Acts 11

Chapter 11: Acts 11: 1-30, Revival in Antioch

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and not by good works. Thank You that salvation is universal, to all who believe, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

V 1, Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

Meanwhile, the apostles and disciples in Jerusalem heard about the conversion of Cornelius and his household.

VV 2-3, 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

When Peter returned to Jerusalem, legalistic, Pharisaic Jews, Judaizers, or those of the circumcision voiced their objections. They confronted Peter and questioned him for being friendly with the Gentiles.

VV 4-8, 4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance, I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners, and it came to me. 6 When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’

Peter narrated about his trance, his vision of unclean animals descending from heaven in a sheet, the Lord’s command to kill and them, and so on.

VV 9-14, 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11 At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover, these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’

The Lord told Peter not to call the Gentiles unclean. He saw the vision repeated three times. While he was recovering from the trance, Cornelius’ men arrived. At the instruction of the Holy Spirit, Peter followed them to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea with 6 brothers. Meanwhile, an angel of God also appeared to Cornelius in a vision and instructed him to bring Peter from Joppa to him in Caesarea.

VV 15-18, 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent, and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

When Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius’ household, and they believed in Jesus. The Holy Spirit descended upon them, enabling them to speak in tongues and prophesied, just as on the day of Pentecost. Peter’s opponents were silent. The apostles accepted Peter’s explanation.

V 19, 19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.

The camera angle shifted from Peter in Jerusalem to Paul in Antioch. Because of intense persecutions of Christians in Jerusalem after the martyrdom of Stephen, they fled Jerusalem and settled in Phoenicia (Lebanon), Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria, preaching to the Jews only.

VV 20-21, 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

Some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch of Syria and preached Christ to the Hellenist, Greek-speaking Jews. A great spiritual revival started in Antioch of Syria, a great multitude believed and turned to the Lord.

VV 22-24, 22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

The apostles in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch of Syria to check out the revival. Barnabas means son of encouragement. Barnabas was an encourager, a faithful, generous, and Spirit-filled Christian. When he saw the great revival in Antioch, he encouraged the believers, and many more came to know the Lord.

VV 25-26, 25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Barnabas went to Tarsus, found Saul, and brought him to Antioch to assist in the church. Barnabas and Saul taught the Christians in Antioch for one whole year and the Antioch church rapidly grew. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch, another first for Acts. Before this, they were called “followers of the Way”.

Saul was a Roman citizen, a Hellenistic, Greek-speaking Jew. Greek for Christian is ‘’Christianos’’, which means a slave of Christ. Christians are slaves of Christ.

There is a sizeable Christian population in Syria today whose history dated back to the time of Acts 11.

VV 27-28, 27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.

A prophet is both a forth-teller and a foreteller. A forth-teller proclaims God’s message truthfully. A foreteller prophesy future events before they happened. A prophet called Agabus prophesied that there would be a worldwide famine during the rule of Claudius Caesar. History recorded a famine during Claudius Caesar from 41 to 51 AD.

VV 29-30, 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

The elders of Antioch took an offering and sent them to Judea through Barnabas and Saul to assist them with the famine.

Application:

Barnabas means son of encouragement. Are you a Barnabas? When was the last time, you encouraged someone in the faith?

Christian means a slave of Christ. Are you a slave of Christ? Did you surrender to His Lordship?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for the timeless story of Acts. Thank You for raising Barnabas and Paul to pioneer the Church in Antioch of Syria. We pray for a Barnabas spirit of encouragement, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 10

Chapter 10: Acts 10: 1-48, Dismantling barriers

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for insight to understand and apply the teachings from the narratives of the first-century Christian church of Acts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

In Acts 1, the first Christian church was born in Jerusalem on Pentecost. By Acts 9, the Christian Church expanded to Judea, Samaria, and Caesarea. In Acts 9, Peter took the gospel to the Gentiles in Caesarea through Cornelius’ conversion. Cornelius became the second Gentile Christian convert. The first Gentile Christian convert was the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8.

VV 1-2, 1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always.

The camera angle shifted to Cornelius in Caesarea Maritima, a Roman Mediterranean seaside port named after a Roman emperor called Caesar Augustus. Cornelius was a Roman centurion of the Italian regiment. A centurion was a Roman officer in charge of 100 soldiers. A regiment or company was a Roman battalion of 600 soldiers under the command of 6 centurions.

VV 3-8, 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. 8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

9th hour, or 3 pm, was the Jewish evening prayer time. While Cornelius was praying, an angel of God spoke to him in a vision. The angel told him that God had heard his prayer and seen his charitable deeds. The angel instructed Cornelius to send men to Joppa to look for Peter who was with Simon the tanner in Joppa and bring him to Caesarea. Cornelius obeyed and sent two servants and one soldier to Joppa.

VV 9-11, 9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat, but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.

As Cornelius’ men went on their way to Joppa, the camera angle shifted to Peter at Joppa the next day. The 6th hour or noon was the Jewish afternoon prayer time. Jews prayed three times a day, morning, 6 am, afternoon, noon, and evening, 3 pm. While Peter was praying, he went into a trance, saw a vision of an opened heaven, and a great sheet descending upon him.

VV 12-16, 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For, I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

The sheet contained all kinds of unclean animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and unclean birds. The Lord commanded him to kill and eat the animals. Peter said he had never eaten unclean animals. The Lord told him that what He cleansed must not be called unclean. The sheet rose to heaven and the whole vision was repeated three times.

VV 17-18, 17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house and stood before the gate. 18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

While Peter was recovering from the trance, Cornelius’ men came to Simon the tanner’s house. They stood at the gate and called for Peter.

VV 19-21, 19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them.”21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

The Holy Spirit instructed Peter to go down and meet the three men who were looking for him. Peter met the men at the gate and introduced himself.

VV 22-23, 22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day, Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Cornelius’ men told Peter that their master was instructed by an angel to find Peter in Joppa and bring him to Caesarea. Peter invited the men to stay with him overnight.

The next day, Peter left Joppa for Caesarea, with six Christian brothers, Acts 11:12.

VV 24-26, 24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up, I myself am also a man.”

Joppa was 20 miles from Caesarea, 2 days journey by foot. When Peter entered Cornelius’ house, he fell on his knees to worship him, but Peter forbade him, saying that he was only a man.

VV 27-29, 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. 28Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

Peter said it was unlawful for a Jew to meet with Gentiles but this meeting was a divine appointment. God divinely instructed Peter and Cornelius to meet In Caesarea. Just as God divinely instructed Saul and Ananias to meet in Damascus. In His divine plan, God appeared to Peter and Cornelius separately through visions.

VV 30-32, 30 So Cornelius said, ”Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’

Cornelius told Peter that 4 days ago, an angel of God appeared to him, instructing him to find Peter at Joppa and bring him to Caeserea.

VV 33-35, 33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now, therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” 34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Peter connected the dots. He must not consider the Gentiles unclean any longer. He shared the gospel with Cornelius and his household and they believed. God showed no partiality. Salvation is universal, for everyone who believed. John 3:16.

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

VV 36-43, 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ, He is Lord of all, 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

Peter preached an evangelistic sermon to Cornelius and his household. Jesus is Lord of all. John the Baptist proclaimed the gospel from Galilee. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and He went about doing good, healing, and exorcising the demonised. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem betrayed Jesus, handed Him to the Romans who crucified Him on a tree. God raised Jesus on the third day. Jesus appeared to the apostles and ate with them. The apostles testified Him as Lord and Judge. Whoever believes in Him will receive salvation and forgiveness of sins.

VV 44-48, 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Those who heard Peter’s sermon received the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and praised God. The Jewish believers were amazed when they saw the Holy Spirit descending upon the Gentiles as on the day of Pentecost. Peter baptised Cornelius and his household in the name of Jesus and stayed with them for a few more days.

Colossians 3:16, ‘’Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord’’.

Ephesians 5:19, ‘’speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’’.

Application:

God hears your pray and sees your works.

You must not worship except anyone or anything Jesus Christ.

Salvation is universal, to everyone who believe.

Peter preached so well because he was filled with the Holy Spirit, walked with Jesus, and knew scriptures. These are the prerequisites of good biblical preaching.Did you preach the gospel? Did you share the gospel with a non-believer?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for breaking down the barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles. Thank You for removing bigotry, favouritism, prejudice, and racism, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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, Gospel to Samaria

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, 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.

The death of Stephen resulted in church persecution. Christians fled Jerusalem and settled throughout Judea and Samaria. The people buried Stephen and mourned for him.

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 went on a rampage to persecute, arrest, and imprison Christians. Deacon Philip took the gospel to Samaria. He preached the gospel, teach the word, healed the sick, and exorcised the demonised. The Samaritan 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.

Many of the Samaritans believed in Jesus and was baptised by Philip. Simon the sorcerer also believed in Jesus and was baptised by Philip.

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.

Peter and John went to Samaria to witness the revival there. They prayed and laid hands on the believers and they received 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 to pay money so that he could buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter rebuked him for his bribery. Simon the sorcerer repented, and Peter prayed for him.

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 returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to the Samaritan villages on the way home. An angel of God appeared to Philip and told him to go south towards Gaza. Philip went and he met an Ethiopian eunuch riding a chariot. He was a treasurer of Queen Candice of Ethiopia. He was reading Isaiah. The Holy Spirit told Philip to go near him.

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 sit next to him. He was reading Isaiah 53:7. Philip preached Christ to him from this passage, and he believed.

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.

Philip baptised him in a river and immediately after this, the Holy Spirit miraculously took Philip away to another town called Azotus. There, he continued to preach the gospel in all the cities until he arrived at Caesarea.

Application:

Church persecutions resulted in church expansion.

When you do evangelism, pray, wait for the Holy Spirit’s instructions, and obey Him.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for telling us about the great spiritual revival in Samaria. We pray for a great spiritual revival in our spiritual life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 7

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

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we claim the promise that when two or more are gathered in your name, You will be with us, 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.

Stephen gave an expository sermon from Genesis to Amos. He narrated Jewish history. God called Abraham, to leave Mesopotamia, Genesis 12. God gave Abraham a covenant, Genesis 15:1-21. God gave Abraham Isaac, who begot Jacob, who begot the 12 patriarchs. Israel’s sojourn in Egypt for 400 years, Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

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 continued to talk about 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 continued to talk about Israel’s oppression in Egypt, Pharoah’s decreed a genocide on 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 continued to talk about Moses’ parents hiding him in a basket on the river Nile, Moses raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses’ rose to fame, Moses murdering 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.

Stephen continued to talk about Moses returning to the murder scene and self-exiled into 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 saw the oppressions of the Israelites and heard their prayers. He sent Moses to Egypt, rescue them out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and wandered in the wilderness for 40 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” of Deut. 18: 15. Jesus was the Angel of God who gave Moses the 10 commandments. Their Israelites were disobedient and worshiped a golden calf when Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days, 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.’

Stephen quoted Amos 5:25. The Israelites worshiped 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.”

Stephen rebuked the Sadducees for their stubbornness. Their forefathers killed prophets who prophesied the coming of Christ, whom they had betrayed and murdered.

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. Stephen looked to heaven and saw Jesus welcoming him. The Sadducees blocked their ears, carried Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen knelt, prayed for God to forgive his murderers and died. Saul was there witnessing the stoning of Stephen.

Application:

When you pray, Christ sees, hears, and will rescue you.

Stephen knew the Bible from the back of his hands and quoted from it. Do you know the bible well enough to quote from it?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the story of Stephen, the first Christian martyr who gave up his life for his faith. Help us to know the Bible so well until we are able to quote from it, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 6

Chapter 6: Acts 6: 1- 15, Growing pains

 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your inspired, infallible, inerrant, timeless, and precious word to us, 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 apostles could not handle the rapid church growth. The Greek speaking Hellenist widows complained that they were short-changed by the Hebrews speaking widows in the daily food distribution.

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 were too busy teaching the word of God. They appointed 7 Sprit-filled deacons to administer the food distribution to the widows. They prayed and laid hands on them. The church continued to grow and multiply. Even priests believed in Jesus.

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, one of the deacons, was a Spirit-filled, brother with faith, wisdom, knowledge and power. Hellenistic Jews from the Synagogue of the Freedmen were jealous of him. They found men to frame false charges against him for blasphemy against Moses, the temple, and God. Stephen was brought before the Jewish council and his face shone like an angel. .

Application:

Rapid church expansion can result in administrative problems. The first century church resolved this issuer by forming a committee with people of high integrity. This is a good model on church administration.

Do not be jealous of other people who are more success or more gifted than you. Jealousy leads to hatred, conflicts, divisions, and unrest.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us a model of church administration to cope with sudden church growth. We pray that You will help us not to be jealous of other people’s success and giftings. Help

Acts chapter 5

Chapter 5, Acts 5: 1- 42, Saved by an angel

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for enlightenment, wisdom, insight and sensitive spirits to hear from You, in Jesus’ name, 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.

Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold possessions and decided to give only part of the proceed.to the apostles. Peter rebuked Ananias for his dishonesty. Ananias immediately died and young men came to carry him out and buried him.

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 encountered the same fate when she told the same lie and was buried beside her husband. The church members were overwhelmed by fear.

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.

More and more believers were added into the church including men and women. The sick people were healed, the lame walked, the demonised were exorcised. People were healed when Peter walk past, and his shadow fell on them. People brough the sick and the demonised from everywhere to the apostles for healing.

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.”

The Sadducees high priest arrested the apostles and threw them into the prison. They were rescued by an angel of God at night who instructed them to speak to the people in the temple.

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!”

The next day, the high priest summon the prison guards to bring the prisoners. But the prison guards could not find the prisoners.

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.

One prison officer reported to the high priest that the prisoners were teaching in the temple. The chief prison officer and his men went and brought the prisoners to the high priest 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 rebuked the apostles for teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter boldly answered that they would rather obey God than to obey them. Peter accused them of murdering Jesus of Nazareth, whom God exalted to the highest place in heaven. Peter testified that he, the apostles, and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to these things.

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 wanted to kill the apostles but Gamaliel, a Pharisee and Rabbi managed to talk them out of it saying that if they were not from God, they will not succeed. If they were from God, it would be futile to fight against God. The high priest released the apostles after beating them up and warning them not to teach in the name of Jesus. The apostles rejoiced and continued to teach.

Application:

The apostles were anointed by The Holy Spirit to fulfil their calling. They rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ and not be afraid of men.

Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit and boldness to face people.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for anointing the apostles with the Holy Spirit. We pray that You will anoint us with the Holy Spirit. Help us to obey You and not men, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts, chapter 4

Chapter 4, Acts 4:1- 37, persecutions, 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, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-4, 1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

The Sadducees who did not believed in resurrection arrested the apostles and put them in jail. Meanwhile, another 5000 Jews believed in Jesus and were added to the church.

VV 5-7, 5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 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.7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

The next day, the high priest and the religious rulers questioned the apostles’ authority and by whose’ power they healed the lame man.V 8-10, 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 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.

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 set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Peter quoted Psalm 118:22. Jesus is the chief cornerstone, and savior of the world.

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

V 13, 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 Jewish leaders were astonished at the capability of uneducated men like Peter and John.

VV 14-18, 14 And beholding the man which was 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 that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 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. 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

The Jewish leaders did not know what to do because they could not deny that a miracle had taken place.They threatened the apostles not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.

VV 19-22, 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. 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 nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

Peter and John protested boldly that they would not keep quiet because they had to obey God. The Jewish leaders reluctantly released them because they had no case against them. The apostles glorified God for the miracle because the lame man was 40 years old when he was healed.

VV 23-31, 23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 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:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 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, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determine before to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. 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

The apostles returned to the house church and prayed. They quoted Psalm 2:1-3. They acknowledged God as creator of heavens and the earth. They prayed for boldness to speak, power to do miracles, signs, and wonders through the name of Jesus. The prayer was so powerful that the building was shaken, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 2:1-3, Why do the heathens rage, and the people imagine 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 bands asunder, in pieces, and cast away their cords from us

VV 32-37, 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. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 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, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 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, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

The disciples sold all that they possessed and gave all the proceeds to the apostles. The apostles distributed resources to whoever was in need. God’s grace was upon them. The apostles boldly testified to the resurrection of Christ. Barnabas came into the scene. He sold land an gave the proceeds to the apostles. Barnabas means son of encouragement. He was very encouraging to everyone.

Application:

Your testimony is powerful. Share it.Prayer is powerful. Pray persistently, consistently and regularly

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Believe in Him.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, today, we can see the boldness of the apostles. Even though they were uneducated, they spoke so well, preached so well, and prayed so well, because they were with Jesus, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Help us to walk with You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.