The Book of Acts

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA

Waiting For Power From On High
– Acts One –

   Acts is the book that reveals the history of the New Testament church. If the book of Acts was taken out of our New Testament, we would never understand the rest of it. Luke is the author of the book Acts. He was also the author of the Gospel of Luke. Luke and Acts together make up about 28% of our New Testament. The book of Acts is God's divine book on the subject of church history.

   If we are ever to understand New Testament Christianity we must have knowledge of the beginning and growth of the church. The importance of the book of Acts is seen in the words of Acts 1:3. Luke spoke of those "To whom the Lord 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."

   The common elements in all of the preaching throughout the book of Acts are: (1) Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of Old Testament, (2) Jesus is the Messiah, (3) He had a great miracle working ministry, (4) He was crucified as a sin sacrifice, (5) He was raised from the dead on the third day, (6) He now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords, (7) He will come again, (8) The world will be judged by His word, (9) therefore,  all men everywhere  need to hear this message, repent of sins, be baptized for the remission of sins and serve God out of a heart of deep love.

   The events of the first chapter of Acts took place in the ten days that elapsed from the day of the ascension of Jesus Christ to the Jewish feast day of Pentecost. Luke begins with a brief review of the history of the life of Christ, His gospel and good works. The book of Acts, like the Gospel of Luke was written to Theophilus. The book starts with and stays with the theme of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. During the forty days following His resurrection Jesus had given much instruction to His disciples.

    Acts One provides a brief, but powerful look at Christ's ascension into heaven. His disciples were witnesses to the ascension. The apostles were commanded to go to Jerusalem and wait for power from on high. It was during this time that the disciples prayed in the upper room. While they waited Matthias was selected to fill the office of Judas.

   Jesus was presented alive – Acts 1:1-3: The book of Acts is a letter addressed to one man, Theophilus. It is, however, a message for everyone. It is a continuation of where Luke had left off at the conclusion of his gospel. In his gospel Luke wrote of what Jesus began to do and to teach. Jesus chose twelve men to be His apostles.  Just before His ascension to heaven he gave them explicit commands as to where they should go and what they should preach. "And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46-47) Jesus' resurrection encourages our trust in Him and our salvation through Him.

   Jesus showed Himself alive after His sufferings and death. He was presented alive to speak things pertaining to the kingdom or church. During a forty day period following His resurrection Christ was not only seen of the disciples at certain times, but He was also heard by them. He spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, the Gospel dispensation, and concerning the doctrines of the Gospel they were to preach. Both the power and providence of God are seen in the resurrection, appearances and ascension of Jesus. Today Jesus still lives and because He lives Christians know that they shall live also.                               

    Jesus promised the Holy Ghost – Acts 1:4-8: The apostles were to wait in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of the promise of the father. The promise of the Father was that He would send the Holy Ghost upon the apostles. The apostles were to be baptized with the Holy Ghost in a few days! The apostles still had to learn that the preaching of the gospel produces the spiritual kingdom of Christ, the church. Jesus is not interested in some earthly kingdom.

   The apostles learned that they were responsible for preaching the gospel to every creature. Christians are responsible for the evangelism of the world in each generation. Every man on earth is lending his influence in behalf of either truth or falsehood. Faith in the risen Christ gave tremendous power to the apostles' preaching and it should likewise move us to evangelism.                                                         

   Jesus ascended to heaven – Acts 1:9-12: The apostles were allowed to witness the ascension of the Lord. The Lord Jesus was "taken up" because "up" is where God is. Heaven is where Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of God. The ascension of Jesus is in perfect harmony with the other parts of His history. Jesus' ascension was a fitting and natural termination of His earthly ministry.                                         

   This same Jesus who died to save us and that ascended back to heaven shall come again. He shall come in the same manner as He ascended. He will come in the clouds of heaven, and shall be attended with His mighty angels. He shall descend Himself in person, with a shout, and with the sound of a trumpet, to receive His own. They will meet Him in the air. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

    Jesus had said, "wait in Jerusalem” – Acts 1:13-26: Jesus had commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem. While they waited the disciples prayed, praised God and appointed an apostle. Matthias was selected to take the place of Judas that had fallen away from God. Let us never forget how wicked one can become who falls from his Creator. The work of Christ must go on even though some die and others desert the cause. Neither Judas nor any other who turns back to sin is suitable for heaven.                                       

   There can be no living apostles in the church today. Observe that specific requirements set forth for one to be an apostle. "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 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 1:21-22) The choice for an apostle was to be from among the men, and not the women. Women did not bear any office, or exercise any authority in the church. An apostle had to be eyewitness of Jesus' resurrection; otherwise he could no be a witness at all.

      To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus (John 8:24); repent of sins (Romans 10:9-10); confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and be baptized into Christ (I Peter 3:21). After baptism use your life to spread the gospel of Christ! “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

The Kingdom Of God Came With Power
– Acts Two

   The Lord Jesus had promised, "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." (Mark 9:1) Acts Chapter Two provides a record of the kingdom of God or the church coming with power.

   On the day of Pentecost following our Lord's resurrection the disciples were assembled and waiting in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father to be fulfilled. According to Isaiah the word of the Lord was to go forth from Jerusalem. "Many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3) 

   On that Pentecost day the Holy Ghost came on the apostles with a sound as a mighty rushing wind. There appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire. The apostles were given power to speak in languages that they had never studied. This was to make it possible for them to preach to Jews from every nation in their own language. The reactions were very different as to what happened  on Pentecost:  (1) some of the people said the apostles were drunk. (2) Some of the people were astonished to hear the apostles declare the wonderful works of God. (3) The apostles were sure that this was a fulfillment of what the prophets had spoken. 

   The apostles used the events of Pentecost to preach Jesus to these people. Peter's sermon had three points: (1) He spoke of how Jesus fulfilled prophecy, (2) He spoke of the great miracle working ministry of Jesus, and (3) He spoke of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This sermon both alarmed and convinced many that heard it.

   The people inquired as to what they must do. They were told to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus, for the remission of sins. The gift of the Holy Ghost was promised to those that obey. About 3,000 people gladly received the word and were baptized. These saved people were added to the church. Those in the church enjoyed a wonderful fellowship.  

   The Holy Ghost descended – Acts 2:1-4: Jesus had promised that the kingdom of God would come with power. (Mark 9:1) The power came with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.  The events under consideration took place on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was fifty days from Passover. (Leviticus 23:15-16) The Holy Ghost came on the apostles with power on the Pentecost following Jesus' resurrection.

   Acts two begins "they were all with one accord in one place." The "They" included Matthias, and the eleven with whom he was numbered. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost came on the apostles only, not on the hundred and twenty. There was a sound like a mighty rushing wind and tongues parting like fire. The apostles spoke the gospel with other tongues or languages. They were able to preach the gospel in languages they had never learned.

   The lost are gathered – Acts 2:5-15: The sound like a rushing mighty wind and the tongues parting asunder like fire resulted in the multitude coming together. "There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." The apostles spoke in the language of the people who had gathered. They taught these people the "wonderful works of God” in their own language.      

   The people were especially amazed because the men that spoke were all Galilaeans. At best they were unpolished and unlearned men. They had never attended any school of learning nor had they learned any language but their own. Some wondered what the events of Pentecost meant. Others accused the apostles of being drunk. Peter stood up with the other apostles and said they were not drunk. He said it was only the third hour of the day. No Jew would drink before the first hour of prayer -- nine in the morning.                 

        The sermon is preached – Acts 2:16-39: Peter said the events of Pentecost were predicted by the prophet Joel. This is what Joel had predicted. The "last days" refers to the Christian dispensation that was beginning that day. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was accompanied with great natural wonders spoken of in this chapter.                  

   In the midst of those amazing natural events often associated with God's judgment against nations the hope of salvation is presented. The concern of Peter's sermon was human salvation and the means of obtaining such salvation. Peter preached about the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. Peter's sermon focused on, (1) the fact that Jesus fulfilled prophecy, (2) His great miracle working ministry, and (3) the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord.                            

   The apostles made it clear that salvation comes to believers that will repent and be baptized. On this beginning day of the church about three thousand souls were baptized for remission of sins. These baptized believers were added to the church.                 

   The result is salvation – Acts 2:40-47: Only those that gladly receive the word can be saved. The one that gladly receives the word will be baptized immediately. They did not eat, sleep nor drink first. Salvation was the most important thing in the world to them. Those that are added to the church must remain steadfast in service to God. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)

   All God's people must be together as one in Christ Jesus. "All that believed were together" could not refer to together in one place because the number was so large. They were of one mind and judgment as to Jesus, who He is, what He has done and what we must do to be washed in His blood. The disciples were of one heart and soul. That is why God added all the saved and only the saved to the church. Christians bless and encourage one another and also spread the salvation message to others.

    Are you a child of God? "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 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? 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." (Acts 2:36-38) 

  Now is the time to serve God faithfully. To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized. (Acts 2:38) Those that become Christians are added by the Lord to His church. Are you a faithful member of Christ's church?

The Prophet Sent From God
– Acts Three

  There are many sad situations in our word. As Peter and John entered the Beautiful Gate of the Temple a man that had been lame from his mother’s womb confronted them. The lame man was healed by the power of God. This miracle opened the door for Peter's second sermon. The man was healed with simply the speaking of a word. "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 3:6)

   The people were astonished at what had happened. "And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 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 3:9-10) The apostles were quick to let the people know that the lame man was not healed by their own power. He was healed through the power of Jesus of Nazareth, whom the people had crucified.

   The purpose of Peter's sermon was to bring these people to Christ. They were taught to repent of their sin and be converted. The motivation for such obedience was the fact that Jesus was that prophet spoken of by Moses. The Old Testament  worthies pointed  to Jesus and to the salvation that can only be obtained through Him. Christ came as fulfillment of the covenant God had made with Abraham. The purpose of His coming was to turn sinners from their iniquities.

   A lame man needed help – Acts 3:1-5: Peter and John were together often. Here they go together into the Temple. Their purpose was not to make sacrifice. The Jewish sacrifices were abolished by the sacrifice of Christ. They went into the temple: (1) to pray, and (2) that they might have the opportunity to preach the gospel there. The Temple was a gathering place for many people. They entered the Temple at about the ninth hour or about three o'clock in the afternoon.

   As the apostles entered the Temple they come face to face with a lame man. This poor fellow had been lame from his mother's womb. He was carried by others and laid at the gate of the Temple that is called Beautiful. His affliction had caused him to be dependent on others. He was there to ask alms or beg from the ones that entered the Temple. He asked alms of Peter and John. Peter and John looked carefully at the man and ask him to look at them. He looked at them expecting to receive something from them. What he expected was a little money, not a cure for his lameness.

   A notable miracle was performed – Acts 3:6-10: How disappointed the poor man must have been when the apostles told him that they had no money. His disappointment quickly turned to joy when they said, "such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6) Just as Peter had seen Jesus do, he took the man by the right hand and lifted him up. Where there had been weakness, immediately there was strength.

   The reaction of the man was beautiful. He leaped up, stood and walked. His cure was perfect and complete. The man joined the apostles as they went into the Temple to pray and acknowledge the goodness of God. The words of Isaiah 35:6 "Then shall the lame man leap as an hart..." were fulfilled in this man. The healed man also praised God. He did not praise the apostles. He realized that his healing came from God. The people saw the man that had been lame for those many years walking into the Temple to praise God. It was clear to them that this was the beggar that they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. The people were filled with amazement at what had transpired.

   An opportunity to preach the gospel – Acts 3:11-18: The man that was healed to Peter and John. He knew that they were instruments through whom God had worked. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob had made this man whole. Peter was alert to the opportunity that the miracle brought to preach the gospel. The apostles were careful to show that the miracle was performed by the power of God, not by their power. The man was made whole through the name of Jesus and faith in His name.

   The apostles charged these people with delivering up Jesus and killing the Prince of Life. Peter explained that God had glorified Jesus by raising Him from the dead, setting him at His own right hand, and by this notable miracle that had been done on the lame man. He gave the people hope by showing that God had raised Jesus from the dead. Peter said that it was through ignorance that these people had denied the Son of God. It was no surprise that Christ suffered. The prophets had predicted that He would.

   Recognizing their duty to God – Acts 3:19-26: The people were told to repent and be converted, so that their sins might be blotted out. Refreshment, joy, and peace come with the blotting out of sins. God sent Jesus to give them hope. He is that prophet like Moses. The one that does not hear Jesus will be destroyed from among the people. The work of Jesus Christ is redemption by His blood. 

   The primary and immediate thing in view here is the accomplishment of all those things that had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets. They are now being completed in and by Jesus Christ. The message was, "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. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." (Acts 3:22-23)

   All of His doctrines are to be believed, and all His commands are to be obeyed. The person that will not believe what He says, nor do what He commands will be destroyed. God will hold us responsible for what we do with His message. Let us learn that Jesus, the seed of Abraham, will gladly bless people through the forgiveness of sins.

   Have you been converted? Faith in the Christ is the beginning point of an acceptable relationship with God. (Romans 10:17) None can have salvation without hearing and believing the salvation message. (Mark 16:15-16) Repentance is necessary for salvation. (Luke 13:3) Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of action or a change in life. A simple confession of faith in Jesus made by one's mouth is a necessary step in conversion. (Romans 10:9-10) Those that put on Christ must be baptized into Him. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27) At baptism one stops being out of Christ. If you are saved praise God for what He has done for you.

Preaching Leads To Prison
– Acts Four –

   The Apostles had healed a man at the Beautiful gate of the Temple. This provided a wonderful opportunity to preach Jesus and His resurrection. The priests and Sadducees were sad that "they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead." The result was that Peter and John were put in prison. "The inherent hatred of truth and righteousness on the part of the powers of darkness was quickly manifested in the bitter opposition encountered by the apostolic preachers of the gospel."

   The growth of Christianity was well underway by this time. "Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand." (Acts 4:4) The Apostles were called to answer for their authority to preach and to heal. They were asked, "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" (Acts 4:7) Peter and John saw this as simply another opportunity to preach Jesus.

   Their accusers could not deny that a notable miracle had been done on the lame man. Yet, they charged the Apostles "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus." "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. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Their time in prison ended with being threatened and dismissed.

   Peter and John return to the other Apostles for a period of prayer and praise to God for His goodness. "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:31) The result of this early persecution was that the believers were joined together in even stronger love. They cared for the poor by selling their property and goods and sharing with those that had need.

   The Apostles were arrested – Acts 4:1-4: Peter and John were interrupted as they spoke about Jesus. The priests, captain of the temple and Sadducees caused the trouble. They were grieved because of the preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. The doctrine of the resurrection from the dead was a special grief to the Sadducees. The Apostles not only preached the resurrection of the dead in general, but they said that this man Jesus was raised from the dead.                               

   Peter and John were arrested late in the day. They were kept in prison to be dealt with on the morrow. Even though Peter and John were put in prison many of those that had heard the word believed. The number of Christian men grew to be about five thousand. The apostles had literally become fishers of men.                                                   

   The Apostles in court – Acts 4:5-12: The apostles were examined by the rulers, the chief priests, the Scribes, and elders of the people. They were examined with the question, "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" The Holy Ghost directed the Apostles in answering for the faith. They explained that the man had been made whole in the name of Jesus. "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 4:10)

   Jesus was shown to be a rejected stone which became the chief corner stone. Jesus is strong, durable, dependable and fit for a foundation for both time and eternity. Salvation can be found only in the name of Jesus. God resolved in His purpose that salvation would be made possible. He appointed his Son to be the salvation of the world. God saves by Him and by no other. Sadly, many reject all that Jesus, in His mercy offers.                                                                                   

   The Apostles were threatened – Acts 4:13-22: Their persecutors were perplexed by the boldness of Peter and John. They had perceived of Peter and John as being unlearned, ignorant men. However, that is not the way they spoke before their accusers. Those that accused the apostles were unable to deny that a notable miracle had been done. After taking council together they decided that they would forbid the apostles to preach in the name of Jesus.                               

   The Apostles asked their accusers whether they should obey their commands or the will of God. Their conclusion was that they had to speak what they had seen and heard about the resurrection. The apostles knew that souls were perishing without Jesus. They looked to Jesus Christ as the only escape from eternal ruin. They knew that there is no peace of mind or proper life conduct aside from Jesus and His truth. The court released the apostles because they were fearful of the people. They did not care if they offended God, but they were afraid of the people.         

   The apostles in their own company – Acts 4:23-37: When the apostles came back to their own company they: (1) reported what commands and injunctions their accusers had lain upon them, (2) reported what threatenings they had given them, (3) prayed together with the brethren, and (4) praised God. They looked upon God as their heavenly Father in Christ. He was the one to whom they looked for help, and in whom they expected safety, strength and grace. Their request was for boldness that they not be intimidated concerning preaching the Christ.                                                            

   The result of their prayers was: (1) the place was shaken where they were assembled together, (2) they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and (3) they spoke the word of God with all boldness. The shaking of the house assured them that God was still with them. This was also a time of great unity in the church "One heart and one soul" described the beautiful unity of the early church. They were in total agreement in matters of doctrine. There was a perfect harmony in their practice. Their souls were knit to one another in this large body of Christians.

   The liberality of fellow Christians helped meet the needs of poor brethren. Many, like Barnabas, the son of exhortation sold land or other possessions to help those that were in need. "It is quite probable that the land sold by Barnabas constituted his whole estate. Having no family dependent on him, he consecrated his life to unrequited missionary labor. "

   They brought this money and laid it at the feet of the Apostles. This giving was done out of gratitude to God and sympathy for man. Others glorify God when they see the good deeds done by Christians.                                                    

   If you have not started the Christian life "Today is the day of salvation." (II Corinthians 6:2.) To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30) and be baptized to wash away sins. (Acts 22:16) Your attitudes and actions should be molded after the example of the early Christians as they were willing both to live and to die for Jesus. .

The Deceit Of Ananias And Sapphira
– Acts Five –

   Pictured in Acts chapter five is the deceitful action and death of Ananias and Sapphira. They were killed because of a premeditated sin. Their death had nothing to do with not giving the whole price of their property. They lost their lives because they lied. They lied about the amount they were giving. Their desire was to receive praise of the brethren. Their focus should have been on pleasing God. Sincere love for God should have motivated truthfulness and acceptable service to God.

   The Spirit of God made Peter aware of the sins of this couple. This sin, like all sin, had its beginning in the heart. Ananias had conceived this thing in his heart. The crime of Ananias was not keeping part of the money. He could have kept any or all of it. Sadly, both this man and his wife were part of this sinful act. The punishment for their sin was a speedy death. 

   This practice of discipline caused fear among the Christians and others as well. "Great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things." (Acts 5:11) The thing that some think will hinder the growth of the church only helped. "Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." (Acts 5:14)

   Nothing could stop the apostles from preaching the gospel. Threatings and beatings could not stop them. They preached Christ, and Him crucified. They preached the resurrection from the dead. This was the preaching that most offended the priests. Whatever our position in life, we should seek to make Christ known, and to glorify His name. "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." (Acts 5:42)

   The danger of willful sin – Acts 5:1-11: Ananias and Sapphira were guilt of a serious, willful sin. A willful sin is a grave, spiritual error for those that want to go to heaven. They agreed to lie about the price that they received for some land. Their desire was to have the praise of men. Ananias' sin was not in keeping the part but in pretending to give the whole.

   Ananias was just making a show of charity. None but Satan could have put this lie in Ananias' heart. However, Peter knew of his lies by divine revelation. It was a terrible, premeditated sin. A premeditated sin aggravates the guilt of that sin and the severity of punishment.          

     People need to know how God feels about sin and how sever punishment will be. Sin was so repulsive to God that it cost Ananias and Sapphira their lives. They agreed together in this fraud. To agree together in a fraud and a lie is very dreadful. Ananias and Sapphira were united in marriage, religion, sin, death and eternity.                                            

   The power of a purified church – Acts 5:12-25: During this period of progress for the church miracles were worked by the apostles. The people were fearful of the apostles. Amazingly, the result was great growth for the church. "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." (Acts 5:14) Those that were added to the Lord were likewise added to the church. (Acts 2:47) They were added to the only church over which Christ is Lord and head.

   These events led to a second Jewish persecution. The motive for the second Jewish persecution was the jealousy of the leaders. The Jewish leaders told the apostles not to speak at all in the name of Jesus. God told them to, "Go, Stand and Speak the words of life." The apostles were certainly in a place of danger. However, this place of danger became a place of opportunity for the preaching of the gospel.

   The true purpose of every Christian is to "Go, Stand and Speak the words of life." It is the design of the gospel to restore men to a productive life in Christ Jesus. Let us never forget that the will of God is the salvation of men and women. We must do our part to bring salvation to everyone.

   When truth is opposed – Acts 5:26-32: In spite of opposition, Christians must uphold and defend the truth. Even after being put in prison and threatened the apostles continued to preach. They taught openly and publicly, and without fear. They taught the people in the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus is a strong tower to which the believer can run for safety.

   The persecutors gave the apostles an up side down compliment and what a compliment it was -- "you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine." The Sanhedrim had forbid them to speak and teach in the name of Christ. In answer to them the apostles said, "We ought to obey God rather than men." The foundation of true liberty is that "We must obey God rather than men." Obedience to God must be constant, unconditional, immediate and unquestioning.    

   God raised up Jesus as an exalted Prince. He is declared to be both Lord and Christ. Full forgiveness of all sins can be obtained by the precious blood off Jesus. God gives the Holy Ghost to all that obey Him as a witness of Jesus’ incarnation, His crucifixion and death, His resurrection, His exaltation to the right hand of God, and of His offices as Prince and Savior.

      Truth cuts to the heart – Acts 5:33-42: Even those that will not receive truth may be cut to the heart by truth. When the accusers of the apostles heard the resurrection message they wanted to kill the messengers. They did not want to hear that Jesus had been raised from the dead, exalted to God's right hand in heaven, and that He is the Savior of mankind.                                                              

   Gamaliel advised the council to act wisely in what the intended to do with the apostles. He reminded them of Theudas and Judas of Galilee. They had led away followers and their work had come to nothing because it was not of God. He said, "if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (Acts 5:38-39)

   They beat the apostles and "commanded they should not speak in the name of Jesus." The apostles had suffering bodies, happy hearts and obedient spirits. Every day, with great constancy, both publicly and privately, "they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Not a day should pass without some effort on our part to spread the gospel. The church grew through daily preaching done publicly and house to house. Christianity has not been overthrown, but has gone on conquering and to conquer.                       

   Jesus died for your sins and was resurrected. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus (John 8:24); repent of sins (Romans 10:9-10); confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and be baptized to wash away sins. (I Peter 3:21). After baptism use your life to spread the gospel!

Some Widows Were Neglected
– Acts Six –

   "Perfect unity" is the term that best described the early days of the church. "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul..." (Acts 4:32) As the church grew into a multitude some began to murmur. They felt that their widows were being neglected. The task of caring for everyone was just to great for the apostles. They needed help in seeing that the widows were properly cared for. They also needed much time for prayer and preaching.

   Seven qualified men were selected to assist in caring for the widows. These were "seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." When the seven men were selected the apostles prayed for them and laid their hands on them. The apostles wanted the widows cared for properly. The neglect had not been intentional. A mistake had occurred and the apostles wanted it rectified.

   Even during this time the church continued to grow. "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." (Acts 6:7)

   Stephen not only helped to care for the widows, but he was also a powerful preacher. The Bible says that, "Stephen, full of faith and power,  did great  wonders and  miracles  among the people." He was the first named, other than the apostles that performed miracles. Some disputed with Stephen but they "were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke." When they could not answer his arguments as a disputant they brought false wit-nesses against him. The false witnesses said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God." (Acts 6:11)

   When the council looked upon Stephen they "saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." (Acts 6:15) Stephen spoke with meek-ness. He was calm, clear, collected and fearless. His shinning face proved that he had not spoken blasphemous words against Moses or God. How would the splendor of heaven rest upon one that spoke in such a horrible way?

   The first dissension in the church – Acts 6:1-4: Until this time, the growth of the church had been great and the harmony of the church had been undisturbed. The number of disciples continued to grow rapidly. There were twelve, then a hundred and twenty, three thousand more, then five thousand more, and after that a multitude of men and women and now the number continued to multiply. In the midst of this time, "there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." (Acts 6:1)

   The apostles found themselves unable to minister to every demand. When the Gospel is preached and there is an increase Satan does his best to get a footing. Have you ever noticed how often Satan is able to stir up trouble with the cry of "partiality?"

   The Apostles did not feel that God would be pleased if they left the word of God to serve tables. They felt that they should commit themselves to the study of God's word, meditation upon it, and the preaching of it. It takes a great deal of time to collect for the poor, check out each case, and circumstances, and distribute to those needs. The apostles felt that they should reserve themselves for spiritual services.              

   The church selecting seven good men to be appointed over this work resolved the problem. These were to be men full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom. Wisdom would allow these brethren to handle the benevolent needs in a most prudent manner. The apostles were then able to give themselves to prayer and preaching.                        

   The complaint was heard no more – Acts 6:5-7: The wisdom of the decision to appoint these seven men was obvious as it was accepted by the church. Seven Grecian men were selected and the apostles sanctioned the selection. "They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch." (Acts 6:5)

   The Apostles prayed for these seven men and laid their hands upon them. The laying on of hand was for the purpose of conferring of spiritual gifts and it likewise showed the confidence of the apostles in these men to do the work that needed to be done. The work of the seven brought satisfaction and no more complaints were heard. The result was the "word of God increased" and the disciples multiplied in number. "A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." The faith is that system brought about by Jesus. Jesus Christ is the great object of faith. Faith is of no profit unless it is mixed with obedience. Those that are obedient to the faith cheerfully submit to New Testament teaching.          

   Stephen was accused of blasphemy – Acts 6:8-11: The rapid growth of the church led to the third Jewish persecution. During this persecution, Stephen, one of the seven, became the victim. Stephen, a man full of grace and power, spoke for God with irresistible eloquence. He preached with power and performed great wonders and signs. Until this time we only read that the apostles had performed New Testament miracles.                      

   Many of the people hated the doctrine that Stephen taught, and they envied his miracles. "Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen." (Acts 6:9) They disputed with Stephen concerning his doctrine, miracles and his authority for doing these things. They could not answer Stephen so they hired false witnesses to say Stephen had spoken "blasphemous words against Moses, and against God."                                                         

   The face of an angel – Acts 6:12-15: The Jews were unable to answer the things that Stephen taught about Jesus. They accused him of blasphemy against Moses and the customs he had delivered. They charged Stephen with blasphemy for saying Jesus would destroy the Temple. They stirred up the people against him and seized him with violence.                            

   They said Stephen spoke "blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law" because they heard him say, "that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us." Though there was some truth in the testimony of the false witnesses, yet they put a wrong and malicious construction upon what Stephen had said. It is true that Jesus changed many things religiously. The wonderful sacrifice of Jesus caused all Jewish sacrifices to cease.

   Joy in heavenly hope caused Stephen's face to shine as the face of an angel. This man of God displayed total calmness and serenity. Whenever character is under the influence of Jesus Christ it shines.    

   To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Rom 10:17); believe in Jesus (Jn 8:24); repent of sins (Rom 10:9-10); confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and be baptized to be saved (I Pet 3:21). After baptism use your life to spread the gospel of Christ!

Stephen, The First Christian Martyr
– Acts Seven

   In Acts chapter seven Stephen is asked to defend himself against the charges that he had "spoken blasphemous words against Moses, and against God." This good man was charged as one that was a blasphemer of God. That would have made him an apostate from the truth. In his defense Stephen proved that the promises made to Abraham had spiritual meaning. He wanted the people to know that the land that God intended for His people was a heavenly land.

   Stephen described how that God used Joseph's faithfulness and the wicked of the other patriarchs in leading to the glorious nation through which Jesus would be born into the world. He showed how God used Moses to deliver Israel out of Egyptian bondage. God also gave the Law through Moses. He led them through the wilderness yet they rebelled against Moses and against God.  God was working in many events of history to make atonement possible. The faith of the patriarchs caused them to look toward that heavenly country.

   Stephen showed the role of the tabernacle and of the temple of Solomon. However he proved that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. He charged the council with resisting the Holy Ghost like their ancestors had done. Their forefathers had persecuted and killed the prophets who foretold the coming of the Just One. They had now become the betrayers and murderers of the Christ. The council heard these charges and gnashed on Stephen with their teeth. They cast Stephen out of the city and stoned him. They laid their garments at the feet of Saul that became Paul the Apostle. Stephen became the first martyr for Christ.

   The call of Abraham – Acts 7:1-8: The High Priest wanted to know if the things said about Stephen were true. Stephen's faith in Hebrew history was strong because he knew it was God at work.  Stephen began his defense by showing that God called Abraham to leave Mesopotamia. He said, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee." Abraham came out of the land of the Chaldeans to sojourn in Canaan.

   God did not give the land to Abraham but He promised it to his descendants. His descendants included Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs. God made a covenant of circumcision with Abraham’s descendants.

   Stephen was a powerful preacher. He was a man well versed in what was taught in Old Testament Scripture. In Stephen's speech there are quotations of scripture following quotation. He was a man who was forced into action because of strong convictions. He was separated from the evil world of his day. A distinguishing mark of Christianity is separation from the world.                   

   The Jewish nation and the land of Egypt – Acts 7:9-43: The patriarchs sold Joseph into Egypt. Envy caused Joseph's brothers to sell him into Egypt as a slave. God was with Joseph and gave him favor with the Pharaoh of Egypt. He became governor over that land. A dearth or famine over all the land caused Jacob and his sons move to Egypt. Jacob's family went into Egypt, seventy-five in number, and came out a great nation.                                                                                

   The patriarchs died in Egypt but were buried in Canaan. God had promised to build of Abraham a great nation and to give them the land of Canaan and He did. The God of the Bible is always faithful to fulfill every promise that He has made.            

   While in Egypt the children Israel became slaves. God raised up Moses to deliver them from this slavery and He also used Him to give the Law through him to the children of Israel. Most of us remember from those childhood lessons how that Pharaoh’s daughter raised Moses. Moses thought his people would understand that God would deliver them trough him. They did not, and so when he had killed the Egyptian he had to flee to Midian where he lived for forty years. The Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush at Mount Sinai. He returned to Egypt to deliver Israel out of slavery. Moses lived in the palace of Pharaoh forty years. He lived forty years in Midian. He spent the last forty years of his life with Israel in the wilderness. Moses was a great leader because he was a man of God and a man of the people. 

   Moses predicted that God would raise up a prophet like unto Himself. This very Moses, so highly esteemed and honored by God, announced that prophet that they have lately put to death. His name is Jesus!

   The true tabernacle of God – Acts 7:44-50: Israel had the tabernacle of witness. The tabernacle was built according to the pattern shown Moses. The Tabernacle was a perpetual witness between God and the people. Later the people had the temple. Yet "the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord..."

   Solomon built God a house, but God's presence cannot be confined to a house. Stephen and the apostles rejected the Temple as the one exclusive place of worship. God's throne is in Heaven, the earth is His footstool and to Him all places are alike. The constant presence of God restrains us from sin and stimulates us to virtue.

   Stephen, the first Christian martyr – Acts 7:51-60: Stephen charged the people with: (1) being stiff necked, (2) uncircumcised in heart, (3) resisting the Holy Ghost, and (4) failing to keep the word of God. "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth." (Acts 7:54) 

   Stephen looked up into Heaven where his heart and his treasure had long been. The Jews will see Jesus sitting as judge, Stephen saw Him standing as Advocate. They cast Stephen "out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."  They stoned Stephen as he was calling on God. As Stephen died he was voluntary kneeling. He had placed himself in this position of prayer. He chose to die praying.

     The saved soul, redeemed by the blood of Christ, can thoroughly forgive. Stephen "kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Those that stoned Stephen "laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul."      

   The Jews that rejected God's messengers are now rejecting the love and Spirit of God. The Jew's repeated defiance of God has kindled His righteousness indignation.                                                      

   Now is the time to serve God faithfully. To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized. (Acts 2:38) The Lord adds those that become Christians to His church. Are you a faithful member of Christ's church, willing to live or die for Him?

Biblical Examples Of Conversion
– Acts Eight

    In Acts chapter eight we begin to observe the spread of the gospel into Judea and Samaria. Jesus had said, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost 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." (Acts 1:8) As this chapter begins we learn that Saul was present giving his approval to Stephen's death. The death of Stephen was the beginning of the third Jewish persecution. Saul was prominent in this persecution. He drug Christians from their homes and put them into prison. (Acts 8:3)

   This persecution led to the church being scattered. "They that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (Acts 8:4) The apostles remained at Jerusalem and other Christians went every where preaching the word. Persecution must never keep us from our work, but it can possibly cause us to work somewhere else.

   Those that know the gospel and have Christ in their lives cannot be put to silence. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." (Acts 8:5) Many Samaritans believed and were baptized. Simon was among that number. Peter and John went to Samaria and  passed  on  spiritual  gifts  by  laying  on of hands. Simon tried to buy the power to be able to do the same. Peter told him that his heart was not right in the sight of God. He encouraged Simon to repent and pray to God for forgiveness. 

   Following the great events in Samaria Philip was told to go down on the road from Jerusalem and Gaza. There he met the treasurer of Queen Candace of Ethiopia. The man was reading a passage from Isaiah 53 but he did not understand what he read. He invited Philip to teach him concerning this Scripture. Philip proceeded to preach Jesus to him. (Acts 8:35) When they came to a certain water, the eunuch desired to be baptized. Upon a simple confession of faith in Jesus he was baptized into Christ. The eunuch came up out of the water rejoicing as a saved man. Philip came up to continue to preach Jesus to others. (Acts 8:39-40)  

   The third Jewish persecution – Acts 8:1-4: Saul consented to Stephen's death. He led a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem. The persecution that followed the death of Stephen caused the church to scatter to Samaria and Africa. The church is now forced to do what it had been reluctant to do. The church is now forced to get the gospel out to the surrounding areas. During the persecution the apostles remained in Jerusalem.

   It is amazing to observe the difference in what people do. Observe: (1) Devout men buried Stephen and lamented his death, while (2) Saul made havoc of the church, putting men and women in prison, and (3) The scattered disciples went everywhere preaching the word. Christian men and women were persecuted to prison and to death. No Christian is exempt from persecution and sometimes it is wise to flee.               

   The conversion of the Samaritans – Acts 8:5-25: Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ and the gospel of His kingdom. (Acts 8:12) Signs and wonders confirmed the message Philip preached. As the gospel was preached many obeyed the gospel and the Lord’s church grew rapidly. Jesus had sown in Samaria and now Philip reaps a harvest there. (John 4)                                  

   The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ centered in the message of His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and His eventual return to receive the obedient! Salvation from sin comes through obedience to the word of God. The result of preaching Jesus is always (1) Faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 8:36), (2) repentance from sin (Acts 3:19), and (3) baptism for the remission of sins. (Acts 8:38-39) People that obey the gospel become the most joyful people on earth.        

   Philip preached things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ. Those that believed were baptized both men and women. A man named Simon believed and he was baptized. "He continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." Upon hearing of the conversion of the Samaritans the apostles sent Peter and John to impart to them spiritual gifts. Simon tried to buy this power with money. His heart was not right with God!

   Was Simon converted? The Bible says, "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 8:13) He did exactly what the other Samaritans did. Simon is an example of how fallen Christians can be restored. He was told to “repent” and “pray.” (Acts 8:22) Christians that sin will be lost unless they repent and pray to God for forgiveness.

   Christ is preached to an Ethiopian – Acts 8:27-35: This account is the story of a preacher (Philip) and a sinner (the Ethiopian). When God said “go,” Philip went to do the will of the Heavenly Father. Philip was ready to teach and the eunuch was anxious to learn. He preached Christ to the man from Ethiopia. Conversion is produced by conviction that comes from hearing the word of God.                                         

   “Jesus” was the message that Philip preached to the Ethiopian.  We must also open our mouth with boldness and speak clearly and the message of Jesus. We must preach to people that Jesus of Nazareth is the true Messiah, and that He is the only person through whom we must be saved.

     The Ethiopian obeys the gospel – Acts 8:36-40: God is concerned about the redemption of one lost soul. The Lord uses people like Philip to convert other people like the Ethiopian. A part of conversion includes baptism into Christ. You cannot preach Jesus without preaching baptism "into Christ." 

   The manner of baptizing in the early church was to bury the whole body in the water. The Book of Acts contains several cases of conversion. When all the case are studied we learn that those that were saved: (1) heard the word of God, (2) believed the salvation message about Jesus, (3) repented of sins, (4) confessed Jesus as Lord and Christ, (5) were baptized (immersed) into Christ, (6) received forgiveness of sins, and (7) received the ordinary gift of the Holy Spirit. The gospel of Christ, promptly and cheerfully obeyed, leads to rejoicing. The Ethiopia man rejoiced because his name was written in Heaven.       

    Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to go to heaven? Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Truth must be heard, understood and obeyed in order to bring salvation.  After man obeys the gospel he must remain steadfast in his service to God. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (I Corinthians 15:58) Once you learn the truth of God's word hold it with all your strength and heart. 

The Conversion Of A Persecutor
– Acts Nine –

    Those that stoned Stephen "laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul." Saul "made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." Not being content with persecuting Christians in Jerusalem Saul pursued Christians to Damascus. (Acts 9:1-3)

   As Saul was approaching Damascus a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" He was told to go into Damascus and there he would be told what he must do. Saul was led blind into the city where he prayed for three days, neither eating nor drinking.

   Jesus sent Ananias to restore Saul's sight and to tell him what he must do to be saved. He also told Saul that he was a chosen vessel with a great mission to the Gentiles. Saul's sight was restored and he was baptized to wash away his sins. He began immediately preaching that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. The Greek speaking Jews plotted to kill Saul. The disciples helped him escape from Damascus by letting him down by the wall in a basket.

   Saul later  went to  Jerusalem  where Barnabas spoke on his behalf. After that he was accepted by the brethren. But again the Jews sought to kill him. "When the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus." Acts chapter nine closed with the accounts of two great miracles.  First in Lydda, Peter healed Aeneas, a man that had been paralyzed for eight years. The second miracle took place in Joppa. A sister named Dorcas was raised from the dead. This "became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord."

    The conversion of Saul – Acts 9:1-18: Saul's early training helped him to be a very sincere man. However, as important as sincerity is we must remember that sincerity may be just as real in the heart of a lost man as a saved man. Saul sincerely felt that he was doing right while persecuting Christians. Saul was doing his best to destroy the church. Some build the church and some try to destroy it. Which do you do.                                                                                               

    Saul was granted authority by the High Priest to pursue Christians in Damascus. The Lord appeared to Saul as he traveled to Damascus. There was a light from heaven and there was a voice that asked, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Saul responded, "Who are you, Lord?" Jesus said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."

   God sent Ananias to Saul (1) to tell him about the work God had for him to do, (2) to restore his sight, (3) that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit, and (4) to tell him what to do to be saved. At first Ananias was frightened by Saul, but he loved God enough to obey. Ananias was told to go to house of Judas on the street called Straight for there Saul had been praying and fasting. Saul became a Christian when he believed, repented of sins and was baptized.              

   Saul's early ministry – Acts 9:19-31: After his conversion Saul began to build up what he had tried to destroy. Saul went to the Jewish meeting places and immediately started telling people that Jesus is the Son of God. Saul increased in strength so much so that he was able to confound the Jews that dwelt in Damascus as he showed them that Jesus is the Messiah.

   After Saul's conversion he was hated by the Jews and suspect by the brethren. It was not long until the persecutor became the persecuted. Saul's preaching of the risen Christ aroused opposition and persecution. Some of the Jews made plans to kill him. Saul found out about their plans and one night his brethren let him down over the city wall in a large basket. Saul was driven out by the Jews, led by the Lord and assisted by his brethren.                                           

    Saul then made a brief visit to the disciples at Jerusalem. The Christians were afraid of him. Barnabas helped Saul by taking him to the apostles. He explained how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and how the Lord had spoken to him. Barnabas also said that Saul had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. Saul was accepted by the brethren and moved about freely among the Christians in Jerusalem and told everyone about the Lord. He had many discussions with the Jews that spoke the Greek language. (the Hellenists) They also attempt to kill Saul. The brethren took Saul to Caesarea. From there he was sent him to the city of Tarsus. This was followed by a time of peace and growth for the church.

    The miracle at Lydda – Acts 9:32-35:  While Peter was traveling from place to place preaching the gospel he came to Lydda. There he met Aeneas, a man that had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. "Peter said to Aeneas, "Jesus Christ has healed you! Get up and make up your bed." This miracle took place during a time of peace and prosperity in the church.

    The man that was healed had a disease of long standing, incurable by human means. The man was healed by divine power -- "Jesus Christ heals you." The man was healed instantaneously -- "He arose immediately." The man was healed completely -- "Arise and make your bed."  Peter made it clear that Jesus Christ had healed this man. Many people in Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas and turned to the Lord.

   The raising of Dorcas – Acts 9:36-42: In Joppa there was a Christian lady named Tabitha. Her Greek name was Dorcas. As a follower of Christ she was helpful and compassionate. Dorcas lived, like all people, subject every moment to death. The Bible said of Dorcas that she got sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upper room.                                                                        

   Two men were sent to Peter in nearby Lydda to tell him what had happened. They asked him to come with them as quickly as he could. Peter went with them right away. When they got to Joppa Peter was brought to the upper room. The weeping widows showed garments that Dorcas had made. Peter sent the people out and "turned to the body of Dorcas and said, “Tabitha, get up!” The woman opened her eyes, and “when she saw Peter, she sat up.” When people heard what had happened with Dorcas many of them put their faith in the Lord. After this Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with Simon, a tanner.

   This great miracle teaches us that we should spare no effort to develop a faith greater than earthly life. We also should consider each day a blessing from God and use it in His service.                                                      

      To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus (John 8:24); repent of sins (Romans 10:9-10); confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and be baptized into Christ (I Peter 3:21). After baptism use your life to spread the gospel of Christ!

The Conversion Of Cornelius
– Acts Ten

    It was God's will that the gospel be preached to every creature. (Mark 16:15). At this point in history the gospel had been preached only to the Jews and Samaritans. The Samaritans had part Jewish blood. Cornelius and his household were the first Gentile converts. The Jews had been long separated from the Gentiles. It took a series of miracles from God to help break down this prejudice.

    Cornelius, was the captain or centurion of a group of soldiers called "The Italian Band." He and the other soldiers in this unit were from Italy. He was a praying man that practiced charity to the poor. These deeds did not save him but they did cause God to take notice of him. God instructed him to send for Peter to learn what he needed to do to be saved.

   In a vision the Lord told Peter to kill and eat unclean animals. Peter told the Lord he had never eaten anything unclean. Peter was told that what God had cleansed no one should call unclean. The vision was not really about food, but it was about people. While Peter thought about what the vision meant three men came from Cornelius. He went with these men without doubting. Some brethren accompanied him from Joppa.

   When they arrived at Caesarea Cornelius was waiting. Cornelius, his family and friends were ready to hear what they must do to be saved. Cornelius fell down and worshipped at Peter's feet. Peter said to him, "Stand up! I am just a man." Peter explained to Cornelius how he had learned that no man is common or unclean.

    Peter now knew that any person that fears God and works righteousness is accepted with God. He is no respecter of persons. Peter preached the gospel to those that had gathered. He told them of the work of Jesus and of His death and resurrection. Peter showed that Jesus is the one that God has chosen to judge the living and the dead. As Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon those that heard the word. The Jewish brethren that had come with Peter were surprised that the Holy Spirit had been given to Gentiles. They heard the Gentiles speaking in unknown languages and praising God. Peter now saw clearly that the Gentiles should be baptized. So He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

    Cornelius, a good moral man – Acts 10:1-8: In Acts chapter ten we meet a man named Cornelius, who was a captain of a group of soldiers called "The Italian Band." He lived in Caesarea. Cornelius was Roman by race and a soldier by profession. He was a devout man that feared God with his entire house. Even though Cornelius was very religious he was unsaved. (Acts 11:14).  

   At about the ninth hour of the day Cornelius saw an angel of God. The angel told him his prayers and alms have come up for a memorial before God. The angel instructed him to send for Peter. Peter was lodging with Simon the tanner in Joppa. Cornelius sent two of his servants and a devout soldier to Joppa to seek for Peter. The Lord brought Peter and Cornelius together so Cornelius could learn the truth.                   

   Peter's vision while on the housetop – Acts 10:9-18: Peter was prejudiced against Gentile and his Jewish prejudice had to be broken. While on a housetop praying Peter saw a vision of something like a great sheet bound at the four corners coming down to the earth. In the sheet there were all kind of things unlawful for Jews to eat. A voice told peter to "Kill these and eat them."                                                                       

   Peter protested that he had never eaten anything common or unclean. Peter is told that when God says that something is clean man should not call it unclean. The vision happened three times before the sheet was suddenly taken back to heaven. The vision was to show Peter that God would receive Gentiles into the kingdom. The result of the vision was that Peter went with those sent by Cornelius.            

   Peter went to Cornelius – Acts 10:19-33: As Peter thought about what the vision meant, the men from Cornelius arrived. The Holy Spirit instructed Peter to go with them, doubting nothing. The men told Peter that Cornelius was a good man that worshiped God and that he was loved by the Jewish people. Peter invited the men to stay the night and then he went with them.

   Cornelius had an audience waiting to hear God's message. He had invited his relatives and close friends to hear the preaching. Cornelius was concerned that all would hear the things commanded by God. When Peter arrived, Cornelius greeted him and knelt down at his feet to worship him. Peter took hold of him and said, "Stand up! I am nothing more than a human." No man is to be worshipped, not even those that might call themselves 'Pope."      

   Peter explained to Cornelius that the Jews are not allowed to have anything to do with other people. But God has shown him not to call any man common or unclean. Peter said that he had agreed to come but he wanted Cornelius to tell him why he had sent for him. Cornelius recounted the vision that had occurred four days before. Now all of these people were present before God to hear everything He has commanded. 

    Peter's sermon to the Gentiles – Acts 10:34-48: Peter said that he was certain that God treats all people alike. Everyone that worships God and does His will, can be saved. Peter recognized that God respects no man because of his nationality. He also understood that the gospel is for all and the conditions of gospel obedience are the same for all.        

   Peter's sermon involved the same message that he had preached from Pentecost. He said that, (1) God sent Jesus as Lord of all, (2) God offers peace through Jesus,  (3) God gave miraculous power to Jesus, (4) Jesus died, was buried and was raised on the third, (5) the prophets witness to Jesus, and (6) Peter and others were commanded to testify that Jesus was ordained to be the Judge of the living and the dead.       

   As Peter began to speak the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his house. Some Jewish brethren had come with Peter. They were surprised that the Holy Spirit had been given to Gentiles. They knew the Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost because "they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." Peter questioned as to whether anyone could forbid water for the baptism of those that had received the Spirit just as the Jews did? Peter commanded baptism in water as a condition of salvation from past sins.

   Now is the time to serve God faithfully. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized. (Acts 10:48) The Lord adds those that become Christians to the church. (Acts 2:47) Are you a faithful member of Christ's church?

The Gentiles Had Accepted God's Message
– Acts Eleven

   Word spread quickly about what had happened at Cornelius' house. The apostles and the brethren in Judea heard that Gentiles had accepted God's word. Upon Peter's return to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish brethren started arguing with him. They were upset that he had stayed in the home of Gentiles, and had even eaten with them.

   Peter reviewed the details of the events that had transpired. He explained about: (1) his vision in Joppa, (2) how the angel had appeared to Cornelius, (3) how God had bidden him to go to Cornelius, (4) how the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Gentiles, and (5) how six Jewish brethren had been witnesses to what had happened. Peter said that God gave the Gentiles the same gift of the Holy Ghost that he had given to the Jews. When they heard Peter say this, they stopped arguing and started praising God. They knew that God had now allowed the Gentiles to turn to Him, and that He had given spiritual life to them.

   The gospel spread from Jerusalem to Antioch. The terrible trouble that started when Stephen was killed led to some Christians going to Antioch and preaching Christ to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were allowed to hear the good news about Jesus.  Many of them put their faith in the Lord. When the news of what was happening reached the church in Jerusalem they sent Barnabas to Antioch to encourage the brethren. He rejoiced in what he saw.

   Barnabas realized that he needed help in this work so he sent to Tarsus to find Saul. They met with the church for a whole year and taught many people. There in Antioch the Lord's followers were called Christians for the first time. Not only were these people "called Christians" they acted like Christians should. When they heard about a terrible famine the brethren in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the Christians in Judea. They sent this help to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

   Peter's defense of his visit to the gentiles – Acts 11:1-18:  The apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. When Peter returned to Jerusalem he was challenged by the Jewish brethren for preaching to the Gentiles. The brethren at Jerusalem thought it was wrong to receive the Gentiles. God had used a vision to convince Peter that it was right to preach to Gentiles. The Holy Ghost was given to the Gentiles just as He had been given to the Jews.                 

   The Jews seemed insulted by the fact that Peter had stayed in the home of Gentiles, and had even eaten with them. Peter explained the events that had led him to preach to Cornelius. He recounted his vision in Joppa of the unclean beasts. He heard the voice of God say, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." He told these brethren about the three men that were sent by Cornelius and how that the Spirit told him to go with them and not to worry. An angel of the Lord had instructed Cornelius to send for Peter in order to learn how to be saved. Peter did go with these Gentiles and he was accompanied by six Jewish brethren. As Peter began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles just as upon the apostles at the beginning.    

   Peter believed that refusing Gentiles into the church would be withstanding God. God made no distinction between Jew and Gentile when He granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life. When they heard Peter say this, they became silent and started praising God.

   The church was established in Antioch of Syria – Acts 11:19-21: As early Christian were scattered they preached the word wherever they went. The persecution that followed the death of Stephen led to the gospel being preached in Antioch. Some of the followers of our Lord went to Antioch and started telling Gentiles the good news about salvation through the Lord Jesus.

   The gospel reached Antioch with great success. The hand of the Lord was with those that preached to Jews and Greeks. When the Greeks heard the gospel a great number of them turned to the Lord. Antioch became the base for the great evangelistic journeys among the Gentiles.

   Barnabas was sent by the church to Antioch – Acts 11:22-26: The news of what was happening in Antioch reached the church in Jerusalem. Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem church to look into the work at Antioch.  When he reached Antioch he was glad to see what the grace of God was doing there. Barnabas begged them to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts. In his teaching Barnabas always exhorted people to cleave unto the Lord.

    Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. Many more people turned to the Lord through the work of Barnabas and others.  Barnabas found Saul and brought him to Antioch to be part of this great work. They met with the church for a whole year and taught many of its people. There in Antioch disciples were called Christians in fulfillment of prophecy. The prophet Isaiah had written "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name." (Isaiah 62:2) The name Christian is also found in Acts 26:28 and in 1 Peter 4:16. It is a great blessing to be able to wear the precious name of the Christ.                        

    Barnabas and Saul were sent to Jerusalem -- Acts 11:27-30: In that year that Saul and Barnabas were at Antioch some Christian prophets came from Jerusalem. One of them named Agabus, predicted, by the Spirit of God, a famine throughout the entire world. This would be a terrible famine and it happened when Claudius was Emperor. The brethren at Antioch determined to send relief to the brethren in Judea. The Christians in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the followers of Christ in Judea.

   Each Christian did what he or she could to relieve those that were suffering. Each person, whether rich or poor, master or servant, according to the substance he was possessed gave to help those that were in need. The gift was sent to the elders of the church in Judea to be given to the poor. The Christians at Antioch, in gratitude to the brethren in Judea for having received the Gospel through them resolved to help them with their physical needs. The contribution given by the brethren was sent by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.                                               

   If you have not started the Christian life "Today is the day of salvation." (II Corinthians 6:2.) To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized to wash away sins. (Acts 22:16) Your attitudes and ac­tions should be molded after the example of the early Christians as they were willing both to live and to die for Jesus.            

Herod Caused Trouble For The Church
– Acts Twelve –

   Acts chapter twelve tells of the persecution that Herod led against the church. He made a great effort to hinder the progress of the church and to destroy the faith of believers. This Herod was King Agrippa I. He was the grandson of Herod the Great that slew the infants at the birth of Jesus. (Matthew 2:1-16)

   King Herod caused terrible suffering and misery for some members of the church. He even ordered his soldiers to kill James with a sword. James was the brother of John. Herod also had Peter arrested and put him in prison. He intended to bring him before the people to condemn him but God intervened to save Peter. An angel of the Lord delivered Peter from prison.

   After being delivered from prison Peter went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. The brethren were gathered there praying. They were astonished that Peter had been released from prison. He explained to them how the angel of the Lord had led him out of the prison. Peter sent word to James and the other brethren of his miraculous release from prison. When Peter was not found in the prison the guards were extremely worried and rightly so. Herod questioned them and then had them put to death.

    After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while. While Herod was at Caesarea, the people of Tyre and Sidon came to him to try to make peace. "Upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them." The people said that Herod spoke more like a god than a man. God humbled him and struck him down because he took the honor that belonged to God. Herod was eaten by worms and died.

    God's message kept spreading as more and more people became Christians. The Bible also says, "Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark." (Acts 12:25)

   James died for the cause of Christ – Acts 12:1-5: One man can do either much harm or much good toward the cause of Christ. King Herod Agrippa I harassed some in the church and caused terrible suffering for them. He violently oppressed the church. Among those that suffered was James the brother of John. Herod ordered his soldiers to kill this godly man with a sword. Herod must have thought that he could destroy the church by killing it leaders.  

   James was the brother of John. James and John were sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 4:21) On one occasion the sons of Zebedee and their mother requested permission for these men to sit on Jesus' right and left hand in the kingdom. Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father." (Matthew 20:23) Just as predicted by the Lord James drank of that cup of suffering.

   When Herod saw that the death of James pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested. He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. It was his intention to bring Peter before the people after Passover (mistranslated Easter in the KJV – Acts 12:4). While Peter was being kept in prison constant prayer was being offered by the church for him.       

   Peter could not be kept in prison – Acts 12:6-12: The night before Peter was to be put on trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. Two soldiers were guarding him and other soldiers were guarding the prison entrance. That night some amazing things happened: (1) an angel from the Lord appeared in the prison, (2) there was a great light that flashed, (3) the angel smote Peter on the side to awaken him, (4) the angel told Peter to get up quickly, and (5) the chains fell off his hands.

    The angel told Peter to get dressed and to follow him.  He specifically told Peter to put on his sandals. Peter thought that he was having a dream or a vision. They went past the soldiers and when they came to the Iron Gate to the city, it opened by itself. As they were going along the street the angel departed from him. Peter knew that the Lord had sent His angel to rescue him. Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark. Christians had come together there and were praying.

   Peter's release surprised the brethren – Acts 12:13-19: When Peter first reached the gate he was left standing at the door by Rhoda. She was too amazed to open the gate. She ran into the house and said that Peter was standing there. The brethren did not believe that it could be Peter. Peter kept on knocking, until finally they opened the gate. When they saw that it was Peter they were shocked. Peter told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. He asked them to "Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place."

    Peter's release from prison caused no small stir among the people. The soldiers that had been on guard were terribly worried and wondered what had happened to Peter. They searched but could not find him. Herod questioned the guards and then had them put to death. After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.

   Herod died a terrible death – Acts 12:20-25: Herod was highly displeased with people of Tyre and Sidon. But their country got its food from the region that he ruled. Blastus, the king's chamberlain had become friends with the people of Tyre and Sidon. "They convinced Blastus that they wanted to make peace between their cities and Herod."

   A day was set for these people to meet with Herod. On that day he appeared in royal apparel on his throne. He made a great speech before the people. They said, "You speak more like a god than a man." An angel of the Lord struck Herod down because he took the honor that belonged to God. Later, he was eaten by worms and died.

    Even during this difficult time God's message kept spreading. The Bible says, "But the word of God grew and multiplied." (Acts 12:24) After Barnabas and Saul had completed the work they were sent to do, they went back to Jerusalem with John Mark.

   Being a Christian is a serious responsibility. It might cost you your life. However, Christianity involves your eternal salvation. Your Christianity may affect hundreds of others also. To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), you must believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of every sin (Acts 2:38), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized to be saved. (I Peter 3:21). After baptism the challenge for every Christian is to be steadfast under circumstances either good or bad

The Missionary Journeys Begin
– Acts


   Acts chapter thirteen begins with a time of fasting and prayer in Antioch. There is power in prayer. The Holy Spirit directed the church to appoint Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which He had chosen them. They were appointed to this work with prayer, fasting and the laying on of hands.


   As their missionary work began Barnabas and Saul preached the gospel in Cyprus. There they meet a Jewish false prophet named Elymas. Sergius Paulus was a good man that wanted to hear God's message. Elymas tried to keep the governor from having faith in Christ. Saul, who is better known as Paul dealt with this false teacher. Elymas was made blind as punishment for his evil deeds. When Sergius Paulus saw what had happened, he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord and he became a Christian. 


   Paul and the others left Paphos and sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. Here John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. This would later cause very difficult problems between Barnabas and Paul. In Antioch of Pisidia Paul preached a sermon very much like the one preached by Stephen that led to his stoning. He proved that Jesus was the fulfillment  of all Hebrew history. This sermon was followed by another Jewish persecution. This persecution caused Paul and Barnabas to departure for the city of Iconium.


   The mission of Paul and Barnabas – Acts 13:1-3: Antioch in Syria was located about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, and 16 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. It became the starting place for Paul's missionary journeys. At the conclusion of each journey Paul and his companions returned to Antioch to report to the church concerning the work they had done. There were several strong prophets and teachers of the gospel in the church at Antioch.


   Barnabas and Saul were to be separated for a special work that the Lord had called them to. Their great missionary journeys would change the face of Christianity forever. There would now be no doubt that the gospel is for all. As a gesture of approval the brethren laid their hands on these missionaries and prayed for them. Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles.


   Elymas, a false prophet, a sorcerer – Acts 13:4-12: John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas as they went to Seleucia and then sailed to the island of Cyprus. In Salamis they began to preach God's message in the synagogues of the Jews. In the city of Paphos Barnabas and Saul met a Jewish man named Bar-Jesus. He was a sorcerer. He was also called Elymas. Sergius Paulus was the governor of the island. He was a good man that wanted to hear God's message.


   Elymas was very much against Sergius Paulus obeying the gospel. He tried to keep him from having faith in the Christ. Saul, who is better known as Paul, called Elymas a son of the devil. Paul said that he was an enemy of all righteousness and that he was perverting the right ways of the Lord. The Lord punished him by making him blind for a while. Elymas had to try to find someone to lead him by the hand. When Sergius Paulus saw what had happened, he was amazed at this teaching about the Lord. He became one that believed. 

   Paul's powerful sermon at Antioch – Acts 13:14-41: At Perga in Pamphylia John Mark left Paul and Barnabas and went back to Jerusalem. Later, this would cause no small trouble between these brethren. We are not told why John Mark deserted them, but what he did was very disturbing to Paul.


   At Antioch in Pisidia the missionaries went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. This gave them an opportunity to preach the gospel. Paul's sermon was very much like that of Stephen in Acts seven. All that he said was designed to cause the people to accept Jesus as the promised Lord and Christ, the Messiah. It was a sermon about God's mercy and long-suffering. He showed that in spite of all that God did man was ungrateful and perverse. 


   Paul traced Hebrew history moving from David to the Son of David. This son of David is Jesus, the Savior of the world. The apostles always preached Christ crucified, His burial and resurrection. In his sermon Paul dealt with such things as: (1) Saul reigning over Israel for forty years, (2) David was both the fleshly and spiritually ancestor of the Savior, (3) John preached a baptism of repentance to prepare the way for Christ, (4) the Jews were the first to know of God's promises to Abraham, (5) the Jews condemned Jesus to death, (6) Jesus was buried, (7) God raised Him from the dead, (8) "glad tidings" is another term for the gospel of Christ, (9) Jesus arose from the dead to die no more, (10) Jesus was not left in the grave long enough to see corruption, (11)  Through Jesus and only through Him is the forgiveness of sins preached, (12) The law of Moses could not bring the justification that is possible by belief in Christ, and (13) he warned of the coming Judgment Day.


   Paul preached to the Gentiles and is persecuted – Acts 13:42-52: The people were eager to hear more of the preaching done by Paul and Barnabas on the next Sabbath. Many of both the Jews and Gentiles became Christians. They were encouraged to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost everyone in town came to hear the message about the Lord. This led the Jews to begin a persecution of Paul. They blasphemed and denied the truth that Paul taught. The Jews heard God's word first but they rejected it. By rejecting the gospel the Jews had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life.


   God had sent Paul to be a light of the Gentiles. No person will be either saved or lost by any predestined decree. The Jews had the opportunity of salvation but the rejected the gospel. So now Paul turned to the Gentiles with the word of God. "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." How wonderful it must have been when the message about the Lord spread all over that region.

   The Jewish leaders started making trouble and drove Paul and Barnabas out of their city. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from that place off their feet and went to the city of Iconium.  Notwithstanding the opposition of the Jews the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. The Lord's followers are happy in His service.

    To begin your Christian life hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as Lord, (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) As you grow in Christ and cleave in total faithfulness to the precious Savior and to His truth you will be filled with joy. 

Paul Is Stoned For Preaching
– Acts Fourteen

This missionary journey took Paul and Barnabas to Iconium where they attended a synagogue service. There they were also again given the opportunity to speak and a great multitude of Jews and Greeks believed. (Acts 14:1) As had previously been the case the unbelieving Jews stirred up trouble. (Acts 14:2)

    The preaching of these brethren was marked by (1) boldness, and (2) the working of miracles. They fearlessly proclaimed the word of God's grace. In this text Barnabas is called an apostle. In Acts 14:14 we read, "when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out."

   Jesus said that the preaching of the gospel would bring division. "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division." (Luke 12:51) As these men preached "the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles." (Acts 14:4) Some even tried to stone the preachers but they fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia. There they preached the gospel.

   A certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet was healed by the apostles. The man was healed by simply  being  told to  "Stand  upright  on thy feet." The miracle resulted in the people saying, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker." The apostles "rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 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 14:14-15) One must recognize the true God before he can find the true Savior.

   The unbelieving Jews from Antioch and Iconium persuaded the people to stone Paul. "They stoned him and drew him out of the city, supposing he was dead." God raised Paul up and he went right back into the city.

   The brethren revisited the churches they had established to (1) Confirm the souls of the disciples, (2) exhort them to continue in the faith, and (3) ordain elders in every church. Continuing in the faith refers to following the complete body of revealed truth. At the end of their journey the brethren gathered the church together and rehearsed all that God had done through them. 

   Paul and Barnabas in Iconium – Acts 14:1-7: The missionary journey carried the brethren to Iconium. There they spoke of the grace of God and His gospel. They taught the people with power, boldness and courage. The result was that a great multitude of the Jews and Gentiles believed. The part of the Jews that continued in unbelief stirred the minds of the people in an evil way against the apostles.  

   The missionaries stayed a long time at Iconiun. They did not even seem discouraged at the treatment that they had received. The preaching of the gospel cause division. Some agreed with the apostles doctrine and others condemned their doctrine as false. The unbelievers attempted to stone the apostles as blasphemers. This caused these brethren to flee to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia. Even in difficult times they never lost the focus of their purpose. "And there they preached the gospel." (Acts 14:7)

   Paul and Barnabas in Lystra – Acts 14:8-17: At Lystra the apostles healed a lame man. He had never walked. This miracle was very much like the one in Acts 3. The man listened to the preaching. As Paul looked at him he observed his faith. With a loud voice Paul told the man to stand on his feet. He sprung up directly from his seat, leaped for joy, and walked as well as any man could.

   Instead of giving honor to God for the miracle the people said, "the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men." Their concept of God was very wrong. They believed that there were more gods than one. They also believed that the gods sometimes descended to earth in human form. They gave Barnabas the name Jupiter. Paul was called Mercurius because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Jupiter brought oxen and garlands with the people to do sacrifice to the apostles.

   This caused Paul and Barnabas to (1) rent their clothes, (2) cry "why do ye these things?" (3) remind them that they were just men, and (4) challenge them to turn from the vanities of false gods to the living God. The living God gives "us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." The other "gods" did nothing and can do nothing. 

   Paul is stoned for preaching Christ – Acts 14:18-20: The things they said concerning themselves, and concerning the living God, His creation of all things, His goodness toward men barely kept the people from worshipping them. Certain Jews came down from Antioch and Iconium and stirred up the people against Paul. These unbelievers persuaded the people not to listen to the missionaries and they even convinced them that the apostles were deceivers.

    The same people that had just before wanted to sacrifice to Paul as a god now stone him as a deceiver. This shows the fickleness of humanity. The Jews did the same with Jesus. One day they cried "Hosanna." The next they were crying "Crucify him, Crucify him." They stoned Paul and threw him out of the city and left him without a burial. Paul rose up and went right back to the city to preach. The next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

   Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria – Acts 14:21-28: Paul and Barnabas shared salvation through Jesus every where they went. Their preaching brought many to the faith of Christ. They return to confirm the souls of the disciples. Their goal was to encourage the brethren to continue in the faith. Christians need encouragement because they face difficulties in order to enter the kingdom.

    The apostles (1) ordained elders in every church, (2) prayed, (3) fasted, and (4) commended the brethren to the Lord. (Acts 14:23) Their preaching journey brought them back to Antioch. Upon their return they gathered the church together and recounted how that God had given them an opportunity to preach the doctrine of faith to the Gentiles, and how the Gentiles had the opportunity of hearing and embracing the truth. Paul and Barnabas continued a long time at Antioch with the Christians there. Later they would go on other journeys.

   Now is the time to serve God faithfully. To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized. (Acts 2:38) The Lord adds those that become Christians to His church. Are you a faithful member of Christ's church?

The Discussion About Law Keeping
– Acts Fifteen

   Jews from Jerusalem were still trying to bind the requirements of the Law upon the Gentiles. They traveled to cities where Gentiles had been converted to preach their "Law Keeping" message. They even came to Antioch to spread their teaching. Paul was an apostle, with all authority of any apostles, yet he saw the need for unity. So, the conference at Jerusalem was arranged. This allowed God to be heard and to maintain His sovereign control over the church. 

       The question of "circumcision" or "Law Keeping" touched the very heart of Christianity. Determining the foundation upon which our relationship with God stands is at the heart of the discussion. Paul knew that if one was circumcised as a matter of Law that this bound him to the entire Law. Being bound to the Law would mean that he had given up the system of grace and had fallen from Christ.

   Paul, Barnabas, and certain others from Antioch went to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. The question of "Law Keeping" was to be settled by God and not by the brethren. Peter took the lead in the discussion and related the case of the conversion of Cornelius and his household. He said that God made no difference between Jew and Gentile.

    Afterwards Paul and Barnabas declared that the power of God had worked through them among the Gentiles. James then summed up the judgment of the assembly. He said the Gentiles are not obligated to be circumcised, or to obey the Law of Moses. However, they must abstain from blood, from things strangled, from fornication, and from meat offered to idols. These are not new laws that are a part of Christianity only. These have always been requirements of the Creator. The spirit of grace and wisdom is truly seen in the way this matter was handled.

   After returning to Antioch for a while Paul proposed to Barnabas that they should revisit the churches they had established. Barnabas was determined to take Mark with them. He had earlier turned back from the work. Under no circumstances would Paul agree to take Mark. These two great servants of God separated over this issue. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus. Paul took Silas with him on his journeys. It is great that later Paul spoke of Barnabas with love and he also said that Mark was profitable for the ministry.

   A controversy over "Law Keeping” – Acts 15:1-5: Some people came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the Gentile Christians that they could not be saved unless they were circumcised as Moses had taught. They were not sent by God, or by the apostles. They came down of "themselves" or on their own. These brethren caused trouble, and the disturbance and uneasiness continued for some time. Paul and Barnabas argued with them about this teaching. It was agreed upon that Paul and Barnabas and a few others would go to Jerusalem and discuss this problem with the apostles and the elders.

   As Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem they went through Phoenicia and Samaria. There they told of how the Gentiles had turned to God. This news brought joy to the followers of Christ. When these brethren reached Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church. They told them what God had done through them and how that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Some Pharisees that had become Christians said, "Gentile Christians must be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses." This is what the Jerusalem conference was all about. 

   An account of the discussion – Acts 15:6-21: The church, with the apostles and elders, came together to discuss this problem concerning the Gentiles and the Law. Peter said that "God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." He was referring to the case of Cornelius. God gave the Gentiles the Holy Ghost just as he did to the Jews. God did not in any way treat the Gentiles different from the Jews. The hearts of men are filthy, and need purifying. They are polluted by sin. God made the Gentiles pure through obedient faith just as he did the Jews.

   Peter said these Jewish brethren were making God angry by placing a heavy burden on the Gentile Christians. The multitude kept silent as Paul and Barnabas spoke of the miracles and wonders that God had worked among the Gentiles. James summarized what had happened as what God had promised a long time ago. (Amos 9:11-12) He suggested that a letter should be written containing four prohibitions. All Christians must avoid (1) pollutions of idols, (2) fornication, (3) things strangled, and (4) blood. These are things that pollute both the soul and the body. James concluded by saying, "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day." (Acts 15:21)

   A letter to the Gentiles – Acts 15:22-35: The brethren were in agreement concerning the letter. The letter was written and sent to Antioch by the hands of Paul and Barnabas along with Silas and Judas. "The four men left Jerusalem and went to Antioch. Then they called the church members together and gave them the letter. When the letter was read, everyone was pleased and greatly encouraged."  

   We have already learned that Paul and Barnabas were prophets. Now we find that Silas and Judas were also prophets. Prophets sometimes foretold things to come.  Prophets also had the ability to explain the prophecies of the Old Testament, and to give the true meaning of the Scriptures. After staying in Antioch for a while, Judas and the other brethren returned to Jerusalem. Silas remained in Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The text says, "Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also." (Acts 15:35)  

   A second journey brings division – Acts 15:36-41: After some time had passed Paul suggested to Barnabas that they revisit the churches that they had established on the first journey. Barnabas wanted to take Mark and Paul was very much opposed to it. Mark was the young man who had defected from the first journey at Perga. This led to a very serious contention between these two good brethren.

   The one redeeming point in this otherwise sad and regrettable episode is that neither Barnabas nor Paul allowed it to hinder the work of God. It actually became beneficial to the work because then there were two teams of missionaries. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. Paul took Silas and they traveled through Syria and Cilicia, encouraging the churches.

    If you have not started the Christian life "Today is the day of salvation." (II Corinthians 6:2.) To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized to wash away sins. (Acts 22:16) Your attitudes and actions should be molded after the example of the early Christians that yielded so completely to the will of God.   

The Conversion Of The Jailer
– Acts Sixteen

   There are people that we meet that change our life forever. Such was the case when Paul visited Derbe and Lystra. There he began his association Timothy. Timothy's father was a Greek. His mother and grandmother were Jews that had become Christians. Their influence on Timothy was great. (II Timothy 1:5)

   Paul desired Timothy to join his missionary team. He had Timothy circumcision because of the Jews that were in those parts. He did not feel that this was necessary for Timothy's salvation, but he thought it might help his work among the Jews.

    Paul and his company went through Phrygia and Galatia strengthening the churches. The Holy Ghost did not allow then to go to Asia or Bithynia. So they came down to Troas. At Troas Paul heard a man from Macedonia saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us."

   Paul faced a difficult situation at Philippi. His trouble started when he cast an evil spirit out of a young girl. The masters of this girl had made great profit from her power. They were angry when she was healed. Paul and Silas were abused and imprisoned because of this. The jailer  was   commanded  to  keep   them  safely.  

While Paul and Silas were singing and praying an earthquake opened the prison doors. The jailer was amazed that no one had escaped. He and his family learned the truth and were baptized into Christ in the middle of the night.  

   The beginning of Paul's acquaintance with Timothy – Acts 16:1-5: When Paul traveled to Derbe and Lystra he met a disciple named Timotheus or Timothy. Later Paul wrote two New Testament books to this great servant of God. In these letter Paul addressed him as a young man. "Let no man despise thy youth." (I Timothy 4:12) Timothy was a man of piety with great ability for service in God's kingdom. 

   Paul had Timothy circumcised, not as a matter of Law, but as a matter of expediency to help in their work. He did this because the "Jews would neither have heard him preach, nor would have any connection with him, had he been otherwise."

   As Paul and Silas went from place to place they delivered the letter expressing the judgments of the brethren from the Jerusalem meeting concerning circumcision for Gentiles. The work of the missionary team and the letter from Jerusalem resulted in churches being made strong in the faith and increasing in number daily.

   The call Paul received to come to Macedonia – Acts 16:6-12: The Holy Spirit did not allow the missionaries to go to Asia, or to Bithynia. God had chosen to send His servants to Macedonia. The gospel would later spread to Asia as evidenced by the seven churches in Asia. (Revelation 1-3) There are times when certain areas are ripe for harvest for God. At that time Macedonia was ready to receive the word of life.

   The journey to Macedonia carried Paul to Troas. There Paul had a vision of a man saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us." This man was begging for someone to teach his people concerning the Christ. Macedonia was the first place in Europe where the gospel was preached. Today the field is vast and ripe for harvest in many places of the world.

   Luke included himself among those that went to Macedonia to preach. The brethren were certain that God had sent them there with the gospel. They left Troas by ship and went to Samothrace. The next day they went to Neapolis. Neapolis was a seaport town in Macedonia, a few miles east of Philippi. From there they went to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony. Philippi was a colony, that is a city or province that was planted or occupied by Roman citizens.

    The conversion of a good woman named Lydia – Acts 16:13-15: On the Sabbath the missionary team went out by the river to a place of prayer and talked to the women there. This was a simple place of worship. Likely before and after the regular service the missionaries taught the women the gospel. One of the women they taught was a God-fearing woman named Lydia.

   Lydia was a seller of purple. She was from the city of Thyatira. She had a heart that was open to God's message. In total faith and trust she and her whole family were baptized into Christ without delay. She constrained these preachers to come and be guests at her house. This showed both great hospitality and a strong desire to learn more.

   The conversion of the Jailer in Philippi – Acts 16:16-40: At a place of prayer in Philippi Paul and Silas came across a girl that had a spirit of divination. Her masters made a lot of money from her power. She followed Paul and Silas saying, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation." After being troubled by this many days Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out of her. 

   When her masters saw that their means of gain was gone they took Paul and Silas before their rulers and charged them with teaching rules of living that were unlawful. They were whipped and put in the inner prison with chains on their feet. A jailer was charged to watch them. About midnight they were singing and praying in the hearing of the other prisoners. An earthquake opened the prison doors and caused all the shackles to fall off. The jailer thought the prisoners had escaped. He started to kill himself. Paul cried, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." This is good advice to anyone contemplating suicide. The jailer then saw that all the prisoners were still there.

   With much fear he fell down before Paul and Silas and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" He was told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." But, you cannot believe without hearing so they spoke unto him and to those in his house the word of the Lord. After learning how to become a Christians the jailer and his family were all baptized immediately. Baptism was so important that they were baptized "the same hour of the night." After their baptism into Christ they were filled with great joy.

   The authorities sent word to let these men go. Paul refused to leave because he was mistreated as a Roman citizen. The authorities were full of fear when they learned that Paul was a Roman. They came and took them from prison and begged them to leave town. Paul and Silas went to the house of Lydia, saw the brethren, comforted them, and departed.

      If you have not started the Christian life "Today is the day of salvation." (II Corinthians 6:2) To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ (Acts 8:37) and be baptized to wash away sins. (Acts 22:16) As a Christians you must be willing both to live and to die for Jesus.

An Altar To The Unknown God
– Acts Seventeen –

   In Acts 17 we have record of the missionaries in the city of Thessalonica. At Thessalonica Paul and Silas reasoned from the scriptures for three Sabbath Days in the synagogue of the Jews. Many Jews and proselytes received the gospel and this caused the Jewish persecution to begin again. The preaching done by the brethren centered in the fact Jesus had been put to death and restored to life again. They offended proof that Jesus is the Christ.

   The envy of the Jews led them to secure certain base people to cry out against the brethren. They even attacked the house of Jason hoping to bring these preachers out to the people for persecution. They accused Paul and Silas of making trouble all over the world. The charge was, "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also."

   Jason was charged because he had received the brethren into his house. The people were upset because these men had said that Jesus is king. They made Jason and others give proof that they were peace loving and then let them go.

   After this tumult Paul and Silas were sent to Berea. There the Jews were more noble in that they examined  what they  heard by  the word of God to see if it was so. This led to a great number of people becoming believers. Jews from Thessalonica went to Berea and stirred up the people against Paul. The brethren sent Paul away to Athens but Silas and Timothy stayed longer at Thessalonica.

   Paul's spirit was stirred at the sight of much idolatry in Athens. He proclaimed the true God unto all that would hear. He declared that the one true God is Creator and that Jesus, His Son that was raised from the dead shall judge everyone. The resurrection is the basis of Christianity. In plain and convincing terms Paul showed the folly of serving "an unknown God." He said that man should search for God, get to know Him or find Him. God is not far from any one of us.

   Paul preached Christ at Thessalonica – Acts 17:1-9: Paul and his co-workers left Philippi and journeyed to Thessalonica. Their journey carried then through Amphipolis and Apollonia. When they visited Thessalonica they found a synagogue and many Jews. Paul went into the synagogue and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures. He used the Old Testament to identify Jesus as the Messiah.

   Paul used the scripture to show that the Messiah had to suffer and die for sins. He presented proof that Jesus was raised again from the dead, and that this Jesus is the Christ. The result of the preaching was that a good number of God-fearing Greeks and some of the chief women became Christians. There was, however, opposition to the truth. The Jews stirred up some base fellows and attacked the house of Jason where these preachers had stayed. The mob was looking for Paul and Silas, but did not find them. Those that opposed Christianity said, "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." What was said in derision was in fact a great compliment. The things that seemed to disturb the unbelieving Jews most were: (1) preaching concerning the resurrection, and (2) saying the Jesus was king.

   The noble conduct of the Bereans – Acts 17:10-15: Out of love for their spiritual fathers and concern for their safety the brethren sent Paul and Silas to Berea. They were sent out at night to preserve them from the fury of the mob. At Berea the missionaries went into the synagogue and preach Jesus. These people were nobler than those in Thessalonica. They did not dispute with the missionaries. Neither did they just receive their massage as right. They took it upon themselves to search the Old Testament to see if what was said about Jesus was what scripture said about the Messiah. After they has searched the scriptures "a number of them had faith and no small number of the Greek women of high position and of the men" believed.

    The Jews of Thessalonica were not content to leave things alone. They came to Berea to stir up trouble for Paul. This caused the brethren to send Paul away to Athens. Silas and Timothy stayed for a while at Berea, to confirm and strengthen the new Christians there.

   An altar to an unknown God – Acts 17:16-23: While Paul waited for his co-workers his spirit was stirred by all the idolatry in Athens. He saw a city "full of idols." Paul had discussions, (1) in the Synagogue with the Jews, (2) with God-fearing Gentiles, and (3) in the market-place with those that were there. The philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoicks called Paul a babbler. They said, "He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

   Paul was brought to Areopagus to be examined by the most skillful judge concerning his doctrine. They had never heard about Jesus, or about salvation through Him, nor of His resurrection from the dead. They wanted to hear for themselves the things spoken by Paul. The Athenians "spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing." Paul began his speech by saying that he had observed that the people of Athens were very religious. When they "honored their gods" for fear of missing one they had an altar "with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." This was the God that Paul declared to them.

    A sermon about the one true God – Acts 17:24-34: In his sermon Paul showed that the true God made the world and all things therein. This God is Lord of heaven and earth. He gives to all life, and breath, and all things. He is the Creator having made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth. In the one true God we live, and move, and have our being. You cannot make an image of or to this God. The God of heaven has commanded all men every where to repent in view of coming judgment. The assurance of coming judgment is the resurrection.

   "When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter." The discussion ended with Paul having no more to say to them, or they to him. "Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them." These were some that received the love of the truth and so they were saved. Paul could say, “To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life...?" (II Corinthians 2:16) The resurrected Christ provides hope to all that obey Him. 

      To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Romans 10:9-10), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and, be baptized into Christ. (I Peter 3:21) After baptism use your life to spread the gospel of Christ!

Paul’s Work At Corinth
– Acts Eighteen –

   After Paul left Athens he went to Corinth. His preaching work continued there for eighteen months. There Paul associated himself with Aquila and Priscilla. They had come to Corinth from Italy because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul stayed with them because they were all tent makers.

   On the Sabbath days Paul reasoned with the Jews out of the scriptures and persuaded both Jews and Greeks that "Jesus" is the Messiah. "When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was completely given up to the word, preaching to the Jews that Jesus was Christ." Sadly many of them spoke evil against him. Paul said, "Your blood be on your heads, I am clean: from now I will go to the Gentiles." How sad it is when anyone fails to believe that God gives eternal life to all that obey Jesus.

    Not all rejected Jesus: (1) Justus worshipped God, (2) Crispus believed on the Lord, and (3) many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized.

    With all the rejection Paul had faced it would have been easy for him to become discouraged. The Lord told Paul not to be afraid. God wanted him to speak with boldness. He promised Paul, "I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee:  for I have  much people  in this  city." The Lord Jesus Christ had not forgotten Paul nor would He forget him.

   Paul was accused of causing people to serve God in a manner that was contrary to the law. Gallio would not hear the matter because he knew it was not a matter of wicked lewdness. Even when the Greeks took Sosthenes and beat him before the judgment seat Gallio did not care! Later Sosthenes would be a part of Paul's letter to Corinth. (I Corinthians 1:1)

   Paul stayed long enough to strengthen the brethren in Corinth. He left Corinth by way of Cenchrea. Before He left Cenchrea he cut off his hair to demonstrate the accomplishment of a vow he had made before God.

    Paul made a brief stop at Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem.  Priscilla and Aquila were left there. Paul's travels took him to Caesarea, then to Jerusalem and finally back to Antioch. This described the ending of the second journey and the beginning of the third. On this journey Paul visited "Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples." 

   Our attention is turned back to Ephesus where Paul had left Priscilla and Aquila. "A certain Jew named Apollos, an eloquent man" came down to the city of Ephesus. He was a great preacher but he knew only the baptism of John. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him preach they took him aside and gave him fuller teaching about the way of God. He became a powerful defender of the faith.

   Paul's great success at Corinth – Acts 18:1-11: After Paul's sermon in the Areopagus and the good result of it he traveled to Corinth. At Corinth he associated with Aquila and his wife Priscilla. They had come from Italy because Claudius had given orders that all Jews were to depart from Rome. Their trade of being tent makers brought them together.

   Every Sabbath day Paul went into the Jewish synagogue and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. He proved that Jesus was the Christ. He taught them concerning the necessity of Jesus’ sufferings, death and resurrection. Many Jews and Greeks were persuaded by the truth Paul taught. When Silas and Timothy arrived Paul was stirred even more to preach Christ.

   The rejection of the gospel by the Jews caused Paul to turn to the Gentiles. He said, "Your blood be on your heads, I am clean: from now I will go to the Gentiles." Paul meant what he said because he left the synagogue he went into the house of a man named Justus, a Gentile believer. Luke gave this simple account of conversions in Corinth. "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 18:8)

   The Lord used a vision to encourage Paul to keep on preaching Christ. He promised to be with him and to preserve him.

   The coldness of Gallio toward Paul – Acts 18:12-17: The Jews brought Paul before Gallio's judgment seat saying, "This man is teaching the people to give worship to God in a way which is against the law." Gallio said he would have heard the case if it involved some wicked lewdness. He refused to be a judge in spiritual matters. He literally drove them from his judgment seat.

    The profane and unconverted Greeks beat Sosthenes. He was the chief ruler of the synagogue. Likely he was chosen to this position after Crispus became a Christian. Gallio cared for none of these things. Latter Sosthenes would have a part with Paul in writing the letter of First Corinthians. (I Corinthians 1:1)

   Paul watered what he had planted – Acts 18:18-23: At Cenchrea Paul shaved his head because of a vow he had made. One would be hard pressed to prove that this vow was one peculiar to the Law, which it would be improper for Christians to observe. We must remember Paul's refusal to impose the Law upon Gentiles. It must not be inferred, from this that we are at liberty to make foolish or wicked vows, that would be better broken than kept.

    Paul, along with Aquila and Priscilla, journeyed to Ephesus. After a stay there when Paul preach in synagogue he traveled on leaving Aquila and Priscilla behind. Paul's desire was to make the feast at Jerusalem and to return to Ephesus later, if it was the will of God. Paul made his way by Caesarea to Jerusalem. After visiting Jerusalem Paul visited many churches, (1) confirming them in the faith, (2) fortifying their minds against temptations, and (3) encouraging them to be faithful under persecution.

   An account of Apollo's spiritual growth – Acts 18:24-28: Apollos came to Ephesus. He was powerful in speech and prudent. This man had a great knowledge of Scriptures, but he knew only the baptism of John. He preached boldly in the synagogue. Upon hearing him preach Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

    Apollos desired to go into Achaia. The brethren helped him and sent letters to the disciples requesting them to take him in among them. He gave much help to the believers. He overcame the Jews in public discussion, and made it clear from scripture that Jesus was the Christ.

   Being a Christian is a serious responsibility. To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized to be saved. (I Peter 3:21) After baptism the challenge for every Christian is to be steadfast under every circumstance.

A Book Burning And An Uproar
– Acts Nineteen –

   Paul went to Ephesus after Apollos had left for Corinth. At Ephesus he found about twelve men that believed, but they knew only the John's baptism. John's baptism was a baptism of repentance looking for the coming of Christ.

   Paul asked these men if they had received the Holy Ghost. They had not even heard of the Holy Ghost. In the early days of the church baptized believers were given miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the apostles’ hands. (Acts 8:14-15) These men were gladly baptized when they learned that baptism into Christ puts a person into a saved relationship with God. After their baptism, (1) Paul laid his hands on them, (2) the Holy Ghost came on them, and (3) they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.  

   Paul went into the synagogue at Ephesus for about three months. He spoke with power about Christ and His kingdom. Many Jews were stubborn and refused to believe. They said horrible things about God's Way. Paul took the believers to the school of Tyrannus where he taught them daily. This teaching continued for two years. The result was that "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus."  

   During this time God gave Paul the power to work great miracles.  Certain evil people started going about claming to do the same kind of things that Paul did. Seven son of Sceva were among that number. They called the name of Jesus over a man that was possessed with evil spirits. The evil spirits said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?" The man with the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them down and they ran out of the house, naked and bruised.

   The things that happened to these men caused many to fear. They confessed their deeds and burned their books dealing with the subject of witchcraft. The result was that the word of God grew mightily and prevailed. 

    While Paul remained at Ephesus some people caused serious trouble for the Lord's Way. Demetrius stirred up the people against Christians. He made his living making silver images of the goddess Diana. As people became Christians he was losing income. Demetrius stirred all that were of the same craft as he. When the mob came together they shouted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians" for the space of about two hours. Soon the whole city was in a riot.

   They caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel; they rushed to the place where the town meetings were held. Paul wanted to speak to the people but the disciples would not allow him to take such a risk. In typical mob fashion everyone was completely confused, and most of them did not even know why they were there.

   A smart man with some common sense told the people that Demetrius and his workers should take their complaint to the judges and the courts. He said that the people could easily be accused of starting a riot for which there was no excuse.

   Twelve men were baptized at Ephesus – Acts 19:1-10: Paul went to Ephesus after Apollos had gone to Corinth. At Ephesus he met some disciples that had been baptized with John's baptism. The way that Paul knew that something was wrong with their baptism was when he asked if they had received the Holy Ghost (miraculous gift by the laying on of the apostles hands). They said they had not even heard of the Holy Ghost. They were then baptized with Christ's baptism. After their baptism "Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." 

   Both John's baptism and Christ's baptism were preceded by repentance. Remission of sins was the result of both. However, the baptism of the great commission puts the believer into Christ. This baptism is done in the name of Christ or by His authority.

   For three months Paul went into the Jewish synagogue "disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God." But some spoke so terribly of God's way that Paul took the believers and started teaching daily in the school of Tyrannus. He taught there for two years and the result was that all Jew and Gentile in Asia had heard the Lord's message.

    Books about witchcraft were burned – Acts 19:11-20: God blessed Paul with the power to work great miracles. Many sick people were healed and evil sprits were cast out. Some vagabond Jews took it upon them to call the name of the Jesus whom Paul preached over them that had evil spirits. Seven sons of Sceva were doing this.

   The evil spirit answered the sons of Sceva by saying, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" The man with the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them down. They ran out of the house, naked and wounded. This caused the Jews and Greeks to fear and the name of the Lord to be magnified. As people began to talk about what had happened those that had been practicing witchcraft brought their books and burned them in public. This caused the word of God to grow and prevail.

    Demetrius caused a riot in Ephesus – Acts 19:21-34: Paul planned to go to Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and then to also see Rome. Christianity (That Way) is always in conflict with the evils of the world. At Ephesus Demetrius, a silversmith, that made images to the goddess Diana cause a public riot. He earned a lot of money that he would lose if people turned from idol worship.

    The people shouted "Great is Diana of the Ephesians" for about two hours. The entire city was filled with confusion. Paul wanted to try to speak to the people, but the disciples would not allow him to do so. Demetrius had stirred up an out of control mob. "Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together."

   A town clerk used common sense – Acts 19:35-41: Finally, a town official that had some common sense begged the mob to "be quiet, and to do nothing rashly." He suggested that if Demetrius and his workers have a legal case against these Christian that they should take them to court. He said, "We have courts and judges. Let them take their complaints there."

   He also explained that if they were not satisfied there that the matter should be considered by a lawful assembly. He said that there was no excuse for being accused of starting a riot. He knew they could not give a reason for this uproar. With this thought he dismissed the people.

   Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to go to heaven? Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Truth must be heard, understood and obeyed in order to bring salvation.  Once you learn the truth of God's word hold it with all your strength and heart. (I Corinthians 15:58)

Bought With The Blood Of Jesus
– Acts Twenty –

   Paul traveled to Macedonia and then into Greece. It was often seen in his life that persecution might cause a Christian to move from his present location. However, this must never cause him to move from his purpose of working for God.

   Christians can read God's word, study, pray, and sing while they are apart from one another. Communion can only be kept when the church comes together on Sunday; the Lord's Day or the first day of the week. Each Sunday Christians should break bread as a memorial of Christ's death. (Acts 20:7)

    In Troas, Paul healed Eutychus, who fell from a third floor window after falling asleep. Eutychus was brought to life again. The situation with Eutychus, (1) disturbed the preaching, (2) provided an opportunity to confirm the message by miracle, and (3) reminds us that we should be well rested and prepared for worship.

    Paul called for the elders from the church at Ephesus. He reminded them that God had made them overseers. Elders must be true to this calling. Paul told these elders that the church was purchased with Jesus' blood. They were reminded of Paul’s work at Ephesus and they were  told that  false teachers would  be found in the church there. They were to be grounded so solidly in the word of God's grace that they could protect the flock from these grievous wolves.

    The separation of Paul from the elder from Ephesus was painful. As He separated from these brethren, "It was a comfort to all, that the presence of Christ both went with him and stayed with them."

   Paul went through Macedonia and Greece – Acts 20:1-6: When the uproar that had been caused by Demetrius at Ephesus ceased Paul called for the Christians at Ephesus. He embraced them, comforted them, and exhorted them to hold fast to God. After this He separated to go into Macedonia. He visited churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. As he went from church to church he established the Christians in the faith of the Gospel.

   Form Macedonia Paul went to Greece and stayed there for three months. When some of the Jew plotted against him he decided to return by way of Macedonia. Through these events in Paul's life we observe God's care over his ministry, and we also observe Paul's concern for the churches that he had helped to establish.

    Paul and several brethren went to Troas after the days of unleavened bread. The Jewish feasts are mention only to mark the time of the year. These feasts along with the entire law had been abolished, and are not to be observed by Christians. Paul and his company stayed in Troas for seven days in order to be there on the first day of the week for worship.

    Paul's last visit to Troas – Acts 20:7-12: At Troas Paul and his companions came together with the church to break bread. As the disciples were gathered Paul preached to them until midnight because he was leaving the next morning. In the upstairs room where they met there were many lights.

   While Paul was speaking a young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window. Paul preached for a long time and this young man became very sleepy. He fell three floors to the ground and was taken up dead. Paul went down and took Eutychus in his arms. He said, "Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him." "And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted." (Acts 20:12)  

   The voyage from Troas to Miletus – Acts 20:13-16: Paul's mission work carried him to many places to preach. It seemed that he did not like to travel by ship, even though he did so at times. Here he decided to travel by land to Assos. The rest of the missionary team went on ahead by ship from Troas and sailed unto Assos.

   Paul told the brethren he would meet them at Assos and he did. As a Christian it is important that you keep your word when you tell someone that you are going to do something. The ship then took them to Mitylene. This was only a brief stopover but you can rest assured that someone there heard the gospel. From Mitylene they sailed the next day over against Chios. The following day they reached Samos. The day after that they sailed to Miletus. Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, because he did not want to spend too much time in Asia. He was in a hurry and wanted to be in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost in order to have an opportunity to preach the Gospel to the Jews that would come from everywhere to Jerusalem.

   Paul visited with the elders from Ephesus – Acts 20:17-38: Paul called for the Elders from the church at Ephesus to meet with him at Miletus. He reminded them that he had never tried to obtain the applause of men. He only tried to please God! They knew how Paul had taught in the Jewish synagogue at Ephesus, then in the school of Tyrannus and house to house. He did not hold back from telling anything that would help them go to heaven.

    Paul knew that danger awaited him in Jerusalem, but he was willing to go for God. He did not care what happened to him, as long as he finished the work the Lord gave him to do. Paul felt that he would never see these brethren again so he wanted to strengthen them in the faith. He had freely communicated to the church at Ephesus everything God wanted them to know.

   Paul warned the elders to take heed to themselves and to all the Christians that the Holy Spirit had put in their care. They were to be shepherds over this flock of God. This church had been bought with the blood of God's Son. Paul warned these elders that after he left they should be on guard for false teaches that would arise among the elders. He had warned them for three years, with tears in his eyes, about his matter. 

   These false teachers would come in like wolves to destroy the flock. They would twist the scriptures to their own destruction. Their purpose would be to "to draw away disciples after them." Elders must watch carefully to keep the church from being carried away with the error of the wicked.

   At last Paul placed these brethren in God's care. He emphasized the value of God's work in building up His saints. He reminded them that Jesus had said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." After Paul finished speaking, he knelt down with the brethren and prayed. They were especially grieved because Paul had told them, that they would not see him again. After this they accompanied Paul to the ship.

      To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus (John 8:24); repent of sins (Romans 10:9-10); confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and be baptized into Christ (I

 Peter 3:21). After baptism use your life to spread the gospel of Christ!

A Strange Compromise In Jerusalem 
– Acts 21 –

   Paul knew that storms would rage in his life when he reached Jerusalem. However, he was determined to do what he believed to be the will of God. He wanted to preach the gospel to his fellow Jews. He would have that opportunity in Jerusalem at Pentecost.

   The spread of the gospel in the early days of the church was a beautiful thing. Where ever Paul went he found small groups of Christians serving the Lord. It is wonderful to travel from place to place and find others that are a faithful part of the church of Christ. You can find people all around the world that share the same mind of Christ as you.  

   At the house of Philip a prophet, named Agabus "took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." It was not unusual for Old Testament prophets to dramatize their message.

    The arrival of Paul at Jerusalem presented the church with a problem. Acts 21:17-26 provides one of the most perplexing sections of scripture in the Bible. It is amazing that the entire church in  Jerusalem   had  become  involved  in   "Law keeping." The text says, "they are all zealous of the law." When the law was lifted from the back of Gentiles it was lifted from all Christians. I can see no way that James and Paul were innocent in this matter although they likely acted out of ignorance. James should have told those Jewish Christians that neither he, nor Paul were Law keepers. No one should keep the Jewish Law. It has been abolished with the death of Christ.

    This business of the vow had taken Paul into the Temple several times. Some Jews from Asia accused Paul of bringing Trophimus, a Gentile, into the Temple. This would have been very unlawful. There was an uproar and Paul was dragged out of the Temple. He was arrested and bound with two chains.

    As the soldiers were attempting to get Paul inside the castle he asked for permission to speak to the mob. He was a man of both conviction and courage. When Paul turned to speak complete silence fell on the mob. In the next chapter we will hear his words.

   Paul would not retreat – Acts  21:1-16: Paul knew that danger awaited him in Jerusalem. But he would not retreat. He took ship and quickly passed through Coos, Rhodes, and Patara. At Patara they changed to another ship bound for Phenicia. They saw Cyprus as they sailed on to Syria. The ship landed at Tyre to unload. They spent seven days with the brethren there. Paul received more warning about the danger he faced in Jerusalem.

   As was often the case when the missionary team departed there was fellowship and a service of prayers offered to God. Afterwards the brethren returned to their homes and Paul and his company got on the ship again. The journey by ship ended at Ptolemais. There were some Christians there that the brethren spent a day with. Their next stop was at Caesarea. Philip, the evangelist, one of the first deacons lived there. Philip had four virgin daughters that did prophesy. They did not preach or explain scripture in public assemblies; for women were not allowed to do so. They were simply endowed with the gift of being able to foretell future events.  

         The same Agabus that had predicted the famine in Acts 11:28 now predicted that Paul would be bound by the Jews and delivered to the Gentiles. The brethren believed the prediction and tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem. "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." (Acts 21:13)

   Compromise about the Law – Acts 21:17-26: When Paul and his companions reached Jerusalem he went to visit James, the Lord's brother. He reported how that God had received many Gentiles into the kingdom. There was still a great deal of confusion among Christians as to their relationship to the Law of Moses. Paul taught that no one is justified by the Law. However, many thousands of Jews which believed were all zealous of the law.

   Paul was accused of teaching the Jews that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk after the costumes of the Law. He was told that there would be a meeting to discuss this matter. James suggested that Paul help four Jewish brethren keep their vows to prove that he was a keeper of the Law. We must become all things to all men but still one cannot help but be amazed at James' suggestion and at the fact that Paul would go along with it. Surely both of these great and good men did what they believed to be right under the circumstances. But, at best this was a tragic compromise.

   Slanderous charges against Paul – Acts 21:27-36: Paul was in and out of the Temple several times to perform the ritual suggested by James. Afterwards, "the Jews which were of Asia said, "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."

   An uproar caused Paul to be taken by force out of the Temple and the Temple door was closed. They also were about to kill Paul. Finally the chief captain of the military heard about the riot. He and some soldiers came and bound Paul with two chains and took him away. The captain was confused about what was going on so he took Paul to the castle for further investigation. "The people followed after, crying, Away with him." This was the result of the compromise.                                                                       

   Paul faced an angry mob – Acts 21:37-40: As Paul was being pushed toward the Temple he asked for permission to speak to the mob. The chief captain was surprised that Paul spoke the Greek language. He thought Paul was an Egyptian. In the case of both Paul and the Egyptian there was an uproar among the people. The Egyptian caused that riot but Paul was not to blame for this one.  

   Paul simply identified himself saying, "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." He was given permission to speak. He had spoken Greek to the captain. Now he speaks in the Hebrew language to the people. In Acts 22 we will hear what he said to them.

   To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to wash away sins. (Acts 22:16) As a Christians you must be willing both to live and to die for Jesus.

Paul’s Conversion And Work
– Acts Twenty-Two –

The conversion of Saul is told in Acts 9:1-19, Acts 26:9-18 and here in Acts 22:1-16. He gave us many details about what happened on his trip to Damascus to persecute Christians. We should study carefully what the Bible says about conversion and not be swayed by our preconceived ideas. Saul was wrong religiously, but he was sincerely trying to serve God. He followed his conscience, which sadly had been taught wrong. He was religious but religiously wrong, sincere but sincerely mistaken.

God sent Ananias to tell Saul what he must do to be saved. God does not tell people directly how to be saved. Those that have already become Christians deliver his message to others. When Ananias came to Saul he asked, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) Saul was a believer in Christ that had repented of his sins and now he needed to be baptized into Christ.

After Saul's conversion he became an apostle to the Gentiles. The Jews listened to Paul until he said the word "Gentile." "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 22:22) National prejudice is a sad and destructive thing. The anger of the people caused the chief captain to assume Paul had done some terrible crime. He threatened to beat Paul until he found out that Paul was a freeborn Roman citizen. The captain did not seem to respect God but he did respect the law of the land. Paul was willing to suffer and to die for Christ but if his Roman freedoms could prevent his suffering he would thankful use that citizenship.

Paul's birth, education and prejudices – Acts 22:1-5: The term "men, brethren and fathers" was a term used often among the Jews in Paul's' day. He was happy to answer the charges of speaking against the Jews, the Law of Moses, and the Temple. He knew his teaching was in harmony with the will of God. When Paul spoke in the Hebrew tongue the people became even more silent. The captain and the Roman soldiers might not have understood Hebrew so well.

Paul explained that he was a Jew by birth. He was educated in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel. He had been taught strict observance of the Mosaic Law. It was a well know fact that he was zealous toward God and the Law. Paul had been a zealous persecutor of Christianity. He committed Christians to prison and consented to their death. He said the Jewish Sanhedrin and the High Priest could bear witness to the fact that he had gained permission to go to Damascus in order to bind and imprison Christians.

Paul's conversion to Christianity – Acts 22:6-16: As Paul drew near to Damascus there was a bright light from heaven that flashed around him. This light caused him to fall to the ground. He heard a voice asking, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He inquired as to who it was that he was persecuting. He learned that he was persecuting Jesus of Nazareth. Those traveling with Paul saw the light but did not hear the voice in such a way as to understand.

Paul quickly inquired as to what he must do to be saved. He had journeyed toward Damascus to persecute Christians that he found there. Now, however, he entered into the city to learn how to become a Christian and what he must do for Jesus. He would learn that he was to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He would both work and suffer for the cause he had persecuted.

Ananias was a good and godly man that God sent to tell Paul how to become a Christian. He first used a miracle to restore Paul's sight. Ananias told Paul that God had chosen him and to see Jesus and to hear His voice. He would then become a witness as to what he had seen and heard. Paul was baptized to wash away his sins. "Calling on the name of the Lord," an expression that means obedience to the Lord's will. There is not doubt that one must be baptized in order to be saved.

Paul's apostleship among Gentiles – Acts 22:17-21: After his conversion Paul returned to Jerusalem and to the Temple to pray. In a vision he was told to leave Jerusalem because the people would not listen to what he had to say about God. He was told to get out of Jerusalem quickly because God had work for him to do elsewhere.

The people would not listen to Paul just as he would not listen to Stephen and other preachers of the gospel. Many times Paul had gone into the assemblies and arrested Christians. He even guarded the clothes of the men who murdered Stephen. The Lord told Paul to leave Jerusalem and that he would send him to the Gentiles. The desire of God was that Paul become an apostle to the Gentiles. He preached the gospel among them with great success. Many churches were established among the Gentiles.

Paul's Roman citizenship helped him – Acts 22:22-30: The crowd listened to Paul until he said the word "Gentile." Then they said, "Get rid of this man! He doesn't deserve to live." Like madmen these people threw off their cloths and threw dust into the air. The captain decided to take Paul to the castle and scourge him to find out why the crowd was so angry with him. While the soldiers were tying Paul up to be scourged he asked them if it was legal to beat a Roman citizen without a trial?

The officer immediately told the captain that Paul was a Roman citizen. The captain had bought his Roman citizenship with much money. Paul was a freeborn Roman citizen. Those that were about to beat Paul stopped immediately when they realized that they had put a Roman in chains uncondemned. The chief captain was concerned that he would be called to give an account for even allowing Paul to be bound. It is again obvious that this man did not respect God but he did respect the laws of the land. All Christians must have respect for the laws of the land and obey them unless they conflict with the will of God. (Romans 13)

The next day the commander wanted to know the real reason why the Jewish leaders had brought charges against Paul. He ordered the chief priests and the whole council to meet about this matter. Paul was brought in to make his defense before them. Later we will see that his defense centered in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The council was much divide over the questions of the resurrection.

Being a Christian is a serious responsibility. To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) After conversion the challenge for every Christian is to be steadfast in the service of the King of kings. Paul had his work among the Gentile and there is a work for you in God’s kingdom.

Paul Before The Divided Sanhedrin
– Acts Twenty-Three –

   Paul was an honest man who served "in all good conscience before God." (Acts 23:1) He did the best he knew how to live right and to be an honor to God. His claim to a good conscience caused Ananias to tell someone to strike him on the mouth. In Acts 23:3 Paul told the High Priest, "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?" He did not know that this man was High Priest. He certainly was not acting like a High Priest should act. Paul would never have spoken to Ananias as he did if he had known he was High Priest. Paul knew that the law of God requires respect for authority. (Exodus 22:28, Ecclesiastes 10:20)  

   The Sanhedrin was divided. Some members of the court were Sadducees and others were Pharisees. Paul said that he was being judged "concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead."  The Sadducees had neither hope nor dread of the future. "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both." (Acts 23:8)

   About forty Jews bound themselves under an oath that  they would  neither eat  nor drink until they had killed Paul. They would ask the chief priest and elders to bring him down that they might ambush him and kill him. Paul's nephew heard of their wicked plot and told Paul. He sent him to tell the commander about their plan. The commander sent Paul to Caesarea guarded by two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen. As an added means of safety he was sent out by night. He sent a letter to Felix about Paul's situation.

   Paul's defense before the Sanhedrin – Acts 23:1-5: Paul appeared before the Sanhedrin to try to resolve the charge of profaning the Temple. He pictured again his religious situation before becoming a Christian. He had been a very religious man, but he was religiously wrong. However, he said, "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day."

   The High Priest commanded the people to strike Paul in the mouth. They were gathered to learn the truth, but sadly the High Priest had no interest in truth. Paul called Ananias a "whitewashed wall." He was beautiful on the outside and rotten on the inside. He pretended to be religious, but it did not show in his life. Paul could not tell by his actions that Ananias was High Priest. Paul had too much respect for God to knowingly speak against His authority!

   Paul was assured that he would go to Rome – Acts 23:6-11: As Paul stood before the Sanhedrin he realized that they were a very divide group. They were divided concerning the resurrection from the dead. "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection." (Matthew 22:23) The Pharisee realized that Paul was called into question concerning the resurrection of the dead. They realized that to reject the resurrection was to fight against Almighty God. The contention was very strong between these two groups. They were so angry with one another that the commander feared that Paul might be torn to pieces. He sent soldiers down to bring him, by force, to the castle.

    This must have been a discouraging time for Paul. But, "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 23:11) Discouragement is one of the Devils most powerful tools. He has used "discouragement" to remove many men from the pulpits in churches of Christ. Discouragement is the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles. It is the feeling that everything is wrong and nothing will turn out well. Many brethren have blessed my life, and lifted my heart and hands. On the other hand there are those that have discouraged the hearts of young preachers and even older preachers. What a terrible thing to answer for on the Day of Judgment. "...Our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying..." (Deuteronomy 1:28)

   The Jews conspired to kill Paul – Acts 23:12-24: There was so much hatred toward Paul that more than forty Jewish men vowed that they would not eat nor drink until they had killed  him. They even asked the chief priest and other to join them in their godless plot. They wanted then to request the commander to bring Paul down that they might kill him from ambush.

   Paul's nephew somehow heard about the plot. He told Paul who then asked an officer to take him to the commander. He told the commander that some men would ask him to bring Paul before the Jewish council tomorrow. They would pretend to desire to question Paul more. However, more than forty men were going to attack Paul. They had made a vow not to eat or drink anything until they have killed him. The commander charged the young man not to tell anyone what he had told him. If they knew that their plot had been made known they might have devised a new scheme before Paul could be spared.

   At about nine o'clock that night Paul was sent to Caesarea with two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred foot soldiers with spears to protect him. Paul was put on a horse and carried safely to Felix the governor.

    Claudius Lysias's letter to Felix -- Acts 23:25-35: Claudius Lysias wrote a letter in which he sent greetings to Felix and somewhat explained Paul's situation. He explained how that Paul was taken by the Jews in the temple, dragged out and beaten by them. He said he saved Paul's life when he found out he was a Roman. But he did not know that until he had bound him with two chains, and ordered him to be examined by scourging. He made it seem that it was his great concern for a Roman citizen that caused him to take such care.

   Claudius Lysias said that he wanted to find out what the Jews had against Paul. He explained how that he brought him before their council and learned that the charges concern only religious laws. He said Paul was not guilty of anything for which he should die or even be put in prison. He explained about the plot against Paul's life and how that he had quickly sent Paul and his accusers to Felix's court. Felix promised to hear Paul's case when his accusers came. Felix desired to hear both sides of the matter before he passed his judgment, even though the chief captain's letter had said that Paul was innocent. Paul was kept in Herod’s judgment hall. This provided an open door for much work in the kingdom.

   To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Romans 10:9-10), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and, be baptized into Christ. (I Peter 3:21) After baptism you must stand boldly for God even under the worst of circumstances!

Paul Appeared Before Felix
– Acts Twenty-Four –

   In Acts chapters 24-28 we observe Paul's captivity and the constant effort of the Jewish religious leaders to have him killed. They hated Paul so much that they constantly made false and improvable charges against him. In this chapter we see that they even brought Tertullus, an orator, to present their case against Paul before Felix.

    Paul often spoke in his own defense. Much of his defense centered in the fact that he had a good conscience before God in all things that he did. His time before the various courts provides a sad picture of man's injustice! Paul had been unsuccessful in his attempts to defend himself before the Jewish leaders. He tired to explain to them that his focus had been on "the Way" and that it centered in preaching about the resurrection of Christ. He knew that he was on trial because he believed that the dead would be raised to life. The resurrection of Christ is so vital that there is no salvation without it. He never seemed to be concerned that his faith in the Christ might cost him his earthly life.

    Paul taught Felix about doing right, about self-control, and about the coming judgment. "Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call  for  thee." Felix  often  sent  for  Paul  and talked with him. The reason he did this was because he hoped that Paul would give him a bribe. Felix heard the gospel many times but we have no record that he ever became a Christian.

   Paul was accused in the court of Felix – Acts 24:1-9: The High Priest and the Jews knew that they had done wrong in their dealing with Paul so they wanted to get the matter settled quickly. Their interest was not in doing right but in blaming Paul! They came to Caesarea five days after Paul was brought there. A lawyer named Tertullus was brought to present their case against Paul. When Paul was brought into court Tertullus stated the case against him.

   Tertullus used flattery to catch the ears of Felix. He said Felix had brought a long period of peace to the Jews and that because of him the nation was better off. He wanted Felix to think that the Jews were thankful for what he had done for them. He told Felix, "All of us are always grateful for what you have done." This was just deceitful flattery in an attempt to get Felix on their side.

   Tertullus accused Paul of being a pest, plague, or troublemaker for the Jews all over the world.  He was accused of sedition and of being a leader of a group called Nazarenes. "Sedition is a term of law to refer to covert conduct such as speech and organization that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often included subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent to lawful authority." "Nazarenes" was not a God given name for His people. Christians were so called by way of contempt and scorn. They were called Nazarenes because Jesus was from Nazareth.

   The Jews accused Paul of attempting to disgrace the Temple. This was not true. Tertullus and the Jews said they arrested Paul to find out the truth of the matter. Neither was this true. They had nothing but hatred for Paul and attempted to kill him without cause.

    Paul defended himself before Felix – Acts 24:10-18: Felix had judged the Jewish nation for many years. He had been governor somewhere between ten and thirteen years. If the charge was true that Paul was guilty of sedition surely Felix would have heard something of him. 

   Paul said it was no more than twelve days ago that he went to worship in Jerusalem. He could not have stirred up so much sedition in this short time. Also out of these twelve days he was a prisoner for nine of them. He did not profane the Temple because he went there to "worship." Paul said that never once did the Jews find him arguing with anyone in the Temple, either about civil or religious matters. He said that there was no way that they could prove the charges made against him.

   The Jews felt that the Lord's Way was heresy. Paul wanted it clearly understood that he still worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He believed that everyone, both good and evil, will be raised from the dead. Belief in the resurrection promoted holiness and godly living in the life of Paul. The desire of his life was simply to discharge his duty to God and to man.  

   Paul explained how that he had been away from Jerusalem for several years. Now he returned to bring gifts for the poor Jews that he had collected among Gentile churches. He also came to make an offering. This had to do with the Jewish vow he was helping those men keep. He was in the Temple for that ceremony when he was apprehended. He was not with a crowd, and there was no uproar.

   Paul defense before Felix continued – Acts 24:19-23: Paul said the Jews from Asia were the only ones that saw him in the Temple. If they had anything to say against him he felt that they should be present for this hearing. He said because those Jews were not present that Felix should ask the ones that were there exactly what evil they observed Paul doing or what they found him guilty of when he appeared before their court.

   The only thing Paul was guilty of was saying that he was called into question concerning the resurrection from the dead. When Paul had mentioned the resurrection the court was thrown into confusion and division. Felix knew a lot about the Lord's Way. He said he would hear more about this matter when Lysias the chief captain came to Caesarea. Paul was kept under guard but his friends and brethren were allowed to visit and to help him. 

   Paul was kept under guard – Acts 24:24-27: Felix and his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, went to the place where Paul was kept to hear him. Paul spoke to them concerning faith in Christ. Felix was frightened when Paul talked about righteousness, temperance (self-control), and judgment to come. He stopped Paul from speaking and told him he would hear him again when it was convenient.

   Felix sent for Paul often and talked with him. He hoped Paul would offer him a bribe. He observed from Paul's own defense, that he came up to Jerusalem to bring alms and offerings. He assumed that Paul had access to money. Felix ruled for two more years and when Porcius Festus became Governor Paul was left in jail to please the Jews.

   God wants to save you. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9.) Have you obeyed the gospel? (Mark 16:15-16.) Are you living for Heaven? (I Corinthians 15:58.) 

Grievous Complaints Against Paul
– Acts Twenty-Five –

   God wanted Paul's innocence to be proven before the world. The only thing he was guilty of was having faith in Jesus as the Christ and preaching the resurrection from the dead. The Jews seemed to increase in their hatred of Paul. They desired Festus to bring him to Jerusalem because they were planning to attack and kill him on the way. Festus was unable to do this because Paul asked to be tried by the Roman Emperor.

   Paul's conduct before these rulers was that of a man bearing witness to the truth. His relationship with God was obvious as he dealt with these difficult circumstances. He had been God's faithful missionary among the Gentiles. He had preached Christ as the end of the Law. This should not have been an offense against the Jews. Yet, now he is subject to the blind hatred of these people.

   Paul was a man who had great respect for the laws of the land. He would willingly accept whatever punishment he deserved for preaching Christ as man's only hope. Paul was not willing to accept injustice when there was a higher court to which he could appeal. 

    Agrippa and Festus both had more interest in being  politicians  than  in  serving  the  Creator. How sad for men like these who have had the great opportunity to be instructed concerning Christ's resurrection and man's hope and yet have rejected that hope. These rulers heard Paul not in order to learn truth but to gratify their curiosity. There was nothing certain that these rulers could charge Paul with!

    The Jews desired to kill Paul – Acts 25:1-6: Nero, the Roman emperor, made Festus governor of Judea. Judea was a Roman province. Three days after Festus became governor, he traveled from Caesarea to Jerusalem. When he reached Jerusalem the Jews took advantage of a new opportunity to renew their charges against Paul. They thought Festus might help the Jews in order to gain their support.

   The chief priests and some Jewish leaders told him about their charges against Paul. Paul was pictured as a wicked man that had committed all kinds of evil. The Jewish leaders asked a favor of Festus desiring that he would bring Paul back to Jerusalem. They were planning to attack and kill him on his way to Jerusalem. Men will go to terrible extremes to carry out bad causes!  Festus told them, that Paul would be kept at Caesarea. He said he was going there soon and the Jewish leaders could come there and present their charges against him. 

   Festus stayed in Jerusalem for eight or ten more days before going back to Caesarea. The next day after he reached Caesarea he sat on the bench in the court to try the case against Paul. He commanded that Paul be brought from the place where he was kept a prisoner, to the judgment hall where he would be tried.

   Paul appealed to Caesar – Acts 25:7-12: As soon as Paul was brought into the court the Jewish leaders crowded around him and laid many and grievous complaints against him. These were complaints which they could not prove. The reason that they could not prove their charges was that after his conversion Paul had very strictly conformed to the laws of God and man. He had not broken the Law of the Jews and he has not done anything against either the temple or Caesar. It was to Paul's honor through the grace of God, that his enemies could not make good any of the things with which they charged him. He was a good man, serving his Creator!

   Festus desired to please the Jews so he asked Paul to go to Jerusalem and face these charges there. Paul said he was in the Roman court where he should be tried. He said Festus knew that he had done nothing to harm the Jewish nation. Paul said if he had committed any things worthy of death according to the Roman law then he would be willing to die. He said, "I am not guilty of any of these crimes, and no one has the right to hand me over to these people. I now ask to be tried by the Emperor himself." Festus talked it over with his council and then said to Paul, "Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go." When Festus asked Paul, "Hast thou appealed unto Caesar?" he wanted the Jews to know that the matter was now out of his hands. 

  King Agrippa learned about Paul – Acts 25:13-21: King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to visit Festus. After they had been there for several days Festus told King Agrippa about the charges against Paul. He said Felix had left him in jail at Caesarea. Paul had been in jail for over two years and his case still had not been settled.

   Festus explained to Agrippa that when he had taken office and gone up to Jerusalem the Jewish leaders came immediately and asked him to find Paul guilty. He made known to them that Roman law would not allow him to condemn Paul before he had the chance to meet his accusers face to face and to defend himself against their charges. Festus said, "they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." Festus asked Paul to go to Jerusalem to be tried. Paul asked to be kept in jail until Caesar could decide his case.  

   Agrippa desired to hear Paul – Acts 25:22-27: Agrippa was a Jew by profession. He desired to hear Paul in order to gain information about the dispute between the Jews and Christians. Festus was happy to arrange for him to hear Paul. The next day when the meeting was arranged "Agrippa and Bernice made a big show as they came into the meeting room. High ranking army officers and leading citizens of the town were also there."

   When Paul was brought in Festus told Agrippa that this is the man that all the Jews are demanding that he be put to death. It was his death they sought, and nothing else would satisfy them. Lysias had earlier said, "I perceived him to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds." (Acts 23:2) Festus also admitted that when he examined Paul he found no crime worthy of death. However, he did feel that sense Paul was to be sent to Rome that Agrippa might help him to have some charges to write concerning him. He said, "It makes no sense to send a prisoner to the Emperor without stating the charges against him." In Acts chapter twenty-six we will hear Paul's defense before King Agrippa. Paul almost persuaded him to become a Christian.

      To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus (John 8:24); repent of sins (Romans 10:9-10); confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) After baptism use your life to spread the gospel of Christ!

Paul’s Sermon Before King Agrippa
– Acts Twenty-Six –

   Acts twenty-five pictured Paul before the judgment bar of Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice and some great men of Caesarea. They wanted to hear what Paul had to say as he spoke for himself. In Acts chapter twenty-six we have record of Paul as he carefully answered the charges made against him.

    Paul had lived his life as a Pharisee but he learned that the hope of the Jews is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He is now in bonds because of that hope. He asked Agrippa why he thought it would be impossible for God to raise the dead? Paul had thought he should do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. He did his best to destroy Christianity because he felt that he was doing the will of God.  

   Christ was made know to Paul as he journeyed to Damascus to persecute Christians. He saw a bright light and heard the voice of the Lord. He became convinced that the Righteous One had been raised from the dead. He obeyed the Lord quickly. (Acts 22:16, Acts 9:18) As a Christian Paul was sent to be a missionary among the Gentiles. He wanted it understood that his commission to work among the Gentiles had its origin in heaven. God told Paul that he was sending him  to the Gentiles 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 26:18)

   Festus thought that Paul was a mad man but Agrippa was not far from being converted. "Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." (Acts 26:28) Sadly Agrippa was only a little distance from being make a Christian, yet there is no Biblical evidence that his heart was ever changed. The wish Paul had for Agrippa should be our desire for all mankind. "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 26:29)

   Even after two years of being kept in prison unjustly Paul’s heart was still filled with faith, hope, joy, conviction and love for God. Happiness does not depend on circumstance. Paul might have been bound by the government but he was free in Christ.

   Festus, Agrippa and Bernice agreed saying, "This man has done nothing which might give cause for death or prison." (Acts 26:31) "Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar."

   Paul humbly addressed Agrippa – Acts 26:1-11: Agrippa gave Paul permission to speak for himself. As Paul began his defense he stretched forth his hand. This action was designed to gain their attention. He felt happy to answer the charges made against him by the Jews before King Agrippa. The charges involved profaning the temple, contempt for the Jews, their customs and the Law, blasphemy, and sedition. Paul was innocent of all charges.  

   The Jews had known Paul since childhood and they knew his manner of life. If they were willing to do so those Jews could verify that Paul had live in a strict manner as a Pharisee. He wanted it known that he was on trial because of God's promise of salvation based on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. He asked why anyone would doubt that God had raised the dead to life again. Early on, Paul was opposed to Jesus Himself, to His religion, to His Gospel, and especially to His people. Paul put many Christians in jail and even voted for them to be killed. He punished Christians in their meeting places. He tried to make them renounce the Christ. He was so angry against Christians that he pursued them to foreign cities.

   Paul's conversion and commission – Acts 26:12-18: Paul was on my way to Damascus with the authority from the chief priests when he saw a bright light and heard a voice from heaven. He came to realize that he was fighting against Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord appeared to Paul to make him a minister and a witness. He was to become an apostle of Jesus Christ and by Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:1) His work was that he was to be a minister of the gospel among the Gentiles. He received direct revelation from God to be delivered to the Gentiles and for this he was hated by the Jews.

    Paul preached both among Jews and Gentiles, but his specific work was that of being an apostle to the Gentiles. His work was always to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles. This was his method until the Jews had rejected the gospel then he turned to the Gentiles. He preached among them to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Gentiles had the opportunity to become part of God's kingdom on the same terms by which the Jews entered -- obedient faith in Jesus.

   Paul's preaching among the Gentiles – Acts 26:19-23: Paul was obedient to Jesus concerning his personal salvation and concerning the work the Lord had for him to do. He immediately began to preach at Damascus. Then he went to Jerusalem and all over Judea. Afterwards he went among the Gentiles preaching repentance and remission of sins. Paul said the Jews caught and imprisoned him for no other reason than that of preaching among the Gentiles.

   God protected Paul and helped him as he preached both to the rich and to the poor. The only thing he preached was what the prophets and Moses said would happen. Paul proved that trough Jesus’ suffering, death, burial and resurrection that He had brought light to the Jews and to the Gentiles.  

   Paul proved himself to be innocent – Acts 26:24-32: Festus reacted by saying that Paul was a mad man. Paul said he was not mad and that what he preached was true and in harmony with scripture. Paul then turned to Agrippa and asked him if he believed what the prophets said? Agrippa said, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Paul wanted Agrippa and all others to be Christians without chains or bonds.

   King Agrippa, Festus, and Bernice, all agreed saying, "This man is not guilty of anything. He does not deserve to die or to be put in jail." Agrippa told Festus that Paul could have been set free, if he had not appealed unto Caesar. His appeal to Caesar would take him to Rome where God had promised Paul that he would preach also.

  Being a Christian is a serious responsibility. To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized to be saved. (I Peter 3:21) After baptism the challenge for every Christian is to be steadfast under every circumstance. Paul’s circumstances were difficult but his faith was strong and his service to God was faithful.

God’s Grace In The Storm
– Acts Twenty-Seven –

   Paul had been judged and found innocent. However, it was God's will that he preach in Rome. His appeal to Caesar was what made it possible for him to bear witness in that place. He was sent as a prisoner, under guard with other prisoners, to Rome. As they make the trip they faced a vicious storm and a horrible shipwrecked off the island of Malta. It is easy to see as we look back, that the will of God was at work in Paul's life!

    Paul and other prisoners were put under the charge of Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. Augustus was the Roman Dictator called Caesar. Paul would be allowed to take the gospel to his palace. Paul was put on a ship of Adramyttium to make the journey toward Rome. As the journey started a brief stop was made at Sidon. There Julius permitted Paul to visit other Christians.

   The centurion gave orders for the journey even over the captain of the ship. He was totally unwilling to follow the advice Paul gave him. Later, the ship was caught in a horrible storm and hope of survival was gone. God appeared to Paul and promised him that there would be no lose of life. The ship and its cargo would be lost but all the people would be spared.

    As the storm raged some of the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship. Paul spoke ten words that saved many lives -- "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved." Paul had been a persecutor, a preacher and now he becomes a preserver for those that were in the ship. Through the grace of God the two hundred and seventy six tired and frightened men on that ship were spared.

   In the midst of the storm Paul showed great faith in God. He ate, prayed and talked about God. He said, "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me." The ship was torn apart and the soldiers suggest killing the prisoners. "But Julius wanted to save Paul's life, and he did not let the soldiers do what they had planned." Remember shipwrecks may come in life but God never deserts you.

   Paul is taken to Rome – Acts 27:1-12: It was the will of God that Paul preach in Rome. When it was time to sail to Italy he and some other prisoners were handed over to Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. They went aboard a ship from Adramyttium. Aristarchus from Thessalonica in Macedonia was on this ship also. He was with Paul at Ephesus, and accompanied him into Asia. (Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4) He became Paul's fellow prisoner. (Philemon 1:24)

   When they stopped at Sidon Julius was kind to Paul. He allowed him to visit his friends so that they could minister to his needs. Leaving Sidon the wind was so contrary that they had to sail below Cyprus to be safe. They sailed south of Cilicia and Pamphylia and came to Myra, a city of Lycia. At Myra, Julius found a ship from Alexandria that was going to Italy. He ordered Paul and the other prisoners to board that ship. They had a difficult time reaching Cnidus. They sailed under Crete, over against Salmone. After a long time they reached a place called Fair Havens, not far from the town of Lasea.

   They lost a great deal of time on the trip. The Day of Atonement had now passed and it was dangerous to sail on. Paul warned the sailors saying, "Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage." But Julius listened to the captain of the ship instead of Paul. Almost everyone said that the "Fair Havens" was not a good place to spend the winter. So they attempted to reach Phoenix in order to spend the winter there.

    The terrible storm at sea – Acts 27:13-20: When a gentle wind from the south blew the sailors thought it was a good time to sail as they had planned. They pulled up the anchor and sailed along the coast of Crete. But then a tempestuous wind, called "Euroclydon" or "The Northeaster" blew against them. The ship was driven in the wind. They ran under an island called Clauda. They had to work hard to hold the lifeboat in place. The sailors wrapped ropes around the ship to hold it together and allowed the wind to drive it.

    Psalms 107:25-27 described the situation they found themselves in. "For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end." The storm was so fierce that they threw some of the ship's cargo and gear overboard. After not seeing either stars or sun for many days they gave up hope of being saved. The storm just kept beating upon them!

    Encouragement from God – Acts 27:21-38: They ate nothing for many days. Afterward Paul stood and told them that they should have listened to him and not sailed. He also revealed to them that God had told him the ship would be lost but that there would be no loss of life. His faith showed as he said, "I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."

   Paul knew that they would be shipwrecked on some island. For fourteen days and nights they had been blown about. About midnight the sailors realized that they were getting near land. They anchored the ship and prayed for day.

   The sailors tried to escape in the lifeboat, but Paul told them that they must stay in the ship to be saved. God has a place of safety today. The place of safety is the church. We must remain in the church to be saved. (Acts 2:47) 

   Paul encouraged everyone to take some food and assured them that God would spare their lives. There were 276 people on the ship. After they had eaten they threw the wheat into the sea to lighten the ship.  

   The horrors of a shipwreck – Acts 27:39-44: When morning came they decided to try to run the ship aground on the beach. They raised the sail and allowed the wind carry the ship toward the beach. When the ship ran aground the front stuck in the sand and the "hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves."

   The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping. Julius wanted to save Paul so he ordered everyone who could swim to head for shore. Others held on to wood from the ship and all reached safely. Again we see the faithfulness of God's promise.

   Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to go to heaven? Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Truth must be heard, understood and obeyed in order to bring salvation.  Once you learn the truth of God's word hold it with all your strength and heart. (ICorinthians 15:58)

The Journey Ended In Rome
– Acts Twenty-Eight –

   The people on the Island of Melita were very kind to those that were shipwrecked. They built a fire for them because of the rain and the cold. The conduct of these people condemns many that are even more able to help. The true Christian spirit is that of doing what you can with the opportunities you have.  

   As Paul gathered sticks for the fire a poisonous viper attached itself to his hand. The people thought that Paul must surely be a murderer. The people of Melita believed that the wicked are punished in this life. Paul was able to shake off the viper and feel no harm. The people of Melita then "changed their minds, and said that he was a god."

   The chief man of the island was named Publius. Paul healed his father of a fever and a bloody flux. He prayed, laid his hands on him and healed him. He also healed others on the island. When they departed from the island the people gave them such things as they needed.

    After three months they departed for Italy on a ship of Alexandria. When they reached "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." While in  Rome Paul  also met  with the  Jews to teach them about the hope of Israel -- the resurrection from the dead. "Some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." Paul again explained that "salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles." The book of Acts closed with "Paul dwelling two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

   Paul kindly received at Melita – Acts 28:1-10: The 276 people all safely reached the shore on the island of (Melita) Malta. The local people received them and were friendly to them. They were willing to help them; they built a fire because of the rain and cold. Paul gathered some wood to put on the fire. He was not content to let someone else do for him what he could help do for himself.

    As he gathered the wood a snake bit him on the hand. When the local people saw the snake hanging on Paul's hand they said, "This man must be a murderer!" They felt that even though Paul had escaped the sea, vengeance would not allow him to live. Paul shook the snake in the fire and felt no harm. The people watched Paul expecting him to swell up or die. When nothing happened they said, "This man is a god." 

   The chief man of the Island welcomed Paul into his house. Publius' father was sick and Paul healed him of his disease. Many others brought sick people to Paul and by the power of God he healed them all. When Paul and the others sailed away the people were very kind to them and gave them everything they needed.

    Paul finally reached Rome – Acts 28:11-16: They were on the Island for three months. They departed for Italy on a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered there, whose sign was Castor and Pollux – “The Twin Gods." As they made the journey to Rome they met with other Christians at Puteoli. When they came toward Italy some Christians came "as far as Appii forum, and the three taverns" to meet Paul.  When Paul saw this "he thanked God, and took courage." Let us do all that we can to encourage others.

   When they reached Rome "Paul was allowed to live in a house by himself with a soldier to guard him." Apparently, by the permission of Julius, Paul was allowed this freedom. There was always a soldier that kept him. He may have even been chained to him. There was always someone present for Paul to teach!

    Paul's conference with the Jews – Acts 28:17-22: Immediately after Paul reached Rome (three days), he called together some of the Jews. He explained that he had done nothing against the Jews or the customs of the Jews. Yet he was "delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans." Paul said that he was tried and found innocent. But because the Jews objected so much it became necessary for him to appeal to Caesar.

   Paul had nothing against the Jewish nation. He said he was bound because of what Israel had hoped for. He wanted to talk to these Jews about the hope of Israel. These Jews had received no report against Paul from Jerusalem. They were willing to hear more about Christianity. They said, "We understand that people everywhere are against this sect."  

   Paul remained a prisoner at Rome – Acts 28:23-31: Many Jews came to Paul's house. He used the Law and the Prophets to talk to them about God's kingdom (church). His goal was to "persuade them concerning Jesus." Our goal must also be to try to win people over to Jesus. "Some of the leaders agreed with what Paul said, but others did not." When some began to leave, Paul reminded them of words spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying, "Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 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." Sadly the Jews would not listen. But Paul said you can be sure that God wants to save the Gentiles and they will listen.  

   The book of Acts closed without giving us details about what finally happened to Paul. The closing words were, "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." Paul was allowed to live in quietness and safety. He received all hospitably and kindly. Some came to show him kindness, and others to listen to his teaching. Paul preached Christ and His kingdom openly and boldly. Paul wrote, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel...many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Philippians 1:12-14) Thank God!

   Being a Christian is a serious responsibility. It might cost you your life. However, Christianity involves your eternal salvation. To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized to be saved. (I Peter 3:21). After baptism the challenge for every Christian is to be steadfast under circumstances whether good or bad.