance
  2. baptism

People often object to the notion that baptism is required for salvation claiming that if a person comes to faith, then immediately dies, they will be redeemed by their faith. This is of course true. But the same can be said for faith: if an as-yet-unsaved person is feeling the work of Holy Spirit and considering what to do but hasn't yet made a crisp decision to accept Jesus in faith, and if they die; Jesus will present himself to them and provide opportunity for them to follow him and be redeemed. The same is true for someone who has never heard the gospel but who has diligently tried to do what is right using the light God has given them (even though it is deficient because we see through a glass darkly).

I might prefer to exclude baptism from the list of things required for savation but I simply cannot because it is emphasized so strongly in the New Testament and in the writings of the early church fathers. I am compelled to accept Church Teaching. This verse clearly states that our sins are remitted by baptism.

Peter was clearly the head of the Church. Those who wish to disprove Catholic claims regarding the papacy often go to absurd lengths to belittle Peter and his role. If there were such a thing as the papacy, it should have the characteristics of Peter's rule over the Church. Certainly Peter was not the head of an institutional Church. Nor did he have infallibly in a manner distinct from the other apostles. The apostles were infallible because they taught truth. But the popes and bishops are not infallible: Why? Because they have all-too-often taught error — it's that simple. Peter had the vision and the leadership skills to guide the others on the right path; this was needed at the time. Later, others, such as Paul, also fulfilled this calling. It wasn't too long after the apostles had died that the bishops began fighting, much as Paul and Barnabas did.

The gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in this verse is simply redemption. It is imparted to a person's soul as a grace from God much as the power went out from Jesus to the woman who touched his garment. Charismatics often miss such points; when they see the words "Holy Spirit" they see tongues, miraculous healing, jumping up and down, and the like. But the power of the Holy Spirit, when it indwells our soul, enables us to live a holy and righteous life pleasing to God. I don't mean to disparage such things as enthusiasm, energy, contagious joy, and even miracles; but rather to merely point out that their emphasis concerning the work of the Holy Spirit is sometimes unbalanced. They key aspect of the Holy Spirit is holiness, not exuberance.

Some have used this verse as the basis for their not baptizing with the Trinitarian formula. I am surprised that so many who think baptism to be a mere act of obedience, how so any of these use the Trinitarian formula.

The reference to the phrase "name of the Lord" or "name of Jesus" is very common in the Bible. It refers to the presence and power of the person referenced, to God and to Jesus. Being baptized in the name of Jesus is to become a member of the kingdom of God, to become one of the redeemed.

Salvation is not through "faith only" but also requires repentance and baptism. This passage says that we are saved by baptism, not that baptism is merely an act of obedience.

(Acts 2:39) 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.

(Acts 2:40) And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

(Acts 2:41) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Notice they were baptized as soon as they believed the gospel. This is different than many churches teaching that baptism is something you do months later after receiving Christ. In the apostolic era you joined the Church via baptism. The early church taught that sins are remitted during baptism for those having faith, and I believe this.

It is hard to imagine how 3,000 people were baptized in one day via immersion in water — this would have dominated the activities of the day. There were dozens of immersion pools near the temple used by people before entering the temple, but using these for this unauthorized purpose surely would have resulted in the Jewish leaders intervening. Imagine a Jew or God-fearer using a pool intended for cleansing before entering the temple but using it instead to join the Church.

(Acts 2:42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Notice the four key aspects of Christian life, of the Church...

  1. apostolic doctrine
  2. fellowship
  3. the Eucharist (the breaking of bread) in the context of the fellowship meal
  4. prayer

Notice the phrase "breaking bread" means something different here than in the gospel of Luke.

(Acts 2:43) And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

(Acts 2:44) And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

The early Church at first attempted a communal lifestyle, sharing everything in common, but soon abandoned this. It's a stupid idea as the devastation of Marxism demonstrates.

Why don't those claiming the Bible as their ultimate authority live a communal lifestyle among fellow Christians? Based on this verse, they should. Probably the answer is: they don't really take the Bible as their ultimate authority; they just pretend they do but actually have other authority which supersedes the Bible.

(Acts 2:45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

(Acts 2:46) 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,

Why is it significant if the apostles went from house to house eating? Of course it isn't. By the time the book of Acts was written the phrase "breaking bread" refers to the Eucharist which occurred in the context of the fellowship meal.

In defending the Eucharist, some say the phrase "breaking bread" refers to the Eucharist, however, in this verse it does not appear to be used this way since it refers to eating their food with gladness — this image doesn't fit with the Eucharist theory. That being said, there is clear and ample evidence that the Eucharist was practiced by the early church and that they believed the consecrated elements of bread and wine to literally be the body and blood of Christ which the faithful consume and receive a sacramental grace.

I doubt if everyone had the luxury of meeting daily in the temple for prayer. Probably they met in the temple to pray at various times during the day and some of the most devout attended all these sessions. They were united in spirit with the apostles. In later church history we see factions and infighting among various groups of Christians. It is rare for Christians to be united in spirit like this; having strong leadership helps maintain it, kicking out malcontents is often necessary.

These early apostolic Christians had a close bond with one another. Some churches have this kind of fellowship, at least among the leaders, but it is difficult to maintain this without spending all your time at church meetings. These didn't have churches so they meet in their homes, likely in the well-to-do people's homes. Having all the apostles there made it possible to facilitate such a culture without having strong leaders dominating and forming sects or clans or divisions.

(Acts 2:47) Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Apparently people joined the Church in Jerusalem almost daily. This is not surprising when you consider that all 12 apostles were there. The apostles seemed to stay bunched up in one place; it took Stephen's martyrdom to coax them into dispersing. You would think they would have thought to do this on their own.

This first generation of Christians seemed to be Spirit-filled with a lively faith. Some say that only in the age of martyrs did Christians have a lively faith, but that's not so. By the second generation of the Church the Church leaders started to dominate over the Christians at large and to create a more rule-based religious culture — this caused the zeal of the Christians to decline.

This verse states that the Christians were looked on with favor by all the people, meaning all the people of Jerusalem. However, we know there were many who opposed them, in particular, the Jewish leaders. Thus, we see an example of the word "all" that doesn't mean "every single last one". I mention this because it is common for the word "all" to be used by the Bible writers as referring to only a subset of all possible choices, but some Christian preachers often use the word "all" in a passage as a key word to prove some doctrine.

Healing the lame man

(Acts 3:1) Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

(Acts 3:2) 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 Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

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

(Acts 3:4) And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

(Acts 3:5) And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

(Acts 3:6) 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.

(Acts 3:7) And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 3:8) And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

(Acts 3:9) And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

(Acts 3:10) 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.

(Acts 3:11) And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch [portico / colonnade] that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.

This area had a roof. Perhaps the Christians regularly met here.

Peter's Sermon

(Acts 3:12) 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?

(Acts 3:13) The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

An example of a narrative out of chronological sequence. Notice that Peter first mentions that Jesus is glorified, then goes back in time to tell of the event previous to this. Those who insist that certain end time passages (such as the Olivet Discourse or the Book of Revelation) are strictly chronological ignore that this occurs and is common.

Peter merely refers to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but they do not figure in to the story about Jesus that Peter is telling.

(Acts 3:14) But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;

(Acts 3:15) And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

I am a Christian because I believe the testimony of the apostles. Christianity is apostolic; the apostles are the teaching authority.

Jesus, the Prince of life, was killed. These ideas don't seem to fit together. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; but he is also the conqueror of death. Death has several aspects...

  1. Bodily death: The body ceases to function and the soul therefore resides in the spiritual realm with no interaction with the physical realm.
  2. Original sin: The soul is born into a world of sin, a world inhabited by wicked spirit beings. The soul is entangled in this original sin and it can't escape. This condition prevents the soul from experiencing true life, life in God, life in Christ.
  3. Spiritual death: Those who refuse to be rescued by Jesus the Prince of life will be forever separated from God. Thus, unrepentant sin results in permanent death.

God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Every act of God is performed by all three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Many Bible passages only mention the role of one of these; the writers are under no obligation to mention every possible aspect of every situation. But we can piece it all together to get the complete picture.

In raising Jesus from the dead, God illustrates what is in store for us who are redeemed in Christ since we will also be raised from the dead. The soul of Jesus did not die, just as our souls will never die. (Jesus' soul is fully human and fully divine; the soul of each of us is fully human but not divine at all.) The physical body of Jesus died and each of our bodies will also die someday. God re-created the body of Jesus and granted it miraculous powers; and the soul of Jesus rejoined this resurrected body. This will be done for us believers after God conquers sin and death and creates the new heavens and new earth.

(Acts 3:16) 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.

Peter did not heal the man by his own power but, rather, by the power of God appropriated by faith. He was not healed by the power of faith. God grants this faith to us; it is not something we possess of our own power.

Notice that the name of God is equated with the power of God. When we have faith in God's name, we have faith in God. When we trust our eternal salvation to God's name, we are trusting in God's power and promises. When we are baptized in the name of Jesus, (using the Trinitarian formula: in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) we are joined to Christ by God's power and promise.

Faith is a supernatural gift of God, of the Holy Spirit. Anytime we trust God or rely on God or pray to God or worship God, we are exercising this supernatural gift of faith. For some and at times (such as Peter upon occasion, and various Catholic Saints throughout history) the faith results in miraculous interventions by God. We should not desire that our faith result in such outward displays of miraculous occurrences — we should let God choose whether to grant us this kind of faith if he wishes us to perform these kinds of deeds. But all the redeemed are granted the faith to live lives pleasing to God.

How do we explain the fact that some Christians appear to be living a more faith-filled life than others? Did God grant them less faith? The answer is that we can block God's gifts through sin and disinterest. God sends the message and sends the power but we can frustrate its use. For example, Peter knew by faith (the faith was granted by God) that God wished to heal the man of Acts 3 and Peter chose to act on it. He could have ignored the man's request for help. This latter case is what occurs when we seemingly do not act in faith — God grants the faith, but through dullness or lack of interest or lack of practice, we fail to act on the faith given; we fail to exercise the faith and do the thing that God is granting us the power to do. A key ingredient of living a life pleasing to God is to consistently and regularly practice the virtues.

(Acts 3:17) And now, brethren, I wot [know] that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

(Acts 3:18) But those things, which God before had shewed [showed] by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

The apostles often remark that the Old Testaments prophets predicted various events about the coming of Jesus. Even Jesus emphasized this to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

(Acts 3:19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Having our sins blotted out requires repentance. Is it possible for a person still wallowing in their sins to be truly repentant of them? Conversion requires changing behavior; in this sense then, works are required for salvation.

Anyone who truly desires times of refreshing must first repent and be converted. Living in sin cannot bring refreshing of the soul. The Lord cannot be present in the presence of sin; a Holy God cannot look upon sin. There is a sense in which our sins are blocking God's presence; he wishes to bless but cannot because the blessings and his presence are repulsed.

(Acts 3:20) And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

(Acts 3:21) 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.

The only remaining end times prophetic event to occur is the 2nd coming of Christ.

(Acts 3:22) 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.

Moses spoke these words to prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. However, generally, the Jewish rabbis did not consider that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies.

The earliest event in Peter's speech is Moses; Peter mentions Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but they do not figure in to the story about Jesus that Peter is telling.

(Acts 3:23) And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

(Acts 3:24) Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

(Acts 3:25) 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.

(Acts 3:26) 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.

Jesus came to the Jews first. They whole point of redemption history is for people to turn away from sin. Sin is the supreme problem Jesus came to solve.

(Acts 4:1) And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,

(Acts 4:2) Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

A key teaching of the apostles was the resurrection of those who are of the redeemed, those who believe and receive Christ in faith.

(Acts 4:3) And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide [evening].

This is not the happy kind of laying on of hands. Peter and John were put in prison. Prisons back then were dirty and uncomfortable.

(Acts 4:4) Howbeit [nevertheless] many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

People often claim that this refers only to men. This implies (1) that only men were present, or (2) that they ignored the women present when they counted. In verse 2 these are referred to as "the people". I'm not sure I go along with this "only males" interpretation here and elsewhere — why would anyone deliberately skip over the women when counting? Perhaps they would not count young children; this is easy to understand and it is easy to skip them because of their size. The genealogy in Matthew doesn't skip females.

(Acts 4:5) And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,

(Acts 4:6) 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.

(Acts 4:7) And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

It seems odd that it is considered a crime to miraculously heal someone.

(Acts 4:8) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost [Spirit], said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

(Acts 4:9) If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;

(Acts 4:10) Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

(Acts 4:11) This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

(Acts 4:12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The word "name" seems to refer to power. It is not merely a word which healed the man but, rather, the power of Jesus.

They asked about how the man was healed but Peter doesn't limit his answer to that topic. He answers the larger and more important question of how we are spiritually healed; of how the sin problem is solved. Note that only Jesus can save, there is no other way, no other hope.

(Acts 4:13) 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.

(Acts 4:14) And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

(Acts 4:15) But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

(Acts 4:16) 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.

(Acts 4:17) But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

(Acts 4:18) And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

(Acts 4:19) 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.

(Acts 4:20) For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

(Acts 4:21) 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.

(Acts 4:22) For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

(Acts 4:23) And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

(Acts 4:24) 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:

(Acts 4:25) Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

(Acts 4:26) The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

(Acts 4:27) 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,

(Acts 4:28) For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

(Acts 4:29) And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

(Acts 4:30) By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

(Acts 4:31) And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and they spake the word of God with boldness.

They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God, implying that they spoke in a language understood by those listening. We should not be surprised that there were additional miraculous manifestations of the power of God associated with the miraculous healing of the man, especially because the apostles Peter and John prayed in their company for miracles. I doubt if the shaking was a kind of earthquake because that would have damaged the building they were in; probably the shaking occurred in the spiritual realm to be experienced by the spiritual bodies of those present. Since they were exceptionally in tune with the spirit realm they felt it in their physical bodies as well. Probably this incident lasted a while and spilled over into the neighborhood resulting in conversions as on the day of Pentecost.

(Acts 4:32) 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.

(Acts 4:33) And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

(Acts 4:34) 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,

(Acts 4:35) And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

(Acts 4:36) 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,

(Acts 4:37) Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

(Acts 5:1) But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

(Acts 5:2) 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.

(Acts 5:3) But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and to keep back part of the price of the land?

(Acts 5:4) Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

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

(Acts 5:6) And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

(Acts 5:7) And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

(Acts 5:8) And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

(Acts 5:9) 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.

(Acts 5:10) Then fell she down straightway [immediately] 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.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 5:11) And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

The word "Church" refers to the people as a congregation, as a community, in fellowship with one another and united under their leaders (bishops) and confessing the same beliefs. Because the New Testament stresses the concept of Church, so do I.

When the Church realized the importance of not committing mortal sin, of not lying to the Holy Spirit (by lying to their bishop), they became afraid. Perhaps they were afraid because some of them had done the same kind of thing but didn't get judged for it. Maybe they thought they might themselves soon drop dead. I imagine the moral standards of the Christians increased dramatically after this. Some may have even abandoned the faith altogether.

(Acts 5:12) 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.

(Acts 5:13) And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

(Acts 5:14) And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

(Acts 5:15) 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.

(Acts 5:16) 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.

(Acts 5:17) 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,

(Acts 5:18) And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

(Acts 5:19) But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

The angel of the Lord in the New Testament cannot be an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ since Jesus already incarnated. Therefore, it means merely a good angel as opposed to a wicked spirit. Perhaps that's all it means in the Old Testament also.

This angel could modify the physical realm; this was no mere apparation. The question is, what is the extent of their abilities in this regard? Can they even perform supernatural genetic engineering?

(Acts 5:20) Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

(Acts 5:21) 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 senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

(Acts 5:22) But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,

(Acts 5:23) 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.

(Acts 5:24) 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.

(Acts 5:25) Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

(Acts 5:26) Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

(Acts 5:27) And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

(Acts 5:28) 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.

(Acts 5:29) Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

(Acts 5:30) The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

(Acts 5:31) 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.

(Acts 5:32) And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost [Spirit], whom God hath given to them that obey him.

(Acts 5:33) When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

(Acts 5:34) Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

(Acts 5:35) And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

(Acts 5:36) For before these days rose up Theudas, 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.

(Acts 5:37) 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.

(Acts 5:38) 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:

(Acts 5:39) But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

(Acts 5:40) And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

(Acts 5:41) And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

(Acts 5:42) And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

(Acts 6:1) And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians [Greeks, Hellenists] against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Presumably the widows mentioned lived in Jerusalem.

Two classes of Christians, both Jewish: (1) those speaking Aramaic (the word "Hebrew" means Aramaic), and (2) those speaking Greek. Presumably those speaking Greek had at one time lived outside of Palestine, learned Greek, adapted to Hellenistic culture, then later moved back to Palestine, in this case to Jerusalem. This process would have taken generations.

These two groups think of themselves as distinct groups but the Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians obviously had the positions of power. Many of the original 12 disciples were of this group (but some spoke Greek) and did not try to be fair to Greek-speaking Jewish Christians until it was brought to their attention by those discriminated against.

I would say based on this story, the 12 apostles were not very good pastors of the early Church since they did not anticipate the needs of the Christians but showed favoritism. I doubt this is because they didn't know what was going on; with 12 of them ministering over a relatively small group of Christians it should have been easy to see details such as this if they were observant.

Perhaps the group of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians was becoming larger faster than the Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians because they were more open to accepting the gospel and, finally, reaching critical mass, their power within the Christian community became sufficient to influence the apostles to take action. Usually that's how things work; the minority is neglected or discriminated against or even persecuted.

Probably, there needed to be 7 Greek-speaking Jewish Christians chosen to counteract the power and influence of the Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians in charge of such things.

(Acts 6:2) Then the twelve [12] 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.

It appears the 12 apostles did not manage any of the details of the Christians' lives. Soon, the Church changed this and the bishops became heavy-handed, even creating a clear clergy-laity division.

(Acts 6:3) Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven [7] men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost [Spirit] and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

We should wonder why there needed to be 7 people to manage the allotments to the Greek-speaking Jewish Christian widows. Perhaps there were many more than 7 Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christian men performing this role so there needed to be the 7 Greek-speaking Jewish Christian men so they would have enough clout to be effective. Or perhaps their role was far larger than merely assisting widows. But in either case we should wonder why there were so many leaders for such a small Church movement.

Probably there was severe conflict among the Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians and Greek-speaking Jewish Christians regarding whether is was necessary to follow the Jewish law to be Christians, and so, the apostles chose a band of strong Spirit-filled Greek-speaking Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christian men to represent the cause of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians.

These "brothers" were not the blood-brothers of Jesus; there were too many of them.

(Acts 6:4) But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

(Acts 6:5) And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

Stephen is emphasized; perhaps he was the leader of these 7 deacons. Or maybe there are additional remarks about him because his story unfolds.

These 7 were all Greek-speaking Jewish Christians.

We should wonder why the ones who were neglecting the Greek-speaking Jewish Christian widows were pleased since this surely restricted their range of political power. Maybe it was because they had to appear to support the plan publicly to save face.

This is the same Philip we read about later.

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

Notice the apostles lay hands on the 7 deacons as a form of ordination, I suppose. I doubt if the apostles were establishing the office of the deacon with this act.

(Acts 6:7) And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Notice this verse interrupts the flow of the story about Stephen. Presumably a period of time elapsed since the ordination of the 7 deacons.

The priests were Aramaic-speaking Jews.

(Acts 6:8) And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

(Acts 6:9) Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines [Freedmen], and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

In the Roman empire, slaves who were freed (called Freedmen) were still attached to their masters, the head of the household, as a part of that household. Most slaves were eventually freed unless they died too soon.

Cyrene is in north Africa in what is now Libya. The Roman Empire was very developed in north Africa.

Tarsus, where Paul was from, was the main city of Cilicia. Paul was, therefore, a Greek-speaking Jew. This explains why he was a Roman citizen. Likely it was rare for Aramaic-speaking Jews to be Roman citizens since they had always lived in Palestine.

Notice different kinds of synagogues for different groups of people. Probably similar to the multiple denominations of todays' Protestantism.

Three groups of Greek-speaking Jews rose up against Stephen: (1) Jews who were Freedmen, (2) Jews from northern Africa, and (3) Jews from Asia.

(Acts 6:10) And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

(Acts 6:11) Then they suborned [secretly persuaded] men, which [who] said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

Three groups of people: (1) Greek-speaking Jews, (2) Stephen, a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian, (3) Aramaic-speaking Jews.

(Acts 6:12) 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,

The Aramaic-speaking Jewish leaders were all-too-happy to crush the new Christian movement since it was composed of two kinds of Jews who had converted: (1) Aramaic-speaking Jews, and (2) Greek-speaking Jews.

(Acts 6:13) And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

(Acts 6:14) For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

(Acts 6:15) And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Stephen's Speech

(Acts 7:1) Then said the high priest, Are these things so?

(Acts 7:2) 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,

We should wonder why they listened so patiently to such a long speech.

A very long speech. How could anybody have memorized it upon hearing it only one time so they could write it down later? Obviously they didn't. Perhaps the Holy Spirit later replayed it in the mind of someone who wrote it down. Or, more likely, perhaps Luke composed the words presented here from eyewitness accounts of what was said; in other words, it's historical fiction.

Were there any witnesses to this speech other than Jewish council members?

Stephen recounts Jewish history beginning with Abraham. Notice there is no mention of the creation, of Adam and Eve, of the flood of Noah.

(Acts 7:3) And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.

(Acts 7:4) 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.

(Acts 7:5) 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.

(Acts 7:6) 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 [400].

It was 400 years from the weaning of Isaac to the Exodus, but 430 years from Abraham's call.

(Acts 7:7) 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.

(Acts 7:8) And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.

(Acts 7:9) And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,

(Acts 7:10) 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.

(Acts 7:11) Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.

(Acts 7:12) But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

(Acts 7:13) And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.

(Acts 7:14) Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

(Acts 7:15) So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,

(Acts 7:16) 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.

(Acts 7:17) But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,

(Acts 7:18) Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.

(Acts 7:19) 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.

(Acts 7:20) In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:

(Acts 7:21) And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.

(Acts 7:22) And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.

(Acts 7:23) And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.

(Acts 7:24) And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:

(Acts 7:25) For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.

(Acts 7:26) 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?

(Acts 7:27) But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?

(Acts 7:28) Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?

(Acts 7:29) Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.

(Acts 7:30) And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

(Acts 7:31) 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,

(Acts 7:32) 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.

(Acts 7:33) Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.

(Acts 7:34) I have seen, 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.

(Acts 7:35) This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.

(Acts 7:36) 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.

(Acts 7:37) 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.

(Acts 7:38) This is he, that was in the church [congregation] in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

The Old Testament people of God are here referred to as the Church [Greek: ekklesia]. Even Martin Luther referred to them using the word Church. This is a very foreign idea to many Christians, but it is in the Bible. If the Bible refers to the Old Testament people of God using the word "Church", so should we.

There is a brief summary of Moses' activities so you will know who is being referred to.

(Acts 7:39) To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,

(Acts 7:40) 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.

(Acts 7:41) And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

(Acts 7:42) 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?

(Acts 7:43) 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.

(Acts 7:44) 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.

(Acts 7:45) Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;

(Acts 7:46) Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

(Acts 7:47) But Solomon built him an house.

(Acts 7:48) Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

(Acts 7:49) 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?

(Acts 7:50) Hath not my hand made all these things?

(Acts 7:51) Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost [Spirit]: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Stephen abruptly changes the tone of his discussion, rebuking them.

(Acts 7:52) Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain [killed] them which shewed [showed] before of the coming of the Just [Righteous] One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Jesus is this righteous one referred to. Even Jesus mentioned them persecuting and killing the prophets.

(Acts 7:53) Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

He doesn't rebuke them for their lack of faith in Jesus but for not obeying the law. Protestant Dispensationalists make strong distinctions between how a person gets saved in different times, but this is hard to accept. If it was important for the Old Testament believers to obey the law then it must also be important for the New Testament believers. And if it is important for the New Testament believers to believe and receive the word of God by faith than it must also have been important for the Old Testament believers to do so. In short, a necessary ingredient of salvation is a life of obedience.

Notice that angels gave the law. Bible commentators seem eager to dismiss this as merely a Jewish tradition, as an error in apostolic teaching because they don't want to address its implications.

(Acts 7:54) When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

(Acts 7:55) But he, being full of the Holy Ghost [Spirit], looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

We should wonder why it's emphasized so strongly that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, after all, as second person of the Trinity he is God also and has always been so. The only sensible explanation is that he deified human nature.

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

(Acts 7:57) Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

(Acts 7:58) 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 Saul.

Paul was not throwing stones but was guarding their clothes and, maybe, keeping track of who did and who did not throw stones.

Those who executed Stephen were witnesses of their religious zeal in the same sense that martyrs are witnesses.

(Acts 7:59) And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

(Acts 7:60) And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

(Acts 8:1) And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Paul is mentioned in passing because he will have such a prominent role in early Christianity.

It is odd this persecution spared the apostles. Usually, persecutions against Christians especially targeted Christian leaders. Note that only the church at Jerusalem was affected. The perpetrators were from the synagogue, apparently they were not the Jewish priests of the temple in Jerusalem. It appears they targeted Gentile Greek converts to Christianity, many of whom were God-fearers — non-Jews who converted to Judaism but were not circumcised. These were likely always considered as outsiders to the pure Jews, and the Jews mentioned of the synagogue were probably finally sorry they ever let these non-Jews into the synagogue in the first place since they had so quicky embraced Christianity.

We might think Paul did not have a large role in persecuting Christians in Jerusalem except that we soon learn his role was large.

(Acts 8:2) And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

(Acts 8:3) As for Saul, he made havock of [outraged, mistreated] the church, entering into every house, and haling [dragging off] men and women committed them to prison.

Paul escalates his persecutions of the Christians.

Paul was a violent man, perhaps having one of the psychological disorders involving anger and rage. He was never treated for this and I doubt his conversion changed him in this regard. Perhaps this is why he allowed himself to be imprisoned, as a sort of punishment from God to resolve his feeling of guilt. Perhaps he had psychological delusions about his role and therefore ignored the repeated warnings. We should be wary of his teaching because he might have included delusional ideas in it.

(Acts 8:4) Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

(Acts 8:5) Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

(Acts 8:6) And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

(Acts 8:7) 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.

(Acts 8:8) And there was great joy in that city.

(Acts 8:9) But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

(Acts 8:10) To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

(Acts 8:11) And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

(Acts 8:12) 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 women.

(Acts 8:13) Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

(Acts 8:14) Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

(Acts 8:15) Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost [Spirit]:

(Acts 8:16) (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

(Acts 8:17) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost [Spirit].

(Acts 8:18) And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost [Spirit] was given, he offered them money,

(Acts 8:19) Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost [Spirit].

(Acts 8:20) But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

(Acts 8:21) Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

(Acts 8:22) Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

(Acts 8:23) For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

(Acts 8:24) Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

(Acts 8:25) 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.

Philip and the man of Ethiopia

(Acts 8:26) 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.

Philip went out from Samaria into the desert on command by God. Perhaps Philip took the road along the coast which joined the road from Jerusalem to Gaza just past Azotus (Ashdod). The chariot would need to travel along a smooth road and would avoid the hills.

(Acts 8:27) And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

We should wonder how it came to be that a public servant of Ethiopia, the "minister of finance", came to know of Judaism and become a worshipper of God in the Jewish tradition. Perhaps the queen of Sheba brought back a love of Judaism to her people which persisted over the centuries. Long before that, Moses as an Egyptian general likely went to Ethiopia. This man of Ethiopia spent months on his journey and was able to participate in some way with the temple worship in spite of being a eunuch and a foreigner. Perhaps his queen was favorable to Judaism to allow him to be away for so long.

(Acts 8:28) Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet.

This man owned a scroll of the Old Testament, likely the Septuagint, and took it with him on the long journey. (Perhaps he had just purchased it while in Jerusalem.) He read it aloud during the bouncy trip home and those accompanying him heard him reading.

This chariot probably had a seated driver in front with a seat in back and a sun shade canopy. Likely there were others in a caravan.

(Acts 8:29) Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

(Acts 8:30) And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias [Isaiah], and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Philip was on foot running to keep up. They weren't moving very fast. Likely Philip sneaked up on them from behind so they didn't see or hear him running until he shouted out to them, probably startling them. Philip was coming from Samaria but the chariot was coming from Jerusalem. They may have seen Philip a short distance away as they passed the intersection of the two roads but didn't see Philip start running to catch them.

Philip understood the man of Ethiopia to be reading the Old Testament, probably the Greek Septuagint since Philip spoke Greek, being a Gentile convert. By divine providence the passage being read was a Messianic prophecy.

(Acts 8:31) 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.

There was an extra seat, or maybe the caravan stopped and others got out so Philip had a space. Perhaps they stopped travelling once Philip joined them; it would be rude to take your guest the wrong direction.

(Acts 8:32) 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:

(Acts 8:33) In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

(Acts 8:34) And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

(Acts 8:35) Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Presumably Philip taught this man of Ethiopia that Jesus is the Son of God and that baptism is necessary to become a disciple of Jesus.

(Acts 8:36) 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?

(Acts 8:37) 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.

You can be baptized if you believe correctly who Jesus is; no need for a lengthy education program led by uninspired teachers who don't believe it themselves and no need to join a particular Church. You join the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church via baptism. Any believer can baptize you, in this case Philip the deacon.

(Acts 8:38) 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.

(Acts 8:39) 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.

Probably the man of Ethiopia would have invited Philip to come to Ethiopia with him, offering a luxurious lifestyle. But Philip, prompted by the Holy Spirit, abruptly left without saying goodbye. Perhaps he had been momentarily off by himself in the bushes taking care of business.

Some say Philip miraculously disappeared and reappeared in Azotus. It's possible but unlikely. The word used for "caught away" or "caught up" is used four times with three different meanings...

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:2,4 — Paul was caught up to the third heaven, into paradise. His encounter with Christ occurred in the spiritual realm so his soul was transported to a higher level in the spiritual realm, not his body.
  2. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 — The bodily resurrection of those alive when Christ returns at his second coming.
  3. Revelation 12:5 — The ascension of Jesus. In my view, the body of Jesus dematerialized when his Soul/Spirit went into a higher level in the spiritual realm.

(Acts 8:40) But Philip was found at Azotus [Ashdod]: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

Philip had gone back the way he came. Nothing of note occurred until Philip arrived in Azotus.

(Acts 9:1) And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

(Acts 9:2) And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

(Acts 9:3) And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

(Acts 9:4) And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

(Acts 9:5) 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.

Paul was ripe for conversion. He was having extreme inner turmoil about his mission to persecute Christians. Perhaps he had called out to God to reveal the truth of Jesus to him. Perhaps his involvement in the stoning of Stephen weighed on his mind.

(Acts 9:6) 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.

(Acts 9:7) And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

It says they heard a voice but later says they didn't hear a voice. Critics of the Bible use this to "prove" the Bible is untrustworthy. All it means is they heard the sound but not the words.

(Acts 9:8) 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.

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

(Acts 9:10) 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.

(Acts 9:11) 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,

(Acts 9:12) And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

(Acts 9:13) Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

(Acts 9:14) And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

(Acts 9:15) 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:

(Acts 9:16) For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

(Acts 9:17) 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 thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost [Spirit].

(Acts 9:18) And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

Later Paul recounts the story with additional details.

(Acts 9:19) And when he had received meat [food], he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

Notice Paul stayed in Damascus for a while, at least a couple of days.

(Acts 9:20) And straightway [immediately] he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

We should wonder how Paul came to know enough to preach? Perhaps this was after he was caught up into the 3rd heaven and taught things. Probably this occurred when he was in Arabia. Luke doesn't mention Paul's supernatural instruction thinking it to be unimportant in the historical narrative. But in any case, Paul is in Damascus and has not yet returned to Jerusalem since his conversion.

(Acts 9:21) 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?

(Acts 9:22) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

(Acts 9:23) And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

(Acts 9:24) But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

(Acts 9:25) Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

(Acts 9:26) And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed [tried] to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

Apparently there is a gap in the narrative after this. Probably Paul at this time met with Peter and James after going to the temple where he tried to mingle with the Christians at large who rejected him. Then he went away for a while, to Syria and Cilicia, until finally he meets up with Barnabas who introduces him to the Christians who now accept him.

(Acts 9:27) 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.

Notice this verse mentions the apostles, not just Peter and James.

(Acts 9:28) And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

(Acts 9:29) And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians [Greeks, Hellenists]: but they went about to slay him.

(Acts 9:30) Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Paul went from Caesarea to Tarsus.

(Acts 9:31) 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 [Spirit], were multiplied.

(Acts 9:32) And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

(Acts 9:33) And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.

(Acts 9:34) And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 9:35) And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

(Acts 9:36) 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.

(Acts 9:37) And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

(Acts 9:38) 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.

(Acts 9:39) 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.

(Acts 9:40) 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.

(Acts 9:41) And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

(Acts 9:42) And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

(Acts 9:43) And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

(Acts 10:1) There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

(Acts 10:2) A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway [always].

A curious phrase, that he prayed to God always. Does this mean that he only prayed to the true God and to nobody else? or that he was continuously praying? or that he had some sort of regular daily prayer routine, perhaps several times a day, perhaps involving going to the synagogue when he could? or that he was a holy man having God firmly fixed in his mind as a form of silent meditative prayer?

He feared God. Does this mean he was a "God fearer", that is to say, a partial Jewish convert, a Gentile who was not circumcised but joined Judaism? How could a Roman soldier, especially a high-ranking officer, be a religious man anyway since they were called upon to do all sorts of unrighteous things?

This does not mention he gave money to the synagogue but, rather, to the poor. Perhaps he did this by giving to the synagogue which looked after the poor. In any case, this verse doesn't bode well for those insisting a 10% title before taxes to your local church.

His entire household were all religious; perhaps they followed him into the faith or perhaps he followed one of them.

I wonder whether the reference to being devout means his religious practice was publicly visible for all to see; that he mingled with the Jews of the city in the synagogue and elsewhere? I'm surprised his Roman superiors were not alarmed by this.

(Acts 10:3) He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

(Acts 10:4) 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.

God received these "works" of Cornelius as pleasing to him before he was "saved". But if Cornelius would have died before hearing the gospel he would have gone to heaven on the basis of his works which were pleasing to God.

(Acts 10:5) And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

(Acts 10:6) He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

(Acts 10:7) 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;

(Acts 10:8) And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

(Acts 10:9) 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:

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

(Acts 10:11) 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:

(Acts 10:12) Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

(Acts 10:13) And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

(Acts 10:14) But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

Ezekiel had a similar response.

(Acts 10:15) And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

(Acts 10:16) This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

(Acts 10:17) 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 inquirey for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

(Acts 10:18) And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

(Acts 10:19) While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

(Acts 10:20) Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

(Acts 10:21) Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

(Acts 10:22) 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.

God received these "works" of Cornelius as pleasing to him before he was "saved". But if Cornelius would have died before hearing the gospel he would have gone to heaven on the basis of his works which were pleasing to God.

(Acts 10:23) Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

(Acts 10:24) And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

(Acts 10:25) And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

(Acts 10:26) But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

(Acts 10:27) And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

(Acts 10:28) And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an 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.

(Acts 10:29) 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?

(Acts 10:30) 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,

(Acts 10:31) And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

(Acts 10:32) 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.

(Acts 10:33) 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.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 10:34) Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

(Acts 10:35) But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

(Acts 10:36) The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

(Acts 10:37) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

(Acts 10:38) How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost [Spirit] and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

(Acts 10:39) 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:

(Acts 10:40) Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

(Acts 10:41) 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.

(Acts 10:42) 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.

(Acts 10:43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

(Acts 10:44) While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost [Spirit] fell on all them which heard the word.

(Acts 10:45) And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost [Spirit].

(Acts 10:46) For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

(Acts 10:47) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost [Spirit] as well as we?

(Acts 10:48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

(Acts 11:1) And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

(Acts 11:2) And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

(Acts 11:3) Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

(Acts 11:4) But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

(Acts 11:5) I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:

(Acts 11:6) 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.

(Acts 11:7) And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

(Acts 11:8) But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

(Acts 11:9) But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

(Acts 11:10) And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

(Acts 11:11) And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.

(Acts 11:12) And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house:

(Acts 11:13) 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;

(Acts 11:14) Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

(Acts 11:15) And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost [Spirit] fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

(Acts 11:16) 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 [Spirit].

(Acts 11:17) 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?

(Acts 11:18) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

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

(Acts 11:20) And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians [Greeks, Hellenists], preaching the LORD Jesus.

(Acts 11:21) And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

(Acts 11:22) Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

(Acts 11:23) 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.

(Acts 11:24) For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost [Spirit] and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

(Acts 11:25) Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

(Acts 11:26) 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 Christians first in Antioch.

The assumption was, those in each local body called a "church" were for the most part true Christians. Thus, they could safely use the term this way to refer to the redeemed. Christians naturally clump together in fellowship, so the word "church" has dual meaning: the set of all the redeemed since the time of Christ, and groups of these (some being imposters) in various kinds of institutions, large and small.

Antioch was the first Greek-speaking city having a large presence of followers of Christ. Elsewhere they were called "the Way"; here they were called followers of the Messiah, or, in Greek, followers of Christ ("Messiah" in Hebrew is "Christ" in Greek) — that is to say, Christians.

(Acts 11:27) And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

(Acts 11:28) And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

(Acts 11:29) Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

(Acts 11:30) Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Perhaps Paul remained for many years in Jerusalem before being sent off on his first missionary journey.

(Acts 12:1) Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.

Notice that Christians have an additional attribute associated with them. Not only are they citizens, or husbands or wives, or merchants, etc., they are also members of the Church. Even the secular rulers attribute that status to them as they single them out for persecution. Thus, the word "Church" refers to the loyalty we have to Christ and to his teachings such that we will even endure persecution if it comes our way.

(Acts 12:2) And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

(Acts 12:3) And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

(Acts 12:4) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

(Acts 12:5) Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

(Acts 12:6) 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.

(Acts 12:7) And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote [struck] Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

The phrase "angel of the Lord" is used. Some people make much of this phrase when used in the Old Testament, thinking it to mean the preincarnate Jesus. I doubt this interpretation (just as I doubt the Bema Seat judgment) as invented doctrines having no support in the scriptures. Here the phrase "angel of the Lord" seems to mean, rather, an angel doing God's work.

Angels are spirit beings, residing in the spiritual realm, and yet are able to influence events in the physical realm; in this case, striking Peter on the side. Or perhaps Peter merely felt he was struck, but there was no actual sensation or perception from his physical body; the feeling of being struck was injected into his conscious awareness residing in the spiritual realm with no physical component whatsoever.

(Acts 12:8) And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast [wrap] thy garment [cloak] about thee, and follow me.

The angel tells Peter to get dressed and follow him.

(Acts 12:9) 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.

(Acts 12:10) 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.

(Acts 12:11) 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.

(Acts 12:12) And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

(Acts 12:13) And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

(Acts 12:14) 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.

(Acts 12:15) And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

(Acts 12:16) But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

(Acts 12:17) 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.

(Acts 12:18) Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

(Acts 12:19) And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

(Acts 12:20) 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.

(Acts 12:21) And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.

(Acts 12:22) And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.

(Acts 12:23) And immediately the angel of the Lord smote [struck] him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

I cannot imagine a good angel enjoying bringing ill health and disease upon anyone, after all, they wouldn't even say bad things about Satan himself. Therefore, the evil actions of the good angels in this physical realm are limited to removing God's protective presence from people and things, allowing the wicked spirits to wreak havoc. And in doing this they merely allow the victim's will to be done; in rejecting God and his goodness and holiness, humans invite in the powers of darkness.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 12:24) But the word of God grew and multiplied.

(Acts 12:25) And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

(Acts 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.

One aspect of studying the Church is that we will learn about the lives of other notable Christians. Notice that the word "Church" refers to the people, not the place. If you want to refer to the place you have to add that info. Thus, the Roman Church refers to the assembly of Christians and their leaders who happen to reside in Rome. In church history, the reference to the Church at Rome took on an additional meaning that was not justified. The Church at Rome may have different attributes than other churches (all churches have different attributes as we learn from the early chapters of the book of Revelation) but it is qualitatively no different from a Church anywhere else.

One of these (Manaen) appears to be a convert from Herod's family.

This verse reintroduces Paul and Barnabas who we've already seen a lot of. Perhaps it was written after a pause of a few days or weeks and the writer was starting fresh without having the flow of the events in mind.

(Acts 13:2) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost [Spirit] said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

(Acts 13:3) And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

(Acts 13:4) So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost [Spirit], departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

(Acts 13:5) 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.

(Acts 13:6) And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

(Acts 13:7) 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.

(Acts 13:8) But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

(Acts 13:9) Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost [Spirit], set his eyes on him,

(Acts 13:10) 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?

(Acts 13:11) 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.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 13:12) Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

(Acts 13:13) Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

(Acts 13:14) But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

(Acts 13:15) 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.

(Acts 13:16) Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

Notice Paul address two groups: (1) Jews, and (2) God-fearers. The God-fearers were Hellenized Romans or non-Jews who partially converted to Judaism and attended synagogue but who were not circumcised. (Circumcision is barbaric torturous mutilation of the body.)

(Acts 13:17) 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.

Paul briefly mentions the Exodus.

(Acts 13:18) And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

(Acts 13:19) And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

(Acts 13:20) And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

(Acts 13:21) 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.

(Acts 13:22) 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.

David did some terrible things. But in the end, he loved God and called out to God. This is why he is called a man after God's own heart.

(Acts 13:23) Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

(Acts 13:24) When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

(Acts 13:25) And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

(Acts 13:26) Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

(Acts 13:27) 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.

(Acts 13:28) And though they found no cause of death [for the death sentence] in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain [executed].

Paul's statement is incorrect: they did have good cause to kill Jesus; he declared himself to be God. The high priest recognized as blasphemy, an offense punishable by death.

(Acts 13:29) And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

(Acts 13:30) But God raised him from the dead:

(Acts 13:31) And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

(Acts 13:32) And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

(Acts 13:33) 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.

(Acts 13:34) 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.

(Acts 13:35) Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

(Acts 13:36) 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:

(Acts 13:37) But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

(Acts 13:38) Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

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

(Acts 13:40) Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

(Acts 13:41) 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.

(Acts 13:42) And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

The so-called "God-fearers", those Gentiles who had partially converted to Judaism and attended the synagogue, were intrigued by Paul's teaching.

(Acts 13:43) Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

(Acts 13:44) And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Presumably, the crowd is composed primarily of Gentiles.

(Acts 13:45) 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.

(Acts 13:46) 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.

(Acts 13:47) 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.

The Jews were a light to all peoples of the world by virtue of their bringing God's word to the world. Sadly, many did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah probably because their leaders formed a false view of the Messiah thinking he would be merely a human, a political leader.

(Acts 13:48) 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.

(Acts 13:49) And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

(Acts 13:50) 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.

(Acts 13:51) But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

(Acts 13:52) And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost [Spirit].

(Acts 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.

(Acts 14:2) But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

(Acts 14:3) 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.

(Acts 14:4) But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

(Acts 14:5) 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,

(Acts 14:6) They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:

(Acts 14:7) And there they preached the gospel.

(Acts 14:8) And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:

(Acts 14:9) The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,

(Acts 14:10) Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

(Acts 14:11) 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.

Notice that Paul speaks to them in their native language, not in Latin or Greek. Perhaps he was exhibiting the supernatural gifts of tongues; of speaking in a language he didn't himself understand. And perhaps the reason Barnabas didn't speak as much (if at all) was because he did not have this gift; perhaps he spoke to them in Latin of Greek (probably Greek).

(Acts 14:12) And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

(Acts 14:13) 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.

(Acts 14:14) Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

(Acts 14:15) 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:

(Acts 14:16) Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

(Acts 14:17) 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.

(Acts 14:18) And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.

(Acts 14:19) 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.

Shortly after being hailed as a god, another batch of people seized Paul and killed him. The crowd is likely different: the first being Roman or Greek or local Gentile pagans; the second Jewish. This reminds me of the French Revolution in which every power group had their day in the sun.

(Acts 14:20) Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

(Acts 14:21) And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

(Acts 14:22) 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.

(Acts 14:23) 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.

Local congregations of Christians are called the "church". Each such group is to have validly-ordained leaders. The assumption is that these elders know and believe the faith which was passed down from the apostles; that they are holy men; and that they have pastoral hearts. Certainly the ordination of a corrupt or unholy person could never be valid.

(Acts 14:24) And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

(Acts 14:25) And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:

(Acts 14:26) And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

(Acts 14:27) 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.

This mention of the Gentiles sets the stage for the upcoming Council of Jerusalem. Not everyone is so happy that the Gentiles are becoming Christians; this changes the character of the Church away from a Jewish sect.

(Acts 14:28) And there they abode long time with the disciples.

(Acts 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.

Notice the question at hand, whether Gentile believers had to be circumcised. Circumcision is a barbaric practice, especially so for adults.

These "certain men" are the Judaizers, Jewish converts to Judaism who believe the Church should be Jewish. This is not a surprising view since the early Church was composed entirely of Jews. The apostles were all Jewish. Only after the dispersal caused by the stoning of Stephen did the Gentiles start becoming Christians. (But most of this preaching was to Jews only.)

(Acts 15:2) 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.

Notice the question concerns circumcision but the council also takes up the topic of whether Gentile believers must follow the law of Moses.

Here we see Jewish Christians imposing their idea that Gentile Christians must become Jewish, and they impose this upon all Christians as if it were an essential doctrine. The apostles Paul and Barnabas disagreed with these but their authority was rejected. The first council of the Church, the Council of Jerusalem, was the result. The result of this council was the infallible teaching that becoming Jewish is not an essential aspect to being Christian. However, not everything proposed by this council was infallible, for example, the dietary restrictions; these were probably added to appease some of the Jewish Christians.

It appears that these Jewish dissenters were willing to take the matter to the apostles in Jerusalem to decide the matter. They probably thought the apostles would take their side. I doubt if they were happy with the way things turned out.

The decision by the council did not end the matter. Not everyone accepted its decrees. Even Peter was influenced to appease Jewish demands.

(Acts 15:3) And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice [Phoenicia] and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.

Any small group of Christians containing leaders, followers, or both is called the "church". In this case there likely were many leaders.

I wonder if this verse overstates the joy of all the brethren, whether some (many?) were not so happy mingling with Gentiles.

Council of Jerusalem

(Acts 15:4) 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.

(Acts 15:5) But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

Notice the two questions at hand regarding Gentile believers...

  1. Whether they had to be circumcised. Circumcision is a barbaric practice, especially so for adults.
  2. Whether they had to keep the law of Moses.

(Acts 15:6) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

Peter Speaks

(Acts 15:7) 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.

Peter defines the key ingredients to a solution. Note that he does not in the slightest attempt to appease the dissenters.

After listening to the discussion Peter takes command and volunteers his opinion, in effect ending the discussion phase of the council. Note that he took his role of "feeding Christ's sheep" seriously and did a good job of providing leadership.

I reject the Catholic claim that Peter was the first pope; certainly this passage does not support this conclusion. And if the pope was to have such an important role in councils such as this, why did the bishop of Rome not attend the council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. instead of letting the emperor run it?

(Acts 15:8) And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost [Spirit], even as he did unto us;

(Acts 15:9) And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

(Acts 15:10) Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

(Acts 15:11) But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

(Acts 15:12) 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.

James Speaks

(Acts 15:13) And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:

(Acts 15:14) Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

(Acts 15:15) And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,

(Acts 15:16) 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:

In the new heavens and new earth there will be both the Tabernacle of Moses (in the form of the temple of Ezekiel) and the Tabernacle of David.

(Acts 15:17) That the residue [remnant] 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.

This refers to those who God doesn't seek out to judge — to the redeemed. There are Gentiles among these. James is quoting from the Septuagint.

(Acts 15:18) Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

(Acts 15:19) Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:

Notice that James is the authority over the Council of Jerusalem, not Peter.

(Acts 15:20) But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

(Acts 15:21) For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

Action of the Council of Jerusalem

(Acts 15:22) 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:

A distinction between the leaders and the others. The leaders made the decision and looked for some sort of confirmation from the other Christians present. The whole church includes those who are not leaders.

(Acts 15:23) 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:

(Acts 15:24) 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: to whom we gave no such commandment:

Notice the two questions at hand regarding Gentile believers...

  1. Whether they had to be circumcised. Circumcision is a barbaric practice, especially so for adults.
  2. Whether they had to keep the law of Moses.

(Acts 15:25) It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

(Acts 15:26) Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Acts 15:27) We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.

(Acts 15:28) For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

(Acts 15:29) 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.

The decrees for Gentile Christians...

  1. Don't eat food offered to idols (presumably at the pagan temples participating in the rituals). (Paul quickly reverses this).
  2. Don't eat blood. (The Gentiles probably didn't do this anyway but it would appease the hard-line Jews).
  3. Don't eat animals slaughtered via strangulation.
  4. Don't fornicate (it's odd they would have to mention this all the time; perhaps this is a reference to temple idolatry with prostitution, perhaps being in the pagan temples doing #1 led to this).

We should notice they soon forgot about the first three of these with no subsequent council to decree such. Therefore, councils are not authoritative but, rather, apostolic teaching proven over time is.

Aftermath of the Council of Jerusalem

(Acts 15:30) So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:

(Acts 15:31) Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

(Acts 15:32) And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.

(Acts 15:33) And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.

(Acts 15:34) Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.

(Acts 15:35) Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

(Acts 15:36) 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.

(Acts 15:37) And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

(Acts 15:38) But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

(Acts 15:39) 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;

Apparently, Church unity does not require that people never have disputes and disagreements.

A result of Barnabas splitting from Paul was that he dropped out of church history after this. Some have proposed that this is proof that he was in the wrong to do what he did, however, if this kind of argument were true we would have to conclude that only those in the limelight are operating in God's will. This is not a very useful conclusion; in fact, it is dangerous.

Probably the gospel of Mark contains influences from the teaching and personality of Barnabas.

This episode illustrates that when multiple leaders in a congregation begin to have dissent with one another, perhaps it is time for the congregation to split into multiple groups. This often has the side effect of splitting up friendships as people have to choose which leader to follow. It also can destroy the congregation altogether as funds are dispersed and financial commitments can't be met — downsizing may be the necessary result and many may abandon all the factions to find a home somewhere new. My house church model provides for church splits as a normal and regular part of church life.

(Acts 15:40) And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

(Acts 15:41) And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

(Acts 16:1) Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:

(Acts 16:2) Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

(Acts 16:3) 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.

(Acts 16:4) 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.

(Acts 16:5) And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

(Acts 16:6) Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost [Spirit] to preach the word in Asia,

(Acts 16:7) After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

(Acts 16:8) And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

(Acts 16:9) 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.

(Acts 16:10) And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 16:11) Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;


The account of Paul at Philippi ends in verse 40.

(Acts 16:12) And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

(Acts 16:13) And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

Apparently there were so few Jews in Philippi that they had no synagogue.

(Acts 16:14) 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.

(Acts 16:15) 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.

(Acts 16:16) And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

(Acts 16:17) 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.

(Acts 16:18) 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.

(Acts 16:19) 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,

(Acts 16:20) And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

(Acts 16:21) And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

(Acts 16:22) And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

(Acts 16:23) And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

(Acts 16:24) Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

(Acts 16:25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

(Acts 16:26) 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.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 16:27) 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.

(Acts 16:28) But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

(Acts 16:29) Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

(Acts 16:30) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

I wonder whether this jailer is asking how to be saved from punishment or even death by the Romans if his prisoners escape? Perhaps in asking this question he is coaxing Paul and Silas to not escape? There are many aspects of salvation, many things we need to be saved from. The Christian gospel addresses salvation from eternal spiritual death as the consequence of our original sin. Anyway, Paul and Silas inform him how his soul can be eternally saved and he accepts with his whole household. In addition, they don't escape, likely saving the life of the jailer.

The jailer had probably listened to Paul and Silas singing and talking and praying, and his heart was moved to thinking they were spiritual men. In realizing that his own life was in severe danger, he was moved to fall down before them and beg them for pity, or mercy, or salvation from his predicament. He probably didn't clearly know what he wanted, he just knew he was in mortal danger and needed help and that these men could save him. All humans are in mortal danger because of original sin. All humans need salvation from Jesus as this jailer did. We are in a life and death predicament.

(Acts 16:31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Paul and Silas told him to believe in Jesus and they also told him to have his household also believe in Jesus. These apostles were super salesman; they recognized that the predicament of the jailer provided an excellent opportunity to involve his household as well; likely their plight was not so good either if Paul and Silas had escaped. The jailer must have gone to get them all to listen to Paul and Silas speak. They were surely awake already because of the earthquake.

These were in mortal danger and turned to Jesus to save them. Most are not aware they are in mortal danger from original sin so there is less motivation for them to become Christians; they must first become aware of the power of evil in the world and of the inherent badness of sinful and immoral activities. The Holy Spirit implants these ideas in people's minds, but many ignore them; it often takes a personal tragedy to jog them to their senses.

(Acts 16:32) And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

(Acts 16:33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway [immediately].

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 16:34) And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

The jailer took Paul and Silas to his home which was likely attached to the jail. He fed them; likely they were not cared for properly in the jail. It seems that Paul and Silas were the only prisoners or else the others would have escaped and the jailer punished.

The jailer and his whole household was joyous that they were saved. Perhaps they believed in God because he had saved them from their predicament by keeping Paul and Silas from escaping. Perhaps they recognized a miraculous act of God in the earthquake. Perhaps they recognized their fortune that teachers of the true gospel happened to be in their midst preaching the truth to them. People have different motivators for finally accepting Christ. Hopefully, he will not disappoint them as the original reasons for needing salvation pass away; hopefully they will recognize that the condition of original sin never passes and that all humans, therefore, require salvation from it for their whole lives.

(Acts 16:35) And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.

(Acts 16:36) 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.

(Acts 16:37) 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.

(Acts 16:38) And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.

(Acts 16:39) And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

(Acts 16:40) 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.

(Acts 17:1) Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

(Acts 17:2) And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

(Acts 17:3) 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.

(Acts 17:4) And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

(Acts 17:5) But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows [wicked men] of the baser sort, and gathered a company [formed a mob], and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

The non-believing Jews were actively opposing Paul and the gospel by starting riots. Notice they enlisted violent wicked men to assist them. This is a common theme in history of using violence to get your way.

(Acts 17:6) 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;

(Acts 17:7) Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

(Acts 17:8) And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

(Acts 17:9) And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

(Acts 17:10) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 17:11) 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.

They compared the writings of the Old Testament with the teachings of Paul and Silas to verify whether their teachings were true. These were, therefore, Jews who had access to the Old Testament and who knew its teachings. Presumably, some rabbis looked-up passages in their scrolls at the synagogue while Paul and Silas spoke. It seems they allowed Paul and Silas to speak with them often for days, weeks, or even months.

Seeking truth is noble. Rejecting it out of hand is ignoble. We have no explanation for why the Bereans were truly open to learning truth. Some cultures seem better equipped for study and learning than others. Some Christians are close-minded to accepting other Christian traditions as validly Christian. Some Christians think it is ok to kill other Christians who have different traditions. At some point, this rejection of truth results in loss of salvation when it results in immoral behavior and mortal sin.

(Acts 17:12) Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

(Acts 17:13) 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.

The non-believing Jews were actively opposing Paul and the gospel by starting riots. Notice they enlisted violent wicked men to assist them. This is a common theme in history of using violence to get your way.

(Acts 17:14) And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 17:15) 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.

(Acts 17:16) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

(Acts 17:17) 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.

(Acts 17:18) Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

(Acts 17:19) And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

(Acts 17:20) For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

(Acts 17:21) (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.)

(Acts 17:22) 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.

(Acts 17:23) For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

(Acts 17:24) 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;

(Acts 17:25) Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

(Acts 17:26) 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;

(Acts 17:27) That they should seek the Lord, if haply [perhaps] they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

(Acts 17:28) 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.

These are quotes from two ancient philosophers. We need not be concerned about the context of those because Paul appropriates the meaning for his own argument. We do not live and move and have our being in Zeus, as the ancient philosopher Epimenides claims, but rather, in the one true God. We are not the offspring of Zeus, as the ancient philosopher Aratus claims, but rather, of the one true God. It is not the Greek gods that possess divinity but, rather, the one true God.

These ancient philosophers got a lot right but they misunderstood the true nature of God and of divinity. Only Christianity provides proper teaching about this topic.

(Acts 17:29) 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.

(Acts 17:30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

(Acts 17:31) 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.

(Acts 17:32) And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

(Acts 17:33) So Paul departed from among them.

(Acts 17:34) Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

(Acts 18:1) After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;

(Acts 18:2) 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:) and came unto them.

(Acts 18:3) And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

(Acts 18:4) And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

(Acts 18:5) And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

(Acts 18:6) 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.

(Acts 18:7) 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.

(Acts 18:8) 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.

(Acts 18:9) Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

One reason we are to accept the apostles as authoritative teachers of truth is because God spoke directly to them just as he did the Old Testament prophets. The writings in the Bible contain information that could only be known supernaturally; this is why skeptics reject it, since they reject supernatural revelations. But knowing that Christianity is truly of God requires faith — it simply cannot be proved using reason and logic (but there is plenty of evidence for it and strong arguments in its favor).

How did Paul know that this vision was not just an untrustworthy dream? One thing all the prophets of God shared was a firm conviction that the communications they received were, indeed, from God. Of course, the delusions of psychopaths are often misinterpreted as having a divine origin, but this does not imply that all messages from the spiritual realm are from wicked spirits. If the wicked spirits can communicate with humans, shouldn't we also expect that God can do so? The question is who are trustworthy sources of God's divine revelation. For Christians the answer is, the apostles, the Church.

Paul might have been tempted to stop speaking so boldly because he was always being persecuted. But God was giving him a rest from his trials for a while, a time to feel safe and to enjoy teaching those who were eager to hear the truth.

(Acts 18:10) For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

Paul was safe in Corinth. This must have been good news and he likely wanted to stay there for a while partially to avoid the persecution he encountered in his journeys from city to city.

God was with Paul in Corinth, and that was why he was safe. Was God not with Paul in other cities in which he was not safe? Is safety the criteria we are to use in determining whether or not we are operating in God's will? Perhaps Paul needed to hear from God that he was with him when he was safe because Paul would wonder if he had been abandoned in such a cozy environment. Maybe Paul, by disposition, naturally felt he was doing God's will when he encountered opposition and persecution but would have felt strange settling down for a time in a safe location. Perhaps Paul would have left Corinth quickly if God had not told him he was with him.

Because of Paul's preaching and teaching in Corinth, there were many true believers there. But notice that some of the leaders were schismatics as witnessed by both of Paul's letters to them and the letter of Clement of Rome. In addition, these Christians had many bad practices such as misuse of Charismatic gifts, class division, and domineering leaders.

(Acts 18:11) And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Paul stayed a long time. Notice that the word of God was communicated verbally. The Corinthians were to receive Paul's teaching as infallible. Apostolic teaching is to be our authority as Christians. There was no magical, miraculous event after which God shifted our focus from the apostles to the Bible. After the apostles died this infallible teaching was in the hands of a new generation of Church leaders and teachers, not in the Bible; there was no Bible for centuries. So it is wrong to say the Bible is our authority.

The word of God addresses many topics including: (1) the gospel message of salvation, (2) instruction on morals and virtue, (3) how we are to live together as Christians, (4) the Christian's role in the world, (5) how the Church is to be structured, (6) the nature of the Church, (7) how to select qualified leaders and what the qualifications are, (8) salvation history, (9) God's nature as Trinity.

(Acts 18:12) And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

(Acts 18:13) Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

(Acts 18:14) 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:

(Acts 18:15) 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.

(Acts 18:16) And he drave them from the judgment seat.

(Acts 18:17) Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

(Acts 18:18) 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.

(Acts 18:19) And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.

(Acts 18:20) When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;

(Acts 18:21) 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.

(Acts 18:22) And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.

(Acts 18:23) 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.

(Acts 18:24) And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

(Acts 18:25) 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, knowing only the baptism of John.

Apollos was Jewish and well-versed in the scriptures. He had been open to accepting John the baptist's teaching and had been baptized by him. For a Jew to do this meant that he had in some sense rejected the Jewish leadership. No Jewish leader would have allowed Jews to participate with John the baptist; he was clearly operating outside of Jewish norms even though he had the external manners of the Old Testament prophets. Perhaps they might have at first tolerated John the baptist's teaching just in case he had been referring to a political Messiah who would free them from Roman rule. But John the baptist did not point out a man such as this. By the time Luke wrote the book of Acts, the Jews likely had "officially" rejected John the baptist as a valid Jewish prophet. So Apollos, in accepting John's baptism and proclaiming John's teachings, had placed himself outside of the orbit of the Jewish leaders.

Since John the baptist's ministry was to point out the Messiah, it took very little to persuade Apollos to move into the apostles' camp, to accept Jesus as the Messiah, to accept salvation through faith in Christ.

Apollos was a natural-born teacher and preacher. He had only to be guided into the truth by the Holy Spirit to be a mighty instrument of the Lord. Notice that this guiding was performed by other Christians. If Apollos had not had the opportunity to hear the true gospel preached to him, he might have ended up as a heretic. Some heretics are that way because of willful rejection of truth, others out of ignorance. Without guidance by the Church, the apostolic Church, who can find their way?

(Acts 18:26) 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.

(Acts 18:27) 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:

(Acts 18:28) For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

(Acts 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,

(Acts 19:2) He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost [Spirit] since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost [Spirit].

(Acts 19:3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

(Acts 19:4) 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.

(Acts 19:5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

(Acts 19:6) And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost [Spirit] came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

(Acts 19:7) And all the men were about twelve.

(Acts 19:8) 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.

The Jews were looking forward to a utopian physical kingdom of Israel free from Roman rule.

(Acts 19:9) 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.

(Acts 19:10) 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.

(Acts 19:11) And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

(Acts 19:12) So that from his body [that touched him] were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Some claim Paul had a very contagious eye disease but this verse contradicts this view.

(Acts 19:13) 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.

(Acts 19:14) And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

(Acts 19:15) And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

(Acts 19:16) 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.

(Acts 19:17) 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.

(Acts 19:18) And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

(Acts 19:19) Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

(Acts 19:20) So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

(Acts 19:21) 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.

(Acts 19:22) So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

(Acts 19:23) And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

(Acts 19:24) For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

(Acts 19:25) Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

(Acts 19:26) 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:

(Acts 19:27) 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.

(Acts 19:28) And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

(Acts 19:29) 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.

(Acts 19:30) And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

(Acts 19:31) 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.

(Acts 19:32) Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

(Acts 19:33) 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.

(Acts 19:34) 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.

(Acts 19:35) 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?

(Acts 19:36) Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

(Acts 19:37) For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

(Acts 19:38) 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.

(Acts 19:39) But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

(Acts 19:40) For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.

(Acts 19:41) And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

(Acts 20:1) And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

(Acts 20:2) And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,

(Acts 20:3) 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.

(Acts 20:4) 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.

(Acts 20:5) These going before tarried for us at Troas.

(Acts 20:6) 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.

(Acts 20:7) And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

The phrase "break bread" likely refers to the Eucharist which took place in the context of the fellowship meal.

(Acts 20:8) And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

(Acts 20:9) 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.

(Acts 20:10) And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.

(Acts 20:11) 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.

(Acts 20:12) And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

(Acts 20:13) 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.

(Acts 20:14) And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.

(Acts 20:15) 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.

(Acts 20:16) 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.

(Acts 20:17) And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

(Acts 20:18) 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,

(Acts 20:19) 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:

(Acts 20:20) 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,

(Acts 20:21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Acts 20:22) And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

(Acts 20:23) Save that the Holy Ghost [Spirit] witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

The Holy Spirit repeatedly warned Paul not to go publicly to Jerusalem and he repeatedly ignored it. Why would it be God's will to become imprisoned where you no longer have freedom to share to gospel and minister to the people? Certainly some become trapped, but to be repeatedly warned an ignore it? That's just crazy!

(Acts 20:24) 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.

(Acts 20:25) And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

(Acts 20:26) Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

(Acts 20:27) For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

(Acts 20:28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost [Spirit] hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

(Acts 20:29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

(Acts 20:30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

(Acts 20:31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

(Acts 20:32) 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.

(Acts 20:33) I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.

(Acts 20:34) Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands [of mine] have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

(Acts 20:35) I have shewed [showed] you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Paul showed the Church leaders by example how to work to support themselves and others. This implies that their Church work was not full time. I've often wondered what pastors of a local congregation do that takes their full work week. Note that in this early church the leaders have charge over a fairly small flock of people. The early bishops were similar to pastors of a local congregation today; the model of a bishop having millions of people to oversee was not part of the early church and should be rejected. Bishops are to interact with their local congregations. Paul had a skill that he could do part time and his expenses were small. He likely stayed with people for free and only paid for his own food and other expenses.

This is an example of the Bible using the word "all" to not mean each and every one. It is limited to the things he is speaking about.

We are blessed when we receive things we need. But it is a greater blessing for us when we give to supply others' needs. Besides, someone in a society has to give; we can't all sit back and receive. Just as Paul supported himself and those who travelled with him, so also, the church leaders are to work to support others who are not so easily able to take care of themselves. The church leaders have a right to receive support from those they minister to, but they should not be a burden to them. I was always saddened when the pastors my tithes were helping to support lived a more grandiose lifestyle than I did.

(Acts 20:36) And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.

(Acts 20:37) And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,

(Acts 20:38) 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.

(Acts 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:

(Acts 21:2) And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

(Acts 21:3) 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.

(Acts 21:4) And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

Odd that Paul ignores those who are speaking through the Spirit. This clearly qualifies as an apostolic error. This highlights a problem with the Charismatic movement; if the apostle Paul couldn't discern the voice of the Holy Spirit, why should we fare any better?

We should wonder what would have become of Paul if he had obeyed the Holy Spirit's prompting? He would not have been imprisoned and, likely, would have been more effective in his ministry, living longer and reaching more people. Perhaps he had a death wish or thought he needed to be punished in the body for his sins against Christians before his conversion.

The Holy Spirit repeatedly warned Paul not to go publicly to Jerusalem and he repeatedly ignored it. Why would it be God's will to become imprisoned where you no longer have freedom to share to gospel and minister to the people? Certainly some become trapped, but to be repeatedly warned an ignore it? That's just crazy!

Paul seems to think the Jews were cursed. Since he was himself Jewish, he was cursed too. Perhaps if he could provide redemption for his fellow Jews by being in some way persecuted or sacrificed, he would do it, similar to the way Christ sacrificed himself for all people including the Jews to provide redemption. Perhaps this is what motivated Paul to allow himself to be imprisoned, as a form of redemptive sacrifice for the Jews?

(Acts 21:5) 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.

(Acts 21:6) And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

(Acts 21:7) And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.

(Acts 21:8) 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 evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

(Acts 21:9) And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

(Acts 21:10) And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

This seems similar to the Old Testament prophets. There is no reason the Church should not still have prophets. However, those groups claiming to have apostles and prophets are often tangled-up in unbiblical ultra-Charismatic practices and teaching, or worse, word-faith health-wealth false teaching.

(Acts 21:11) 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 [Spirit], So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

This may not be the Holy Spirit encouraging Paul to go to Jerusalem as much as trying to dissuade him from going. It doesn't actually say Paul should go.

The Holy Spirit repeatedly warned Paul not to go publicly to Jerusalem and he repeatedly ignored it. Why would it be God's will to become imprisoned where you no longer have freedom to share to gospel and minister to the people? Certainly some become trapped, but to be repeatedly warned an ignore it? That's just crazy!

Paul seems to think the Jews were cursed. Since he was himself Jewish, he was cursed too. Perhaps if he could provide redemption for his fellow Jews by being in some way persecuted or sacrificed, he would do it, similar to the way Christ sacrificed himself for all people including the Jews to provide redemption. Perhaps this is what motivated Paul to allow himself to be imprisoned, as a form of redemptive sacrifice for the Jews?

(Acts 21:12) And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

(Acts 21:13) 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.

Paul didn't die in Jerusalem but was, rather, arrested and kept in prison in various cities for years. This seems to me an avoidable waste of energy; Paul would have accomplished far more as a free man.

(Acts 21:14) And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

I doubt it was God's will for Paul to be imprisoned. Probably Paul felt he needed to suffer and pay for his persecution of Christians before his conversion. Of course, we can't know his motivations.

(Acts 21:15) And after those days we took up our carriages [baggage], and went up to Jerusalem.

(Acts 21:16) 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.

(Acts 21:17) And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

(Acts 21:18) And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

James was the leader of the Church in Jerusalem.

(Acts 21:19) And when he had saluted [greeted] them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought [done] among the Gentiles by his ministry.

(Acts 21:20) And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

(Acts 21:21) And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

This was untrue; Paul did not teach this. His subsequent activities were likely intended to show these critics he was not against Judaism, but they misrepresented that too (probably on purpose) and Paul ended up a prisoner. Pearls before swine; he should not have bothered.

Paul taught that no one needed to follow the Jewish law to be a Christian, not that Christians cannot follow the Jewish law. This is a similar error as that of today: that practicing various rituals is idolatry.

(Acts 21:22) What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

This show of Jewish piety was done for the wrong reason; to be seen of men.

(Acts 21:23) Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them [made a vow];

In order to demonstrate to the Jews that they can still follow Jewish traditions and rituals, Paul briefly took the Nazarite vow with four others following the request of James. The four had been doing this for some time and Paul joins them. It's as if James was looking for a way to appease the concerns of the Jewish Christians that they would have to abandon their Jewish traditions and live as Gentiles. This whole scheme backfired and Paul ended up in prison.

(Acts 21:24) Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them [pay their expenses], 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.

Paul's action disproves the foundational Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone; he demonstrated to the Jews the necessity as a Christian to keep the law, and not only the 10 commandments. Neither the Nazarite vow nor circumcision are part of the 10 commandments.

For those Christian groups who insist Christians must obey the 10 commandments, this verse should require them to follow the entire Mosaic law. They have no basis to limit this to just the 10 commandments based on this verse. Usually they do this: (1) must observe the Sabbath, and (2) good works are necessary for salvation. (I agree works have a role in salvation.)

(Acts 21:25) As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

(Acts 21:26) 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.

Notice Paul, as a Christian, participating in Jewish rituals. Based on his own teaching he should not have done this out of concern he would stumble his Christian brothers, that they would wrongly think these observances are required.

(Acts 21:27) 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,

Rather than illustrating to the Jews that they can keep their traditions, Paul's presence in the temple for the Jewish vows gave his enemies opportunity to publicly oppose him. The scheme of James and Paul backfired. Paul should have avoided Jerusalem as the Holy Spirit counseled altogether until the commotion died down.

Paul seems to think the Jews were cursed. Since he was himself Jewish, he was cursed too. Perhaps if he could provide redemption for his fellow Jews by being in some way persecuted or sacrificed, he would do it, similar to the way Christ sacrificed himself for all people including the Jews to provide redemption. Perhaps this is what motivated Paul to allow himself to be imprisoned, as a form of redemptive sacrifice for the Jews?

(Acts 21:28) 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 Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

I'm amazed how often people don't bother to find out the truth; in this case, whether Paul had brought non-Jews into the temple. Another example is the chief priests and scribes not bothering to find out where Jesus was born, assuming in Galilee since he lived there.

Paul clearly taught against the law; the book of Romans is clear on this.

(Acts 21:29) (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

(Acts 21:30) 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.

(Acts 21:31) And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

(Acts 21:32) 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.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 21:33) 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.

(Acts 21:34) 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.

(Acts 21:35) And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

(Acts 21:36) For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

(Acts 21:37) 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?

Paul was a Greek-speaking Jew.

(Acts 21:38) Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

(Acts 21:39) 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.

(Acts 21:40) 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,

The phrase "Hebrew tongue" refers to Aramaic, the language of the Aramaic-speaking Jews who had stayed in Palestine and, therefore, were never Hellenized. They were more strict about the Jewish law than the Greek-speaking Jews who had moved back to Palestine. Likely only the Jewish priests spoke Hebrew. Since Paul had studied under the rabbi Gamaliel, he had learned Hebrew and Aramaic.

(Acts 22:1) Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.

(Acts 22:2) (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)

Paul recounts his history

Notice this narrative is not in chronological order. He mentions the stoning of Stephen after his conversion.

(Acts 22:3) 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 Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

Paul was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus in Cilicia but at a young age moved to Jerusalem to study with the rabbi Gamaliel who was a Pharisee. Paul studied to become a Pharisee and finally became one.

(Acts 22:4) And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

Paul was a violent man, perhaps having one of the psychological disorders involving anger and rage. He was never treated for this and I doubt his conversion changed him in this regard. Perhaps this is why he allowed himself to be imprisoned, as a sort of punishment from God to resolve his feeling of guilt. Perhaps he had psychological delusions about his role and therefore ignored the repeated warnings. We should be wary of his teaching because he might have included delusional ideas in it.

(Acts 22:5) As also the high priest doth bear me witness [can testify], and all the estate [council] 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.

A violent mission: capturing Christians, binding them, taking them to Jerusalem to be punished, probably including beating and whipping.

(Acts 22:6) And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh [near] unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.

(Acts 22:7) And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

(Acts 22:8) And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

(Acts 22:9) And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

It says they heard a voice but elsewhere says they didn't hear a voice. Critics of the Bible use this to "prove" the Bible is untrustworthy. But why would Luke the writer of Acts contradict this story each time he tells it? All it means is they heard the sound but not the words.

(Acts 22:10) 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.

We should wonder how much was told to Paul and whether the only thing Paul was told at this time was what Ananias told him, the rest being communicated to him during his vision to the third heaven.

(Acts 22:11) 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.

(Acts 22:12) And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,

(Acts 22:13) Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

(Acts 22:14) 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.

(Acts 22:15) For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

(Acts 22:16) And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

(Acts 22:17) 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;

Paul had journeyed to Jerusalem. On this trip he did not mingle with the people. Perhaps this is the time he met with Peter?

(Acts 22:18) And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.

(Acts 22:19) And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:

(Acts 22:20) And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

(Acts 22:21) And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

This story by Paul is compressed; he didn't immediately go the the Gentiles.

(Acts 22:22) 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.

(Acts 22:23) And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,

(Acts 22:24) 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.

(Acts 22:25) 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?

(Acts 22:26) When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

(Acts 22:27) Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

(Acts 22:28) And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

The word "free" is not in the text. Paul was born a Roman citizen.

The chief captain was likely from the frontier of the Roman Empire in a region recently conquered and had to purchase his citizenship. Paul's family in Tarsus likely acquired citizenship from living in Asia for several generations — perhaps one of them purchased it.

(Acts 22:29) Then straightway [immediately] 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.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 22:30) 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 council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

(Acts 23:1) And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

The word "until" doesn't imply there was a change of condition afterwards. In this case, Paul doesn't stop living a holy life after this.

(Acts 23:2) And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

(Acts 23:3) Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

(Acts 23:4) And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?

(Acts 23:5) 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.

(Acts 23:6) 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: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Paul claims to be a Pharisee even though he has rejected their beliefs and practices. I suppose in like manner, I am a Catholic even though I have rejected many Catholic teachings.

(Acts 23:7) And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

(Acts 23:8) For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

The word "resurrection" refers to the soul living after death, not to Christian bodily resurrection at the end of the world. Notice there is no mention of body, only of spirit.

(Acts 23:9) 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.

(Acts 23:10) And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

(Acts 23:11) And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

(Acts 23:12) 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.

(Acts 23:13) And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.

(Acts 23:14) 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.

(Acts 23:15) 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.

(Acts 23:16) And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

(Acts 23:17) 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.

(Acts 23:18) 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.

(Acts 23:19) 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?

(Acts 23:20) 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.

(Acts 23:21) 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.

(Acts 23:22) So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.

(Acts 23:23) 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;

Notice there are 70 horses.

(Acts 23:24) And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

(Acts 23:25) And he wrote a letter after this manner:

(Acts 23:26) Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.

(Acts 23:27) 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.

(Acts 23:28) And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:

(Acts 23:29) 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.

(Acts 23:30) And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway [immediately] to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.

Immediately, meaning, the next significant event of the story.

(Acts 23:31) Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.

(Acts 23:32) On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:

(Acts 23:33) Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

(Acts 23:34) And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;

(Acts 23:35) I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.

(Acts 24:1) And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.

(Acts 24:2) 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,

(Acts 24:3) We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

(Acts 24:4) Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

(Acts 24:5) 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:

(Acts 24:6) Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.

(Acts 24:7) But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,

(Acts 24:8) Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.

(Acts 24:9) And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.

(Acts 24:10) 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:

(Acts 24:11) Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.

(Acts 24:12) 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:

(Acts 24:13) Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.

(Acts 24:14) 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:

Paul claims to believe everything written in the Old Testament but he clearly rejects certain things (for example: Sabbath, animal sacrifices, rituals).

This is similar to my approach to truth: I look to apostolic teaching as authoritative and infallible while at the same time admitting the apostles made errors in this teaching. Must include in the equation the writings of the early church fathers and the early church councils.

(Acts 24:15) 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.

We should wonder whether the will be such an event as the resurrection of the wicked? A few verses indicate the answer is yes.

(Acts 24:16) And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

(Acts 24:17) Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.

(Acts 24:18) Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.

(Acts 24:19) Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

(Acts 24:20) Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,

(Acts 24:21) 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.

(Acts 24:22) And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.

(Acts 24:23) 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.

Paul likely had to pay his expenses while in captivity. If he could pay rent for a suitable room, his food expenses, and the salary of the centurion, he would not be cast into the dungeons.

(Acts 24:24) 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.

(Acts 24:25) 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.

(Acts 24:26) 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.

Felix was hoping that after a while Paul would finally try to bribe him into letting him go free.

(Acts 24:27) But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

Keeping Paul in prison was a way for Felix to show favor to the Jewish leaders to gain political advantage; he could ask for concessions from them to keep the peace.

Festus became procurator around 55 to 59 A.D.

(Acts 25:1) Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

(Acts 25:2) Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,

(Acts 25:3) And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.

(Acts 25:4) But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.

(Acts 25:5) 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.

(Acts 25:6) 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.

(Acts 25:7) 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.

(Acts 25:8) 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.

(Acts 25:9) But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

The Roman government is clearly not righteous nor just, yet Paul commands Christians to obey because it is right and just. Clearly an error.

(Acts 25:10) 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.

(Acts 25:11) 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.

(Acts 25:12) Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

(Acts 25:13) And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

(Acts 25:14) And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:

(Acts 25:15) About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.

(Acts 25:16) To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.

(Acts 25:17) 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.

(Acts 25:18) Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:

(Acts 25:19) But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

(Acts 25:20) 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.

(Acts 25:21) But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.

(Acts 25:22) Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

(Acts 25:23) 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.

(Acts 25:24) 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.

(Acts 25:25) 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.

(Acts 25:26) 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.

(Acts 25:27) For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

(Acts 26:1) Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

(Acts 26:2) I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:

(Acts 26:3) 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.

(Acts 26:4) My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

(Acts 26:5) Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

(Acts 26:6) And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:

(Acts 26:7) 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.

(Acts 26:8) Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

(Acts 26:9) I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

(Acts 26:10) 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.

(Acts 26:11) And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

(Acts 26:12) Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

(Acts 26:13) 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.

(Acts 26:14) 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 [goads].

A goad is like a spear used to poke at the animals to coerce them into moving or stopping.

The word "Hebrew" (Hebrais) refers to Aramaic.

(Acts 26:15) And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

(Acts 26:16) But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

(Acts 26:17) Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,

(Acts 26:18) To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

(Acts 26:19) Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

(Acts 26:20) 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.

(Acts 26:21) For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

(Acts 26:22) 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:

(Acts 26:23) 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.

(Acts 26:24) And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

(Acts 26:25) But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

(Acts 26:26) 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.

(Acts 26:27) King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

(Acts 26:28) Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

(Acts 26:29) 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.

(Acts 26:30) And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:

(Acts 26:31) And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

(Acts 26:32) Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

(Acts 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.

(Acts 27:2) 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.

(Acts 27:3) 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.

(Acts 27:4) And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

(Acts 27:5) And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

(Acts 27:6) And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

(Acts 27:7) 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;

(Acts 27:8) And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

(Acts 27:9) Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,

(Acts 27:10) 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.

(Acts 27:11) Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

(Acts 27:12) 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 [Phoenicia], and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.

(Acts 27:13) And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

(Acts 27:14) But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

(Acts 27:15) And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

(Acts 27:16) And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:

(Acts 27:17) Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.

(Acts 27:18) And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

(Acts 27:19) And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

(Acts 27:20) 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.

(Acts 27:21) 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.

(Acts 27:22) 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.

(Acts 27:23) For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

(Acts 27:24) Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

(Acts 27:25) Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

(Acts 27:26) Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

(Acts 27:27) 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;

(Acts 27:28) And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.

(Acts 27:29) Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

(Acts 27:30) 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,

(Acts 27:31) Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.

(Acts 27:32) Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

(Acts 27:33) 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.

(Acts 27:34) 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.

(Acts 27:35) 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.

(Acts 27:36) Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

(Acts 27:37) And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.

(Acts 27:38) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

(Acts 27:39) 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.

(Acts 27:40) And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.

(Acts 27:41) 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.

(Acts 27:42) And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

(Acts 27:43) 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:

(Acts 27:44) And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

(Acts 28:1) And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.

(Acts 28:2) 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.

(Acts 28:3) 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.

(Acts 28:4) 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.

(Acts 28:5) And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.

(Acts 28:6) 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.

(Acts 28:7) 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.

(Acts 28:8) 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.

(Acts 28:9) So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:

(Acts 28:10) Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

(Acts 28:11) And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.

(Acts 28:12) And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.

(Acts 28:13) 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:

(Acts 28:14) Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.

(Acts 28:15) And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

(Acts 28:16) And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.

(Acts 28:17) 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.

(Acts 28:18) Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.

(Acts 28:19) But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.

(Acts 28:20) 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.

(Acts 28:21) 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.

(Acts 28:22) But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

(Acts 28:23) 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.

(Acts 28:24) And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

(Acts 28:25) And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost [Spirit] by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet unto our fathers,

(Acts 28:26) Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

(Acts 28:27) 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.

(Acts 28:28) Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

(Acts 28:29) And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

(Acts 28:30) And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,

Paul would be executed by Nero three or four years after he was released the first time.

Paul died before the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D. We should expect that he would have not been so concerned to write about topics of interest to the Jewish Christians (law, works, ritual, feast days, diet) if he had lived to see this event. Especially considering he referred to himself as the apostle to the Gentiles.

Luke probably wrote his gospel and the book of Acts during this two year period.

(Acts 28:31) Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

King James Version