Acts, chapter 9

Chapter 9: Acts 9:1-43, Damascus Road Conversion, Raising of Tabitha

Prayer:

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us another day to study Your word. We pray for attention and concentration. We pray for You to speak to us, precept-by-precept, word-by-word, line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph, and chapter=by-chapter, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-2, 1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Saul took warrants of arrest from the high priest in Jerusalem and went on his way to Damascus. He wanted to arrest Christians in Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem to face imprisonment.

VV 3-6, 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

As he approached Damascus, a blinding light shone from heaven causing him to fell to the ground. Jesus spoke to him calling him by name, Saul, Saul. Jesus revealed to Saul His identity and told Saul to stop persecuting Him. Goads are sharp-pointed sticks used to discipline disobedient animals like oxen or sheep. Trembling with fear, Saul called asked the Lord what to do. The Lord instructed him to get up and go into the city.

VV 7-9, 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Saul’s companions heard a voice but did not see anyone. Saul got up on his feet and could not see. His companions held his hands and guided him into Damascus. Saul could not see and did not eat or drink for 3 days.

VV 10-12, 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him, the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight.”

The camera angle shifted to Ananias, a disciple at Damascus. Jesus appeared to Ananias, in a vision, calling him by name. He instructed Ananias to go to Saul in the house of Judas in Straight street. Meanwhile, Saul was praying and having a vision of Ananias laying hands on him to receive his sight.

VV 13-16, 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Ananias objected but the Lord reassured him that it was okay to go. The Lord had handpicked Saul to be his instrument to take the gospel to the Gentiles, kings, and the Jews. Saul would also suffer greatly for The Lord.

VV 17-19, 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house, and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once, and he arose and was baptized.19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

Ananias entered the house and found Saul. Calling him brother Saul, he laid hands on him and prayed for him. Scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. Ananias baptised Saul and gave him food to eat. Saul stayed on in Damascus. Today, Straight street in the old town of Damascus is a popular tourist attraction.

VV 20- 20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem and has come here for that purpose so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Saul immediately preached Christ as the Son of God in the Jewish synagogues. The people were amazed at his sudden transformation. Saul confounded the Jews by proving from scripture that Jesus was the Messiah.

VV 23-24, 23 Now after many days were passed, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

After many days was 3 years. Soon after his conversion, Saul went to the Nabatean desert of Arabia all alone by himself before returning to Damascus 3 years later, Galatians 1: 17-18. The hostile Jews at Damascus wanted to kill Saul but he escaped through a basket lowered down the city wall and made his way to Jerusalem.

Galatians 1:17-18, “nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.”

VV 26-30, 26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

When Saul came to Jerusalem, the apostles rejected him but Barnabas came to his rescue and successfully reconciled him with the apostles. True to his name, Barnabas encouraged and supported Saul. When Saul preached Jesus as the Son of God in Jerusalem, the Hellenist Greek-speaking Jews plotted to kill him. The disciples sent Saul back to his home town Tarsus, via Caesarea. Saul stayed in Tarsus out of the limelight, until Barnabas came to look for him 7 years later.

VV 31, Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

With Saul out of the picture, the churches in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a period of peace, continued to grow, and multiplied.

VV 32-34, 32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. 33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. 35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

The camera angle shifted from Saul at Tarsus to Peter at Lydda. Peter healed Aeneas, a paralytic man of 8 years duration, commanding him to walk in the name of Jesus. All the residents of Lydda and Sharon believed in Jesus. Sharon was the name of the region where ancient Lydda was located.

VV 36-37, 36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated, Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

The camera angle shifted to a woman called Tabitha in Joppa who fell sick and died. Tabitha is a Hebrew name that means gazelle, a beautiful and graceful deer. Dorcas is the equivalent Greek word for Tabitha with the same meaning.

VV 38-39, 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

The disciples went to Peter in Lydda and brought him to Joppa to the upper room where Tabitha’s corpse laid. Peter saw the widows mourning for Tabitha.

VV 40-43, 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

Peter sent everyone out of the upper room and raised Tabitha to life, by praying and saying “Tabitha arise”. Peter followed the footsteps of Jesus when he raised Tabitha. Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter by saying “Talitha cumi”. Peter raised Tabitha by saying Tabitha arise.

Application:

Ananias was an unsung hero of the faith. Ananias acknowledged Saul, as a brother, laid hands on him, and converted the greatest New Testament apostles of all time. The church today needs Ananias. Are you an Ananias? Have you led anyone to Christ? One-to-one conversion can be very powerful. Who knows, someone you lead to Christ today may become another Billy Graham tomorrow.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You are the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life and true vine. We thank You for speaking into our hearts to listen to Your inspired word, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 8

Chapter 8: Acts 8: 1- 40, Revival in Samaria, the first Gentile Christian convert

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You are the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the author, and the perfecter of my faith. You are beautiful beyond words, beyond language, beyond description, beyond anything that we can ever imagine. We pray for open eyes, open ears, open minds, soft, receptive, believing, and obedient hearts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-2, 1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Saul consented to the martyrdom of Stephen. The disciples buried Stephen and mourned over his death. Intense persecutions of Christians after the martyrdom of Stephen resulted in an exodus of Christians out of Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. This led to the expansion of the church when the displaced Christians carried the gospel to their new home.

VV 3-8, 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.

Saul persecuted, arrested, and imprisoned Christians. The displaced Christians kept their faith and preached the gospel everywhere they went. Spirit-filed deacon Philip went to Samaria, operating in miracles, signs, and wonders. He preached the gospel, healed the sick, paralysed, and demonised. A great spiritual revival in Samaria resulted and the people rejoiced.

Nehemiah 8:10, ‘’Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

VV 9-13, 9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Simon the sorcerer was a practicing occultist in Samaria. When the Samaritans saw that Philip had more power than Simon the sorcerer, they believed in Jesus, baptised, and followed Philip. Even Simon the sorcerer, believed, baptised, and followed Philip. According to traditions, Simon the sorcerer, Simon the Magician, or Simon Magus founded Gnosticism in the first-century world.

VV 14-17, 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Meanwhile, the apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria to verify the revival of Samaria. They arrived and witnessed the revival as reported. They laid hand on the Samaritan believers and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit.

VV 18-24, 18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” 24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”

Simon the sorcerer offered money to the apostles in exchange for the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter rebuked him because the Holy Spirit was not a commodity to be bought and sold. Today, the act of paying money to buy a position in the church is called simony. Simon the sorcerer repented of his sins and requested prayer from Peter.

VV 25-29, 25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. 26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

The apostles preached the gospel to the Samaritan villages and returned to Jerusalem. An angel of God appeared to Philip, instructing him to travel south along the Jerusalem-Gaza road. Philip obeyed and met a Gentile Ethiopian eunuch on his chariot. This god fearer was returning to Ethiopia after worshiping the God of Israel in Jerusalem. He was an official and treasurer of Candice, the queen of Ethiopia. He was reading the book of Isaiah. The Holy Spirit instructed Philip to go near the chariot.

VV 30- 35, 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘’He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

Philip ran to the eunuch and heard him reading Isaiah. The eunuch invited Philip to sit next to him. Philip expounded Isaiah 53:7-9 and preached Jesus to him from this passage.

Isaiah 53:7, ‘’He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep, before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth’’.

VV 36-40, 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.

The eunuch believed and confessed Jesus as the Son of God. Philip baptised him in a river and immediately after this, the Holy Spirit caught Philip away to another town called Azotus. The Greek word for caught away is “harpazo”, which is the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 for the rapture. The Holy Spirit raptured Philip from Jerusalem Road to Azotus. The eunuch went on his way rejoicing in his newfound faith. The Ethiopian eunuch became the first Gentile Christian convert of Acts. Philip preached the gospel to all the cities until he arrived at Caesarea.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 a, “after that we who are still alive will be caught up…..”

Application:

After Stephen’s martyrdom, intense persecutions of the church resulted in church expansion because the 8000 odd displaced Christians took their faith to their new places of abode.

Philip took the gospel to the Samaritans and the Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian eunuch took the gospel to Ethiopia.

Philip did evangelism by the Holy Spirit. He waited for the Holy Spirit’s instructions and obeyed. When you do evangelism, pray, wait for the Holy Spirit’s instructions, and obey.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for all that You have done for us. Thank You for telling us the story of deacon Philip’s remarkable adventures in Samaria. We pray hunger and thirst for righteousness, clear minds, humble spirits,teachable hearts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 7

Chapter 7: Acts 7: 1- 60, expository preaching, Christian martyr

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your enablement, empowerment, presence, mercy, compassion, grace and truth, loving-kindness and faithfulness, ”hesed and emet”, for they are new every morning and great is Your faithfulness, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-8, 1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And he said, ‘’Brethren and fathers, listen, The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives and come to a land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. 5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. 6 But God spoke in this way, that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. 7 ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that, they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’ 8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision, and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.

Note the opening phrase in Acts 7:2, “the God of glory” and the closing phrase in Acts 7:55, “the glory of God.” This is called an inclusion, a literary device to bracket out a passage of scripture with a thought. The thought here is God and His Glory. Psalm 19:1, a “The heavens declare the glory of God”.

Stephen replied to the high priest’s question by giving an expository sermon from Genesis to Amos. He narrated Jewish history from God’s calling of Abraham in Genesis 12. Abraham left Mesopotamia after his father’s death and settled in Canaan. God gave the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 15:1-21. Stephen narrated Israel’s sojourn in Egypt for 400 years, Israel’s exodus from Egypt. God gave Abraham a covenant of circumcision, gave him a son, Isaac, who begot Jacob, who begot the 12 patriarchs.

VV 9-16, 9 “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to the Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. 16 And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.

Stephen narrated the story of Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers, Joseph’s rise to fame in Egypt, Jacob’s entry into Egypt, and Jacob’s death, Genesis 37-50.

VV 17-19, 17 “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt 18 till another king arose who did not know Joseph. 19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live.

Stephen narrated the story of Israel’s oppression in Egypt under a new pharaoh who decreed a genocide on all the Israelite male babies, Exodus 1:22.

Exodus 1:22, ‘’So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive’ ‘’.

VV 20-24, 20 At this time Moses was born and was well-pleasing to God, and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months. 21 But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and deeds. 23 “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian.

Stephen narrated the story of Moses’ parents hiding him in a basket on the river Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter found baby Moses from the river Nile and adopted him up as her son. Moses received outstanding Egyptian education in Pharaoh’s court and rose in wisdom and knowledge. He murdered an Egyptian at the age of 40, Exodus 2: 1-10, Hebrews 11: 23-29.

VV 25-29, 25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’ 27 But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

Moses returned to the murder scene the next day and tried to reconcile two Israelites involved in a fight. They defied Moses’ advice and identified him as the murderer of an Egyptian. Moses fled to the Midian desert where he became a shepherd and fathered two sons, Exodus 2: 11-25.

VV 30-33, 30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, 32 saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look. 33 ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.

Forty years later, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush in the Midian desert. God told Moses that His name was “I AM WHO I AM”, which in Hebrews, is YHVH, Exodus 3:1-22.

Exodus 3:14, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM’’.

VV 34-36, 34 I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ’35 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

God sent Moses to Egypt when he was 80 years old. God saw the oppression of His people. God heard the cries of His people. God sent Moses to rescue them. Earlier, the Israelites rejected Joseph, and now they rejected Moses. The Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses in the burning bush was a Christophany of the pre-incarnate Jesus of Nazareth. The Israelites escaped out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, and wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years, Exodus 12-15. Moses was 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in Midian, and 40 years in the wilderness. Moses died at the age of 120 years.

VV 37-41, 37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ 38 “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 39 whom our fathers would not obey but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

Jesus was the “prophet like me”, Deut. 18: 15. Jesus appeared to Moses in the burning bush. Jesus gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The Israelites left Egypt but their hearts had not left Egypt. When Moses was in the mountain for forty days, the Israelites made a golden calf and worshiped it, Exodus 32.

V42-43, 42 Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, Images which you made to worship, and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’

The Israelites worship idols and the pagan Canaanite gods, Moloch and Remphan. Stephen quoted Amos 5:25.

Amos 5:25, “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

VV 44-49, 44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, 45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, 46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built Him a house. 48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? 50 Has My hand not made all these things?’

The Israelites built the tabernacle in the wilderness according to God’s instructions. After Moses’ death, Joshua brought the Israelites into the promised land. King David proposed to build a temple to replace the tabernacle. After King David’s death, his son King Solomon built the temple.

Stephen quoted 2 Chronicles 2:5 and Isaiah 66:1.

2 Chronicles 2:5, “And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods”.

Isaiah 66:1, Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?”

VV 51-53, 51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”

Like their forefathers, the Sadducees were stiff-necked, stubborn, uncircumcised in hearts and ears, and resisted the Holy Spirit, Exodus 33:5. Their forefathers persecuted and killed the Old Testament prophets, who prophesied the coming of Christ, the Just One. The Sadducees betrayed and murdered Jesus Christ.

Exodus 33:5, For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now, therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.’ ”

VV 54-60, 54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord, 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The Sadducees were convicted of their sins, but their hardened hearts were filled with murderous thoughts. Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit looked up, saw heaven opened, and Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God. The Sadducees screamed, blocked their ears, ran to Stephen, throw him out of the city, and stoned him to death. Saul, a young Pharisee witnessed and consented to the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen prayed for the forgiveness of his murderers and died. Stephen was the first Christian martyr of the first-century Christian church. The place of Stephen’s stoning is in the Temple Mount. It is called St. Stephen’s Gate, or Lion Gate, and is facing the Mount of Olives.

Application:

God saw the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, he heard their cries, and He rescued them. He sees, He hears, and He rescues. When you go through trials, sufferings, and persecutions, and cries out to Christ, He sees you, He hears you, and He will rescue you. When you pray, Christ sees, hears, and will rescue.

Stephen preached so well because He knew the Bible from the back of his hands and quoted from it. You will be a good preacher if you know the Bible very well.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, today we read about the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr in Acts. The expository sermon of Stephen convicted the Sadducees of their sins but instead of repenting, they murdered Stephen in cold blood. We pray for soft, obedient, and repented hearts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 6

Chapter 6: Acts 6: 1- 15, Church growth, Conflict resolution, Stephen

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your inspired, infallible, inerrant, timeless, and precious word to us. We pray that You will prepare, soften, enlighten, and mold our hearts as we open to the book of Acts 6, in Jesus’ name, Amen

V1, 1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

The first-century Christian church grew rapidly from 120 disciples before Pentecost to 8000 disciples after Pentecost. The apostles were overwhelmed by the rapid church growth and could not cope up with the demands of the daily food distribution. There were two groups of Jews, the Hellenist, Greek-speaking Jews, and the Hebrews speaking Jews. The Greek-speaking Jews claimed that they were unfairly treated by the Hebrews speaking Jews in the daily distribution of food.

VV 2-7, 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

The apostles appointed seven Spirit-filled deacons, of good reputation and wisdom, to oversee the daily food distribution. They chose Stephen, Philip, and five other deacons with Greek names. The apostles prayed and laid hands on them. The Word of God multiplied and the church continued to grow in numbers. Even many of the priests, who were Sadducees, believed and were converted.

VV 8-15, 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

Stephen stepped onto the scene. He was Spirit-filled, full of faith, wisdom, and knowledge. and did many great signs and wonders among the people. Some Hellenistic Jews from the Synagogue of the Freedmen became jealous of Stephen’s sudden rise to fame. Unable to beat him in arguments, they plotted malice against him by framing false charges against him. They falsely accused Stephen of blasphemy against Moses and God. The elders and scribes arrested Stephen and brought him to the Jewish religious council for questioning. False witnesses were brought in to testify against Stephen. They charged Stephen for blasphemy against the temple, the law, and Moses. Stephen’s face shone like an angel.

Application:

The first-century Christian church has to deal with the issue of sudden growth and conflict resolution. They came up with the right solution by appointing deacons of good reputation into a working committee. This is an example that we can follow.

Stephen’s sudden rise to fame attracted jealousy and opposition from hostile Jews who plotted against him. Avoid jealousy. Jealousy is dangerous. There is no place for jealousy in the kingdom of God.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, speak to us through Your words as only You can. We pray for soft, teachable, fruitful, obedient, listening, and humble hearts. We pray for biblical literacy, insight, and knowledge. We claim the promise that Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We pray for spiritual heartburn to keep our hearts burning, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 5

Chapter 5, Acts 5: 1- 42, the first Christian burial, the great escape

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to speak into our hearts. We permit You as our great surgeon, to perform spiritual heart transplants on every one of us, to transform, renew, and conform us into the image of Your Son, in Jesus’ name, Amen

VV 1-6, 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

The first Christian church practiced voluntary communal living whereby everyone shared all their resources into a common pool. Ananias and Sapphira sold a possession, kept back a portion of the proceeds, and gave the balance to the apostles. Peter, through the word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit, knew about this. When Peter rebuked Ananias for hypocrisy and dishonesty, Ananias drop dead on the spot. On seeing this, the people were afraid. Young men came in, wrapped, carried, and buried Ananias outside the house. This was the first Christian burial.

VV 7-11, 7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

Three hours later, Ananias’ wife, Sapphira came into the house and told the same lie to the apostles. She encountered the same fate, instant death, and burial. This was the second Christian burial in the first-century church. This brought great fear to the people who had witnessed this event or heard about it.

VV 12-16, 12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. More and more believers were added to the church. The apostles healed the sick and exorcised the demon-possessed on the streets. Peter’s anointing was so strong that even his shadow had the power to heal the sick.

VV 17-20, 17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

Out of anger and jealousy, the high priest, a Sadducee, arrested the apostles and imprisoned them again. An angel of the Lord came at night, opened the prison doors, took the apostles out, and commanded them to speak the word of God in the temple without fear.

VV 21-23, 21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, 23 saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!”

Early next morning, the apostles started to preach and taught the people in the temple complex. Meanwhile, the high priest and Jewish religious leaders summoned the prison officers to give an account of the apostle’s great escape. The prison officers were dumbfounded and could not explain how the apostles had escaped.

VV 24-26, 24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be. 25 So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

While the prison officials were still being interrogated, words came to the high priest and the Jewish religious leaders that the apostles were teaching the people in front of the temple! Without any violence, the captain and temple officers went out and brought the apostles to the high priest and Jewish leaders for questioning.

VV 27-32, 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

The high priest demanded to know why they had defied his gag order. They claimed that the apostles had brought Christ’s blood on them. Can you see the irony of the Jewish leaders? When Pilate wanted to release Jesus during the trial, the Jewish leaders unashamedly proclaimed for Jesus’ blood to be upon them. Now, they were furious and claimed that the apostles had brought Christ’s blood on them. Peter and the apostles replied that their royalty and obedience was to God, not to men. The apostles turned the tables on the Jewish leaders accusing them of murdering Jesus of Nazareth by sending Him to the Romans for crucifixion. God resurrected Jesus and exalted Him as Prince and Saviour of Israel. The apostles testified that they had seen the resurrection of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

VV 33-42, 33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. 34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. 38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest you even be found to fight against God.” 40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

The Jewish religious were furious and plotted to kill the apostles. Gamaliel, a prominent Rabbi, and Pharisee addressed the religious council and defended the apostles. Before Paul’s conversion, he was trained by Gamaliel. Gamaliel quoted two terrorists, Theudas, and Judas of Galilee, who attempted to cause riots in Israel many years ago, but their plans fell apart because they were not from God. He advised the Jewish leaders to release the apostles saying that if these apostles were not from God, their plans would fail and fizzled off. However, if these apostles were indeed from God, they would be fighting against God and that would be futile. The Jewish leaders agreed with Gamaliel. After beating up the apostles, they released them after issuing another gag order. The apostles left the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. The apostles defied the high priest’s gag order and continued to teach and preach Jesus Christ to the people.

Application:

Ananias and Saphira were punished for dishonesty and hypocrisy. Stay away from dishonesty and hypocrisy. Let your yes, be yes, and your no, be no.

The apostles moved with signs and wonders by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Pray for spiritual gifts. God gives us spiritual gifts to fulfill our calling and ministry.

The apostles were brave and unstoppable. They defied the gag order, continued to teach and preach, fearing God and not men. They rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ. We must not be afraid of men.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, embolden and empower us by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Help us share the gospel with non-believers without fear or hesitation. Help us to live lives worthy of our calling, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 4

Chapter 4, Acts 4:1- 37, persecutions, arrest, earth-shattering prayer

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for Your presence to be with us as we open up the book of Acts. Thank You for making us right with You, through the atoning sacrifice of Your Son. Nourish our souls, water our hearts, and deepen our roots to produce fruits. Reveal the truth to us. We pray for ears to hear, eyes to see, and minds to understand scripture. We pray for correct interpretation and application of scripture, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-4, 1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 However, many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of men came to be about five thousand.

In the gospels, the Pharisees persecuted Christ. In Acts, the Sadducees persecuted Christ’s disciples. The Sadducees did not believe in angels, miracles, life after death, and resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees, priests, and temple captains were jealous after the healing miracle. They arrested the apostles and put them into prison. Another 5000 people believed in Jesus, bringing the total number who were saved to 8000.

VV 5-7, 5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?’’

The Jewish religious leaders arrived at the prison the next day to question the apostles. Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas, his son-in-law, demanded to know who was responsible for healing the lame man.

VV 8-10, 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, testified that Jesus of Nazareth was the One who healed the lamed man. Peter accused the religious leaders of killing Jesus of Nazareth but God raised Him from the dead on the third day.

VV 11-12, 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Peter quoted Psalm 118:22. The Sadducees rejected Jesus of Nazareth, the chief cornerstone of Israel. There is no salvation under other any name apart from Jesus of Nazareth.

Psalm 118: 22, ‘’The stone which the builders rejected, Has become the chief cornerstone’’.

V 13, 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

The Jewish leaders were amazed. Even though Peter and John were uneducated and untrained, they were bold and learned because they were followers of Jesus.

VV 14-18, 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” 18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

The Jewish religious leaders could not deny that a great miracle had taken place in Jerusalem. They released the apostles with a gag order not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.

VV 19-22, 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. them.

Peter and John rejected the gag order, declaring that their loyalty was to God and not to men. The Jewish religious leaders had no choice but to release Peter and John because the people supported the apostles. The lamed man was forty years old when he was healed.

VV 23-31, 23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘’Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together, Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Peter and John returned and reported what happened to the other apostles and disciples. Their response was to pray to God in unison. They acknowledged God as the creator of heaven and earth. They quoted the messianic Psalm 2:1-3. They prayed for boldness to speak the word of God. They prayed for the divine anointing of the Holy Spirit to perform healing, miracles, signs, and wonders in the name of Jesus Christ. The prayer was so powerful that an earthquake occurred! They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Psalm 2:1-3, Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “let us break their bonds in pieces, and cast away their cords from us.”

VV 32-37, 32 Now the multitude of those who believed was of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power, the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked, for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet, and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

The disciples were unanimous in heart and soul. They practiced a form of communism by sharing all their possessions and pooling all their resources into a common pool. They preached and testified to the resurrection of the Lord with boldness and great power. They had God’s grace and favour. They practiced a form of communism. Voluntarily selling all their possessions, they gave the proceeds to the apostles, who distributed them to whoever was in need. Joses or Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement, entered the scene. Barnabas was a Jew, a Levite from Cyprus. He sold land and gave the money to the apostles.

Application:

The healing of the lame man was a powerful testimony. Do you have a personal testimony of a changed life? This is a very powerful evangelistic tool.

Peter and John were transformed because they had a personal relationship with Jesus. Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?

The apostles refused to be gag because they were loyal to God, not men. Is your loyalty to God or men?

There is no salvation under any name under heaven apart from Jesus Christ.

Under persecution, the apostles prayed an earth-shattering prayer. How powerful is your prayer?

Prayer:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespass, even as we forgive those who trespass against us, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power, forever and ever, Amen.

Acts, chapter 3

Chapter 3, Acts 3: 1-26, Peter’s first miracle

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we commit this time to You. We pray for understanding and application of Your truth into our lives. We pray for guidance, direction, discerning Your will, and spiritual nourishment. We pray for the Bread of Life and Living Water, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-9, 1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Following the footstep of Jesus Christ, Peter performed his first miracle. A day in ancient Israel began at 6 am. The 9th hour was 3 pm, the hour of prayer. A devout Jew prayed three times a day, at 6 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm. Peter and John encountered a congenitally paralysed beggar at the Beautiful gate of the temple complex. The gate was beautiful but the beggar was not. He had no muscle development, no motor power in his legs, and had never walked. The man was begging for money and not health. The beggar looked at John and Peter expecting them to give him cash. Peter declared, ‘’in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk’’. Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up. The man arose, walked, leaped, and praised God for healing him. On seeing this, the people marveled with astonishment and amazement.

VV 11-16, 11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Solomon’s porch, portico, or colonnade, was located in the outer court of the temple complex. Peter addressed the astonished crowd. He did not give glory to himself. He acknowledged and gave glory to the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, as the healer of the paralysed man. The Holy One, the Just, and the Prince of Life are titles for Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish leaders murdered Jesus of Nazareth, but God raised Him back to life on the third day. The apostles testified and bore witness to this event.

VV 17-21, 17 Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

The Jewish leaders killed Jesus out of ignorance. Jesus’ death fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. Peter commanded everyone to repent, receive the forgiveness of sins, and be converted. ‘’The times of restoration of all things’’, speak of the second coming of Christ.

VV 22-26, 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

Peter quoted Duet 18: 15, ‘’The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren’’.

The ‘’Prophet like me’’ spoken by Moses was fulfilled by Jesus Of Nazareth. Every soul who did not believe in Jesus will be destroyed. The Old Testament prophets had prophesied the coming of Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, hundreds of centuries ago. The Jews were descendants of the prophets and the patriarchs to be a blessing to all people. God raised Jesus of Nazareth to bless them and turn them from their sins. God had spoken to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, Hebrews 1:1-4.

Hebrews 1:1-4, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they’’.

Application:

The congenital paralysed man arose, walked, leaped, and praised God for healing him. Have you praised and thank God for healing you?

All the people people who saw this miracle were amazed. Are you amazed when you read about this miracle?

Peter gave all the glory to God. Did you give all the glory to God for your salvation?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word to us. Thank You for speaking to us through Your Son Jesus Christ who fulfilled scripture and turned every one from their sins. Thank You for the gift of salvation and the gift of eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Chapter 2, Acts

Chapter 2, Acts 2: 1-47, Pentecost, Peter’s first sermon

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we come before You today as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to You, as this is our spiritual act of worship. We give You our full attention, hearts, and minds. Help us be transformed to the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Saviour, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-4, 1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Easter corresponds to the Feast of First Fruits in the Old Testament. Fifty days after Easter or Feast of First Fruits, is the day of Pentecost, Leviticus 28:16. Pentecost is also known as Feast of Weeks, Feast of Harvest, and Feast of Ingathering, Numbers 28:26 and Exodus 23:16. The Holy Spirit descended upon the 120 disciples in the upper room on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came with the sound of strong wind and rested on the head of each disciple as a tongue of fire and they spoke in tongues.

In John 3, Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to the blowing of the wind. The Greek word for wind and Spirit is the same word ‘’pneuma’’.

Leviticus 23:16, “Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.’’

Numbers 28:26, “Also on the day of the first fruits, when you bring a new grain offering to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work.”

Exodus 23:16, “and the Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.”

VV 5-13, 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and was confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews, and proselytes, 11 Cretans, and Arabs, we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

Jews and Gentile God-fearer from all over the known first century world viz. Partia, Medes, Elam, Mesopotamia, Judea, Galilee, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia Minor, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Rome, Crete and Arabia, gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. They manifested Holy Spirit’s presence by speaking in tongues, or the language of other nations. Everyone was amazed and astonished by this phenomenon. For example, an Elamite would speak in Hebrews, a Roman would speak in Greek, and so on. Some skeptics accused them of being drunk with wine.

VV 14-21, 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel, 17 ‘and it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above, And signs in the earth beneath, blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass, That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’

Peter stood up and proclaimed no one was not drunk as it was only the third hour or 9 am. This phenomenon was a fulfillment of prophet Joel’s prophesy, Joel 2: 28-32.

Joel 2:28, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”

VV 22-28, 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know, 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death, 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him, ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad, moreover, my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’

Peter delivered his first sermon. Jesus of Nazareth performed God’s miracles, signs, and wonders to the Jewish leaders but they did not believe Him. They arrested and killed Him, but God raised Him back to life on the third day. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth were predetermined and foreknown by God.

Peter quoted psalm 16:8-11, “I have set the Lord always before me because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices, My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life, in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand, are pleasures.”

VV 29-31, 29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh sees corruption.

Peter quoted the Davidic covenant of 2 Sam 7:12-13, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.’’

Peter delivered his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the first-century Christian church.

VV 32-36, 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘’Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Peter filled with the Holy Spirit testified to Christ’s resurrection, exaltation to God’s throne, and impartation of the Holy Spirit. He quoted Psalm 110:1.

Philippians 2: 9-10, ‘’Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name’’. David was not resurrected because he was buried in a tomb.

Psalm 110:1, “The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

LORD is Yahveh. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David prophesied and called his son, Yahveh.

VV 37-39, 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Convicted and cut to the heart, they were willing to follow Peter’s instructions. Peter commanded them to repent of their sins. If we confess and repent of our sins, God will forgive us. Today, you can claim the promise of salvation by confessing and repenting your sins to Jesus. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ.

VV 40-42, 40 And with many other words, he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized, and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The first Christian church was born on Pentecost and 3000 souls were saved. They continued to learn from the apostles, fellowshipped, observed holy communion, and prayed.

VV 43-47, 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The apostles performed miracles, signs, and wonders. The first-century Christians in Jerusalem practiced a form of communism. They sold all their possessions, gave all they had to the apostles, and divided the wealth among all. They continued to worship and praise God in the temple, observed Holy communion in the house church, and the church grew from strength to strength.

Application:

Pentecost was the birthday of the first-century Christian church in Jerusalem. On Pentecost, the disciples were baptized by Holy Spirit. The disciples practice their faith by learning the apostles’ doctrines, worship, fellowship, Holy Communion, and prayer. Salvation is by grace, through faith in Christ.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the day of Pentecost when the first-century Christian church was born. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, to empower the apostles to preach, teach, heal, exorcise, and fulfill the great commission. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit to be our helper, teacher, truth revealer, and advocate, in Jesus’ name, Amen.