The New Testament book by Luke

King James Version

Waiting for the Holy Spirit | Replacing Judas | Descent of the Holy Spirit | Peter's First Sermon | Joining the Early Church | Peter Heals the Lame Man | Peter's Second Sermon | Peter and John on Trial | Peter and John Released | Ananias and Sapphira | The Apostles | The Deacons | Stephen is Martyred | The Dispersion | Philip in Samaria | Peter and John in Samaria | Philip in Gaza | Paul's Conversion | Peter Heals | Peter Accepts Gentiles | Gentiles Can Be Christians | Barnabas in Antioch | Peter Saved by an Angel | Paul's First Missionary Journey | Paul's Sermon | Gentiles Become Christians | In Iconium | In Lystra | Paul is Stoned | Back to Antioch | The First Ecumenical Council | Paul's Second Missionary Journey |

Waiting for the Holy Spirit

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

We should notice two things about Jesus when reading the 4 gospels: (1) What he did, (2) What he taught.

Notice that Jesus merely began his work during his time on earth up to his ascension into heaven. Therefore, the subsequent events which Luke addresses in the book of Acts are a continuation of Jesus's work and teaching. Thus, the church is an extension of Jesus.

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

We know that Jesus taught the apostles before his death on the cross, as well as during the 40 days after his resurrection. But Luke informs us that Jesus also gave commandments to the apostles even after his ascension into heaven. The conversion of the apostle Paul is an example of this—he was instructed by Jesus. Perhaps Luke is referring specifically to Paul since he (Luke) was a companion of Paul.

Paul tells us that Jesus taught him; here Luke informs us that the Holy Spirit taught the apostles.

(Acts 1:3) To whom also he showed 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:

Right away Luke informs us who the apostles are, to prevent false teachers from claiming to be true apostles. The apostles are those to whom Jesus appeared during the 40 days after his crucifixion.

When we read the statements Jesus made during these 40 days, we should consider them as "the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Thus we learn that the kingdom of God is the church.

(Acts 1:4) And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

The events of Pentecost—the descent of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church—are the "promise of the Father."

Notice that Jesus himself delivers the promise of the Father—he is a spokesman for the Father.

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

A new kind of baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are 5 kinds of baptism: (1) John's baptism of repentance with water, (2) Jesus's baptism with water which his disciples performed before his crucifixion, (3) Jesus's baptism by crucifixion, (4) the new baptism of the Holy Spirit, (5) baptism with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The apostles started performing baptism with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit after the baptism of the Holy Spirit referred to in this verse.

The implication is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is better than John's baptism of repentance with water. But we must repent to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Notice what occurred with the baptism of the Holy Spirit—the church was born. Thus, when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit we become united with the church, the body of Christ.

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

The disciples are looking to a political kingdom. Many prophetic passages from the Old Testament seem to say that there will be such a kingdom.

(Acts 1:7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

Jesus implies that this political kingdom will not happen at this initial baptism of the Holy Spirit. But he also seems to indicate that there will be a time in which there will be a political kingdom. Perhaps this refers to Christendom.

(Acts 1:8) 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.

The use of the word "power" in this verse and the previous verse hints that this kingdom of Israel will become manifest in the church which is born at the coming of the Holy Spirit a few days from then.

Notice the effect of the coming of the Holy Spirit, it makes them witnesses of Christ. This is the power they are to receive.

The church would grow and fill the whole world. It certainly has grown and it continues to grow through evangelistic outreach.

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

These last few verses record the last words spoken by Jesus while he was on earth. Jesus's last words were about the church.

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

These men are angels.

(Acts 1:11) Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

The mission of these angels was to announce the second coming [parousia] of Christ. Just as he floated up into heaven, he will float back down to earth from heaven. His second coming will be supernatural.

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

They immediately went to Jerusalem in obedience to Jesus's command. Perhaps they had already been in Jerusalem and had followed Jesus to the Mount of Olives.

(Acts 1:13) And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

The emphasis is on the 11 apostles. Peter is listed first as is usually the case.

They found a room to stay in for these 9 days.

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

They spent 9 days praying. What kinds of prayers did they pray? Probably many kinds: "canned" prayers from their Jewish heritage (they were all Jewish), extemporaneous prayers, prayers that Jesus taught them (such as the "Our Father"). Perhaps they practiced meditative reflection and contemplative prayer as well.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was among them. I wonder if they asked her to tell them about Jesus and her relationship with him as his mother. What wonderful stories she could tell. Perhaps Jesus had performed little miracles for her and Joseph.

The other women were with them as well. They were devotees of Jesus.

The brothers of Jesus were also there. This does not necessarily refer to brothers by blood—they can also be close relatives such as cousins, perhaps children of Joseph by a former marriage. In any case, notice that Jesus convinced these that he was a worthy master, even though those of Nazareth has rejected him when he visited there.

Notice that they were in unity. The leadership of the apostles was likely respected by the others, since Jesus had clearly chosen them for this. But even the apostles were in unity. Thus begins the "golden age" of the church in which the leaders are in unity and the others submit to the leaders.

Replacing Judas

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

There were about 120 people. This is a significant number. It must have been a large upper room.

Peter is clearly the leader of the church. Jesus had chosen him for this in renaming him "Peter" (rock) and giving him the keys (Matthew 16:18,19) and later in exhorting him to "feed my sheep" (John 21:15,17). Peter initiates the first administrative event of the church.

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

Peter has a good knowledge of the scriptures and he is concerned with obeying their prophecies. (Note that the word scripture refers to the Old Testament.) Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit he understood that this particular Old Testament passage applied to their current situation and that, as their leader, he was required to initiate the action.

Judas guided those who schemed to kill Jesus.

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

Judas was one of the disciples.

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

Judas purchased a field, meaning that a field was purchased with the money he received for turning Jesus over to them. He had some sort of tragic, gruesome death.

(Acts 1:19) And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

This field became known as the "field of blood" either because it was purchased with blood money or because of Judas' gruesome death in that field.

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

This verse is from Psalm 69:25. I can't imagine how Peter could have known ahead of time that this verse was a reference to Judas. Clearly, the Holy Spirit was illuminating the minds of the apostles in a very profound manner. This was certainly the case when they wrote the books and letters of the New Testament. They knew things that were unknowable.

The greek word used here for bishop is "episkopos." This word is used in 5 other places: Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 2:25, and 1 Timothy 3:1.

Clearly, the word bishop refers to an office of service of the church—the highest office, comparable to the office of apostle. The office was empty (because Jesus intended there to be 12 apostles) and had to be filled. This verse sets the pattern for appointing successors of bishops down through the centuries of the church.

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

Peter specifies the requirements for the replacement of Judas. In doing so he also, by way of application, also specifies the requirements for bishops. These are: (1) They must have a close relationship with Jesus, and (2) They must have been instructed by Jesus. These criteria would disqualify some bishops throughout the history of the church. Examples of problems: (1) Some were appointed for political reasons and had little or no concern for the spiritual well-being of the people, (2) Some considered the position as merely a secular position of power and influence, (3) Some had heretical views and promoted these, (4) Some did not live holy, godly lives. In my opinion, a bishop who is ordained but does not meet these qualifications is not truly a bishop.

(Acts 1:22) Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Peter continues with his requirements for the replacement for Judas: He must have seen Jesus after his resurrection so he can testify that this event really occurred. By way of application, bishops are to be witnesses of the truth of the gospel. In my opinion, a bishop who is ordained but does not truthfully teach the gospel is not truly a bishop.

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

Who are those referred to by the word "they"? Two possibilities: (1) Only the 11 apostles, or (2) All 120 who were present. My view is that the 11 apostles led the process and that others participated by recommending names and testifying about their qualifications.

There were only 2 who met the criteria. Perhaps another criteria was that they had to be present with the 120 so they could be "ordained".

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

Who are those referred to by the word "they"? Perhaps Peter led the prayer and the others agreed.

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

Apostles are ministers, meaning that they minister. They serve the church. Bishops who do not serve the church are not really bishops. I wonder whether the Catholic bishops who did not discipline priests who abused members of their congregations are therefore disqualified as bishops? And I wonder whether Catholic bishops who have allowed liberalism to infiltrate the Church and the priesthood and who do not take strong action against it are disqualified as bishops?

Judas went to "his own place". Presumably, this is not a good place.

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

Who are those who drew lots? Probably only the 11 apostles. It would be impossible, practically speaking, for 120 people to draw lots. Thus, the apostles chose the new apostle. The others, technically speaking, did not choose the new apostle. We see the pattern of bishops choosing bishops. This was how it was done through the early centuries of the church. Only later did secular rulers begin to appoint bishops.

Now there are 12 apostles again, and just in time, because ...

Descent of the Holy Spirit

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

Finally, the 9th day, the 50th day since the passover when Christ was sacrificed on the cross. The 120 are still in unity and they are in one place.

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

They hear a sound. This sound is like that of a strong wind. The sound fills the house.

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

There was a visible manifestation as well. Each of them had a "halo" of something that looked like fire, some sort of light. We don't know whether others outside of the group saw this.

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

It was about 9 AM. Probably it was not too cold outside since it was spring. Presumably, the 120 went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began speaking. They were compelled to speak and the words they spoke were given to them by the Holy Spirit. I imagine that this same kind of intensity accompanied the writers of the New Testament (and the Old Testament too, for that matter).

I have heard some claim that only the 12 apostles spoke in tongues, that the others just listened in. I don't accept this. The text doesn't seem to support this notion.

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

A bit of background. Pentecost is one of the yearly feasts that all practicing Jews were to celebrate. They were to travel to Jerusalem. There were, therefore, many people in Jerusalem at the time.

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

The people present spoke many different languages because they had come to Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire. They heard the 120 speak in all these languages. This surprised them when they learned they were from Galilee and, therefore, didn't speak these languages.

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

It is unclear whether these people heard the sound like the wind. Somehow, they noticed that these 120 (or many of them) were from Galilee, probably because of their accents. Those who knew the accent would have announced it to the others. This had happened before: "Thou [Peter] art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto." (Mark 14:70)

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

They are surprised that the 120 speak in many languages.

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

A list of some of the various places.

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

More places.

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

More places.

They are speaking about the works of God; what he has done, what he will do. This doesn't match very well with the charismatic use of tongues as either (1) prophetic utterances, or (2) a private prayer language.

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

The event seemed miraculous but some doubted and looked for other naturalistic explanations.

Those of faith wanted to know the meaning of this miraculous event.

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

Those who doubted came up with a very poor explanation, that they spoke in different languages which they didn't know because they were drunk. I am amazed at the unreasoned arguments that skeptics come up with and vigorously defend.

Peter's First Sermon

(Acts 2:14) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

This is twice now that Peter speaks on behalf of the 120. He explains what is happening.

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

It is around 9 A.M.

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

This is the second time that Peter draws upon a passage of the Old Testament. And each time he knows the proper interpretation. He has clearly been energized by the Holy Spirit. He quotes from Joel 2:29-32.

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

The time of the church is the last days. We are still in the last days.

In the church there is to be prophecy, visions, dreams. These will continue for the entire church age.

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

Notice that all are invited to join the church, including women. Also, these women can be prophets. The church is created by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and no group of people is excluded.

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

A reference to the final judgment.

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

These images are used throughout the Bible to indicate judgment of peoples and nations for sin. There will be visible signs on earth before final judgment.

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

Those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

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

Peter is speaking to Jews. Jesus performed miracles as signs that he was the messiah. Some of the people in the crowd witnessed these signs, others heard of them.

(Acts 2:23) Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

It was God the Father's plan from the beginning for Jesus to become the sacrifice for our sins, the Lamb of God.

Many of the rabbis expected the messiah to be merely a man, a political revolutionary who would free the Jews from their bondage to the Romans. A few thought the messiah would be God. Very few thought that the messiah would be God in flesh who would suffer and die for their sins. Peter has to convince these Jews that these claims are true and that the claims of the rabbis are untrue. Not only that, even during Jesus's lifetime, his disciples were often disfellowshipped by the Jewish leaders.

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

Since Jesus is deity he can not be bound by death.

(Acts 2:25) For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

From Psalms 16:8-11. Peter has an amazing knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures. He is claiming to be an authority even though what he is saying contradicts those of the Jewish rabbis. He uses scripture to support his case.

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

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

This verse is the key verse in Peter's argument. He is using this passage from the Old Testament to demonstrate that the Messiah would die and be resurrected. David says that just as God will not leave his [David's] soul in Abraham's bosom but will redeem him, in like manner God will not allow the Messiah to be permanently affected by death.

The phrase Abraham's bosom refers to place similar to purgatory. Before the resurrection of Jesus the redeemed who were heaven-bound went to Abraham's bosom. After the resurrection of Jesus the redeemed who are not yet ready for heaven go to purgatory.

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

(Acts 2:29) Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

Peter comments on the passage from Psalms that he has just quoted.

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

God promised to David that one of his descendents would be a king forever (2 Sam 7:12, 13).

Peter refers to David as a prophet.

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

David the prophet spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah. The Jews should believe David even if in doing so they have to deny the teachings of their own leaders.

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

The 120 were all witnesses of Jesus's resurrection.

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

God is the source of this miraculous event which is now occurring, of this speaking in languages not known by the speakers.

Jesus is now at the right hand of God. In other words, he is God.

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

From Psalm 110:1. Jesus remarked on this verse by asking, "David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?" (Luke 20:44). In other words, David refers to the Messiah as deity.

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

Some day Jesus will conquer all the enemies of God.

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

Peter's conclusions: (1) Jesus is the Messiah, and (2) Jesus is deity.

Joining the Early Church

(Acts 2:37) Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Many believed in faith. They asked what they needed to do? Their desire to do something springs from their belief and faith.

Peter is still emphasized here.

(Acts 2:38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Peter instructs them to do two things: (1) repent, and (2) get baptized. The benefits of doing these two things: (1) their sins are remitted, and (2) they will receive the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the phrase "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" refers to the Catholic sacrament of confirmation.

(Acts 2:39) For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Salvation is available to these Jews and their children, even to those who were not in Jerusalem at the time. Christianity was not to be merely a local sect but a worldwide religious movement.

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

Peter said many more things that day which are not recorded in this book. Presumably, Peter expected his listeners to believe and act upon these additional statements even though they were not written down. This forms the basis for church tradition — things that were taught verbally but were not written down are nevertheless authoritative and true.

They had to repent, to turn from the ways of the culture they were living in at the time.

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

They were baptized immediately; there was no months-long period of instruction. There was also no altar call asking people to receive Jesus into their hearts. Rather, they were baptized after confessing their faith. Perhaps they had to publicly confess their sins and vow to repent of them.

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

An overview of the religious life of the early church:

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

The fear of God came upon them. Those who desire to live a holy life pleasing to God must have the fear of the Lord.

The apostles continued to perform miracles.

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

The early church of Jerusalem lived communally and shared their belongings. Perhaps this is because that is how Jesus lived with the apostles for those three plus years.

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

They gave to one another much as parents give to their children.

(Acts 2:46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

They had daily services in the temple. Perhaps they went to the Jewish services.

They had community meals at each others' homes. They didn't have a church building of their own. Presumably one of the apostles presided at each of these meetings. Certainly the writings of the very early church fathers stress that Christians should have the bishop present at their church meetings to provide unity and prevent heresy.

They had unity among themselves presumably because of the presence of the 12 apostles.

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

This was an amazing church and a large one. It seemed to have the coziness and closeness of a small church while being a large church of many thousands. Perhaps many of those who were baptized in Jerusalem on Pentacost went back home so there were not so many left in Jerusalem.

I wonder about those who took Christianity back with them to all the various places they came from. There were no apostles to lead them. I suppose they had all kinds of strange beliefs and doctrines. Later, Paul and others went out from Jerusalem and encountered these same people again. They had to correct their doctrines and appoint leaders who were orthodox in their faith.

Peter Heals the Lame Man

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

About 3:00 P.M. They pray at the temple. Probably they were participating in the daily Jewish prayers. I suspect that today many Christians would not consider it acceptable to pray these prayers.

(Acts 3:2) And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

This man spent all day everyday at the gate of the temple begging.

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

He asked Peter and John for something.

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

Peter once again is the first to take action.

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

The man was not expecting to receive healing, but only some money.

(Acts 3:6) Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Peter commands him to walk in the name of Jesus. The phrase "in the name of Jesus" and other similar phrases are used often in the New Testament.

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

A miracle.

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

He was very grateful.

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

There were many witnesses.

(Acts 3:10) And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

Everyone was amazed.

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

The man stayed with Peter and John. As crowds came to see what happened they also crowded Peter and John so that they became the center of attention.

Peter's Second Sermon

(Acts 3:12) And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

Peter is in the temple when he gives this sermon. He directs them to consider God who is the one who did the miracle.

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

Peter reminds them that it was the Jews who delivered Jesus for execution.

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

Jesus was Holy and Just, yet they delivered him up to be executed.

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

Jesus was resurrected.

(Acts 3:16) And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

It was Peter's faith in Jesus which caused the healing. Jesus gave Peter the faith to heal the man. Notice that the man was healed even though he himself did not have the faith to be healed.

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

Peter admits that the Jews killed Jesus out of ignorance.

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

The death of Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament.

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

Peter asks them to do two things: (1) repent, and (2) be converted. By doing this their sins would be taken away. Notice that he does not tell them to receive Jesus as their personal savior but that they must change their minds and hearts.

He refers to various Old Testament images. Times of refreshing refers to the time of Jesus and the church.

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

By doing these two things God will send them Jesus. This was preached to the Israelites by various Old Testament prophets.

(Acts 3:21) Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Jesus is in heaven until the day of final judgment. This, too, was spoken of by the Old Testament prophets.

(Acts 3:22) For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

This is from Deuteronomy 18:18-19. In this passage Moses refers to a future prophet who will have a role similar to Moses himself. Just as Moses was the founder of the first covenant, Jesus was the founder of the renewed covenant. We are to hear, obey, and follow this prophet.

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

Those who reject this prophet will be destroyed.

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

Some might think that Moses is referring to an Old Testament prophet such as Isaiah, but Peter refutes this by stating that all of these Old Testament prophets also prophesied of this prophet.

(Acts 3:25) Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

Peter is speaking in the temple to Jews who have come for daily prayers. He reminds them of their origins.

(Acts 3:26) Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

It was Jesus, the seed of Abraham, who would bless them. The goal of Jesus is that everyone turn from his sins. Again, the emphasis is on repentance, not on faith.

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

Apparently, John was also speaking. Finally, the Jewish leaders showed up.

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

The leaders were not happy with this new teaching. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection and they did not want anyone teaching this doctrine to the people.

Peter and John on Trial

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

These Jewish leaders had Peter and John arrested and put in jail.

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

Many of those who had been listening to Peter and John were converted. There were now about 5,000 Christians.

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

The next day.

(Acts 4:6) And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

Many of the Jewish leaders assembled together.

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

Peter and John were summoned. They were asked by what power or name they performed the miracle of healing? In other words, (1) where did the power come from, and (2) what was their authority for doing and saying such things? The implication is that they did not have such authority since they were not the religious leaders.

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

Once again it is Peter who speaks. He is filled with the Holy Spirit.

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

Peter talks about the miraculous healing.

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

He states that this healing was performed in the name of Jesus. He is very bold in reminding them that they are the ones who had him killed. Peter speaks about Jesus's resurrection from the dead. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, so he is stirring up disagreement among his questioners.

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

Jesus is the chief cornerstone.

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

Salvation is only from Jesus.

(Acts 4:13) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

The religious leaders noticed that Peter and John were not schooled. Some remembered that they had been disciples of Jesus.

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

The man who had been healed was also present.

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

The religious leaders discuss among themselves what to do.

(Acts 4:16) Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

They admit that a miracle was done and that this fact is known by all.

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

They don't want this devotion to the name of Jesus to spread.

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

They command Peter and John to stop speaking and teaching the gospel.

(Acts 4:19) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

Peter and John refuse because they are commanded by God to speak and teach about Jesus.

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

They are merely speaking about true historical facts and teaching what Jesus taught them.

(Acts 4:21) So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

They threatened them and released them. They were unable to punish them because it would cause riots and the Romans would intervene.

Peter and John Released

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

The man who was healed was over 40 years old.

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

They told everybody what happened.

(Acts 4:24) And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

They were all in unity. They praised God the creator.

Perhaps one of them was leading the group in extemporaneous prayer and the people were all expressing their agreement and devotion with various vocal utterances.

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

From Psalm 2:1-2.

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

A prophecy about the opposition to the messiah from the leaders.

(Acts 4:27) For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

A list of the many people who opposed Jesus. This list includes the Jewish people at large. Certainly, there were many Jews who did not participate in this opposition and many who were secretly disciples of Jesus.

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

But these opponents were only doing what God had already determined was His will.

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

They turn the attention back to the present situation in which Peter and John were threatened for healing the man and for proclaiming the gospel in the temple. They pray that all the followers of Christ would have the same boldness.

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

They pray that God would continue to perform miraculous healings.

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

God replies to their prayers by shaking the place and filling them with the Holy Spirit. They spoke the word of God. It is unclear whether or not they spoke just among themselves or whether they wandered out into the street and spoke to others.

Ananias and Sapphira

(Acts 4:32) And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

A repeat of 2:44-46. The early church of Jerusalem lived communally and shared their belongings. Perhaps this is because that is how Jesus lived with the apostles for those three plus years. They gave to one another much as parents give to their children. They had community meals at each others' homes. They didn't have a church building of their own. They had unity among them.

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

The apostles continued to perform miracles to demonstrate the truth of the gospel. The Christians were blessed by God.

(Acts 4:34) Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

The people took care of each other. Those that had a surplus gave to those who lacked.

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

The apostles were the center of all this altruism. Many think the church of today should be just like the apostolic church. I suspect that the church could only be like this in the presence of the apostles. In the writings of the early church fathers we see that division in the church begins soon after the death of the apostles.

(Acts 4:36) And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

Barnabas is introduced. He is compassionate and he comforts people. He was a foreigner. Perhaps he relocated to Jerusalem because he wanted to be around the apostles.

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

He sold some land and gave the money away.

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

These two sold land so they could give the money to the church.

(Acts 5:2) And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it, at the apostles' feet.

They didn't give all the money to the church but kept some back.

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

Ananias presents the money to Peter. Peter states that Ananias has lied to the Holy Spirit. But what was his lie? We know he sold some land and gave part of the money to the church. Apparently he told Peter that he was giving all of the money to the church.

Notice that his lie to Peter and his lie to the Holy Spirit are the same lie. Since Peter was a leader of the church (and so far, he seems to be the preeminent leader) lying to him is the same a lying to the church which is the same as lying to the Holy Spirit.

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

In lying to Peter he was lying to God.

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

God used this "little white lie" as an example to the church about the seriousness of lying to the church. This is such a strange incident. The significance is overlooked by many. I think it means that the church and her leaders are acting in the place of God (of the Holy Spirit) and that in relating to them we are relating to God. Also, that the church leaders are acting on behalf of God and that God honors their actions, words, and judgments. Many minimize the role of church leaders.

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

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

I wonder why no one told her?

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

Peter initiates the conversation.

(Acts 5:9) Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

(Acts 5:10) Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

The expression "yielded up the ghost" or "gave up the spirit" is used for death. The spirit leaves the body.

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

I suppose people were afraid that their small sins would cause their deaths. This sounds like a situation which would cause people to become scrupulous.

I keep asking myself why God did this killing of Ananias and Sapphira? I have no answer. Was it something that Peter thought of which God honored because of the "binding and loosing" promise? (Matthew 16:19; 18:18) If God honors the requests of church leaders like this we have good cause to be afraid of them. My reaction would be to stay away from them, they are dangerous.

Or was it because God wanted Christians to have a higher standard of holiness? Perhaps God was preparing them for the coming persecutions, to properly motivate them to resist the temptation to succumb to the pressures put on them to quit being Christian.

The Apostles

(Acts 5:12) And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.

The apostles performed miracles just like Jesus did. The early Christians still went to the temple for prayers and worship. Presumably they were participating in the Jewish prayers and worship.

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

There are two groups: (1) The people—those who were followers of Christ and the apostles, and (2) the rest—those who didn't believe. Notice that the people magnified the apostles—they had a very high regard for them.

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

The emphasis is on conversion to Christianity.

(Acts 5:15) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.

People are healed when Peter's shadow passes over them. This matches very well with the Catholic teaching of relics. (2 Kings 13:21)

(Acts 5:16) There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

The sick were brought many miles to be healed by the apostles.

(Acts 5:17) Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

The high priest and the Sadducees took action against the apostles to try to put an end to Christianity.

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

The apostles were thrown into prison.

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

But they were rescued by an angel.

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

The angel commanded the apostles to speak in the temple. They were to speak the words of life, the gospel message of salvation.

(Acts 5:21) And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

The apostles went to the temple and taught. The high priest and the others called a council and sent for the apostles who they thought were still in prison.

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

But they weren't there anymore.

(Acts 5:23) Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

The doors were still shut. This implies that the apostles had gone through the walls by some sort of miraculous transport. There are Catholic Saints who have also performed various miracles such as this.

(Acts 5:24) Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

The high priest and the others are troubled. The feared that this Christian movement would grow and cause problems for them. But their real problem turned out to be the many Jewish revolutionaries who stirred up trouble resulting in the destruction of the temple by the Romans.

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

They are informed that the apostles were teaching in the temple.

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

The apostles went back willingly when asked. The high priest and the others did not want to use force because they were afraid of the people, that they would kill them.

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

The apostles are questioned before the council.

(Acts 5:28) Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.

They have several objections: (1) the apostles are disobeying their command not to teach, (2) they are influencing the people, and (3) they are making them responsible for the death of Jesus.

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

Once again Peter is the spokesman for the apostles, the leader of the apostles. He states that the Jewish leaders are opposed to God's will and therefore should not be obeyed.

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

Peter makes 4 points: (1) The God of the Christians is the same as the God of the Jews, (2) Christianity is merely a continuation of Israel, (3) God resurrected Jesus, and (4) the Jewish leaders are responsible for his death.

(Acts 5:31) Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Peters makes 4 more points: (1) Jesus now sits at God's right hand as Prince and Savior, (2) Jews should recognize Jesus as savior, (3) Jews should repent of their sins, and (4) Jesus provides forgiveness of sins.

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

Peter states that the apostles are witnesses of these things. Earlier, when selecting a replacement for Judas, Peter specified that a requirement to be an apostle is that he be a witness to these things.

Those who obey Jesus are given the Holy Spirit. It is not sufficient that someone merely accept Jesus as their personal savior, we must obey Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit is another way of saying that we are saved and heaven-bound.

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

This provokes the Jewish leaders to consider killing the apostles. They discuss this in the presence of the apostles.

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

Gamaliel rescues the apostles.

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

He proposes a different course of action. He reminds them of two other revolutionaries and what happened to them.

(Acts 5:36) For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

Theudas had a following of about 400 but he was killed. He probably was militant.

(Acts 5:37) After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

After this Judas rose up and was also killed.

There is a difference between these two and the apostles: the apostles were not militant revolutionaries.

(Acts 5:38) And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

Gamaliel counsels that they just let events take their course, that there is no need for the Jewish leaders to do anything about it.

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

Gamaliel seems to suspect that Christianity might be the work of God and he is unwilling to oppose the work of God.

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

Even though the Jewish leaders agreed with Gamaliel's plan, they still had the apostles beaten and they were forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus.

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

The apostles were happy to have been called to suffering for the sake of Jesus.

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

The apostles continue to teach daily in the temple. They also go from house to house to teach. Presumably they were also leading the various church services which were in the people's homes. (Acts 2:46)

It would seem that there were church services in many people's houses throughout the city.

The Deacons

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

The Greek and Hebrew Christians had a disagreement about the care of widows. Apparently there was some discrimination against the Greeks.

(Acts 6:2) Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

The apostles heard of the problem and took action. They appointed other people to address the problem. This verse defines that the proper role of an apostle is the ministry of the word of God. They are to teach and preach as well as conduct the church services.

Apparently, the way in which the widows were served was by providing meals for them, not by giving them money.

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

The apostles created a new kind of ministerial office which is later called deacon. The requirements for these men is that (1) they are Spirit-filled, (2) they are honest, and (3) they have a good reputation.

All church leaders should meet this criteria. Those who don't should not be church leaders.

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

The proper role of the apostles is prayer and the ministry of the word.

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

Only men are chosen as deacons but later there are references to women deacons. Notice that it was the people who chose the deacons, not the apostles. Stephen is singled out as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.

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

The people brought the deacons to the apostles. Presumably the people had leaders also.

The deacons were "ordained" by the laying on of hands with prayer. Notice that only the apostles lay-on hands and only when ordaining someone for ministry. The practice of the whole congregation laying-on hands is not found in the Bible.

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

People continued to convert to Christianity. This is not surprising considering that there were 12 apostles teaching and preaching there. Even many of the Jewish priests converted.

Note that the phrase "word of God" seems to be a synonym for Christianity.

Stephen is Martyred

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

Stephen becomes a miracle worker. Miracles are not limited to the apostles.

(Acts 6:9) 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.

Some synagogue Jews got into a disagreement with Stephen.

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

Stephen was a very good speaker and was very wise.

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

These enemies had him brought to trial. They accused him of blasphemy. This is a capital offense.

(Acts 6:12) And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,

They got a mob stirred-up, as well as the Scribes. Whenever a mob was about to riot, the religious leaders quickly get involved to avoid problems with the Romans.

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

They found people who would lie.

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

The accusations against Stephen were (1) that he said that Jesus would destroy the temple and (2) that he would change the Mosaic law. In a sense these were true charges. Jesus did prophesy that the temple would be destroyed and he did change the Mosaic law.

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

Stephen's face is glowing just as Moses' face glowed.

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

Stephen must explain.

(Acts 7:2) And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,

He calls the Jewish leaders fathers and he calls the Jews brothers. Those who say we should call no man father ignore this verse.

Stephen recalls Jewish history. He speaks for a very long time. I wonder why they allowed him to give such a long speech? Perhaps they were mesmerized by hearing their own history from a Spirit-filled man?

First, the call of Abraham ...

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

God commands Abraham to leave his homeland and go to the land which would later become Israel.

(Acts 7:4) Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.

It took Abraham a while to complete this task.

(Acts 7:5) And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.

Abraham did not inherit the land but his descendants would later inherit it. When Abraham was aged and still childless, God promised Abraham that he would have a male child.

(Acts 7:6) And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.

God tells Abraham that his descendants would relocate to Egypt and that they would later become slaves for 400 years.

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

God tells Abraham about the Exodus and the judgment upon Egypt.

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

God gives Abraham the covenant sign of circumcision. Abraham has a son, Isaac. Issac has a son, Jacob. Jacob has 12 sons, the 12 tribes of Israel.

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

One of these sons, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. But God blessed Joseph.

(Acts 7:10) And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

Ultimately, Joseph became governor of Egypt.

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

There was a serious drought in Egypt and Caanan. The descendants of Abraham were without food.

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

But there was food in Egypt because Joseph had prepared for this drought. The 12 patriarchs of Israel went to Egypt to get food.

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

Joseph finally revealed his identity to his brothers. Joseph told Pharaoh about his family.

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

All 75 of them relocated to Egypt.

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

They were there for generations.

(Acts 7:16) And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.

Jacob was buried in the tomb that Abraham purchased.

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

They prospered in Egypt.

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

Generations later, a Pharaoh arose who was not kind toward them.

(Acts 7:19) The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.

This Pharaoh commanded that the male children should be killed.

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

Moses was born at that time.

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

His mother put Moses in a basket in the river and Pharaoh's daughter found him and raised him.

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

Moses got the finest education. He was a courageous man and a gifted statesman.

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

At the age of 40 he visited his people.

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

In defending his own people he killed an Egyptian.

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

He thought his people would be glad that he had come to deliver them from bondage.

(Acts 7:26) And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

The next day, Moses broke up a fight between two Israelites.

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

But one of them questioned why Moses thought he was a ruler and judge over them.

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

He referred to Moses's killing of the Egyptian. Moses realized that his action was public knowledge so he fled for his life to Midian.

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

He lived there for 40 years and got married and had a family.

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

At the end of this time, he had an encounter with God in the burning bush, the bush which was on fire but was not consumed.

(Acts 7:31) When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,

He was curious about this bush and as he investigated it more closely, he heard the voice of God.

(Acts 7:32) Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.

God identifies himself by referring to Moses's ancestors. As is often the case when people encounter God, Moses was afraid.

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

It is significant that God identifies this place as sacred because God was visible there. In like manner, anywhere that God reveals himself is a sacred place. An example is the altar and tabernacle of the Catholic Church where Jesus reveals himself sacramentally in the Eucharist. God asks Moses to do some visible, external action to express his reverence. In like manner, we are to express our love, respect, and fear of God using visible signs and in words.

(Acts 7:34) I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

God has heard the groaning and suffering of his people who have been slaves in Egypt for generations. It is significant that it took God generations to finally take action. God is concerned with human suffering but he doesn't necessarily act immediately. God determined to rescue them at this time through Moses. God used the particular circumstances of the tragic event of the killing of the young Israelite males as the occasion to raise up a deliverer, but it took 80 years for this plan to come to fruition.

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

Stephen notes that Moses was rejected as their deliverer 40 years previously.

(Acts 7:36) He brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

Moses delivered them but it required that God intervene with many miracles. They escaped through the Red Sea which God parted. After this they wandered through the desert for 40 years.

(Acts 7:37) This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

Later, Moses prophesied about a then-future prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15,18). We now know that this prophet was Jesus. Notice that this prophet is a man, a Jew, who is like God in nature. He is both God and man.

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

Moses led the Israelites in the desert for the 40 years, he heard the voice of God on Mt. Sinai.

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

The leaders of the Israelites disobeyed Moses and longed for Egypt.

(Acts 7:40) Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

When Moses was delayed in coming down from Mt. Sinai where he was encountering God, the people asked Aaron the high priest to make a golden calf for them to worship. They wanted to worship they way they did in Egypt.

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

Aaron made a golden calf and the people offered sacrifices to it. They were still worshipping God but not the way they were commanded by God's representative, Moses. Catholic defenders claim that today there is an analogous situation in which Christians have invented a church of their own making (Protestantism) rather than submitting to the church given to them by God through the apostles and their successors (Catholicism and Orthodoxy). You can easily make the same criticism against the Catholic or Orthodox Churches since they have clearly deviated from the apostolic teaching.

They also fell back into their immoral religious practices which included immoral celebrations.

(Acts 7:42) Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

Because they turned away from the true worship of God as revealed to them, God turned away from them. This led to worshipping gods which are not God. They maintained some of the external form (sacrificing animals) but they changed other forms. In doing so they changed their emphasis from worshipping God to worshipping false gods. The form of religious worship is very important. The church has always been concerned with this and has defended it.

(Acts 7:43) Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

Notice that eventually their worship would involve worshipping false gods. As a result of this false worship, God judged them and they were enslaved by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Today in our secular world there are many who worship false gods and have false conceptions of God, and who reject God altogether. I suppose God will someday enslave our societies and that worshippers of the true God will be martyred for the faith.

(Acts 7:44) Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

God instructed Moses how to build the tabernacle which was the place of worship. Later God instructed David to build the temple which had an architecture based on the tabernacle.

The emphasis is on the form of worship. Today, we are to worship God exactly as he specifies through his church and not to invent our own forms of worship (as Protestants have done). The apostolic form of worship was a liturgical, Eucharistic celebration presided over by a successor of the apostles.

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

The word Jesus should be translated as Joshua. The Israelites brought the tabernacle with them into the land promised them by God. From then until the time of David the Israelites continued to drive the Caananites out of the land.

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

David found favor with God and desired to build a temple.

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

Solomon built the temple rather than David.

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

Although God gave them the tabernacle and the temple to worship in, God does not dwell in buildings built by man. God does dwell in temples and churches sacramentally, that is, in a form in which we can worship him.

The problem starts when people forget that their religious practices should be focused on the worship of God as he is rather than on the material objects, rituals, words of prayer, and liturgical practices which God has given us to make our worship of God tangible. Some teach that to avoid this problem we should not have any tangible expression in our worship of God, that it should be spiritual rather than religious, but careful reflection shows that even they (Protestants) have many tangible aspects to their devotional worship of God.

(Acts 7:49) Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

God lives in heaven, beyond the earth he created.

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

God created all material things.

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

Stephen abruptly changes his tone. He associates these religious leaders with those from past times who were not faithfully following God and his laws.

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

Many Old Testament prophets were killed and all were persecuted because their message offended the religious leaders and the people. Some of these prophets prophesied of the coming of the Messiah. The religious leaders were responsible for killing Jesus, the Messiah.

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

The angels were involved with bringing the law of God to the Israelites. At times in the history of that spiritual nation the leaders have not been faithful to the commandments of God.

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

Note that the word 'gnashing' does not refer to a response to pain but to the expression of anger and hatred. The religious leaders have become quite angry at Stephen's words, angry enough to kill him.

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

Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He has a vision and sees the glory of God and Jesus.

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

Stephen verbalizes what he sees.

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

They don't want to hear anymore and they kill him in anger.

(Acts 7:58) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

Paul volunteered to guard the clothes of those who participated in the stoning. Perhaps he even coaxed hesitant people into participating by assuring them that he would watch their clothes to keep them safe.

About stoning: This is a cruel form of execution. The main advantage is that it is a community event. In other forms of execution there is an executioner so that the judges are somewhat aloof when they pronounce the death penalty. In stoning, all participate; there is no one person who is responsible but the whole community of participants bears the responsibility.

About the death penalty: The early church was the victim of the death penalty but later she began to execute others for heresy. This was a bad development. Even worse was that she practiced torture to extract confessions or used torture as part of the execution. Some claim that it was the political rulers who did all this. This claim is partially true, but the church had a role.

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

Stephen knows he is about to die. He calls on God to receive his spirit into heaven.

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

Stephen's final words are a prayer to God to not hold this sin of killing an innocent man against them. Then he dies.

The Dispersion

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

The Christians notice that they are not safe in Jerusalem so many relocate and take their faith with them. The apostles all stay in Jerusalem. The question is how do those who leave practice their faith since the leaders have stayed behind? Presumably there are leaders among them who take charge. I suppose that years later, these will be ordained. Some of them may have even started heretical sects and later been condemned and excommunicated by the church.

I wonder why the apostles chose to stay in Jerusalem? Perhaps they felt there was better opportunity to evangelize there since the city filled up with the faithful several times a year.

Paul consented to the death of Stephen. This event seems to have inspired Paul to begin persecuting and imprisoning Christians. But Stephen's words likely troubled him as he wondered whether they were true.

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

Stephen's death was a big event.

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

Paul likely had permission from the Jewish leaders to do this. I wonder whether Paul volunteered to do this task or whether the Jewish leaders asked him to do it? Perhaps they made him a deal that they would elevate his position if he would perform this dastardly deed?

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

The Christians dispersed and they preached the gospel message wherever they went. This implies that some of them were very strong in the faith and understood it very well.

Philip in Samaria

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

Philip is one of the seven deacons of Acts 6:5. He went to Samaria and preached the gospel.

Notice that preaching is often done to declare the gospel to those who haven't heard it—it is an evangelistic activity. This is not always the purpose for preaching. It can also be used to exhort people to believe the gospel message more fully or to increase their commitment to practising their faith.

Listening to preaching is not the best form of worshipping of God. Many denominations seem to think that listening to an hour long sermon is the way Christians should worship together.

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

Philip did miracles. The people believed his preaching. Presumably many became Christians.

(Acts 8:7) For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

There were miraculous healings and the exorcism of demons.

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

It was a joyous event for the whole city.

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

Simon the sorcerer was considered great by himself and others.

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

Simon had supernatural gifts which impressed the people. They thought this power was from God.

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

People had a high regard for Simon because they were impressed with his supernatural gifts. There likely was also a demonic element to it which attracted and intrigued the people. People are often impressed with supernatural power even when its source is demonic.

(Acts 8:12) But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Philip preached about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus. These are closely related. The kingdom of God is Jesus and his church.

Notice their response to hearing the gospel and believing it. They were baptized. People become Christians through baptism. Baptism is not a mere symbol.

The kingdom of God refers to the church age as well as to eternity in heaven.

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

Simon became a Christian and was baptized. He was impressed with the miracles of Philip. He thought they were more amazing than the miracles he did as a sorcerer.

Peter and John in Samaria

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

When the apostles heard that the Samaritians were hearing the gospel and responding to it, they sent two apostles, Peter and John. Notice that Peter is mentioned first as is always the case.

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

The apostles were not satisfied that the Samaritans heard the word of God, believed it, and were baptized. They also considered it necessary that they would receive the Holy Spirit. Many charismatics groups mimic this, but what the apostles are doing is essentially different.

Perhaps this receiving of the Holy Spirit corresponds to the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation in which the Holy Spirit is received and empowers the believer. Just as in the Catholic Church, Confirmation can only be performed by the bishop, not by a deacon (Philip was a deacon). It was necessary that the apostles pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit.

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

Even though a person believes and is baptized in the name of Jesus, this is not enough. They must also receive the Holy Spirit.

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

The apostles laid hands on them. Notice that only the apostles could do this, Philip could not. Many charismatics practice the laying on of hands by the entire congregation but this practice is not biblical. The apostles (and later the bishops) must do it. Only they have this power of bringing the Holy Spirit upon a believer.

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

Presumably there was some sort of external, visible manifestation when they received the Holy Spirit (perhaps speaking in tongues as at Pentecost) because Simon saw they received the Holy Spirit. Simon is still thinking like a sorcerer, that spiritual powers can be bought and sold.

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

Simon wants to be able to lay hands on people so they receive the Holy Spirit.

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

Peter rebukes Simon sharply. The gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be purchased.

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

Simon's heart was not right on this matter.

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

Peter challenges Simon to repent and pray so that his thoughts and attitudes will be forgiven by God.

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

Peter notices that Simon is bitter and trapped in sin. Perhaps Simon got angry when Peter rebuked him and Peter is commenting on that.

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

Simon is concerned with his spiritual well-being. He asks Peter to pray that he would be delivered from these sins.

Philip in Gaza

(Acts 8:25) And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

Peter and John preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans on their way back to Jerusalem.

(Acts 8:26) And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

Now God calls Philip to Gaza. Philip is being used by God in a mighty way to preach the gospel to many people.

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

This Ethiopian eunuch was a worshipper of God. He travelled to Jerusalem for the Jewish feast and was returning to Ethiopia. He was a high-ranking official in Ethiopia. Likely, he brought Christianity to Ethiopia.

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

On his way home he was reading from the scroll of Isaiah. Few people owned copies of the Old Testament books.

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

The Holy Spirit told Philip to speak with the Ethiopian eunuch.

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

Philip heard him reading aloud from the scroll of Isaiah. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading.

(Acts 8:31) And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

This is an amazing comment by the Ethiopian eunuch. He says that he needs guidance in order to understand the scripture. The same is true for us today. Merely having ready access to the books of scripture does not guarantee that we will understand the meaning of the scripture; we require someone who has been instructed in the true meaning of the scripture to explain it to us.

Many Protestants think they can interpret the scripture on their own (by private interpretation) but this results in many contradictory interpretations. In the early church there were those who changed the gospel and started their own heretical movements, basing these on their own private interpretation of scripture. The early church leaders had to fight these heresies by declaring and defending the true interpretation. We should learn what the early church taught and defended and adopt these views ourselves rather than merely accepting whatever interpretation we are taught in our churches.

(Acts 8:32) The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53:7,8. He doesn't know who this sheep is who is led to slaughter and who doesn't speak.

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

This lamb was killed after a humiliating judgment and he had no children.

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

The Ethiopian eunuch asked whether this person is Isaiah or someone else.

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

Philip affirmed that this lamb was Jesus. We know that Jesus taught that he was the subject of many Old Testament passages because he reveals this to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-27).

(Acts 8:36) And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

The Ethiopian eunuch wanted to be baptized. In other words, he wanted to become a Christian. Baptism is not merely a symbol.

I wonder how the Ethiopian eunuch knew that he should be baptized? Perhaps it was because the Jews baptized converts to Judaism and he merely assumed that conversion to Christianity was done in the same manner. The Christian church borrowed many practices from Judaism.

(Acts 8:37) And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Baptism requires belief. The Ethiopian eunuch first confesses his faith that Jesus is the Son of God and this qualifies him to enter the church.

(Acts 8:38) And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

Notice the importance of baptism. Many Protestant denominations teach that baptism is not a sacrament but merely a symbol, but this is not what the Bible teaches.

(Acts 8:39) And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Some teach that Philip was miraculously transported instantaneously to Azotus. Perhaps so, but this verse doesn't demand that interpretation.

Notice that the apostles did not follow the Ethiopian eunuch to lay hands on him to receive the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this would happen later when the bishops went to Ethiopia or on the next visit by the Ethiopian eunuch to Jerusalem.

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

Philip continues preaching in many cities.

Paul's Conversion

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

The story shifts to Paul. He had dedicated his life to stamping out Christianity. Presumably the stoning of Stephan triggered his zeal.

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

Paul gets permission from the high priest to bring Christians living in Damascus back to Jerusalem as prisoners. Apparently the Roman rulers gave the high priest this authority. This is a period of severe persecution for the early Christians.

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

God had other plans for Paul. Paul experiences what we would today call an apparition.

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

Jesus personally revealed himself to Paul. Jesus considers the persecution of Christians as a persecution of him personally. Christians are not merely members of the body of Christ as a metaphor—it is a mystical reality.

(Acts 9:5) And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Paul instantly responds to Jesus. Perhaps he was in inner turmoil about this role he had chosen as one who persecutes the Christians.

Paul heard Stephen's extended sermon. Apparently, Paul was willing and ready to believe Stephen's claims when presented to him in the right context. I get the feeling that Paul was internally troubled in his role as a persecutor of Christians.

Jesus remarks that it is hard for Paul to continually resist the pricks of his conscience by the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 9:6) And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Paul is instantly willing to change loyalty to Jesus and to follow him and obey him. Jesus tells him to go into Damascus for further instructions.

We can apply this in our own lives. We need to be willing to merely take the next step in our relationship with Christ and to do the next little task he commands us to do rather than waiting until he reveals a glorious and grandiose plan in its entirety.

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

It is common in apparitions for witnesses to see and hear only part of what is really occurring.

(Acts 9:8) And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

Paul had fallen to the ground. He was temporarily blinded.

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

He didn't eat for three days.

(Acts 9:10) And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

Jesus used a Christian named Ananias to lay hands on Paul so he would receive the Holy Spirit. This is an unexpected way for God to deal with this. You would think that Jesus could have finished the work himself but he used Ananias to do it. I wonder if Ananias was one of those who Paul was going to imprison and take back to Jerusalem?

(Acts 9:11) And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Ananias was told which house Paul was staying in. Meanwhile, Paul has been praying.

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

Paul had a vision of Ananias laying hands on him so he could receive his sight.

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

Meanwhile, Ananias had heard about Paul and his persecution of Christians in Jerusalem.

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

News of Paul's purpose for coming to Damascus had preceded him.

(Acts 9:15) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

For Ananias to follow God's command surely required great faith.

We learn of Paul's mission from God. He will be an evangelist to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to Jews.

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

But this calling of Paul will require him to endure great hardship and suffering. God does not call us to a life of ease.

(Acts 9:17) And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Earlier, the apostles Peter and John went to Samaria to impart the Holy Spirit on those who had been baptized. Here it is a lowly disciple doing this task. We don't know much about Ananias. This is the only example I know of in the New Testament of someone other that an apostle or bishop laying hands on someone.

Notice that there is no mention of Saul speaking in tongues when he received the Holy Spirit.

Apparently, the early Christians knew how to baptize and were taught that it was OK for them to baptize.

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

Paul was baptized right away. He had already believed in Jesus for three days. He had heard the Gospel message and was present at Stephen's stoning when he gave his long sermon.

Paul was healed of his temporary blindness. Perhaps this blindness represented his spiritual blindness.

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

Paul stayed with these Christians in Damascus, perhaps the same ones he had planned to take back to Jerusalem.

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

Paul immediately began his preaching career. I am surprised that the leaders of the synagogue allowed Christians to preach in the synagogues but this was what they did throughout the book of Acts.

(Acts 9:21) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

Everyone knew why Paul had come to Damascus.

Christians are referred to by the phrase "those who call on the name of Jesus."

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

Paul's following grew. His sermons convinced many that Jesus was the Messiah.

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

Even today there are many who think that killing those with opposing views is acceptable.

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

Paul found out about their plot.

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

Paul escaped from the walled city of Damascus.

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

Paul went to Jerusalem but the Christians there were afraid of him. They didn't believe that he was really a Christian.

Notice that the Christians are referred to by the term "disciple."

(Acts 9:27) But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Barnabas supports Paul and persuades the Christians that Paul's conversion was genuine.

It is common for people to misjudge a situation. Often it takes a strong, bold leader to take up a cause and persuade people of the truth. Barnabas was such a leader.

Notice that it was not Peter or another apostle who endorsed Paul. It appears that the golden age of the apostles is at an end.

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

Paul lived with them in Jerusalem.

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

Paul spoke boldly to the Greeks. They didn't like what he had to say so they planned to kill him.

Imagine what it would be like if people threatened to kill us every time we preached an unpopular message. It is like this in some places of the world. In some places it is the Christians who are intolerant of non-Christian messages.

It is getting increasingly dangerous for the church and for Christians to proclaim the Christian message. Our modern culture pressures people by threat of lawsuits to stop preaching unpopular messages.

Certain aspects of the gospel message are becoming illegal. Examples are: (1) the moral positions of the church regarding sexual sins such as adultery, sex outside of marriage, and promiscuous homosexuality, (2) abortion as the murder of innocents, (3) euthanasia, and (4) other forms of killing embryos. Churches have to be careful what they say or someone could sue them.

Read more: Gay Marriage | Homosexuality

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

Paul ran for his life by escaping to Caesarea. Then he went to Tarsus.

(Acts 9:31) Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

After this there was a period of peace for the church. The church continued to grow.

Peter Heals

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

Peter went to a town named Lydda.

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

Aeneas had palsy which is paralysis with uncontrolled shaking.

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

Peter heals him in the name of Jesus. Notice that there is no mention of Aeneas's faith.

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

This healing caused many to become Christians.

(Acts 9:36) Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

Tabitha is singled out as a Christian woman who has an exemplary life of holiness. Notice that it is her good works and her works of charity which are mentioned. Her faith is referred to by describing her works.

In emphasizing faith many Christians feel they have to de-emphasize good works. But note that this passage does the opposite. It doesn't mention Tabitha's faith at all except in referencing her good works.

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

Tabotha died.

(Acts 9:38) And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

Joppa was near Lydda so two Christians went there to fetch Peter. Presumably, they expected Peter to bring Tabitha back to life.

(Acts 9:39) Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

Peter went to Joppa and encountered these widows. Apparently, the widows were the ones who were most concerned with grieving for the dead. Presumably, these widows had cared for Tabitha after she became ill and had an active life of prayer, devotion, and charity.

(Acts 9:40) But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Peter prayed and commanded Tabitha to arise. She did.

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

He helped her get up out of bed.

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

This event caused many to become Christians.

Peter Accepts Gentiles

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

Peter stayed in Joppa for many days. He lived with Simon.

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

We are introduced to the gentile soldier, Cornelius, who was stationed in Caesarea. He was a centurion, an officer in the Roman army who commanded about 100 solders.

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

Even though he was a gentile, Cornelius was devout, feared God, had a life of prayer, and gave alms to the people. His household also feared God.

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

At 3 PM he encountered an angel in a vision.

(Acts 10:4) And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

Cornelius called the angel "Lord" which may merely mean "sir." The good works of Cornelius came before God and pleased God. This is because Cornelius had saving faith which was expressed by his good works.

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

The angel instructs Cornelius to send for Peter who is in Joppa.

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

Peter will tell Cornelius what to do. Notice that the angel does not tell Cornelius what to do, but Peter must do this. The leaders of the church act on behalf of God.

(Acts 10:7) And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

Cornelius obeys.

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

He sent 3 people to Joppa. He first explained to them what had happened to him so they could tell Peter.

(Acts 10:9) On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

They were near to Joppa. Meanwhile, at about noon, Peter went up to his housetop to pray.

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

Peter was hungry, but the food was not yet ready and he fell into a trance. Many of the Saints of the church had trance-like experiences.

(Acts 10:11) And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

Peter's vision: A container like a sheet tied at the 4 corners came down from heaven.

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

This container was large and contained many animals, including domesticated animals, wild animals, smaller animals such as rodents, and birds.

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

A voice tells Peter to eat all of these kinds of animals.

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

Peter refuses to eat the unclean animals: Animals which are forbidden for eating by the Mosaic law.

Notice that Peter refers to this voice as "Lord" which may merely mean "sir."

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

The voice tells Peter that God has cleansed that which was formerly unclean.

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

This happened 3 times.

(Acts 10:17) Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

Peter was unsure what the vision meant. Meanwhile, the men sent by Cornelius arrived.

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

They asked if Peter was there.

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

The Holy Spirit spoke to Peter, informing him that the 3 men sent by Cornelius were there.

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

The Holy Spirit told Peter to go with them to Caesarea and to not doubt because God has sent them.

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

Peter meets the 3 men. He asks them why they have come to see him.

(Acts 10:22) And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

They tell Peter the story that Cornelius told them. Notice that Cornelius had a good reputation among the Jews.

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

Peter invited them to stay the night. The next morning they left for Caesarea along with some brothers from Joppa.

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

The following morning they arrived at Caesarea. Cornelius had called his family and close friends to hear Peter.

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

Cornelius's first act upon seeing Peter was to fall down at his feet and worship him.

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

Peter informs him that it is not appropriate to worship a mere man.

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

Peter noticed that many were present.

(Acts 10:28) And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Peter tactlessly tells them that, according to the Jewish law, it is unlawful for him to associate with the Gentiles since he is a Jew. Peter then tells them his interpretation of the vision he had; that he should not call the Gentiles unclean anymore.

(Acts 10:29) Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying [taking exception to], as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Peter tells them that he agreed to come to them only because of the vision he had just had. Then he ask them why they called for him.

(Acts 10:30) And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

Cornelius tell Peter that 4 days ago he fasted and then at 3 PM prayed. He saw an angel.

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

The angel told Cornelius that his prayer was heard and his practice of giving alms generously were noticed by God.

(Acts 10:32) Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

Cornelius told Peter that the angel instructed him to call for Peter, who was in Joppa; and that Peter would deliver a message.

(Acts 10:33) Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Cornelius obeyed and sent for Peter. It was a good thing for Peter to have come. Cornelius says that all those present are eager to hear what Peter has to tell them in the name of God.

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

Peter began to speak. His first words are that God is no respecter of persons. It seems that Peter is struggling with having to accept the Gentiles as clean in the sight of God.

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

Peter says that those who fear God and do good works of righteousness are accepted by God. This includes non-Jews.

Notice that this is not a "faith alone" message.

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

Peter now proclaims the gospel, the good news of Christ. This gospel had previously been proclaimed only to Jews and Samaritans. This gospel is the message of peace with God through Jesus, who is Lord of all (including the non-Jews).

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

Peter says that they have heard of this gospel message of Jesus because it was common knowledge and was passed on as common knowledge. The gospel of Jesus began after the ministry of John the Baptist.

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

Peter refers to Jesus's baptism by John the Baptist and states that Jesus was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit through baptism. If Jesus, who is God incarnate, needed this anointing of the Holy Spirit through baptism, certainly all of us need it.

Just as those baptized by John's baptism of repentance went about doing good (because they repented from doing evil), so Jesus does the same. Jesus's good works include miraculous healings and exorcisms.

Peter mentions that Jesus was able to do the miracles because God was with Jesus. It is easy to understand why many Christians in the early church had trouble formulating and accepting the doctrine of the Trinity since verses like these seem to imply that Jesus is not God but was merely empowered by God.

The church finally sorted it all out and proclaimed the doctrine of the Trinity as the correct view. I should note that it is not correct for someone to insist that a non-Trinitarian view is unbiblical; after all, this verse strongly supports a non-Trinitarian view. The reason we know that the Trinity is correct is because the early church determined this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not because we derive it from the pages of the Bible.

(Acts 10:39) And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

Peter and the other apostles are witnesses to the facts about Jesus's ministry.

Peter is not shy about blaming the death of Jesus on the Jews.

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

God raised Jesus from the dead. But we also know that Jesus raised himself (John 2:19). It remarkable that Peter states that God showed Jesus to the various witnesses, not that Jesus showed himself to them.

(Acts 10:41) Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

After his resurrection Jesus didn't appear to everyone but only to the apostles and others who were chosen by God to be witnesses. The apostles even ate and drank with Jesus.

(Acts 10:42) And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

Jesus commanded the apostles to preach to gospel message. Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead. In other words, Jesus judges everyone, whether they will end up in the new heavens and new earthor hell.

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

The Old Testament prophets prophesied of Jesus. It is through the name of Jesus that believers receive remission from their sins. Notice that the sins are remitted, not merely covered.

To clarify: Remission of the sins means that God actually forgives our sins and that he pardons the sinner. Certainly, past sinful actions can never be erased but God no longer sees these forgiven sins and the sinner has no cause to feel guilty. To contrast: In the notion that sins are covered, the sins we commit always remain with us, but God covers them. When he looks at us he sees the sinlessness of Christ instead of our sins.

To reiterate: this verse states that sins are remitted, not merely covered.

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

Once again the Holy Spirit fell on new believers; this time on those who heard the preaching of Peter. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit only came upon the 120. Those who heard their preaching and believed received the Holy Spirit when they were baptized. Later, in Samaria, the Holy Spirit fell on the new believers when the apostles layed hands on them (to complete their baptism).

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

The Jewish Christians who came with Peter were amazed that the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles. One purpose God had for these miraculous displays of the Holy Spirit was to indicate that he has chosen all to become Christians, including Samaritians and Gentiles.

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

The miraculous display was speaking in tongues. Notice that this is not a personal prayer language nor is it prophetic utterances. They magnified God with these tongues. Presumably, people spoke various languages but all were able to understand one another just as at Pentecost. There is no reason to believe that the people were speaking "gibberish."

One aspect of the miracle of speaking in tongues is that they were energized to even do it. I suppose that, as pagans, they were used to ecstatic, trance-like states of mind in which everyone spoke gibberish or nonsense. But in this case, the things they said could be understood by those listening and they were speaking rightly about God.

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

Peter offers baptism to the Gentiles. His reasoning is that if they have received the Holy Spirit they certainly should be baptized. If the Holy Spirit determined that Gentiles can be Christians, then they should join the church by baptism.

If these people had died before being baptized that they would have gone to heaven. The desire for baptism qualifies as baptism if a person is unable to be baptized for some reason.

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

Peter tells the new Gentile converts to be baptized. Notice that they are baptized in the name of the Lord. Some interpret this to mean that we are to be baptized only with the name of Jesus, not with the baptismal formula including the phrase "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". That view is incorrect and the church has never taught it. We are to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit just as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19.

They asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Gentiles Can Be Christians

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

Word got back to the apostles and other Christians in Judea that Gentiles were also becoming Christians.

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

When Peter arrived in Jerusalem he was confronted by the Christians who believed that Christianity was a Jewish sect and that Christians had to follow the Jewish laws and practices.

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

They accused Peter of violating one of the tenets of the Jewish law; that Jews should not eat with Gentiles.

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

Peter told them what happened.

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

Peter's vision when in Joppa: A container-like a sheet tied at the 4 corners came down from heaven.

(Acts 11:6) Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

This container was large and contained many animals, including domesticated animals, wild animals, smaller animals such as rodents, and birds.

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

A voice tells Peter to eat all of these kinds of animals.

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

Peter refuses to eat the unclean animals: Animals which are forbidden for eating by the Mosaic law.

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

The voice tells Peter that God has cleansed that which was formerly unclean.

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

This happened 3 times.

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

The men sent by Cornelius arrived.

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

The Holy Spirit told Peter to go with them to Caesarea and to not doubt because God has sent them. Peter went with six other Christians and arrived at Cornelius's house in Caesarea.

(Acts 11:13) And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;

Cornelius saw an angel in a vision. The angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter who was in Joppa.

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

Peter will tell Cornelius and his household how to get saved.

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

When Peter told them the gospel the Holy Spirit fell upon them as on that first day of Pentecost.

(Acts 11:16) Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

After Jesus's resurrection he told the apostles that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5) Peter calls this statement by Jesus "the word of the Lord."

(Acts 11:17) Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

Peter's reason for accepting Gentiles into the church is the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; the miraculous speaking of tongues by the Gentiles when they heard Peter preach the gospel message. Peter interprets this to mean that God wants Gentiles to be Christians.

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

These Jewish Christians were easily convinced by Peter's arguments. They all were very impressed by the falling of the Holy Spirit. God has granted everyone salvation. Notice that they refer to this as "repentance unto life." Salvation requires repentance. Without repentance there is no salvation.

Barnabas in Antioch

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

At the time when the Christians were scattered because of the martyrdom of Stephan, they travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. These Christians preached the gospel message, but only to Jews.

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

Some of these who were from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and preached to the Gentiles there.

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

God blessed their preaching and many Gentiles became Christians.

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

The church leaders in Jerusalem heard about this and sent Barnabas to Antioch.

The apostles and other leaders of the church at Jerusalem were the head of the universal (catholic) church. They felt they had the responsibility and duty to send representatives to other locations where there was a work of God occurring. The purpose of these visits was (1) to assess what was happening, (2) to correct errors, (3) to encourage the new Christians, and (4) to bring back a report to Jerusalem.

(Acts 11:23) Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

Barnabas went to Antioch and saw the grace of God at work in these new Christians. He exhorted them to remain in the faith and to not stray from it, and that they be devout and faithful to the Lord.

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

Barbabas was a good man and he was full of the Holy Spirit. Because of his visit to Antioch, many people became Christians.

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

Barnabas left Antioch and went to Tarsus to see Paul.

(Acts 11:26) And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Barnabas found Paul in Tarsus and brought him back to Antioch. The two of them stayed in Antioch for a year. They taught many people. The word "Christian" was first used at this time in Antioch.

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

While Barnabas and Paul were in Antioch prophets came from Jerusalem. It appears that the mission of these prophets was to collect food for those back in Judea who were struggling. This is not the kind of mission that many modern self-proclaimed prophets undertake.

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

Agabus, one of these prophets, predicted a time of famine. There were famines during the reign of Claudius Caesar. The book of Acts was written after the famine occurred perhaps as early as 62 A.D.

The famines during the reign of Claudius Caesar are mentioned by Suetonius (Life of Claudius 18:2), Tacitus (Annals 12:43), Dio Cassius (History of Rome 60:11), Orosius (History 7.6.17), and Josephus (Antiquities 20.2.5 49-53; Antiquities 20.5.2 101). These famines occurred in the time period 44-48 A.D.

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

Presumably the famine was to occur soon. The Christians at Antioch agreed to send relief (probably food) to Judea. Perhaps those in Jerusalem were already experiencing the famine and it had not yet occurred in Antioch. They sent as much as they felt they could but I suspect they were stretched into giving until it hurt.

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

Barnabas and Paul went back to Judea and brought the food with them.

Peter Saved by an Angel

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

At this time Herod started to afflict certain church leaders. Up until this time it had been the Jewish leaders who were persecuting the Christians. Now the Romans begin to do so.

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

Herod killed the apostle James, the son of Zebedee. James was one of the three apostles that Jesus singled out to witness the transfiguration.

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

Herod was trying to please the Jews. Presumably this refers to the Jewish leaders.

During the time of passover, Herod seized Peter.

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

Herod put Peter in prison. He didn't bring Peter to trial until after the passover celebrations. He waited until after the feast day celebrations to bring Peter before the people for the trial.

The word "Easter" probably refers to passover since it is the same word and there was not yet a specific Christian celebration of Easter at the time the book of Acts was written. It is likely that there was emphasis on the celebration of Jesus's resurrection associated with the time of passover.

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

Peter was in prison for a number of days. The Christian community was praying for Peter, presumably all day and night.

(Acts 12:6) And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

The night before the day the Herod planned to bring Peter out for trial, Peter was miraculously freed. In this verse the writer goes to great lengths to describe how Peter was well-guarded.

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

An angel rescued Peter. The angel released Peter's chains and told him to get up.

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

The angel told Peter to get dressed and to follow him.

(Acts 12:9) And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

Peter followed the angel. He thought he was having a vision. He must have still been groggy after being suddenly awakened.

(Acts 12:10) When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

They passed two sets of guards. The angel opened the iron gate of the prison. Then the angel left.

(Acts 12:11) And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Peter finally realized that an angel came to deliver him from prison. It appears that the Jewish people wanted Peter to be executed.

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

Peter went to Mary's house. She was the mother of Mark. Mary was a very common name at the time. They were having an all night prayer meeting for Peter's trial and execution the following morning.

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

When Peter knocked at the gate of the house, a girl named Rhoda answered.

(Acts 12:14) And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

Rhoda saw that it was Peter but in her haste to tell everyone else she neglected to let Peter in. Perhaps Rhoda was unable to let Peter in for some reason (perhaps she couldn't unlock the door?) and someone else had to do it.

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

They didn't believe her. They said it was Peter's angel.

It seems that these early Christians believed in guardian angels.

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

Peter had to keep knocking. When they finally went to the door and saw Peter they were astonished. Even though they were praying for him they were surprised that he had escaped from prison.

Some say this means that they were not praying in faith because if they had faith they would have expected Peter to be delivered from prison. I reject this interpretation. Praying night and day is certainly a faith-filled activity.

(Acts 12:17) But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

Peter told them what happened. He told them to tell James and the other Christians what had happened. Then Peter left. Notice that James is listed first. This is appropriate since he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem (after Peter who was the head of the whole church).

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

The guards are in big trouble for allowing a prisoner to escape. The angel's actions not only delivered Peter but also resulted in the death sentence for the guards.

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

Herod tortured and executed the guards. Then he went to Caesarea.

(Acts 12:20) And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.

A little history about Herod. He moved from Judea to Caesarea. Then he stirred up trouble for those of Tyre and Sidon but they worked out a solution.

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

Herod spoke to them

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

The people cheered Herod and called him god.

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

Because of Herod's willingness to be considered a god, the Lord killed him. His death was gruesome and painful.

Paul's First Missionary Journey

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

Christianity continued to spread. Persecution by rulers is unable to stop it.

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

Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from Jerusalem and brought Mark along with them. They had gone to Jerusalem to deliver food.

(Acts 13:1) Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

A list of various prophets and teachers in Antioch. There are five people mentioned. Antioch had become a strong center of Christianity.

This verse highlights an important historical development of Christianity. As Christianity spread, certain cities became the focal point for church leadership. These centers of Christianity were later called patriarchates. Jerusalem was the first patriarchate. As the church spread, additional cities became patriarchates. The second patriarchate was Antioch. Later, other cities also became patriarchates: Rome, Alexandria, and finally Constantinople.

Major church events occurred in these patriarchates, for example, Paul and Barnabas were sent off from Antioch; the first church council was in Jerusalem.

Protestants have disconnected themselves from this organizational structure and have created a new kind of organizational structure: denominations. But the early church had no notion of denominations, it is a recent invention.

Notice that there were teachers and prophets. Some were teachers, some were prophets, some were both. Many Christians today don't recognize the role of prophet, but some do. Of those that do, some seem to apply a new meaning to the term prophet, a meaning it did not have in the early church.

Notice that in every verse where Paul and Barnabas are mentioned together that Barnabas is mentioned first. Barnabas seems to be the leader at this point. Later this changes.

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

Grammatically, it is only the five listed in the previous verse that are referred to in this verse. These five were fasting, probably because it was a regular day of fasting. Many Protestant denominations have abandoned the practice of fasting.

These five were ministering to the Lord. Perhaps they were leading church services all day during this special day. Perhaps they were having some sort of spiritual retreat with special liturgical practices. Perhaps they were doing this specifically to discern whether God was calling Paul and Barnabas for this work.

The Holy Spirit told them God's will in the matter, presumably through one of the prophets who was present.

Perhaps Paul and Barnabas had been seeking a word from God on whether to do this work.

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

After they learned that Paul and Barnabas were to go on this missionary journey, they fasted. They also prayed, presumably during the time they fasted which likely lasted a day or more. These three leaders laid hands on Paul and Barnabas and sent them off. I suspect that there were many others present during this laying on of hands.

Notice that only the leaders laid hands on Paul and Barnabas. There is not a single reference in the Bible in which lay people practice the laying on of hands.

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

The author, Luke, emphasizes the fact that Paul and Barnabas were sent off by the Holy Spirit.

They went to Seleucia, then to Cyprus.

(Acts 13:5) And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

They went to Salamis.

It seems that their standard manner of preaching was to speak in the synagogues. Presumably they could only speak once per week on Saturday.

Notice that the content of their preaching is the word of God. This "word of God" is the gospel message. Presumably anything they say which is true and which they learned from the apostles is considered as the "word of God." Thus we see the emphasis on the tradition which was passed-down from the apostles. Paul had also been personally instructed by Jesus so anything he teaches is also the "word of God."

Notice that the phrase "word of God" does not refer to the Bible. Certainly the Bible contains the "word of God" but there are many teachings of the "word of God" which are not in the Bible because the Bible does not have every word spoken by Paul and Barnabas, for example.

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

They went to Paphos where they encountered a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus. The text makes it clear that Bar-Jesus (Elymas) was a false prophet.

(Acts 13:7) Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

There was a ruler named Sergius Paulus in Paphos who had heard about the teaching of Paul and Barnabas and wanted to hear them for himself.

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

Bar-Jesus (Elymas) opposed them, probably by delivering a contrary message.

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

Paul rebuked Bar-Jesus (Elymas). Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 13:10) And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

Paul's accusations of Bar-Jesus (Elymas): (1) Enemy of righteousness, (2) child of the devil, (3) full of subtlety, (4) full of mischief, and (5) perverter of the ways of the Lord.

(Acts 13:11) And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

Paul judged Bar-Jesus with temporary blindness in the name of the Lord. God honored the judgments of the apostles even when they required God to perform a miracle (See John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18). The question is whether modern-day bishops have this same power. They certainly don't seem to have it to the degree that the apostles did although there are various Catholic and Orthodox Saints throughout church history who clearly do.

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

The ruler's faith was saved and this miracle caused him to believe.

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

Paul and Barnabas went to Perga but Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. This desertion by Mark later caused Paul and Barnabas to split with each other.

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

They went to Antioch in Pisidia (not the other Antioch). In their usual custom, they went to the synagogue on the Sabbath.

Paul's Sermon

(Acts 13:15) And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

The rulers of the synagogue asked them if they wanted to speak. This was the custom in the synagogue. I suspect that the church services of the early church were modelled on the synagogue. Notice that the first thing that occurred in their church service was a reading from the Old Testament. This is the practice of liturgical churches such as Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican/Episcopal, Methodist, and others.

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

Paul spoke. Notice that there were both "men of Israel" (Jews) and those that "feared God" (Gentiles converts to Judaism who are not circumcised).

(Acts 13:17) The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

Paul began with the history if Israel. God called the fathers of Israel when they were in Egypt to enter the promised land.

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

They remained in the desert for 40 years.

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

God supernaturally intervened in the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. The land was divided among the 12 tribes.

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

The time of the judges lasted about 450 years. Then came Samuel the prophet.

(Acts 13:21) And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

Then the Israelites wanted a king so God gave them King Saul. He was king for 40 years.

(Acts 13:22) And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

After Saul, David became king. David was a man after God's own heart. God used David in fulfilling his will to save mankind.

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

Jesus was a descendant of David. God had promised a savior in the Old Testament.

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

John the Baptist came before Jesus and preached the baptism of repentance to the people living in Israel.

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

John told the people that he was not the Messiah but that the Messiah was coming.

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

Paul refers to the Israelites as his brothers. The Israelites are descendants of Abraham. Paul declares that the Messiah, the Word of Salvation, is sent to the Jews and the Jewish converts.

(Acts 13:27) For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

The Jews living in Jerusalem and the religious leaders condemned Jesus, the Messiah. They did this because they did not know that Jesus was the Messiah. They did not interpret the writings of the Old Testament prophets correctly. These same writings even declare that the Jews would misjudge the Messiah and that he would be executed.

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

The Jews desired that Jesus, the Messiah, be executed. They persuaded Pilate to do it.

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

It was prophesied that the Messiah would be executed on a tree (cross). Some Jews who were loyal to Jesus took him down from the cross and put him in a sepulchre.

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

But God raised Jesus from the dead.

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

The risen Jesus was seen for 40 days by those from Galilee who came with him to Jerusalem. I suppose Paul is referring to the apostles who are witnesses of these events.

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

Paul and the apostles proclaim the good news.

(Acts 13:33) God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

God fulfilled the promises he made in the Old Testament through Christianity and Christians. God raised Jesus from the dead. This was prophesied in the Old Testament.

(Acts 13:34) And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus took on a resurrected, glorified body. This was in fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of God in Isaiah 55:3 that he would make an everlasting covenant with the Messiah, a descendant of David.

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

Paul refers to a prophecy in Psalms 16:10 that the Messiah would die but would be resurrected.

(Acts 13:36) For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

Paul notes that David died after serving his people.

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

But Jesus was raised from the dead. Paul is contrasting the Messiah with David.

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

Paul tells them that the forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus.

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

It is by believing in Jesus that a person is justified. This justification does not come from the law of Moses. Paul does not explain why the law of Moses doesn't justify or why God instituted the Old Testament covenant at all.

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

Paul warns them of what will happen to them if they reject the gospel.

(Acts 13:41) Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

Paul quotes Habakkuk 1:5. This verse exhorts people to believe in a marvelous work of God. Those who don't believe will perish.

Gentiles Become Christians

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

The Gentile converts to Judaism wanted to hear more of Paul's preaching. They waited in the synagogue until the Jews left before asking Paul to preach to them again.

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

After the service many Jews and Gentiles who attended the synagogue followed Paul and Barnabas who convinced them to follow God in this new work he was doing through Jesus.

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

The next Saturday nearly the entire city came to the synagogue to hear the gospel.

(Acts 13:45) But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

The influential Jews who had not believed Paul's message the previous week became jealous of the large following of Paul and they spoke against Paul. They said things against Jesus.

(Acts 13:46) Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly. They said that the gospel should first be presented to the Jews. Since it was rejected by the Jews, they would now preach to the Gentiles. The Jews who reject the gospel are unworthy of receiving eternal life.

(Acts 13:47) For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

Paul quotes from Isaiah 49:6. This passage refers to the servant of Israel who is a light to the world, even to the Gentiles.

(Acts 13:48) And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

The Gentiles were happy to hear that God included them in his plan of salvation. Those who believed Paul's gospel message glorified God. In hearing the gospel and believing it a person fulfills his calling to eternal life.

The sentence "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" supports the doctrine of election: That the only people who believe the gospel when they hear it are those who are elected by God for salvation. But we must consider 1 Timothy 2:4: "[God our Saviour] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." For more info read Decree On Justification, Chapter V.

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

The gospel message became known throughout the region of Antioch in Pisidia.

In Iconium

(Acts 13:50) But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

Apparently the Gentile converts were not those who were politically influential in the city. It seems the women in this city had tremendous political power.

Note that the history of the church is tangled up with politics. Those who insist that the church is merely 'spiritual' are ignoring this passage.

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

I wonder what they were thinking and feeling as they were "run out of town"?

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

Apparently the Holy Spirit kept them motivated. Apparently Paul and Barnabas were accompanied on their journeys by a whole entourage of Christians.

(Acts 14:1) And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

Apparently both Paul and Barnabas both spoke. Barnabas and Paul were both very charismatic leaders and speakers.

It is amazing how many people believe the gospel message upon hearing it one time.

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

Those who hear the gospel but refuse to believe are strongly motivated to oppose it. This is true even today — those who reject Christian teaching and values are radically opposed to it. I suppose that there is strong demonic opposition which energizes those who reject the gospel.

(Acts 14:3) Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Paul and Barnabas remained in Iconium for a long time and performed many miracles.

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

Notice that the Jews led the opposition to Paul and Barnabas. This is the common theme in the early church, that it was the Jews who opposed Christianity.

(Acts 14:5) And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,

Even Gentiles sided with the Jews. There was a plan to stone Paul and Barnabas.

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

They heard about this plan (probably because a sympathizer told them) and they left (fled) to Lystra and Derbe.

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

Wherever they go the preach the gospel.

In Lystra

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

They encounter a lame man who had never walked since birth.

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

This lame man heard Paul preach. Paul noticed this man and spiritually discerned that this man had the faith necessary for healing. In several other previous cases of healing, the faith of the person who was healed was not an issue at all.

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

Paul commanded him to stand up and the man did.

(Acts 14:11) And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

The people assume that their gods have done this and that Paul and Barnabas are manifestations of their gods.

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

Note that Paul was the primary speaker, he was the leader of the two.

(Acts 14:13) Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

The priests of these false gods even brought animals to perform a sacrifice. They take their religion very seriously.

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

Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes, which was a standard way for Jews to indicate that they were grieved in the Lord by what was being done. Notice that they are still practicing Jewish customs and traditions even though they are now Christians. They have not rejected their Jewish roots. The Catholic Church considers itself to be merely an extension of Judaism whereas Protestantism typically believes that we are to completely reject past traditions.

(Acts 14:15) And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

Paul and Barnabas insist that they are mere men and refer to God as the creator. They exhort these idolaters to turn to the true God.

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

God allowed (suffered) nations in the past to walk in their own God-rejecting ways.

(Acts 14:17) Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

In all ages God has selected particular people and nations as his own chosen witnesses (a reference to Israel). As long as these peoples and nations were faithful and loyal to God, he blessed them with material and spiritual blessings.

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

Even with these words they were barely able to persuade the people to not offer a sacrifice to them.

Paul is Stoned

(Acts 14:19) And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

The Jews who opposed them in Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra to oppose Paul. They stirred up the people against him and convinced them to stone him. They dragged Paul outside the city (Lystra), stoned him to death, and left his body.

It is hard to believe that Paul somehow lived through this stoning. Those who were stoning him thought he was dead. I suspect that he was dead.

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

Then God raised Paul from the dead. Notice that the others who were with him now gathered around him. Presumably they fled for their lives and hid when Paul was captured and stoned. Paul gets up and goes back into the same city, presumably back to the place he was staying. The next day Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe, which is a town near Iconium.

Back to Antioch

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

It is amazing that Paul returned to Lystra, the city he was dragged out of to be stoned. It is equally amazing that, after this, he returned to Iconium and Antioch, the cities from which people who opposed him came to stone him.

(Acts 14:22) Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Paul wanted to ensure that the new converts were firm in their faith and that they understood the teachings of Christianity. He also told them that there would be tribulation for Christians but that by enduring the trials they would reach the final goal of heaven. There is a sense in which the very process of becoming a Christian (by entering into the church, which is the kingdom of God) results in tribulation in the here and now. There is much opposition for those who convert to Christianity.

(Acts 14:23) And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Paul and Barnabas ordain elders. Presumably, new converts from their first trip through these towns who were strong in faith and who were good leaders were selected by the people. Part of this process of ordaining these elders was fasting and prayer.

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

Presumably they ordained elders in these towns.

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

Presumably they ordained elders in these towns.

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

They reach the starting point of Paul's first missionary journey.

(Acts 14:27) And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

Paul had many stories to tell about the conversion of Gentiles.

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

They remained in Antioch a long time.

The First Ecumenical Council

(Acts 15:1) And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

Some Jewish Christians (Judaizers) came down from Judea (in the south) to Antioch (in the north) to teach that Christians need to be circumcised and to follow the Jewish laws to be saved.

Notice that throughout church history various people with various ideas about what Christianity is try to impose their ideas on the church as a whole. It is very important that there is an authoritative body of Church leaders who have correct views of things to stand up against these erroneous teachings. The Protestant Reformation was one such movement of erroneous views which divided the church and still persists today.

(Acts 15:2) When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Notice that the dissidents were Church leaders and had a voice in church affairs. Paul and Barnabas oppose their teachings. They all decided to go to Jerusalem so the apostles (and elders) could to settle the question. I suppose that the Judaizers were confident that their views would win. I wonder how they were able to agree on this course of action. Probably someone suggested the idea and they all thought it would be to their advantage to do it.

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

On their way to Judea, Paul and Barnabas told the people of Phoenicia and Samaria about the conversions of the Gentiles to Christianity. These people were very happy to hear this, probably because they themselves were not completely Jewish.

(Acts 15:4) And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

In Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas told the stories of their first missionary journey. The apostles (and elders) received them in unity as fellow Christian leaders.

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

The Judaizers who accompanied them from Antioch apparently instigated an uprising of other Judaizers in Jerusalem.

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

The First Ecumenical Council, a meeting of all the church leaders to determine how to resolve a question of the faith. The apostles were present and certainly had a primacy of honor. Elders from Jerusalem and Antioch were also present. Perhaps Paul was also considered an apostle at this time.

It is amazing that the different parties agreed to come together in a council to discuss and decide this matter. The Judaizers could just as easily have split from the church and started their own church. This is what occurred in the Protestant Reformation. But they seem to have had the idea that Christians need to remain in unity of belief and doctrine and were willing to submit to the decisions of a gathering of the apostles and elders of the church.

(Acts 15:7) And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

Presumably there were some sort of rules of order which they followed but even so the arguments were heated. This was a case in which there could be no compromise; either the Judaizers were right and Christians needed to be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law, or Paul and Barnabas were right and Christians were free from the Law.

Peter is clearly the leader. After the various positions were argued and debated, Peter stood up and proclaimed the word which God had told him years before; that Gentiles and Jews were both to be admitted into the Christian Church; that the gospel and salvation were available for everyone, not just the Jews.

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

Peter reminds them that the Holy Spirit had fallen upon the Gentiles when they received the gospel just as he did upon the Jews when they received the gospel.

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

Both Jews and Gentiles are equal in matters of the Christian faith. By faith the hearts of the Gentiles were purified so they too were ceremonially clean just as Jews were.

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

Peter makes a bold statement that the Jewish law is a yoke and a burden — that Christians are not to be bound by this yoke as the Old Testament Jews were. Christianity provides freedom from the Law of Moses (but not freedom from the moral law). The Jews were not able to bear this yoke in the past so why should the Christian faith accept this yoke?

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

It seems that Peter is saying that the Old Testament believers (Jews) were saved through the grace of Jesus Christ just as Christians are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Without Peter's authoritative intervention I doubt whether they would have ever been able to reach an agreement. Likely there would have been a church split. This role of Peter in providing unity to the church provides the foundation for the Papacy.

(Acts 15:12) Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

After Peter's remarks all are silent. Paul and Barnabas again describe the miracles that God did among the Gentiles during Paul's first missionary journey. Notice that God uses miracles to validate his workings and his plan.

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

Finally, James makes a statement on the matter. James was the leader of the church at Jerusalem which at this time was the primary patriarchate, so it is fitting that he speak in t his manner. Later, Rome would become the primary patriarchate.

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

James refers to Peter's statement (Acts 15:7) that God ordained salvation for the Gentiles also, not just the Jews. Note that not every Gentile is necessarily saved, there are conditions to salvation.

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

James provides a text from an Old Testament prophet, from Amos 9:11,12.

(Acts 15:16) After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

In this passage from Amos, God first judges his unrighteous people. Then he offers relief and blessings. God builds the tabernacle of David which refers to Jesus Christ as the living presence of God.

(Acts 15:17) That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

This blessing from God is for the remnant of Israel and also the Gentiles, those who call upon the name of the Lord.

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

God is omnipotent: He knows everything in his plan of salvation.

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

James then concludes that the Gentile believers should not be burdened.

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

James proposes that only four rules be placed on Gentile Christians; that they refrain from: (1) idols and food offered to idols, (2) sexual sin, (3) meat which was strangled, and (4) eating blood. It is likely that these practices formed a key part of the pagan worship and rites which were familiar to the Gentile Christians.

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

The Jewish Christians are still allowed to retain their practice of their Jewish customs.

(Acts 15:22) Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

Apparently, the Judaizers accepted this solution. However, in the New Testament and the writings of the early church fathers we read that this did not end the problem of Judiaizers trying to impose the Old Testament law on the Gentile Christians.

They decided to send Paul, Barnabas, Judas (Barsabas), and Silas to Antioch with letters explaining their conclusions.

(Acts 15:23) And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

Here is the text of the letter, the written decrees of the first Ecumenical Council of the Church. The apostles, elders, and Christian community at large which determined the decrees. This letter is intended to be read in the specifically to the Gentiles in the churches in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.

(Acts 15:24) Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:

This letter describes the background of the issue; that the Judiaizers have attempted to insist that Gentile believers must be circumcised and to keep the Mosaic law. The apostles never said such a thing; this has been added by these Judaizers. There are many examples in church history in which particular leaders of groups add rules, laws, and teachings which were not part of the faith passed on from Jesus to the apostles.

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

They had a council to address this topic. Barnabas and Paul were chosen to deliver the conclusions of this council.

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

These men have risked their lives in their evangelistic work.

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

They also sent Judas and Silas who would also witness to the conclusions of this council.

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

The conclusions of this council are considered to be from the Holy Spirit. The Gentiles were not to have the burden of following the Jewish law. However, there are things which they are expected to do.

(Acts 15:29) That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

The four rules which are to be placed on Gentile Christians are that they refrain from: (1) idols and food offered to idols, (2) sexual sin, (3) meat which was strangled, and (4) eating blood.

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

They all went to Antioch and read the letter to the Christians.

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

The Gentiles were happy with the conclusions of the council.

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

Judas and Silas, who were prophets, encouraged the Christians.

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

After a while Judas went back to Jerusalem where the apostles were.

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

Silas remained in Antioch.

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

Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch. They continued to teach and preach to faith.

Paul's Second Missionary Journey

(Acts 15:36) And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

Paul wanted to visit the cities which they had evangelized on the First Missionary Journey, the see how the Christians there were doing and to build them up, to encourage them in their faith, and to correct errors.

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

Barnabas wanted to take John Mark.

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

Paul didn't want to take John Mark along because he had abandoned them during their First Missionary Journey.

(Acts 15:39) And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

They couldn't agree so they both went on separate trips. Barnabas and John Mark went to Cypurs.

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

Paul took Silas with him.

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

Paul travelled through Syria and Cilicia. He visited existing churches.